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Is Limerence a Thing?

schmoopiesDear Chump Lady,

Just curious what your thoughts are about the concept of “limerence”, and especially as it applies to midlife crises.

After discovering the concept last year and doing some reading it really resonates with me as to how my 20 year marriage that had seemed so stable and authentic was sabotaged so quickly and seemingly easily. It, and your website and book, are the things that have helped me cope with the repercussions of divorce and losing the person I THOUGHT was my life-long best friend.

Thanks for helping. 

MiddleAgedChump

Dear MiddleAgedChump,

This is an Untangling the Skein of Fuckupedness question. How many cheaters can dance on the head of a pin, why do they do what they do kinda thing.

I don’t believe in midlife crises, I believe in lousy character. As for limerence, I think feelings of attraction and even obsessiveness, are real. I just don’t think they are an excuse for cheating on someone.

We all have crises and we all feel things. It’s what you DO next that is a matter of character.

Let’s say you cut me off in traffic, endanger my life with your reckless driving, and flip me off. In that moment I might feel a justifiable murderous rage towards you. Do I chase you down? Shoot your tires? Launch a missile at your BMW?

Or do I sit with those feelings, and let them pass?

If I, say, ignited your car in flames with my rocket launcher and burnt you to a crisp, will any court buy my excuse that my anger was justified? I FELT THINGS!

No.

Now let’s do the midlife crises. No one ages without crises. Parents die. Once taut skin turns to melted candle wax. And you’re beset by a thousand new challenges — ear hair, empty nests, statins…

Do you meet these challenges and sit with difficult feelings? Or do you… pretend you’re 25 and fuck a co-ed? Chuck your well-ordered life for a career parasailing? Pop your collar and pretend Ronald Reagan is still president?

A midlife crisis may describe a thing — but it’s not the cause of the thing.

Same with limerence. We can have crushes, gooey feelings, attractions. It’s what you do about it. There are a bazillion decision points between gooey feelings and leaving your partner of 20 years.

The Reconciliation Industrial Complex uses midlife crises and limerence as excuses that absolve cheaters of responsibility and the DECISIONS they made with AGENCY. The RIC also uses these faux conditions as a reason chumps must stay. The fog will clear! Limerence is temporary! They will see what they’re missing and come back to their senses! Stand for your marriage!

Look, the feelings may very well fade. Feelings do. But character is pretty deeply wired. Someone may not act in bad character until life sucker punches them. But generally speaking, you’ll find such people are superficial in other ways. Low-grade shitty and selfish. It’s just that chumps project our values — well, of course they would do the same for me. Of course, they would reciprocate/try harder/meet the life challenge.

MiddleAgeChump, I fear I have not given you a very satisfying answer. The seduction of untangling the skein is that it will bring you comfort, when really it just keeps you mired in their crap.

They abandon because they can. Because it doesn’t hurt them to hurt you. Because they aren’t that deep.

All we control is ourselves and how WE face adversity.

Don’t be the douchebag who fucks the co-ed. Pluck the ear hair. Take the statin.

Adulting and good character has its own rewards.

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.
    • 👍

      We spend/spent so much time trying to work around that, to give our FWs the benefit of the doubt, to ease our own pain etc; but it really boils down to that.

  • “A midlife crisis may describe a thing — but it’s not the cause of the thing.

    Same with limerence. We can have crushes, gooey feelings, attractions. It’s what you do about it. There are a bazillion decision points between gooey feelings and leaving your partner of 20 years.”

    “Look, the feelings may very well fade. Feelings do. But character is pretty deeply wired. Someone may not act in bad character until life sucker punches them. But generally speaking, you’ll find such people are superficial in other ways. Low-grade shitty and selfish. It’s just that chumps project our values — well, of course they would do the same for me. Of course, they would reciprocate/try harder/meet the life challenge.”

    This. All of this. Plus the steps that involve fucking someone other than your partner or spouse. Don’t project YOUR good character on their shitty selfish actions.

    • So many steps!!!

      just the other day, I asked my STBX, how he could swear it would never happen again and then embark on a 10 year double life of lying, gas lighting, and cheating, He calmly responded that he just got sucked back in!?! Unbelievable! I used to think he just didn’t get it, I would spent so much time and effort explaining the simplest things of empathy and understanding. Now, I finally realize he just doesn’t give a shit, I cannot wait to be out of this!

      • That’s such an awful realization, that he just doesn’t give a shit. If you’re like me, you take that as something wrong with you. “I must not be good enough.” But the truth is that the only one that he really gives a shit about, is himself. What will help you overcome this realization is knowing that it wasn’t you, and it was never you. You just no longer served a purpose for him. That’s who he is and always was. He’ll continue to be a person of shitty character. He’ll project happiness with someone else, but he’s still the same person he was when he was with you, and he can’t run away from who he is. And truly, you don’t care as long as you’re no longer dealing with such a shitty person. Congratulations for getting out now. Take the time to heal yourself before you go out and find another person.

        • It took me 4 years to finally see this. You are so right. It’s all about their character, not about any deficiency you might possess.

          • Yes, yes, yes. It has nothing to do with what we did, or didn’t do. We fell for their faux feelings. We trusted. We believed in the person we thought were marrying.

            We can either feel stupid for being chumped or hold our heads high knowing we have integrity, honestly and hopefully grace.

            Personally, I’m working on the grace. It’s been 5 years and I’m still angry, disappointed and hurt. I turn 60 next week. Twenty five years of my prime adult life invested in a liar. He’s living large with the OW, while I’ve downsized and am living alone.

            • Hello Giddy Eagle

              I sense your frustration directly from your post.

              I’m sorry your ex husband is a fuckwit. Please don’t let one idiot ruin your sparkle.

              You are living on your own. Isn’t that better than living with someone that disrespects you by lying and cheating?

              A few weeks post D day, my uncle said to me…’you’re not the first this has happened to and you won’t be the last. Pull your shit together and get out. It will all work out for the best.’

              Those words were brutal at the time but my uncle was right.

              Don’t let anyone dull sparkle.

              And trust me they always downgrade.

            • Happened to me at 60 after 26 years, no kids. I live alone too. Although I now have a beautiful whippet puppy (he hated pets). It’s hard Giddy Eagle. I empathise.

              • Mighty Warrior, during the horrible mindf*ck of wreckonciliation, I got a black lab puppy. I needed it for support, and to bring some joy into my life. My FW complained about it constantly. Guess what happened after I filed for divorce? FW cries to anyone who will listen about how much he misses the dog, what a great buddy he is, etc. 🤮

                Like you, I’m heading into retirement. Don’t you agree we’ve both traded up to much improved life partners?! 😂

        • Thank you so much for this! You are right, I have struggled with this for so long, “what was wrong with me, why wasn’t our life good enough, he must have been so unhappy to go down such a dark path. knowing it was never about me should bring some kind of peace… @ my age, I hope it’s soon!

        • Yes, this. I will probably take this to my grave… comprehending that my husband of thirty five years DID NOT CARE what he did to me. Cared so little, in fact, he could never tell me!

          • They try to convince themselves into believing we don’t care about them or value them. Or at least my ex did.

            Generally when they treat us SO crappy after the affair starts, forcing us to defend ourselves, proving that we are ‘bitches’.

        • > “I must not be good enough”

          I’m going to recommend 2 books that saved my life: “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie and “Women Who Love Too Much” by Robin Norwood.

          So many of us (including myself) have believed that someone else’s shitty character is a reflection of our worth – even though nothing on earth could compel me to abuse anyone, let alone abuse them and then blame them for it. So what gives?

          The books above made me realize I had been raised to be overly responsible and believed I somehow controlled other people’s behavior. Cheaters LOVE to take advantage of those beliefs.

          • Good suggestions, Cam! I’ve been reading _Why Does He Do That?_, Lundy Bancroft’s 2002 book about the minds of angry and controlling abusers. Please excuse the gendered language. He writes:

            “ I came to realize, through my experience with over 2000 abusers, that the abusive man wants to be a mystery. To get away with his behavior and to avoid having to face his problem, he needs to convince everyone around him — and himself — that his behavior makes no sense. He needs his partner to focus on everything except the real causes of his behavior. To see the abuser as he really is, it is necessary to strip away layer after layer of confusion, mixed messages, and deception. Like anyone with a serious problem, abusers work hard to keep their true selves hidden.” (pg 18)

            The abuser “works like a magician: his tricks largely rely on getting you to look off in the wrong direction, distracting your attention so that you won’t notice where the real action is. He draws you into focusing on the turbulent world of his feelings to keep your eyes turned away from the true cause of his abusiveness, which lies in how he thinks. He leads you into a convoluted maze, making your relationship with him a labyrinth of twists and turns. He wants you to puzzle over him, to try to figure him out, as though he were a wonderful but broken machine for which you need only to find and fix the malfunctioning parts to bring it roaring to its full potential. His desire, though he may not admit it even to himself, is that you wrack your brain in this way so that you won’t notice the patterns and logic of his behavior, the consciousness behind the craziness.” (pg 21)

            Limerence? Nah. Just smoke & mirrors. As CL says, it’s entitlement, bad character, narcissism, and abuse. They choose to do it because they foundationally disrespect their partners and believe themselves superior.

            • Thank you for these extracts, ActaNonVerba, and for your comment above, about the upgrade of a furry friend. The ex signed himself off as ‘Mystery Man’ on Valentine’s cards for 26 years. Never changed. In answer to a ‘yes’ ‘no’ question, his response was, unfailingly, ‘I think so’ which, he said, meant ‘yes’. He was the classic ‘nailing jelly to the wall’ middle-aged adolescent petulant boy. Therapy has helped me to see that I turned a blind eye repeatedly. Now I’m working on why I value myself so little. There’s much work to do!

      • Yes, yes and yes, kathy! My ex actually sheepishly (while trying to hoover me back in) admitted that he’d FORGOTTEN that he promised it would never happen again, that even if our marriage had become miserable and he was super unhappy and found someone else attractive, he would end our relationship before moving on.

        He forgot because it wasn’t that important to him. His dick and his ego were MUCH more important, still are I’m sure, than anyone else’s feelings and loyalty, even his kids’.

        It was when I found myself trying to explain to him, a middle-aged man at that point, why lying is a problem in any human relationship that I finally really really clicked that it wasn’t that he didn’t UNDERSTAND. It’s that he didn’t AGREE.

        He needs everyone else to be super loyal, caring and honest, he counts on that (shoulda seen how desperate he was when Shmoopie dumped him for another man. Twice.). But those things just don’t apply to him, they are IRRELEVANT.

      • He’s not capable of empathy, that’s the truth. He’s broken in that regard. My ex is the same. I call him a “wooden boy,” like Pinocchio. He can only fake empathy.

    • There are so many types of midlife crisis that it’s not really a useful term. They range from “taking up knitting” to “buying a Miata” to “leaving my family” – this is such a range that it’s not useful lumping the last one in with the first one.

