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How Do I Stop Comparing Myself to the OW?

Dear Chump Lady,

I am five months out from the last Dday. I did not do the pick me dance, I drew boundaries and protected myself by kicking his ass to the curb. The OW was older than me (11 years older than me and X) and had actually helped me with the relationship, until she was single and exploited her minimal knowledge of the relationship instead. It really was a double betrayal. But I didn’t try to compete with her for him.

Now however, I compare myself to her. She is successful, teaches CPR classes, leads her daughter’s girl scout troop, volunteers all over the place, is a coupon queen, etc. I feel like a fat homebody loser who just volunteers at the food bank sometimes. She knows how to make herself valuable to people. I’m nice enough, people like me, but I’m not really valuable to anyone but my son. I keep feeling like I should do things like she does and then I would be more impressive. She sparkles, I don’t. How do I stop comparing myself to her?

Sincerely,

Rumorhasit

Dear Rumorhasit,

Well, you can begin by realizing you’re not exploiting anyone’s relationship troubles to make a move on their husband. You’re not screwing up small children’s home lives. Oh, and you’re not inappropriately “dating” someone over a decade younger than you. I think this makes you the classy person here.

The OW? Coupon clipping, cookie sales, and no soul. Why compare yourself with someone who has nothing in common with you?  And I’m not talking about extracurricular activities — I’m talking about values. You could no more be the OW than Kermit the Frog (not to malign muppets or anything). You’re a different species.

Yeah, because she’s one of the sparkly people and you’re a dorky “homebody.” I know you see it that way, but you need to reframe this. It isn’t that she knows how to make herself valuable to people. No. She knows how to manipulate people. She’s artful at presenting a front — community organizer, do-gooder, friend. Her actions tell a very different story. She’s not a friend, or a force for good. There’s no THERE there. No core. The image is a useful construct to get the things she wants — kibbles, other people’s partners, accolades. The mask throws people off her trail, it disarms them into believing this is someone they can trust.

Sadly, these sorts of fraudulent people are quite common. The priest who’s really a pedophile. The crusading politician who’s taking bribes. The Wall Street investor with a pyramid scheme. They all act with a sense of authority — your OW was giving you relationship advice. They present as competent and all giving — but if you scratch the surface, you’ll find these people either react with a sparkle offensive (charm! charm! charm!) or when that fails — rage (HOW DARE YOU CHALLENGE THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ!)

They don’t react with substance or self reflection. They don’t react with shame or humility. At the core of all aberrant behavior, IMO, is entitlement. Your former “friend” felt entitled to exploit you and conduct an affair with your husband. (Your ex-husband, of course, also felt entitled.)

Wishing to be more sparkly, by way of comparison, is another way of blaming yourself for your ex’s affair. If I was of More Value, if I was Impressive — This Would Not Have Happened to Me.

No. This wasn’t your fault. Your husband’s failure to value you has nothing to do with your worthiness as a person. It has everything to do with his lack of character. And for what it’s worth “impressive” people get cheated on every day. Super models, Hollywood stars, successful business people, those with zero body fat, genius IQs. We chumps are legion. Being “impressive” does not control your spouse’s character, or lack thereof.

The only reason to strive to be impressive, to be a better you, is for YOU. Not because you’re in some stupid contest with a sparkly dog turd. If you think Rumorhasit could use some more kickass — get out there and go for it. Take a class, join the gym, volunteer, adopt an orphan. Also consider that there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. Not everyone wants dazzling hyperactivity. Many people prefer the company of a fellow homebody. Find your tribe.

Every time you compare, you’re giving these idiots your energy. Save it for yourself, save it for the people who deserve you, like your son. Congratulate yourself for navigating this shit so well. You didn’t do the pick me dance and you threw the bum out. That’s VERY impressive.

Leave the OW to the Girl Scouts and sewing badges. Maybe there’s one for home wrecking.

This one ran before. Today is Mr. CL’s birthday!

