Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

20/20 Signs They Were Cheating

gym cheaterToday’s Thursday Challenge is to Monday morning quarterback your life. Did you see signs of cheating before D-Day?

To be a chump is to be unknowing. (And that’s as it should be — trusting your partner is natural.) Of course, cheaters are doing everything they can to conceal their nefarious double lives, and gaslighting you when confronted with something “off.”

If you see the Omens now, don’t beat yourself up. No one comes equipped with a wingnut decoder ring.

Part of the point of this blog is to reveal the manipulations so others don’t fall into the same tiger pit.

It’s really beyond most people’s ken to imagine that predators exist, or that double lives are a thing.

But knowledge is power. So CN, what were the signs? What was off then that makes sense now?

Warn the newbies.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • he started taking all calls in the other room, behind closed doors. he got a second phone. he suddenly started getting waxed (had never been even remotely interested in this prior). he was travelling “for work” more than he was at home. he smelt different (was repulsive to me). he started sleeping in the room downstairs. there are many more but they were such big clues that went straight over my head at the time.

    • He smelled different. Hmmmm

      I’ll just come out and say it. One night, once the alarm in my gut had been ringing nonstop, we were in bed. I remember giving him a BJ and thinking “Am I crazy or does his dick smell/taste like pussy?” I just decided I was crazy.

      I wasn’t crazy.

      Sorry to be so blunt, but I have a feeling I’m not the only one here who’s experienced this.

      • Not crazy at all. My ex wife felt different down there. She never once stopped sleeping with me during her cheating and I slept with her on days which she had been with others and it just felt different. She also smelt different. Graphic yes but I’m sure many here have similar experience. It makes me feel sick to think about it.

      • That happen to me..I thought I was crazy I couldn’t stop thinking about that night. Two months later I find out he was screwing our neighbor and yes he had just left her house that night.

      • As a wildlife biologist I can say that you absolutely detected foreign pheromones’ on your mate. Just because our sense of smell and taste aren’t as developed as the next mammal on the tree of life doesn’t mean that our brains can’t still detect it and react accordingly.

        • Oh my gosh! Yes to all of this – what is much better in my case at least – is that I didn’t smell it but my dog did! (he really was MY dog after this). He’s a pitbull. The very first time my ex-husband cheated (as in physically – I had been teaching from 7:30 am until 11pm (this was his day to hang out with his new amor) and when my ex walked through the front door our (MY) dog of 10 years attacked him – nearly ripped his hand off. This was totally unexplained behavior and he NEVER hurt or even acted aggressively. I got anothe dog (a Cane Corso) and neither would let him in the house.

          • Not chump related but Cane Corso is a beautiful breed. I watch a guy on YouTube who has a channel about his cane called Bruce Wayne. Such a beautiful dog. I’m a Rottweiler guy personally but would seriously consider a cane.

        • LOL. Pheromones are one thing and I’m sure can trigger subconscious wariness. But I think the pungent cheese smell emanating from FW’s nethers a few times was just foreign bacteria and spores.

          Absolutely nauseating. Female binge drinkers are apparently prone to chronic yeast and bacterial infections as well as hormone imbalances, high-risk behavior and STDs.
          FW’s AP wasn’t exactly the picture of health in any case. Yellow skin, cystic acne, apple-shaped body and eye bags.

          The bar tabs and booze bills from that affair were epic. I got every STD test known to man but there are some that don’t manifest immediately, so I’m having to brace for potential future fallout.

          • This is a reply to everyone who has commented so far. First, thanks for helping me with my dieting efforts because while I can relate and agree, I am ready to barf my effing head off right now. Ewwwwww!!!!

            For me, I’d been having miscarriages galore. Then suddenly had an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. No risk factors for that one, except when the obgyn said I had SIGNIFICANT TUBAL SCARRING.

            Guess what? The cheating fuckwit and his whoremaster fuck buddy gave me chlamydia while I was trying to get pregnant and having miscarriages galore. And of course not using protection. What a nice baby gift, right? I wanted to thank them with my axe. To their heads.

            • Wow, IdiotNoMore, that really, really, really sucks. You have my sympathy, and thank god that cheating fuckwit and his whoremaster fuck buddy (love that, btw) is G O N E !!!

            • Oh my gosh….no words, “Idiotnomore,” you were abused beyond belief.

              You have been through hell, and yes, how dare they!!!! How the hell we ever get out of this with sanity is a miracle in itself. Please tell me he is a drug user…something. To think that someone could do this to another person is beyond me.

            • Yes, some of the details require a dose of antiemetics.

              I think what happened to you should be a criminal offense. What incredible evil and I’m so sorry you had to endure that.

              • I totally agree, you most definitely have a legal case against him….get a lawyer, he could have passed on God knows what more deadly….. He didn’t give shit about your safety…. What else is worth keeping him for???

      • Wow, I thought I was the only one!! I thought I was INSANE to be thinking that. Nope! He was screening 100s of hookers bareback and didn’t even bother showering before coming home to me. GAG.

      • You are not alone! Same exact thing. I even told him I’m not doing this again, and never did.
        He’d only been out to dinner with Bill🙄 I wasn’t aware Bill had a pu$$y.
        On that same note around that time he told me how good I smelled, made me wonder what kind of women he’d been with?! I should have smelled familiar, not comment worthy if i was the only one, except that he’s a cheater.

        • My ex kissed differently. We used to be really in sync when kissing and we suddenly were bumping noses and just not kissing right.

            • I got the different kissing too, now that you mention it. I remember that he kissed me passionately one night, and my body recoiled.

              The only thing that registered with me was that he seemed like a…gross uncle.

              And seemingly overnight he’d acquired an old man’s smell. I washed his robe the next morning in a vain attempt to get rid of the smell. “Out, damned spot!”

              I chalked it up to his age, although he was only 59. I don’t know. I think my body knew what my mind didn’t. Something was off.

              • Yeah, what is it with that old man scalp odor? Booze? Stress chemicals? Dysbiosis from eating a shitty diet of takeout? Affairs are apparently aging in any case.

              • I remember in the last few months when he was throwing me a mercy bounce that I just was not enjoying it anymore. Thing is he had been cheating for at least two years with the same woman, and up to that point still carrying on quite an active sex life with me. So I know at that point I started avoiding him more.

                So I ponder why the change, did he just quit trying, did I pick up on something? I remember at the end his hugs were limp.

        • sooo many over the course of his 7 year affair with my close friend. a series of constant yeast infections (totally abnormal for me). another time I went to kiss him when he returned home from somewhere and his face smelled of skank. We had just lost our son in a car accident a few months prior, so mabe I was just ditracted or not in my right mind, but i brushed it off when hesaid he had a “fish sandwich” on his way home. Don’t judge lol. i was barely surviving during that time. Another time (same “friend”). she hugged us both goodbye and i noticed when she hugged him that he touched her waist in a very familiar/comfortable way. it caught my attention. That was the day after our son’s funeral. I also found an earring in our bed that belonged to her. I know it was hers because I bought them for her birthday. It wasn’t until a year after our son passed that I confronted them. #soembarrassed

          • With me it was UTIs. But he had plausible deniability becsuse I get UTIs very easily. After I stopped having sex with him I haven’t had a UTI since.

            You have nothing to be ashamed of and nobody here is going to judge you for trusting somebody who was supposed to have your back. I’m so sorry about the loss of your son. xxoo

            • Omg, Amy, what horrific monsters you had around you at that painful time! I’m so sorry he was just twisting that knife in your heart. And your “friend”. Yeesh! Psychopaths suck. I’m glad you’re free of them both

          • “That was the day after our son’s funeral.”

            I empathize and sympathize and relate.

            Today X is persona non gratis after married 39 years. Divorced almost 1.

          • Your x and xfriend are just the lowest of the low. Cheating during the loss of your son. I don’t think anyone could fault you for not seeing the signs, you were likely just surviving. Sometimes we just aren’t ready to process it all.

          • Amy, I am so sorry for the loss of your son and what your ex and your ‘friend’ did to you at the worse time in your life. I can’t think of a betrayal worse than that. I wish I could ‘punch’ both of them but I will pray for you and your son.

            • Amy, my heart breaks for you. You are one mighty woman for surviving all that. My very deepest sympathies.

          • I can’t begin to imagine the pain of your loss, Amy, and I’m sorry that you feel embarrassed about anything. You have a right to feel whatever you feel, but your ex is the one who should feel humiliated and ashamed.

          • If he could do that in the midst of the loss of your son, what’s to stop him from committing murder? That is a terrifying degree of callousness. I hope you have an alarm system set up. And I’m terribly sorry for your loss.

            God I hate your ex and never met him.

        • Well, at least he complimented you😂
          Mine- on the other side was complaining about my smell ( nothing wrong with it for the most of the time but he made me so self conscious- I cringe every time I think about it) and from time to time I was getting some irritation change if the way I smelled. My gynecologist and I were scratching our heads and couldn’t figure out what was causing it.
          I know now- 10000 cheap hookers in and out

          Let me just say- I’m healthy as they go and no issues whatsoever for the past 3 years.

          • Omg yes! Dexter. It was scary to see the similarities in his lack of emotion for example. What about Don Draper in Madmen. Even my young adult kids call their Dad Don Draper and laugh. My STBX still won’t watch it.

        • I stopped using my favorite bath soap, because when I washed my genitals the suds smelled offensive and I thought the manufacturer had changed the formula for the soap. Shortly thereafter, positive STD found on my annual pap smear. I miss the soap more than I miss the ex.

      • The graphic nasty behavior is on the part of the cheater. My cheater wife played the high and mighty “you are disgusting” card post-D-day if I asked her how often our marital sex occurred soon after her afternoon fuck sessions with her equally self-absorbed narcissist friend. ‘How dare you’, was often a response, I was the disgusting troll besmirching her true heavenly love.

        I was physically disgusted about bathing my dick, face, and tongue in this idiot’s fluids. Not an unreasonable question. There is an ick factor along with wondering if that kind of secondary intimate contact might make me as much as stupid as he is. This is not to mention the obvious STD fears.

        Also, pre-D-day, I kept getting these weird, minor general irritations and when we fucked, being inside my ex actually felt bad.

        More subject matter for chumps to trust their instincts: both emotional AND biological. I guess sometimes things literally smell wrong.

        OK, that’s my entry for a potential “Chump Lady After Dark” discussion board.

        • Let me add one more incident to the ick factor: I got a series of yeast infections, which I had never had before and haven’t had after I stopped sleeping with Cheater #1. More proof that C#1 was having unprotected sex.
          During the discard, when confronted and I had the full STD panel (while pregnant, no less), his smug reply was “They’re clean people.”
          Yeah, right, buddy. Does that include the ex-con drug addict? How about the bar fly pot head? Or the band singer that fancied herself the next Janis Joplin (heroin and all)?

          Eww. I count myself lucky that I didn’t have any long term STDs.

          • I got the same “they’re clean” in reference to cheap Craig’s List prostitutes. Umm, how would he know?

        • Forrest Chump

          After talking to my doctor/ she knew all the facts and insisted on the full panel STD’s
          She said that often irritation or “ infection “
          ( without any reasonable cause) is due to change in bacterial floor… u know, if it’s just two of you, your body adjusts to each other but if there is more people… well, you know

          Disgusting to think about it. Your w had a friend… my h was fucking random hookers right and left 🤮

      • And just think what delight he got out of you giving him a BJ knowing and thinking about his rendez-vous with the OW, right? Sick, twisted fuckwit…😠 So pisses ya off just thinking about their narc thrills.

      • Am I crazy or does his dick smell/taste like pussy?” I just decided I was crazy.

        That’s disgusting. He didn’t even wash when he got home?? Totally sick. I’m sorry you had to go through that. I just hope you didn’t catch anything

      • Nope. Remember kissing him hello and thinking the same thing. But quickly pushing it away, because who would do that?!

        And his family was visiting from out of town and staying with us.

        Such a chump!

        • I just read this comment and you are 100% right. I know my Wife. I know her pheromones, her taste, her smell…she never used to come home after a longer day at work and shower right away. Then she started doing that. The last time I went down on her (which I loved doing because it pleased her and got me very hard, sorry TMI) even after her afterwork shower, she tasted different. Like rubber. Daaaamn.

      • You are not crazy. On our one day of sex per month, he was often limp, so I tried a BJ and I remember thinking “So how hard do I really need to work for THIS?!?” And I knew. But I should have known when sex dwindled to once per month.

    • The signs of a double-life (that become visible in hindsight).

      Not wanting to be seen with you in public in your hometown, otherwise, all over me and affectionate when travelling. ( I thought he just didn’t like shopping etc like his dad).

      Pretending not to see the kids and I in the car next to him or opposite him when in local traffic, even with my kids waving frantically, calling out ‘Dad’, asking me ‘why can’t he see us?! This happened more than once. I now know we may have unwittingly caught him coming back from his sex-worker daytime hook-up??

      Suggesting and implying ‘I’m the crazy wife’ to work colleagues and friends.

      Having a lot of hobbies even though he was busy running a business and always with us otherwise. Playing an instrument in a brass band, Archery, hunting, herpatology club(snakes lol), and self-defence (karate) where he had way too much interest in a 20 year old and her mother. Being obsessive about theses hobbies as a way to cover his extracurricular activities.
      Not the first time, he was also friends with a lady and her young adult daughter (from church) when our first two kids were toddlers. Why was I so oblivious? I thought it was him being kind lol ( again, like his Dad use to do, travelling with work for the church and being Bishop). His dad has a lot of single women he would ‘check up on in his travels’ No one suspected a thing with him to this day. The only time anyone was ever suspected as far as I know, was my sister-in-law asking her Mum why her Dad’s photo was the screensaver of a single lady they visited after he passed away. ??
      I think back and my husband would have some connection with ‘the Mum’, being ‘helpful’ as a way of getting to the daughter.
      I was so flat out with the kids because he never helped me, not even fir a 10 min nap, I was too exhausted to see what he was up to.

      It just didn’t occur to me, we were religious, he was in the Bishopric, I thought he was taking care of the single sisters. Hmm hmm. Yeah. In more ways than one.
      Why did I not question why nearly all his friends were females before we got married?
      He had a couple of decent make friends, that disarmed me. His high/school buddy was a total sleaze thigh, I remember thinking how are they friends?!
      He would jump at the chance to disappear whenever I was sick and he knew I’d be occupied and not going anywhere. He would urgently have to go visit someone or something of interest.
      He would emotionally disappear after being so attentive and telling me everything I wanted to hear. He has an answer for everything. The one time I told an older lady friend at church I was worried, she said don’t be ridiculous, he was not cheating and he never would.
      I felt like I was crazy! No one ever said anything. Looking back, it felt like I was the only one who didn’t get the memo, while everyone tried to hide the memo or deny it even existed.

      Once he escalated to sex-workers and higher $$$ escorts, he started losing weight drastically, going to the gym, keeping the car pristine, hiding any evidence he had a family.
      So many of his clients, even when I was working with him every day if the week, were shocked to find out he was married! And had 3 kids! What?!
      The list goes on,
      The mood swings, excitement, over the top positivity, love bombing me, then withdrawing, hiding out, depressed, not wanting to talk at all, pretending to be asleep on multiple occasions, especially when driving on long trips so I couldn’t corner him, as the kids told me after D/ Day that Dad thought I was on to him. I wasn’t, I had a couple of concerns, but omg I had no idea essentially.
      He controlled money that he hid from me. He let me have access to other money just for me, I didn’t have to answer to him for, to put me off the scent. Again it was confusing, sometimes being controlling, other times generous.

      He would often dangle the carrot, talking about all our grand plans fir the future, paying the mortgage of early, travel plans overseas, etc etc, it was all ways he thought he could keep me there, working toward ‘our future’. It was always ‘in the future’.
      I planned and hosted a huge 40th party for him, and I still didn’t get it when he wouldn’t even stand next to me in front of all his colleagues and clients, church friends, my family, he made sure his family couldn’t attend. I felt so awkward and embarrassed as I was telling him to come over to the cake and blow the candles out, he just stood there looking at me and wouldn’t move. He never said thank you to me or acknowledged me when I gave a speech saying he wash my best friend and wishing him well.
      When he won the business awards, he did the same, left me walking up to the stage by myself, while he raced ahead, grabbed the award and stood at the opposite end of the stage with his female practice manager. One attendee sitting with us was again shocked to find out I was the wife.
      This happened two years in a row, the next time he stood at the opposite end of the stage again with all our staff in between, as far away as possible. I worked in the business with him, worked 10 hour days too, gave up my degree twice as he asked me to help him.

      It’s like one of those movies you would watch on t.v. He was seeing prostitutes right under my nose, ducking out from work to go see the ‘chiropractor’, ‘dentist’, ‘doctor’, ‘ physic’, podiatrist etc I remember thinking, gee, he really looks after his health. They were the cover. He would actually go, bury not just to them.
      Anyway, we had another Veterinarian start working with us, he was just as bad. We all knew it. Cheating, lying, predatory, but highly intelligent, charming as all, the clients loved him, YET, he was always gaslighting his fiancé who was beautiful, smart, talented, and who would question him, even in front of us at times, and we explain his way out of it, with her either feeling crazy, or he’d love bomb her so it just seemed ridiculous.
      My husband and him, their ability to make lies seem like truth was just limitless. They had ways of making us feel like we are stepping into their territory at times, and we weren’t welcome, then confuse us by making a point of showing the opposite when it suited them, acting all chummy like we couldn’t be any closer. Just crazy making!
      Not to mention the times he shit me down, made the other woman look mental, just stared into space when confronted. The level of control and lack of emotion, but like a psychopath but close! Probably more of a sociopath/narcissist. I don’t think he a slept a good nights sleep in 17 years of being married, any wonder, with that many lies.
      Sorry this is so long, but it barely touches the surface of the lengths he went to, to cheat and sleep with hundreds of women, and yet I still was blindsided!
      I still after 23 years, still find it incomprehensible as did plenty of people that know him. So many of us scratching our heads.
      Too many things that are obvious in hindsight, his distractedness, preoccupation and motivation, i and others thought he was just a high achiever, go getter etc. I had no idea he was a go-getter for a pussy smorgasbord.
      He even abandoned me and our 6 mth old first child to ‘go ahead’ of me to our new place when he got a new job in another city, as his work required he get there early. I bought it! Now I look back and see, another opportunity for freedom to chase women.
      He never wanted to leave me, or discouraged me from having our 3rd baby for example, he would encourage me and show me love in word, but not in deed. He counted on the fact I didn’t feel I deserved any better, especially as he confused me with smooth talk and romantic gestures and tokens. No depth to shy of it!

      • A lot of them do not want to split assets with their spouse, and a big part of the thrill is having a spouse at home to fool.

        They string everyone along and get a charge out of it. Pathetic excuses for human beings.

        Zero character, flim flam men, they are hard core cons.

        • Absolutely ! Conning those who trust and believe is not so tough to do! The deception and betrayal is profound. Mine manipulated me to sign off on the joint checking account , he was on his phone constantly or the bathroom even when we traveled. It was on the second cheat , warning signs and him grabbing my neck during sex that I opted for divorce after a 20 yr marriage . We went through many trials and I stood by his want to change employment .He makes big money while I survive on $840 a month SSD. Good attorneys cost. I’m still better off away from a deceptive liar!

      • Dear Rantings,
        I hear you loud and clear on the “love in word, and not in deed.” When you’re adulting, dealing with kids and living life, it’s easy to be on autopilot, and most rational decisions are obvious. So, it’s often hard to tell that you’re being devalued unless there’s a major life decision, or clear evidence of boundary violations.

        My STBX was also decent with words, but not deeds. And I don’t think she was lying when she said she loved me. She just had a wildly different definition of love, as an amorphous *feeling* that one might hold for multiple people. My definition of love begins with respect, mutual support, and putting your partner first – something that must be shown in deeds more than just words. As CL rightly says, we need to look to what they DO, not just what they SAY. All best to you, Rantings, and I’m glad that we’re free of our fuckwits!

        • So much yes to “love begins with respect, mutual support and putting your partner first”

        • Thank you LezChump for your kindness.
          Who knew there are different definitions of love when it comes to marriage and commitment. I have been schooled!
          Wishing you lots of happiness and joy in your ‘fuckwit’ free journey.

      • Unfortunately we all can relate to some, if not many, things that you went through. I’m so glad you’re no longer dealing with him.

      • You went through the most! It makes me sick to my stomach. These a**holes all use the same textbook and the sad part is that they think nothing of us at all. It blows my mind how cheaters switch on and off with lies. But I’m glad we’re all here on the other side instead of fighting to make it work with a narcissist who will never see our worth or reciprocate our love.

        My signs were the same. Never wanting to be seen with me in public, hiding the phone away and not letting me near it, going out with his phone off and coming back late saying he was at the ‘casino’ or with friends, mood swings, picking fights over nothing, verbal abuse, the list is endless over the decade we were together. And now one year post divorce he still behaves as if he was a genuinely good person who made some mistakes along the way like creating a whole human being with his mistress during our marriage.

        It warms my heart that all of us can say we got out! We deserve nothing but happiness and cheater-free futures! My heart bleeds for those still stuck in those abusive relationships. I wish we could rescue all of them.

      • Thankyou Rantings. I have such a hard time putting so much confusion and insanity into words that it helps a LOT when someone else can go into detail. Its almost impossible to make a proper narrative out of the deviousness. So many contortions and layers of manipulation. Even 8 years out my brain seems to short circuit when i try to unravel The Skein.

        • Short circuit! That’s exactly how it feels. Or an impossible, unsolvable fever nightmare. Composing a coherent narrative feels urgent at times, yet it’s a Sisyphean task. I think that’s why it’s such a relief to come here.

        • I hear you! The layers of abuse.
          For a long time one of my fears at leaving was being able to see it for what it is. I couldn’t face the fact I that loved someone so much who could mistreat me so! Trying to explain and describe it all is mind boggling. Wishing you well and all the best!

        • Omg yes! Dexter. It was scary to see the similarities in his lack of emotion for example. What about Don Draper in Madmen. Even my young adult kids call their Dad Don Draper and laugh. My STBX still won’t watch it.

      • Rantings, WOW. My STBXH and yours did so much of the same stuff. The other day I was looking at a list that compare a sociopath to a psychopath. My STBX checked basically all the boxes for the psychopath and only one in the sociopath column. Really creepy. Can’t believe how many things we experienced the same. Only our husbands had different careers and a different LONG list of hobbies.