      IMO, a midlife crisis is like a fever: it is a good indication that something has gone seriously wrong, but it’s only a symptom – and in fact is so generic that it doesn’t tell you much at all about the underlying disease. A midlife crisis could be evidence of unresolved FOO, fear of aging, inability to resolve conflict, psychopathy, brain tumor, terminal selfishness, … basically, any of a myriad of character issues.

      My XW’s midlife crisis was caused by projecting her parents’ unhealthy relationship onto our marriage; her fear of imaginary health problems; her inability to articulate (and therefore forgive) the usual conflicts that arise in a long marriage; her conflation of “new” and “better”; increasing entitlement in her personal life as her professional stature grew. I’m sure everyone here has a different list of causes but we all ended up with a similar “crisis” on our hands.

      • IG— You are spot on with this post….especially the increasing entitlement as ( my STBXH )
        professional stature grew…..So easy to realize and see in hindsight….at the time, not so much. I guess I mistook arrogance and entitlement with his ever-increasing promotions and responsibilties at work for confidence and self-assuredness.

      • My STBX was also getting high on the power of this phase in life. Unfortunately I brought him to my work where he bought into the business and became the CEO. I did this because he’d been struggling with jobs and was so unhappy. What a mistake! It was a long drawn out process to negotiate his way into the business with the other partners, but they trusted him because they trusted me. I am a director but didn’t want to be an owner. Well, as it turns out he was incompetent and he also became a bully. It was during a terrible phase for our marriage because he was gaslighting me and manipulating me so bad I had no idea what was up. I saw his horrible treatment of the team and the rest of the time he wasn’t at work. No one could find him. Same shot at home. He was swanning around like a fat cat, being a bully and doing whatever the fuck he wanted. Same at home. The devaluing ramped up. He said things like, “I want a cooler house. This house isn’t good enough for me!” I said okay, you’re right! You’re a business lender now let’s upgrade to a place you like better! I was always trying to please him and make him feel like the big man. He started dressing like a teenager which embarrassed me and the team at work. He was odd, distant and a total dick. He was being overly sexual with me at work- whispering sexy things in my ear and walking off. It was nice but also uncomfortable and confusing, especially because he wasn’t ever home to actually spend time and have sex with me. We all know what happens next. He struck up an S&M relationship with a young client and wanted to stay married to me and keep her as the side dish sex slave fuck. He was so entitled he didn’t see this was hurtful and not okay. Sooooo he eventually got fired, and now he’s with the sex slave and he’s unemployed. Middle life crisis or just an entitled asshole??? Part of the story is that he’d confessed to cheating on me for the previous decade. They seem to get worse over time, more entitled as he became a business owner with more money to skim from the marital funds.

        • “Middle life crisis or just an entitled asshole??? Part of the story is that he’d confessed to cheating on me for the previous decade.”

          Entitled asshole.

          You really don’t have to entertain any other non-reason for why he DID those things.

          I am sorry that you went through all of that – ugh.

          May they both get something that melts their genitals off.

  • Agree 100%. Unfortunately, cheaters have poor character and you don’t need them in your life. Don’t waste thousands of $ on kibble trying to keep them.

  • If I said it once over my ~20 years with the Kunty Kibbler I said it a trillion times: “We may not be able to control our feelings or emotions about things; we absolutely can and must control and take responsibility for the actions we take in response to those feelings and emotions.” (This was almost always interpreted as lecturing or mansplaining and met with palpable hostility.)

    I personally don’t think the obsessive thoughts and fantasies and desire to act on new relationships is ever really about the awesomeness of a particular ‘other person.”

    I think they’re about the newness of the other person. The fact that they’re a ‘blank slate,’ unknowing of the cheater’s lack of character and integrity, and inability to function normally in an adult world. Another unwitting (or sometimes completely witting) source of filling the empty and superficial holes in the life of a deceiver. Someone who doesn’t know “the truth” yet.

    That’s the real attraction.

    • It’s either the blank slate that is the true attraction…, or the fact that the ‘old’ slate sees the dirt bag for who (s)he is and it’s an escape. The dirt bag hates being so ‘exposed’. The dirt bag wants to still look wonderful so finds another person, the blank slate, to reinvent the facade. I really got an eye opener when I read “A Narcissist’s Love Letter” by John Howell.

    • Like how grifters play themselves out in one town and move on to another full of fresh marks and cops who don’t know them on sight?

      • Yes! Through the grapevine I learned ex went on to marry a woman who wasn’t born when we married – our marriage lasted almost 25 years. She wasn’t the OWhore – that tru- wuv fizzled out. He moved almost an hour away to an armpit of a town. I imagine this young thing has no clue he’s a cheater. He can create whatever narrative he likes & there’s not a soul who would know his past. He can run but he can’t hide because if he told her he cheated & she still marriedhim we know where that’s headed or if he didn’t tell her it’s
        because he’s a liar to the core.

    • It’s all about having Christmas presents to unwrap. People are fun objects to play with as long as they’re new, convenient and gratifying.

    • I totally agree with you! I know all his lying, selfish ways! She just thinks he’s so depressed. So was I but never cheated! Fuckwits!!!

  • Trying to understand why the cheater did cheater stuff – and did so knowing that it would hurt other people – is crazy making. I don’t know why Ex-Mrs LFTT did the things she did, but I do know that she did them. She made a deliberate choice to hook up with an old boyfriend of hers and see him behind my back …. the kids found out, told me and the rest is history.

    I guess that the important thing is that the kids and I know that we will never know why their mother did the things she did. We also know that she will lie to her dying breath rather than explain or take responsibility for it all. We all know better than to wait for an apology that will never come.

    As for limerence, it may or may not have been involved, but I really can’t say that I care. She did cheater stuff because she could; it’s much easier when you are not a nice person.

    LFTT

    • Yeah we will never know why they do what they do beyond they are disordered people, many of them do have personality disorders that are undiagnosed. Only thing we can do is rebuild ourselves. They will never change. It don’t matter who my ex wife ends up with as she will still be a pathological liar who wrecked her own young kids home and destroyed 15 years marriage, she will always be the person who cheated with multiple guys on her ex boyfriend whom she lived with before me. It’s just who they are. As Dr Dre said “can’t make a ho a housewife “.

      • CNL,

        I am unfamiliar with the good Dr’s work, but if he ever said that it takes more than giving birth to a child to make you its mother, then I’d be with him.

        Sadly, my MIL (who I remain on very good terms with) told me – just after the now Ex-Mrs LFTT left me and our 3 kids for a new life with her AP – that she’d always been worried about her daughter’s lack of maternal instinct. Well f*ck me if that’s not something that I wish I’d known before I married her daughter.

        LFTT

        • Do you think it’s possible that your ex could honestly be diagnosed with anti social personality disorder or anything similar? I’ve read your comments and she seems like a very disordered person who is only about me, me,me. Typical cheaters I suppose but after my own medical professionals suggested that my ex could well have a personality disorder (her sister has a diagnosis of personality disorder) it really got me wondering if many of our abusers really are just simply sociopaths and narcissistic personality disordered individuals.

          • CNL,

            Our eldest daughter is adamant that Ex-Mrs LFTT is a narcissist, but I suspect that could be an over-simplification. While I get the human desire to put a label on something, I’m just not sure how helpful digging in that particular hole would be.

            One diagnosis I could agree with is that she is a garbage human being. I also diagnose her AP (who she now lives with) as having a lousy taste in women, but that’s just between you and I 😉

            LFTT

            • As Chumplady has told us time and again, quit trying to untangle the skein of fuckedness. Who cares what their diagnosis may be *yawn*
              Not our deal. Trust me, someday you will be so glad they left. Ask me how I know.

            • Hi LFTT, to add my little dime, for a long time I was skeptical about using the “narcissist” label. I found it an easy way out to take no responsibility for my part of the failure in the relationship, and after all my ex fuckwit SEEMED so human. And isn’t everyone a narcissist, nowadays?

              But the longer I kept him in my life, the more the spiral of crappiness bended downwards and the more often I was confronted with WTF-behavior.

              When I start reading about narcissism after going no contact, it was like EVERYTHING fell into place. (They follow quite a simple script, after all!) And I realized me not wanting to catagorize him as a narcissist was actually me finding myself excuses to keep me high on hopium. And now that I know that he is a narcissist, the “diagnosis” makes it so much easier to stay away from him. Because who the hell wants to live with a narcissist?

              In sincerely hope this all is not your case, but it can help to take some distance and reconsidering your relationship. In any case good luck!

        • I’m close to my MIL too and I’ve had to hear from her that she always credited me with my husband being successful and he would have done nothing without me. And she said I shouldn’t trust him because he’s very manipulative. Thanks for telling me all that shit about your son 25 years later! She thought I was going to help him be a decent person, and it seems I did for awhile.

          • My MIL is long deceased but she did warn me right before we got married that I would regret it. 30 years later here I am on this forum.
            When I tell some people about my stbx extremely cruel and mean treatment of me mostly I get the “oh well- he’s just going through a mid life crisis.“I beg to differ and I think CL nails it in her post.
            His brothers and sister are now starting to tell me about some of his behavior before I ever met him which i wish I had known! They all told me they felt like he was really lucky to meet me because they thought I straightened him out. Mostly they are not surprised that I’ve left. They considered him to refuse to grow up and that he was going nowhere — living off of women like his mom and aunt and sometimes his sister. And then it was my turn. I had blinders on trying to keep the family together.

            Now he can find some young person who can deal with him since he says he does not even relate to most people over 30.
            Peter Pan syndrome perhaps?

            • Huge 🚩 when a parent wishes somebody will come along and straighten out their child. Wasn’t that the responsibility of the parents to socialize their child and nip any disordered behaviors in the bud ? 🤔
              I met a man who wished a “girl” would do this for his son. Another 🚩 when a person criticizes their child upon first meeting somebody.
              Never saw this man again. Showed very poor boundaries.

              • My own ex-MIL said to me “i don’t know what you see in him”. Her son.
                Huge red flag. Should have paid attention

    • The thing is, I don’t know if many cheaters have the self-reflection required to know for themselves why they do what they do. It’s pointless to try getting answers from them because they are incapable of giving any sort of insightful answer in the absence of some long term therapy. I would say that the people who are in touch with their feelings and motivations and the people who cheat are a rarely overlapping population.

  • A husband shot his wife’s lover in Walgreen’s parking lot in Utah. The dead man was barely into his 30s. His lover 40+-. She was his secretary. The killer had had an affair. I don’t know if his wife felt justifiable cheating but her boss was married with 5 children. His wife went from having a happy marriage to a stunning lose in a few short weeks. Everyone tried to find out if her husband was using steroids. Any excuse to explain why a church going, successful, happily married man would cheat. Who knows. There are two families living with the aftermath. One man is dead and the other in prison. You could call the dead man’s behavior limerence but he is still dead.

