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Snappy Answers to Chumpy Questions

Dear Chump Lady,

My husband keeps cheating on me with the same woman. They were in a relationship before he and I got into one. For many years, I thought that they’d stopped. It was initially a 5-year gap before I found out about the second time. Our relationship has been threatened by her before we were married. Is it possible that he loves this woman? We have been together 14 years and by now it seems that he would have let her go. I have caught him with other women, but he eventually left them alone. With her, it seems to never end.

Signed,

Torn

Dear Torn,

Your letter can be distilled to its first four words — “My husband keeps cheating.”

That’s your problem. Not with whom. It could be the persistent Schmoopie, the other Other Women, or goats. Why do you tolerate it? You get a vote, you know. He fucks around. What seems to never end, is you putting up with it. Don’t.

It’s not possible that he loves this woman. Or you. Or the goat. He loves himself and the rest of you are of use. He gets off on the power high.

Would it matter if he loved her? He might say he does. He might say he’s a jelly donut. It’s irrelevant. Is 14 years of chumpdom acceptable to you? Are you going to stick around for 15, 20, 50? You have 14 years of evidence that he’s a serial cheater. Nothing to work with, Torn.

Mend thyself.

***

Dear Chump Lady,

When my ex drops off the kids after visitation he brings OW with him and it really bugs me to have her in the driveway of my home.  Ex and OW were having sex in my home before I kicked him out, so maybe why I’m a little more sensitive about her being here.  Should I enforce a boundary and forbid her from being on my property or is that just kibbles for her?  Should I just ignore it?

Daisy

Dear Daisy,

I think you should take a note from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Paint the goddamn driveway. During the George Floyd protests here last year, the mayor had the D.C. Public Works Department paint “Black Lives Matter” in 35-foot-tall yellow capital letters near the White House. A bold stroke!

Imagine, you could write “Betty Danowski Slept Here” in neon chalk (or whatever her name is). Heck, you could change the message for every drop-off. “HOSTAGE EXCHANGE HERE” or “Hi Betty! Is That Your Real Hair?” While this isn’t the meh we all aspire to, it would ensure that drop offs are as uncomfortable for her as they are for you.

Failing that, can your children walk the length of a driveway?

***

Dear Chump Lady,

How do I handle a narcissist?

Terry

Do not handle narcissists. They’re toxic. Like that can of old lead paint moldering in the back of your shed.

Deposit them at the nearest recycling center. Disposal is best left to the professionals.

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.
  • Perfect snark CL.

    1) Loves her shmoves her. Like the dude has capacity for “love”. Capacity for actually considering or connecting to other humans. Nup. All just blurry props in the one-man theatrical masterpiece that is themselves.
    2) Chalk on the driveway!!! Genius!! The mental image is this week’s laugh out loud.
    3) uranium gloves for disposal purposes only. If narcissist, no handling. Know thy toxins.

    • Double chalking not allowed here. Or groovy 70’s free love 💕
      When kids return groovy free love when they are home. Posted. No trespassing.on tree

  • I can confirm the validity of not handling narcissists. I tried for decades as I am spectacularly chumpy. The very best way to handle a narcissist is to escape them. Terry, RUN.

    Daisy, reclaim your power. Tell him he is not welcome in your driveway with his whore du jour. Suggest an alternative drop off site, preferably one with cameras. Perhaps the local police station or bank will suffice. Daisy, he is not the boss of you. RUN her off.

    Torn, it took me 33 years and lots of therapy and Chump Lady wielding her mighty 2×4 of truth for me to leave a serial cheater. Find you a therapist who agrees Adultery is abuse. Explore why it is acceptable for you to stay married to your abuser. Adultery is abuse. He is abusing you. RUN

  • Dear Torn,

    From your letter it seems to me that for you a normal marriage is where a man cheats and a woman plays a mixture of marriage police and nagging mother that keeps her man-boy in check. I recognise that stereotype from my own cultural upbringing but that doesn’t mean it’s a healthy way to live. I think it would be useful for you to find out how this idea of marriage moved into your head and then evict the idea from your head and the cheater from your house 🙂

    • P.S. Correction: Eviction of the cheater and the idea is the priority. Analysis can be done later before future relationships. Good luck! 🙂

  • The common thread I see in all these letters is “WHAT CAN I DO TO ABOUT THEM?” And, Chumps, that is the wrong question.

    The question is: “WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT ME?”… we don’t control others. Our super powers tend to be more in the realistic realm of being the sane parent, paying the bills and keeping the house running, loving unconditionally, and trying beyond reason to ‘fix’ the cheater or ‘punish’ the OW/OM.

