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Caught Him on the DoggyCam

BulldogDear Chump Lady,

First I just want to say I literally love you and your site has brought me so much comic relief into the shit storm my life is right now. I was with my soon-to-be-ex-husband for 12 years (together 11 and married 9 months). We had a great relationship, we went to high school, college together and had been working to support each other as young professionals. We weren’t those annoying “high school sweethearts” We each had a life of our own, friends, hobbies, etc. We just loved each other’s company and had passion for each other. We have two dogs together and purchased two houses. The most recent was a beautiful lake house that I decorated impeccably, lol. It looked like chic Martha Stewart meets midwest Lake house vibes. Anyways…

We decided to get legally married in August of 2020 as we had to postpone our wedding because of Covid. We were planning to have our big reception in August 2021. So, I planned a wedding two goddamn times. Well, that didn’t fucking happen as he decided to fuck his coworker in our own home 9 months into our marriage. Also, I’m well aware this was probably going on a lot longer than that, I don’t know who is brazen enough to fuck someone in their wife’s home “the first time” even though his lying ass told me that.

I found out because I had an intuition something was going on with this coworker, so I outsmarted him. I set our doggy camera to 24-hour recording, haha. I went out of town to PICK UP MY WEDDING DRESS, for our postponed wedding in August and had a gut instinct to check it. Lo and behold, there is the love of my life, screwing his coworker in our home. I also got to hear it, what a wonderful sound!

I’m just in complete shock. This coworker is 23 years old and has a toddler, also I’m not a mom shamer, but after stalking her social media, this is the 4th or 5th guy she has had around her kid. My ex is also really cute and makes a ton of money (not all legally), which sucks for the divorce. Not even a day after I caught him she was pretty much living in my house, sleeping in my bed, etc. I don’t blame her, it’s a beautiful lake house with a boat. I left and went to live in our first home we bought together. I’ve had so many people ask why, I was too triggered to ever step foot in that house again after seeing what I saw.

He is now just with her, living life like nothing happened, literally being a step-dad to her kid. He wouldn’t even take our fucking dogs on walks. He barely helped around the house, he was a narcissistic, alcoholic, gaslighting asshole. I’m just wondering, is it possible he just truly loves her and never loved me? Or is she just an easy, instant gratification, ego boosting kind of thing? How can someone just move on after 12 years, marriage and dogs and act like you don’t exist? He hasn’t asked about our dogs once. We don’t talk, it’s been two months and I hear from my friends and in-laws that he is trying TO INTRODUCE HER? Like Sir, we aren’t even divorced?! Assuming this is normal but WTF.

Yes I filed for divorce and am trying to get a good settlement. I’ve got that area covered.

Also – I feel so jaded over men in general that every wedding I go to from now on, I want to give them a doggy cam and write “just in case“ Is that sick of me?!

Thank you!

Doggycamqueen

Dear Doggycamqueen,

Please don’t gift doggy cams. Strangers things have been known to exist on wedding registries, but please, should the occasion arise, get the gravy ladle, or something else. You won’t always feel jaded, about love or weddings, but it’s been like what — 8 weeks since your D-Day? You’re still in the acute trauma zone.

I’m glad you’ve lawyered up and are protecting yourself. Give yourself huge credit for that.

You’ve got a great sense of mordant humor and apparently fine taste in home furnishings. You’re going to survive this shit — eventually. It’s totally normal (and pointless) to untangle the skein of fuckupedness at this stage. Your entire life just imploded, and you want to know what hit it.

I’ll indulge you in some untangling, okay?

This coworker is 23 years old and has a toddler, also I’m not a mom shamer, but after stalking her social media, this is the 4th or 5th guy she has had around her kid.

So, put another way, she’s damaged. And they work together, so your ex is endangering his company as well as you. He chose the weak antelope in the herd. From what you write, he didn’t plan to leave you — he was blithely fucking around on you, until you discovered it and lawyered up.

My ex is also really cute and makes a ton of money (not all legally), which sucks for the divorce.

When did you learn this? What does it say about your character that you were okay with his ill-gotten gains? Did you spackle over all that because he was cute and you wanted the trappings of success? Make sure your lawyer is aware of any and all exposure. And fix your picker.

People who are unethical in one arena (business, taxes) tend to be unethical in others. No one is special when you’re dealing with malignant entitlement. If they’ll do it to someone else, they’ll do it to you. Bounced promises, douchebaggery, petty fraud. Schmoopie will learn in time.

Not even a day after I caught him she was pretty much living in my house, sleeping in my bed, etc. I don’t blame her, it’s a beautiful lake house with a boat.

Blame her. She’s got crap for morals, whatever lies he’s feeding her.

Don’t let the Instant Move-In rock your world. It’s a common move. How does your ex make his exposure as cheater work to his advantage? Legitimize the relationship! Hey, meet my new girlfriend! Declare the pick-me dance winner.

You didn’t know you were in a pick-me dance, but she sure did. Oh, here’s the house I have with my wife. Wouldn’t you like this life? Huh? Here’s me planning a wedding reception with someone who’s not you.

They’re both choosing that toxic dynamic, and you removed yourself. You win.

He is now just with her, living life like nothing happened, literally being a step-dad to her kid. He wouldn’t even take our fucking dogs on walks.

Impression management.

I’m doubtful that a man who cannot sustain a commitment during the literal honeymoon period of his life will go the distance with a toddler. I’m sure he feigned interest in your dogs once too. And you as well.

He barely helped around the house, he was a narcissistic, alcoholic, gaslighting asshole. I’m just wondering, is it possible he just truly loves her and never loved me?

If he’s a narcissistic, alcoholic, gaslighting asshole he doesn’t love anyone. Well, maybe tequila.

People are of use to him. You ceased to be of use. He needs another dummy. Don’t ascribe intent — he had to scramble to reorder his life. That’s not “love,” that’s cover.

Or is she just an easy, instant gratification, ego boosting kind of thing? How can someone just move on after 12 years, marriage and dogs and act like you don’t exist?

Easy. He was never truly invested. He just acted like he was.

Yes, even with the wedding and the wedding planning and the shared history. It’s a high wire act, and these freaks, in my experience, really love the thrill of getting away with something. That’s the high that keeps them bonded — the shit you don’t know about. Like keeping a job so you can continue to embezzle the pension fund. Or keeping a wife so you can fuck around on her. He loves the power.

Lose the power? Buh-bye. Time to recreate some world in which he can be the puppet master again.

Is that cynical? I’ve literally read millions of these stories. And I lived my own. No, it does not hurt him to hurt you.

So don’t waste one feeling of emotion on him.

We don’t talk, it’s been two months and I hear from my friends and in-laws that he is trying TO INTRODUCE HER?

Don’t talk to your ex in-laws and tell the friends not to report to you about him. It’s his train wreck, let him crash it. Stand clear. NO CONTACT.

Doggycamqueen, I’m sorry after all that investment, you didn’t get the future with the man you imagined he was. He has his lies, his financial peril (discovery with your lawyer will be so much fun!), his Schmoopie.

You got the dogs. And one of them exposed your ex! You’re the winner here.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Wow! Totally agree about the character flaw (illegal financial dealings) being an indicator he would lie about other things. Ah. And so sorry she had to hear and see everything on video (yuck), but glad she knows and left.

    • Yep.

      My ex pulled a couple shady things when we were young marrieds. I was upset and told him what I thought. He agreed it was wrong, and really seemed to “grow up” I put that in quotes because I now realize he was displaying his core character.

      It came crashing down on me 20 years later.

      For new chumps, I would just keep saying, get out as fast as you can; it rarely gets better, they just learn to hide it.

      • That hit’s the nail on the head. In all aspects of life. Work, love, friendships. I have always believed in second chances and I still do……..except when its clearly a character flaw or sense of entitlement. A reprimand to those types of people only makes them hide better. They only respond to one thing, and sadly they don’t usually understand it. Consequences!!! Consequences to them mean, “why are you being a dick/bitch”.

    • I’ve never understood the cultural acceptance of cheating. If you will expose your spouse or significant other to financial harm, physical harm and emotional harm, you will violate people who matter even less than your partner.

      • Don’t buy the wag-the-dog media spin about adultery being acceptable. At least in the US, the public views cheating more harshly than ever and about as ethically kosher as suicide and human cloning. https://news.gallup.com/poll/183455/once-taboo-behaviors-acceptable.aspx But gay marriage is okay apparently.

        I haven’t seen any commentary about the fact that, as the public appears to be *less* inclined to support religious prohibitions (ban of gay marriage, negative views of divorce), they’re actually less tolerant of infidelity. It’s fascinating.

        • People that don’t harm other people are not our business. What’s our business are thieves, liars, murderers and cheaters. They do real damage. Witness the millions of people that come on this site. They are in pain because someone harmed them.

          • That was not to imply that gay marriage is not okay. Frankly, I think it’s about damned time and stellar. But the NY Times, in covering the findings of this particular Gallup poll, tried to imply that prohibitions against adultery were rooted in retrograde Puritanical religious views. Of course, in order to argue this, the Times’ shill had to ignore that the same people polled were fine with gay marriage which argues that, in fact, modern prohibitions against adultery appear to be decidedly about secular ethics, not religious “morality” (for those who make a distinction between the two things, though I use “ethics” and “morality” interchangeably).

            I find that really interesting and I’d love to know why that is. Is it because divorce is now easier to get so people have fewer excuses to cheat? Or is it because the public has a greater understanding of the devastating effects of emotional abuse?

        • HOAC nothing to do with religion. I’m not religious but still hate cheating. It is a moral issue and you can have morals without religion.

          • I was just addressing that above. Personally, I use “ethics” and “morals” interchangeably but I know people who make a distinction (especially my recovering Catholic dad). The sound of the word “morality” rings hypocritical to some, brings back notions of the “sin” of homosexuality or the “crime” of a woman having sex before marriage, while “ethics” sounds more soothingly secular and perhaps more about cruelty, exploitation, real criminality than God’s will. Depends on the person.

            I probably should have qualified that and a few other things but was in a rush this afternoon.

            • That would be NYT’s mistake, then, to ascribe judging infidelity as retrograde religiosity. Some of what becomes religion still works as secular ethics: I mean, can you imagine calling a prohibition against murder “religious” just because “Thou Shalt Not Kill” is one of the 10 commandments?

              Lots of what *also* becomes religion is men controlling other people’s bodies / the patriarchy, hence skewed real-world applications of consequences for infidelity, bigotry against non-cis-het anything, etc.

              LGBTQIAT2S+ and ethically non-monogamous people still don’t want to be lied to! Just because some OG tablet writers knew infidelity was bad doesn’t mean the principle itself is old-fashioned. Weird of whoever wrote the article not to get that.

            • Well, TNYT has David Brooks on staff. He cheated on his wife with a younger woman, and married her. So anything the Times prints concerning ethics is laughable. Politics aside.

          • And there it is. Can you have morals without religion. Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. Seneca. Pick you’re own path. The reason is because there is zero accountability except for our own. The world is so big now that you can disappear and never look back or so we think. There’s always that mirror in the bathroom though…..

        • And don’t assume it’s a US phenom only. In supposedly oh-so-free-thinking France, adultery is the #1 reason people file for divorce.

          I think we’re moving from a rules-based approach to relationships (and often those rules were religious ones) and one based in power relationships (it was usually the men who had the power and the $, so female partners learned to close their eyes to infidelity) to an ethics-based one. Hallelujah!

      • Fictional novels romanticize infidelity, as CL has said. As a librarian and a reader, I hate when I come across that.

        • CNM I agree.Books and movies. Like, how romantic that two married people cheat on their spouses once a year at their special place. Usually the wife is demonized to justify cheating.

          • I was just watching Downton Abbey again to pass the time while I do grunt labor and I noticed how, after Lord Robert plays tongue hockey with the maid, Lady Grantham, who doesn’t have a clue, says in passing, “I don’t mean to neglect you,” implying (duh) that this happened because she neglected him. Worse, Lord Grantham doesn’t even come clean about his almost-dalliance after he punches out Lady Grantham’s art historian admirer.