    • The steroids thing is way way overhyped. I use to be a bodybuilder and used steroids and it did not affect my moral character. I trained with some and was friends with some top level guys and they also never cheated, killed, beat their wife and managed to hold jobs and be decent people. Steroids are legal in my country so shows exactly how little of an issue they are here. I know the US is ridiculous with people going to federal prison for having the male hormone testosterone. I’m on testosterone replacement therapy and I’ve still not lost my mind and raged on people. Now we all know that narcotics and alcohol do actually distort character and do lead to crimes and murders.

        • Exactly why I mentioned it as some many are dead set on finding an excuse and any excuse at it to point the finger at. Reality is, sometimes people are just crap people and since we don’t know or see what goes on in someone’s mind, hence how our own abusers managed to chump us, we often don’t see the damage until it’s too late. Like that guy in Chris someone that I watched on Netflix and people thought he was so family oriented, mr nice guy would not hurt a fly and then he murdered his wife and kids and had been having an affair. They hide behind a social mask.

      • Agree. I have a hormonal imbalance that causes me to have about 3-4 times the normal amount of testosterone for a woman my age if I don’t take medication for it. I never laid a hand on Nitwit, though I was sorely tempted to at times. As CL says it’s whether we act on our feelings or not.

    • They play with fire. I’ve learned many “professional cheaters” go after married partners for that added security of not wanting to be found out, but obviously that can go so wrong.

      • My cheater used to say that he was often propositioned by other married people who had as much to lose as he did (I think in cryptic ways, he told me what he was doing to lessen his guilt…back then, I assumed if he told me, he SURELY wasn’t DOING that).

        I think he chose very carefully yet he was likely often spooked that he might be caught.

        When I learned of his “big” cheatapalooza (where he nearly left for schmoopie) I would have sworn on my children’s souls that he had never cheated before, but now I think he cheated all along.

    • I found the story about the Utah cheater. An article has this quote from the Wife of cheater “‘Just because an unhealthy enticement comes to your mind… that doesn’t make you a bad person. It is what you do with your thoughts that will determine what road you will take,”
      I thought that was right on target!

  • I had to look this word up. Whoo, what a definition. That was quite a journey.

    CL said it. Feelings are feelings, the first thing that happens before decision making. Choices are chosen, our responsibility, ours to own, ours for which it is completely reasonable to hold us accountable.

    A long time ago, a man I knew told me a story that was one of the big life changers for me. He said he had been thinking a lot, to try to figure out why he kept ending up with people who were such a bad fit for him. He went to a gathering at a friend’s house and saw a woman there who was very attractive to him. At one point, as he watched her, feeling deep desire, she met his eye. The connection was highly electric, rife with sexual tension, extremely compelling, and he wanted her, compulsively and intensely.

    And in that exact moment he saw it. He saw how selfish and juvenile and unhelpful his impulse to act on desire alone actually was.

    He saw how choosing to pursue that attraction would stop him from spending his evening meeting all the other people at the gathering, would sap his energy for quality and deeper connection.

    He saw how the attraction itself might be less a sign that he should go toward her and more that he should keep his distance and refocus his energy and sense of purpose.

    He saw how all his relating started with intense attraction and ended with two unmatched personalities that stopped working when novelty and maybes stopped feeling like a drug high.

    He told me that at 50-ish he felt like he had finally started growing up. He said he felt like he finally had a chance at something real now because instead of feeling controlled by sex and sexual desire he realized fully that he is in control of himself when he feels it and yes is often not the best choice when he feels that way.

    He said many of his friends jeered him for these thoughts when he expressed them, but suddenly, he didn’t care about their jeering anymore. He got closer to his son. He started volunteering. He felt happy for the first time ever. Truly happy.

    I think about this a lot.

    • This is a very good story indeed and one that I am going to hold onto. I’m 2 years past DDay and have not yet ventured into the dating world – I just haven’t felt the need as I’ve been enjoying my freedom after a toxic marriage! If I do venture back I will definitely keep this wise man’s story in the back of my mind. Thank you Amiisfree!

      As for the limerance question – I totally understand that need to untangle the skein. I think it’s part of the process of letting go but eventually you will wake up one morning and simply not care!

    • What a powerful story! That’s what maturity looks like: we can feel powerful things without acting on them in the moment. If you’re attracted to someone (and available!!!), you can take your time. If it goes somewhere eventually, that’s great. But it might not. And it doesn’t have to be Right This Instant. All of those possibilities should feel okay to an emotionally healthy, mature person.

      I have been re-watching some old popcorn flicks like Speed in which a Luv Connexion gets formed over the course of a few intense hours, and have been reminded how much American culture (at least) sells the myth of the instant attraction. If you don’t want to rip someone’s clothes off inmediately, and proclaim your undying love for them over the rolling credits, it must not be Twoo Wuv! Eventually, most of us should mature out of that superficial Hollywood understanding of love. But many of us got together with our fuckwits so young (I was 21 and STBX was 19) that we wouldn’t have expected our partners to act more mature for some years.

      Oh well, here’s another mark of maturity: we live and learn. I just wish I had left after D-Day #1, instead of putting up with adolescence for another 14 years.

      • Yup, most people meet all kinds of attractive, sexy people on an ongoing basis. Doesn’t mean we need to do them or pursue them.

    • Yes, the choice to let the desire “go” is why porn is such a big industry and such a problem. The choice to refocus is mature and healthy for the individual and best for society at large.

      Zero interest in dating here too. Being single is a happy place for me right now.

    • I love this. I wish there were more people who had this realization in their lives so much sooner, if at all. It’s such a mature way of being, and far too any people don’t mature enough to have this realization. It is so sad that people refuse to grow up. Cheaters suck.

    • Oh wow Amiisfree, thanks for sharing that! Seriously, why in this world are there so few stories like this published, and so many on immediate attraction?

      In any case I can completely relate and wish I would have read this a few years ago. But better late than never 🙂

  • This is what I thought my husband experienced with his co-workers, just an attraction and a friendship that grew too close. I trusted him and thought he knew to hold fast and the feelings would pass. After the first too close co-worker experience it seemed to. The second, has been a whole different deal. The common denominator is him, and his inability for monogamy and the truth. However, I also no longer believe these 2 are isolated events, he was likely doing so much more. It is sickening. There is no excuse for cheating. The lack of morality is not limited to just that one area, it is crack in the foundation that cannot be repaired.

  • I had to look it up as well. Limerence may well explain my soon to be exhusband and his affair partner’s actions. But it doesn’t excuse it.
    Having sex with someone else is a choice. Lying to me was a choice. Repeatedly doing this during a global pandemic when I am clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID 19 was a choice. And none of these choices were made out of love, respect or integrity.

    • You are right about all of this.

      It’s such horrible abuse. I’m so very sorry. Risking exposing you to such an awful disease is way past just cheating. It’s horrendous abuse.

      Standing with you. 💚

    • Very valid point about COVID. My ex wife spent entire lockdown cheating away with dozens of men whilst I was at home with the kids. I pointed out how she could have exposed us not only to STD’s but also the COVID virus to me and the kids and I may as well have told her that Walmart had increased the price of corn flakes for all the impact it had on her. They simply don’t care.

        • This is a kind of endangerment. Like exposing partners to HIV. And i hope at some point it will be taken seriously by the legal profession and labelled as criminal. It is evidence that the cheater should NOT be making decisions for the children.

    • Good point about the COVID. During lockdown when I was being responsible Nitwit was out “swimming at the YMCA” and partying with the community college crowd like it was 2019. He knew I visited my elderly parents every weekend. He knew he was endangering their health. He just didn’t care.

    • OMG Jennifer. Same thing happened to me during the height of the pandemic. That was when I realised the FW had no place in my life nor in my personal thoughts or space. I am just thankful I didnt get COVID.

  • At the end of the day, what matters is that he essentially took a bayonet and used it on me and our daughter. He then handed it to the hit woman he was cheating with and she used it on us.

    Why is irrelevant. If you can intentionally inflict harm on someone, you can’t convince me that you are capable of loving anyone. When I started looking around, I saw deceit and dishonesty in all of his dealings. He lies to this very day to everyone in his orbit.

    As for the infidelity buddy? Someone signing up to help you obliterate your spouse and children is the biggest red flag there is. Most of us here have developed 20/20 hindsight on the perils of ignoring red flags. Good luck with your dysfunctional relationship, mofos. It’s baked in with an affair no matter what they think. Denial has never turned anything into what I want to believe it is. It’s just anesthesia that enables me to keep my hand on a hot stove.

    He left just after our 20th wedding anniversary and moved into a secret apartment with his Craigslist Casual Encounters “sole mate”. Not long after that, our daughter caught him on Tinder and I heard that Ole Sole Mate caught him going to the illicit massage parlors.

    Everybody thought John Wayne Gacy was such a great guy. The victims buried under his house knew who he really was. Likewise, as painful as it is, we know who they really are and now that we do, to respect the truth and leave. It’s a painful and oddly wrapped gift that takes a very long time to appreciate.

    DETACH = Don’t Even Try And Change Him/Her

    • TYPO

      …..it’s best to respect the truth and leave…..

      PS….I also don’t believe cheating is about attraction. I am Caucasian. Blonde and blue eyes. The hit woman is a Chinese national. He told me he had always been attracted to Asian women. It would
      have been easy to swallow the attraction explanation because she looks so different from me (despite her blue contact lenses. Which made her eyes look crazy in the selfies I saw. Yikes.) But then out daughter caught him on Tinder (Caucasian blonde Amanda) and Sole Mate from China caught him going to the local illicit massage parlors featuring Asian women.

      I’m convinced it’s about their character defects and that is all.

      Years ago I left my purse on a sidewalk in San Francisco at night. I had set it down to load my truck and driven all the way home before I realized it. I called the police station nearest where I left it. Someone had turned it in. Everything was in it, even the cash. A detective drove me to say thank you to the person who turned it in. A man and his wife answered the door. Newly arrived from Russia, they looked like they could have used some extra cash. They are far richer than my former husband can ever hope to be with all the money he’s hidden from me.

      It’s character.

      • If he was attracted only to Asians then why did he marry you in the first place, unless you were just a wife appliance to him? He could not have expected you to turn Chinese for him the way Nitwit expected me to put on weight for him to satisfy his desire for heavier women. He repeatedly “warned” me that if I did not gain at least 30 pounds he would cheat on me with a heavier woman. Which he did. He said he only married me because he was desperate. I also suspect his family preferred him to marry a white woman for image reasons (he is East Asian, the OW is Middle Eastern).

        Real men and women own their preferences, whether for heavier people or for a different race. They don’t marry someone who is acceptable to their family and then cheat with someone else.

        • When I heard this after DDay, it was the first time I ever heard him express those sentiments and I had been with him 27 years.