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  • I’m so sorry. I get it. I’m over ten years from d day and after all this time I know that the OW was actually not hotter than me, and certainly not special in any way. She was just there. A decade has given me this knowledge: the biggest difference between the spouse and the affair partner is that they are takers. They lack the empathy part of their brains. They simply do not care about anyone but themselves. These people are often fundamentally selfish people. They have been and will be their whole lives. I bet you could detect the brain difference in an MRI. That’s how fucked up and broken they are.

    • She volunteers for the prestige, not because she’s special. I know lots of volunteers who get off on feeling better than those they are supposedly helping. They crave extra attention.

        • Funny. My XH is a huge volunteer and social justice warrior too but always in the limelight, always big time social stuff, always with photographers or local media attention, etc etc.

          • Mine was too. Our divorce after 30 years of marriage will be final this week
            He was always on several high visibility boards of directors and leader ship roles
            He would try and shame me for not being as active in the community as he was even though I was taking care of our home and children.
            When I did become more active, he would de mean my choice of activities
            we would attend events I planned and ignore me at them
            Unfortunately, I also came to understand that many of these organizations understand the emotional needs of some, and I will emphasize , some, not all, of their largest donors and most active volunteers. They understand The narcissism and the self interest in participating in their organizations. And they have learned how to work with that and use it to their best interest. My husband won a young leader ship award when my children were 7 and 4 The head of the organization actually asked me if he had spent enough time with the children. They knew very well the nature of some of their “best volunteers”
            Of course people can participate in philanthropy as couples and as families, but my husband wasn’t interested in that, this was about him. his glory. His superior character ,
            He actually once made the children I sit in a hot car while he went into the home of a high dollar donor to talk to them because he didn’t want to bring us with him.
            As it came to understand that flirtatious he was in these organizations and then women with them. It was just the first inkling of his future behavior

            • I just read about this today. It is a form of narcissism. The common one is on stage by himself/herself. This type gets their kick from being a part of a group of rescuers. Same outcome. The narc gets the attention, accolades, prizes etc. It’s just as toxic to their loved ones but they can fool the public.

              • Yup, my mom has that kind of profile. Well I think she wants to do well, but she certainly doesn’t mind all the positive attention it gives her. It was a whole thing to detach from the brainwash that was my upbringing, because how could one critisize a mother, especially one that was so invested in Doing Well?

                But as CL says, there are no limits for being a narcissist, like there are no limits to having a lousy character. You could be a nurse or a banker. I also learned that the hard way.

                My rules now:
                – take time to get to know people
                – see if they give you the space you need
                – see if they are curious and caring
                – reciprocity at all times

                I think looking for a partner is looking for someone with shared values. So when you notice they are looking for the same traits, then it’s a match.

          • Oh–this resonates with me. The downgrade in my ex’s life has a terrible illness (spit, spit), and he thinks he accrues all kinds of brownie points by loudly being there for her while she goes through medical whatever. Meantime I am really having a hard time, since I too live with a terrible chronic degenerative condition: surprise! It’s getting worse. I don’t make comparisons between us, I just think, God how flimsy is this jerk anyway?” It’s very clear to me that he decided to land on her (in all ways) because she was younger, richer, and lived in CA. (Not anymore–ha ha, the Karma Jumbo liner made a screeching stop by his front door.)

          • My ex also began to regularly donate to charity/ food drives when seeing Shmoopie- but ONLY if it could be posted on Facebook. If others can’t know about it, he won’t do it.

    • This is fundamentally true–great observation.

      This biggest difference between you and them (whomever them is): you never committed adultery. That’s huge.

      • What my ex would say to that (the observation that I hadn’t committed adultery) is, “You think you’re so superior.”

        • Well if being honest, and keeping promises, and not sleeping with other folks SOs is superior, then yes you are; and so am I.

          I am ok with that.