    For me, this is why going grey rock and no contact with Mr. Sparkles was paramount to my regaining my dignity and finding Meh. I’ve been co-parenting with a NPD lying whore for seven years now. Our only contact is through email and it is only about our son. There are no pleasantries, I feel no need to ‘forgive’, it is purely business-like… the business of raising a mighty son.

    I hope today we can all find some freedom by exploring the reality that we don’t control the cheaters… we don’t control the judges… we don’t control the past or the future. We just have right now and our own actions… and if valued, it is more than enough.

    Rock on Chump Nation!

    • Re:’ we don’t control the past or the future. We just have right now and our own actions… and if valued, it is more than enough.’

      Thank-you as this is just what I needed today!

      • I call myself Chump PI, because I’m the “crazy” Chump that stalked him, investigated the phone bill, his phone, put a tracker on his phone to find out the truth because I needed to see it for myself. Also, he said it was all in my head and I was just a jealous woman, so I felt a need to prove to myself I wasn’t and prove to him I’m not stupid enough to believe his shit. I probably should be a PI or write a book on private investigation because I learned so much about how to find the truth.

    • Thanks, I needed this comment today. For the better part of 20 years, my ex did everything but cheat on me, but even then I’m not sure about that one. It’s been almost a year since I left him, he still won’t let me go and I’m almost at the point of being Meh, but not quite. This is a good reminder to get me back on track. Cheers!

      • Ha, yep I looked it up.

        I don’t remember the context or why I thought it was so funny, but I remember rolling with laughter.

        I think the first time I saw it was in a collection of old stuff in one of their yearly big books. I first read it as a late teen, and carried the love of it through the first ten or so years of my marriage. I even got my son reading it.

        I have not looked at one in decades.

        I remember a fold out once that stayed in my mind, it was of a leg race of a bunch of people and at the end of the race down the road was a cemetery. That spoke loud and clear to me.

  • Ok, lightbulb moment.

    Why does Dear Abby get to be a famous syndicated columnist and not YOU? JFC! That’s one way to confront the narrative. Why should our brilliant Chump Lady be hidden in a secret room inside the Internet, happened upon by desperate Googlers who have been hit by the infidelity stick?

    Gee, it would be nice to see you achieve the visibility of Dear Abby.

    Snappy Answers could be a recurring blog format here. I love it. Your special brand of snark is essential medicine for my chumpy soul.

    Love love love you, Tracy!

    • I agree, I mean we talk the good talk about hearing all sides, but when it comes to calling a cheater a cheater and exposing the horrific underbelly of the effects of cheating on a betrayed spouse, nope can’t hear that. Have to lay equal blame on the victim.

      The victim had no say, was not asked and was abused and stolen from for usually years, but lets make sure they get some of the blame.

      • I think people want to believe that the chump was at fault or not a victim. Someone who had control. Then they feel like it couldn’t happen to them. It’s wanting to feel better than someone else and have a false sense of control.

    • These days, it seems like almost every worthwhile perspective is relegated to underground media. Of course the problem with this is that the underground is a mixed bag of valid and psycho extremism. You’d have to be already discerning and experienced to weed through it. But few make lifelong studies of things like adultery and other crisis circumstances, so most people are having to “weed” through media perspectives while in a stricken state of mind.

      In any case, most of the prominent media that host syndicated advice columns have ties to porn, dating apps and cheatery power figures.

      That’s not just the pseudo lefty-leaning media. Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch is heavily invested in porn. And pseudo-progressive media have to occasionally grub progressive creds with “woke” coverage of, say, things like #MeToo and sex trafficking. So, as political media analyst Noam Chomsky argues, these publications falsely erect themselves as the outer limit of what is acceptably progressive, beyond which is all supposedly woo and anarchy. And if these supposedly progressive gatekeeper publications decide adultery is groovy and “sex work is work,” well that’s the final word.

      Like on a lot of issues these days (Citizens United, the invasion of Iraq, etc., drone warfare, mass surveillance), the media sponsorship tail wags the readership dog. “We the people” have little say in policy and media bent doesn’t always reflect public views. For instance, a Gallup poll from not so long ago found that US attitudes towards adultery are as harsh as ever. People view it on ethical par with human cloning‐ i.e., disturbingly unethical. The same people polled generally support gay marriage, so media reports on the poll couldn’t whine about puitanical intolerance of groovy sexual freedom (though the NY Times tried).

      In other words, all the manic foisting of polyamory and apologism for/whitewashing of adultery is not a response to public demand even if flack in defense of cheating/abusive kink/sex-work-as-eMpOwErInG personal-expression tends to be loudest. It’s still coming from a vast minority. But softening up public attitudes towards violent kink, cheating and sex work fits a particular economic and power agenda.

      Sometimes it’s more about the power agenda than even money. There’s the famous story of how the female cop show Cagney and Lacey was cancelled when it was at the very top of ratings because NBC execs thought the show promoted unfeminine values.