            Cringe. All so contrived. You can always tell when the screenwriter is a cheat. Like pedos, cheats seem unable to stop campaigning and brainwashing and proselytizing to the world to whitewash their mentality and behavior (even when it makes for awkward dialogue, improbably character development and clunky plotlines).

            • Most plot lines are about chaos whores, because who’s going to watch a show about the couple who values each other, and are hot for each other because there’s so much respect? We could see how they smile at each other all the time, and have fun hobbies they persue….No, that would never fly 😂

              Much more fun to watch Dial M For Murder, or some such thing. It’s just imbedded in our strange society.

        • Was my first red flag of 3 after 3 years of marriage….A whole grocery sack full of harlequin romance novels stuck in a back corner of a closet. I didn’t know she was so enamored with that tripe. Divorced 2 years later due to her lying , deceitful , traitorous , cheating ass.

    • “People who are unethical in one arena (business, taxes) tend to be unethical in others. No one is special when you’re dealing with malignant entitlement. If they’ll do it to someone else, they’ll do it to you.”

      Luckily I wasn’t yet married to cheating FW. He got audited by the IRS for 2 years of taxes. Had to pay a lot in back taxes but no penalty, and he was lucky they didn’t go further. Interestingly, he started fucking around when he was being audited. It was a coincidence of opportunity.

    • Seems very fitting that he was caught on that cam, considering he’s a dog. How awful to have to watch it… I can’t imagine the trauma that causes.

  • As hard as it was to see your spouse having sex with someone else, it was probably the best thing to happen. You got proof with your own eyes and you can never unsee it. You’re already doing many of the right things so that is to be commended. As CL said, go no contact with the in-laws and fix your picker. The best revenge is to have a wonderful life. Here’s hoping meh comes sooner rather than later.

    • I was “lucky” enough to be showed photos of my ex screwing the OW.

      It was a punch to the gut, but it was also a 2×4 to the frantic squirrel “this can’t be happening, this isn’t true, he loves me and would -never- do this” mindset one finds oneself in while trying to hold one’s life together.

      It was the push I needed to truly understand that, yes, it happened and, no, he couldn’t have done that and been in love with me at the same time. Done done done.

      Shit sandwich, but one that instigated the right mindset to fight.

        • I was an advocate for dv survivors and know the power of traumatic denial. It’s a survival mechanism and can be protective in certain circumstances but is sometimes maladaptive. It’s one of the reasons I hired a PI. Nothing like video and photographic proof to shake off paralysis. Plus I got bonus salty asides from a veteran PI/ex-cop, like (head scratch, knit brow) “I really don’t get what he sees in that bimbo.” He recommended a great attorney and we ended up hanging out for coffee after the smoke cleared and talking about everything but my case.

          • I live in a state that punishes pretty well for evidence of adultery. Wish I had that kind of proof! lol

            • I think it’s time to normalize hiring PIs for non-stalkery purposes, like investigating possible cheating and financial abuse. It took an experienced attorney friend to sort of greenlight doing this and get me past my biases against doing so. Like many people, at first I thought this was an extreme move and would cast me in a negative light. But my friend rattled off what I was up against as far as risks (STDs, financial ruin, psychological trauma to children and self, etc.). And she correctly predicted my attorney’s relief that I’d taken this measure. Good attorneys, like good cab drivers, prefer the fastest route to a destination so they can get to the next client or fare. My evidence made his job easier.

              Now that I’ve done it and benefited from it, I can’t see why more people who can afford it don’t do it. Most people aren’t paranoid schizophrenics who imagine red flags where they don’t exist or psycho stalkers with nefarious intent. And most people will deny the possibility that their spouse is cheating until it literally knocks them in the head. If someone suspects but can’t prove, it can be crazy-making and a disadvantage in fault states or even no-fault states. If you don’t know about the cheating or can’t prove it, you won’t know enough to hire a forensic accountant and your children won’t be compensated for the cost of shmoopie gifts, booze and grub in the settlement.

              A good PI can be another ally in your court when push comes to shove. Corporations use them for mergers and to ward off hostile takeovers, so why shouldn’t the average Joe or Jane? Being cheated on is more potentially life-shortening and ruinous than corporate malfeasance. Plus good PIs know where the legal line is and how not to cross it (it’s becoming illegal in some places to spy on phones or email) and often have special dispensation to do things that regular citizens wouldn’t, like doing stakeouts in certain locations (they check in with local police when doing this).

              Finally, I think in most average dogshit cheating situations, the APs tend to be dogshit themselves. If anything, seeing evidence of this kind of kills or at least shortens that absurd “comparison” stage of grief and loss. It surprised even me how I laughed in a “yikes” kind of way when I first saw the surveillance photos of the pair inside a bar and then leaving to go to the AP’s crappy apartment. God, they looked miserable. She was a glum mushroom of a woman and he looked soused and had his hands clenched furiously behind his back. In 19 years, I’d never seen him in that posture and he later admitted that it was in order not to be forced to hold her hand in public. As they exited the bar, she stomped three paces ahead in cheap shoes and with a turned-down mouth looking like she wanted to kill someone. Wow, the romance. Clearly, I’d been missing out on all the “fun.” I got an instant measure of her self-esteem that she was willing to eat humiliation like that the whole time. Never meeting his friends or extended family, being hidden away, engaging in OPSEC, etc. I almost felt sorry for her, but not quite. As soon as the kitchen lights went on, FW dumped the AP like a cockroach scurrying away from the trash pail.

              Seeing the evidence can nix the tendency of chumps to inflate or idealize affairs. Of course, trusting that they suck is the ideal. But sometimes that doesn’t come for quite a while. Evidence is the shortcut to it.

              On seeing the photos, my second reaction was relief that I wasn’t nuts and a rectified sense of self-esteem at how uncannily accurate my intuitions had been. Then I felt a kind of predatory “gotcha” sensation. In my normal state, I’m a very nice chump but I really needed to be in that mindset to prevail. Rock-solid evidence was the fuel. Of course, grief and heartbreak laced the whole thing, but those other sensations won the day– gallows humor, “ew,” and “gotcha.”

              • “I’d been missing out on all the “fun.””

                Yep, in real time I really was never focused on her other than I knew her reputation and that she was not a super model (nor was he).

                After I started to get out of the pain fog a little, all I had to do if I ever even thought of comparison was imagine their two overweight bodies hurling over to the back seat of his police car and grunting like pigs.

                See now I wouldn’t even have that image, but for some reason he felt it was necessary for me to know that was how their “first time” happened. Swoon.

              • A good friend is a retired PI with years of experience. According to him, once you have to hire an investigator, you can be sure your partner is cheating. In over 30 years of work, 100% of the people who hired him were correct in their suspicions.

                A friend of mine suspected her husband was cheating and he foolishly involved their adult children, claiming their mother was “crazy”. Crazy like a fox. She hired a PI, got the goods AND shared them with the kids. Who’s crazy now?

                My point is PI’s are great to get admissible evidence if infidelity is relevant to the divorce proceedings or you want solid confirmation of what you already know. Reputable PI’s know their stuff and can be invaluable.

                If you need to hire one to confirm your suspicions, though, be ready for what you discover because it won’t be good. According to my friend, the chances are 100% you are going to discover a cheater.

      • Right there with you, I got the photo via anonymous email! It wrecked my world but it was a hell of a catalyst to find a good attorney, file, and then confront. There was no wreckonciliation possible after what I saw and then found out.

        Like I say about the anonymous emailer – not sure if you were trying to hurt me or help me, either way it worked. My life is amazing now. Hope yours is too.

        Get the heck out of there doggy cam queen, a wonderful new fuckwit free life is waiting as soon as you fix your picker. Put in the work. Do the therapy and find out why you made the decisions to marry this man. Then don’t ever do that again. I know it’s easier said than done but I believe in you. You can do this!

  • “No one is special when you’re dealing with malignant entitlement. If they’ll do it to someone else, they’ll do it to you.”

    ⬆️ This is a hard lesson to learn, but so true! My ex had to “resign” from his job soon after we met because of some “small administrative errors.” Yeah, like embezzlement. I was so trusting, I believed his story. Looking back on everything now, I know he was just outright taking whatever he wanted, whatever he thought he could get away with. Trouble with different people followed him throughout our years together. It’s funny how all of them had established a very friendly relationship with him before the big battles began. Every time, I believed the story he told. Now, I see the pattern. Sometimes he’s able to capture people (like me) with his goofy, little-boy, charm. Others figure out who he is pretty quickly. I wish I was in the latter group.

    • My ex was exited from our company the same month I found out about all his cheating. He was accused of general bad behaviour, e.g. bullying, intimidation, making people feel bad, using power tactics but also that he was simply not doing a good job and in fact, mismanaging the business. Our business was in a shambles – it was mass chaos. It was chaos at home. It made it impossible to tell what was going on. I was so gaslit it was unreal – the partners at work were gaslit. It is two years post DDay and my head still spins trying to figure out what happened. I thought I was with someone who loved me through thick and thin for 26 years, but he dropped me like a hot potato. As CL says, he stepped over my crying body to go and microwave a hot pocket. This was after the very day he told me I was the love of his life. He was love bombing me right to the end, mixed in with abuse. As it turns out, this is what he was doing to the staff at work – telling them they did a really shitty job on a project, and then texting them late at night to tell them they were a valued employee and he hopes they were doing well. It was madness. Part of the mind fuck is just that people are capable of this in the first place. Now he’s trying not to disclose his funds and make the final settlement a real pain in the ass. Part of the problem is I’m not backing down, and I don’t intent to. The key here is that some people are really, really disordered. It so evil when someone uses love against you. The pain is searing and cruel and the worst part is they get to parade around in front of you with their new love while you’re there alone, without support, fighting to get child support and watch them waltz off with their new, younger model. It’s spectacularly unfair and despicable. I don’t know how I’ll ever get over this much lying and manipulation.

      • There’s no real justice in any of it. It’s torture, and people who haven’t been through it don’t know.

        But we really are better off without them. They’re no good, and I do believe that there is karma awaiting them. We may never see or know about it, but you cannot be that screwed up and feel okay inside.

        (((hugs)))

        • “We may never see or know about it, but you cannot be that screwed up and feel okay inside.”

          I absolutely agree. Yes it is great if you can see some of it. And darn it chumps deserve to see it; but even if you don’t, it will show itself somewhere.

      • Sounds like a classic batterer. Batterers tend to operate on a “beat by need” basis so don’t necessarily use fists in all situations or relationships. If they can achieve the same level of power and control through less legally risky, less athletic means (like gaslighting, cheating, etc.), they will.

        I did advocacy for survivors for several years and learned about something called “masked dependency.” Basically, when someone grows up with abuse and/or catastrophic humiliation at the hands of an abusive role model or caretaker or witnesses an important caretaker being subjected to same, the person develops a “kill or be killed” view and feels humiliating shame over their own dependence on others, particularly on primary partners. To the extent that abusers excel at blaming all their own demented, internally generated emotions on partners, the abuser paranoically imagines the partner has deliberately taken power over them and furthermore enjoys that power.

        Virtually all batterers cheat and part of the reason for it is to “dilute” the “shameful,” pathological, infantile dependency on partners. But because cheating doesn’t really work to destroy that dependency, ultimately the batterer has to destroy the partner themselves in order to feel “free” of the partner’s imagined control.

        Only when the abuser is convinced the partner is too broken and paralyzed to ever move on can the abuser move on themselves (as they step over your body to get a hot pocket out of the microwave). That explains the eerie impression that the abuser has a sense of sadistic satisfaction when they do that walking-over-bodies victory dance. In the kill or be killed mindset, the abuser betrays in order to avoid being betrayed and abandoned themselves. It was always either “you or them.”

        • HoaC, I’ve been thinking about your post all day today. It has resonated with me more than anything for a long time. Thank you from the bottom of my broken heart!

          There are so many things in here – one is that his parting shot was telling our family that I was “too controlling” (but he told me he was leaving because I wouldn’t give him the S&M sex he “needed” so he found a sex slave girlfriend AND that the marital breakup was all my fault, of course). Another thing was that I found a diary of his from before we met and into the first few years of our marriage. In it he wrote that he was worried about our marriage because surely this couldn’t be right – that he was simply now being “controlled” by a woman and this had taken away his man hood somehow. He lamented the fact that I had said he wasn’t taking care of me (he wasn’t). He also said in the writing that he loves me but that he could not feel. How scary is that? For the record…I am NOT controlling. In fact, I wish I would have been more controlling instead of rolling over for his every whim and letting him get away with being a complete and utter child and lazy ass.