        • My ex would say ‘but I was unhappy.’ When discarding me, it became clear he considered himself way above me in so many ways – and 15 yrs younger married OW
          was apparently superior as well.
          Former MIL wasn’t one of those moms who helped out her kids – as in she didn’t babysit, liked being catered to, didn’t offer to bring anything etc. She was always very charming and gracious though – very sparkly. They helped her out financially yet still she liked to buy the family many gifts so they would ooh and ahh at her gift giving. As opposed to my mom who had less money, gave lesser gifts and never took a cent off us. And she always helped a lot and contributed a lot.
          Former MIL did volunteer in a leadership role. She preferred that to the less glamorous helping out your family thing.

      • Which begs the question: correlative or causative?

        If causative, Does monogamous behavior RESULT from brain differences, or CAUSE brain differences?

        Inquiring minds…

      • Hmm… adding to notes on vetting new partner:
        Background check
        Clear STI tests
        Brain scan

        Too much?

        • **coffee spew** oh, gosh I needed this today. I can’t even think about dating, makes me nauseous. But I love the list……
          credit check
          FBI check
          polygraph test
          stimuli response test

    • ” She was just there.”

      That is pretty much it, sometimes (rarely) they are just women who don’t want a commitment, but most times they are broken, and searching for a meal ticket, or proof that they are desirable, (can’t compete for successful single men) and landing a cheater screams desirable to them. They likely weren’t the first, nor will they be the last. Oh yes there are exceptions, but in these cases the exceptions really do prove the rule.

      • Yep. My FW was frequenting bars where he found single poor mom looking for a sugar daddy. She caught him fat, bald headed, rock star wannabe, unemployed, viagra popping FW. When I sold the beach house they were occupying and he moved into a trailer cuz he had no income while divorce was in process-she was gone to the next mark. Good fucking riddance!

      • Yep. The OW in my case was a client in our office. She was there way too much. She made herself available and catered to his wishes to dominate someone completely. She had no man, no money, no future and was very depressed and vulnerable. He loved that. Meanwhile I was the powerful, successful and loved director at our company. He preferred the weak thing he could control and she got into the idea that he wanted her and blew up his family for her. It was all very sick and twisted and now she gets the great life of being his sex slave while he sits around unemployed.

        • Sounds a lot like mine. She was his direct report, she was the dog catcher, and he was her supervisor. My sister in law heard was she spent a lot of time in his office complaining about how awful her life has been. She was not well liked by the women employees. Wonder how many of their husbands she “dated”

          I use the term dog catcher to be insulting to her, but actually animal control is important, and from what my ex used to say about her (I didn’t know he was humping her) she wasn’t very good at her job.

          When news of their amazing adventures hit the fan, she got moved to another job in the city, and evidently she sucked at that too, because about a year later she got fired. It was a dispatcher position and she sent PD into a building and forgot to tell them them there were weapons involved. I mean they were prepared anyway as they usually are, but that was a fire-able offense.

          They got married and other than working at a discount store for a couple months, she quit and never worked again. She got her meal ticket.

            • I only know what my son told me, and he said there was no insurance or savings. They had two cars that were a few years old. My son was gathering information for her because evidently she never got involved in the finance part. He had no insurance on the car that was paid for other than state mandated collusion.

              He ran the info on the trailer they were living in, because he was afraid there was no fire insurance on it, and there wasn’t, but he also found out that they had signed the trailer over to her son. Maybe that is the best thing for her.

              She didn’t even have enough money to have him cremated, I suspect my son loaned her the money for that. I doubt he will ever get it back. But he is free of her now, and of course he was going to take care of his dad.

              I think there is a tiny VA pension if I remember right, or maybe it was a small pension from his work, and and and she has her own SS, but she only worked until she was about 37, so that is not likely a big one.

              My son said she has enough to live on, but no extra to pay off that RV. I don’t know what she did about that. My son just pulled all the numbers/info she needed and left. Maybe there was a mandated pay off policy on it, if so that should take care of it. But if it was not mandated I know he didn’t do it.

              He was still recovering from covid, though he was cleared to travel. He didn’t get to see his dad before he died though because the ban had not been lifted for his covid time frame yet. He did see his dad a few months earlier so that is good.