          It’s scary to realize how little I actually knew him compared to how much I thought I did.

          • Yes, it is scary to realize our entire marriage was BULLSHIT. he literally planned his grande escape the entire time. Following in Dear Old Dad’s Abandoner footsteps, cuz you know, it’s a family tradition to walk out on your wife and children when they need you the most. He has fulfilled his legacy. Good job Son!
            I was with a fucking imposter for 21 years. There’s nothing more psychopathic than someone who blows up their own family ON PURPOSE with premeditation, calculation and precise execution.
            NO, I do NOT believe in midlife crisis either CL. I believe in disordered narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths.

            • “NO, I do NOT believe in midlife crisis either CL. I believe in disordered narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths.”

              Same here. MLC is just a construct to excuse shitty behavior of folks who have most likely been engaging in that shitty behavior for years, before the blaming it on MLC.

      • This kind of makes me laugh because my FW immediately ran to the arms (?) of a dark haired pre-op transexual prostitute after divorcing me with a 3 month old. I could never compete with a penis..how could I?

        The married neighbor he cheated with was ten years my senior and twelve years his. Without sounding like a narc myself, I’m more attractive. It’s really not about looks. It was about the thrill for my FW.

        • He left you and your baby for a tranny? Was he gay and living in denial? I had a manager years ago who was married with kids and he left his wife to be with his boyfriend. Totally destroyed the wife. Awful.

      • As a racialized person who is/has been on the receiving end of white men looking for the illicit, because in their minds being with someone mommy/”society” wouldn’t approve of is illicit, I have some thoughts whenever you mention about the ex being attracted to “Asians,” VH.

        I do think the question of “why marry you” if he’s going to express a race preference *ahem, fetish* makes sense, but the “preference” or “attraction” I’ve often been on the receiving end of is a way that these guys make an aesthetic out of their taste for going out of bounds. It’s not a taste for me, for my people, for my culture, ever. It’s some weird exoticization that makes them feel extra nasty, and they love it. It really is about the thrill of being “bad.”

        When it’s non-partnered douchy guys, the energy is a bit different, because they don’t have a beard. But that doesn’t mean I still don’t get often hit up as people’s foray into the f*cking “exotic.” I’m fricking tired AF of conventional “dirty,” with all the costumes and toys, because it’s so unimaginative for so many men, my skin colour is more outré than a ball gag and whips. Borrrrrring.

        I can tell you the way that in my almost 50 years of life, married entitled white gits have sidled up to me wanting to ask where I’m from, or spouting the worst clichés about my culture, it really has nothing to do with just preferring the colour of my skin or eyes.

        The white men or any other men (for me dating is always interracial because I’m mixed) who have been decent to me have been decent to everyone.

        Anyway, every time you mention this confusion, it doesn’t confuse me, because the Asian AP ended up being in the seat of “appropriate” and the one that he’s supposed to be faithful to. He can’t get a thrill of hurting/being a bad boy via an outside person’s Asianness when the new person with expectations is Asian. Have you heard of the specific kind of racism that is “yellow fever”? If your ex is out there doing that, you can bet there are dozens of women who fit his idea of docile doll and have been on the receiving end of his grossness, who recoil in disgust, and have had to roll their eyes and go home and process with their friends.

        It’s not about their actual heritage or even look, it’s about their own internal racism, and deciding who is good/clean/mommy/rules/decent and who is naughty/nasty/whore/renegade/edgy. Fricking hate that shit, have seen it in a friend’s husband who was a dirtbag cheater who said the same thing about his attractions, and my friend had to really work through a lot of her own ideas. Anyway, since that massage parlour shooting there are women out there articulating their experiences with this stuff a lot better than I’m doing here.

        • I can’t tell if you’re criticizing me here.

          I don’t feel confused. I feel surprised.

          • After DDay many things surprised me that I never knew about him or had never heard from him. His attendance at illicit massage parlors and his racial sexual preferences (ahem fetish, agreed) were just the ones that are part of the infidelity story…:.

            I see him as a predator and a perpetrator now. His parents grew up in Nazi Germany. His father was a German soldier. Where he got his ideas is clear to me but I thought he was a Nice Guy who had rejected their doctrine. Surprised and shocked are the feelings and the secrets keep coming.

            • Hi Velvet,

              Wow, that’s dark, the Nazi family stuff.

              I’ve read you wondering aloud on this page about why the ex, who stated his thing for “Asian” women, then cheated on the AP (who may be Asian American of many generations, I don’t know) with another blonde, and then went to parlours. It’s something you’ve written about many times on the site … maybe I’m not registering what’s behind the story for you. I thought you felt he was lying about preferences? Or that you were shocked about the blonde lady? I thought the concept of yellow fever might be helpful in framing his impulses (even though I know it’s untangling the skein). In any case, he sounds like a racist douche.

            • Hi Velvet,

              The stuff about his Nazi family is dark, wow.

              You’ve written many times about you being white and blonde, and then the ex first going after an “Asian” woman (I don’t know if this is an American woman of Asian descent, or someone who is new to the country, or what have you) then cheating on her with a blonde, as well as going to parlours. It seemed like you were like, why is he cheating with a blonde if he says he’s into Asian women?

              I was offering my thoughts that first, if we understand his “into” as being fetishizing and gross, and more about the thrill of getting away with something, then (to me) it’s not a surprise that if he suddenly sees this Asian woman as the new source of rules and expectations, that he’d cheat again with whoever. If it’s not helpful, no worries.

              In any case it sounds like your ex is a racist douche.

              • THX…

                Yes I do know about yellow fever and I agree that he’s a racist douche that fits the criteria. It was well-hidden from me for 27 years. I know I’ve told the details of my story here but I don’t recall wondering aloud why. It is still surprising to me that his stated reasons for cheating and leaving are about preferring another race, and then after moving in with her he’s on Tinder with women of my race. Just being honest. I see most newly minted chumps start out comparing all kinds of qualities and attributes about the cheating accomplice before realizing it’s their rotten broken inside programming.

                As for the OW? (The one I know about). He shopped for her on Craigslist Casual Encounters specifically by race. Then he realized she was his “sole mate”. I guess on Craigslist there were sections where all kinds of physical attributes could be specified. After DDay I realized where all the Asian dating site spam emails were coming from. She is from China and moved to the US about five or six years ago. She married a white American guy here and divorced him before moving to my neck of the woods.

                What also made me barf is that I have been a lifelong collector of Asian art and had a lifetime love of Asian culture. It was me that dragged him to Japan and the Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco. He never set foot inside the Asian Art Museum which I donate to. He crabbed about my collection of art, clothing, textiles, etc. In the letter to her after DDay, he said, “I’ve come to love and respect the ways of you and your culture”. Funny how 27 years with me my love of Asian culture was something to criticize and complain about……and I sincerely doubt he respects anything about anyone.

                As for the massage parlor patronage, it makes me sick and it makes him a top level predator and perpetrator. There is no way to tell if a woman working in those places is trafficked. Lisa Ling did a great expose on them recently on This Is Life. I know someone who is retired military and is part of rescue missions for women and girls
                in Southeast Asia who are being trafficked. He’s a hero and my XH is a jerk.

    • “When I started looking around, I saw deceit and dishonesty in all of his dealings.”

      Hmmm. Did you only notice the dishonesty in retrospect?

      I really thought my ex didn’t lie; turns out he’s a pathological liar. How did I miss this?

      His profession (physician) helped maintain his cloak of respectability as did his family.

      The thing is, there was cruelty and shitty behavior. He mocked me (and the kids!). He punished with silence. He criticized everything. But I spackled and never thought he was capable of lying. I survived on breadcrumbs. My needs became smaller and smaller over the years.

      I’m not sure why I needed an affair to trigger a divorce. So much crappy shit justified leaving his ass. But I stayed until I learned of the affair. My threshold was too high.

      • This sounds so familiar. I missed so many glaring red flags and what should have been discoveries, because I would gaslight myself and trusted him. Sounds so stupid to say now. His favorite move was a lie by omission. Then of course twisting the truth, a little truth a little lie, it made it hard to tell. All with a fake persona that he’d worked hard to develop that was difficult to see through.
        I finally realized everything he says is utter bull shit. He is the biggest liar, deceitful human being I’ve ever met. He also refused to move out and court is backed up, so I get to look at this person everyday.

        • I saw lies all the time, small ones, to other people. Or changing his opinion to suit what he was hearing from others. I convinced myself that he didn’t lie to me! Although I knew that he did and often. I didn’t want to believe that he was a liar. I knew he was a weak, cowardly person and accepted that. Believing that he lied was a step too far. We are both lawyers. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of our profession, or should be. I felt huge dissonance in seeing that the ex was dishonest and lacked integrity, in all areas of his life. I still struggle with that dissonance. He showed me who he was repeatedly and I chose not to believe him.

      • I saw lies all the time, small ones, to other people. Or changing his opinion to suit what he was hearing from others. I convinced myself that he didn’t lie to me! Although I knew that he did and often. I didn’t want to believe that he was a liar. I knew he was a weak, cowardly person and accepted that. Believing that he lied was a step too far. We are both lawyers. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of our profession, or should be. I felt huge dissonance in seeing that the ex was dishonest and lacked integrity, in all areas of his life. I still struggle with that dissonance. He showed me who he was repeatedly and I chose not to believe him.

  • Yes, my attorney was the philosophical type and would throw out these types of thoughts in between the legal mess. Mine was a gray divorce, and he was just a little older than me. He actually retired the day after my divorce was final.

    He would comment that he and his wife had a lot of ups-and-downs in 40 years of marriage, but they worked it out. It wasn’t always easy with his career, children, starting his own law firm, and their aging parents. Sometimes they acted up in their own ways, but they never let go of each other. They didn’t do horrible things or run off like my ex did and throw the other partner’s life into chaos. He’d say that was how good men and women did marriage.

    Near the end of the crazy negotiation phase, he commented that my ex was ranting and raving to his attorney about how horrible I was for ordinary marital flaws. His attorney got so fed up with that. Then his attorney asked mine what I was like. My attorney said that from what he knew, I was a reasonable, respectful person, really the perfect client in his eyes. Together they decided that I had to be a saint for putting up with my ex for so long. I was the exception to the saying in divorce law that Mother Teresa never marries Atilla the Hun.

    All that was unbelievably healing for me.

  • I think what is sold as limerence and cosmic attraction to *another* is really just narcissism and a love of being chased—often for characteristics that a bit of time will show they don’t really have at all (personality, character, sexual prowess, loyalty, etc.). These cheaters are mostly in love with themselves, and mostly incapable of loving anyone else.

    • Exactly. Limerence for narcs is simply their love bombing stage of the game. Their only “twu wuv” is themselves.

    • Amen to that!

      Self-love!