          As you say, it was kill or be killed. He did have a couple of moments where he ALMOST admitted that he was being hideous to me, but then he’d retreat back into saying it was ALL my fault. So much so that the first time he told me that, I almost fell off my chair, but then I got used to it. Every time I saw him as he was leaving he’d say, “this is all on you” as if saying it a lot to me made it true, like brainwashing me. I was so traumatized all I could do was stand there, opened mouthed, thinking to myself, “what about all that cheating and the new sex slave girlfriend? What about all the lying you’ve done? The double life? The hookers?” etc. etc.

          The odd thing is, he couldn’t actually take care of himself, so in that way, I did “control” him. He seriously depended on me for cooking, paying bills, child care, social life, all of the adulting. I got used to doing all this because he made more money than I did (until recently). I was in a no-win situation. He wanted me to look after him and make everything nice, but then resented me for it and sought sex elsewhere – with seriously downgraded women who are up for being degraded and physically assaulted by him – his S&M is extreme (I found his gear, it was scary). He also blamed me for not being into the S&M world of his – a world which I never knew about and wasn’t invited to by him – another no win for me!

          In terms of did he grow up being abused or watching it? I don’t think so, but definitely he was neglected. He told me that he had S&M type fantasies from a young age – mostly bondage but also hurting women or himself with razor blades in order to “feel” something. God knows what his path is from here.

          Thank you for your intelligent post. It meant a lot to me.

  • Oh, and I love the doggy cam idea! Maybe save it for an anniversary gift and just wear black to the wedding. 😆

      • Attie, yes weddings are tinged with a little sadness for me too. They are so hope filled and are like a vote of confidence in the future – like mine was. I remember panicking and bursting into tears at my own wedding when I really listened to those words “for better for worse, until death do you part” just before saying them. Thats a heck of a big vow. There are no guarantees. Life, huh?

        • … and i also realise now that I have been surrounded all my life by dysfunctional marriages in my FOO – so not a lot to work with! Theres better and worse, there’s no perfect, but it would have been helpful to see at least one healthy marriage in action🙄

  • “How can someone just move on after 12 years, marriage and dogs and act like you don’t exist?

    Easy. He was never truly invested. He just acted like he was.”

    Bingo. Or as my X put it to me after D-Day #1 as he (literally!) performed a monologue about how amazing OW#1 was while we sat in a grocery store parking lot as I sobbed in the passenger seat: “(paraphrasing) I just *needed* someone to be with and love me. I was a short, fat kid and I thought you were beautiful and talented. I told myself that I’ll never, ever do any better than you, so I leapt in with both feet into a relationship with you.”

    I couldn’t properly unpack what he said at the time (living in the immediate trauma of “suddenly” having an unfaithful H, becoming a single parent, and, as an adult with babies, having to move back into my parents’ house, but, years later, I heard what he was skirting around: “I thought you were the best option at the time. I didn’t think better options would come up for someone like me but I always kept an eye out for them.” And he found them. Repeatedly.

    CL is right; they know how to play the part of partner but they were never invested from the get-go. They’re users and we were chumped.

    • Yeah….my ex told me he married me because he thought I was the best he was ever going to do.

      It was that insecurity that had him keep his whore ex gf on the side.

      He was right though….his shitty toupee wearing, limp dick, broke, 19 years older ass can’t do better. That’s why he fought the divorce.

      Fortunately we didn’t have kids and our finances were separate.

    • Mine told me he married me because I checked all the boxes he could want in a wife and he would be a fool to get me go. Basically, I made him look good. But, then he told me that being married to someone like me was a lot of work because life with me was just about responsibility and expectations. In other words, I had standards in being an adult.

      Who they leave us for is not a better option. It is a lower standard that allows them to not have to work too hard. They just have to turn it on and they get validation from someone who is desperate to have them. That no longer works on you.

      My ex has 10 nieces and nephews that he could not bother giving the time of day. I cannot recall one single instance in almost 12 years of marriage that he actually talked to or played with any of them (except once when we babysat a few together). When I discovered the affair before he left the marriage, he was buying gifts for the OW kids, including collectable sports cards for her son. To this day, he has yet to do anything like that for our own son, who is 13.

      It’s all an act, and it’s not sustainable in the long-term. How long this lasts all depends on how low this woman’s value is. Her tolerance for bullshit might be high, which is likely if you are desperate to not be alone.

      • >Who they leave us for is not a better option. It is a lower standard that allows them to not have to work too hard.

        So true.

      • He treats the OW’s (nothing to him) kids better than he treats his OWN son who is 13?

        What the fuck??

      • It was a hard pill to swallow knowing that even before we started dating (around 17 years old) he thought of me as, essentially, a consolation prize: “Oh well, she’s pretty good; this is the best I can probably get.” I thought the world of him and had him on a pretty high pedestal (I never should have put him there) so to realize he thought so little of me from the beginning was devastating.

        Someone in another post mentioned that their X has never been alone/single; they just jump from one “option” to the other. That’s my X.

      • “But, then he told me that being married to someone like me was a lot of work because life with me was just about responsibility and expectations. In other words, I had standards in being an adult.”

        I think this is more common than we know. It’s why they downgrade when they leave the marriage. They don’t want someone with standards and expectations they can’t meet. What they can do is go on vacation, buy jewelry, spend money, drink, etc. Some of these cheaters find someone on their level wh doesn’t expect adulthood.

        • Oh so yes to this! I absolutely had expectations of Cheater Narc, and he SO resented that!

          Schmoops was a major downgrade, and he invested very heavily in that relationship, leading within less than a year of my kicking him out to his spending 36 hs twice a month with our kids – in a jurisdiction that ALWAYS gives 50-50 custody time (unless there is abuse). THAT I had not expected.

          “Easy. He was never truly invested. He just acted like he was.”

  • DoggyCamQueen, be glad you found out this soon. I was married for 25 years to a narcissistic, binge drinking, gaslighting asshole and had five children with him. I was nearly 50 when I filed for divorce.

    Also, why would you want a narcissistic, alcoholic, gaslighting, CRIMINAL asshole in your life? Look, I get it. You thought the world was one thing and it’s incredibly jarring to find out that it’s completely different. It’ll take some time for you to adjust to the fact that your high school sweetheart isn’t capable of love. He didn’t love you. He didn’t love your dogs. He doesn’t love the new woman or her child. Narcissists can’t love anyone. They love things and use people.

    This would be a good time for you to cut off all contact with the asshole and work on yourself. You picked this guy when you were a child. You are used to being with a bad person. And what’s more, narcissists can be kind of exciting. Normal people seem boring when you’re accustomed to a man who lives on the edge. The worst thing you can do is jump into dating another man just like the one you dumped. Like Tracy said, fix your picker.

    • “Corny pays the bills” Go for sincere not charming after you’ve fixed your picker. Do not self-medicate with another person right now. Heal your heart first. Maybe Al-Anon to start ?

      Sparkly, outgoing, “f.u.n” (fucked up narcissist), good looking people tend to bamboozle chumps in life. You’re lucky you didn’t have children with this jerk.

      • WOW I love the F.U.N reference lol that is amazing and I will keep that with me forever. I also love the “look for sincere and not charming”. I will definitely not be dating for a long time as I heal and work on myself but this helped me a lot Thank you 🙂

        • I can’t claim authorship of the “fun” acronym-another citizen of Chump Nation coined it.
          (((Hugs))) to you

        • Sincere-not-charming for the win!

          I am finally with sincere.

          It is hard after an FW who was a constant love-bomber. I thought he was sincere but he just play-acts. He wants everyone to love him, and feels entitled to receive that love.

          Sincere gives me plenty of attention, but not the over-the-top intense that FW did. Which is good, because FW was intense. Sincere is patient and not pushy or intense.

          It is an adjustment like quitting smoking.

      • Better to skip all the f.u.n., lol.

        I’m not sure about the issue of appearance. In my dating life before FW, I had a drop-dead beautiful bf who never cheated, and a prematurely balding, overweight one who did.

        If only the devil wore horns, none of us would have ended up spending seasons in hell. In clinical studies, people seem to be able to guess every kind of character flaw in others just by their faces– all except rapists, who apparently channel far more psychic energy into image management than normal people and excel at appearing “safe.” The way I interpret it, if what you have is a garden variety psychologically abusive, endangering cheater, they might be easier to suss out in early stages than one with more terrifying abuser traits.

        Anyway, vetting character is a long and arduous process. I wish we’d all begun training in it in seventh grade.

    • This is SOLID truth Lizza Lee! You can take to the bank “he is a Narc who loves things and uses people.” You can also take to the bank that DoggyCam’s cheater is a Narc who wants things easy for him (Narcs rarely if ever do what’s hard / what’s right) and to top that off he values pleasure over happiness. Instant gratification over delayed gratification. This last one is key: happiness and genuine contentment often comes from the hard work of sacrifice and in the unseen daily work of intimacy. Cashmere wrote a wonderful post about this on the Independence Day declaration. They don’t get it – because they don’t or won’t do it! They don’t value it because they can’t. They are broken and damaged people. And we were broken in some way to fit or partner with them. Which is why the picker fixing segment is so critical to infidelity abuse recovery. Heaven forbid you get caught twice with these types. Don’t be me!

  • I had to file for divorce initially because my ex wife committed fraud. I also went to the government and told them I had no idea. I am on SSDI. So any felonies and I would have lost my SSDI. They told me it was a smart thing I did. It is funny how you had no problem taking money that wasn’t legal. So are you surprised he cheated on you?

    I have remarried. My wife still holds her ex in high regard even though he left her for another women. That he was such a good man. Yet has 4+ DUIs, anger issues, and gets disability from the military but works under the table, and is many thousands behind in child support. Cheating isn’t the only bad thing they do.

    Glad you got a lawyer and don’t have kids with him.

    • I am more of a lurker these days but your comment is troubling: “…you had no problem taking money that wasn’t legal. So are you surprised he cheated on you?”

      HE was taking money, not the chump.

      And chumps never DESERVE cheating, even if you, in your exalted wisdom, don’t think they’re living exemplary lives.

      How can people be honest here if they have to face a gauntlet of judgement from other chumps.

      • No one deserves cheating, but all marriages should be built on financial honesty. Too many chumps(and their children) have been stuck with cheaters in an effort to protect a style of living.

        • I if you’re on this site, you can probably recite a lot of things marriages should be built on.

          Support for chumps doesn’t need a side dish of sanctimonious judgment

      • I don’t think SirChumpalot was saying the OP *deserved* to be cheated on, just that if she was aware of illegality, that’s a huge red flag for other behaviour.

        Of course no-one deserves to be cheated on, but I don’t think that is what SirChumpalot is saying.

          • Well, reading the actual statement (below) we learn a few things:

            1. He knew his wife committed fraud and filed for divorce

            2. “They” told him it was a smart thing.

            3. He points out that DoggyCamQueen knew her husband took some money illegally and it was ‘funny how [she] had no problem with it.’

            4. He asks why she was surprised he cheated.

            Having gone through the agony of D-day and zillions of versions of this passive aggressive, virtue-signaling, I can recognize it a mile away. If Sirchumpalot doesn’t intend to diss DoggyCamQueen, he should become a better writer.

  • Doggycamqueen,

    To your central question – who is he really – as your trauma subsides, you’ll likely begin to experience spontaneous bits of clarity on this. You’ve known him forever. You’ll replay bits of memories going back to the beginning, except without the charitable twist you have always applied to them. You’ll likely be stunned at how much the truth about him was always right there to be seen, but you had always provided a necessary reinterpretation (“spackle” as CL calls it) to make it okay or even superior when it was really just crap. When this happens, you’ll have your answers. But when this happens, yet another CL principle applies: don’t fault yourself. Though you need to fix your picker, you nonetheless were true, committed and honest. That is a superlative thing and you are a superlative person. It’s too bad there are shit people roaming around in this world, but what you did was real. Take pride in that.