      For whatever reasons, US society is being groomed through the media to accept porn, violent kink, sex trafficking, sex work, age gap relationships and cheating. Personally it all smacks of the value system of every pervy old media honcho whose groping hands and coercive quid pro quo’s I had to duck away from and fight off starting as a teen intern, and reflects all the women in that industry who’d turn blind eyes to the abuses, either because they were playing the game themselves or because enabling abuse is a career strategy.

      In any case, I think the illusion mainstream and pseudo-alternative media create that the public supports cheaters makes this a particularly hard time in history to be a chump. From my time working as an advocate fot dv survivors, I recognized surges of increased numbers of victims making their great escapes following mass media coverage of cases related to dv that exposed more public and official support of victims than the media typically promotes. It promised that victims would have somewhere to run *to* and a softer landing in a social support net. Studies of returning traumatized combat soldiers show that this perception of social support is the single greatest factor in predicting PTSD recovery.

      Sometimes I wonder if victims really suffer from “low self esteem” or just low esteem for their fellow human beings. Whatever is the case, the media message that the “legions are not in your side, chumps!” acts like bars to the cage.

      • Tangent: I’ve worked in media for 27 years.

        We now have large television screens displaying analytics of our digital content in real time.

        Content (text, images and video) including violence, death, prostitution, sex and culture war issues get far and away the most unique views than any other content. And the people clicking on that content spend more minutes on those pages. So I’m dubious that media is conditioning people to seek it out.

        Another bit of trivia: I’ve never worked for a male editor who didn’t despise Dear Abby. Subscribers adore her column.

  • Dear Chump Lady — awesome snappy (and yet still helpful and wise) answers

    1. Dear Torn – I’m confused why you’re “torn”? Your husband was cheating on you before you were married and has been a serial cheater for 14 years. And you just want to know “if he loves this woman????” THAT’S your question? If you’re not getting out, you are choosing to stay with a serial cheater. As for the long time side piece — Camilla won in the end with Prince Charles, didn’t she? This won’t end well for you. Make the decision now before the decision is no longer yours to make.

    2. Dear Daisy — oddly it was the opposite for me. OW didn’t want me pulling into her driveway. I didn’t even know… I was staying in the car and dropping off my son (or picking him up). But she sent me a letter that she was going to file a police order blah blah blah — her father is a retired attorney of course. I ended up going through our attorneys to get that wacko to leave me alone and just do exchanges at a fire station at he halway point (we are only 2 miles apart!!). In the end, she had to shut up and let me do the exchanges.

    So anyway… yes you could write funnies on the driveway… or you could take a deep breath and come out all smiley for the kids… wave at FW and OW “bye –eeee” and then go back in and meditate. Take your power back. And don’t let the idiots get you down.

    3. How do I handle a narcissist? I’m with CL — you don’t. Uh Buh Bye

    • Yeah, I laughed at the driveway paint snark for sure, but in reality it would be tough on the children and bad optics if there’s ever a future court proceeding. (Unless you painted it with a message about honesty, integrity, etc. so it’s messaging that the kids would see one way and the adults would see another way, maybe.)

      A neutral location option sounds wise, as does a cone/ribbon barrier at the end of the driveway and a little longer walk for the kids. Both are fair boundaries.

      • Exactly. It’s funny to think of marking up the driveway, but it would be rough on the kids and rougher in court (too easy to photograph and demonstrate bad behavior). Still funny and snarky!

        I do find that dialing it back (the neutral location) and showing calm & grace with eye contact & a smile is so much more empowering. It angered FW and OW even more! FW lost it when he was being told he’d have to meet me at the fire station for custodial exchanges because OW couldn’t control herself LOL!! I also like to think that it causes more arguments and plenty of nightmares when they see my calm smiling face looking them right in the eye — waving BYEEEE!! He can’t look at me at all anymore (oh the shame!) LOL!

      • For the record, I’m of the If It Feels Good Don’t Do It school of co-parenting with fuckwits. That said… I have my snarky fantasies.

        And chalk washes away.

        Really, just practice meh and make drop offs at some neutral location. Problem there is, in my experience, they don’t show up on time and make you pay some other way. So, home delivery is more practical, thus my advice, don’t greet the kids in the driveway. Let them let themselves in the house and avoid this person altogether, if possible. Assuming the kids are old enough to get up the driveway and through a door unassisted.

        • Completely agree. Unfortunately my son liked to carry a lot to/from (and FW refused to have what he needed in duplicate — heck, he didn’t buy him clothes that fit either — legal agreement be damned) so when my son was smaller I had to walk out and help him with his piles of gear. But now as an older teen, my kid just comes and goes and I don’t even look outside.