      • My cheater was able to fool me AND all my friends, appearing very loving and committed.
        But, he seemed to have no friends of his own, just colleagues. That would be a bad sign even if he had not been a cheater, but I ignored it. He also would never introduce me to his colleagues, saying that he already worked ten hour days with them (that part was true, he worked from 10am til at least 9pm) But, he also did not introduce me even when we ran into one once when on a walk. And at restaurants he would first always look around before going in, to make sure there were no co-workers. I did not put two and two together even though past partners had been proud to introduce me to their friends. I thought he was just very private and a bit burned out on the office social scene. Also, he generally behaved as if he were deeply in love, yet never said he loved me. And, when he went on a trip early in our relationship he did not call or text or email at all. I had a cold sick anxious feeling about it, but told myself that we had not made an agreement yet about expectations regarding communication on trips. He returned, made stupid excuses about supposedly forgetting his phone charger, the pace of work, the different time zones–but actually he was with her and their colleagues and didn’t want anyone to know I existed. I told him I needed him to call or text every other day next time, he refused saying his conferences required him to work from eyes open til sleep, and he was just too tired to call after that. Actually he was just afraid she would see him texting me.
        Finally, my gut feeling was always just a little uneasy, like I was always on audition, even when we had lived together for months. My gut knew I was being forced to pick-me dance, even if my head did not.
        I notice that though he is now married to her, she is not shown on his facebook page and his relationship status is blank. So I think he is running around on her also now.

    • This topic is among the most depressing triggers for me.

      That is Not a criticism, but an admission that the times I feel at my worst, post divoce trauma, are when I face palm myself for all the red flags I just did not allow into my brain.

      How could I be the same woman who put up with so much glaringly shitty behavior AND somehow love the DOCTOR??

      I know, I know, I loved who he once was or seemed to be or who I hoped he was.

      Anyhow, just checking in and now I’ll go read an archive on Chumps taking back our power and fixing our pickers.

      • ((Hugs)) As CL says, it’s emotional abuse — and it’s also insidious. And you are not wired that way.

      • Yeah, Dr’s 1st wife, I look at missing the red flags as testament that you are such an amazing and kind person that this kind of treachery never occurred to you. You didn’t see them because you were loving him—projecting onto him the exquisitely lovely and honorable values that YOU possess.

      • Abusers take your strongest and best attributes–like your ability to trust and love and attach– and weaponize them against you. They have been practicing how to make their deception effective since they learned to talk. So, please, do forgive yourself, Doctor’s 1st Wife, for not initially seeing through him. Cyber-hugs!

      • “I know, I know, I loved who he once was or seemed to be or who I hoped he was.”

        So true. It took me a long time to separate the person in my mind from who he really was.

        He had 21 years with a spouse who loved him and was loyal to him, I didn’t.

  • Besides the fact he was never home, he became mean when had a new AP. He would find every little thing offensive and rage at me and the kids, like he was trying to prove how bad his home life was so he could justify his cheating.

    I look back over our 20 years together and although I only knew of three APs, there must have been many more, seems like he had weird emotional swings once or twice a year, probably when he found a new “luv”.

    • Me too on this. I was always SO hopeful that our marriage would grow close and loving and it seemed there were calmer, more pleasant times then with no change or warning in our home life, he randomly got meaner than hell and very critical. It was likely an excuse to blame his cheating on some awful home life.

      Another clue was that he was military but always insisted that we live pretty far from where he worked…only once did we ever live on base and he seemed to try to keep work and home very separate. I think now that nearly all his side-pieces were work related…

      which brings me to the point that he was VERY reluctant to bring me to work social functions. It was not unusual for him to go into some degree of rage on the way to work functions…one in particular was so traumatizing that by the time we arrived, the event could have been populated with circus animals and I wouldnt have noticed – which I think was his goal.

      • Unicornomore, he stopped inviting me to office functions shortly after he hired the HoWorker. He couldn’t stop taking about her. Dropped her name constantly. Told me how I much would like her. I don’t. Talked about her writing erotica, which amused me since she was a bible carrying Christian. That hypocritical whore came to my house for his birthday party talking about how she brought his favorite cake, and his favorite olives. I’d invited his entire office. I told her I already made his favorite cake and showed her the jar of his favorite olives in the fridge. She didn’t even look slightly shamed.

        He had already insisted I not work on the base where he worked as a GS14. He claimed my salary would just make us pay more taxes. Now I know he didn’t want me around to see all those late nights were just fucking that Howorker. He wanted his coworkers to forget he was married to me.

        He moved out of our bedroom. Claimed he couldn’t sleep in our bed. He slept in the bed if I was gone.

        He was so mean to me. Deliberately cruel, gaslighting me. He could not be pleased. He started fights so he could leave. He hated me. He hates me even more since I left him. He has contested this divorce for 23 months. He thinks our marital assets are all his. I can’t wait for the final judgement. The Judge will force him to comply with the Law.

      • MrWonderful also did not want to live on base where people would know us. Gee, I wonder why. In early years he took me to all the officers’ balls to show off to his command that he was a solid family man. The last 6 years, he would lie and say the command wasn’t holding a holiday party and would “forget” that there was a hail and farewell scheduled so I couldn’t get a sitter and go and he would “have to” go without me.

        At his last promotion ceremony in 2009, he wouldn’t pose for even one photo with me. There were all kinds of pics of him with his boss and everyone. I almost got a photo with him but he called his sister over to stand between us.

        I took 2 years of swim lessons and became scuba certified because he always complained that I didn’t share his scuba hobby. After my certification, he booked a trip for himself to go with a friend to Cozumel to scuba dive. He paid to fly from Hawaii to Cozumel to scuba dive and left me – newly minted scuba diver – behind. He complained I didn’t share his interests and then when I made a Herculean effort to join him, I was rebuffed. A$$hat.

        I often wondered if it mattered to his security clearance that he lied and said he had no enduring friendships with foreign nationals though he had been in an affair with a Portuguese ho (she was also married) for over 10 years. I suppose the military really doesn’t care unless fraternization is involved. I wonder if he will want the evidence I have of it going on public record at trial since his post-retirement civilian job depends on his clearance. No wonder he didn’t want to accept the position which would have required him to do a polygraph exam.

        • Mr. WEx

          Your story just jogged my memory…That whenever I ‘complied’ to a request of his – zilch – no validation, no appreciation, no acknowledgement etc.

          I learned to ignore and move on. The little bit of myself that remained after 30 years was in part because of me seeing this and blowing it off and doing what I wanted to do for me.

          None of it ever mattered because I NEVER could please him. Pure crazy making behavior.

          • My theory is that cheaters resent chumps doing nice things because they feel like we’re rubbing their faces in their misdeeds. It also undermines the narrative that we’re bad and they/APs are special. We’ve already given so much and they’re already so far in debt. They’re so self-centered and weird that stead of feeling grateful and loved, wanting to return the favor and have a mutual, affectionate relationship, they feel suspicious and challenged. As usual, it’s all about them.

              • Very interesting. My cheater did not want me doing nice things for him. It made him very uncomfortable. I always thought that was because he was a people pleaser and always wanted to be the one to do nice things for others (and he liked to get the credit).
                The reciprocity was unbalanced in the opposite way and not for my lack of trying.

            • Bread and roses, NAILED IT. My friend said to me ” i dont know why, but when you do something for him, he resents it”… i could never understand it except as disordered behaviour. But what you say rings perfectly true. In the end he hated everything that was good about me.

    • Yes to the picking fights for no reason. At the time, I thought it was maybe just a power play (“this fight is about absolutely nothing, but I’m going to push it to DEFCON 1 just to make you back down, thus proving who is the dominant person in this marriage”). Now I realize that it was really about manufacturing conflict in a marriage that had virtually none, so that XW would have something to point to (perhaps just to herself) when she left.

      It’s kind of ironic that my interpretation of these fights (“my wife is trying to grind me into submission”) was actually overly generous towards her.

      • “Now I realize that it was really about manufacturing conflict in a marriage that had virtually none, so that XW would have something to point to (perhaps just to herself) when she left.”

        Oh how I relate to this. It was the first thing I noticed was wrong. The smallest things seemed to get spun into something serious and in hindsight I think it was done to justify his actions.

      • WOW i feel this so much

        …i so clearly remember thinking

        “are a bunch of kid shoes & kid socks taken off at/near the entry, in an effect dirt-tracking REDUCTION move, really worth SCREAMING at all of us about?”

        but then making all the same old excuses for her in my mind

        the ones would make for an actual person who just lost their shit over something totally minor

        …”don’t worry kids, Mom’s just had a long day, yes c’mon, let’s straighten up our shoes”

        turns out mom was just crabby to be home

        after one of her many delightful, shoe-free afternoons spent in hotels

  • Damn, I had to look twice – thought I’d missed a Thursday. It is Thursday right? I guess the biggest clue for me was that he stopped coming home sometime in January 2010 for about six weeks. I thought I’d misplaced the cat but nope it was the Twat!

  • When they keep bringing up a new “friend” in nearly every conversation. Thats the beginning of the “it just happened” excuse.

    Also, accusing you of being a cheater.

    • True. When the affair is about to start they will insert the potential AP into every conversation. When the affair is in full swing the AP is rarely mentioned. Also true is that they get mean and have absolutely no patience. Find fault with everything and resent your existence. Right then and there though the chump should start making arrangements to see a lawyer. Affair or no affair no one should tolerate that treatment.

      • The being mean and nasty just floored me. It’s easy now to look back and see all the years of abuse and pathological lying from her but at the time last year I never expected her to be so angry at me. It was borderline hatred I felt. How she looked at me, how so neglected me, how she just lost interest in me and became so cold and critical. I told my doctor it was like she became possessed by a demon. In reality after speaking to professionals, her mask simply fell and I seen her for who she really is.

        • CNL. Boom. You nailed it. Their eyes go black and you stare down into the elevator shaft of their soul.
          Scary but effective face slap.

          Closest I’ve Ever been in contact with E. V. I. L.

          • There was one Saturday night in which I will never forget the look on her face towards me. It was hatred and a dark emptiness and the smug look she gave as she belittled me to our 9 year old little girl. I know now it’s called duper delight. End of the day the joke is on her as I divorced her and walked away. Rejecting them is a powerful weapon.

            • Yes. I love that leaving them is a SuperPower!

              So many signs – chumpy, trusting me – she brought him soup to our house after he almost died of sepsis (he later told me “You saved my life”. A-hole.) I kept forgetting her name – she was a subcontractor of his. I just forgot it again – what a happy moment! There is hope, chump-friends!

              I’m 4 years out. But those early days of misery? Every one I slogged through AWAY from Fw was a step toward this Tuesday “Moment of Meh”! You saved MY life, CL & CN!

      • Ex brought her name up a lot and eventually I asked if this was some sort of desensitization therapy. He agreed. That was when he’d agreed to not contact her unless I was told and not see her unless it was at our house with me present. (She was a girl with no close friends living alone and being her White Knight, so he thought, he was concerned for her safety.) I was so naive and trusting for quite some time!

        • Oh, forgot to add, he was actually calling her and Facebooking all that time, of course, despite promising not to and talking about grieving his ‘best friend’. I was FB friends with both of them at the time, and there was one odd ‘coincidence’ between a post she put up one day about giving compliments, and a comment he made about compliments he’d got that day (he was out of the house on a course) made me wonder. He later admitted he’d called her on that day. Coincidence? I think not.

      • I felt waves of resentment from my ex prior to him walking out on me. He was really impatient with me too and often told me to shut up. I couldn’t understand what I had done wrong. Everything seemed fine then the next thing I know, my heart and life as I knew it was shattered into a million pieces. That was nearly 8 months ago and I still can’t make sense of what happened. I am so traumatised. I have a great counsellor though who is helping me navigate the fallout. I will get there eventually.

        • H & C:

          Oh that is such a painful place to be. My Dday was a few years ago, 5 months before Christmas…I realized recently I have no memories of that Christmas. Not one. When the stress shatters us we put the pieces of ourselves back together, but there are gaps. That Christmas is one that never came back.

          I don’t think Chumps can ever make sense of what happened, because it is not logical, not moral…it makes no sense to people with an ethical worldview. At some point you stop trying to understand the why. I’m not completely there yet, but at 8 months out you are doing well if you get dressed most days, can drive safely and aren’t lying in a closet drinking gin. Give yourself some grace for how you are doing…your world exploded. You will get there eventually. 🙂

      • “Also true is that they get mean and have absolutely no patience. Find fault with everything and resent your existence.”
        ^^^
        Add to the confusion: they are walking on eggshells around YOU and you are overly sensitive and difficult.

    • I never thought about this one, but I got a new job about a year before I found out about the affair. My new boss was a great mentor and Ex kept making “joking” comments about me and my boss – which could not have been further from the truth. I was a bit flattered, assuming he was mildly jealous, but of course he was just projecting — because he was already screwing his protege.

    • That’s Jackass. Telling me all about the MOW except when she initiated the contact and what that contact was. Otherwise, I heard all about her.

    • So true. I noticed he talked about a new coworker a little TOO much! And then he told me about the pain she has in her labia and all the treatments she’s tried to make the pain go away. I don’t know…to me, that did not seem like appropriate work talk between a 29 year old and a 50 year old. But, it was enough for him to take “pity” on her and follow her subsequent procedures to eliminate the pain – and enough for him to want to try it out once the procedure was a success. How did this girl NOT know what she was doing? Now he’s paying for her to go to medical school so she can help other women that talk to their male coworkers about their vagina. And, he’s wed her and bought her a brand new half-million dollar condo to live in. Guess I should have talked about my vagina more.

      Meanwhile, I started having nightmares that he told me he was leaving with me. Repeated nightmares. Every time I told him about them he’d say, “I’d never leave you!” I’ve now found out that’s one of the “things they say”…”I’d never leave you.” “I’d never do that to you.” Chumpy me bought it, though.

      • ” I’ve now found out that’s one of the “things they say”…”I’d never leave you.” “I’d never do that to you.” Chumpy me bought it, though.”

        They do say it.

        My guess is once they start saying it, they are already planning it.

        • Lots of people say “I’d never leave you and they mean it”
          A lot of the things cheaters do and say are also done by people who are committed, honest and good (like getting moody, or getting fit, buying new clothes or talking casually about someone at work once in a while).
          We shouldn’t blame ourselves for looking back and not seeing the signs… they’re not always signs of cheating.
          Secretive things like hiding the phone and a some others are very fishy though.

          But this can be crazy making. You don’t enter into a relationship thinking you need to be a super detective. Because in a normal healthy relationship you don’t need to be. The normal healthy assumption is that your partner is not cheating.

          • All so true Zip.

            I mean, I am sure I said some of the same things to the ex, and I meant it.

            Having said that, it is also possible that back when he said it, he may have meant it. It is possible that he was one of the cheaters that started out just screwing around thinking I would never find out, he would never get leave etc.

            But, of course a cheating heart is not a trustworthy heart; so no matter how it starts out, it almost always ends in heartbreak for the betrayed.

            • Yeah, who knows what goes on in their head and who cares! I remember mine saying in the beginning that he would never do anything to damage our relationship or something like that. He said he knew how lucky he was and he wasn’t going to screw this up.
              I thought it was the oddest statement, and I asked him what he meant -and he just said again he knew how lucky he was and he never betray my trust.
              Knowing what happened, I take that as him knowing that he had a cheater side to him… He had good intentions, until he didn’t.
              Cheaters just don’t seem to be very solid people -regardless of how or why it starts.

              • “Cheaters just don’t seem to be very solid people -regardless of how or why it starts.”

                That is indeed the crux of the situation.

              • Yes, at the beginning i think he did love me… but there was some strange comments. I’m reminded by these posts… he said that ” you made an honest man out of me” like some bachanded funny Irsish Ol Country saying. Now i know that he had never been faithful to any of the women he was with. SO FREAKING GLAD TO BE OUT OF ALL THAT

  • He had all these female “friends” when we met. Only it gave me an off feeling in my stomach. His ex-fiancée had left for no reason whatsoever. And when we were still dating, he would throw out these little put downs to see how I would react. For example, we were out shooting pool and the bartender hit on me. I told FW about it and he said I MUST have been mistaken (because obviously, no one in the world would hit on me). That should have been the last straw. I should have run.

    I wouldn’t trade having my son for the world and it’s possible I will eventually walk away ahead financially than where I would have been alone. But being gutted by this monster of a human being and suffering his controlling nature and cheating has been horrible. It’s hard not to focus on the time I have lost being stuck with him rather than looking forward to future days when I will be FW-free. I wish I could go back and tell myself to trust my gut.

    • Saaaaame

      The gut feeling
      The controlling, nasty nature
      Hellish, I wish I had known sooner and not wasted 15 years.

      • Yeah….my ex was like that too and it was wrapped up in a phony, nice guy image. He was deeply insecure and would make nasty remarks under his breath and then paint a phony smile on his face and wish you a nice day.

        He was too much of a conflict avoidant coward to address things that bothered him so he had to get little digs in that he could avoid having to own.

        Then of course he’d play dumb and pretend he had no idea why you were upset….after all, he’d wished you a nice day.

        • That was my experience. He never owned up to any of the jabs, snide comments, eye rolls. He didn’t even own up to the lying on the day we closed on our house and went our separate ways. Coward. I still wonder if he’s changed. How could he not be jolted into a wake up?

          • The day we signed papers of her giving up the house she lied to the clerk to infer I had cheated and she was the victim! When I showed up later to sign the office was concerned I had coerced her signature. They apparently made phone calls and double checked documents. Satisfied, they gave me the paperwork to sign. When it was done the clerk said she and XH divorced and asked what ended our marriage. “She cheated and had no remorse.” To which the clerk said, “Funny. She said you were the one.”

            • What bitch, right to the end.

              I bet female cheaters get away with the lie that they were the ones cheated on far more than a male would.

              It at least shows she was embarrassed enough to make up the lie.

        • I briefly dated someone like this and was friends with a woman like this. It’s scary how they can fool people into thinking they’re kind and care about humanity.

    • >>And when we were still dating, he would throw out these little put downs to see how I would react.

      Only in hindsight could I see he was wrong in this, and it had no basis in reality. Of course I grew up with it (family scapegoat), and so didn’t see how wrong it was. Disgusting. No wonder he did all he could to separate me from friends who could have given me a sense of perspective, He was my first boyfriend, so I had no perspective. Jackal.

      • The husband of a dear friend of mine made a “joking” comment – in front of said friend and me – about wishing their kids were better looking, and insinuating it was her fault. What a shallow fuck. Not to mention, she is gorgeous, and their kids are amazing. My hackles went up, but this was before I knew about cheaters. Now I’m wondering, was this comment alone damning enough to be evidence? Never mind that there are other red flags. He’s a snide, entitled P.A. workaholic who talks a little too much about his attractive young coworker while his wife spends long days in the boonies taking care of their young kids.

  • He would come home from work and immediately change his clothes. He worked a desk job not construction, where I might understand. Sometimes he’d even throw a load of laundry in before saying hello. It struck me as odd at the time. Now I get it. Had to wash off scents and stains.

    • Eeeew.
      Sickening.
      I wish you well and thriving!!!!!! That you moved on and have put a lot of space in between, never look back!!!
      Disgusting a.h.

    • Mine would strip off his scrubs in the Landry room, and start a loud with only that. When I’d ask why, he’d act snarky “I’m the only one who does laundry”. Um no. He smelled differently—like booze some days (he’s a relapsed alcoholic), vapes and cigarettes, sometimes like fruity perfume—turns out it was a cheap Walmart body spray that the sex worker wore. The kicker that I can find funny in hindsight is the strange shaved strip down his chest. He wasn’t a super hairy person, but she must have claimed him by shaving this strip on his chest. At the end of our summer or wreconciliation, I took my older son back to college. When I returned, he had the strip shaved again… had she been in my house again? Most likely.

      • Yes, Dracula would RUN to the laundry room from coming in from his car to get his jacket and clothes in the washer before I could touch them. Once, when I was pregnant with my first, I surprised him in the kitchen when he was coming in from the outside to get to the laundry room. He pushed me so hard to get to the washer, I fell against the counter and was fearful for my pregnancy.

        And smelling like cigarettes and chewing gum to hide that he’d been smoking something – weed, cigarettes, vaping, etc. Which was so odd as he was a severe asthmatic. Like asthma so bad he needed an inhaler several times every single day. Which just shows what a dumbass he is that he’s smoking!

    • Ex spent 3 nights taking her to and from work as her van had broken down, and spending hours at her caravan. I was already upset at the amount of time and attention he spent on her, but hadn’t realised what was going on. On one night he got back and went directly into the shower telling me she’d been baking and burnt some bread, and he wanted to wash the smell off. I’ll never know, but I do wonder if that was the night they had sex instead of discussing how they wouldn’t, to save our marriage. He told me they’d had this discussion some time earlier.

    • This. Mine started washing his own clothes for the first time in his lazy life. Long after D-day he still wouldn’t admit that it was because he was afraid I’d smell her or see stains, but his explanation for this sudden change made no sense.

        • After 36 years mine manscaped. I called him out on it & he said it was for the dermatologist skin inspection. It was for the parasite 26 ish girlfriend howorker.

          • Same here. Started washing his own clothes and completely shaved his pubes. Said because he was sweaty.

            • Mine bought new underwear and shaved his chest hair. I hated it because his chest hair would start to grow in and he’d want to snuggle with me and it was uncomfortable. I asked him to stop and he wouldn’t. Now I know why…He also tried trimming down his pubic hair to “see if I would like it”. I had lived with his pubic hair for 29 years. He didn’t change it for me. He had a hairy back and ass…if I wanted him to shave anything, it was those two things! LOL! He never took an effort to look good or lose weight for me. For the other woman he shed a good 50 lbs in a few months.

              • I guarantee the only reason the other woman chased after him was his money. He’s nothing to look at.

              • While my fw looked ok, I mean no movie star but ok; I do know she was after a meal ticket. Hell everyone knew it. He wasn’t her first married man rodeo for the same reason, but he was her boss, so…

                Worked out ok though. She got a steady meal ticket, but he took her out of the trailer park and she landed right back in it a few years down the line. Well deserved.

      • mine, too. Going to the gym 3x a week and bikini underwear hidden on a closest shelf for his Adult Friend Finder selfies and hooking up..a 65 year old man!! For months I had been begging him to just tell me, I knew in my gut he was cheating. Of course, he said I was crazy, he’d never do that. The day I found the acct, (one he’d had for 10 years), I was awake all night, wondering how my life could have changed so drastically, but I waited, followed him on this acct for 3 weeks, reading emails as he talked shit about me and made plans to have sex with complete strangers. I was married over 35 years, but so glad to be getting out of this shitshow..I will never understand.

        • Oh… goodness Kathy!

          What forethought to hide and watch for a while… it must have been SOOO painful, but you were in real time. Most of us are trying to go back in time and recreate our side of events to put things together and re-write our histories. You had the advantage (when you’re looking back) of having a had ring-side seat. That seems valuable, because you knew exactly what was going on in your marriage AND what he was doing in secret.

  • There were all sorts of signs. I knew. This was not the first and will not be the last.
    The kicker was finding deer antler velvet from Groupon (supposed testosterone booster) half empty in a drawer in the dining room. At that point we had not had s3x in months since he could not “rise to the occasion”
    Then my teen daughters saw him s3xexting someone that was not me.

    • One thing that in real time during the “good” years that I thought was a good thing was that my fw was always very adventuresome in terms of sex. On the beach at night, in the water, in the bathroom while visiting others, all sorts of risky situations. I pretty much went along for the ride. I mean I enjoyed sex too, and of course I knew that if I didn’t please him he would stray, (lol) lotta good it did me. Now I wonder if that was not a red flag that he liked the risk, and that he was more prone to cheat.