    • That is a fabulous explanation for those of us (even very intuitive ones) who struggle with how we lived with such a narcissist for so long and rationalized everything that seemed off. It’s so easy to blame ourselves especially when we were distracted by life events, raising children and feeling like our “weird feelings” were us asking for too much from our spouse. Especially if it is a first marriage/ serious relationship that resulted in being chumped. There isn’t anything to compare it to! It’s easy to think “ I guess this is marriage” and keep packing the lunches, raising the kids, going to work while you spouse is just going through the motions. Meanwhile you think things are ok without knowing the narcissist is getting his ego feedings from other sources. The narcissism can lay low around you as long as it’s getting fed by someone else. I think my spouse’s narcissism was satisfied by his job a lot and not until he found another woman who fed him in ways I didn’t did all his horribleness reveal his true demon self. I read that failed relationships are 50/50 but with narcissists who gaslight I don’t believe that to be true. Maybe we don’t “meet their needs” anymore but we were never given the opportunity to know what was going on behind the scenes. When someone makes choices about a marriage without including the other person then the other person is not to blame.

      • This is so true. A normal, character-developed, person really has no chance of knowing what they’re dealing with or up against in narcissism until they finally have it blatantly uncovered and are virtually forced to accept that a whole new category of humanity actually exists. Until then, it’s almost impossible to avoid spackling because you’re fitting all the red flags into the only categories you have, all of which involve some level of integrity between what is seen and what actually “is” in the other person. But these people literally live every moment with a duality that we would never have believed possible. For them, it’s as comfortable as being a Siamese twin – the false self they sell us, and the true self that actually calls all the shots.

      • K, you make so many great points here. I also don’t believe the relationship is 50/50 when you are dealing with a narcissistic gaslighter. A 50/50 relationship assumes that all the cards on are the table and the two parties are on an equal footing. But if one of the partners is making unilateral decisions and leaving the other partner in the dark, they are no longer functioning as partners and the balance has definitely shifted away from 50/50.

        • You are so right! I’ve gotten tired of hearing/reading that failed marriages are due to both partners in a relationship. Not in the case of being in a relationship with a narcissistic gaslighted, as you wrote. The key is, once you are on to them, to never fall for another one again.

      • We may be very special as individuals, but chumps don’t have otherworldly telepathic superpowers to turn good, upstanding, ethical and honest partners into lying, endangering, gaslighting, embezzling (did I leave anything out?) scumbags. It would be hubris to suppose we did have that kind of mind-power. FWs came that way and, barring some unicorn transformation, will remain that way through subsequent relationships.

      • “and feeling like our “weird feelings” were us asking for too much from our spouse”

        So much this! Every time I got sick, he behaved like I was a burden. It wasn’t even that I was asking him to actually do anything for me – just take care of things until I felt better. And I always had to ASK him to do it. It was never a reflex for him, like “oh, honey, you rest and I’ll feed the kids, don’t worry about it.” I had to say “would you mind…?”

        Once, when my first was about 4 months old, I got a wicked stomach flu and was up all night reaching and the like. I was aching so badly by the morning that I was literally lying on the floor because the touch of the blankets was too much.

        You know, he woke up, got out of bed, and stepped over me to get ready for work. Didn’t say a word or even acknowledge that I was there. I actually had to explain that it wasn’t a good idea for me to be near the baby in my state.

        I felt so weird about it, like I had done something wrong. Asked too much, as you say. And, yes, I spackled the shit out of that. A blind young woman with a whole bus load of FOO issues and just the narcissist to take advantage of them. I am glad he’s gone. I just wish he hadn’t wrecked my life on the way out.

        • Ditto chump queen. I lived the same scenario. My child was about 6 years old then
          But it was after that- i started to have bad joint problems. ( rubbing me the wrong way?)… and also it frightened me on a subconscious level. I understand this all now that ive been liberated and an far healthier!!! No more screwed up joints! A release on every level. Took me about 3 years to realize my toxic joints were no longer a problem. Thanks for telling this ( truly horrible ) story. There are so many here that resonate. And i am unable to tell my own as the depth of feckedupedness is just so hard to explain.

        • ChumpQueen I feel your pain. My husband was pretty nice in general (until the last few years) but when I had skin cancer surgery he asked me, “Do I need to be there all day?” My heart sank. “No” I said, “that’s okay.” But it wasn’t okay and I was in the horrible dilemma where I didn’t want him to be there if he didn’t want to be there so I pretended it was okay. Fucker! Also, he was so “precious” that I spent all my time taking care of him. For example, when we had our baby, it was his sleep that took precedence. I just kept being sleep deprived because I was so worried about him not being able to get to work and having it impact on his job. Seriously! Also, when I was in the hospital with our baby, he spent his evenings playing Magic cards with his friend. I thought this was weird but he said he had to “blow off steam and get support.” Whatever. It’s just one of the many gigantic ways he abused me but I didn’t see it – I spackled the shit out of my life with him!

  • I’m sorry you’ve been betrayed. Sounds like you’re taking all the right steps. Set this next bit of advice aside for now, but think about it later as you “fix your picker”.

    There is no excuse for cheating and people have every right to immerse themselves in wedding planning and home decorating. BUT, both those activities can provide opportunities to either reveal a partner’s values or spackle over some troublesome behaviors.

    I wish all young couples spent as much time planning their life together (including the crappy stuff), as they do their weddings.

      • I agree 100% and we actually did do premarital counseling (I suggested it – now looking back, I think I did because I saw some of these red flags) and I wasn’t a huge wedding girl either. I cared WAY more about a secure foundation and a healthy marriage (hence the pre-marital counseling). I guess I was just bamboozled by him and I should have trusted my gut. I think I wanted him to be the version I had in my head of him or just a better person in general and he was never going to be that in reality.

        • But you did trust your gut! Imagine if you didn’t put up that doggy can. You would have had kids with him, married for years and your gut would be screaming at you. Unfortunately I know this all too well. You are strong and even though you found out the worst, you found out he is the farce. You are not! I hope for you a wonderful, beautiful life with someone who deserves you xo SweetChumpgirl

      • While pre-marital counseling is a good idea, in theory, I have been married three times and it has never worked out for me. Prior to my first marriage, Cheater and I took pre-Cana classes with sister Margaret. Imagine my surprise when he was later revealed to have been fucking “Peggy” since before we were engaged.

        My second husband was also Catholic, but my cousin, a Methodist minister married us and thus did the pre-marital counseling which consisted of a series of “tools” like Meyers Briggs and other tests. After the wedding, my cousin told us that our scores were the least compatible couple he had ever seen in his years of pre-marital counseling. “If you weren’t my cousin, I would have advised you not to get married.”

        The third, a full-fledged Narcissist, charmed the couseler and the two of them banded together to fix me. Sadly, we were already married, but going through “premarital counseling” in order to have our marriage convalidated by the church.

        I’ve run into a lot of unethical, immoral, self-serving and mentally unhealthy counselers out there; I think finding a good one on the first try is a bit of an outlier.

        • I agree with you about not finding a good therapist on the first try. I would tell my former self to interview several. Why did they become a therapist ? Where are their diplomas ? Their license to practice ? Can I see a transcript of courses they followed ? At least one class on personality disorders is required, in my opinion. Where can I read a copy of their thesis or dissertation ? If they balk at the interview process, run !
          I wouldn’t even bother with a person of the cloth for any counseling, unless they held an additional degree in mental health. Just my opinion.

    • I should have paid more attention to the refusal to participate in retirement/estate planning. I also let myself get preoccupied by real estate dreaming with a “future faker”.

      • IcanseeTuesday,

        My ex actually did want to participate in retirement and financial planning, but (and here’s the sicko part) he allowed me to assume that we were planning for OUR future. Nope. He was planning for HIS future with the OW. That lake house we remodeled with my money and that I lovingly decorated? That was not for me unless, God forbid, his monkey-branch strategy fell through. Bottom line: he assumed HE would be there with either me or the OW. He was the common denominator in all this. #narcsgonnanarc

        Basically, he committed fraud. And that’s in part why I got a favorable settlement in the divorce even though we were in a no-fault state. I may have picked a crappy spouse, but I sure as hell picked a great lawyer. Worth every penny.

        Btw, I made sure to sell that lake house 💪. He resisted at first (it was not in my cheater’s grand plan) but then folded like a tent when the OW said she “didn’t want anything of mine.” lol! Oh, and, yes, he took her there to fuck but not in the master bed (as they did in our primary residence) but in our daughter’s bed. He wanted points for that. #cheaterstandards #de-meritbadge

        These people are so disordered.

        • Yes, I mentioned before that he conned me into signing for a river front property about the middle of the year of discard. Had I known he was getting ready to dump me, I obviously wouldn’t have signed. Which is why (in part) he was still hiding the dirty assed whore (DAW).

          I didn’t do any decorating, but I did labor to help him put in the septic tank, and helped him build the deck, so that the DAW could easily walk into the trailer. God forbit she drag her lazy ass out in the frigid temps to do any work.

          He did get the river property in the D, but he also had to pay for it; my name was taken off all our joint loans. Then he gambled his way into bankruptcy and lost everything, including the house he bought for the Dirt Assed Whore.

          He drug her DA out of a trailer park, and now many years later she is back in a trailer park, over 80 thousand dollars in debt. I struggle with feeling sorry for her a bit, then I remember she was quite content for me to be left to manage and start over on a minimum wage job, while they waltzed away with what I helped him build. Then I come to my senses.

  • I’m confused as to why she ever trusted a man she says she knew was a criminal, and why she would even dream of marrying such a person. WTF? I’m I just naive, not realizing that this stuff goes on all the time and is considered no big deal?

    • Yes, I rather thought the same, she’s not specific, but a person who does criminally illegal things isn’t going to balk at a spot of infidelity. I think infidelity should be treated the same way as fraud, unfortunately it isn’t, but something they do that is definitely *illegal* is a screaming, flapping red flag.

      • Absolutely. Maybe she’s in some subculture where this is considered acceptable behavior, like growing up in a mob family or something. It’s the only reason I can think of why she only mentioned it in passing, as if it wasn’t a huge part of the problem.

        At any rate, she was financially benefitting from ill gotten gains so I have a hard time considering her a chump. She was participating in chumping whomever he was defrauding or stealing from. The bragging about her impeccably decorated houses, presumably paid for partially with stolen money, made me sick to my stomach. I smell a co-narc.

        • Yep, all that leapt out at me, too. I was surprised to see that CL went so easy on her—my gut started squirming at “beautiful lake house that I decorated impeccably.”

          My professor ex frequently did what I considered skimming off his grant, and I constantly objected. His response? “I can’t believe they’ve awarded me all these unrestricted funds!” I alerted his project co-director early on, but ex assured him that everything was legit, so the matter was dropped. When I told my divorce attorney about the financial impropriety, she counseled me to keep quiet lest I jeopardize my spousal support. I still feel pangs of guilt, but as she said, the terms of the grant are hazy, and since I’m unable to work/earn an income, don’t shoot myself in the foot.

          I deeply value integrity and am actually looking forward to the spousal support ending in a few years. Maybe then I won’t think about the ethical dilemma every single day.

          • Hmmm…so you stayed with your ex despite his skimming from his grant but you are judging today’s chump despite her horrific experience?

            Must feel great to be perfect.

        • We kept our money separate for the most part. We each had out own bank accounts and had one joint account to put away for our wedding. I purchased everything in the home in regards to decor, furnishings, etc, with my own money. We both had good salaries so I didn’t think much of it until I started seeing cash but that was near the end of our relationship. I am not a co-narc. I have been researching and doing all I can to heal from this. I feel stupid every day as I go over things that were red flags that I should have talked to him about. But I wasn’t benefitting from him because I made/make my own money and purchased my things on my own.

          • Even if you used some of “his” money, a narc will gaslight you into believing it’s ok. You are not just a chump that’s been cheated on, you’ve been chumped by narcissism. Like a frog thrown in a pot of cold water slowly heated to boil.

            They will charm and convince you, and you will accept it and reframe it into seeing them as the person you want them to be. You are in a different relationship than they are, but you didn’t know that.