          Frankly, no matter where I did the exchange (neutral locale or either house), FW had to create drama — he’d be late, or OW was upset, or (insert bizarre choice here)… and he made sure to make my son upset for good measure. But all things do pass… the less we react and the more meh we practice (as you recommend), the faster we get to peace for ourselves and our kidlets.

        • Oh the driveway antics, I remember them well. Several times the Ho-worker walked my kids to the door or Douchecanoe parked his car on my driveway and then left it to talk to two Switzerland neighbors forcing me to park my car in the street after work. At my attorney’s direction, I sent him an email explicitly banning him from my property. That put an end to the shenanigans.

          • The end of my driveway has a gate. I will be adding a lock to the gate. Stop those shenanigans before they even begin!

        • Thanks so much CL! That’s exactly what I’ve been doing, but I’ve felt a little chumpy about it. It’s reassuring to hear your advice!

      • Sample message to chalk on the driveway: “In this house we believe in honesty and fidelity.” One size fits all, and who can argue with those values.

      • Yes, barriers always work! There have been various times in the past when I have wanted no one on my property or driveway. I simply parked my vehicles at the beginning of my driveway near the street.

        • Frankie has the best solution… park at the end of the driveway so they can’t pull in. Bravo

          • My STBX won’t let me do drop offs and pick ups. He insists on doing both. What do people make of that?

            • FormerlyKnownAs,
              Sounds like he doesn’t want you near or to be seen at his place — OW management? Maybe a control freak?
              Eh… let him unless there’s some reason it’s a problem for you.

            • My attorney put “All pickups and drop-offs at mother’s house” in my parenting agreement and I love it. Especially since the douchecanoe lives 45 minutes away. He gets all the headache of rush hour traffic every Wednesday and alternating Friday eveningss along with all the extra miles on his gas guzzling luxury car.

              • Yeah, I kind of love it too! I think it’s his attempt to control everything, but since daughter is old enough, I don’t have to be there when he shows up! Frankly I have no interest in dropping off at his luxury seaside apartment anyway-it just pisses me off because here I am, somehow, the only one with a job while he luxuriates there and pays hardly any child support. Small blessings…

      • My pleasure — and it’s so true. They are idiots — don’t let them bother you. This too shall pass. It takes time to get over the anxiety and fear that many of us feel having to deal directly with these asshats for the kids. You can do this.

  • Re (2): My XW and AP-now-husband have a habit of kissing and getting handsy in the background (but clearly visible) when his XW is standing on the porch waiting to pick up her kids. Isn’t this a little strange? For context, we’re in our 40s and 50s and the erstwhile adulterers have now been married for 5 years, so it’s not like they’re teenagers who are just discovering sex. All they need to do is wait 5 minutes for the kids to leave, and they’ll have the house to themselves for a week.

    I feel like normal adults don’t engage in these displays in front of others, and also would be sensitive to how it would affect the viewer – even if they themselves don’t believe they did anything wrong (“star-crossed lovers” and all that). I wouldn’t make out with my girlfriend in front of her ex-husband, even though he’s remarried and they have a perfectly friendly coparenting relationship. My XW’s behavior just seems deliberate and malicious. Am I missing something? I’m pretty sure none of my married friends have ever started sucking face in front of me while I was waiting to pick up their kids for carpools and such.

    • You’re not missing anything. It is deliberate and malicious. They’re rubbing her nose in it. One more piece of evidence to add to the many that demonstrate you can indeed “trust that they suck.”

    • You are correct, IG. That is ridiculous behavior for adults to engage in and they are 100% doing it for the performance value.

      Kinda makes you wonder you they are trying to convince, the exes or themselves? In my experience, people who need to perform PDA for an audience or post over the top social media PDA are trying to prove something to themselves.

      • I try to avoid finding out about their relationship, but when it affects the kids information sometimes leaks out. For instance, I happen to know that my XW has told AP-now-husband that his XW cannot set foot in his house unless she is physically present. (I only know this because there was a pet-care crisis when they was out of town and his kids were crying and saying their fish would die because their mother couldn’t enter to help them fix the fish feeder).

        However, to be fair to my XW and AP-now-husband, since they started their relationship by sneaking around behind their spouses’ backs for years before nuking their respective marriages with malice aforethought, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect them to have a healthy and trusting relationship now. I’m sure they’re doing the best they can, given the difficult circumstances. Bless their hearts.

        • You may be in Georgia on a less than voluntary basis but that has not prevented you from correct use of “bless your heart”. Well played, IG, well played. 😀

    • No, normal adults don’t engage in high school drama like antics. Dysfunctional cheating adults do engage in adolescent behavior and have a pension for triangulating. Rather obvious the cheater couple misses the thrill of running around behind their spouses backs. Maybe they got off on the initial pain inflicted on their spouse when they left for the AP and they need to keep it going. In short they’re ignorant pigs who deserve one another. Unless the children are toddlers the XW should not being going on their porch and should wait in the car. Why continue to make the cheater couple happy?