              I can honestly say I am not happy that she is in this mess, but I am certainly glad I am not.

              My brother and his wife died on the same day in Feb, and my son (he is executor) and I had a lot of time together while at their house cleaning out the estate, to talk about a lot of things, so these are just things he talked about.

              I think he just needed someone to vent to. They put my son and his wife through hell, now it is time for her sons to take over.

              • These losers never think of actions and consequences ergo they’re underinsured or don’t carry insurance. Life insurance to look after their family in case of an accident, etc.

    • I’m not impressed by people who broadcast their charitable activities.

      What impresses me are those who do good and prefer anonymity.

      In Al Anon’s Just For Today piece of literature, people are encouraged to do good and not get found out. If we get found out, it doesn’t count.

      Number one in the con artist tool box is broadcasting their community service cred.

      • I feel the same way VH. I volunteered consistently for years with a food bank/kitchen. Showed up every Tuesday after the kids were in school to trim/prep raw chicken and bake it for the next group of cooks to actually prepare the whole meal. Talk about ‘non-glamourous’! Nobody ever knew except the lovely people who I got to know there, all going quietly about their business, contributing their time for a good cause. Years later, volunteering for another wonderful cause, the Ex’s company donated a TV, and wanted to be sure the company was given a large logo spot as a sponsor. In private, all he did was trash-talk the project and it’s challenges. He never drove by to see what we had accomplished nor attended the annual gala where I was publicly given credit. I was pretty mortified when I was called to stand up for recognition. I don’t like the spotlight. I was proud though! Knowing I did my best for the recipient/family as part of an amazing team was really plenty of recognition. Some of us are intrinsically motivated and some of us (especially narcs) are extrinsically motivated. They don’t feel any satisfaction in themselves unless people are fawning over them.

        • I will never forget the wonderful folks I met, while doing my ex’s volunteer work. Though he was not a real part of my life at the time, they were and I still think of them.

  • Character is what counts here. You have it she doesn’t. Its her that should be trying to be more like you. F@#king someone’s spouse makes you a shit bag. Period! She could be leading the handling of the epidemic but would still be a shit bag. The fake outer husk on that bitch has no real value. Your many listed traits include faithfulness honor and courage among many more . You don’t need to be like that THOT

  • Happy Birthday, Mr. Chump Lady!!!

    “If it feels good, don’t do it.” has saved me an assault charge as I remembered that phrase whilst eyeing LTC Fuckface’s throat and lining up my punch. Thank you for sharing that wisdom. I hope it is the very best Birthday and many returns of the day!

    It took me a while but now I no longer compare myself to whores. I am not a lying, cheating Homewrecker. Why would I sink to comparing myself to a skank? I delight in Regency Romance and in the fantasy of my mind use the term “Incomparable” to describe myself. That whore doesn’t compare as I am an Incomparable. She is just some Coventry Garden whore leaning on his office wall. There is no comparison.

    We are all unique creations and there truly is no one to compare to us. Never ever look at a whore and wonder what she has that you don’t. Flip that and think of what you do have, morals and values, empathy and kindness, an unsullied character and ethics. You are the better woman/man/creature.

  • I’ve received some great advice through this journey of being a chump. One of the greatest was “being a pillar in the community is so commonly used to describe abusers that it is a red flag”. I think this would likely apply to this OW. Her superstar volunteer status is likely just apart of her carefully crafted image. Behind the mask is a person with no value or character that screws married men and doesn’t care about the wife and children that are affected. Its all about her! Narcissists are all shiny, until you peel back the mask and its an ugly picture. Enjoy not having so much to prove by being the volunteer queen. I can 100% say this woman sucks. She sound insufferable to be around. No one really likes the Mrs. Perfect PTO president type.

      • It makes so much sense once you see it, but until you’re aware its so confusing! I personally think those can be the most dangerous types. They are fully aware of the image they are portraying.