            (I was married to a narcissist for 26+ years, then jumped straight into the arms of the charming cheating FW. I’m chumped all over.)

        • Who is this in reply to? Are you not reading my responses and see that I value everyones input here? I do not lack empathy. I have been through a very traumatic experience and this was my first marriage and long term relationship (12 years). Where am I lacking empathy?

          • I am so sorry, DoggyCamQueen. My comments were directed toward OHFFS. Several Chumps commenting today have not supported you in the manner to which you should be receiving and I have decided to step in. Unfortunately, while I often think I am responding directly to the comment, it sometimes shows up a few doors down. Again, sorry. Do not want to add to your pain.

    • “… why she would even dream of marrying such a person.”

      Yes to that as well, it’s one thing to find out *after* marriage, but to find out before, and *still* go ahead? Just no.

      • Please reread her letter. They were very young when they started dating. Relationships quickly get set and become hard as concrete so she was being deceived all along. Once they were established as a couple shades came down on anything he did as iffy. This is why going after her is a double hurt. She believed in him. She had to because we all have to. It’s how we pair bond. This is NOT her fault!

        • 👍

          Exactly, I am sure she would not have gotten herself legally entangled with him had she known when she did it. Whether they were married or not, they were an established couple with the assumption of fidelity.

          Or that is the way I read it.

        • I’m not “going after her”, and I certainly don’t think the fucktard cheating is her fault!

          I’m simply saying that someone who is prepared to commit illegal acts in one area will be shady and immoral in others – a whopping red flag.

      • My comment below is for you, Chumpnomore6, and you, eirene – judgy and unwelcome comments.

        DoggyCamQueen owes you zero explanations.

        She shared her story – focus on the cheater.

    • I am DoggyCamQueen and agree with you 100%, I wasn’t fully aware of the illegal stuff he was doing but I had an inkling. I should have asked questions and known what was going on, that was my responsibility. I think now that I am coming out of it. I can understand that if someone “cheats” in business/money arenas, they have no problem cheating anywhere else.

    • WTF?

      WTF are you doing on a site where people are sharing enormous shocking truths about their lives?

      Why didn’t you know about your ex? Why did you marry a cheater? What is wrong with you? Are you a super loser, or am I just naive?

      Take your disingenuous judgement elsewhere.

      • If you read Doggycam’s letter, you will see she *did* know he was making money illegally, *before* she married him

        Of course that doesn’t mean she deserved to be cheated on, and no-one here, including myself, is saying that.

        What I am saying is that *pre knowledge* of dodgy behaviour and marrying the person anyway, is setting oneself up for that dodgy behaviour to be perpetrated on oneself.

        My ex fucktard cheated on his first wife, and walked out on her and his two little daughters, for a bimbo who then cheated on *him*.

        A huge whopping red flag, which I ignored, and married him anyway. Did I deserve to be cheated on, when I knew he had a history of cheating? No, but I ignored the red flag. Something I will never do again.

        • Chumpnomore6, I’m somewhat surprised to see that Roaring is continuing to object to snippets of what you and I posted earlier today before DoggyCamQueen elaborated with her own explanations and input. Your comment is spot on, and I fully concur: “What I am saying is that *pre knowledge* of dodgy behaviour and marrying the person anyway, is setting oneself up for that dodgy behaviour to be perpetrated on oneself.”

          • I’m somewhat surprised that you are doubling down on today’s Chump because you are so *gasped* shocked that she didn’t recognize the red flags and understand that she was setting herself up to experience cheating.

            Stupid, stupid DoggyCamQueen, amirite? Not like us! We would never have gotten involved with a cheater who also receives money under the table, right? Our cheaters were ‘special’

            Your comments were judgmental and irrelevant and I don’t pull punches any longer.

            • Roaring, I think it is *your* comments that are somewhat disengenuous.

              I am not at all shocked that Doggycam didn’t see the red flags, neither did I say that, I didn’t see the red flags either, and nor did most of us.

              I never stated that Doggycam was stupid, nor did I suggest her experiences were on some sort of different plane from ours.

              You are fiercely defending her (which is brill) but you’re defending her from enemies which don’t exist. We are not condemning her, we are simply pointing out the red flags she didn’t see, and reminding ourselves and everyone else of the red flags *we* didn’t see, and how to avoid them. Isn’t that partly what CL is about? We share our experiences, as well as the pitfalls we fell into, and how to avoid them?

              What sparked this off, was that Doggycam said she had knowledge, before she married him, that her Fuckwit was involved in illegal financial dealings, and I, amongst others, pointed out this was a huge red flag as to what his subsequent behaviour would be. I don’t see why you would construe this as us attacking her.

              I’ve already said I *knew* the fucktard I was married to had a track record of cheating, but I married him anyway. That doesn’t t mean I deserved to be cheated on, but it was a red flag *I chose to ignore*.

              Which I think is the point some of us are making.

              • Well, you may be right. Pointing out how she missed the red flags can be helpful. I am glad you weren’t helping me when I was in a puddle on the floor. I missed some red flags galore but wasn’t ready to take on all my missteps right after D-day. So grateful for the actual support I received.

              • Roaring, I’m not your enemy.

                If I had been there when you were a puddle on the floor, I would have hugged you and told you what an utter shitbag your ex was. XX.

                When I first found out, my best mate held me while I sobbed, screamed, and cried. She was totally on my side, I needed that.

                Later, she pointed out to me what a shitbag he was, and had always been. She reminded me of all the crappy, shitty things he had done and said. She reminded me he had cheated on his first wife. I needed that too. x

      • Hey Roaring, you are completely be missing the point. Continuing to be a party to unethical behavior, shows a lack of personal ethics, morals, and character. Regardless of whether you are directly benefitting from the ill gotten gains or not. You should read up on the Golden Rule, and spend less time policing this comments section.

        • Do unto others? That rule? The one that suggests we treat others as we wish to be treated?

          How about treating DoggyCamQueen with the compassion, validation, and support needed to survive the hell she’s living right now rather than chide her for overlooking her spouse’s finances?

          I surmise that you and the others pointing out this lapse on her part are more evolved than some of us Chumps, who lived with the red flags and were still brazen enough to be shocked when we discovered there was also cheating happening.

          PS New chumps shouldn’t have to deal with this shit and maybe policing is needed to remind some smug Chumps what’s what

        • For those spewing off about doggie cam knowing about his illegal gains. She has clarified she had suspensions but not until later on.
          HOW MANY OF YOU KNEW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOUR CHEATER????
          HOW MANY OF YOU BLOCKED OUT THE RED FLAGS SO THAT YOU COULD JUST GET THROUGH THE DAY???

          You are making judgements without truly walking a mile in HER SHOES!!!!

          Just so I am clear—- I saw red flags in my own marriage, my intuition kept telling me there was more, but I was so beaten down by the narcissistic abuse of gaslighting, manipulation, blameshifting cycle that between working full time, 4 kids, him working 2 weeks away, it was all I could do to manage my household, much less address the “red flags” of his narcissism and cheating.

          This is supposed to be a SAFE place for those of us who have been chumped NO MATTER the circumstances– being betrayed is the ultimate abuse for anyone. This world could you a LOT more empathy for those who have been wronged and a LOT less criticism.

          Thank you Roaring for your comments they are SPOT ON!

  • I don’t think I 100% agree on the financial stuff. Maybe he was just selling pot in a state where it’s not legal? That doesn’t seem ethically questionable to me.

    But yeah, to everything else. So sorry you are going through this.

    Finally, the timespan is something that I have considered before. What is with these men who take 11years to commit and then right in the beginning cheat? Is it possible that they never wanted to commit in the first place if it took them that long? Is it a sign of some sort when a person won’t commit after ~2 years? I hate to say it but I think so.

    • The letter doesn’t state exactly what this man did.

      Cam, please tell us what else he did.

      • She’s in litigation to end the marriage so that is a bad idea. I’m sure her lawyer has or would counsel her not to mention any such details in a public forum. I get the curiosity though. 🙂

        • I’m assuming she’s posting her letter and responses to our comments from an IP address that Dawg can’t access.

          A classmate was taken to court by her wasband to shut down her blog. Too much righteous anger at his abuse.

    • Amen to that. It took 5 years for my cheater to reluctantly marry me. I should have known. AFAIK he didn’t cheat until recently, but I don’t know for sure. Not wanting to commit is a bad sign. He gave me some cock and bull story about why he didn’t want to get married. In response I gave him an ultimatum, and only after that did he propose. Stupid me. I should have run for my life.

      I would also like to know how Cam’s cheater gets his illegal money. Even if it’s just from selling pot, his willingness to operate outside the law is a bad sign.

    • Yeah, I’m not jumping to him being a criminal right off the bat either. He could work in construction and do some side work under the table, or something pretty benign like that. I can see how it would be aggravating during a divorce but it’s not a case of “Oh My GOD! How could you marry a plumber who would fix a toilet at your neighbor’s house and not file all the appropriate tax papers?!”

      I was a construction wife. That happens all the time. Some of them make a nice chunk of change with their side jobs.

      • Exactly. Mine did side jobs. But his tax cheating also included writing off personal expenses as business expenses. So he was a cheat in many ways.

        He did get audited and caught for “some” of the tax fraud.

        And I caught him and audited him out of my life.

    • I agree on the timespan thought. I was never actually married to my cheater, together for 19 years and 6 kids. WTF?! I spackled. A lot. It was that he never really wanted to commit, I see that now, but refused to see it during that time – no matter what my circle was telling me. I think it is a HUGE sign that they WILL NOT (and never planned to) truly commit…to anything but pleasing themselves.

    • For eight years of their eleven year relationship, they were in high school and then college. Way too young to marry, in my opinion. Late twenties, early thirties is the ideal time to marry, especially if one wants to have bio children. Ideally one is done with education, career is launched and hopefully no fertility issues.
      Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Hindsight is 20/20.

      • They didn’t marry young, but they bought property together and lived as a couple.

        In some ways had they legally married, it might have offered some protection, who knows.

        Lying assholes are lying assholes whether they are 20 or 30. Spackling is spackling at any age also.

    • HM,
      You could be on to something there about the long timeframes – after 6 years going out I asked the FW if he wanted to marry me, he said “yeah, why not” (I don’t think he would have ever asked) and then It took another 1 year to get married. The church minister pre-marriage said often marriages don’t work when you’ve been going out for a long time (years) first.
      I didn’t know what he meant. But I sure do now.

  • Oh Doggycamqueen – I’m sorry. I can’t imagine seeing and hearing what you did or how traumatic that is in flashbacks and nightmares. But good for you for having the guts you’ve shown so far!

    It is all an act. He’s acting with you, and he’s acting with her. You ask about love – it sounds like he is incapable of love, like many others you’ll read about here.

    My STBXH was so caught up in the lies that he was seriously house shopping with OW. He had to keep her on the hook somehow. She thought he was single, but it was while we were married and owned a house, and I was oblivious because of the act he was putting up at home. OW was evidently sufficiently naive not to ask ANYTHING about his finances while house shopping together, or his ruse would have been up. She just followed him around eating up his lies too. They had a realtor, went to showings and open houses together, and then thanks to a booming market he could drag his feet for a day and the house would be off the market before they could make an offer.

    You mentioned stalking her social media – I totally get it, did it for a while as I was gathering evidence – but I have to tell you, once I stopped looking at STBX’s and OW’s social media accounts, my nightmares really subsided. FWs and schmoopies don’t matter. Pretending they do keeps you stuck!

    • Yes, some of these narcissists are Academy Award level actors. It’s easy to be convinced that they love you – for years – because they are so damn good at pretending to be someone they’re not.

  • Firstly I would like to express my sympathies to you and can so relate . I think our beloved Chump Lady hit the nail on the wall here with great advice and understanding. Im five years out of this kind of hell and doing much better so now i just read along and hope maybe I can also add some advice or support to my fellow chumps. No matter hard it gets DO NO SPEAK TO THIS MAN AGAIN! Communicate through your lawyer and tell him nothing of your divorce plans or any details. It’s hard keep your emotions out if this but important. Courts, judges and lawyers don’ t care what happen emotionally.This part is all business and in your best interests financially so stay focused. Hit him where it hurts ,his pocket ! Try your best not to waste lots of years or months trying to figure this shit out. You’r a ocean and he is a puddle. There is no sense to it . He is a horrible human being with some kind of personality disorder . You were more than enough so thats should not even be a thought.You just fell for the bullshit but now you know . Move on sweet lady and enjoy your new life without this asshole and consider it a blessing in disguise .