      We never got caught, but he always took advantage of situations for risky sex.

    • Ha ha, CL, you are forgiven. I had to look twice because I had a little too much to drink last night toasting the birth of my first grandchild!

          • Attie,
            How wonderful!!! Congratulations!

            And, CL, I love that you’re human. Plus, we chumps love challenges, regardless of the day.

          • Awww, congratulations!! My mom tells me all the time how much more she loves being a grandparent over a mom. Thanks, mom! Lol. But you do get all the snuggles and fewer of the scream sessions. I hope you are able to visit the baby!

            • I wasn’t allowed to go to the hospital of course (we’re in lockdown again in France) but I kept him for 5 hours yesterday while the kids were running round registering his birth and so on. My oldest son is living with me at the moment until he moves into his new place in July and he’s even more ga ga than I am (I actually put the kitchen timer on the table when son was holding the baby so he wouldn’t get more time than I did)! And thank you all for the congratulations. It’s a new chapter for me, that’s for sure!

              • Congratulations Attie!! kitchen timer, priceless. “It’s my turn now!” lol

    • Unicornomore, he stopped inviting me to office functions shortly after he hired the HoWorker. He couldn’t stop taking about her. Dropped her name constantly. Told me how I much would like her. I don’t. Talked about her writing erotica, which amused me since she was a bible carrying Christian. That hypocritical whore came to my house for his birthday party talking about how she brought his favorite cake, and his favorite olives. I’d invited his entire office. I told her I already made his favorite cake and showed her the jar of his favorite olives in the fridge. She didn’t even look slightly shamed.

      He had already insisted I not work on the base where he worked as a GS14. He claimed my salary would just make us pay more taxes. Now I know he didn’t want me around to see all those late nights were just fucking that Howorker. He wanted his coworkers to forget he was married to me.

      He moved out of our bedroom. Claimed he couldn’t sleep in our bed. He slept in the bed if I was gone.

      He was so mean to me. Deliberately cruel, gaslighting me. He could not be pleased. He started fights so he could leave. He hated me. He hates me even more since I left him. He has contested this divorce for 23 months. He thinks our marital assets are all his. I can’t wait for the final judgement. The Judge will force him to comply with the Law.

    • How about an OW letter? I get a major dilithium crystal charge when you run an OW letter.

      😍

      #chumpcatniphigh

        • I love this one that one of the OW wrote MrWonderful after he shared with her a link to erotica he liked. She said something that the link must have been wrong because it was a story about siblings in an incestuous relationship. hahahaha Naw, that is what FW is into. You won the sparkly turd. Enjoy!

    • It’s working. I had a similar issue in a Zoom class this week. We just have to hang in there and hang on right now!

  • When I first met him, he would proudly tell me (unsolicited) that he had never cheated on any of his GFs (he was 30 at the time). Ends up that is all he did to his WIFE of 15 yes starting at year 2.

    NEVER marry a project, or ‘build a man’ to their fullest potential, for they will surely end up resenting you and downgrading with someone who will stroke and pander to their new found inflated and fragile ego.

    • Agree 100%

      People who lack accountability will always shift the blame.

      The person who was with them when they were down reminds them of their failures and “bad” feelings, so they move where the “good” feelings are, aka attention and ego boosts.

      That’s why I say hell no to protect boyfriends. I ain’t Bob the Builder for nobody but myself.

  • He got really mean. I couldn’t do anything right – and everything I did he’d twist to be somehow an attack on him. He started accusing me of being controlling. He started taking more care with how he looked. He became desperate for “alone time” (I’m an extrovert and he’s more of an introvert; I tried so hard to honor that difference, and he took advantage of that, going to her during that “alone time”). He changed how he kissed me and how we had sex (yes we continued to be intimate, but it was like he was learning new tricks). Mostly, though, it was the rage and accusations that I’d crushed all of his dreams and ruined his life.

    • Hey Rebecca, thank you for writing that for me. Same exact story here. Innocent things I’d say would become huge fights because obviously I was trying to ruin his life. Really? I just asked you why you would want to visit New York in February instead of waiting until the weather got better. That somehow became I didn’t want him to ever go anywhere and I somehow stopped him from living his life. Then I’d be the one who would end up hysterically cying and apologizing. WTF?

      • I saw what you wrote above, GiveTimeTime. The sex stuff is awful, possibly the most humiliating thing for me to remember. I don’t think I’ve ever shared the following with CN, because it just feels so vulnerable, but here goes:

        Right before D-Day #1 in 2004 (which was just a week after STBX returned from a research trip where she’d indulged in a brief fling), we were having sex, and STBX got this really weird look on her face and asked why I didn’t act more interested in her breasts. Mind you, I’d always been plenty interested in them, but I guess I didn’t worship them actively enough. Everything about the question itself and her tone of voice was off. After D-Day, of course, I understood the context.

        Fast-forward 14 years. I stayed with STBX because she seemed so very sorry about Affair #1, was eager to do all the therapy, etc. (It was all kibbles for her.) Anyway, throughout the summer of 2018, STBX was acting strange, but I thought it was because her mother had just died, and we were helping her dad clear out the house for a possible sale, etc. I never in a million years thought that she would be having an affair, because she was consulting weekly with her therapist (who had been my therapist), and because STBX is an unconvincing liar in general. (Turns out she can get away with a lot when she doesn’t have to lie to my face about it, because I’m not asking direct questions.) Apart from what I’m about to share, the only other alarm bell was one time I saw a notification on her phone that she had gotten a message from “AP name,” and it was a name I didn’t recognize. I thought about joking that she must have a new girlfriend or something, but I didn’t actually say that, because I was treating her with kid gloves after the death of her mother.

        Anyway, apart from that text notification, the only other indication I had that something was wrong was when we had sex one afternoon, and STBX wore the same weird look that I had seen after Affair #1. She said, “you aren’t really enjoying this very much, are you?” or something to that effect. I replied that it was just an afternoon quickie, and it was fine, and I was distracted and not looking to have the orgasm of my life. STBX clearly was imbuing the occasion with MUCH more significance than I was. Struck by the eerie similarity to the exchange we’d had after Affair #1, I thought about saying something, but again I chalked it up to the fact that STBX’s mom had recently died, and she must be re-evaluating things in her life.

        That was my reasoning as well after STBX came to me crying a few weeks later and said she wasn’t sure she could keep going (with our relationship). It wasn’t until later that week, when she finally came clean that she was not just looking for an open marriage but had already opened it up for herself, that I realized the truth. “Chump” describes perfectly how I felt after learning the truth.

        Anyway, I feel for all chumps who have felt things were off while being intimate with their cheaters. I guess it stands to reason that we would sense something is off during those moments, because it’s not as though cheaters are master spies or whatever, and we are all quite exposed and vulnerable in bed. I don’t do this anymore, but for a long time, I was upset with my chump self for not saying anything before D-Day #2 when STBX acted strangely during sex. I wonder now if she would have spilled the beans entirely if I had pointed out the similarity in her expression from the time after Affair #1. But, then I remind myself that I DIDN’T mention it because I was trying to be kind, while she was devaluing and deceiving me. And that’s really the only thing I need to know.

    • The changes in bed were number one for me. He was always an awful lay, but he got more creative at being awful.

      • Yes, same here. He wanted to try new things that pleased me in bed, while not worrying a bit about what pleased me in life. And he was never good in bed, and clearly needed the practice at pleasing a woman!

      • “…he got more creative at being awful.” haha.

        I swear that some of my ex’s new “moves” in the bedroom were de facto practice sessions.

        #sexguineapig

        • Spinach

          I swear that some of my ex’s new “moves” in the bedroom were de facto practice sessions.

          I’m open minded person and from the beginning I believed in good communication- sex related as well.
          Your comment reminded me something- at some point he started asking me different questions about brands of lingerie, about the way women experience different stuff in bed, ways to pleasure the woman.
          Stupid me thought that I would be getting a nice gift ( never happened) or will be pleasure in bed ( oh please….)

          I was his free human encyclopedia- extracting info in order to impress his hookers, women he dated etc.
          It felt like a double betrayal….

          On the top of that- I was hearing small negative comments about the way I looked, was, being deprived of a healthy sexual life for years.

    • OMG! “he changed how he kissed me”. That triggered a memory for me. He suddenly changed how he kissed me about 5 years before dday and I really did not like his new “technique” – I just tolerated it; it was easier than dealing with the rage that would inevitably accompany me having an independent thought about our physical life. Thanks Rebecca for turning on the light bulb 🙂 Now I need go sit down and plant my palm on my forehead repeatedly :/

      • Well, I think this entire challenge warrants a group facepalm! You’re not alone.
        🤦🏻‍♀️ 🤦🏻‍♂️ 🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♀️ 🤦🏻‍♂️

      • X didn’t like to kiss the first 27 years of our relationship. It made me a little sad, but I thought never being kissed was a small price to pay for being married to such great guy.🙄 About a year before discard he decided he liked to kiss and wanted to do it often. I felt bad because kissing him gave me the creeps. Now I know why. My current boyfriend is a great kisser. 😊

    • There are now 2 Rebeccas.
      I’m 11 years post-day and many years since the divorce was final.
      Hope others can tell us apart!

  • She joined a choir. Sounds innocent doesn’t it? Choir practise was an evening or two a week and then the odd performance at weekends. Who was I to know that she wasn’t attending the practises and that she could never make the performances because of “work”? I only worked out that bit of the jigsaw puzzle a couple of years after D Day; a work colleague’s wife who was a member of the same choir recognised my name and mentioned – in passing – that she seldom turned up.

    I should have worked it out much sooner. She can’t sing for sh*t.

    Also …. she became aggressively protective of her phone. She never let out of her sight and always took calls in another room. This bit her on the ar*e eventually; she synched it to the iPad that the kids used. This did not end well for her.

    LFTT

    • My Ex was constantly on his phone and was “aggressively protective” of his phone too.. In the past he left his phone on the bedroom dresser while he took a shower. During the affair, he would even take it into the bathroom with him when he took a shower.

    • “She can’t sing for sh*t.”

      I love that detail. The shit they pull off is unbelievable and we feel so gullible in retrospect, but, honestly, at the time, we had no reason to be suspicious.

      My ex can’t dance for sh*t and HATES to dance, but if he’d said he was taking dancing lessons, I probably would have applauded his efforts. Geez Louise!!

      • S@35,

        It’s not just that I had no reason to be suspicious. I knew that if I’d questioned her newly acquired hobby, I’d have been shouted down for not supporting her and being a controlling bully who was trying to undermine her; this was her “go to” response at any time that I had the temerity to ask a probing (and justified) question or set a boundary by saying “no.”

        LFTT

        • Omg. I get it. Ugh.

          Also, it sounds like *she* was the bully. Projection and manipulation. Classic!

          • S@35,

            You got it in one.

            She pulled a similar stunt with our son when he started asking “too many questions” about a savings account in his name that she was trustee for. Thankfully he saw this for what it was; a smokescreen to try and hide some really dubious sh*t that she had done.

            I made sure he got his money back (>£1K), but watching him realise that his mother didn’t just steal my money, but his and his sister’s too was heart-breaking.

            LFTT

            • Oh no! That’s totally heartbreaking. Yet another betrayal of trust. She’s awful.

              Good thing those kids have one sane parent!

    • FW father (FWF) is aggressively protective of his phone. There was a time where he shared his computer password with me. The reason for this was in the event he died and I needed to know where to find specific information for handling his affairs.

      At some point that switched. Mind you, I never went on his computer, but after I found some things while cleaning out my parents’ house last year, I tried one of his old computers and the password was not what it should have been in the beginning, nor what other passwords he told me over the years.

      He was always, and I mean ALWAYS on his phone. VERY protective of it. He also always carried a “work bag” with him, even when he wasn’t working. When he had a major surgery and was in the hospital for weeks after, he wanted his computer bag, computer, and phone with him AT ALL TIMES! He slept with that phone in his bed with him. Finally, when he went home after the surgery, he left his computer bag there before going to my parents’ vacation home. When I was cleaning out their house, I looked in the pockets of that computer bag to see what was so interesting that he had to have it with him at all times. I found thumb drives with LOTS of porn.

      Then a year later, when he was going back to the hospital for checkups, he had a different bag that he’d carry around with him that had his catheters in it. He asked me to open it to either get something out or put something in and I saw that he had inside pockets sewn into this bag (cheap nylon/canvas bag). I unzipped an inside pocket and saw another thumb drive. I don’t even need to guess what is on that drive.

      FWF has a strange hatred of women/attraction to women. He hates, HATES women in charge, business leaders. Having been a muckety muck in the business world, he knows “big name” executive women and he says they are all stupid (because he used to work with some of them).

      I think the biggest thing to notice/remember is how you *feel* around your FW. There have been times I’ve felt the ickiest feelings when we would be in the company of certain other women. Turns out that was my intuition telling me that person was an AP of FWF. In front of the family and everything, he’d invite them (and their husbands) over for dinner and sit next to the woman and they were probably having a grand time pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes.

      When I have an instant, gut reaction to a woman near my father, I now accept that my intuition is telling me something.

      • Good point about icky feelings. I have had these feelings about a few women over the years. FW insisted over and over that there was only one AP, but I doubt that. One woman in particular, who was the sister of my BIL’s wife, was very strange and awkward with me every time I saw her. There was something creepy about her. Later I found out the jerk was attracted to her, but he insists nothing happened. After D-day I found a mysterious draft in his emails. It had no addressee, but said the single line “I need to see you tonight.” This draft was made a year before he started up with the AP I know about at around the time I was getting a weird vibe from that previous woman. He would not admit there is anything to it, but just brushed it off because the email wasn’t sent and said he has no memory of it. As far as I’m concerned, that was more than likely just a first draft of a later email that was sent to that creepy woman. I’ll never know everything he did and it’s been tough to accept.

        Your FWF sounds like a horrible misogynist and all around poor excuse for a human being. I’m sorry you had to see all that porn and meet his pig APs. Yuck!

    • Yes, this is how I finally caught Dracula. I knew something was off, and asked him all the time if he was cheating. He denied it all the time. But he had synced his iPhone to an iPad that he left home one time, and odd people were texting him. I popped up all of their names in Social Media and found my evidence, all of which I screen shot and used in court to crush him.

      • Chris,

        They are seldom as clever as they think they are! Sounds like you got a good result.

        I was able to use screenshots of Ex-Mrs LFTT’s open FB profile to disprove a number of her lies in court.

        LFTT

  • He left his phone on the counter, face up.

    It buzzed. I saw a text from an unknown number asking him whether he thought they should circumsize their new baby.

    That was a tip off. In more ways than one.

      • Nah. At that point he was all “they are my true family.” Turned out that OW’s baby was not biologically his, but he didn’t care.

  • There were too many signs for me to possibly write about them all here. Some of them were so absolutely glaring that it now makes me sick that I let it go on for so long. Realizing how blind I allowed myself to be still concerns me. Am I that gullible about everything? How can I ever trust ANYONE? That’s one of the worst parts about this.

    • I get your concern…honestly, I am a smart person but my default is to believe people until proven otherwise. In some circumstances that is a fault but I choose to not see it as one.

      One of my challenges is that I now believe he was a cheater from the beginning so really there was never a “change” …I thought he was a quirky dude (but loved him in his quirks) but since his actions were consistent, my situation was apocalyptic before I considered cheating as a cause.

      In the end, I remarried and he is a trustworthy guy. I have chosen to trust even after being burned so badly and thusfar (8 years into this relationship) he remains trustworthy. He is not fond of me telling him that I love this in him, he says it makes him sound dull but after we all suffered what we did, trustworthiness is a huge, shiny thing, not a boring thing

      • True, I am so scared now… It will take time, and I know most people in my background are raised being really honest. At least it’s easier to not be played when it’s your mother tongue, although not necessarily enough.
        Congrats on being recovered and happy!!! #goals

        • I will sheepishly admit that I was very briefly taken in (for like a day or so) by prospective interests who turned out to be catfishing…in the online world you must be VERY cautious and discerning. Do not internally give your affection to anyone you have not vetted in person….so in that way, be skeptical.

          The person I married, funny enough, never tried online dating in over a decade of singleness. I knew him as a child and dated him briefly when we were 19 or 20.

          I have also heard stories of old friends from the past using historical comfort to manipulate people. I was careful and appropriately skeptical but in the end, his story that his wife left (for greener grass that didnt end up existing) and that he was not abusive or a cheater. I found it interesting that he never gave me the “my wife was batshit crazy” line, he was respectful of her. I later grew to dislike her on her own merit (she has been unnecessarily nasty to and about me). He was also very generous with child support / educational funds for his only child. He always did right by her and that was a green flag for me.

        • It is a sad fact that growing up with a FW of a father, I trust no one. No one. Well, except my husband and my mother. But other than, I don’t trust anyone.

          When I was younger, I attributed it to me being a bitch.

          Now that I’m older and have seen the inner workings of FWF in the last year, I realize that even if I didn’t have facts to back it up at the time, I must have realized deep down how much of a pathological liar FWF is. So I assumed that everyone lies like he does. Lies about everything, all the time.

          Unfortunately, this does affect my interest in and ability to get close to people. And I immediately jump to bad conclusions about people and their motives. But I’d rather be considered a bitch than be involved with asshole liars, so it is what it is at this point.

      • I was never allowed to touch his phone and it was always face down.

        He would ask me on his days off if I was coming home for lunch. I thought it was bc he wanted to see me but I guess he wanted to see if he could fuck the neighbor.

        I never wanted to kiss him and thought he tasted gross. I was pregnant so blamed my hormones

        We never had sex. I also blamed this on pregnancy, I thought he was disgusted by my pregnant self.

        I remember sitting in bed alone while he was downstairs watching tv like he started to do every night at bed time and I thought “this is it? This is what my marriage is like?”. I think that was the biggest red flag and the biggest lesson for me. I KNEW it was off. My intuition had alarm bells sounding but I tried to ignore it.

        Looking back his narcissism is very clear. At the time I believed he was a good person.

      • I really struggle with this too. I thought I was a passable judge of character and it seems that I mostly am but when it comes to him I was dead wrong for I guess our whole relationship. So I suppose he was also consistent.

    • I have already decided I am not trusting anyone again. Its a bad way to live but a lot of ‘friends’ knew but didn’t want to get involved and are still friends with her. I feel like an idiot. So besides her constant lying and treating me terrible, while leading me to believe it was all in my head, everyone else was being dishonest to me.

      Its like there was this big joke going on and everyone was in on it besides me.

      • That’s gut wrenching. You feel duped and tricked. It’s hard to imagine being able to trust people.

      • I’m so sorry KR. Take your time to heal and fix your picker. I hope someday you find someone that appreciates you for you. I look at it this way, if I’m an honest woman, there’s got to an honest man out there too…, I just have to be selective. I hope you find that honest woman someday and enjoy.

      • Me too. Everyone knew but me. My friends sided with him as well, so the discard was total.

        Chumps, avoid any guy that is in a band. Few are in it for the music.

  • The only thing I can think of is that he didn’t want me too close to our finances as he was seemingly always stressed about them. I’d see the balance on our checkbook and it was fine. Meanwhile, He was draining his IRA. I’d offer to help create a budget and he’d say no because it was a pride thing to take care of it.
    I never thought he’d cheat because one of the first things he’d ever said to me was “if you cheat on me, it’s over”
    He did get along with females much better than males.

    • Sneaky SOB.
      Funny, mine did the opposite. Suddenly he claimed he wanted me to take care of the finances. He literally went over credit card statements with me line by line, even going as far as to circle the bar and restaurant charges. After D-day I realized he had done it to enjoy duper’s delight by showing me all the charges that were from his dates, but claiming he was “out with guys” or “on a work lunch”.
      Horrifying. The extent of the duper’s delight was what clinched it for me that he is deeply disordered.

    • Yes! This was the biggest and final red flag -Obsessed with getting his hands on his 401 k and life insurance, and enraged when I wouldn’t provide assistance!

  • There were many many signs. He would hold onto his cell phone like it was a lifeline. He slowly started going away with his friend Bill(I never met him). Started out on a Friday night that turned out to be four to five nights a week. Bill had a cabin in the mountains. He would go there for overnight trips. The sudden urge to manscape. He was always critical of me. However, he became more and more verbally abusive. He would keep almost all his paychecks to himself. He became so nasty to our son that he moved out. The constant texting on his phone. One time I picked up his cell phone by mistake and he grabbed it out of my hand. And told me to keep my hands off his private business. Looking back I do not understand why I did not see it from the beginning.

    • My cheater was in the military and the cellphones he got were always cutting edge and private for work. I was never to touch it. It seemed logical at the time and I respected that but he used it during family outings and on weekends in ways that was excessive for his job.

      I wish that I had smashed that fucking thing.

  • This challenge feels so important, because that’s what I really couldn’t even imagine was possible…

    Well, after he was missing too many calls, he would send a text apologizing and saying how much he loves me (gaslighting 🆙)

    The grooming/mirror obsession obviously

    But never really doing anything together (but promising it)

    Some nasty comments

    Sleeping on the couch with bs excuses like needing to fall asleep with the tv on. I mean, if you don’t love your wife, can’t you just tell her?

    But getting off on my pain, that’s why.

    Not being able to look through his phone, but I never wanted to anyway… It just seemed funny how he would react after asking me to type a text while driving…

    It was torture and I would stay because I believed him. When I was pointing out that we weren’t happy, he was reassuring me.

    People can act like monsters.

    • I found an open pack of condoms, and he told me they were old -they were not.
      I never saw them again after that.

  • This was a subtle little act; she’d suggest women in our life who would make a better partner to me.
    “______ would be a better wife for you.”

    • Oh yeah, the pity game.
      I also was fed things like “I’m a shitty husband, and a loser”. But I didn’t want him to feel sorry…

      They tell half truths to feel better, but still keep using you and hurting you. Bad bad bad 🤮

      I guess now I know to choose an ADULT and not a project, if any.

      • That and the hint I should be looking for something better/different myself.

        Pretty poor adulting.

        • This is interesting to me, because I told my cheating ex-boyfriend that I’d gladly give him a year to ‘find the perfect woman.’ I was being sarcastic, but it was a response to his frequent criticism of me – I didn’t have the right handbag, I didn’t want to go camping in the snow, I didn’t care about action-adventure movies, etc – you know, all the important qualities in a partner.

  • Three years in, he had a female study partner from his junior college class. I came home one day and they were sitting fully clothed at the desk with books open and I got That Vibe. Who knows what happened before I came home (which was unexpected) but when I showed up it all looked innocent enough. Except for The Vibe.

    I asked him about it in therapy. The therapy I had requested to learn how to have a healthy relationship and avoid the long-term dysfunctional dumpster fire marriages both sets of parents had. He said there was nothing going on. Beloved therapist told him that if he was attracted to her he was out of bounds.

    He said he was not attracted to her. They were study partners because there were no other guys in the class.

    Not long after that, I got a call one day from……another guy in the class who wanted to borrow his notes.

    We also ran into her at a restaurant where he oddly avoided her like the plague and didn’t even say hello.