    • If it’s not deliberately malicious it’s definately compensatory protest-too-much performance art that screams, “We’re not fighting all the time, riddled with distrust and sleeping in separate rooms. His ED has not become unresponsive to Viagra from his manic porn use! She’s not drunkenly flirting with 23 yo office interns and getting clinically depressed at being rejected as a creepy aging cougar!!! Everything’s FINE! Smell the hotness, plebes!”

  • Velvet Hammer “Your special brand of snark is essential medicine for my chumpy soul” is spot on. Only found CL’s book and blog four months ago and now 3 1/2 years post D-Day and don’t know how I would have survived without my daily dose of medicine. Here’s to CL and all who sail on the good ship CN!!

  • Me to daughter:

    “Do you feel like Dad thinks about how other people feel?”

    Daughter. Immediately. “No.”

    Pause.

    Daughter, “Well, he might think about it but he doesn’t care.”

    This is an actual conversation that took place two days ago. She is now fourteen and a half.

    People who cheat and those who cheat with them crystal clearly do not care about how other people feel. Most notably the person they are duping.

    Leaving is the only winning move. There is nothing to be gained by hanging around and letting them wipe their feet on you. I was duped; the OW is dumb, volunteering to sign on with a person who proves their inability to be loyal.

    Let them stay on the Titanic, swapping deck chairs and declaring the ship unsinkable, fingers in their ears humming loudly, while you get in the lifeboat so you rescue the rest of your life. You have the Heart of the Sea necklace in your pocket, remember?

    • Thanks, Velvet. They do not care about other people. I am so blessed I found CN and you all helped me find that life boat I didn’t know I had

    • From my 15 year old: “Do you think dad’s a narcissist?” I asked, “Why do you?” She said, “yes”.

      • From my 19 year old daughter: “I think Dad doesn’t have any empathy. It’s like he only sees his side of things.”

        Me (to myself): “Totally agree!”

        • My daughter at age 12: Mama, you know how you explained that love is like a coin, that it has two sides, your happiness in receiving love and care from the other person, and your happiness in giving love and care to the other person?
          Me: Yeah, I remember that, baby. What about it?
          Daughter: I think Papa’s coin has only one side, the side of ‘getting’. It’s missing the ‘giving’ side.

        • My son at age 12: Papa just texted me again, that’s 3 times today.
          Me: He must be missing you.
          Son: Yeah, he misses us when HE’s lonely.

        • My 15 year old – he’s greedy and only cares about himself.

          My 18 year old – I’m not talking to him because he wouldn’t stop yelling at me.

          My 21 year old – he’s a piece of garbage.

  • Torn — part of being a chump is your mistaken belief that you can fix others. When I tell my chump friends to stop trying to fix someone else, they tell me: 1) But I didn’t do anything wrong, and 2) What will happen to (cheater, child, co-worker) if I don’t help?

    You do not have to accept blame for other people’s choices. You don’t have to “do” something wrong to suffer the consequences of someone else’s mistakes and errors. You just have to learn what you are willing to accept. When you figure out the unacceptable behavior is not something you can fix, then you become responsible for what you do. If you don’t want to live that way, don’t.

    If you are in a relationship, whether or not you are married, there are certain expectations you have and these should be explicit with your partner. If you expect monogamy and that is broken then why did you stay? I think this is a common mistake for chumps to make. I made it, most of the chump stories indicate they made it. Why do we try to forgive and forget the “mistake”? We think we are being understanding, but they think we are weak. They think they just have to be sneakier, so that they don’t get caught again. But we have NOT fixed them. They want the trappings and benefits of the relationship, but they will never be faithful. Long lost SO’s, maybe the one that got away, have all kinds of issues involved. Scoring with them makes extra kibble points for the cheater. Maybe for the SO if you “broke up” their relationship, knowingly or not. You are not responsible and you can’t fix this. What do you find acceptable? Think about why cheaters come back to hoover you. Is that going to work out?

    As to what will happen to them? Not your problem. Their choice, their consequences. It becomes your consequence if you stay.

    • For Torn, t’s the 72 rings of the telephone problem. I had a close male friend who legit had a crazy X-wife. Back in the days of landline phones, She called so much he turned off the answering machine. One day she called and he let the phone ring 72 times before she finally hung up. His therapist told him, “If you give in and pick up the phone, you’re just teaching her how many rings it will take before you cave and answer the phone.” Torn is teaching her husband that there are no limits to what she will put up with from him. She will ALWAYS (metaphorically) pick up the phone.