      I’ve got to say that sometimes I wish I were a fly on the wall at my ex’s house so that I can see the look on the OW’s face when she realizes she won a turd. Of course, she, too, was married when the affair started. So they each won a turd!!! Two entitled narcs. Fun times, I’m sure.

    • Nomar, yes – and I always think about the quality of the chaser. Somebody who wants to fuck somebody else’s spouse. Such a catch providing all those kibbles.

  • Thanks for the quick response. It’s been 7 years since my mariage fell apart and most of the time I just live my life and don’t think about him, but this pandemic year, living alone has reopened some old wounds. My parents are long gone, I don’t have children or even neices or nephews, my best friends are now scattered across the country hundreds of miles away, but he’s living with his new wife and her kids and a new grandchild in Europe and traveling around to see all the museums and architecture…I need this pandemic to be over so I can get out again, socialize again, and continue creating my better life. In the meantime, there’s still so much rage inside me about how he has treated me. Finding the information about limerence helped because it gave form and structure to what I witnessed. It helped me understand the mechanics of it, the chemical makeup of it. I agree completely that it’s not an excuse. There are no excuses.

    • I live in Europe – museums and most everything are closed over here, too. So you can just remember that he spent a ton of money taking his family on a vacation and all they can do is walk around outside or sit in the hotel room and look at each other because everything is closed. There’s that.

  • My limerence limerick:

    My ex says he’s caught up in limerence
    So I should show him my forgiverness?!
    He’s so damn addicted
    I’m SURE he’s afflicted
    But only with CAKE and FUCKWITNANCE.

  • I would say, sure, limerence is a real thing. Or New Relationship Energy, whatever you want to call it. Kibbles (emotional supply) are also very real, to a disordered person. My STBX truly acted addicted after D-Day #2. It was very perplexing to see, as a chump.

    But as CL rightly notes, the problem isn’t the limerence itself. Anyone experiencing limerence with someone other than their committed partner has already plowed through too many obvious boundaries, unless they’ve negotiated all that very openly ahead of time. There are indeed a bazillion choices between the inkling of attraction and full-on limerence. That’s part of why I get so angry when my STBX and other cheaters want to paint their shitty boundaries as a “mistake” of the kind any mature adult could make. Nope!

    Lots of people have suggested to me since D-Day #2 that my 40-something STBX must have been experiencing a mid-life crisis during her second affair in 2018. She was indeed in crisis, having just lost her narc mom. And I bet STBX herself would love the mid-life crisis theory, because it’s yet another reason to let herself off the hook. But I have to remind these mid-life-crisis theorists that STBX also had another affair 14 years earlier, and has always acted emotionally adolescent. It’s not a mid-life crisis, it’s life-long disorder. Maybe she’ll be able to work on it, but it’s not my job to stick around and see. How freeing it is to be able to see the truth so clearly, after so many years of low-grade mindfuckery!

    • It feels like my whole effing life has been a crisis and I didn’t cheat.

      I went to therapy and beat my head against a wall talking to him.

      He was on the same couch, lying lying lying.

      Who did he consult for relationship advice? Our boat partner, on marriage number three, an infidelity buddy half his age. He never said a word to Therapist In The Room For The Entire Relationship.

      New chumps….beware of therapy. Cheaters use it to keep up appearances. Mine did for 27 YEARS. I thought we were tuning up and maintaining the marriage car. He was putting sugar in the gas tank at night while I was asleep and likely using therapy to look good and eat cake.

      • Yep. They mirror us especially morally and ethically to keep up facades so you will not catch the scent. If you are family oriented, guess what? THEY are “family oriented” too! Except they are NOT. and the only time you will learn how NOT family oriented they are is the day AFTER they walk out.
        Marriage Therapy with a cheater is utter bullshit. DV advocate warned me. She said she did not believe in marriage counselling as it serves as an arena for the abuser to further abuse. She said only if the facilitator is highly trained with narc abusers will it be bearable but even then, narc cheaters do NOT change and counselling only prolongs the inevitable, all the while they dupe their spouse into thinking there’s a snowballs chance, while squirrelling away as much marital monies as possible. Get your OWN therapy Chumps – NOT couples therapy.

  • All I can say is that limerence is the stuff of kids. And most of these cheaters — especially the truly narcissistic ones — never grow up. They conveniently throw away spouses, kids and all responsibilities for childlike excitement. It’s ridiculous.

    I didn’t expect to enjoy dating again after divorce and in my 40s…but it was fun! And exciting! And I found someone I was super attracted to. And there was chemistry and things I missed…. and it was all so much better than the 16 years I spent with lazy boring sex-withholding FW.

    BUT… and here’s the big BUT… I now had a kid. My first priority remained my then 9 year old son. So no matter how much I enjoyed the “escape,” maturity and responsibility made me continue focusing on my child first and foremost. We grow up. And no matter how much fun it is to be in the throes of sexual desire… we now have other responsibilities that can’t be forgotten — unless you’re a completely stunted ape.

    My ex will forever be a child. He’s angry at mommy (she’s also a bonafide narcissist) who didn’t pay enough attention to him. He’d throw tantrums (in his 40s) over not getting enough attention for his birthday or that his brother was getting more attention. FFS. Grow up.

    • This rings true in my ears. So much adolescent attitude, and plenty of narcissism.

      Yet, I still want to see some karma kick in…I know he’s still the same person with the same messed up psyche, but his affair seems to have paid off in a shiny new, exciting international life. And I sit alone with my dog. Most of the time I’m okay…but lately, after this long pandemic, I find myself wallowing again. I need to let this shit go!

      • Karma is you living your best life! COVID is international too! You have no idea what is happening behind closed doors.

      • MiddleAgedChump –

        Trust that he’s not having as much fun as it looks like. International life during a pandemic? That can’t be fun. Seriously, I’d rather be home with my dog 🙂

        Karma will get him. You may not get to witness it… but it will. You know how I know? Because wherever these idiots go, there they are. They can get fit, become wealthy, own an island… it will still end up sucking and being f**ed up because they are crap.

      • Reframe this. Being with a dog and being a good and authentic person is wonderful. Being a shallow fake who cares for nobody but himself sucks.

    • Well, Easter brought up my ex’s childlike behavior. I remember that when my kids were young, I would buy them chocolate Easter bunnies. I always had to buy one for my ex–solid (not hollow) and dark chocolate, not milk. He was SO demanding, and I accommodated these demands. Even the kids thought it was “funny.”

      He also insisted that his birthday be celebrated on the day. Whereas the kids and I could wait until the weekend, he couldn’t. Again, we kind of laughed this off.

      He needs LOTS of gifts.

      All of this seems so weird in retrospect.

      I guess this Peter Pan was primed for limerence. I agree that it’s childlike excitement, but it’s also tantrum behavior invovled. I want what I want!!!! Waaaaa waaaa!!! I don’t think of consequences because I’m a needy child, incapable of foresight.

      • Hey Spinach,

        Yep, sounds familiar. Mine didn’t exactly have tantrums but there was always this underlying entitlement floating around that “daddy needed something”. Such as, he liked his broccoli cooked a special way that took extra time or he’d be quite sad if it wasn’t up to the standard, all of his food had to be piping hot or he’d take his plate and microwave the shit out of the meal thus ruining it, he poured hot sauce on everything as if my cooking wasn’t nice enough, he had to make a big fucking deal of Xmas presents, and then he was always disappointed when it was all over because even the big fuss I made was never enough praise. We always had to play the board games he wanted, and he was visibly upset if I won and was spent a really long time trying to figure out how I defeated him. It wasn’t until recently that I realized all the ways I was accommodating his child like bullshit. He definitely approached his cheating like a teenager. I don’t give a shit one way or another about limerence. Of course it feels awesome to be in the throes of a new love affair. And yet, it doesn’t take hold of your brain and make you go crazy like the RIC implies. That’s total bullshit. If you get carried away with your love affairs when you’re married that’s because you’re an entitled fuckwit. No hormones make you like that. If that were the case no one would be monogamous EVER. I’d love to feel limerence like I did when I was young, but I never would have done that at the expense of my marriage. It’s all just lame excuses.

  • The first positive dating experience and first time I had sex after being monogamous for 20 years thought hmmmmmm….this limerence is NICE! For a moment I thought I understood why STBX did what he did. And I do believe in the mid life crisis. I’m a toddler developmental specialist and the biologically driven need for autonomy that you see at 2, that you then see again in adolescence, seemed to make sense again in mid-life as the behaviors are so similar. BUT then I realized he could have just talked to me…but he didn’t…his shitty character made him feel entitled to act horribly. Me? I now have full permission to have an ethical mid life crisis.

  • Good grief. Someone hasn’t seen Mr. Holland’s Opus. It’s not Mr.Holland’s side dish co-Ed!

  • Limerence was my ex’s specialty. Over the course of our 35 year marriage he became infatuated with a series of women, and his infatuation came accompanied with devaluing me. I’ve decided his infatuation with them was related to the way he thought they reflected his wonderfulness, but, at the same time, in contrast, would improve his idea of himself and his image. My entire marriage I was being compared to these more desirable alternatives.

    My ex is an academic (so am I), and in his case, he didn’t idolize and idealize their looks but their intellects. I finally decided they were nothing more than an intellectual’s version of arm candy, except that because my ex also got off sexually while imagining himself as a woman (he’s autogynephlic), I always thought he wanted to both fuck AND be them. For the last in the series of these women, he wanted to model his life on her, to the point that after a faculty party, he came home and shut off our air conditioning, because, he said, she didn’t have hers on.

    Everyone who’s already said it is right: limerence is not an excuse for cheating, cheating is a character issue, limerence is a sign of a character disorder, and the best response to it is a divorce.

    • My knave-man made sure I knew his dalliances were with intelligent women also, but I think it was the attention and validation they gave him that he craved most — I wonder if it’s possible to be too self-centered to be able to experience or participate in limerence. (?)

  • I didn’t know the term limerence and so had to look it up. Oh mein Gott in himmel, this is my FW father (FWF)!!!!

    I read it as actually a mental illness or disorder and it made me also think of stalkers.

    FWF has, since chumping the family last May 5th when he took off for the vacation home, had “limerence” for a number of women in his new state (of the union and also of mind). Let’s see….there was the triathlete whom he got a credit card for and paid 5-figures for her “companionship”….oops, I mean “consulting.” There was the other “consultant” who gave him ideas for a business venture and for her ideas she also got a 5-figure check. Then there was the “designer” who was married and he sexually-harassed her for months before she moved to another county (her husband kept telling FWF to not talk about his wife’s boobs but husband and wife apparently weren’t traumatized enough to NOT take FWF’s money). Then there was the whore, I mean “designer,” who was introduced to FWF by a former AP. Said whore, I mean “designer,” flew to FWF from Denver during Covid to give him “design ideas”….oops, I mean let him play with her boobs in the hot tub. ‘Cause nothing says “I’m a good designer” like leaving your husband and kids during Covid to fly across the country and let an old fucker play with your boobs for money. Then there’s the waitress at the hotel restaurant whom he decided he’d want to put through nursing school. And then the homeless woman….oops, I mean former billionaire’s wife (yeah, right) with a drug-addict son whom he invited to come stay at his house. And the woman….oops, I mean young adult barely out of her teens whom he had his assistant lure off the beach with a bottle of wine and promises of partying.