    A long time later he told me he had been attracted to her.

    I did not know what to do. End my relationship because he was attracted? I had no hard proof of infidelity and he was a Nice Guy who went to therapy with me.
    I thought I had won the lottery and wasn’t about to throw away the prize because of suspicion.

    With what I know now, I would leave. He lied. That’s enough to run like hell.

    If I had done that, I would not have my daughter and I am so thankful for her.

    Oddly enough, College Girl resembles the Craigslist Sole Mate he finally left for 24 years later…..

    Much more I can see in hindsight but this is the first clue I remember.

  • She started getting angry and screaming at me for every little thing. Nothing I ever did was right. She became distant.

    Started shaving herself bald which never did in 15 years as I preferred a little over bald.

    Started hiding stockings and garter belts. I found new sex toys that had been hidden.

    Phone was glued to her 24/7. Everywhere she went it went with her. It went from always being facing upright beside bed at night to suddenly face down and on silent.

    Hiding her online status on watsapp. She was having sneaky sexual video calls in the bathroom.

    She started changing passwords on all social media. Started wanting to get exercise and go for more walks alone (she was meeting them in their cars). Finding excuses to go to her friends house to “do their nails”. Turns out she would drop the kids off and then go meet him.

    Stop talking as much via text at her lunch during work. Turns out she was sneaking out to meet men during lunch.

    Had to during lockdown pop into work to get some work ready. Came home all flushed and high from smoking weed. Never smoked weed either but that suddenly started.

    Hiding bottles of vodka around the house and getting drunk often. She had never been a drinker.

    During our sex life she touched me different. Something just felt off. The way she moved, the way she was touching me and reacting had changed.

    I had gotten a vasectomy and she went off the pill and spent past few years telling even our doctors and her friends how great she feels off it for whatever side effects it was causing to then taking her friends pill (I believe her friend knew about the cheating) and now having an excuse that she is taking this pill as it helps.

    Screaming at me about how I don’t love her. Accusing me of cheating. Assaulted me whilst accusing me of cheating, assaulted me and held a knife to me about how she would cut my balls off so i could never get it up again if I even dared touch another girl (despite her being caught with dozens of men).

    When the kids were around she started trying to provoke me into an argument and sometimes would recoil as if she was scared of me. (So scared of me that despite being caught cheating she kept on cheating).

    Started taking the kids to go stay at her sisters every weekend as she needed space away from the stress of our marriage falling apart.

    Had hickies on her chest and blamed it on our 7 year old son climbing over her. 3 kids and never once ever had marks like that before.

    That’s just some of what I can think of.

  • He pocket dialed me and I heard him ordering two different coffees at a coffee shop before I hung up. I teased him about it that afternoon and asked him who he was having coffee with. He told me they were both for him! I thought it was weird at the time but never suspected a thing.
    I recently found a questionnaire I’d filled out during a pre-marriage course. The answer I’d given to the question ‘what do you love most about your fiancé?’ was ‘his values’.

  • I found a pack of cigs under our daybed in the spare bedroom. Knowing our lazy Chief Engineer occasionally took naps during repair jobs in unoccupied apartments, I was going to give the cigs to our on-site building manager. Ex stopped me from going — he didn’t want ‘trouble.’

    Fast Forward to one of his company’s events where I noticed one of his employees smoked the same brand. I pointed it out to him and he ‘jokingly’ called me Sherlock.

  • A SUPER obvious one, but he was grooming his private area despite us having a nonexistent sex life. When I asked why he was grooming he said it’s just basic hygiene.

  • There were so many red flags I can’t name them all. I couldn’t touch his cell which he started walking around the blocks of our home all hours of the night. He was gone on the weekends visiting “friends “. Eventually not sleeping home saying his friend “Ron” had him sleep on his couch being he lived so far.
    The worse is when he came home smelling odd. In my mind I knew he was having sex with the whore but in my heart 💔 I couldn’t believe it because I loved him so & being married for 34 years was my life. Wish I threw him out & divorced him years earlier.
    Our son is getting married in June so I’ll be seeing him with another woman for the original OW died. It’ll be hard to see him but it’s my son & future wife’s day .. won’t let him spoil it. I can hold my head up high for I was honest & kept my vows.

    • Good luck, Kathleen. I’m expecting to also attend a son’s weeding soon and will more than likely see the ex-fuckwit and his skank. My thought is to pretend not to see them at all. The day will be for my son, not the dick. As long as he doesn’t approach me, then I can’t see any reason that the day won’t stay wonderful for my son. If the ex-fuckwit does approach me, I think I will just say, “Excuse me, I have to go”, or maybe I just won’t acknowledge any greeting that he might give me. Who knows what I’ll do. Maybe nothing. Maybe I’m still giving him too much credit. Maybe I’m still nothing to him, and still letting him rent space in my head. But I’m thinking that it’s better to be prepared for any scenario than to be blindsided.

      • Amazon,
        I’ll be taking pictures with the evil Ex but that’s it
        What’s important is how we stand proud & show the love we have for our child not our anger towards a empty shell of a man.
        I’ll be thinking of you ❤️ knowing I’m not alone. Thank you

    • Good luck ladies, I’m sure it’ll be ok. I’ve been through 2 weddings since he buggered off and it was ok (I was very nervous though). His latest gf (not an OW) is pretty attractive (I don’t have a partner) so I felt a bit dumpy, BUT she’s as miserable as hell. Ex got wasted at the first wedding (we all knew he would) and I thought he stayed sober at the second but only found out later that he was wasted at that too after we left and gf was pissed off both times and left early! My only thought on seeing him was THANK GOD I no longer have to live with that! But as far as the weddings were concerned, it was ok. Ex even came over to talk to me a few times and we were fine, but gf didn’t like it at all and came scuttling over every time he tried to talk to me. I had a blast and my family and I were having great fun. Ex sat at another table looking thoroughly miserable because, as I say, gf is a miserable sod!

      • Thanks Attie! I never even thought that being cordial would actually be better than total indifference. The ex-fuckwit married his skank…, and I hear that she checks his cell phone all of the time. So wouldn’t that be worse for the skank were the ex-fuckwit to come up to talk with me? She’d also be right there to make sure he’s not coming on to me. Well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. But I appreciate your input a lot.

  • Hindsight being 20/20, I wish someone had told me to pay attention to how my body was feeling. It knew before I did. I had IBS, muscle twitching, a weird pain over my heart, insomnia, panic attacks, wanted to binge eat, etc… My body totally knew and was screaming at me to get my attention. When I finally realized what was going on and kicked him out, every single issue I had went away. Not overnight, but within a year I was completely healthy. So, pay attention to those body cues! If I’d listened earlier I would have saved myself years of trouble and doctor visits.

    • 100%, NRNF! I have a bad left scapula, left over from a very bad car accident in the very early 90’s. It only acts up when I’m under severe stress (it acted up in early COVID as I was getting ready to fire an employee for stealing).

      But, the last 12 months Dracula was in my house, before I found the last affair, it was flaring up like crazy, and I tried to think what unusual stress was I under? The body knows, even if the mind doesn’t want to admit it.

  • Hmm.

    Wanting half an hour of alone time “to unwind” every afternoon when he got home from work (turned out he was calling/texting Schmoopie).

    Suddenly putting a passcode on his phone.

    Suddenly wanting a laptop for work (He couldn’t even use a computer or type an email!!).

    Accusing me of having an affair with the neighbour (whose wife was dying of cancer). I don’t think I had ever even spoken to the neighbour without my husband or his wife present, and I was beyond horrified/mortified. Spent the next few years actively avoiding poor neighbours lest anyone think I was having an affair with him🙁

    After 25 years of buying my own birthday and Christmas presents he gave me a vacuum for my birthday. Weird.
    Then for Christmas he gave me a very expensive kitchen appliance ($2.5K!!) Prior to that the price limit was always $40. I should have known something was up! (Later I realised he had been spending between $800 and $1000 a week on affair activities for over a year).

    Husband started complaining often about Schmoopie, how she was needy and high maintenance at work, and kept calling him all the time, but he had to help her to become a top performer.
    Worked out later that when the complaining stopped they had progressed to bonking. u

    Husband had me write Schmoopie’s marketing materials for her!! What a mindfuck.

    General Manager Husband hadn’t had a pay rise in 4 years. I kept asking him to ask for one. Turns out the lack of pay rise was because he was pretending to work 5 days, but was actually only working 3 days a week. He was spending 2 full days a week with Schmoopie!!!

    Asked me to put youngest daughter in after school care as he often had meetings that went late…yes, it was all lies – he got me to put our child in care so he could stay longer in hotels with Schmoopie, on the days he pretended to work.

    We were living in a warzone. Previously angelic children had embraced total teen anarchy. Turned out that our older teens knew what Dad was up to, and were keeping it to themselves. Affected them both horrendously, but neither of them ever told anyone, not even each other. Dreadful times.

    So many signs that I never recognised for what they were.

    • Oh and the time he got a Brazilian “for you, because it makes me look huge!” WTF?!!! Most ridiculous thing I have ever seen!!!

  • He started going through my wallet looking for receipts, demanding to know where I had spent $X in cash I took out in a given week, why I had needed to go to Starbucks twice, why I had bought a sandwich for lunch instead of brining my lunch, was I hoarding cash for my secret life (ha ha ha) because there never seemed to be as much cash in our checking as there should be. As it turns out, it was all some kind of sick twisted way of messing with me (making the affair more dangerous?). He was in a client-based business and had a lot of expenses for client lunches and dinners etc. He would pay on our joint credit card, pay off the card from our joint checking but he’d CHANGED THE DEPOSIT ACCOUNT for his reimbursements from work — to a secret affair slush fund. There was no money because I was paying his business expenses. While his reimbursements paid his necessary mistress expenses: lingerie, trips to paris, nights at luxury hotels.

    My learning: Don’t be an idiot with your finances. Know the passwords. Monitor the accounts. Protect yourself. Don’t fall for the gas lighting — trust yourself to know if your own behaviour has changed.

  • I had no idea he was cheating. In retrospect, I see signs:

    He joined a gym and started exercising more than usual.

    He got mean and initiated fights.

    He accused me of “telling him what to do.”

    Sex became less frequent. I googled, “Loss of libido in 60 year olds.”

    He got viagra.

    He did some different things during sex. I thought he learned them by watching porn—something he often did.

    He became more and more quiet. But he was always introverted and painfully shy, so I didn’t recognize the sign.

    He suddenly didn’t care if I went away with my female friends, which was a huge change from decades of not wanting me to leave him (possessive at).

    He wanted to do a financial plan (making sure, I see now, that he could “afford” a divorce).

    His work hours increased dramatically.

    He wanted me to get him mouthwash for work. 😕

    He said he needed time alone to hike He lied that he was just trying to adjust to retirement.

    I heard him tell a lie to someone.

    He treated me more and more like shit. I got used to the abuse.

    • typo: possessive af (as fuck)

      While I’m at it, I want to add several more retrospective observations:

      He started to fish even more–for hours and hours.

      He got a tattoo and didn’t give a rat’s ass if I liked it.

      He bought a sporty car (in addition to his Jeep that he used for fishing and, evidently, sex).

      He became more and more withdrawn.

      He became cheap, getting angry when I bought a gallon of milk–MILK–for our daughter’s family. WTF? They were working late and had run out. We were babysitting our new grandchild.

      He became very sensitive and demanding. For instance, he demanded that his sister and her family travel in excess of an hour to visit us because he felt slighted that they hadn’t invited us (him, really) to a bbq they’d had a few days before. His sister had a very good explanation. Basically, my ex bullied her. She caved as I so often did. [Note: She’s a chump, too.]

      I felt more alone than I’d ever felt in my life.

      I found myself trying to please him, which included honoring his need for “space.”

      I think my unconscious brain knew something was up.

      There, I’ll stop.

      • “I felt more alone than I’d ever felt in my life.

        I found myself trying to please him, which included honoring his need for “space.”

        I think my unconscious brain knew something was up.”

        All of this stands out to me.

        I gave him space and he and schmoopie went on to bond while I stayed out of the way.

        The way these monsters manipulate us is evil.

  • Bizarre anger nothing I did or said was right . When I questioned it all I got was ” you do it too ”
    when asked for examples he walked out of the house .
    So if they are picking fights for no reason at all – this is a huge sign

    Started brushing his teeth . He had never brushed his teeth in 19 years . He would use mouthwash only but all of a sudden he had dental hygiene.

    Mentionitus – its the affliction of always mentioning the AP

    Phone now on silent and face down and never letting me touch it . That had never happened before

    Texting etc on phone all the time ( yes even in my face constantly texting) then saying it was someone from work you have never heard of about fantasy football/football/ golf/ darts .

    The trying to prove how great they are . My Ex always use to say I am a good guy and I use to say I know you are , that’s why I married you . No one that is a good guy has to say they are a good guy he just wanted affirmation that he was wanted/desired/in demand

    My number 1 sign is working late/away all the time and never having any money to account for hundreds of hours a month over time . Payroll mucked up / new staff that don’t have a clue/ am getting it next month then next month came and no money and back to anger .

    I can look back at all this now but while you live with a bully its impossible to see

  • He started withdtawing large amounts of cash and paying cash for everything.

    Oh and the time he got a Brazilian “for you, because it makes me look huge!” WTF?!!! Most ridiculous thing I have ever seen!!!

  • He brought home a picture of us at our wedding that had been in his office at work because the company was “redecorating.” He had been having ed problems, so got a prescription for Viagra. Tried it with me, once. Once he knew it actually worked, we never had sex again after that (this was about 2 months before I discovered his affair.) He became incredibly mean and abusive to me, blaming me for everything wrong in his life. He began buying those boxes of cheap wine and drinking while driving on his way home from work (we lived an hour away.) He suddenly had more out-of-town business trips. He changed his passwords on all of his email accounts (this was before smartphones.) One of his female co-workers called him at home on Christmas to tell him her brother had died, which I thought was weird at the time (turns out this was his girlfriend.) I’ve learned he was a narcissist, and I now have radar for these damaged and damaging people so totally avoid them.

  • So much of this is really familiar, so I will try not to duplicate too much with mine.

    I think one big red flag that isn’t specific to the relationship itself was the way he talked about the past. He cast himself as abused in every story, always the bid to generate sympathy and empathy, never accountability. And every ex friend and lover was cast as mentally questionable in his stories, in some over the top way, while he was soooo reasonable and just a simple dude.

    Another is that he always had some really off the beaten path interest. I don’t know if it was because he was adopting some other person’s thing or if it was just a tactic, but it always gave him a self-centralizing table topic and functioned like personal branding in a social group. (He does this on social media to this day – – kind of a well-known person in certain circles, so he’s tough to miss if you’re ever in the circle – – and he has changed sexuality, gender identity, faith, ideology, etc. many times over the years in accordance with the current trend of the day. His sad backstory changes with each new blog/city.)

    And another was his hatred of anything homey. Hated quilts and crocheted blankets. Hated floral dishes. Hated any homemade art he didn’t make. Hated family heirlooms on display. I mean, I get not liking a style, but hating a homey style? Hating quilts, for chrissake? That’s a lot of venom to give a handmade blanket. Must really, really hate appearing comfortable or family-oriented. (‘Course, now he likes them according to social media, because farms are in now.)

    Most significantly, I think hair-splitting in general conversations was one of the reddest yet most subtle flags. He wasn’t just literal. He split hairs after spinning something super hard to shift a thing in his own favor. Like, he’d round 15 minutes up to an hour and provide a complex mathematical argument for why it was true, then find highly stylized ways to explain why his explanation only applied that one time when he was magically the one who it favored.

    And he was always, always smarter, the only truly smart one, because clearly the reason you couldn’t understand the complex math was because you were not as smart.

    • He would have had an aneurysm at my friend Gaby Burkart’s house. The foremost expert and collector of American quilts (she was Swiss and pronounced it “qvilts”) her home was basically a quilt museum with quilts everywhere. The first time I went to her house I thought I had died and gone to quilt heaven. Too bad you could not have taken your X there for a very long fondue dinner with shoe leather meat (Gaby evidently preferred spending money on qvilts) and had loooooong conversations about fabric. 😜

      • Nah, screw him, I’ll go with you and geek out on qvilts. Sounds way more fun and worthwhile! 😁 That does sound wonderfully amazing.

    • Painting himself as somehow victimized or the underdog in each scenario. The one that does all the work with no appreciation. It was a common thread with personal relationships and work relationships. So exhausting to hear how unjustly he was treated by work when he was compensated well. Also, the “I work so hard” card, that was utter BS too. He was “so stressed”, “worked so hard”, yet had so much time to carry on affairs.

    • Well that sounds like someone has a major personality disorder. Rather sad way to live though that a grown man has zero sense of identity and who he actually is.

    • Have you looked up covert narcissism? Sounds pretty spot on for him. Always the victim, never recognized for their awesomeness, always the smartest one in the room.

    • I was married to the smartest guy in the room. Always the knew more than anyone else. He was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. When someone would mention a subject ex would take it further sharing detailed facts on the subject, going far beyond just common knowledge. Ex enjoyed the attention when people would be surprised at how much he knows and about so many subjects. Ex would then do his fake modesty routine, golly, gee.., I’m not that smart…., I saw it as a control/power issue, sending a not so subtle message that others are inferior or beneath him.

  • He asked me if I might be interested in someone else. When I answered with a stunned, “No, why would you even think that,” he explained to me that he didn’t mean another man, he meant maybe I was interested in women. Again, when I asked, “why would you say that,” he didn’t have any explanation except that I wasn’t as enthusiastic about him as he thought I should be. (Apparently, the fact that I was the only one working full time and doing most of the childcare weren’t an adequate explanation for my failure to fawn all over him on a daily basis).

    A few months later it was clear that 1) another woman was enthusiastic about him in just the way he thought he deserved and 2) he hoped I was secretly gay so that he could pursue a divorce and maintain his version of the moral high ground.

    Of course, it is quite telling that he didn’t hope I was cheating on him with a man as that might have reflected badly on his virility or sexual prowess.

    • I got the ‘boyfriend’ accusation but its as projection. I also WAS showing him attention but apparently not ‘the right kind.’ Another form of projection. It wasn’t that I wasn’t into him, he wasn’t into me.

  • Pretty glaring obvious ones: an email account that has to be opened in a private search page, text messages about meeting up without preamble, numbers with no names, spending money on ‘friends,’ going on a trip with ‘opposite sex friend,’ prioritizing friend/family of friend, lack of interest in sex, manscaping and changing appearance in midlife which again is understandable but weird, constantly teasing me about having a boyfriend or getting a boyfriend when it clearly annoyed me, refusing to talk about anything (see sad sausage), gaslighting. Etc… If something seems off, trust your instinct. It might not be cheating but it probably means something.

    • Oh yeah, based on other comments. Constantly mentioning APs. I just thought they were friends because I’m naive I guess. Like seriously interested in anything to do with APs. And phone protection. I often have no clue where my phone is. Keeping his in his pants pocket at home is weird.

  • – He blocked his location on his iphone, saying it was an IT security update at work. (Being that he was in IT security, this made sense. The only time I would check his location was when it was getting close to dinner and he wasn’t answering texts. If he was still at work, I would assume he was in a meeting and make dinner for me and our child. If he was on the road coming toward home, I would wait).
    – He never worked from home anymore. When he was home, he was always on his phone texting/emailing people (even through dinner), and was working in the study on his computer throughout the evening. (I thought work was just really busy).
    – He got mad at me and my child for stupid things. (I thought he was just really stressed. Because, you know, he was working all the time).
    – He got mad at me when I asked about bills and finances. Wouldn’t let me participate in them. (He makes a ton of money, but apparently also spends a ton of money. I discovered $80,000 in credit card debt. In his name, luckily).
    – He insisted that we go on trips, vacations, dinners, outings with the affair partner (who I had considered a friend) and her husband/child. Even when I didn’t want to, he made me feel bad for not wanting to do things with them. We used to do things with other families, but stopped that… We only did things with her and her family. Multiple times/week sometimes. He always set it up. (I began to think something was wrong with me for not wanting to do things with them. I got a therapist and a psychiatrist, who both diagnosed me with anxiety).
    – He, and my “friend” (affair partner), would make fun of me for things. When I would say that I didn’t appreciate it, he told me I was too sensitive. (Another reason I got therapy/meds — I thought something was wrong with me).
    – He insisted I get a full-time job, with benefits. Prior to that point, I worked freelance which let us travel a lot, since his job is flexible. He planned and booked all the trips. At least 4 or 5 week-long vacations/year (cruises, Hawaii, beach vacations, Disney), plus long weekends every few months. When I pointed out that we wouldn’t be able to travel because I’d only get 2-3 weeks of vacation a year, and my job wouldn’t be flexible to work from home, he said he didn’t care and that I needed a full-time job.

    • Oh my goodness Menage a Chump – I’ve been scrolling through all of these posts, recognising most common denominators but yours is the first I’ve read that has really struck a chord.

      My X was always getting our family to hang out with my ‘friends’ family – lunches and suppers, cinema trips and outings ….trying to book holidays, trips and involving our children in the same sports activities her children enjoyed (despite our children not being sporty) – so that he could legitimately go on tours and away matches with her. My ‘friend’ was always grilling me about how much sex we had and I remember one occasion she couldn’t disguise her shock when I said we’d had sex that morning…..at the time it made no sense to me. I tried to rationalise her response by thinking that perhaps it was because she wasn’t having sex with her husband. I now know it was because my husband was having sex with her and had told her we no longer slept together.

      He was always helping her out doing odd jobs for her and there was one week when he had been at her house most days – because I’d always believed his sad-sausage poor-boy act I thought it was my ‘friend’ who was taking advantage of his ‘good nature’ (!!!) and urged him to charge her for his time (he never had a job and never contributed to any bills).

      The killer was a 7hr ‘dog walk’ he went on with her. He said they got ‘lost’ and like a chump I believed him. When I challenged his friendship with her he got aggressive and defensive ‘why can’t I have female friends? She’s the only friend I have. How come it’s alright for you to have male friends and I can’t have female friends’….it makes me feel sick to remember how I internalised that oppression and truly believed myself to be a terrible person for even daring to think he might be cheating.

      The only thing that makes me feel slightly better about those missed red flags now is that, to my knowledge, that ‘friend’ is still unaware that she wasn’t the only affair partner he had (I found digital evidence of dozens of hook-ups, dating profiles, gang bangs, grannies and men – it seems any hole was a goal) and one Tuesday soon the karma bus is going to take her for a ride that will put my X’s same efforts to shame.

  • When my ex first started booking up with the ho-worker AP, it was like a light switch went off with him. He started treating me very coldly and just mean. Extremely distant. Wouldn’t look me in the eyes during any conversation. Lost interest in our son who was a year old at the time. Was texting on his phone all. The. Time. Texting and then smiling while looking at his phone. He’d take his phone and go into the downstairs bathroom for an hour at a time and say something like How his stomach was upset. It happened so much I remember genuinely asking him if he should see a doctor. I do also remember asking him on two occasions during those four months before D-Day if someone else had his attention. I did not suspect a full on affair but he had a bit of a history of being overly friendly with his female employees, colleagues and patients. Now as I look back I wonder if that really was his first affair. I think it was his first full out on all levels affair but I see now how a lot of his behavior with other women was boundary crossing. The ironic thing is that I truly trusted him all those years because he seemed like such a “good guy.”