  • There’s no comparison. Fw find their match, someone with their values. We were always beyond their league. Sparkly turds is right. We don’t need to do the pick me dance anymore. Let them do whatever. Focus on healing and growing. I don’t intend to sparkle. But I do think chumps glow. We see the pain, we feel, we love, we understand. Our souls are filled with light and inner peace. Don’t let anyone take that away.

  • I used to compare myself to Skankella. What did she have that I did not? Was she really that fun to be with. Was she more likeable than me. She too volunteered for a mobile pet adoption agency. I would look at her pictures on Facebook and wonder what the hell my ex saw in her. She looks like Frank from American Pickers. She dressed sloppy. I am not conceited. But, I sure as hell was better looking than her. But, I still compared myself to her. I finally realized that she was not better than me. She just had no morals or ethics. She was a easy pick for my ex. She was the low hanging fruit. Any women that would carry on a long-term affair with their cousin’s husband. Is not better than me nor a good decent person. There is nothing ethical about a person who knowingly cheats with a married man. My cousin is not with my ex. She is still single. She begs for money on Facebook(I was told). And I was told that she continues to play the victim and blames my ex for using her. And that she wasted 4 years of her life on him.

    • 😆😆😆 Frank from American Pickers! Finally the perfect image to go with the story. 😂

  • Compare and despair. Nowhere is this more true than the initial reaction to finding out one has been cheated on. It’s a side effect of feeling responsible for causing your partner to cheat. And it has taken me a long long time to internalize that it had nothing to do with me or our mirage.

    Within a year of him moving out, our daughter caught him on Tinder. At the same time he was living with the Craigslist cockroach, something I suspected but did not know for sure until later. So he’s cheating on the “Sole Mate” with Tinder and also (for some weird reason) told me she also caught him going to the illicit massage parlors.

    If you’re going to engage in any comparing, compare the cheaters to people of integrity you know or know of.

    Ask not what is missing in you; ask what is missing in people who, absurdly in the name of love, act in such a cruel, selfish deceitful, fraudulent, massively harmful and UNLOVING way toward another human being. Especially little developing dependent human beings for whom trust and safety and security is EVERYTHING.

    I am not responsible for, nor do I cause, nor can I cure or control, other people’s shitty choices.

  • PS…

    I can also thankfully not wrap my mind around, nor could I ever wrap my mind around, why anyone would think people who get involved in illicit affairs are high value partners. Nothing says “low quality mate” like being a cheater or an affair accomplice.

    As Dr. Frank Pittman says, “wonderful people don’t screw around with married people, and wonderful married people don’t screw around.”

    Safety, trust, and security are the whole point of being in a committed relationship, and nothing screams INCAPABLE like being a traitor or an accomplice.

    Good riddance and good luck to him and any of his co-whore-ts.

  • I occasionally compare myself to my FW’s wife (his third affair partner, not counting a secret one night stand, that I know of), but I think it’s more likely that she compares herself to me. I can never know for certain (I’m certainly not about to ask!) so it’s pointless conjecture.

    What I do do, however, that really sinks my self esteem, is compare myself to the FW. I often think of all the things he is (outgoing, extroverted, the “fun parent,” charismatic, surrounded by many friends, known well in his professional/creative field that used to be our professional/creative field but is now his and Mrs. FW’s professional/creative field) and lament that I am none of these things. These comparisons happen more often than I’d like to admit to; I was always the shyer one of us when he was the “noble, heroic” life of the party.”

    I’ll give an example of that that he always liked to remind me about: “Hey wifey, remember when we went to [friend’s] cabin and we were the last of the crew to arrive and when I walked in the door everyone cheered my name loudly and when you followed in carrying the suitcases there were crickets?! Remember? Omigosh, I felt so bad for you that no one was as excited to see you as they were to see me!”

    True story.

    Anyway, yes, I do compare myself to FW and the ease that he is able to chart social waters with with his charm and charisma. People love him; children love him; animals love him… yeah, it gets my goat sometimes.