    How sad is it that I could keep going with these stories?

    I think limerence is a nice and pretty word for “mentally disordered person who is stuck at the emotional maturity of a middle-schooler and who stalks women (or men) and blows up their family because of a perceived twu wuv experience that is pure fantasy and not reciprocated.” Or something like that.

    • Love that definition. My attorney started calling my ex “the boy” partway through. I asked why, and he said that he always called immature men “boys” with his clients if they acted like boys instead of men. He said that the line there helped the discussions.

      The reality of course is that the women who play with boys are also girls. I never have been able to personally fathom the idea of a random hookup. My ex wanted me to play that in the bedroom, and I have to admit that I couldn’t get into it, ever. But he’d tell me about random women he encounter that he’d fanaticize about, so there you’d go. He also idolized an old girlfriend decades back that he dated maybe a month or two. In separation he told me about all the temptations and how if he cheated, it was my fault. I don’t believe that any of these women are the type that give up their careers for their husbands and children and go through what I did with him for so many years. Yup, girls.

      I always had some doubts about how committed and faithful he was. There were signs. Apparently the idea of staying with your long-term partner paled in comparison. He’s divorced now with no accountability and supposed freedom. Thank you, I’ll pass.

      • Not long before Dday and nearly 35 years into our marriage, my then-husband started speaking almost longingly about a high school girlfriend. Wtf?!! I think he was testing out what it felt like to talk to me about another woman—a dry run, if you will, for the big confession. And maybe the OW reminds him of her; maybe he finally got what he really wanted all along.

        Cruel bastard!

        • Oh, yes the dry run. That is indeed a thing. They fantasize about the big D-Day bombshell they are planning on dropping. Literally like a crescendo in an action movie. The thrill will be so THRILLING! I can see by the blindside bomb that FW dropped on my kids and I that he wanted it to be as dramatic, fucked up and painful as possible. That’s a FW for ya.

          • Mine was the same. The DDay and the follow weeks were a big, fucking mess. He didn’t just tell me….oh no! He had to say a lot of cruel things such as: she’s younger than you so we can start a family, I now have a chance to find happiness and you don’t, it’s all your fault – you could have kept me if you’d just let me have my girlfriend, and…in my new job I’m going to make so much money that she will be well taken care of. Oh, and the worst – she feels bad for breaking up our marriage, but I hope you don’t feel that way because she’s just so vulnerable so we need to be really nice to her. Yep, the cruelest of the cruel things were said and were totally unnecessary. To this day I still don’t know why he felt the need to do that. He didn’t care at all how hideously painful it all was for me. He’s an abuser through and through – I just didn’t see it.

  • If limerence and mid life crises are what cause cheating then why did my XH cheat on me when we were only 29? At 29 we had no children, no health issues, nothing that could have sparked a “mid life crisis”. As CL says character is baked in at a very early age.

    • Exactly. My STBX first cheated on me when she was 28, in 2004. We did have an 18-month-old kid, but it’s not like we had been stuck in a rut for years or whatever. It was a very exciting time in life, with graduate school and friends. But STBX always has been adolescent, emotionally. I wish I’d left her then, but it was a really tough call, since it was a brief fling and she seemed so remorseful. The other shoe dropped eventually, though, as it usually does! As I noted in a comment above, I have reminded friends who have tried to chalk up STBX’s second affair in 2018 to mid-life crisis that STBX also cheated on me in 2004, and exhibited lots of affair-lite behaviors in between (like intense friendships with people she was attracted to). It’s not mid-life crisis, it’s life-long disorder.

  • Chumplady isn’t going to like my response here, and she probably won’t agree with me, but:

    Limerance is definitely a thing, there is a “fog” (for a few select cheaters) and you can come back from it.

    My husband had an intensely stressful job. Demanding, exhausting, and depressing. He had almost no time to spend with myself or our family. He got physically ill due to stress. He started retreating into fantasyland, as a coping mechanism and a brief escape. This is when the affair began: it was almost completely online, then began to be in person when I found out. He was telling me they said “ I love you “ to each other, she said “maybe we’ll be together on the other side” yada yada. He told me he wanted to stay together, I asked him to give our marriage 30 days, with no contact with her. Which he did.
    As the days went on, he came out of the fog. We talked a lot, we went to counseling. We went away together, without the kids, and reconnected.
    It’s now been over 2 years. He is back to being the man I married. He feels a lot of guilt and shame, and recognizes that he was “out of his mind” as he puts it. He really thinks that the over work and extreme stress caused him to take risks and make bad choices that he wouldn’t have made under normal circumstances. He sees now that what he thought was love was limerance, and once he stopped the communication with her he could see it for what it was.
    We’ve also been together 20 years. He’s not a narc, and had never cheated before.
    I’m sure she would say I did “the pick me dance” and maybe I did. But it worked- for now at least! No one knows what the future holds.

    • Phoenix,

      Perhaps you’re one of the rare reconciliation success stories.

      That you’re on this site indicates you must know that many of us will express concern that you are helping him justify his affair, using limerence fog, illness, and job stress as acceptable excuses for cheating.

      You must also know that many of us will ask: How do you really know that he’s never cheated before?

      I’m sure you’re on the lookout for red flags and are also watching out for spackling and pick-me-dancing on your part. Please protect yourself and leave him if you catch any whiff of cheating.

      Did you get a postnup, which CL recommends?

      I was married for 35 years. After 25 years, my then-husband confessed that he’d cheated on me one night when he was out of the country. We’d been married for only 2 years. I was 26. So this was not a midlife crisis on his part. My therapist at the time advised me to chalk this up to a youthful indiscretion on his part. Turns out it was the tip of the infidelity iceberg.

      Your situation might be completely different, but I can’t help but be skeptical.

      Good luck. Please keep us posted.

      • “job stress ” Yep that is a common excuse. It was what my cheater used when I asked him what was wrong, and why is he treating me like shit. I swallowed it like a good chump, only to be dumped a year later, after putting up with another year of being treated like shit, because he was still claiming job stress.

        He also cheated on me when he was young, I never got proof; but I know that he did. I put it off as a youthful indiscretion and he really seemed to grow up. Oh yes he still had a selfish streak; but was acting like a decent person and a pillar. Then he blew up our marriage with the exposure of multi year adultery with his whore worker.

        I do think there are those rare folks who learn a lesson, and work on themselves to change their character and boundaries.

        Also, just recently when my brother and his wife died my son and I had some long talks and he told me some things that had bothered him for years. One thing was that his dad when he was a young kid, likely about fifth grade age 10 took him over to whores trailer and left him outside playing with a racoon, that the whore had befriended. (she was the city dog catcher) It didn’t occur to him until he heard rumors in HS what that was about.

        He always felt guilty for holding that in. So my fw used his son as a cover for his adultery. That means he and the whore were screwing around for at least six years before Dday. I am sure there were other whores, but she was the steady whore.

        I had no clue. I can assure you sex was not being withheld from him, or from me. I was being used and abused and walking around so proud of him, and in total ignorance while he was walking around like he was one of the good guys. I am betting he was having a ball duping me.

        The reality is for us chumps is we will never know for sure how many times and how long they cheated. Barring a lie detector test, and quite frankly, I believe a lot of them are so cold and calculated they can dupe a LDT.

        • Yeah, exactly. Mine claimed midlife crisis. Then I found out he had hit on a woman while we were still dating, decades ago. If in fact he only cheated with one woman at midlife, it was due to lack of opportunity. They don’t morph character as a result of job stress or aging. They always sucked. Stress is just a test of their character, which they inevitably flunk.

          • Oh and to clarify, when I asked him about how he was treating me, I didn’t actually say “why are you treating me like shit” I said, you are avoiding me, and it feels like you are putting me on a shelf; what is wrong?” Then the job stress excuse. And I remember it as clear as day, he said it with a smirk. Then he left to ran an errand for the mayor. I suspect “run an errand” is cheater speak for fuck schmoopie.

            He smirked a lot in our last year (ish) I hope my pain brought him all the fun he thought it would.

            • Oh, The Smirk. Always a classic. Mine used to smirk at me on date night across the dinner table. It made me incredibly uncomfortable and I couldn’t explain why. After Dday it all made sense. My intuition had sensed there was a lot more to that smugness than the pleasure of my company, but I couldn’t have imagined he would be that cruel.
              Well, I made sure to wipe the smirk off his face. He’s all alone in the world and everybody knows he’s a cheating, abusive POS. Look who’s smirking now.

              I doubt your ex is smirking anymore. If he’s afflicted with a commitment to schmoopie, he’s miserable. If not, he’s miserable because he’s lonely. These tools can’t handle being alone. He’ll have to find another chump to get his smirk back, because cheating on another cheater doesn’t feel as delicious to them. It’s unwitting, innocent victims they enjoy betraying. I hope he has not found one.

              • Oh, I am sure schmoops quickly wiped the smirk off is face. At least for a bit, until he started cheating on her.

                They stayed together, I am sure because he had to convince himself he didn’t blow up his life, when all anyone had to do is look at his life and know the truth. Bankruptcy, family fights, bad decisions etc.

                please note: I don’t for a minute think he regretted losing me, I was nothing to him in the grand scheme of his life, anymore than schmoops or any other woman was. But, he did throw away his precious Captains bars, his cushy office, his standing in the community, he was well on his way to reaching his ultimate dream of becoming the mayor once he retired.

                He died in Jan, my son and I have had a lot of talks recently, while working together taking care of my brothers estate, and his and schmoopies life was just one big disaster after another. It is how I found out after all these years he was really a disturbed person. How he managed to act “normal” for so many of the years we were together, 🤷‍♂️ I am sure denial on my part was part of it. But, also these folkd are really good at manipulating folks, at least until they are unmasked; then I think it pretty much goes to hell for them.

                A year before he died he bought (financed) a big ass RV, that they couldn’t afford; but he didn’t care. He wasn’t even trying to cover his selfishness anymore. He was in terrible health by then, and he just would not stop and take care of himself. When my son asked him how on earth he was going to pay for it, he said “I don’t care, I will be dead”. My son said the look on schmoopies face was horrendous. The fact is she wanted my future, she got it. He was going to do what he wanted, regardless of any fallout on her.

                I feel so bad that my son had to witness his behavior; but he is doing ok. Right now he is focusing on taking care of my brothers estate. Thank goodness he was not involved with his dad’s, so after the memorial service, he could just walked away and leave schmoops to her life.