  • Oh, doggycamqueen, I’m right there with you. I saw multiple bouts of naked photos and read multiple bouts of sexts. I can’t unsee any of it and neither will you. However! After a time they (the photos and sexy occasions/utterances) have become more and more funny. With *meh* they really are ridiculous and cause a chortle when I think back on this experience, which really, really pulled the rug out from under me at the time. I wish you all the healing in the universe. It may not feel this way now, but you got this. (((hugs)))

    • Good for you Chumped, for being able to get past the images. I’m nearly 3 years out and still can’t stop the mind movies. It’s so soul breaking to not be able to get away from those images.

      Don’t know how you all have done it. Much stronger than I am.

      • I can’t imagine. I don’t have any pictures or texts. I have one month of his cell phone log and that was bad enough.

        The only thing I have is a (ridiculous) video of him dancing to “Are You Ready for Love?” in a thong. The cell log shows he sent it to her first and then me.

        I would send a selective obliviate spell to all of you if I could.

        • ChumpNoMore, I started comparing the date stamps on things. It was a terrible eye-opener to see where I fell on the pecking order….which is to say, I didn’t fall on the pecking order. I’m so sorry you had this discovery. But tangible and indisputable proof can’t be explained or wished away. Fuck that guy and his AP. ((((hugs))))

      • You’ll get there, Fearful&lothing. It took a while, admittedly. My divorce was in 2015 and I would say the whole thing (including the images) became utterly laughable this year. There was ALOT of anger to process first. You’ll get there, I promise.

    • You’ve made me think- a book with all kinds of cheater letters and texts would be HUGELY instructive and perhaps highly entertaining. CL? Perhaps asecond book of cheater communiques would show the world the shallow playbook?

  • I’m so sorry you had to go through all of this. Viewing him with the Owhore must have been devastating. But you seem strong and know how to rid yourself of this disgusting narcissist.
    After being married for 35 years I cruelly found out of my ex 2 year affair. Then I found out he was cheating on me for 20 years of the marriage. I understand how painful it is for you but in a way you found out early and
    won’t waste a lifetime on a cruel, cold and man/child
    like so many of us here. Bless you and stay strong to divorce this dirt bag. His punishment is being him!

  • I am DoggyCamQueen and thank you so much for posting my letter!

    I agree that I should have known that anyone that cheats in business can and will cheat in all other areas of life. I supported him for a very long time and when he finally got a big boy job and started making a lot of money, I was excited because I felt like we were both successful and could have a good life together. We both came from broken homes with alcoholic fathers and money was always something we wanted for our future children’s security etc. I knew he was making a lot of money but still don’t have proof that there was any funny business going on. (He is in the medical marijuana industry and that has a lot of grey areas in terms of cash flow/reporting etc). I should have asked questions, I should have demanded to know what was going on (if anything illegal was) etc. I take responsibility for that. I am a moral and honest person and when I felt like something wasn’t right, I should have questioned it. I didn’t feel like anything was off until that last year of our relationship. That is not an excuse, just my honest outlook on the situations.

    I also understand I am still in the crisis/trauma of it all, but I am slowly recalling details that should have been huge red flags for me in regards to empathy and his ability to sit in a space for someone. I remember when I was diagnosed with melanoma, he told me it was a distraction to his career lol.. we got in a huge fight about this and I somehow let him and let him get away with it because he was stressed and didn’t know how to deal with it. I feel stupid thinking about all the things he did and how I overlooked them or justified them because of his past with his father, stress from work, etc.

    Being a good partner/husband means being one regardless of the shit you have endured in your past and what’s going on in yo9ur life presently. It means being there through the rain and sunshine and going forward this has taught me to trust my gut and not ignore red flags. EVER.

    • It’s a horrific way to get educated, but these are really valuable lessons to have learned going forward. Without more sunk costs. Life throws you health troubles, and challenges, and thank God you’re free of a man who doesn’t show up or care. He’s faux. Hold out for the real.

      Also, as someone insightfully pointed out upthread — fucked up feels normal. UNLEARN that. You spent a long time with this guy and there’s FOO stuff. So focus on the picker and healing now. Hang in there.

    • Thank you for your story. It was one I needed to hear.

      You have a great attitude and you are early in your trauma. I’m glad for you that your finances were separate and that you didn’t have kids.

      I’m struggling in the knowledge that my ex-FW has a new GF (he left the OW when I kicked him out because he had cheated way down). He dated the GF for 2 months and then moved in with her. (He lived in a shithole unfinished house and charmed his way into her bed and house, because that’s his MO). He had the audacity to contact me for a 2nd chance when he was dating her, and when he moved in with her.

      So while the FWs seem like they have a happy, beautiful life, they are still FWs that will screw up again. No, they don’t deserve to sleep next to someone or to experience what looks like love. But really, they are still the same flawed and damaged person.

      Sorry that he ruined your lake house. Of course you had to leave. You are strong for recognizing and doing that.

      My FW has left a trail of traumatized chumps. He says he’s changed, but he said that with me and I believed him. I have no doubt the most recent one will be on the list. I just wish it was sooner rather than later. I’m impatient for karma. And yes I know I shouldn’t look for karma, but I’m not at meh yet. It’s been less than a year.

    • Hey DCQ: Cut yourself a little slack. I’ve got the FOO stuff going on too, and I am sorely ashamed of the crap I let my ex get away with. I was so bad that I honestly didn’t fully believe he was cheating until 2 months after our divorce. And it was my son who told me FW and OW were together. Talk about misplaced trust! How dumb do I feel?

      So, yeah, we wanted the dream and they sold it to us because they’re con-men. We didn’t see what we didn’t want to see, and we got some gobsmacking consequences because of it. That doesn’t make us bad people. It makes them bad people. So practice some self compassion and forgive your mistakes. Don’t forget, but do forgive.

      • I don’t even have FOO crap, and I let my ex treat me like shit for about a year and a half. It got progressively worse, until I kind of cocooned until he left.

        I hate that I did it, but I can’t rewrite it. I also know that I valued my imperfect marriage and my imperfect spouse. I just didn’t know what he was up to until towards the end. I have him the B of D.

        Still I would rather have had my second half of life than his. And be who I am than who he was. I do hope he made his peace at the end. But, who knows.

        • Yep. We’re good people. Maybe a little too trusting and patient, but that’s better than selfish and cruel any day! I do hope there’s a heaven somewhere for us chumps.

  • I’m no Uxworld but this popped into my head (to the tune of Heard it Through the Grapevine)-

    Ooh-ooh, bet you’re wond’ring how I knew
    ‘Bout the strange that you love to screw
    I saw you doin’ that no-good whore
    At my lake house that i paid for

    It took me by surprise I must say
    When I found out yesterday
    Ooh-ooh I heard it through the dog cam
    Our marriage is a total sham

    Ooh-ooh I heard it through the dog cam
    A wham bam and thank you ma’am
    Honey honey yeah

    You know that a girl ain’t supposed to spy
    But the dog cam doesn’t lie
    Losing you I can well survive
    But not the sight of that horizontal jive

    You could have told me yourself
    That you found someone else
    Instead I heard it through the dog cam
    That you really don’t give a damn

    Ooh-ooh I heard it through the dog cam
    Divorce papers I’m gonna slam

    Honey honey… I heard it through the dog cam

    Hope its not too soon Doggycamqueen… i tried to work in something about him being on the lam but I’m just not that good.

    ((Hugs))

  • “ He barely helped around the house, he was a narcissistic, alcoholic, gaslighting asshole.”

    Was it ok with you to marry this person before he added (caught) cheating to the list? We need the “no assholes” rule as a minimum baseline, with or without known cheating.

    • I think I tolerated it because we had been together for so long and I justified it because of his busy career. But I also have a busy career and was happy to help/be a good partner. I should have not tolerated it and going forward I won’t. You’re right “not an asshole” is the baseline.

      • haha “not an asshole” as a baseline might be a good place to start but from your letter and your responses I think you should keep the bar a little higher.

        Glad to hear you are going to hold off on dating for a while. I embraced the concept of dating myself – took myself on some fabulous dates doing things I wanted to do. It was just what I needed at the time.

        I also had a long-term marriage to someone I dated all through college. After you sort through the memories and see the things you missed please don’t feel like your life was a lie. You were there, you showed up and you had those experiences. Now if I refer to someplace I went with my ex-husband I simply say “I went there” or “I had this experience.” For some reason, this was very helpful to making sense of my life and not having to erase the huge chunks of it I had spent with him. I just had to reframe a lot. It helped me move forward but it’s early for you still.

        • Thank you, Fern. This is really helpful: “You were there, you showed up and you had those experiences.” I’m going to remember this when I get those thoughts and pangs about what was “real” and what it all meant. It was real to me, and it meant what it meant–to me.

        • Whoa – that was a huge concept!

          “You were there, you showed up and you had those experiences.”

          I had the best vacation ever with the FW not long before D-day. And I could reconstruct that he saw her again after we came back from this amazing vacation. In fact, after D-day I photoshopped a picture of us on vacation together with her transparently between us and sent it to him. It was a fine piece of work, I must say.

          It has been hard to accept deleting that vacation from memory. I just have to reframe it. Because I WAS there. I did see the stars and the perseids meteor shower over Lake Superior. I saw the sunset from Brockway Mountain. I was present, and I experienced these things. He can’t take that away.

              • I’m looking forward to returning to Paris if our borders ever open again. Paris was the last place me and ex were actually together, with two of our children.

                I was lucky in that during that trip my eyes were more open to who he was and his nasty manipulative tricks had lost a good deal of their power to ruin my enjoyment.

                It was in France that I first physically walked away during one of his hateful tirades. So empowering to start believing it wasn’t me, it was him. If you can’t be happy on holiday in perfect weather in France …

        • Yes, Fern, I really appreciate you sharing your perspective on how to keep parts of our lives without having to erase them along with our former spouses. I’ve been trying to figure out how to not erase everything or feel like 20+ years of my life was a lie. You’re right- I showed up, I lived my authentic life and I had my experience. That’s my memory and I can keep that as the singular experience I had or as the experience with my children. If he wasn’t really present like I thought he was when it happened then he doesn’t have to be there in my memory either.

  • I’m going to juxtapose two selections:

    “We had a great relationship, we went to high school, college together and had been working to support each other as young professionals. We weren’t those annoying ‘high school sweethearts’ We each had a life of our own, friends, hobbies, etc. We just loved each other’s company and had passion for each other. We have two dogs together and purchased two houses. The most recent was a beautiful lake house that I decorated impeccably, lol. It looked like chic Martha Stewart meets midwest Lake house vibes.”

    “He barely helped around the house, he was a narcissistic, alcoholic, gaslighting asshole…My ex is also really cute and makes a ton of money (not all legally)…”

    DoggyCamqueen, you’re only 8 weeks in and as CL says, you are in the acute trauma stage. But I’m putting this here for later, when you are able to think more clearly about what this contrast says. You loved each other’s company, had all this passion, supported each other as young professionals….and yet you were overlooking illegal activities that fueled your lifestyle and evidently his “friends” and “hobbies” were not of the same sort as yours.

    You’ve been together since high school, and here’s a fact: teenagers aren’t completely grown people. If you’ve been together since you were 16 (let’s say) and you are now 28, you can look at this man with adult eyes. And through adult eyes, you can see that he’s no good. And being in a relationship with him was doing you no favors. What happens when the law catches up to him and civil asset forfeiture takes both houses, the boat and the cars? And you are left with a terrible mess and a husband in prison?

    But it’s also worth looking at the fairy tale you tell in that first paragraph. It’s common here: We had a great relationship and a perfect life! We were best friends! We have a lake house and a boat!! He’s so cute! Because you believe in what you had, and got there through the sort of “frog in boiling water” of a high school relationship into adulthood, you didn’t see the signs of what was under all that cuteness and dirty money.