    And then I usually remember that I don’t want to be anything like that: full of sparkly exuberance but, in the end, someone who can’t be trusted. I won’t say that Mrs. FW (the stepmother of my children) has my pity, because she doesn’t (she did willingly break up a marriage) but I wouldn’t want to be her. I did my time with that social and ultimately totally untrustworthy ball of charismatic energy–she can have it.

    And, getting back to comparison, yes I compare myself to him, his extroversion, and his ability to “get himself out there in the world” to make himself known and… I don’t want any of that. My social world is very small but I trust everyone here. I don’t sparkle and I’m not just fine with that: I love it. I am of great value to my family and my children and that means the world to me.

    There’s no need for me to walk into a room and have everyone shout my name. I like being private and not on display. I like being “boring.” I like knowing that there are not a lot of people in this metaphorical room but the ones that are here are dear to me.

    It’s normal to compare ourselves to the OW (or in my case, the FW) but when we *really* compare ourselves to them, with less superficiality and more critical thinking, we realize pretty quickly that we want to be nothing like them at all! I am owning those differences, finding strength in them, and glorifying in them: “Yeah… I’m nothing like the FW/OW… and that’s awesome.”

    • I’m betting the silence that greeted you when you trailed in after your ex toting the suitcases was due to their realization of what an ass he was for pushing off onto you the heavy lifting.

      • That was my first thought – what kind of asswipe lets his wife trail behind to do the heavy lifting? There’s nothing wonderful about that guy, and I’ll bet he doesn’t garner as much respect as he seems to, especially if people know he cheated.

        • I agree the reason for the silence might be shock that he would let his wife do the carrying.

          However, it is also entirely possible that he has some power and can do something for them so he gets their attention. Says more about them than her.

          I got to see some Karma in that my fw lost his recent promotion, was kicked out of his office and put back on patrol. He also quickly quit volunteering in the local Lions club, which I suspect was because the wives of that club didn’t accept the whore like they thought would happen,. Also, he didn’t have anyone to do his volunteer work for him anymore. He fired me. Schmoops was a taker not a giver.

          He did have a couple (joint) friends that stuck with him for a while but even one of them drifted away. Again, I am guessing the wife was disgusted by them both. His wife was a beautiful woman and jealousy wasn’t an issue I am sure.

      • “I’m betting the silence that greeted you when you trailed in after your ex toting the suitcases was due to their realization of what an ass he was for pushing off onto you the heavy lifting.”

        Lol, well that would be nice if it were true but, no. The crew there genuinely loved him and were super pumped that he had arrived because he was one of those “life of the party” kind of guys. I was an afterthought; people there genuinely didn’t notice me or care much–they were too busy noticing him and crowding around him.

        I never wanted to be the life of the party so in a sense I was fine with that sort of set up at the time. I just wanted to crack open my book in the corner and join in the occasional card or boardgame throughout the night.

        I am not in contact with any of those people from that long-ago time. (That’s okay. Clearly I didn’t make much of an impact on them, lol.) I don’t know if any of them are in contact with FW anymore either. Doesn’t matter; they were dazzled by FW’s extroverted sparkle. Heck, I was too–I married him! O____o The guy could charm the last dime off of Scrooge McDuck.

        People who sparkle, pillars of the community, charming men, life of the party people… all of that holds such little meaning for me now. My world is smaller now and ten million times better for it.

    • Fourleaf – What kind a**hole keeps reminding their spouse about something that was painful or embarrassing? I think he kept bringing it up because he needed to put you down and make you feel bad. He wanted you to feel inferior – probably to make up for his failures.

      My ex had a similar story he told about me to make me look like a poor mother… now I see it for the tactic it was – he just wanted me to feel ‘less than’.

    • I do think these shitty affair partners compare themselves to the spouse. That was a big clue to me. This whore of a woman would say things to me like I recognized your arm in that photo, I want to be tiny like you, and compared our hair color. She then lost weight, and her dyed black hair got lighter like mine. Her clothing changed from a weird cheap, trashy look to similar to my style. All in an effort to “win” this FW?! She can change her look but she’ll still be the trashy whore that has no values or morals. And she can totally have this “prize” she’s “won”.