      As for Daisy, where I come from we call the OW’s behavior like a “dog peeing on the porch.” She wants to mark your territory. That shows how deeply insecure she is. A secure person would know that these short car trips are good opportunities for kids to spend time with the parent and so not insert themselves. But she has to play “happy family” for your benefit. What you should think, every time you see her, is that she insecure and controlling and is engaged in her very own pick-me dance. They must have a triangle! Put her on ignore. Nuke the triangle and know that whatever else is true, your X and the OW are not living in a paradise of happiness. No sir.

  • A therapist friend of mine has a saying — I don’t do crazy. I define what crazy is.

    Once I got that I had to remove myself from the crazy, everything else fell into place. Yes, I had doubts and relapses. The divorce which the ex initiated was horrible, but I held on, knowing that it would be better on the other side. My finances were a mess. Our young adults were a mess. I was a mess. But getting away from the crazy had to be done. I even took out everything that tied me to him including college funds and the kids’ health insurance even though covering that myself was going to be an issue. Both kids were working and had scholarships, but it wasn’t enough. I figured that they could take out loans because both were in the later part of their studies and were commuting from home to a state school.

    We separated almost four years ago, and he took off to an area of the country where an ex of his was living, last I knew. When we married, he assured me that it was long over. I found pictures of her one day and told him they had to be thrown out. She would periodically call our house, just out of the blue. I would always tell her not to ever call again, but she did. Then in our last years together, he began raving about how beautiful and sexy she was and how come I wasn’t that way with him? For crying out loud, they dated maybe a month over twenty years ago?

    The last time she called, she told me that she had been married multiple times and that my husband was “the best man she had ever known.” Supposedly she waned to make sure he was OK. Really? Who says that to the spouse of someone you dated for a month years ago? I did NOT tell my husband about that phone call because it really made me wonder. I told her once again to never call our house. When we sold the house, that phone number was cancelled.

    In my intake appointment with my attorney, he asked if my husband had any love interests that I knew about. So I told him the story of the ex he dated for a month that kept calling periodically, and how he clearly still treasured her in his mind. My attorney furiously scribbled and said we might want to get a PI at some point, but we never did. My attorney said he “smelled” another woman all over my case at times.

    During my divorce, my attorney talked about how my ex had no empathy and no regard for the law, and we handled things appropriately. He also talked about how negotiating with the “terrorist” had to be handled differently than a run-of-the-mill divorce. In the end, I got my good settlement without any court dates.

    So a chapter closed. Had to be.

  • 1) As CL said, the only thing that matters here is that your husband keeps cheating. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if he loves whoever, it doesn’t matter who it is. What matters is he has cheated, continues to cheat, will keep cheating. That’s the only information you need. You know he does it, you know he will not stop. What you need to do is stop asking yourself and anyone else if he loves her, and ask a divorce lawyer what their rates are for your case.

    2) Unfortunately with this one I think any kind of argument or expression of distaste of her being there is what she’s looking for. She wants to stand there and see you get upset. That’s kibbles to her. “Oh, don’t like me in your driveway? Why so? Would you prefer me in your house? Perhaps your bedroom? Hehehehehe.” What you do with that is what OW hate: You don’t acknowledge her existence. She’s no more significant than a dirty rock stuck in the mud of your lawn. She gets to stand in the driveway? Well…that’s because you kicked her disgusting ass OUT of your house where she doesn’t get to sneakily set foot again. Driveway is as far as she can get while you’re watching. Pretend she’s a dried up worm on the pavement.

    3) You don’t handle narcissists. You put on thickened gloves intended for handling nuclear material and put them on the curb. Narcissists cannot be reasoned with, the only reasoning they hear is their own. They cannot be convinced of their wrongdoing, to them, they never do wrong. They cannot be made to apologize, to them, they never have anything to be sorry for. Anything you are upset about will be twisted into your fault, anything you are hurt about will be flipped on its head and made into how you hurt them. And anything you have evidence of will be denied and you will be called crazy. There is no winning, there is no point. You get rid of narcissists and go no contact. That’s what you do.

  • The first one makes me so sad for her. I know people will be like how does this happen?! But I know how it happens. Some of us were raised to expect and accept this kind of abuse.

    My first d day was four years into the marriage. I did very much consider divorce. But it was all online! Would you really throw your family away for some woman in other country he never even met?! Was I stupid?! Didn’t I know marriage was hard?! Clearly he was missing something at home and I needed to work harder to meet his needs. I went online and I was either insulted and told I must be fat and I was overreacting or I was insulted and called pathetic if I didn’t divorce immediately. That wasn’t helpful. I just felt worse. And so I danced.