                He did pull all the information and forms she needed to collect any benefits he had; which weren’t much.

                My daughter in law refuses to have anything at all to do with her, and she has good reason.

                Schmoopie has her own sons to turn to. Unfortunately for her they are just like she is. Users.

    • Phoenix, I hope for your sake that you are correct.

      My observations of my FWF indicate that limerence involves a rotating target.

      – Limerence with whore #1 – FWF’s assistant saw that she was literally a dangerous person and kicked her out of FWF’s orbit, but not before she got her money.
      – Limerence with whore #2 – a friend of a neighbor who went along with FWF just long enough to get some money from him but not long enough to encourage his obsession with her.
      – Limerence with whore #3 – a friend of a former AP. Since said whore did not live in the same state, her time with FWF was limited to her plane ticket arrival/departure dates; again, though, it lasted long enough to get some money from FWF.
      – Limerence with whore #4 – FWF sent his assistant to the beach to lure this girl to his house and she in turn brought her friends over to party with FWF for a little while before growing bored of him.
      – Limerence wit whore #5 – FWF frequented the restaurant she worked at and would leave her tips of $500 or so. She “went to coffee” with him and strung him along enough to get gifts and then ghosted him. Apparently he drew her pictures for Xmas of a surfing Santa (mind you, FWF is 75 and she’s 35 and his hands don’t even work enough to write his name).

      I don’t think I need to continue the list but it is quite long. FWF is an addict – work, alcohol, porn, shiny objects. FWF fit the same profile as your husband. Stressful work, long hours, health issues, etc. FWF is the perfect example of limerence. He will find a target, for whatever reason, and obsess over that target. Mad texting back and forth. Lots of phone calls. Emails. Buying gifts. “Visits” to their place of work (if in the service industry). It is a sickness, I think, not just a “one and done” type of scenario. A person who is wired for addiction and/or ADHD and/or OCD is primed for this type of behavior. I don’t know if they can even control their obsessive thoughts. Yes, they should control their actions and it is every person’s responsibility to behave in a manner that is respectful and honorable. But I think these FWs just don’t think of that. It is spoiled-child-type behavior that sadly destroys everyone around them.

      I think that they don’t stop their behavior, they just become better at hiding it once they know they’ve been found out. Their object of desire is just a rotating list of random people and can change very quickly once they get focused on a new shiny object.

      I did the “pick me” dance with FWF about one of the most recent whores. It took him a couple weeks and then he left his state to come visit me (unannounced, btw….thanks for that), so he was physically distanced from her. I heard from FWF’s assistant that before they left to go back to their state, FWF was already talking about Most Recent Whore.

      These people are seriously mentally disordered.

    • Read it again. CL actually said limerence is a thing, but it’s just not an excuse or the reason they cheat. Shitty character is. Your husband is clearly a weak and selfish man who responds to stress by betraying you. That is not how people of good character act. Good people use healthy coping mechanisms that don’t hurt others. Has he developed healthy ways of coping? Has he changed his character? Does he truly demonstrate that he cares about you as much as he does himself? I suggest you explore these questions with ruthless self honesty. I see a lot about him and his struggles in your post, but nothing about what he’s done for you to make you feel secure. You seem to be chumpily focused solely on his welfare, not your own.

    • Idk, everyone is different. I have been under life threatening stress at times in my life, and it did nothing for my libido. It made me want to hunker down and weather the storm, not date other people.

      But I can’t speak for other people.

  • “Someone may not act in bad character until life sucker punches them.”

    This is so true. In my story he was the perfect man until I was diagnosed with cancer. I was doing well, kept working. Despite everything, I was cheerful and positive. He was the one that cried over and over. Now I know that he was crying for himself. He lied to me for an entire year, while I was going through my treatment. I was most vulnerable, confused and scared. Because I didn’t know why he was so distant. He left me all alone as I had moved to another country with him with no family nearby.
    After 10+ of marriage. He lost a solid person, a life friend, a loyal and supportive wife.

    • I’m so sorry, that is the worst, to cheat on you during such a vulnerable time. It highlights his shitty character even more. I hope you are in recovery now and have a good support system. Mine liked cheating during pregnancy, while that doesn’t even compare to cancer its just to show these ass holes like to strike during a time we are weak. It is classic domestic violence that the abuse escalates during any time of perceived vulnerability. It hurts like hell that is for sure, the person we trust the most is really the most harmful.

      • This is very powerful information:
        “It is classic domestic violence that the abuse escalates during any time of perceived vulnerability.”
        Thank you for that. Sure does explain and validate the pain I felt when FW abandoned the two times I needed him most during 21 years together:
        1. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer
        2. When my Dad died
        The shock, pain and confusion of those traumatic life events were amped up to infinite with a cheating SCUMBAG who abandoned us when we needed him most.

        • I am very sorry Chumpadellic, I know how cruel this is. They are cruel and not smart either. What will happen when they have a difficulty or health problem? It happens to so many people, young or aged. They have lost good partners, who would be with them under any condition. Not very smart.

        • I’m so sorry that you experienced all that, they are masters of cruelty. It’s heartbreaking to experience.
          Sadly, they don’t waste any opportunity to cause the most amount of hurt, they are terrible humans. Glad you see it for what it is. Look at all your survived, you are mighty!

      • Thank you LC, what you wrote makes so much sense. I am doing well despite all the stress. My support system is mostly online, I concentrate on good things, and keep myself busy. If he had gone through the same thing, I would’ve moved the world to make him happy. It is so unfair and cruel.
        When I was unaware that I was a chump, I got some relationship books thinking that it must be something I did, because he was so distant. So, I minimised my already minimal expectations but nothing worked. Then, I found out that I was a chump but this time, while on treatment, I was comparing myself to AP who knew all about my disease. Can you believe?

        • The relationship books must be something most of us chumps have in common, and googling thinking we did something wrong. How terrible to find out during treatment, there is a special place in hell for people that do that. They are not truly human. Glad you are doing well despite it all, you are so strong.

  • Limmerance. Another RIC construct akin to the fog. Leasing chumps everywhere to hold on until the spell is broken and the “wayward spouse comes to their senses. Snoke up hopium addicts.

    Xw was like a teflon don (in her head) and an infatuated 12 year old girl who had her first orgasm.

    Limmerance was also the prime tactical window of opportunity for me to pull the trigger on filing and evidence collection/ protection. Xw traded marital assets for her percieved image management benefits. Limmerence can be effectively be used against the adulterer because their tru wuv blinds them from making wise decisions. Combined with no contact they get blindsided later after signing away things they did not value. I guess xw’s multiple orgasms scrambled her brain.

    So if you’re fresh into a betrayal chumps keep this in mind and don’t hesitate lest you loose a great opportunity to sock it to em’long after the divorce ink is dry and the “Limerence”is faded.

    For me xw’s limmerence was the lubricant that caused her mask to fall off and prevent it’s re-positioning back upon her black hearted face. Thats when my nom de guere was found. Cue R Lee Ermy voice: “Lemme see your war face!!””Work on it! You don’t scare me!!”

    • Exactly! The best piece of advice I received was from a fellow chump who told me to get a property settlement agreement in place right away. I was out of my mind with shock and grief but I managed to negotiate, draft documents and get them signed and notarized at the height of the pandemic. The settlement wasn’t completely unfair; the numbers add up in my favor, but not much. I had the foresight to insist on keeping the house and the value has increased significantly since we signed.

      Now, a year later, he’s realizing what he signed away and he’s not happy. Even tried to take me back to court, but no dice. This window of opportunity is short lived and I am so glad I took advantage. Recently chumped friends, put down the hopium pipe and secure your finances while your FW is still in the fog of limerance. You’ll be glad you protected yourself and if the unicorn of reconciliation visits, you can always rescind the agreement and capture the terms in a post nup instead.

  • Yup. It’s all character, and they’re just not that deep. But I think that it helps to untangle the skein when FW’s have tangled you up in it. I also believe that limerance (not love) is at the heart of most affairs, and that affairs happen as a result of mid-life crises for those who have rotten characters and no depth. So, the point is not to rely on limerance and mid-life crisis as an excuse, but to see them as signs of bad character and move on.

    I had been swimming in the swamp of “I’m not good enough; it was all my fault,” and “she’s so much better – more attractive, funnier, more light-hearted, attentive, a better cook, better sex partner,” etc.

    Then I got a taste of reality, and it sent me into Monday night (I’m not saying Tuesday yet because, well, shit can happen, and I tend to feel things very deeply).

    Anyway, my kids were talking to each other about their dad and schmoopie, as I was driving us to dinner, and they mentioned how they can tell when their dad gets mad at her, but she doesn’t know (because he doesn’t say anything to her) so she just keeps on doing whatever it is that’s making him mad, while he fumes in silence. They laughed, because they thought this was very funny.

    Wow! What a revelation on so many levels. First, all is not well in limerance land. (Behold schadenfreude!) Second, he doesn’t know a damned thing about how to relate in a relationship – conflict avoidance and silent treatment are his only tools. Third, and most important, it wasn’t all my fault.

    He had me believing that I was too emotional, too confrontational, altogether too much for anyone to love.

    Now I see the truth. I confront people when they cross my boundaries, and I cry or swear when I’m upset, but neither of those behaviors are dysfunctional. Because when you deal with issues, you don’t build resentment. That’s why I was blindsided on D-day. I didn’t store a cache of anger and resentment like he did. I now actually pity him because he’s an idiot who traded gold for plastic.

    So, yeah, Tuesday is just about here. Hallelujah!

    • Right on. They always trade down. If you think about it, how could somebody who fucks married people be anything but a loser. Cheaters merely find their equals in their schmoopies, much to their eventual dismay.
      He was never good enough for you, but he’s right at her level. Serves them both right.

  • Never heard of this term before. Went and read the Wiki version. In a sense, that fits in its own way for what I know to be her first affair. It was a one sided event for the most part. Now that being said, not sure how the flings with 20 year olds and others work….. shitty character seems fitting!

  • The other thing is that there are many steps you must take *before* you can even develop limerence. It isn’t as if it just hits you like a bolt of lighting like cheaters claim it does. You have to spend some time with a person to develop and nurture feelings, and you know that’s what you’re doing. That period of time is an emotional affair. Then it transitions to physical.
    It is all very intentional and calculated, far from what cheaters would have us believe. There is no such thing as love, or limerence, at first sight. There might be attraction at first sight, but an attraction that is not nurtured is fleeting and harmless.

    • Oh, and about the character issue- shallowness and selfishness are part of it, and so is cowardice. Some people have true grit and can face life’s challenges with grace, while others just run away.
      One of the rewards of good character is that your sense of self worth is internal, stable and you aren’t so unbalanced by any of your struggles that you feel the need to run from them. Folks at CN have been through absolute hell, yet we didn’t run from it or take it out on others. We faced it head on and we acted responsibly. That is character. To be a cheater is to be so insecure, self-involved and weak that the mere fact that one is aging is enough to ignite a scurrying to escape and to take out one’s self imposed misery on a life partner. That is lack of character. That is your “midlife crisis”. Aging, like any other challenge, tests character. If you look back over their history, you’ll see that cheaters flunk all the tests.