      • Ha! My FW arranged for us to have dinner with OW and her husband. When we walked in, the first thing she said (in a weird Mae West tone) was: “Well aren’t you a tall cool drink of water!”

        I’m still not sure if it was me or him she was most interested in. 😆 Regardless, she ended up with him. Poor thing. She’ll be sorry soon enough, if she isn’t already.

        • Such a strange thing for her to say to you, she was probably hoping you were a slug. Where do they find these women?!
          Mind arranged date for us and his ap and her husband. That just is so mind blowing to me! They are so sick they get some charge out of doing that. These women are either really dumb or narcissistic themselves.

          • My fw brought his whore over to introduce her to me (she was his direct report).

            It was weird, I remember we had just gone on a short trip to celebrate our 20th anniversary and I told her about it. The fw had arranged for the Honeymoon suite and when we got there the couple using it would not leave. So the place gave us a real nice room to replace it and gave us a free dinner and drinks. Anyway, we had a good time.

            As I was telling her this her head was turned towards me, but I noticed that her eyes were cut to the wall away from me. I thought at the time it looked weird. But, of course chumpster had no clue about what they were doing.

            I wonder how that conversation went when he went knocking on her door in the middle of the night. It would have been interesting to hear his spin on it.

          • It’s funny, because I was really looking forward to making a new friend. When the evening was over and we got in the car, the first thing I said was, “Oh my God, I feel sorry for her husband. She is insufferable!”

            I thought it was odd that he didn’t agree with me. That was the first clue I ignored.

            Outside of her trust fund, I honestly cannot understand what he sees in her.

            Regardless, they’re both narcissists, and I hope they beat each other to death with their judgmental arrogance and passive-aggressive contempt. They truly deserve each other.

    • My 1st (and last) experience with oozing charm was FW and his family ( and some of his successful colleagues). I thought he had so much to teach me. He never ever said the wrong thing. Sooo smooth. Everyone loved him. He and his family – always full of compliments.
      I will never trust charmers again.

  • Everything CL says here about the OW is also applicable to my ex. He’s “artful at presenting a front,” but behind that front is a disordered man whose hidden life is the exact opposite of that carefully managed image. It is disturbing, however, how common that is. I would prefer to take people at face value, to presume they are honest, but I’ve learned not to trust until I’ve verified someone is trustworthy.

    • I have come to the conclusion that my ability to think/feel “I trust you” of someone is far more valuable than “I love you”.

      • I second that notion. “Falling in love” is just a dopamine rush. Real love bears little resemblance to it. Most of these losers don’t know the difference. I now know that my FW was most attracted to the idea that someone was attracted to him. When a person is that insecure, they’re not likely to stay faithful.

  • It takes a long time to feel it, but the chump is the winner, not the cheaters, who, by definition, are the losers.

    In what other context are cheaters deemed winners? To me, this misperception is proof of the insanity that is infidelity. It’s disordered thinking on MY part, a coping mechanism I developed to stay in the relationship, that I need to address and put right. Chumps are victims of abuse, and I need to be the doctor with the first aid kit for myself and my daughter.

    I told myself a story about who he is and spent 27 years reinforcing that story on a daily basis. I was brainwashed and assisting the brainwashing. Who among us wants to believe we married a person who would willfully hurt us? I didn’t. It took me a very long time to realize that NO ONE was getting the person I thought he was. He only existed in my mind.
    That false belief of who he is is really at the heart of the matter. If I knew he was Bernie Madoff and I had escaped with my money while some other sap insisted he was a financial genius, I would not feel the slightest bit slighted. Detaching, unhooking, deprogramming, and internalizing he is toxic pond scum, and so is she, and so is anyone else in his pussy posse, is a process that takes TIME.

    https://www.chumplady.com/2018/09/science-vindicates-leave-a-cheater-gain-a-life/

    • ⬆️ THIS!!! It takes time to absorb – especially after being gaslit and emotionally beaten down – that FW is not the image he put up and same is true of schmoopie. The phrase “trust that they suck” is shorthand to remind chumps that you may see a lot of sparkle, but it’s still all turd underneath. When you mentally move from trusting that they suck to truly knowing it, you become at peace with who you are and thrilled to be rid of the turd.