    Second d day was around year 13. By that time I was sick. Cue total mental breakdown on top of the physical issues I was dealing with. I had a therapist tell me point blank that the real issue was I was jealous and insecure and those were MY problems and had nothing to do with my husband. And I needed to work on them. I realize now that’s when I became a shell of myself. It destroyed me. But I kept dancing.

    At year 20 came the cruel discard and while trying to figure out what happened I had the third d day. I found all kinds of horrible things. The women he had cheated with? He was still in contact with them behind my back. It was all a big joke. They all delighted in helping him abuse me. I’m pretty sure based on some nasty things he said during the divorce that he even was cheating before we married. It was a 20 year joke and he never loved me. When he told me this I asked him if he expected me to high five him and say “Cool prank bro!”And he went all sad sausage and asked if it wasn’t really a prank he played on himself. Always the victim! Now one of my family members told me that he’s commenting on a facebook group about CPTSD and recovery from narcissistic abuse. I told them I don’t care and don’t tell me anymore but he’s always the victim, no matter what he does.

    It’s all insane now. Completely insane. But at the time I was really just following advice of people I trusted, and professionals I paid for, and trying to be a good person and work on myself. But I wasn’t the problem. It makes me so damn angry now. I’m glad the clinic where I saw that therapist is closed because otherwise I might go down there. And I’m sure that would be bad for everybody.

  • I don’t have anywhere else to talk about this so I’m going to put it here. I joined a group for people who have been traumatized by their spouse’s secret sexual life. It said clearly it was not our fault so I thought it would be safe.

    THEY’RE. ALL. STILL. WITH. THEIR DISGUSTING. HUSBANDS!

    I sat there floored on a zoom call while a bunch of women talked about how they can’t go to the beach or pool with their children because they’re afraid their husbands will be “triggered” and want to screw women at the pool. So the woman leading the group (who is still with her abusive cheating husband) gave them strategies on how to deal with “their issues.”

    I had to sit on my damn hands. So much pain. So much abuse. And even with the “It’s not your fault at all!” claim they’re still being blamed and have to negotiate their poor wittle “addicts” feelings. One of them said her husband is triggered by tampon commercials! It was all I could do to not say “Then he should be put the fuck down like a rabid fucking dog!” These women are afraid to leave the house and even afraid to watch television!

    I have experience with addicts. My father was a terrible drug addict. He did PCP once and “woke up” washing his hands in the bathroom while covered with blood. He thought he may have killed the neighbor family. At 12 I had to come up with a reason to call them at night to find out if they were alive. My mother is an alcoholic who talks to squirrels and says they are her children now. I’ve been involved in AA and alanon. I don’t know of any other addict who gets coddled the way these “sex addicts” do. It’s disgusting. Needless to say I won’t be attending another meeting.

    • Yes, somehow my ex and his family believed that men “couldn’t” help themselves and that the answer was in how the wives “helped” them. If he had an affair it was MY fault. Never mind that he would be the one unzipping his pants with someone else other than me. Oh, the myth of uncontrollable urges.

      I believe that to be so very demeaning to both parties. As if the men are animals who can’t choose and control, and as if an adult female is in charge of her husband who is also an adult. Two-year olds sometimes can’t control themselves, but the vast majority of adults CAN CONTROL themselves. We do it every day. Of course we ALL have flashes of urges and ideas that we shouldn’t act upon, but we let them go. We deal with them in healthy ways that don’t damage ourselves and other people.

      Yes, I’m on the same soapbox.

      • Right?! It’s so insulting to men to act like they can’t control themselves. It blows my mind when I hear that narrative pushed. It’s like ok, if they can’t control themselves they need to be locked the fuck up to protect the public. And people are all “wait…”
        Nope, nope, nope, they want me to believe they can’t control their sexual urges then they need to go to prison forever. To protect the public. I’ll set my soap box up next to yours, we’ll make an event of it. lol

        • Yes, the soapbox. I have to be careful of course where I put that soapbox, but it’s a biggie for me.

          I’m older and not at all motivated to date, but if I ever get a whiff of that in a man that I’m even thinking of dating — I’m OUTTA THERE.

    • Katie: I went to a few of those POSARC meetings and it pains me to say they were full of the saddest and most beat-down women I have ever met. No hope for their futures. No joy in their lives. One woman was trying to figure out how to raise her teens boys with a man who masturbated at least 4 times a day. The most heart breaking was the 78 year old woman whose husband had “slipped,” realizing that she should have left him twenty years earlier when they had some assets. She put her head onto the table and just sobbed as she tried to share about not having any options. I thought if my husband was in the same classification as their “sex addict” husbands then this is how I would end up. I filed for divorce and never went back.

      There should be a group for EX-partners of “sex addicts” who are recovering from their sick spouses, the mindfucking therapists and the soul sucking support groups.