  • The family photos in our home were rearranged after me and my daughter come home from being out of town. Looking back, I believe he took them down when having the OW over then attempted to put them back up.

    • Have you watched the Netflix series Undone? An eerily similar scene plays out in the episode “Alone In This.” Actually, the entire series struck a nerve. Painful but worth watching.

  • The Top 4 for me:
    – when letting her know that I think she spends too much time with the other guy and simply asking to reflect on where this may lead, she got all defensive and told me she has not done anything wrong after a total of 5 minutes of reflection – I did not even accuse her of anything;
    – increase use of her phone, even during family times with the children;
    – being out of the house even to the detriment of family time with the children;
    – getting really irritable with me about little things and gunning for arguments, to the point that even the children noticed;

  • The bathroom. With the phone. For a long time. Often.

    I’ll bet we’d all raise our hands.

    Thank you Chump Nation for all the reality checks today. As I’ve said before, prior to the Internet we’d be alone with all this crap thinking we were crazy. Sharing our stories and reading the stunning similarities has been the ultimate Neosporin for the infidelity injury.

    They are laughably totally unknowingly all the same dopey saps.

    • “As I’ve said before, prior to the Internet we’d be alone with all this crap thinking we were crazy.”

      Yep, and I was alone before the internet.

      I discovered CN years later because of his blow up with out son, and to actually find out how common a whore cheater he was, was helpful to me.

  • How about: 1. Noticing that the gym clothes in his duffle bag on his regular basketball night for 20+ years, suddenly were still folded and still clean when he threw it down in the laundry…I KNEW the clothes weren’t worn and did not say anything (which is completely UNlike me).

    2. Finding an EXTRA cell phone hidden in his car, “for work” he said. Yeah.

    3. Going into work 2 hours early for almost a year (6 am), “I can get my work done faster when no one is around.” Right. Those are just 3 of the many many signs I saw.

    • My FW wore his gym clothes on a date with the ho-worker. Came home and took a shower. I smelled the clothes later and they still smelled clean. By that point I had other evidence of the affair and called him out on it that night. Later I asked him if at any point they remarked how batshit crazy it was that he was wearing gym clothes on their date. Like no red flags that you guys are awful people? Nope.

      • For the life of me, I still can’t believe the I did not say anything when his clothes were still clean (I smelled them, too lol) after his “basketball” night. After being together for 40 years (married for 36), you’d think I would have said something…but I didn’t. And that was so unlike me.

  • I missed so many glaring signs, he ensured I was drowning in work it made it easier for him to cheat. Also, if you see signs and confront them on the signs they will stop doing those and get more secretive, do not be fooled that they have stopped cheating.
    He had all the classics at one time or another:
    -secretive with cell phone, wouldn’t let me even touch it
    -joined a gym
    -lots of cash around
    -increase in “work trips”
    -joined a hunting club far away, without cell service
    -talked a lot about different females
    -would text and call females from home and in front of me, “just work friends”
    -sim cards laying all around the house, found them all the time. Never occurred to me to be odd, be warned SIM card switcharoos and hiding= expert cheater level.
    -new moves in bed
    -new grooming habits
    -triangulation with OW, how [beautiful, smart, organized] she is and how I’m not.
    -Devalue of me, can’t you workout? can you wear different clothing? can you get plastic surgery? Can I be “nice” to him? Nothing I was or did was good enough, and I tried so hard to please him.
    -Catching them in lies about anything, the more I paid attention the more inconsistencies and lies I noticed
    -Increasing time spent away from home, and trips didn’t make sense
    -Toll road notices in mailbox for places and times I was not aware of him being there
    -He would stay vague on his plans and locations, never wanting to be pinned down
    -Wanting you to meet the “friend” from work, do not let this give you a false sense of security. Some of them enjoy this power play
    -His “Friend” from work attempting to befriend you= aka she’s a fucked up as he is, RUN!
    -Areas of the house or his vehicle that he keeps off limits to you
    -Clothing in his vehicle
    -Comes home smelling fresh or funky (either freshly showered or freshly f’ed) and showering as soon as they get home
    – Has a new friend named Bill and he and Bill enjoy frequent dinners out
    -Finances are secret
    -Starts a load of his clothing when you are occupied or out of the house or quickly when coming home
    -When you do travel with him he appears to be way to hotel savvy or you notice a strange confidence
    -Weird scratch marks, cuts, bruises and injuries (especially after trips)
    -Last minute trips
    -Says I told you about this trip last week, and you know he didn’t
    -Secret cell phone
    -Trust the feeling you get that something is off.

    • Did he actually say “females”? I always find that language awkward and objectifying when men use it to refer to women outside a medical context. 😂

      • He would say he can have female friends, there was nothing wrong with it. I never thought much about the word “female”. I guess I was more focused on that it made me uncomfortable and he didn’t care.

    • What do they use the sim cards for? I remember that too but I never changed a sim card in my life so I still don’t get it.

      • They work like a track phone. They can purchase one at Walmart (for example) set up a random phone number. Pop them in and out of an extra iPhone. Hard to trace. There may be more to it I don’t understand. For extra sneaky coverage mine would separate the extra phone and SIM card.

        When I discovered this game, I knew he was into some shady stuff.

        • Thanks. I remember seeing several and when I asked him what they were for he was vague. He claimed they helped with storage capacity but I never needed more than what came with my phone.
          At the end he was using one of my old iphones, saying he was using it to listen to music. Really? But by then I had realized that there were so many lies that I wasn’t interested in any more investigating. The sneaky bastard had accessed my laptop from his work and strange things were happening to my calendar and desktop files. I finally bought a new laptop, a Mac, which I kept locked up until he moved out. As far as I know he never got access to it but who knows.

          • I got the excuse that it came out of his old phone. Then I thought you there are way more of these then phones, it’s didn’t add up. I finally put the whole puzzle together, but it took sometime. He is very sneaky.

            It’s such a violation when they get into our electronics. I think at one point I was in a virtual cage, he could see everything and knew exactly where I was. I started changing all passwords and deleting devices. There are still likely some gaps, but it’s better.

  • When you are old enough to retire, as I am, you realize that over the years you have been able to obtain something unavailable to you when you were young. Perspective. Because of your life experience, and things you have learned along the way, you actually see things in a much different light, because NOW, you know.

    I came from a dysfunctional family. I did not know what “normal” was. Even though I survived this circumstance, I would have to warn others to beware those who come from dysfunctional families. There is an entirely different learning curve for us. I want to believe in the theory that, over time, the arc of the universe leans toward justice, but I also believe some people never get over this unfortunate start in life.

    Both Ex’s had a horrible home life, narcissist mothers, no strong role models, and big empty holes inside which required almost constant attention. They were competitive, and did not play well with others. They always felt “cheated” or unappreciated. They were very different men in other ways, and very different from my dad, but in hindsight I can see these similarities. I accepted them, because I had grown up seeing these traits in my father. My mother always thought she had been a positive change agent in m my fathers life. She could never change his core. Is it any wonder that I also believed I could positively change others? I have seen change, I have experienced change, but the essential component is the person has to want to change. These guys only changed in a surface way, as a strategy to “win” and get positive attention and material things from others. There was never enough kibbles to make them happy, because they didn’t know how to be happy. They looked at life as getting what was due to them, what they desired but did not deserve.

    Early in life they learned how to lie with ease, they never had any “close” friends. They used technology to their advantage to enable their cheating. They pretended to do things “for the family”, but they never actually passed on any benefits to the family, because they were selfish. They were very attentive to materialistic detail, and what other people thought, but they didn’t care what others thought. They used this information as a weapon to manipulate others.

    All the surface things like clothes, and grooming, and being unavailable are just signals for a new scam of some type. Sometimes for sex, sometimes for money. Never for you, as a spouse, or their children. We were just props, used to make them appear “normal”, we were just useful. It is easy to discard an old model for a newer model, if perceived to be more useful.

    My FOO problems were different. I was raised to be useful, to be strong, to endure hardship, to overcome obstacles. I was raised to accept some negative traits, as “just being a man”, and remember, “it’s a man’s world.” I was programmed to believe I needed a spouse, and if I was to be a “good woman” I should do everything possible to assist my spouse in his success, AND to keep the home a safe and welcoming place. I was not raised with the expectation that I would have a spouse who would support me in like manner. It took me a long time to realize I did not believe it should be “all about him”, and that I should enjoy some benefits from my hard earned work skills. When I learned to love myself, and put my effort into providing for me and my children, I learned I could do much better without having to care for a grown man child.

    This transition took time, and dedicated work toward change. I had to learn it was not only ok, but better to object to unacceptable behaviors. It took much less time to discern the truth with #2 I had put up with too much from #1, 20 years of my life. The love bombing threw me off, but when it stopped, I had already experienced some of the tell tale signs. My experience on the marriage police came in useful. I was out much sooner the second time.

    I am now content, because I learned I did not need a spouse to survive. I can provide for myself. I have been able to do more for my children, with less money, all their lives. I have developed an internal alarm system which recognizes selfish behavior, almost immediately. It is unfortunate that it took so long, and the journey was so difficult, but it is possible to feel good about your life in hindsight. The CL message is so simple — leave a cheater and gain a life! Easy to say, hard to do, but worth it!

    • This is beautiful and I’m sorry I didn’t respond sooner. I, too, am coming to this place, and it is wonderful. I want to give this freedom to every chump. 💚

  • Fw got a second phone, all of a sudden his employer ‘insisted’ on it. He took it into the bathroom with him, totally new behavior.

    He started taking classes in a new religion. (guess who belonged to that church?)

    He started to demonize me. Twisted everything I did or said. Ascribed feelings and motives to me that I did not have.

    He began to undermine my authority with our children. Started to spoil them to ‘win’ them to him.

    He could not go on family trips any longer. Work didn’t allow it for various reason.

    Many excuses to be away from home, where he had been a homebody before this.

    Stopped helping me with car related issues. Told me to look after those myself from now on. (That one hurt a lot for some reason).

  • I missed far too many signs, probably living on hopium that my gut feelings were wrong and my wife of 22+yrs wasnt cheating on me
    – Always getting groomed to the max to go on a festival trip with the AP, but would never regularly do this any other time.
    – Insisting he was just a good guy.. A friend.. And she was just trying to brighten his crappy life by taking him to these festivals and buying him gifts
    – taking tablets to delay her period for these trips.. On the grounds no one wants aunt flo there at a festival or on holiday.. But was ok for a family holiday??
    – keeping her phone with her at ALL times, changing password regularly
    – picking fights with me over the smallest of things..
    – going to the gym religiously
    – getting insanely jealous anytime the AP got a real life girlfriend.. Only saw this in hindsight
    – being on her phone alot even on family days out.. But would give me hell if i pulled her up on it.. Saying it was her mum.. Friend.. Etc
    – taking alot longer to do any trips.. Because she would spend an extra 20-30mins chatting before coming home and blaming it on traffic, queues in the shops, any other delay you ciuld think of.

  • -He seemed stressed; I thought it was from work because he had just gotten a promotion
    -Started hanging out with a group of cheaters at work because “networking connected to his new position”
    -Lots of before and after work meetings
    -Started going in to the office on Saturday mornings
    -Stopped holding my hand when we were out together; walked a few steps in front of me while I scrambled to keep up
    -We always had the ability to fingerprint into each others’ phones, and suddenly I was locked out of his
    -Disconnected from my family; became too busy to help my parents as we always had in the past
    -Couldn’t seem to coordinate our calendars to get a weekend away together, or take a vacation
    -Stopped normal maintenance on the house and yard; became angry when a normal task came up (hooking up the sprinkler system in the spring for example)
    -Didn’t want to spend time with the happily married couples that were our normal social life
    -Stopped initiating sex

    In looking at this list, it’s so obvious and I’m pretty sure I knew subconsciously. As the months wore on I fell into a deep depression and by the time Dday rolled around I was really struggling. Then it all became so clear. It’s taken me a year and a half to get past the devastating pain and now I’m just angry. What an awful human he was, and still is.

  • There was an excuse for everything.
    Don’t doubt yourself!

    Flowers arrive… He bought them for himself.

    Woman’s items at place… Belonged to good friend.

    Woman posting about her casino visit with him…. He was “tagged in error.” Later found out he lied to her too and asked her to take down the post because his religious group shouldn’t see it! 😅

    2 lunch containers in his truck… He and male friend had lunch

    Phone turned over always…

    Sunglasses in car… He found them! Yet they were on passenger far side dash. Not where a driver would place something he found.

    Shaving smiley faces around his penis. Ugh…

    Eventually tried to explain away a nude photo of a woman on laptop that also had his lower half in photo. Ridiculous excuses followed. The “picture is too blurry to tell who it is!” It was clear as day. It’s a stock photo, I don’t know who that is, it’s old, etc. I knew then he was trying to make me doubt my own eyes and that he was a hopeless liar. It was a married client of his. That was the final straw. Good riddence!

  • Oh, one more.

    He started to wear this one lightweight khaki jacket–a Banana Republic one that I’d bought him–every day, even when he wore khaki pants. He was very particular about his “look,” and had expensive clothes, so I thought it was odd that he would commit such an egregious fashion faux pas. At the same time, I admit that I thought it was refreshing that he didn’t seem to care.

    Turns out that the OW said that she got “wet” whenever she saw that jacket hanging on the hook in their office. FFS!!!

  • I have mentioned before that my STBX exhibited a lot of “affair-lite” behavior throughout our marriage, even when she was not (to my knowledge) actively having an affair. By “affair-lite” behavior I mean emotionally intense friendships with people she was attracted to. Why did I let this slide? Well, we are both women, and most of our friends are women. So there was no clear, bright line. It would have bothered me more if those friends were local, but most of them were remote, so it was harder to see how inappropriate they were. It was also true that we (as is usual for lesbians) processed things A LOT in our relationship, so I had no reason to think that STBX was hiding things from me (esp. after her first affair in 2004). But she admitted after D-Day #2 in 2018 that she had been pining after her “best friend” for YEARS, and I can see that much more clearly now.

    The other red flag I spackled right over is how STBX effectively dismissed all of my concerns. I did sometimes react against her passive aggression, unrealistic expectations, and manipulation, but she mainly got defensive and couldn’t really acknowledge the validity of my concerns. I strongly recommend to others that they frequently do self-checks: do you feel heard and valued in your relationship, independently of whether you have any evidence for specific boundary violations? One of the subtle signs I wish I had paid more attention to, was how STBX clearly valued her “best friend’s” opinion over mine. STBX would share some work situation with me, and I would offer my perspective, and she would dismiss whatever I was saying. A couple or three days later, she would share with me “best friend’s” thoughts on the situation, and I would say, “but that’s exactly what I said the other day!” And STBX would look at me like I had sprouted horns, saying that she didn’t remember what I had said. And, to be honest, she HADN’T heard me the first time, because she was well into the devaluation stage of the abuse cycle. I brought this pattern up in therapy, and STBX said she’d work on it, but I didn’t realize the broader significance of it.

    One last thing. Because of the subtle toxicity in my relationship, like spackling over the “affair-lite” behavior, my libido waned. Who wants to get intimate and vulnerable when we feel devalued, even subtly? And then my STBX devalued me further, and eventually justified stepping out for Affair #2 as “meeting her needs.” Her excuse was that her world blew up when her mom died, but later I learned that she had been flirting with the idea of having another affair for YEARS before she actually acted on it. Those were YEARS of devaluation of me, and all the mindfuckery that goes along with it.

    So, new chumps and others: please do the frequent gut-checks. It’s OKAY to NOT BE OKAY with your partner’s intense friendships. If you are losing interest in intimacy with your partner, or feel that you are not being heard and valued, then it’s time to head to a GOOD therapist who validates your feelings and will call out defensiveness in your partner. A good therapist will also recognize that disorder is real, and not as rare as most people think. Anytime there have been serious boundary violations in a relationship, like infidelity, it’s important to do at least basic screenings for personality and mood disorders.

    • I really appreciate this perspective. It is what I was seeing too… when I was still valued by my X (likely a covert narcissist) I felt really important and my opinion was a big value to him. But the slow devaluing is so hard… it’s like at some moment a person who you were a collaborator in life with all of a sudden has a new life and new attentions and you are just some accessory that was in-vogue last season.

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective on this, LezChump. Many similarities, and I know how confusing it is. Impossible to handle any of the abuse the “right way” when you’re in the thick of it but haven’t yet figured that out.

      One somewhat related red flag you just helped me recognize relates to a cheater’s closeness with people you don’t really know or hear much about. My ex left for catering gigs on weekends. He’d tell me plenty about the guys he worked with, and I’d actually known many of them for years, but he never mentioned any women. I came along once, and there was a college girl who was extremely comfortable with and close to him. She was haughty and ignored me completely, giving him sidelong looks, sharing inside jokes and chatting with him about his Instagram… which he would tell me he only used for promotional purposes, not friends (whatever, I didn’t have or follow Instagram and didn’t care either way, but it did strike me as odd that he would have her as all people as a “friend”). This all seemed so out of character, even his persona around her – like another side of him he was intentionally hiding. Our freedom and independence – and loyalty – were what “we” treasured about our relationship, and it was the first time in well over a decade of being together that it crossed my mind he would ever mess around. This was a year before DDay. I don’t think this young flirt was ever an OW, but she might have been. I’m certain he tried. Turns out he was always on the prowl for young women to stroke his ego (and more). There were plenty of these to be found in his lines of work and in his circles of friends/accomplices. This one wouldn’t have been the first, nor the last.

      Moral of the story: If your partner is close and comfy with someone they’ve never told you about, beware. A person’s ability to selectively tell stories and manipulate reality to make himself look good and blameless, or to pave the way to trust and easy access, is a red flag. Whether or not they get the girl/guy, they’re setting the stage – and they’re obviously all too comfortable deceiving you about it.

      Related to the above realization: Bringing home gifts from work or randomly. One summer when FW worked as a ranger who spent long days in the woods, sometimes with coworkers, he often came back with homemade jam, a travel coffee mug, treats. He said it was from some funny older lady he worked with. I thought, “that’s sweet,” though 20/20, the details were a bit fuzzy. I never met her. He talked about his coworkers there plenty – interestingly, all guys or much older women. Then, after DDay, he told me about how he “could’ve” hooked up with a young woman he worked a lot with then. She’d been really interested but he’d said no. (Implying I should’ve been grateful honored, and as if his impressive restraint also proved his integrity.) Even if he hadn’t cheated (yeah right), it just proved he was secretive and a liar. This repressed memory floated up last night – thanks to the Thursday challenge, no doubt – and I woke up in the wee hours thinking, ‘Huh, the gifts from that “old lady” we’re probably from some young flirt he was screwing.’ So easy for him to concoct stories, and what did I have to go on aside from that? I could have easily lied to him just the same, but why? Where would it have gotten me, what would I have gotten away with, and who would I have been?

      At the time this came out, I remember thinking, god, there have been so many guys who expressed interest in me over the years, and his and our friends who knew us well were always commenting on how lucky he was to have me. I was together, kind, fit and attractive – not that it matters – independent, thoughtful, accommodating, funny, smart, and he acted alternately like a grumpy hermit or an absurd, attention-loving clown. Yet somehow he deserves credit for (maybe) not cheating – once?

      One last thing:
      “One last thing. Because of the subtle toxicity in my relationship, like spackling over the ‘affair-lite’ behavior, my libido waned. Who wants to get intimate and vulnerable when we feel devalued, even subtly?”
      I experienced this 100%, and I’ll add that while intimacy and connection was never his strength, FW behaved more and more like an immature slob and did nothing to spark my desire or even kindle affection. I wasted the prime of my life neglected and increasingly unfulfilled and ashamed, and I’m angry with both of us for it. That whole time, that hapless fool was getting off on “easy” women and porn. This is why I don’t think I would feel sorry for him if I ever were to learn he’d suffered an accident that results in castration or waste-down paralysis (and I don’t care how bitter and hateful that sounds). Fair is fair. My usually gentle younger sister even once said she wished she could cut his dick off. She used to love FW like a big brother, and now he’s good as dead to her.

  • First tip off and I totally missed it: he would answer questions I hadn’t asked (he was setting up a back story in case anything blew up in his face). Example while we were still in college “there must be a dealer on campus who looks just like me, I’m getting all these people saying “Hi, Ron”….” ok, so he was afraid some chick he’d messed with was going to speak to him while he was with me. Second example: came home one night and he told me a story about a drunk running out of gas in front of our home, drunk breaks in through back door and insists he drive him home….I think he was with somebody and was afraid I might have phoned home on my break. If somebody, anybody, gives you more information than you asked for or more than you need, it’s a sure thing they are lying or trying to avoid discovery of something. These things are from 40+ years ago…and he still hasn’t changed.

  • 1) Started acting distant
    2) Didn’t want to take showers with me anymore, which we always did together.
    3) When I would lean in to kiss him, he would turn away
    4) Seemingly always on his phone in the other room
    5) Started adding random, sketchy profiles on Facebook and Instagram

    Where there’s smoke there’s fire!

  • My cheating husband claimed he needed weekly massages for his chronic back pain. His “massage therapist “ made a special appointment for him on Saturdays when she was normally closed because he worked mon-Friday.

    Perfect cover. How nice of her! As a good trusting chump I would never deny my beloved any treatment that would help him. Didn’t know sex was the treatment plan.

  • My husband started slamming the lap top shut when I approached.

    He drank more than usual.

    He was standoffish for the first time.

    He worked out more than usual.

    I got a yeast infection for the first time in my life. (Thanks, could he be any more disgusting? No condom. Affairs are physically disgusting.)

    He would express gratitude to me unexpectedly using phrases he had never used before. Then retreat.

    He kissed me in a way he had never kissed me before. He learned it from her. It’s the little things that cut the deepest, right?

    Never in a million years would I have guessed he would do this. It was the shock of my life. Nothing he dies will ever surprise me again, and here I am over a decade later. I don’t want him in any way, shape or form. Here’s what they don’t tell you about the pick-me dance: after a long time it is the chump who loses desire for the FW, not the other way around. You think you want your cheater back, but trust me. You really, really don’t.

    • That! I still remember when we were in wreckonciliation stage and everything looked “better” (news breaker – wasnt as he was still having the affair I was not aware of) – but I FELT trapped. I wanted to be with him but in the same time I didnt feel as I used to having him by my side..I felt like with a stranger. I remember one NYE when we were in “ok stage” (I did not uncover the whole truth yet) and I locked up in the bathroom to cry. I FELT something was not ok. I felt trapped, like my life ended. I am alone now and it is sooooo much better!

  • The cross-over between our experiences is so uncanny that these are repetition but in a way, for newbie chumps, seeing how god darn indicative this behaviour is, it’s worth it.