    It might do you some good to work with a therapist who can help you straighten out your values and to help you more accurately assess his character, all along. He didn’t just wake up and cheat one day, as you rightly point out. This is who he is–a “narcissistic, alcoholic, gaslighting asshole,” as you put it. And a crook. A liar. A cheater.

    The fact that you “don’t blame” the AP for her choices is an indication that you are on some level still seeing him and that life as desirable. It isn’t. Ask the families of those who’ve gone to jail for fraud.

    • This is very insightful and I thank you for responding to me.

      I agree with everything you wrote. I think we had a good relationship coming out of college and I kept the rose colored glasses on as he started his career and got into things I wasn’t fully aware of. I think I was trying to justify his behavior (not helping around the house/with the dogs etc) because we had been together for so long and I thought when his career slowed down, he would be like he was at the beginning (delusional on my end).

      I am working with a therapist – thank God – who is helping me peel back the layers to all of this. I think I romanticized who he was and what he was becoming because I couldn’t handle the truth. I also think the universe or whoever is above, pulled me out of this situation because I couldn’t do it myself, as sad as that is to say. However, going forward, this will be a lesson I will use to “fix my picker” and see things for face value, not what I want them to be.

      • It may be the universe or God or a big giant spider – whatever you believe in is fine. I just want to point out that you actively sought out knowledge of what he was doing by employing the doggiecam (great move!). You trusted your gut enough to take action. It doesn’t matter that you coulda/shoulda done it sooner or that you spackled in the past, you did it. Give yourself credit for that. It’s hard to think this person you have known for so long is not the person you think – was he never or was the change a slow one over a long period of time. I never got an answer to that question but at some point, I decided it didn’t matter – or I didn’t care.
        What matters is how to look at people moving forward and how you react when there is something you don’t like. Lots of good stuff to learn about the most important person in your life – you.

      • DoggyCamQueen, glad you are seeing a therapist. You are so young and have so much good life ahead of you. Growing up in an alcoholic home (as you and I both did) really warps our sense of what is normal, and it’s not surprising when we cling to more superficial signs that life is OK, like having a beautiful home. (I can’t say I’m a Martha Stewart type, but I put a lot of stock in having a home that “looks good,” and I know that goes back to the chaos I experienced in childhood.)

        It’s going to be very important to spend time unpacking how that childhood trauma shaped your thinking. It’s very easy for those of us who grew up in alcoholic homes to deny the reality in front of our face because that is what we learned as kids. You’re already doing well to have figured out what he was up to and filed for divorce (the doggy cam idea was genius). Wishing you all good things as you get your life on solid ground.

  • Dear Doggycamqueen – I’m so very sorry – and – there are better – much better days ahead. On the subject of dogs…I took my two fluffs/Bichons to the Vet last week…wonderful female vet I’ve known professionally for 15 years… married to a doctor…3 kids. We’re discussing vaccines and the effects on kidneys…. she abruptly says “I was married to a nephrologist…” after 20 years of marriage he just up and left with another woman last year” …. She said “I lost my temper because I didn’t want my kids around her and they served ME with a restraining order… I’ve never even had a parking ticket….” Then her tech looks up and says “I got divorced this year too… he was cheating…” Then the Vet says she’s having dinner with a female/surgeon friend that evening….her husband just left her too …. with 3 small kids….he refuses to pay….the female surgeon has spent $100,000 in legal fees thus far…. her house is falling in foreclosure…etc” I was speechless, all I could say was; “Do you guys know about Chump Lady?” They said no. So, I ordered 3 “Leave a Cheater GAL” books – wrapped them up and left them at the vet clinic with a note that said – please read – I think there is an epidemic of infidelity – a rash of OW’s on the hunt – and some serious character defects that somehow have become the accepted social norm. Rehab is popular – infidelity is accepted and expected – and it sickens me. Keep focused on living your best life. The Vet told me it’s been a year so a friend set her up with a profile on a dating site and mostly married men contact her – she was shocked. I said it’s none of my business but get off the Facepaint and Instapants…stay off the social media – you’re a successful Vet and businessowner and have 3 great kids. you’re an employer – you’ll meet someone at a conference or skiing or tennis or via colleagues. Stay above the fray.

    • Way to go, Jo. I hope those women are already reading here and continuing to heal.

      Also, my apologies to DoggyCamQueen if I judged her unfairly for making references to her (formerly) swank lifestyle. Obviously, it hit a nerve. So sorry, and I wish you much peace as you continue on your path to self-discovery.

      • Apology sounds like a cheater’s apology.

        Sorry IF I judged her unfairly…with the unspoken ‘but I didn’t’ hovering nearby.

        Have you learned nothing here?

      • @eirene, you’re not sorry at all. “if I judged her unfairly” and “it hit a nerve” … that’s just more judgy condescending non-apology.

        But you just can’t resist one more parting shot so you gotta wish her well on her “path to self discovery” … where no doubt you already arrived and got crowned queen, no?

    • I “celebrated” my divorce by buying three copies of LACGAL and putting them in my town’s Little Libraries. I wrote (on the cover) “Please read and pass along to others”.

    • Jo I agree that there sure seems to be “an epidemic of infidelity.” I’m not, however, convinced that there’s “a rash of OW’s on the hunt.”

      Granted, my personal experience colors my opinion: my ex lied to multiple women about his marital status. They were all duped. I spoke to some of them and they apologized to me, even though I don’t hold them at all responsible – they stopped all contact with him once they found out he was married.

      (He was also one of the married men using dating sites to meet women, lying on the “marital status” part of his bio.)

      I know there are plenty of disordered OW’s who break up marriages and feel no remorse. But there are also a lot of cheating assholes who lie to their wives as well as the women they pursue. (And I’m sure there are cheating wives who lie to their husbands as well as the guys they fuck on the side.)

      • I agree about the sexist drivel, but the rest of what he says about marriage is true.

        Lewis was an Edwardian really, as well as being a Christian apologist, I’m not a Christian myself, but I think it was St. Paul who wittered all that crap about the man being the head, not Christ.

  • “He barely helped around the house, he was a narcissistic, alcoholic, gaslighting asshole..”

    That he also has some illegal income is also an issue.

    Look, you’re the winner here. You see that he’s not the man you thought he was. He is a shark in a human suit. It’s not that he loves his 23-year-old fuckbuddy. It’s more that she is currently of use to him. It is probably a bit of an ego trip that he gets to play daddy to her toddler, which is absolutely unfair to the child as you know that he’s not going to have a lasting relationship with her. The 23-year-old is working on fucking her way up the income ladder. Your STBX is of use to her until she bleeds his income dry and he gets too old for her (it sounds as if there’s at least a 10 year age difference, as you and your STBX went to college together and have been together for 11 years). Right now, she’s in her early 20s and he is in his 30s.

    And she’s of use to him. Look! He gets to play at daddy! But toddlers are demanding. You absolutely have to pay attention to them. Narcs hate this, since the kids command a centrality that they can’t have. He’ll find someone else to bang who doesn’t have children. Or he’ll try to hoover you back.

    Trust that he sucks. You know he sucks. You said he sucks. Trust that. You don’t need to untangle the skein of fuckedupness. Just know that he sucked, that you tried to spackle for a long time, but then you saw beneath the paint job that the wood was rotten.

  • Love NewChump’s song and all the wisdom here.
    My finally ex likewise manipulated through house-shopping, but with me and our child, to keep up the pretense he was invested in the marriage and family. No matter how perfect, he never could commit to a different house, and wasted huge amounts of my time. Meanwhile, he was simultaneously shopping for a new place to live with his on-line “sole partner” who was a catfisher who had no intention of ever meeting him, much less living with him..

  • Wait, they had a great relationship and enjoyed each other’s company, but he’s an alcoholic narcissist who was gaslighting her and makes money illegally? 🤔🤔🤔 How do you even think you have a great relationship with such a person? Even if you remove the narcissism and gaslighting, because we often don’t realize that’s what’s going on until after we discover the infidelity, we still have her saying she had a great relationship with a drunk tax cheat. I’m not wrapping my head around that.

    • I don’t know your story, Carol, but am wondering why you are here. Clearly you are an excellent huge of character and, presumably, your ex was completely perfect as well.

      Perhaps pointing out red flags to help Chumps feel even more miserable is your contribution? You’re good at it.

      • Roaring, the sarcastic and accusatory of your posts are concerning to me, as a long time participant on CL. The original poster has addressed the inconsistency in the original letter as a valid red flag she missed.

        We all missed, or dismissed, many.

        Maybe take a few breaths, sleep on it, and connect with why this is making you so angry. We are all on the same side here.

        • Thanks. Taking a breath is always good advice, NotAnymore.

          I, too, am a long time participant on this site (six years, anyway). I am concerned about many different judgmental statements about the brand-new Chump today.

          I sincerely believe in the healing power of ChumpNation so it does make me angry when Chumps lecture others on morals and a lack of personal ethics.

          Part of the reason this whole shitshow hurts so much is waking up to the reality that being married to a cheater means being party to immorality and violated ethics!

          Failure to appreciate this and offer compassion deserves to be called out.

          Also, I am not angry. I am hilarious.

          • Stepping in very carefully to suggest that chumps here at CN generally respond after being asked for feedback in the original posts.

            They do so with the perspective of their journey and their healing. This wouldn’t work if everyone remained paralyzed with the initial pain.

            Pointing out red flags and/or avoidable trauma is different than victim blaming.

            Expecting/defining ethical behavior (i.e. illegal financial gains) becomes part of building boundaries.

            This is a site where chumps can ask for a loving 2 X 4. That remains valuable.

            • I’m a Chump, ICanSeeTuesday. I’ve contributed to this site for years. I’ve been helped enormously by Tracy and other Chumps.

              The comments I’ve been criticizing need to be called out. That’s my 2×4. If you don’t like my tone, don’t read my posts. Or do.

              One great thing about reaching Tuesday is no longer needing to please everybody or keep the peace. I take up space now.

    • Carol, have you forgotten what your marriage was like? Have you forgotten how you spackled?

      I think Doggycam is describing her marriage *retrospectively*.

      Of course she now sees it how it was, as we all do.

      • “retrospectively”

        Yep, that old hindsight thing.

        I have told of a couple times when I thought ex cheated when we were very young, in fact once right after he returned from Vietnam, and another time on leave before we changed duty stations. I brushed both fears off at the time, so I really never knew for sure; but even in my youth I thought he would grow up. And in fact he seemed to. He got involved with church, and really for many years seemed committed to me.

        Was he ever? I still don’t know; but looking back I can see those red flags more clearly. Maybe he did cheat maybe not. I will never know now.

        And since he told so many (contradictions) lies towards the end, I have no idea what the real truth is. He didn’t even remember what he had said within the same few minutes sometimes. What I call flailing.

        Red flags or not.

    • Carol – we were together for 12 years and met when we were 15 and 16…. PEOPLE change and grow and become awful over time. The entire 12 years were not like this. It was not until the past two years that he started to be awful with drinking, lying, workaholic tendencies, gaslighting etc. I find this comment really mean and insensitive.

      • DCQ, I hope you will still read responses. I want to reiterate my apology from earlier in case you missed it. I didn’t understand the situation and spoke out of ignorance, thinking it was something it was not. It was asinine and unfair of me and I’m glad you set me straight. I see people are still piling on even after you have explained. 💔 I’m so sorry. I really hope this doesn’t keep you from coming back.

      • Doggycam, Carol’s comment was absolutely cruel and insensitive, and the antithesis of what CL and CN is about.

        I’ve re read my comments, and I see how they come across as judgemental and snotty, I’m very sorry, that I didn’t mean them that way is no excuse.