      • That’s incredibly sad. Some of the stories I’ve heard are devastating too. And I was upset about going through this at 40 but I’ve realized it could be so much worse. I still have lots of time and options. And if sharing my ridiculous story of insane mistakes helps someone else save more time I’m happy to share it. Good for you for seeing it and getting out. I would love a group for women who divorced these degenerates. I’d join so fast.

        • Mine was a gray divorce. I don’t have an illusions of future romance. Men my age come with complications. My divorce attorney said “don’t rule it out.” He had been married 40 years and apparently still beloved in love despite his profession.

          Worse comes to worse, I could live in a friend’s basement. Several offered. An agemate of mine, rents out most of the rooms in her house through Air BnB and works in a garden center. Another lives with her single parent daughter and homeschools her grandchildren while their mom is at work. In the evening she goes out with friends and pursues her interests.

          But it all worked out just fine. I’m financially independent and happy.

    • Look at you, KatieP! Recognizing red flags an dysfunctional behavior! Look at you making the best choices for yourself! Your analysis of the cheater turned on by tampons is brief, brutal and effective. Nobody is taking advantage of your good nature ever again.

      I hope you have a good therapist to deal with the abuse and trauma of your FOO. That final paragraph made me so sad for the little girl you once were. I am my very own Mama Grizzly Bear. Looks like you are too. Guard yourself fiercely from that insanity.

      • Thank you! I feel like it took way too long but I’m finally getting there. I used to try so hard not to judge but now I’m like no, screw that. Some things should be judged and harshly! And people are like woah! But I’m finding it’s working well for me and I’m meeting more genuine people and the users are avoiding me.

        I haven’t found a therapist I like yet but I’m still looking and trying different group settings and I think I’ll find one that fits soon enough. I appreciate the kind words and the support.

    • I found out about cheating long ago, when Dear Abby was in her heyday and long before Chump Lady. As far as I know, although my father was very verbally abusive, he did not cheat. He did spend a lot of time accusing my mother of cheating, and calling his daughters prostitutes, so he was obsessed with the concept. It was abuse, never the less.

      In my FOO culture, there were many bad behaviors associated with being “just a man” and there was a clear concept of being a “fallen” woman. “Good” women were expected to stand by, and clean up the messes, and just get on with life. Also, we were not allowed to talk about any of it, family business was private. Imagine the pent up frustration?

      I first heard about the concept of porn addiction and sex addiction as a full grown woman with 2 young children. I mistakenly thought I could “fix” people. I didn’t understand how you could be addicted to something that was not a substance, but I had a grasp of life with someone who had a mental illness. I was invested in trying to work things out, so I tried. I have many regrets, but my biggest regret is wasting so much of my precious time trying to “fix” other people. I went to a SA spouse meeting or two, but I did not find any help there. I was not going to invest in a lifetime of accepting unacceptable behavior and all the risks involved. That was when I decided to focus on fixing what I could identify was fixable in me, and started planning my way out.

      I wish I had the support network of Chump Nation then, but I didn’t. I had several therapists along the way, some better than others, but I basically had to design my own survival course and follow it. It was trial and error, but I finally got through it. I made a tragic rebound error, but I figured that out, too.

      The point is, you may or may not have help, you can make errors, but if you invest in saving yourself and stick to that plan it can be done. You have to stop trying to fix others, and allowing yourself to be triggered. Little or no contact is your best friend. Seek healthy companions, sometimes the walking wounded can barely help themselves. You will work your way into a better life, believe in yourself.

  • I worry, from a legal standpoint, about writing a message in the driveway. Could be viewed as harassment. Don’t ask me how I know.

  • Chumplady, please can you put some snark on Ewan McGregor and give a shout-out to his mighty wife Eve?

    • +1

      And his own daughters call him out on his bad behavior. Eve should be proud she raised strong, smart daughters.

  • I love it Traci I couldn’t agree more and the Narcissist answer, my former husband is one he’s completely crazy!

  • This makes me think of Liz lemon and 30rock and her short stint as a talk show host…. ‘Dealbreaker’ … ‘he keeps cheating on me’ right.., his behaviour doesn’t seem to be changing, I guess that means yours has to. Leave them douche.

  • Wow! Thanks everyone for the support, it’s just what I needed ❤️. I’ll keep on ignoring the OW shenanigans for now, but at least I can smile at every drop off imagining snappy chalk messages! 🌼

  • Hey Torn! I think your husband’s Schmoopie (or her equivalent) has posted on the Living with Limerence site. “Tammy” is an ETHICAL affair partner. She has high moral Christian standards she hastens to tell readers.

    *rolls eyes*

    Get rid of your husband. He is a turd.

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