    Worked every evening (which he’d done for years be honest) but instead of coming to bed would fall alseep in my daughter’s bed. If my daughter and I had been hanging out and fallen asleep before he’d put her in his bed. Now he slept in there. Obviously afterwards said that wasn’t natural in a relationship. I instigated NONE of that of course.

    Said he wanted to talk about money but at the same time we were doing a significant enough renovation to the house (mindfuck much). They money talk where we worked out a plan where instead of him taking every penny that is free each month and stashing it in his bank account which we had done for years and I had no problem with but now we’d both pay equal amounts into the joint account and both use this for all our expenses. Hmm, big flaw there because how’s he going to buy flowers for schmoopie out of that account. Not gonna. And also now he’s not getting to keep all the spare cash each month any more. How did he deal with this, the next week it came to payday and I was away for work and I went to buy lunch and there was no money in the account. He had refused to pay. I said what the hell are you doing and he just paid it and said nothing. So weak.

    He was moody anyway but moodier than usual. We went on holiday and was awful the whole time.

    He was constantly looking at himself in the mirror and doing his hair. Putting Just for Men in his beard.

    After D Day I noticed he’d shaved ‘down there’

    He used to leave the room to avoid me, at first I thought I was going mad but I called him out about it eventually asking what was wrong. He denied it of course.

    And the really stinker, is I got an anoymous email saying he was having an affair. He looked shocked to death (I now am sure schmoopie sent it) but said he’d never do that kind of thing, he’s not that kind of person. And what’s worse we all believed him.

    So all the usual things of being awful and difficult and blaming everything on me. Utterly tedious when you look back.

    Twat. I truly gave him far too much leeway on his behaviour. I hate him.

  • There are a lot of things from early in our relationship that were such huge red flags, I can’t believe I didn’t run. One is that, rather than playing the victim in all past relationships, XW proudly told me stories of how manipulative she was when she was younger. Things like how she and her friend would go to the bar wearing wigs and use fake foreign accents to pick up guys. Or how she would get a guy’s number and save it in her phone under a female name. Tricks of the trade I suppose.

    When we were dating, we went to a concert where she saw an ex boyfriend. She wanted to introduce me to him but I refused. I guess she was hoping for some pick me dancing.

    After we bought a fixer upper house, she complained it was not nice enough, but never did anything to make it feel like a home. She didn’t put out a picture of us or our kids and rarely had any input to give on even simpler decisions like a set of curtains. I had to drag her kicking and screaming to help me pick out some new carpet for the bedrooms. I chalked this up to her being lazy or really not caring. After the cheating came to light, it was all thrown back in my face as one of my failures. Apparently, I just did ‘whatever I wanted’ with the house, so there was no reason for her to make an effort. I realize now, it was just a lack of investment in our life together.

    Sometimes she would be worried that I was going to leave her for someone better. Other times she would threaten me that if I cheated it would be over. She would declare that cheating was such a shitty thing to do. These things might be said randomly or in response to something happening on a tv show. Total projection.

    Knowing how hard it is for me to fall asleep, XW would wait until we went to bed and I was almost asleep to bring up something she thought we should talk about. When I told her it was frustrating because she had plenty of time to start these kinds of conversations after the kids were asleep and before we went to bed, she said it was because she started thinking about it when she was laying there. Looking back, I think this was just conflict avoidance because she knew I wouldn’t engage in the conversation. It also became another one of my ‘failures’ as a husband (I didn’t want to talk about our relationship) after I outed the affair.

    Then, of course, there were the common signs as the cheating started to get off the ground.
    Withholding sex.
    She mentioned AP a few times.
    She started spending 3 or 4 hours at the salon every other weekend just to get her hair touched up. As if she needed to go every 2 weeks, and I often couldn’t tell any difference in her hair when she got home, especially for as long as it took. Her excuse was always that the stylist was running behind.

    As the affair progressed,
    New underwear.
    Shaving more often and more places.
    Unexplained anger.

    • Oh yeah, two more common ones…
      1. We didn’t hang out with any of her friends (the one or two she had). I only met them a few times at certain events like our wedding and the birth of our children.
      2. Suddenly started locking her phone.

      And one I don’t see around here much:
      The passenger seat in her car was in a different position than if anyone in our family would have sat there.

    • There are so many things flooding back.

      XW always needed time without the kids. Hour long showers, grocery shopping by herself, etc., but any time I went somewhere, she expected the kids to go with me so she could ‘nap’. She didn’t like to go out to eat as a family because the kids made it an ‘unenjoyable experience.’

      She expected me to text her when I was leaving work to come home and then again when I got in the car at the transit hub.

      When she got home from work, she would sit in the car for 10 or 15 minutes before coming inside to finish talking to her ‘mom’ or ‘sister’.

      • Chumpity

        As a wife/ introvert
        I always need time on my own since Kim taking care of the kids most of the time. Shopping ( even grocery shopping) is a mental break away from the constant requests from kids.

        Except for the – not dining with kids- it could be me.
        The difference?
        I didn’t cheat.
        The sad part of being a chump is realization that even an innocent, normal activity ( like the one u wrote above) is most of the time used for a sinister behavior.

        My h was working hard and I often suggest that he would go for a movie ( kids were small I was staying with them) or a coffee to take a break.
        He was using that time to fuck hookers.

        My birthday gift (2 days away) was just a cover up to plan new dates, hookups etc when I was away.

        Don’t beat yourself up- it’s not us, it’s them.

  • -He was “working late” a lot
    -He was suddenly “working” on weekends, even three day holiday weekends (and chumpy me believed him)
    -He was going on a lot more “business trips”
    -He would tell me he was going to a certain city for work and then refer to that trip a few days later but refer to a different city. When I pointed out the discrepancy he said I was mistaken (gaslighting).
    -He started typing out and emailing me certain flight/hotel itineraries himself rather than forwarding me the itineraries that his secretary typed out for him, as per usual. (This sneakiness proved to be very helpful to me after discovery, however, as it was very clear which trips were legitimate work trips and which were not, so I was able to follow his email itinerary trail and be reimbursed for his dissipation of marital funds for trips 👊)
    -He suddenly always had his phone with him
    -He installed DuckDuckGo and other suspicious things on our shared laptop so I couldn’t see his search history
    -He started working out like crazy
    -He stopped wearing his white underwear (I distinctly remember this, as I did all of his laundry and I found it so peculiar that he abandoned all of his white pairs for his black and navy pairs of underwear. I now realize that he did not want his OWs to catch sight of his skidmark stains)
    -He bought a new, hipper wardrobe for his new body
    -He bought himself a Porsche
    -He would go straight into the bath when he came home at night
    -He smelled different – like rotting pork
    -He was really mean to the kids and me and borderline abusive to our cats and dog
    -There was a major increase in his ATM withdrawals
    -A new debit card connected to an account that we never use arrived in the mail for him and I asked him what it was for. He said “Give it to me, I’ll shred it and I’ll call the bank in the morning and yell at them for sending that to me unauthorized. How dare they make such a dire mistake.” (more gaslighting) After discovery, I learned that he used that card to charge over $18,000 of international travel for one of his OW’s. He quickly closed that account after I caught him but the closing statement was sent to me so I got a nicely itemized list of exactly what he spent and where, which I added to my reimbursement list.

    Chumps, be sure to go after them for dissipation of marital funds. You can only collect 50% of it (the portion that was spent on the OW/OM), but it is rightfully yours. Xo

    • The black underwear! JFC I had NEVER known him to wear black underwear in 27 YEARS. Only white briefs. I also was the one who threw them out or else he would have them until they were only elastic and seams.

      One day, black underwear showed up…..

      He picks his nose and eats it (that ended my desire to kiss him). Whoever wants to sit next to him on the couch, watching Roadhouse for the umpteenth time, picking his nose and eating it in his black underwear, is welcome to him.

      • OMG this made me laugh. But… I feel the same way. Schmoopie can have his farting, snoring, nail picking, boringness (watching Gladiator, Braveheart, etc for the millionth time) I sleep better, eat better, and feel better (most days) and I know I have a whole life ahead of me where I don’t have to do what HE wants and have him control every aspect of my life.

  • Knave-man started covering events that would make him appear fabulous, exotic, and Hemingway-esque to others (journalist).
    Knave-man began to get regular manicures.
    Knave-man manscaped.
    But for some enigmatic reason, one of the things that upset me the most were the bow lines on our sailboat, which I found coiled in a completely different fashion than usual. Evidently, the AP and I once shared a love for sailing as well as for my husband.

    • I now believe he wanted a sailboat because it was a bomb-proof hookup spot.

      I got a text message about how “the anchor came up overnight and I drifted into the Berkeley marina” to explain why he was over there. Later, because I am so lazy about deleting texts, I was able to use his own text messages to verify he was lying.

      He is upset now because our daughter will never sail with him again.

  • Constant, CONSTANT accusations of me being a cheater. ALL THE TIME. “Why are you dressed like that? Who do you need to look that good for?” “Who’s going to be with you? Why wouldn’t you ask me first? What are you trying to hide?” “You’re trying to get attention from other guys, admit it!” He compared me going out in a pair of heels without him to watch me to himself walking into a gay club shirtless. -_-

    Suddenly having a bunch of excuses why he couldn’t go anywhere with me. Also having a lot of excuses why I couldn’t be around his friends. Untagging himself from photos of us together on his facebook, not allowing me to post on his facebook and telling me his friends all thought I was crazy and they will think HE is crazy for still being with me.

    His phone suddenly became inaccessible. He had used the fingerprint feature to add my fingerprint to it when he first got it “In case there’s an emergency and you need to use my phone.” He handed me his phone to look at something and it closed, so I tried to use my finger and it didn’t recognize it. I handed it back and he had changed it to a number-code password.

    He didn’t come home until 6 am one night and screamed at me for wondering where he had been.

    When he broke up (he was waiting to dump me, did it two days after I got a new job) he wanted to get me out as fast as possible. I had reserved a moving truck for 10 am and he yelled at me for not being done by noon. He pushed me to find an apartment immediately. Looked at 3, and he pushed me to get one that day. Ended up signing for one I could barely afford and almost went bankrupt trying to survive.

    I had something of his I needed to give back, and I said I would come into the city to drop it off. He said “No. Don’t do that. You don’t need to do that. Just mail it. You don’t have to come here. Don’t come here.” I said that’s dumb, I can literally hop on a train less than an hour and drop it off. I dropped it off at the place he worked and he tried to get me to stay outside and then pushed me to leave ASAP.

    No shock: a few weeks later “Well…it just happened…”

    Then I found all the stuff he’d been hiding. Once he felt like he didn’t need to hide his schmoopie anymore, all the shit came up on his facebook. Photos of him at places I didn’t know about, people I didn’t recognize, I had a lot “When the fuck did THIS happen?!” moments. Then I started noticing timelines. The day he claimed “it just happened” did not line up with what they were touting as their anniversary date. By some months. Then I noticed Schmoopie had been lurking on his instagram even earlier than that. I described everything to a friend and she said there’s no way he “accidentally” started dating this girl after you two broke up, he thinks I’m stupid. We’re 100% certain “it accidentally” (barf) happened on the night he didn’t come home until 6. Which was a good 5 months before we broke up.

    20/20…

  • Serial cheater survivor.

    All insights are in hindsight thanks to CL and CN and lots of reading about covert passive aggressive narcissists.

    My part:

    I blamed myself for all of his rejections etc.

    I normalized it thanks to people in Al-Anon who told me it was ‘normal’ with recovering alcoholics.

    Felt like it was:

    MY PROBLEM.

    I was THE PROBLEM.

    MY JOB to FIX IT.

    After all – he was such a nice guy, sober and working a program of rigorous honesty…..and he was a therapist….I mean, what is not to trust with all that going for you – they are good guys, aren’t they????!!!!

    So I worked harder and harder to please him….all of the time….

    The List:

    Love bombed.

    Rejected sexually shortly after we moved in together.

    I was never allowed to initiate sex.

    If I didn’t want to have sex, I was not allowed to say ‘no’ or there was inevitably a temper tantrum.

    He kept ‘his’ friends separate. If he ever had anyone over to the house – there was always a strange vibe from them and I thought it was because our house wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t good enough etc….now I know it was because they knew so they were the ones feeling awkward.

    Extremely LONG working hours from early morning into the evening hours.

    Came home and isolated with TV or computer.

    Spent very little time with me or our kids.

    Worked on the weekends – paper work…he was a therapist.

    Long hours but no extra cash to show he was working more.

    Missing cash when time to pay taxes….records of making it but where did it go? Not in household budget.

    Always in debt.

    Walked away from me or the kids when on the phone. (Normalized this too thinking he was talking to a sponsee or a client.)

    ALWAYS on his computer or iPad or phone.

    Put an end to date nights with no explanations.

    Increase in a particular AA meeting.

    Never giving me time to do anything without the children in tow.

    Very possessive and suspicious if I wasn’t home right after going to an Al-Anon meeting.

    Gradually stopped giving me time to go to meetings.

    Gradually stopped giving me time for myself.

    Stopped calling me to check up on me.

    Not wanting to do anything together – not even shopping.

    Withdrawing his physical presence more and more which I took as depression from his working such long hours to support us all. (I was a SAHM who gave up my career to stay at home….)

    Casually asking when I would be eligible for Medicare.

    I could go on and on….really….but you all know the drill….

    In the final days:

    Increasingly erratic behavior.

    A new outrageously expensive wardrobe.

    Getting mad at the dog.

    Anger.

    Anger.

    Anger.

    The End.

  • Asking me if I want HIM to shave HIS pubic hair. After 10 years of marriage. And continuing to ask multiple times after I say no thanks. Still don’t know what that was about and don’t wanna know.

  • Thought I’d set it to old timey music. 😉https://youtu.be/mIosHNpGjTE

    Manscaper, tune by Pat Benetar, lyrics by cringing experience.

    This marriage became a fashion don’t, enriching H&M and GAP
    A fast fashion nightmare
    A closet full of stretchy crap
    You found the right howorker to release your inner Cluster B
    The self deluded swinger and you know you’re too old to be…

    You’re a manscaper, forsaker, porn-faper
    Don’t dress like that around me
    You’re a manscaper, forsaker, porn-faper
    Don’t you dress like that, ew, ew

    Liar, liar, skinny pants on fire, electric trimmer for your nose
    You might as well have published a flyer because everybody knows
    When a middle-aged dude starts grooming like he’s just a welp
    And his gut cantilevers six inches over his belt…

    You’re a manscaper, forsaker, porn-faper
    Don’t dress like that around me
    You’re a manscaper, forsaker, porn-faper
    Don’t you dress like that, ew, ew

    • Bwahaha!! So apropos! My ex started going to Salvation Army to buy women’s jeans because his friends showed him that they made his butt look amazing. Started wearing shirts that showed his chest hair, and preening about his good looks. After we separated, he picked up the kids wearing a swashbuckler shirt and a sash belt. I burst out laughing before I could stop myself. And yes, he was a porn-fapper too.

      • Buccaneer sash? LOL LOL LOL. I’m jealous yours provided you with such great and enduring comedy fodder.

        My FW was more icky-cringy because he’d always lampooned exactly what he suddenly began turning into– a blathering, mansplaining, whining, bellowing boor and a preening, drunken, aging gigolo.

        Some comedian once compared divorce to a thousand years of German humor but the death of laughter in our house (whenever he was in it) happened earlier. In a short span of time, any sense of humor he’d once had about himself disappeared. I kept reaching out for it as a familiar reassurance but it was gone along with his hair and erectile function. Only a faint fragment of self-awareness remained. He started having nightmares about being haunted by the ghost of his late FW uncle who kept murmuring, ‘I’m so very, very lonely.”

  • When I asked him to explain the condoms in his travel bag after returning solo from Burning Man, he told me that took them there because they were on the list of things to bring, and BM embraces a culture of gifting. He just forgot to give them out.

    • So good to be free, eh? With abusers, we were trapped. Asking for the truth and hoping for it to be something not sketchy and life-shattering is a set up for gaslighting. I gave away my power. A chump here recently wrote “stay until the pain of staying is worse than the pain of leaving.” I’m glad that I no longer have to wade through a sea of lies each day. I spent years of my life lost in a battle for love and truth. Very, very slowly, I feel something in my soul settling out now that I’m on my own. CL recently called chumpdom “entirely curable,” and this made me feel less defeated. While I can’t wave a magic wand to erase the pain and regret, take back what was stolen, or even feel ok right now, I am proud I left and hopeful that once healed, this will not happen to me again because I will not be a chump. I do have some control.

      Also, GP: maybe the shaving questions from your FW were because the OW wanted it (to prove something/stake a claim?) or he thought it would make him sexy to her… but he knew it would raise an alarm if he just did it, so he wanted to get you to be the one to “ask for it”?

  • He became moody and distant towards me, my pets and my family and friends, as well as making criticisms about the hobbies we’d previously enjoyed together. He’d never liked talking on the phone, but increasingly spent most of his free time playing on it. Started playing rap music (OW’s favorite genre) constantly.

    His speech and mannerisms became coarse (mimicking OW’s coarse, juvenile conversations), as well as making callous statements that unnerved me, including mentioning to someone how his aunt “kicked off” (while his aunt was in a coma and dying, he and OW sexted and traded genital pics).

    At the time I was caring for my friend who was suffering from cancer, and so attributed my concerns to being upset and stressed. Meanwhile, the two ghouls were discussing assaulting me and traded fantasies about torturing and murdering women the OW knew (OW had crafted of list of women she wanted to harm, and sent it to various men, including FW, on BDSM sites). He’d saved a questionable photo of OW’s adolescent daughter that she sent him alongside images of OW’s nude selfies. Sickening.

    All of us who’d known him, including his parents, friends and coworkers, were shocked – he completely discarded the ‘good’ mask he’d worn. He didn’t change, the person we loved never existed.

  • -He told me his long-term girlfriend broke up with him for cheating on her and he had a dramatic convincing story about why his behaviour was understandable.
    -He told me his first love broke up with him because they were going to colleges in different states and she wanted to date other people. He said he would have been fine with staying together and dating others, as long as it didn’t affect her feelings for him, because he is not a jealous person.
    -He told me his last fling was with a girl who was engaged to another man and he broke it off with her to date me.
    -He told me that before we started dating, he had made out one night with one of the young women from Central America who cleans the offices where we both worked.

  • Bwahaha!! So apropos! My ex started going to Salvation Army to buy women’s jeans because his friends showed him that they made his butt look amazing. Started wearing shirts that showed his chest hair, and preening about his good looks. After we separated, he picked up the kids wearing a swashbuckler shirt and a sash belt. I burst out laughing before I could stop myself. And yes, he was a porn-fapper too.

  • Even though he was spending a lot of time with his best friend’s widow, she wasn’t listed among his phone contacts and there was no record of text messages. I saw her text message to him when we were on a drive and it simply said “cm”. I figured out that meant “call me” and then I figured out why he always started an argument before we’d get home from our Saturday drives. Guess where he headed every Saturday afternoon? By the time she needed overnight assistance with her vacation house, I realized the affair had started even before her husband died. Deny, devalue, discard, divorce.

  • My ex exit-affaired/discarded me, so there was never any official revelation of an affair (in spite of the fact I knew he had spent the weekend with the OW and he admitted to kissing her). Still, the week before he discarded me was the first time in our 18 years of married life when I wondered if he was cheating on me because he suddenly 1. became very distant and wouldn’t look at me or hug me or kiss me, 2. wouldn’t sleep in our bed, 3. told me hurtful lies to get me to stay off the weekend trip on which he sealed the deal with the OW. So, pretty clear signs at that point.

    What’s more interesting is the six months prior when he started working out obsessively 2x a day “because if I get out of shape you won’t be attracted to me anymore” and started coming home from work late, avoiding me, and devaluing me by screaming at me, ignoring me, etc…. Was he already having an affair at that point, or was he just on the hunt for an AP? And then, what about similar devaluation periods like this earlier in our marriage? All he ever admitted was that he “had been attracted to several women throughout the course of our marriage but had never acted on it.”

    Honestly, I don’t really care if that story’s true or not at this point. I know he’s a liar, and so even if we had a chance to talk about it (which we won’t b/c I’ve been NC since the divorce was final and am planning to stay that way), I would be stupid to believe anything he said.

    For me, the important red flags were all about the narcissistic abuse, and I did have those flags before we got married. That’s what I’m trying to recognize for next time so I can honor and protect myself the way I should. The cheating IMHO was just the culmination of the narcissistic abuse.

  • all of a sudden, she had a new girl friend that I could never meet or she never invited her new friend over to our place, it was a one way friendship, she was also staying overnight weekends at a friend(s), which was usually once a month, sometimes twice, I’d text her, she wouldn’t respond for several hours, said her phone was off, she was oblivious to her infidelity, she always had a high sex drive, then it went away, she was fucking someone else, she’d go to dinners with her friends there was never anything posted on her social media or the friends social media, when she did actually meet them, which was rare, there were always photos of the dinner, she needed allot of “me” time where she’d go for drives or errands took an extra hour or two, she obviously told others or they knew about her affair because things were off with her brother how he spoke to me, and I was always off her invite list for everything with her friends, her regular friends disappeared from our lives and she didn’t realize when they’d post on her Facebook page that they missed hanging out with her, she was using them as a cover to me, so she was lying, she always lied easily and became very dismissive towards me, stopped doing little things. her phone was always guarded, turns out there were other men in her phone that she used to sleep with before we met, told me they were old friends from 20 years ago, her former boss , a married man that she worked with for less than a year he was her best friend, they exchange hellos, talk on the phone, she’d meet him when he was in town, I trusted her, she was lying about him and plus there are several married social media male friends that all looked like “her type” she dismissed my questions about them, said “what I can’t have male friends”, turns out, NO, I have to assume she was fantasizing or cheating on me with them, she was posting inappropriate comments on social media, she started posting quotes about cheating on Facebook and loving glowing tributes to me, while she was fucking some other man, her vibe was off, she’d come home face flushed yet she didn’t belong to a gym, coming home flushed at 11 pm was a clear sign of sex. it got to a point where she didn’t even shower, just got into our bed with another man’s sex on her, our sex life was zero, a sign was her panties were always immediately changed, she didn’t think I noticed, numerous signs of cheating and yet she played the “trust me” card and turned it all back on me, I was the problem, nightgowns that she usually wore in bed were gone yet recently reappeared, she said they were stuck in the closet, after three years of disappearing for hours and nights, all of a sudden she’s around all the time being nice, initiating cold sex, I can tell she was with another man, I learned she cares nothing about me, now she’s around every weekend, every evening, coming home immediately after work, no more extended errands I guess she got dumped and is in-between affairs. she keeps in contact with hook ups from her single days so it’s just a matter of time before she’s in bed with another man. the affair partner was a complete stranger she met by happenstance and fucked him for several years, so if she’ll fuck a stranger she’ll fuck anyone – one year and she’s gone, the kid will be out of the house, so will she.

    • Jack, what a situation & what a timeline… It’s only a year to go but it’s a whole. year.

      Document everything you can about the cheating in a safe place; even journal entries made at the time of the event, calendars that don’t match up, I hear can help if it ever comes to court, and in my state infidelity affects alimony. And if someone didn’t say it to you already, STD test.