      • Very true. They can’t handle challenges. As I mentioned earlier, my “perfect” husband couldn’t handle my diagnosis, and later on said to me that he thought he deserved an affair! I was the one that gave myself strength, I relied on myself. I am so glad I could keep myself together.

        • Sorry, that last post was supposed to be to you, NotfromVenus. I’ve gotta stop posting to myself. 😉

    • ‘There might be attraction at first sight, but an attraction that is not nurtured is fleeting and harmless.’ That would be similar to being attracted to somebody on TV – no real threat. And I agree, they know exactly what they are doing. My cheater tried to pretend he was very innocent and that it just happened – until I told him he knew exactly what he was doing… And he didn’t deny it. They keep you around while they covertly serve themselves. Even those who outwardly seem like givers, are very manipulative and selfish in their core.

      • You have described my ex to a T. He gave the appearance in the outside world of being a giver, but it was just for image.
        He also said “It just happened!” over and over. Utter crap.

        • Yup. Mine was the same damn type.

          Along with “it just happened,” I got, “I’m naive.” Oh FFS!

          And then, after “it” happened, he knew I would never forgive him, so he had no choice but to continue the affair for years.

          So, you see, it was my fault.

          • Mine said: I didn’t do it to hurt you!
            It’s a ridiculous excuse, it is similar to saying: I cut your arm off but I didn’t do it to hurt you.
            He was so full of himself that he didn’t think of me for sure.

  • Wow! Total bastard. I guess that means he felt you deserved to be betrayed, too, for getting sick and making things inconvenient for his precious self.

    You’re awesome- a strong person and a worthy person. Never forget that.💜

  • “But character is pretty deeply wired. Someone may not act in bad character until life sucker punches them. But generally speaking, you’ll find such people are superficial in other ways. Low-grade shitty and selfish.”

    ARNOLD in a very early Chump Lady post said it best:

    “how come nobody ever mentions that the characteristics required to cheat [- selfishness, lack of empathy, compartmentalisation, deceit …. add your own]

    just might be the characteristics that caused problems in the marriage, in the first place?”

    BOOM.

  • They are all opportunists hedging their bets. I am sure brain chemistry and a defunct frontal lobe come into play at some point but really it’s not our problem. To the lady turning 60 this year please embrace your decades of cheater free life with no vampire sucking at your life force. You will gain a life and most likely years of life!

  • “Wonderful people don’t screw around with married people, and wonderful married people don’t screw around.”

    – Dr. Frank Pittman

    (my other favorite author on infidelity)

    • He was an absolute gem.

      Now the whole thing is taken over by Perel and the likes, with carefully chosen words not to scare cheaters but blame the faithful.

  • I can never get enough of this reminder. They consciously decide that the cheating feels great and they don’t care who it hurts. They may pretend to care ( mine was Mr. Great guy covert Narc…so he kind of acted like he cared, as my children sobbed and he hugged them when saying goodbye, and as I couldn’t function because I was destroyed….he seemed sorry).
    But ultimately, once he was discovered after so many lies….to quote him word for word “ I am having an affair, and I don’t want it to stop.”
    One of the worst parts of that for me was what I made that statement mean. Yes there was the destruction of a family, selling the house, the loss of his family that I had invested in, the damage to my kids…..all those awful details of a separation.
    But it’s the important message from CL…that he sucks….that I didn’t cause this…. that ultimately I’m better off without him because he has extremely poor character….. those are the messages we need to keep hearing over and over again.
    It feels like you have to deal with the destruction of an unexpected natural disaster – except it was a planned hurricane on the part of your spouse that is justified because they simply liked cheating. It made them feel good. We are left emotionally and psychologically gutted while having to clean up their hurricane. And on top of everything… we often believe the horrible messages they and society subtly give us (that we are the problem).
    They are the problem. Thank you CL.
    They knowingly damaged a lot of people because it felt good to cheat.
    I had such deep love for my H that it took a long time to have zero respect for him. I understand the momentary insanity of road rage more than I do the slow drip of ongoing choices that people make over and over again that ultimately end up discarding your partner.

    • Zip,
      Thank you for this post! All of it.

      And this in particular: “They consciously decide that the cheating feels great and they don’t care who it hurts.” That’s what I’ve been struggling to wrap my head around. It’s just so disturbing and even frightening that I was at my most vulnerable–physically, psychologically, and financially– with a partner who could be so cruel, uncaring, and selfish.

      Without knowing it, I was the protagonist in a scary movie.

      • I hear you, I think it’s a real mind wart (warp!) for those of us with covert narcs who seemed lovely and giving for the most part. It makes it really hard to except the truth of who they are. But their actions speak the truth. The rest was maybe wishful thinking on their part or impression management.

      • A little over one year. But honestly for the first few months I thought he would come to his senses, I really wasn’t grounded in reality even though he discarded me! The shock, heartache and absurdity of the betrayal were paralyzing.
        Doing much much better now. And accepting the fact that I didn’t really know this person until the end. His actions finally overshadowed all the goodness that came before it.

        • ” But honestly for the first few months I thought he would come to his senses, I really wasn’t grounded in reality even though he discarded me! The shock, heartache and absurdity of the betrayal were paralyzing.”

          Same here, though luckily for me my fw was not Mr. Nice guy during the discard; my hopium only lasted about 6 weeks to 2 months after Dday. I did however let my doc prescribe a good med to help me get my focus back. I don’t normally like to take meds, but I do believe in my case it was a life saver. I only had to use them for a few months until I got my emotional balance back.

          By the time he circled back, the though of him ever touching me again was vomit inducing.

    • It doesn’t matter in terms of what happened Zip, but did he marry the A{ (adultery partner).

      The reason I wonder is, I still muse sometimes on how these folks think (waste of time, I know) but I wonder if he realized once he married, or moved in with the AP; the affair would indeed stop at that point.

      • Susie, I think he moved in with her and her kids very soon (she left her husband).
        I am no contact now. It was a work thing like it was for you. He kept saying « it was already done. » these people get themselves in serious hot water and then I think they see only one way forward / justifying to everybody that they are not sleazy people… They were incredibly unhappy (news to me) and it just happened and this is their soulmate office lay so they will marry and everyone will forget about it and accept it.
        He wouldn’t be the only one in his huge organization who left his wife for a younger woman in the office.
        The usual conversation around that is… « I wonder what was wrong with his wife?’
        It’s funny how people never wonder what was wrong with the cheater!

        • Interesting. and yes, pretty much the same thing.

          I have just recently found out a lot more about what my ex FW has said to my son and daughter in law. He was indeed a very troubled person. Evidently always was, and I just didn’t pick up on it until the last couple years.

          I think I have mentioned that I absolutely think he and also her thought that she would just step in and they would sail into the sunlight, with everything he attained intact (she had never attained anything). It didn’t happen that way at all for them.

          He continued to chase the next kick, until he died. I guess he figured he had thrown it all away, so he was going to at least enjoy himself.

          At the very least he could have tried to get the respect of his son back, but he never even tried to do that.

          He lived the rest of his life at her level.

  • In 1997 the ex moved in with me and brought with him a yellow bag of pornographic video tapes. About seven of them.

    I had three small children and I didn’t want them to see them so they hung in the closet out Of reach for years.

    What I didn’t realize was that the videos were not the problem, they were the symptom of the problem and that problem was his undying fascination with naked women everywhere even at the very onset of our great relationship. even when it was at its hottest and he was having the best sex he still brought pornography into the house.

    I can only see it in retrospect. But now I see that the longer I tolerated it the bigger the problem grew until it was no longer seven video tapes in a bag. It was online chats, him putting outise forums he chose, online dating forms where he portrayed himself as single using our son’s name as his username.

    It was something that is time went by it became so distasteful that I distanced myself from him in so many ways. and then of course I was the one who was accused of being distant and cold and having a dry vagina. I wonder how any woman is supposed to be able to get it up for somebody who is consistently obsessed with other women.

    I’m almost free. Almost.

    • Agreed, and maybe I’m the only one on the planet but I’ve enjoyed growing older. I was looking forward to the deep love that being midlife meant. I feel wiser, richer, more relaxed and respected. Ha! Jokes on me. I guess younger pussy was better than all that I was thinking about. And gee, it wasn’t like I was frigid. In fact, I’ve become a better love as I’ve aged. But hey, some people seem to panic in middle age. Character disordered indeed.

  • Thank you Spinach- all of your points are well taken, and I can understand your skepticism.
    I definitely don’t want to justify his affair, by any means. There are a million other ways that he could have dealt with his unhappiness/stress, and he chose a lazy and destructive one. I just “get” how it happened.
    I am definitely more hyper vigilant now, and I think I will spot red flags – there was a definite change in his personality when he was cheating, and at the time I didn’t recognize it for what it was. I won’t tolerate it a second time- if he did this again, I wouldn’t respect him enough to want to be with him anymore anyway. His situation was especially devastating, because it also ruined his career and his reputation. He says the whole experience gave him PTSD. It took us two years to reestablish ourselves, so I’m hoping that the memory of dealing with the aftermath will be enough of a deterrent to keep him from doing it again!
    I’m sorry to hear about what happened with your husband. I’m hoping that you are in a good place now.

  • Oops, I posted my name … no biggie, but would appreciate it if that could be changed or deleted!

  • I have much the same story. As a couple, we had (in my mind) the best spring/early summer last year we ever had. The kids were older, so we could go out more, we spent a lot of time together. Fast forward to the fall and it comes out she was cheating with a friend of ours. She moved in with him two weeks after telling me. Also, this happened to be about 250 miles away from our home. I brought the kids back home and have had them for the last six months doing the single parent thing. I read a lot, listened to a lot of podcasts, talked a lot with people, and filed for divorce a month after D-Day. Now she is stalling the process, has a crap lawyer and I just want it over with.
    The affair fog has definitely faded and now she is moving back to where I’m living with the kids. She’s also starting to reach out to mutual people that wouldn’t excuse her behavior. So yeah, I’ve come to realize what a crappy character she has and the selfishness, etc.
    The comment that said that perhaps the selfishness, non-empathy, entitlement, etc that caused her to have the affair is why there was a problem with the marriage really flipped a meh switch in my mind. I had to write my first comment on here with my story just to say thanks for that.

  • I spent way too much time untangling the skein. Fortunately most of it was after the relationship ended so at least I wasn’t stuck in that. But I was still stuck. I like to diagnose problems and fix them but another adult’s behavior usually is not fixable by anyone but them.

    Bottom line: it doesn’t matter why, and it’s not for you to fix. Move on.

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