        There are lovely, kind, sensitive, and supportive people here, so please don’t be put off by Carol’s bitchy comment, and my insensitive ones. ((hugs)) to you. 💕💕

      • @DCQ — big hugs to you. I spackled WAY worse than you did. I lived with my ex for 6 years when i discovered he was cheating with 3-6 different women (does it even matter at that point??). He had also had some serious allegations brought against him at his job, that i won’t get into here. I did kick him out—but never broke contact, took him back MARRIED him, and stayed married to him for 7 years. i can go down a serious rabbit hole of beating myself up. I let him live in the house another 6 months after i told him i wanted a divorce—during which time, i’m sure he just stole a bunch of my money. My ex did WAY worse than yours while we were dating and i still married him. and stayed married to him for 7 years (while he kept cheating). When I start to beat myself up and the regret wells up inside me and swallows me up, i have to remind myself—thank God I am out. You HAVE to be kind to yourself. It’s totally unfamiliar to receive kindness once you’ve been through what you have—but you deserve it. I feel like i am still being punished for my bad decisions because my poor daughter has to spend half her time with him—and he is a manipulative controlling jerk. Trust me, your cheater’s shady character sounds like most men—and not something that you should beat yourself up over. Sending you a virtual margarita and a big fat hug.

  • Yes, at least you know. That could be a positive because as painful as it was, it was clearly over for him.

    There were signs in my ex before separation including an infection that my doctor tried to convince me was an STD and strange smile whenever he returned from a local massage place that I googled and found advertised on a porn site.

    Then there were more hints after he became a runaway including telling me in front of his brother that if an attractive blond came by, he might just, you know. When I told the whole story to my divorce attorney in what he called a “marital history” appointment, he said that he “smelled” other women all over my story. He told me that no one runs that far unless there’s someone on the other side, or at least they have the hope that they can play without being found out because no one knows them there. In four decades of practice, he had never seen a case of a runaway that didn’t involve an illicit partner at some point. I didn’t have the money for a P.I., but I’ll always wonder.

    I do have a bit of an attitude about weddings, even several years later. I don’t know when that will pass, but I keep my issues to myself. Friends of the young adult children are getting married, and I already told my kids that we’ll probably go in two cars. I can’t see staying that long. I’ve looked forward to going to weddings for years, and now it’s hard, frankly. We did plan a generous joint gift, and I bought myself a summer dress. So it will be fine, but I’ll leave when I leave. Thankfully it’s close by.

  • Absolutely Tracy my former husband also was having sex with the girlfriend in our family home it was disgusting and two teens around! I filed immediately!

  • I recently watched an Asian movie called 77 heartbreaks. About a couple who met young, finished college and law school and landed good jobs. But he up and quits and opens a kickboxing studio but he’s basically having fun with friends and kickboxing and living his sporty single guy life with the best girl ever by his side forgiving him for all 77 heartbreaks. Til the last where he didn’t use a condom and she’s pregs. It’s their 10th anniversary and she’s expecting a ring but nope. And she’s so hurt. Anyway they fight she leaves and opportunity girl moves in. But he wants his ex back so grand gesture! But she realizes some girl was in their apartment and well that was the 78th heartbreak. The thing was he was nothing without her. He barely made it through school. She made him a success. I thought the movie really illustrated the chump reality so well. We gotta figure out how not to get suckered by partners who lie and cheat. But it’s so hard.

  • There are some very judgemental reactions today. This is a young woman who has just found out what a horrible person she was married to. Please read about Bernie Madoff’s two sons. They turned him over to the FBI and yet everybody kept saying they had to know. No they didn’t. People want to believe the best of those they love. Those two young man died, one by cancer and one by suicide. What a legacy Bernie has left. This man who has just dumped a loving wife is the guilty party here. She is not.

    • I agree with you.

      Did not realize that Chumps would be so quick to judge other Chumps for not realizing their exes were assholes and/or overlooking red flags.

      If DoggyCamQueen comes back, I’d be surprised.

      If new Chumps can’t share without having to defend their experiences, then what is the point?

      And who says things like, “we still have her saying she had a great relationship with a drunk tax cheat. I’m not wrapping my head around that.”

      Is this high school? Are we mean girls? Who is this royal “we” she speaks of?

      While I consider myself a Chumplady fan for life, I don’t want to be included in Carol’s crew. Do you?

  • Walk a mile in my shoes
    See what I see
    Hear what I hear
    Feel what I feel
    Then maybe you’ll understand why I do what I do
    till then don’t judge me.

    Today’s comments judging Doggiecam were uncalled for. Let us fix our own shit in our own backyards first. I’m really disheartened by these judgmental comments today.

  • Yes pomposity very disheartening on this usually insightful C.L site.
    Doggie cam queen,I wish I had answers to your questions,I found the archives very helpful also literature on personality disorders.
    I don’t believe he loves her more or differently,or that the outcome for her and her unfortunate child will be any different either than it was for you.
    Big hugs,you are doing really well,its a fucking terrible experience!!!

  • “He wouldn’t even take our fucking dogs on walks. He barely helped around the house, he was a narcissistic, alcoholic, gaslighting asshole.”

    So maybe the marriage wasn’t a good idea in the first place. Sounds like you needed the proof of cheating to get out of the high school sweetheart ideal you held on to.

    As people sad before here, you’re lucky to be rid of him! It may not feel like it now, but with time it will all make sense.

  • DoggyCamQueen, you actually sound like you’re doing very well. I noticed the two poles of experience in your letter: how great things were, and then at the same time calling him a narc asshole … I can relate to that dissonance. For the longest time I experienced the reality of loving a shady person as as working with and understanding a good guy behaving selfishly, as riding out something he’d grow out of or understand the consequences of if I showed hurt/disapproval.

    Your letter and the discussion remind me of my first boyfriend, who I lived with. He had me “help” him with his homework in undergrad and I did it. I’m sure I said something and he was like, “oh, just this once, like it’s just to help me finish the degree, it’s not like I didn’t do the bulk of the work.” Um, ok I guess, I said. Later, he worked at a music store and would come home with CDs he’d stolen from work. I did not do such things and meekly disapproved. But he was so much more worldly than me. Now, more than two decades later, I’m finally figuring out why even though his behaviour felt wrong, I didn’t take it as worth walking out over.

    I always thought my FOO issues were about being furious at my explicitly angry, verbally/emotionally abusive dad. And, sure, yes, they were. But really only recently am I understanding how my mother’s minimizing the bad behaviour, ignoring my attempts to address the bad behaviour, punishing me for naming abuse, etc was training me deeply to not feel what was going on.

    I have had a series of relationships where I saw that the guy was, you know, slightly pushy, slightly exaggerating, slightly misleading people, slightly taking more than was on offer, etc. But I had no idea that my discomfort was enough, that I had a discernment worth paying attention to. These guys always made me feel like I was a moral prude for not knowing that lies, exaggerations, omissions, etc were how the world worked. Basically, that’s how my mom made me feel for questioning my dad’s behaviour. And the lie these guys they were telling me — that I was cared for, that I was loved — I desperately wanted to believe.

    I can’t even say I’m ashamed to have been with the guy who stole the CDs: I just didn’t believe my knowing better than him was more important than his value system. I think back and I had the judgment and glaring need of a very lonely girl who had used up all her independent judgement to get out from a household full of yelling. Many a guy who was doing shady shit right in front of me got no resistance from me because he’d set himself up as my source of validation. When you still can’t validate yourself, once you are with a person who tells you you are valuable and makes you feel valuable, seeing that person as a liar (as the liar they are) feels like a return to that void of having no validation, no value, and a confirmation that you’re really worth nothing.

    I never caught my last ex cheating on me. I left because I felt so off and horrible, and ultimately I had to decide that the shady stuff I saw him doing — little white lies, little omissions, little grifts — were enough red flags, even though I never felt so loved some of the time. It was very hard. But I think it was the right thing now. I think I’m at the point where if I met him now I would do my due diligence and watch his behaviour for a while. I think I can now trust that the things that younger Magnolia didn’t want to make a big issue of are discernable indicators of character, that my discernment matters, and that I can act according to what I want and need.

    DCQ, it sounds as though you’re on the path to thinking through some similar questions about how someone capable of the love you want to share demonstrates that capability.

    • “I always thought my FOO issues were about being furious at my explicitly angry, verbally/emotionally abusive dad. And, sure, yes, they were. But really only recently am I understanding how my mother’s minimizing the bad behaviour, ignoring my attempts to address the bad behaviour, punishing me for naming abuse, etc was training me deeply to not feel what was going on.”

      I think we grew up with similar parents, Magnolia, although in my case it was my mother who was abusive. My father was lovely but always defended my mother, giving me the feeling that I was the crazy one of the family. Any attempt to address the issue was answered by: “but IN THE END she means well and she loves you”. So she should be loved regardless her behaviours, whereas I felt I always had to be perfect and have zero needs in order to be loved. This still is an issue up to today, unfortunately.

    • I’ve recently had nearly the exact same revelations about my family dynamics. Since childhood, I’ve struggled with my dad’s notorious “temper” – a dark cloud over everyone, and liable to blow up at any moment – and the unhealthy relationship my parents modeled for us. I now also understand my mother’s role in gaslighting my sisters and I. She minimized our feelings, invalidated our experiences and spackled over a lot of abusive BS in her attempts to make things ok. Things that weren’t ok and that she sadly couldn’t control or fix. I have understanding and compassion for her, and I know hers weren’t the malicious and willful manipulations of an abuser. She was being abused, too, and has her own FOO. Still, I now am becoming aware of the huge impact this had on my sisters and I. And when she continues to do it – completely unaware – to this day (SOP), I don’t really know how to respond. I’m extremely hesitant to try to communicate with anyone about anything important now (after learning about the futility of engaging with a disordered person), and I fear that addressing it will only lead to conflict. Knee jerk over-reaction, or warranted caution? What’s your approach, Magnolia? (And thanks for taking the time to write this thoughtful comment.)

      • bread&roses, as from what I can share on this subject: in therapy I was learned not to have any expectations on them finally understanding your point of view, but rather to take distance and to give a good example.

        It’s been making me bite my tongue quite a lot of times, but each attempt to get my family into a deeper understanding of our dynamics has been quite dramatic and I know it doesn’t lead to any outcome I was hoping for. Now I’m just trying to keep it peaceful and that’s it – I can share my deeper thoughts with people that are outside the family.

  • DCQ: You don’t owe anyone any explanations. Especially not here. We ALL spackled. Many of us returned for multiple ddays. Many of us knew deep down for years we needed leave (hand raised), even before we were aware of the cheating. People spackle over a lot worse than questionably legal business dealings – things like child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and pedophilia. Gaslighting and abuse are terrifying and confusing. It’s so insane to look at, in hindsight, but it’s referred to as a fog for a reason. Also, a lot of things are illegal but not moral – and vice versa. I honestly don’t understand why so many people judged and commented on this.

    Years of narcissistic abuse conditioned conditioned many chumps to be defensive, guilty and apologetic. I still occasionally offer explanations to my ex (in my thoughts, not IRL); it’s getting better, but not long ago, I broke down in my car, screaming and sobbing for that fuckwit to get out of my head. I left, but he wouldn’t go away, and I feared I’d never be free. One of the biggest changes I’ve made, intentionally, since leaving a cheater, has been to stop offering explanations to everyone for everything. I actually have to pause and remind myself of this before responding. It’s really helped me, in relationships with difficult and considerate people, alike.

    Moving forward, you get to re-examine your values and choose who you want to be. Don’t waste time feeling guilty or ashamed about the past. You’ve been in an abusive relationship since high school. You’ve been through (and are going through) real trauma. A lot of your agency and autonomy was taken from you, even if you were strong confident in many ways. But your life and your choices are 100% yours now moving forward. It’s overwhelming, and it takes time, and there’s no rush. Please, be gentle and kind to yourself.

    Also, your house sounds awesome and uniquely you and is clearly something you put a lot of yourself into. You have a right to be proud of it. After having your confidence undermined and by constant negative attacks (whether overt or covert) for years, it’s really important to face your strengths and own what you like about yourself and what makes you mighty. CL is a place where you should be able to do that. Anyway, I’m sorry you had to abandon your house and can never go back. I know how that feels, and it’s really disorienting and painful and unfair.

    Good luck, DCQ. Do NOT let that creepy loser Hoover you back in. He will NEVER change, even if he comes back promising just the right things, apparently remorseful and changed. For the first time in your adult life, you are free!

  • You could mail the doggy cam to her with a note to ask him why its special. Maybe include a copy of there greatest hits video? Just saying..

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