      Wishing you luck.

  • I believe I caught FW’s first affair pretty early on (found text messages/pics would corroborate that) so I don’t have a ton of ignored affair-specific red flags, but I did ignore other red flags that would maybe point to me being married to a man-child capable of cheating. It’s why I think it’s really important for chumps who attempt to reconcile to not get too hung up on just the cheating aspect. They cheat because of their shitty character. It goes far deeper than what they’re doing with their genitals.

    So red flags:
    – DARVO/gaslighting for quite some time. I would bring up a completely legitimate issue in the marriage and by the end of the conversation somehow I was both confused as to what started the argument and apologizing to him.

    – He was very judgmental of other people and held them to a very black/white good/bad standard but his own moral code was way more flexible. He could justify doing all sorts of questionable stuff.

    – Stonewalling. I felt like he would use it to punish me for attempting difficult conversations with him. One night he left the house after something super minor and didn’t tell me where he was going or where was or when he was coming home and I had to deal with our oldest asking where he was. This was huge as it pointed to his inability to deal with normal marital conflict.

    • Limbo Chumpian:

      You wrote: I did ignore other red flags that would maybe point to me being married to a man-child capable of cheating. It’s why I think it’s really important for chumps who attempt to reconcile to not get too hung up on just the cheating aspect. They cheat because of their shitty character. It goes far deeper than what they’re doing with their genitals.

      You nailed it, Limbo Chumpian. The first nuclear blast is all about the sex, and how could such a good man betray you? And then later, after the mask drops, it is all about character, or lack thereof. At first you are horrified to find you are married to a cheater, and then it gets much worse. He’s not just a cheater, but a liar capable of looking you straight in the eyes and telling lie after lie after lie. And a coward. Who cares so little he will happily throw you under the bus it if saves him discomfort. And then finally, you learn that he is domonizing you to everyone.

      Dday, as horrible as it is, ultimately turns out to be the best day of the rest of your life partnered to a FW. Because at that point you know only a fraction of the misdeeds, the coverup lying and deception is not fully up to speed, and you haven’t been demonized yet. There is still a thimble full of hope.

      It the RIC were honest they would tell chumps Dday is the happiest day they are going to have with FW for the rest of their life. Because it only goes downhill from there.

      Mine had every other trait you listed as well. He was so judmental of people, which I first took as evidence of his high standards, but is now a HUGE red flag.

      • PrincipledLife, I like your take on character red flags. I had cheating red flags & gut feelings, but now almost 2 years out from DDay, I feel like the character ones were more important. And I had some narc indicators within days to months of meeting him.

        Entitlement & conflict avoidance. FW never asked me out, he just followed me around and looked good. I intuited he was attracted to me and slept with him. Conflict avoidance – he didn’t risk rejection by asking me out. Entitlement – he thought that thereafter he should never have to bring anything up, I should just intuit what he wanted, and do it because whatever he wanted was clearly the right and good thing.

        Ultra-sensitive. While dating he commented that he liked a blatantly tacky piece of art. Which is cute I guess but I laughed. He was so. deeply. offended. For a long time. As if I said he was tacky and had terrible taste, which he wasn’t and didn’t. That was just the first time… Some times included DARVO fun if he had something to hide.

        Superior moral/responsible/upstanding persona. Of course anyone would want a husband like that, it’s the “superior” I didn’t see at first. Later on, he would lecture his mother and have her so obviously upset and shamed (she is also a fw, but still, who does that?) It was to the point that a long-time beloved friend of his was afraid to tell fw that friend was gay, and told me first. FW isn’t actually homophobic, it was just the superior morality act. Even when things were bad in the marriage, I thought “well, even if he doesn’t love me, I can count on him to be responsible to his family because he takes such pride in his good character, and I love him for that.” Finally DDay rolls around, and it’s all a mask. Not just an affair, something that could cost him his job, married woman and the opposite of a responsible or moral choice if cheating could ever be responsible or moral. I think the “superior” aspect was the flag everyone missed, the sign that it was a mask he had to construct to hide whatever skein he’s carrying around in that big head. Even my brother said “Wow, I never thought HE would cheat. I mean, he had such a stick up his butt about every little thing…” Ugh. So now, cheating aside, I’m just embarrassed that I inflicted him on my family!

        Now I get the joy of divorce proceedings with an entitled, conflict avoidant, oversensitive fake. Yippee.

        Well, CN, hindsight is 20/20. Hope that helps ya fix yer pickers.

    • You just described my ex in three bullet points. I agree with you that the cheating is just the culmination of a pattern of abusive and dehumanizing behavior, which itself is just the expression of bad character. And I agree with PrincipledLife that DDay is the best day of our lives for chumps who have been gaslighted for years into believing that their cheaters’ bad character was somehow all the chumps’ fault. The mask slips off that day and can’t ever be put back in place convincingly. It’s so sad that it takes a catastrophe like that to break the gaslighting spell, but I guess that’s what it takes. I’m becoming more and more grateful for DDay as time wears on. I wouldn’t have gotten my life back any other way.

  • Dark dark dark tint on the windows of the new Dodge Ram pickup truck. Which he bought “for the business”. Vehicle number four. The year previously he had taken me to pick out a new Honda Element. His suggestion. We ordered the car. I waited and waited. I got shifting stories about why it hadn’t arrived. Months later he told me HE had cancelled
    the order because WE didn’t need four vehicles. I told Mr. Unilateral Power and Control man that those actions are not marriage conduct.

    But then, HE bought the Dodge Ram. Vehicle No. 4. But we get a TAX CREDIT for the business! He had it tinted so dark he got pulled over. He had never in his life tinted a vehicle.

    I now believe he bought it to have a hotel
    room on wheels for hookups. I call it the Dodge Ram hookup truck.

    Cool wife (me) got him a custom plate spelling out the name of our business.

    Chumped wife (me) got a new custom plate that spells CHEATER for prank purposes. No, I won’t attach them to the truck. It makes me laugh to think about it. It’s fun to wonder how long he’d drive around with them before he noticed.

    I’ll just take a few pictures without attaching them and enjoy the inside joke.

  • He went to see a therapist due to his depression about his father passing. But his therapist only accepted cash and was doing face to face appointments during a national lockdown…. Yup I was so chumpily accommodating with this. The depression wasn’t even real, he just needed a ruse to get out the house once a week and take 70 quid. 🤦🏼‍♀️

    • I just learned that it is illegal here in my state for a therapist to REQUEST cash. As he was telling me.

      You can of course pay in cash but for them to REQUEST cash only is an ethics breach.

      It took me three years to catch this new loophole for hiding money.

      The antidote was to request the therapist records, as we pay for all lawyers, child, and therapists out of joint monies.

      BOOM.

  • Signs to pay attention to:
    * New clothes, especially if he begins having a completely different style at the age of 54.
    * As others have said, new underwear
    * Teeth whitening
    * Retin-A for wrinkles, and asking if I think it will help with his “11” lines
    * Biore pore strips
    * Using conditioner for the first time ever (despite me telling him his hair was too dry)

    • The L’Occitane men’s bath gel in the shower in the bathroom at our business was one of the Final Clues that led to DDay.

      I also figured out the loft/bathroom that he built out in our building (unpermitted) was also likely for hookup purposes as well.

      He “rode his bike to work”…..

      Nope.

      They’re just like jailbirds always figuring out new ways how to hide and lie.

      Read here today and revel in how pedestrian they all are.

      Cheater = good riddance

  • -I found an earring once that wasn’t mine in the living room (XH insisted it was one of my friend’s)
    -Constantly on his phone, phone always turned over or covered
    -Weird text from a number without a name attached (had an excuse for that too)
    -“Gym workouts twice a day”
    -Obsession with his physique
    -Always an excuse to stay out overnight on Saturdays
    -Bought a boat and spent every weekend on it (even when I was pregnant)
    -Found my picture in his office in a drawer (ouch that one hurt. he blamed the cleaning lady!)
    -He all of a sudden had lots of friends that were cheaters
    -Changed his Facebook password and had zero pictures of me and our baby
    -Felt very disconnected to me in the end, he was easily agitated, picked weird fights with me
    -Turned me down for sex and tried to schedule 3 weeks later on my birthday! (I guess he felt guilty cheating on his OW)
    -His new boss didn’t know he was married
    -Good friends pulled away from us without explanation, wives and girlfriends thought my XH was a bad influence
    -Once he was fired for sexual harassment (I know, I know! But, his excuse was very convincing)
    -One of my best friends accused him of hitting on her (he had an excuse for that too and I didn’t believe her)
    -A random girl I never met (dating a male friend) brought my XH homemade chocolate chip cookies (his favorite) claiming she knew he loved cookies and that he was a great listener. She gave the cookies to my XH in front of me and her boyfriend. I kept her tupperware though. I showed her!

    • “One of my best friends accused him of hitting on her (he had an excuse for that too and I didn’t believe her)”

      This is one of the reasons people/friends don’t alert the chump that their spouse is cheating. They end up the bad guy. The troublemaker. I told a good friend her boyfriend was cheating, she ignored what I said and I didn’t hear from her for quite some time. I then kept my mouth shut. She married him, he actually didn’t cheat during their marriage but she ended up dumping him for other reasons. Lazy, no motivation, etc.

      • KB22 Exactly! If only I listened to her 12 years ago…And he did more than hit on her. He messaged her through the night convincing her to sneak out of her house that she shared with her boyfriend and come meet him. She didn’t go, but was “worried for my marriage” if he would do that with her, what was he doing with others? She was right. He had dozens of affairs our entire 11 year marriage and is now married to the final OW and has a baby with her too.

  • Warning signs I sadly ignored:
    -She made constant comparisons between me and all of her exes that made me feel inadequate.
    -She was constantly scoping out and oggling other women and commenting on how hot they are.
    -She was constantly saving these young innocent things.
    -She would openly flirt with other women and men in front of my constantly or over social media. She even “jokingly” said to a woman online that she wanted to marry her.
    -She would lash out at and degrade me or rage at me when I questioned her behavior.
    -I got mystery genital infections after sex.
    -She refused to tell her exes that we were together “because it might hurt their feelings” or “because that ex had traumatized her too much to tell anything to.”
    -She was always hiding her phone.
    -She accused me of being controlling when I questioned anything and would tell all her friends how controlling I was.
    -She would go to bars and couple’s massages with “coworkers.”
    -She stayed out with “friends” at all hours.
    -She publicly groped all her male friends and laughed at it like it was a joke.
    -She used snapchat and fetlife.
    -She sent flowers and stuffed animals to “just a friend.”
    -She bragged about sexually grabbing her teenage cousins.
    -She talked about wanting to be polyamorous and shamed me for not.
    -She constantly talked shit about “just friends.”
    -She constantly waxed poetic about “just friends'” problems and how sad she was for them.

    This is just a small portion. It’s so obvious I could kick myself now.

    • Ugh. Esp. the cousins thing, though I could totally see just being perplexed about something like that coming up with a partner, and not knowing what to do with it. Thank you for sharing, I’m so sorry you had to deal with all that. I mentioned the red flags I ignored during sex, and in general, above.

      Am so glad we’re free of them!

  • So many!

    Manscaping

    Being really mean to me, gaslighting, DARVO

    Spending a ton of time in the bathroom

    Never spending time with me or my daughter

    Tired all the time – he looked like shit

    Sleeping in, sleeping in the spare bedroom

    More aggressive sex

    Complimenting me in between being mean to me

    Never going out with me at night

    Not making any plans with me

    Talking about the other woman (a client at our work)

    Trashing our marriage

    Saying our house wasn’t “cool enough” for him

    Saying his spare phone was for work

    I found some porn

    I could go on and on, but the hardest part for me was the devaluation. It was extreme in my case. Nothing was good enough, I wasn’t good enough. I was too needy, too sensitive, illogical, hard to talk to, boring, lame, too vanilla in bed, too old, I had no moral compass, I had anger management issues, I was indecisive, disorganized, a perfectionist, I wasn’t good at my job, and on and on and on.

    I’m convinced now that he couldn’t do what he was doing without hating me. It felt good to devalue me and our life together because that justified his cheating. Like because I was a shitty wife, of course he needed to cheat. The horrible thing is, all during the devaluation it was mixed with love bombing. Just as I was about to go insane from all the bad behaviour, he’d be kind, loving and sweet. It was a hideous mindfuck and during that time it was like living in a horrible foggy swampy mess. He was really manipulative and abusive. When it all came crashing down, I still couldn’t get it through my head how awful he’d been to me. I was convinced he still loved me because I’d focused on the nice side of him. It was truly awful and even now, 20 months later, I’m confused sometimes.

    • The cruel/nice back and forth is intermittent reinforcement. It’s so effective at destabilizing a person that it’s actually used as a technique in torture.
      Everything you are feeling is normal. You have been systematically tortured. Ask me how I know.

      • I’m sorry you had to endure this too OHFFS.

        I need to add something else that I keep trying to block out…may as well get it off my chest here amongst friends.

        My STBX always loved my body. He told me about it lovingly. But sometimes it just felt like way too much and it made me uncomfortable. So much so I asked my friends if their husbands/partners did that to them and they would laugh and say, “no I wish! Quit complaining he’s just really into you”, etc.

        Looming towards DDay, he started changing the nature of the “compliments” about my body to much more graphic ones. Such as, “I love your p#### so much. It’s the more glorious one I’ve ever seen” . Shit like that. At first I felt great that he was paying attention to me and it felt like honest adoration and I took this as a sign he was trying to inject some sauce into our sex life. One day, he actually said, “you have the best tits around, especially for your age.” I was like, “beg your pardon?” I tried to explain that this didn’t feel like a compliment at all, and it escalated into a big fight, with me being sooooo ungrateful and just had such low self esteem that I couldn’t take a compliment.

        I couldn’t so much as slightly bend over without getting an “oooooo” sound, followed by an ass grab. Again, for some reason it didn’t quite feel fun and nice.

        The graphic talk about my body continued until the bitter end. Even after DDay, and he essentially told me I was insufficient to meet all of his kinky sexual needs so by god he’s got a right to get it, he actually tried that graphic talk shit again as he was leaving me. I was sobbing in bed where I’d been for two solid days. He came into the bedroom to find me in a hideous state-I hadn’t eaten, hadn’t opened the windows, a giant pile of tissues next to the bed from all the tears. He reached down and rubbed my shoulders and started in with the compliments – “your skin is the softest I’ve ever felt, your ass is a thing of beauty, blah blah blah.” Then he tried to have sex with me. I sat up in bed, and the look on my face literally made him jump back. He looked like a wounded animal and scurried out of the room. I think we both knew the game was over.

        I now have serious issues. I’ve been on one and one date only. The poor guy tried to tell me that I was beautiful and I nearly bit his head off! I snapped, “you don’t know me!”

        I’m working through this in counseling. The bottom line is, I was objectified but edified and devalued at the same time. It was very confusing. I was always told I was some goddess with a hot bod, and yet, I wasn’t producing the kind of sex on tap he wanted. So, what was it? Was I hot or not? It’s all so very gross and the end result has made me feel like I had something to live up to. My therapist said it felt so icky because there was no love there, only objectification.

        It also never dawned on me until about a year after DDay that most of the remarks involved a subtle comparison of me to all the other women he’d been fucking. Like, how did he know I had the best tits around? Because he’d seen half the bodies in town – mostly he’d been paying for it. The comparisons got very granular about very particular parts of my body, my hair, my skin, my smell, my nails, everything. Nothing was sacred.

        It’s hard to think that admiration and compliments are such a red flag, but in my case they certainly were and my gut knew even when my poor broken heart didn’t.

        • That’s awful, FKA. My fuckwit is a doppelganger for yours. Ass and tit grabs, admiring comments on my body parts, and sexual remarks and “jokes” constantly.
          Your therapist is right. It’s because they are objectifying you and getting their kicks by preying on you sexually. It isn’t a compliment anymore than being chased around the room by Harvey Weinstein would be. It always bothered me, too, and yes, he tried to keep it going even after D-day. He’ll, he’d been predatory *on* D-day right before I found out. These men have a compulsive, abusive, misogynistic type of disorderd sexuality, and I don’t think it’s fixable.
          I bet yours was heavily into porn, too. Disgusting pigs! Mine was sexually coercive and abusive as well. It turned out he was into rape porn and rape fantasies since he was a teenager and I never knew it, because the POS was hiding who he really was the whole time. Finding out made me want to scrub myself with bleach and traumatized me terribly. I feel sick just thinking about him using my body all those years while fantasizing about me being raped. BARF!

          • Oh yep. All familiar. The reason mine was cheating was because he was into S&M. That’s ultimately the reason he left me because he found a woman who he could degrade on a full time basis – he was so happy that he didn’t have to pay for it anymore. Unfortunately, upon DDay, I asked what he was into, and I learned it was pretty violent and degrading. After that I found his sex bag, and my god, it looked like something from a police evidence locker from a rapist. Oddly, he didn’t try that stuff on me, but then made me feel bad that I wasn’t into it. He wouldn’t have even known if I was into it or not – he seemed to have compartmentalized that side of his life, but then he punished me for not being into it. He was into porn too, and it always made me feel sick. In my naive mind, I was always thinking, “why would he want to look at porn and jerk off instead of having sex with me?” Especially because he claimed to think I was so hot. It’s all about power, control, entitlement and ownership. Sometimes I don’t know if I’ll ever recover and be able to let anyone near me again!

          • Ohhfs

            I think both ways
            Overly complimentary- and negativity are just the other ends of the same mind fuck.

            The way you felt- is the way I felt- like an object. You were “ the best” in comparison to others/ I was the worst
            Same icky feeling, similar damage.

            At this point my head is clear snd I don’t have to fight 24/7 thoughts that I’m not pretty or good enough. Looking at the pics from the past I just want to cry – why did I believe him?
            I was smart funny pretty, great wife and mother, 4 languages and 2 degrees under my belt, yet- he made an impression that any hooker he was with, was worth more than I did.
            It’s hard to think straight again- it took me over 3 years to see the reality

        • Hello Formerly Known As!

          I’m reading through all these posts so I can understand (and add to) my red flags in the future, and what you’ve said here is so interesting. I think that part of my psyche wants to be objectified, having seldom heard those kinds of compliments from men. I’ve always wanted to be a raving beauty, who would be whistled at, talked about, lusted after and pursued by men.

          But I’ve also analyzed that thought, because there is pain in it, and realized that I don’t really want those things. (I’ve never heard it talked about this graphically before, by a real beauty, and I really appreciate this post.)

          I’ve thought that I’d love to be compared to other women and found to be “most beautiful,” maybe – with the history of my dad as a serial cheater – to stave off the possibility of cheating. Why would a man cheat on the “most beautiful” woman, especially if that woman was his wife? It makes no sense (to me) that he would want to have sex with a less beautiful woman.

          And that thought stems from beauty being the only reason a man would want to have sex with anyone. So that thought has no merit. It’s so easy to find hollywood examples that it was never a sustainable thought anyway.

          I see good news for you – you can definitely attract another mate, if that is what you want. (A real advantage there!) And more good news – you are working on finding new reactions to pain points about objectification. (Totally possible!) The bad news is that your man didn’t appreciate you, but goodness! There really are some very fine men out there who will not only love you for who you are, but be totally tickled and peacock proud to have you on his arm, and in his bed.

          And I’m NOT saying, “how dare you complain about being so beautiful, you ungrateful person.” Not at all. You’re not doing that! I’m just marveling at all the new thoughts in my mind here, as I read about your struggles. I believe I would feel the same as you, if I could walk around as you for a day. And yes! Red flags all over the place, especially about the comparisons.

          I’m so sorry this was your story. And I’m glad you’re on a new journey with more satisfying horizons and more love to be shared! You can find the intimacy that you wanted with your husband. And you have so much power to secure it.

          Hmmmmm… still thinking here… if I had a very beautiful face and a really sensual body… (and I’m not saying I don’t,) and if I also had your same pain points… (and there’s no way I could really understand them fully or know what I’d really do… I’m just dreaming…) and riffing…

          Here’s what I’m thinking I could do, if I had all that power. I’d use it! I’d be the one comparing. I’d be “just friends” when I dated, because I’d also want to protect myself from feeling used. I’d tell the guys that I was looking for the long game (and that’s me talking here…) and that – since I wasn’t ready to be a girlfriend, because that would mean my decision was already made – (in three dates) – and a quick decision like that would be total objectification on my part, and I’m against that – I’d really like to get to know him as a friend. Yes, I’d tell him that I was getting to know other guys as friends, too! And that means no sex for as long as I say. (Because sex usually means exclusivity… and I wouldn’t want to be exclusive yet…)

          And I would compare them. I would feel this way with this guy, and that way with that guy, and I would like this other guy’s history, and I would like this new guy’s determination, and I’d examine what was really important to me, and I’d realize it was a, b and c, and the first guy has all those things… so I’d keep him, for sure… but I really like that f thing that the guy with determination has… so I’ll see what else he has to offer…

          Guys get furious when you compare them, especially in this day and age, because most women don’t make them go through that. But they secretly (and unconsciously) love it, too! In fact, they crave it. They want to be compared and then come out the winner. That’s why they’re willing to swim oceans, climb mountains, go through fire and famine and fight to the death in order to win their women. They want to “win” them!

          And how can you win a woman who gives herself to you?

          Believe me, all chumps out there… the other woman has no power over your man because she was too easy. Men want a battle, and they want to win a prize. The other woman’s power was in the fact that she was a secret. When the secret got out, her power was gone.

          Oh, yes. You might be formerly known as a chump, but now you can be a chooser.

          And I can be, too!

          And I will be, when I’m ready!

          Thank you for your post! I like these thoughts. 🙂

          • Thank you for your interesting thoughts Light Heart. I’m definitely still in healing mode, and not ready to be with anyone else. I like the idea of being in the choosing mode though! The point about objectification was that it felt awful. I was confused because I thought it was suppose to feel good, but it always made me feel like I had something unreal to live up to. There was no love in it, and it didn’t have anything to do with how I actually look. It was designed to make me think he wanted me, but he only wanted what he wanted for himself. This objectifying stood in the place of real intimacy and love. It was about controlling me.

            I sincerely hope that the thrill has gone out of his relationship with the OW now that he has her full time. He was hoping that he could stay married to me and keep her as a side dish fun fuck. I said NO. Even though it was horribly painful, I’m glad I didn’t stoop to allowing him to have his cake and eat it too…especially when he was actually a terrible husband due to his selfishness. So, I hope he got what he wanted, someone to objectify and degrade. She was VERY keen to win him over – she did absolutely everything to get him. She won him. I won my dignity.

  • so many cliches in hindsight:
    attached to phone
    unilateral appearance changes – gym, manscaping
    wanting to try new moves in the bedroom (not a priority prev 2 decades)
    accusing me of cheating (incredulously chumpily reassured)
    urgent errands after hours
    didn’t want me to attend work events

  • The weird personality changes. I really do think he has a personality disorder, probably a narcissist. His laugh changed, the way he stood changed, his walk changed, he started liking a type of cookie he previously hated, he started liking coffee that previously was so disgusting to him he wanted to barf from the smell of it, his views changed. I felt like I was going crazy. It happened multiple times throughout our marriage. He was mirroring other people. That’s what it was. It makes sense now but it was so confusing at the time. I don’t think I ever knew the real him. I think he may not even know who he really is.

    • I agree about the personality changes. FW, who never had drank a cup of coffee in his life, suddenly became obsessed with cold brew coffee (besides vodka and mountain dew, it was OW’s drink of choice. These twits have neither good breath nor good characters).

      After reading their texts and gmails, I came to the realization that he’d been mirroring OW. He’d have mirrored any low hanging fruit that offered themselves up. It’s what personality disordered people do, create a new identity when they become bored with the old one.

      • Yep, my STBX would never have a dog and now he’s got his very own “fur baby”. Why? Girlfriend is a dog lover – one of those women that won’t have kids because dogs are better. And yes, they both use the term “fur baby”. Not sure how my daughter fits into this scenario, but he did tell her that he had to get a dog because he wanted someone to love since she won’t live with him. Pathetic.

    • Narcissists will mirror other people and change personas like underwear. They can go from acting like “Captains of Industry” to being complete earth loving hippies that have scorn for the rich. Mostly because they are complete failures in business. From holier than thou bible thumpers to getting involved with drug dealers and swinging couples. I’ve personally seen these transformations with narcissistic acquaintances. Never ever trust these people.

    • This really triggered me.
      I remember that his taste of music changed 180 degrees
      I guess she liked country
      Ugh

  • Reading these comments takes me back 7 years. The man I had known most of my adult life, a man I had lived in three different countries with, had become a stranger.
    His tactics of being such a Fucktard so I would kick him out didn’t stop there. I heard from my daughter that he blamed me for kicking him out; the man who was fucking the help at work, the man who had become apoplectic at any request of him in general family help with the kids…, the man who was never home and when he was he was out running or sitting on the sofa watching sports, indignant that I should kick him out! A wtf moment.
    It is early morning as I write…. the birdsong is well underway….. I can’t tell you how often in those early years I was awake, paralysed with anxiety and grief, listening to the night turn into early morning. I was petrified of life and what I would do with the kids in tow as the Fucktard, a swinging dick in corporate culture had dumped me and the kids to go and play, screaming at me that ” he deserved to be happy”. The fallout from that with the kids is immense. Unadulterated abandonment.

  • With 20/20 hindsight, there were far too many signs and red flags than I could possibly count. Looking back, the whole ordeal is nothing short of stomach turning. And I’d prefer to think that it was less an indication of my chumpiness and more an indication of my trust, loyalty and devotion as a husband.

    As mentioned in other posts, there are certain common and ubiquitous red flag indicators. But I’ll share a novel, high tech one that any suspecting chump can try. As most people are aware, when you type something into Google’s search bar there are instantaneous recommendations as the Google algorithm uses past search data across its entire user base to assist your search.

    One day I happened to type my then-wife’s name into the Google search bar and the first suggested result (meaning it was the most popular search) was “[wife’s name] husband”. It took a while to put it all together, but I finally realized that my ex-wife had so many affair partners who were naturally curious about me, that their numerous searches resulted in making “husband” the number one result associated with my wife’s name. In fact, I just checked and it’s still the number one result.

    I should note that a couple of factors that helped to boost the Google searches were that my wife and I had different last names and that I have no social media footprint.

    • Gratefully,

      I too have been trying to reframe that horrible time into me being a good wife rather than a complete chump. I was patient, kind, worried about his mental health, trying to help him, being dedicated and loyal, etc. I think it’s understandable that we, as chumps (good spouses) try really hard when the tough gets going. What makes me sad casting back now is that all my good qualities got exploited by him. He definitely didn’t deserve me and everyone in my life knows that. I’ve been feeling down lately, with the theme of “nice guys finish last”. My friends and family all give loving advice and tell me, “you’re so smart, beautiful, fun and caring.” And then my cynical voice pops in and goes, “yeah, well a lot of good that did me!”. It’s hard feeling okay about yourself when you’ve been chumped to hell and back. But agreed…the narrative of being the good (trusting) spouse is still very important to hold to…because it’s true. Hugs

    • Wow, GDD, that’s a powerful indicator. Thanks for sharing, though of course you’ve had to live through a lot of pain to discover the truth! (No thanks to Google.)

  • He told me that he would take care of the credit card bill that month and to not worry about (i.e. look at) it. I kept prodding him about what was such a secret, thinking he had maybe done something for me in secret. Then he straight up said he went to one of “those” massage parlors. That should have been it for me. Nope. Let it slide, went a few more months before he confessed to patronizing hookers. For YEARS. Asshole had been taking money out of the account — not necessarily enough to be noticeable or something I might worry about (because, silly me, I trusted my spouse), but definitely ended up being ATM withdrawals for his habit. It made me sick, but it still took months for that sickness to hit its full effect. Fucking selfish coward.

    • Yep, mine hid cash to. Told me it was $400 each time he went to the prostitutes. This came from ATM withdrawals and also he just took a few dollars cash out on top of transactions. He ended up putting $$ on a prepaid cash card, which I found and took a photo of. The one thing is holding up some of our property settlement because he won’t disclose the amount. My lawyer said that it must be a decent sum of money for him to withhold. So my next move is a court order compelling disclosure. I know that’s just some of it because that cash card was a more recent purchase. He’d been skimming money for at least 15 years of our 25 years together. It sucks, and yes they are fucking selfish cowards.

      • After Dday, I checked our joint checking account and noticed that he withdrew the usual $200 at a time, but he increased the frequency of these withdrawals so that I wouldn’t notice anything amiss. And he was right. I didn’t notice even though I was the one who handled our finances.

        Such planning and deceit. Damn him.

  • Well I was really naive, but my boyfriend stopped calling. Which should have been my first clue. Then after days and days he’d call and invite me over. Say they were having a cookout. But once there he would ignore me. When I asked if he wanted to have sex before I left, he said “I’m not a machine.” I didn’t even believe my own eyes when I found the letters she’d written, in his dresser drawer. I thought those must be “old.” You don’t believe because you don’t want to believe.

      • Yep, denial is huge but keeping us from pain. I now have waves of memories coming back to me – things I’d “forgotten” due to being lied to and traumatised. My therapist said sometimes your brain can only handle so much, so it kind of seeps back in over time.

        • Yes, I believe your therapist.

          Right now (17 mo since D-day) I’m struck by these memory jolts.

          As disturbing as it is to remember, I think it shows that my mind knows that I’m ready to face the shitty things that I’d supressed. I like to think that it helps me metabolize what happened, which is probably an essential step in this gain-a-life journey.

  • When we had my/our daughter, he was late to the hospital to pick us up. We were put in the hallway. When we got home, he hadn’t set up the bassinet. He went away for the weekend, the last one before I went back to work after maternity leave. It started so soon. After the baby, he just was not that interested in me. So, I put on a ton of weight. It was my protection and work was also. I always thought it was my fault. Until, enough. My 20 something daughter came to see me and said, I have something to tell you about dad, with tears in her eyes. I said I know. He is leaving in a few weeks. What bothers me is that I am a tiger at work. Pretty successful. I would never let a male peer treat me like that. What I can’t get over is how I was played. Chumps get played. And he said that he would never be like his no-good father. Yeah sure. But I am going to be a Nana and love that kid!

    • Congratulations on being a Nana, BostonIrish! Your story struck a chord with me. Being pregnant/giving birth is such a vulnerable time for a woman, then on top of it you have to deal with their lies and abandonment.
      My ex con-artist promised we would find a new flat before our baby was born. Funny how we viewed so many but he wouldn’t agree to any.
      I ended up moving to my parents across the country as I couldn’t afford a solo flat in the city where we were.
      He promised he’d be there for the birth at least but surprise surprise! When I went into labour I couldn’t get hold of him, no answer on his phone, nothing on text, I must have left thirty voicemails. Thank God I moved to my parents or I’d have been driving myself to the hospital!
      He finally resurfaced late the following day, claiming he hadn’t got any of my messages. That sure made me feel special! Like he wasn’t even checking his phone even though I was about to pop.
      Later I realised he was with someone else – his other family and secret double life! Of course he wasn’t going to answer, it would have blown his cover

      • I moved countries for my STBX’s work right after our baby was born. I was so stressed, traumatised and not at all interested in moving countries. AGAIN. However, I did, and he was never home. He was out in a new, fancy city fucking around while I was scared and stressed, alone with our new baby. I used to sit home late and night and literally sweat, hoping I didn’t need to call an ambulance if something went wrong because I couldn’t speak the language. He always told me it was because he was out doing business so I accepted it. It wasn’t until post DDay that he admitted that was when he started cheating. It’s soooo gross and scary that during our most vulnerable times they aren’t there. It makes me so sick.

        • Your experience sounds horrible FormerlyKnownAs and I’m sorry you went through that. You’re right, it is gross and scary because it illustrates so perfectly how little they care. At a time when any normal human being would feel protective and concerned even for a total stranger they don’t feel that way for their own partner/baby.
          I used to say to my ex “It’s like you think the baby and I cease to exist when we’re not directly in your eyeline” and it’s true, to them we aren’t real human beings with feelings and needs.

      • And yes, I am going to be Nana, not Grandma! We all have stories that in some ways are unbelieveable.

  • Mr super easy going was suddenly frequently irritated and victimized by things – like I had committed a big crime by changing the radio station, or I picked up the wrong takeout when he said he didn’t have a strong preference. Suddenly I was made to feel very controlling.
    Looking back he didn’t seem very enthusiastic about trips we planned, or dinners we went out on anymore.
    He stopped noticing me or looking at me that way… I took that as a normal evolution in a relationship.
    The distance and his not contributing much at all to conversations, and phone thing everybody mentions happened as well… It just didn’t click in my head.
    Honestly, I was so sure we were committed… I think he could’ve moved out and it wouldn’t have clicked for a while.

    • Zip,

      It was the same for me. All of it.

      And I’m absolutely stunned, looking back. Why didn’t any of it click? People talk about the affair fog. Maybe there’s a chump fog. That’s what it seemed like for me. I didn’t see things clearly. And I thought I actually had a decent marriage. What?

      • I think Chump Fog is a thing, or whatever we want to call it.

        I know I was not thinking straight for at least the last couple years.

      • Spinach, for me I think part of it is that I don’t know what a great marriage looks like. So these things I considered less than perfect (sudden distance, feeling like he wasn’t into me like before), but I still thought I had a great marriage and a great guy all considered.
        I don’t live in a fairytale so I don’t expect things to be perfect or gaga all the time. I also never assumed that it meant cheating if we weren’t on fantasy Island all of a sudden. I thought these things come and go in marriages.
        The bottom line is I didn’t expect him to be perfect. But I didn’t expect him to be a cheater either. Ughhhhh

    • Zip, I experienced this almost word for word – seven years before d-day. I recall a distinct shift, and it was devastating and confusing, though by the time things came to light, this was all “normal” and I accepted that the problem was “us,” or even me. This shift occurred when the cheating began (or at least the cheating I know about), and it was when the gaslighting began in earnest, 20/20. FW intentionally distracted and blame-shifted, during an already tumultuous time in our lives – family emergencies, change of job and move, ex hitting rock bottom/his recovery, and more – so I had no idea what things “should” be like, and my own well-being wasn’t a priority. I was was a chump preoccupied with surviving and taking care of the people I loved.

      I now see that FW had a pile of unresolvable issues from the start: alcoholism, poor communication skills and avoidance, codependency with mother and major FOO, intimacy problems, entitlement, control issues and inability to compromise. However, there was enough good to make it feel ok and even wonderful at times, we were genuinely compatible in many ways, and I was young and naive and overly accommodating. Then the cheating began, and I think it was a slippery slope. FW lied to cover lies, devalued to cover guilt, manipulated out of necessity, rationalized to protect self image, attacked to defend. Obviously, a person with empathy and integrity wouldn’t do these things in the first place.

      I can’t and shouldn’t try to unravel the skein, but… it seems like cheating actually changed the cheater – not that I could’ve done anything to stop him, and it was likely bound to happen at some point, anyway. The more bad things FW did, the worse of a person he became. I know how he would judge someone like him – harshly and without sympathy. A Nice Guy who once prided himself on being capable and caring, he’s now a bonified dirtbag who’s done some ugly, unforgivable things: a lying cheater at best, a narcissistic abuser at worst. He can convince and charm anyone who will listen, but he will never be able to take that back, for as long as he lives. Maybe, if he could rewind and do it all over in order to save his soul, he would. He can’t, and the implications and shame are too great for a weak, selfish coward to face. He is not equipped to do the right thing and change, so he just gets worse and worse.

      I write all of this, and it once consumed me, but it’s no longer what keeps me up at night. I’m now at a point where I understand FW is nothing to me. He could die a happy, well-loved king or a miserable, lonely hermit, and it would have no bearing on my life or happiness.

      • Breadandroses, so much of what you said was me in my 1st marriage. As far as I know, no cheating, but incredible insidious devaluing of me. By the time it was extreme I had a little kids and I was more determined than ever to help him with his issues. There were so many things about him that I admired and he seemed like such a catch except for The things like you said.
        H #2, love bomber, Mr. perfect covert narcissist…then the cheating and discard.
        My luck sucks! Maybe # 3 will be the ticket like it was for CL!

  • Even when I did notice changes, I assumed they were coming from something else (drinking, getting sober, stress at work, grief and childhood trauma, SOMETHING WRING WITH ME). Plus, even long before DDay – which floored me, I was caught so unawares – FW was so aggressive and relentless with his excuses for *everything* (sometimes bafflingly so, when I hadn’t even questioned a thing…) that it wasn’t worth pursuing. I also am very respectful of privacy and independence, so I didn’t even want to see his phone, etc. I enjoyed being with my friends and family, even alone, and didn’t want him there if he was going to hate it – for both of our sake’s. These are all so cliché but I didn’t think my ex was the kind of person who would cheat and lie, so I never suspected a thing:

    -clutching phone, phone always face down, wouldn’t even let me use it to look up a restaurant or hold it in my hands and f he was showing me a photo or something
    -wouldn’t let me use computer when occasionally I needed it to print something or look for photos. Actually, started to keep me away from digital photos altogether, which wasn’t always the case
    -family, friends and acquaintances from “his side” acting strange or distant around me (They knew. I interpreted their discomfort as either I was being to self conscious – this was what my ex always tried to make me believe – or they disapproved of it didn’t like me.)
    -put padlocks on doors
    -huge presence on social media (I have zero social media accounts and never have, so this whole world was uninteresting and unimportant to me)
    -new grooming habits (sexy man) and interest in fashion and appearance: trimming nose hair, attempting wart removal, more stylish clothing
    -spending more time with new friends (dudes, not mutual friends) and less time with diverse, mutual friend groups; avoiding my friends and avoiding or acting unhappy/distant around my family (this was a huge, noticeable shift 20/20)
    -secret porn habit (porn not necessarily a prob – but the secretive element is an issue and a red flag, i.e. learning after 15 years that your neglectful, seemingly asexual and sometimes impotent “partner” jerks off to internet porn daily and has since he was a teenager…it’s kind of a secret life of its own, and points to other inconsistencies). Also a red flag: if he is defensive and angry about having open dialogue, even when you approach it in a patient, nonjudgmental way.
    -Going on vague trips or errands, with fuzzy reasoning and often
    -expressing a need for “time and space” without asking what I need, having a conversation, or considering how it would impact my own life, living situation, decisions, etc.
    -stopped leaving sweet notes, making/giving me gifts
    -saying things along the lines of “you’re lucky that,” or, “at least I don’t,” or alternately comparing you/your relationship negatively to other people’s
    -NEVER asking what I wanted or how I felt… emotionally, about a decision, etc.

    • Oh, add saying “I’m sorry,” even sobbing it, at odd times, and in a way that seems unrelated/disproportionate to what occurred. Or saying things like, “I don’t deserve you,” without context or specifics.

      • Very similar to my experiences.

        Also, he started to have a hard time introducing me to new people. You would naturally say, this is my friend x, my cousin y etc. He would introduce me just like this: This is NotFromVenus. That’s it. Nothing else. People would look at me confused. They couldn’t figure out who I was. It looked like I was a total stranger he had just met in the street.

  • If anyone here has ever worn glasses that are too strong, you know exactly why you couldn’t see the cheater accurately before.
    You’re way too close to see accurately.

    It’s easy to see the writing on the wall from far away. When your nose is an inch from the wall you can’t read what’s written. I learned as a psychology student that I can’t fix myself or my family; I’m not objective. The people we’re closest to are the easiest to be in denial about. Their deception and my willingness to trust and believe add extra layers of obfuscation that meant a sledgehammer was necessary to get my attention.

    Time and distance have been gift. There have been many moments of clarity that could not have occurred if I had stayed in the relationship or clung to it. I am on my own until the wound feels healed enough to consider otherwise, and I feel I am far from otherwise.

    He said one important thing that is true, that I wouldn’t know what I had until it was gone. He was right. I had no idea, and was truly in denial, about who he really is and it’s not good. It’s also not what I wanted. It’s not who I thought he was. He’s deluded about himself for sure; a good guy that I should regret leaving me would have talked to me with the therapist who was on board instead of talking about me behind my back to people who would collude with his character assassination. His own conduct validates and confirms that he is the jerk that got away and definitely her “sole mate”.

    It’s easy and very much like a chump to kick myself, but he’s the one who deserves to be kicked. I hate that I have to scrape him off my boots daily and look forward to the day that I don’t have to clean them at all.

    It helps to have a name for them that reminds you who they are and rewires your brain to regard them as the poison for your soul that they are. Dorian Gray? Ted Bundy? Bernie Madoff? Euphemisms work.

    • >>The people we’re closest to are the easiest to be in denial about.

      So much explanation right there. Forgiveness for self and others too.

      My case is different. I’m here to get more “meh” about my family of origin. My FW grandfather did a lot of damage, and this site is helping me forgive my parents more. Also, myself when I couldn’t see a Iago betrayer close to me.

  • My ex left the area entirely before I fully knew what was going on, but the signs were there. During the divorce process, my attorney suggested getting a P.I. several times because I live in a state where adultery still counts, but I just wanted the settlement done-and-over. My attorney (40+ years in divorce law) said he had never had a case or heard of a case where a spouse took off many states away where there wasn’t a love interest on the other side or an intention to find new romantic partners in an area where they couldn’t be easily found out.

    Before he left, I knew that he was frequenting a massage parlor in town that was known as “that” type of establishment. There definitely was a different aura when he got home that I couldn’t put my finger on. He showered afterwards too.

    There were comments during sex about why I wasn’t reacting the way he wanted which seemed strange after several decades together. He decided that I wanted certain things when I never, ever wanted that sort of thing.

    The biggie though was that I got a horrible mouth infection with a fever. I went to our primary, and he asked about oral sex and asked if I wanted a STD test. I blew that off, thinking that there was no way it was an STD. My ex took off a few months after that, but I continued to have mouth pain and even numbness for some time.

    I saw the primary for a physical awhile later, and he strongly recommended have a full STD panel, which I did. Nothing came up. He even did a second panel some months after the first to be sure. My internist commented that whatever it was, it very likely was not something someone would have in a monogamous relationship. Eeww!

    When my ex came back to get the last of his stuff and put the house on the market, he had changed so very much. He wore jewelry that he never wore before, unbuttoned his shirt further, and talked differently. I asked about his life where he was living and noted that he focused on just a few surface topics. He changed the subject when I asked if he had made any friends and was vague about how he spent his time. He’s retired, so I was a little baffled by what he did all day given how little he told me.

    So yes, there were signs.

  • About 6 months before D-day, I commented to FW that each pair of his socks had one sock that was all stretched out(?). Then he bought an elastic knee brace to wear to work because his knee was bothering him. Seemed plausible until after D-day. I bought a subscription to one of those people info search sites, typed in his name and up pops our landline #, his cell phone #, and a second cell phone # that I didn’t recognize. Turns out FW had a secret phone that he hid in his sock, then his knee brace. 🤦‍♀️ Never realized that was a 🚩 . Sneaky, shady con artists.

  • I can concur that many of the things mentioned I noticed as well. The phone, the devalue, etc. What I kick myself for now though is the littlest things. I would ask him if we were ok and he’d say all the ‘right’ things but I would notice just the slightest expression on his face and think “that’s his avoiding something face”. We’d always hold hands when out, but it was the feeling of his hand in mine that was different; just…not a normal clasp but like a limp hold. His face when he’d talk about whore (met at work how original) would get that sparkle he’d get when he was into something new; I had thought it was job related. If I asked something uncomfortable he’d tell me the right words but his hand would do that plucking at his eyebrow or facial hair thing he did when he trying to hide something. Micro expressions and behavior that was just slightly ‘off’ feeling but not enough to know for sure and was easy to attribute to other things, especially since he was such a good guy there was no way HE would do something like that, not him, never him. I could argue away all the concrete things like the phone and such as me overthinking things or him being stressed. But I’ve never discounted my own intuition before like that, and I know now not to ever do that again.

  • Telltale signs…that seem obvious in hindsight:

    An increase or change in personal grooming. Is he shaving stuff he’s never shaved before?

    Having larger amount of cash on him, or maybe stashed in some hidden of semi-hidden location

    More and bigger charges to the grocery store on his bank card (a sign of him getting cash back)

    New prescription for ED

    Weight loss

    New obsession with working out

    Increased irritation at you and the kids.

    Avoiding going to bed at the same time as you.

    I could go on…but those are some basic ones

    • “Avoiding going to bed at the same time as you.”

      This is one I could kick myself for overlooking. It coinsided with his recent promotion and lots of extra work duties; so he played if off that way; but still, almost every night.

  • OK, after reading all these entries, my nose is permanently fixed in wrinkles of disgust. But I too am in the group repelled by his smell, and repelled by his kisses. And in the group that suffered from unexplained UTI’s and yeast infections.

    I believe my STBX had already perfected his image of a “great guy” and learned how to successfully hide his porn use well before I met him. So I never saw glaring changes in his behavior. But, in retrospect, perhaps I should have been suspicious of these:

    Coming home late from work more often than not, when even his boss left at 4:30 pm.
    Spending “all nighters” getting work done at the office..
    Routinely taking $200 cash out prior to business trips for “cab fares and stuff.” I trusted in the company reimbursement!
    Taking the red eye flights home instead of wanting to come home in the evening to sleep in his own bed.
    Having sudden urges for “a diet Coke” and having to run out right away to get one, taking hours.

    I did start to feel some intuition when he told me he had gone to confession on a business trip AND
    around the same time he started doing some different things sexually to me. I’m embarrassed to say that I liked it. Actually I am more embarrassed to say that once we were married, talking about what pleased us had already stopped cold the moment I moved in with him. That always had confused me, but I can see now it was the end of love bombing & the beginning of the devalue stage. Well, 5 years into marriage & 2 kids already, with him changing things up in bed, I know I definitely suspected his being with other women, but I just could not reconcile it with everything else I knew about him and I let those feelings subside. I’m sure my naivety and lack of challenging him 32 years a