      In hindsight, I guess my thought process shifted when I no longer viewed his threat of leaving as a threat. When I started hoping that he would go all in and actually leave with one of the OW and never come back because I knew in the depths of my soul that I had made a huge mistake in marrying him. The sparkles had made me believe I had married an equal or married up. Once I internalized what an awful person he is, I saw how he was lucky to have had a chance with me and how dumb he was to treat me as he did. And the many OW? Well, I honestly never compared myself to them unfavorably. What kind of piece of trash takes up with someone who is married? Who even flirts with someone who is married? I don’t care if they were Mother Theresa in their charitable works, that behavior alone makes them 100% genuine turd. I don’t compare myself to turds. It makes no sense.

      Of all klootzak’s OW, there is only one who had an admirable career. She was CFO of a charitable organization and became the CEO. She was/is married. So in spite of her photos everywhere of herself out doing these great humanitarian works, behind the scenes, she cheats on her spouse and does so with someone else’s husband. She has no character. She is a crappy person who hooked up with a virtual stranger after having just met him and started referring to the date of their first hook up as their “anniversary” and started emailing him, calling him her husband and signing the emails “your wife.” When I found the emails (he had printed them!) and read all that, all I could think was this person is either mentally unstable or a total turd. I don’t care what her title is or that she earns six figures. I may work my little job from home unnoticed to the world, but I am a far better person than that and always will be. Then to have a MC try to convince me that if only I had been a better communicator, klootzak wouldn’t have been cheating, that was not making any sense at all. The MC would have had me stuck eating shit sandwiches forever.

      I’m so grateful for LACGAL because finally here was someone who wrote every damn thing I had been thinking all along. And she still does! This really isn’t complicated. FWs and APs suck. They do! And it’s OK to stop “fighting for your marriage” and pick me dancing. You can restore peace to your life! Being Catholic, I had a really hard time accepting that divorce is OK but when a priest told me I had basically been the victim of a fraud and would qualify for annulment, I felt so free. Not even a priest would expect me to stay with this manipulative liar. (I honestly expected to hear that if there was no physical violence, I should try a couples retreat. lol)

      But yes, to me, if the AP has knowingly taken up with a married person, they are a bottom feeder. There is no comparing yourself to that!

  • In real time the OW (exit ow) wasn’t in my mind much, I didn’t even know who she was for a bit. When I found out I knew objectively that she was neigher better looking, smarter or more successful than I was.

    Don’t get me wrong I was devastated that he chose her over me, maybe even more so than if she had been a hottie, but I knew she was just the whore in place.

    I never gave her a lot of thought through out the years, it was only when she started causing trouble with my son and his family that I began to really look at who she was.

    Then I googled narcs because I just couldn’t believe the fw was acting up with our son. I found CL and I have had fun insulting them both. But, really feeling inferior to her was never an issue.

    She married the fw and he continued down the fw path. I after a few years married a kind, and decent man. I did better because I had better bait. I was accomplished in my own right, oh I wasn’t rich, but I was doing well in my job and on my way. I didn’t need a meal ticket from anyone.

    I actually in a weird way struggle with not caring vs feeling sorry for her now. He died and left her penniless, and in over 80 thousand dollars in debt. She has her own SS, and that is about it. I don’t know if she has filed BR again or how she is handling it, as my son and family cut ties after his dad died.

    My son helped her with getting him taken care of, and got her all the contact info she needed to get any thing she is entitled to in terms of SS, pension, Army benefits etc. He said given he was not retired military there weren’t really any benefits, except he could have been interred at a national cemetery, but honestly I don’t know what they did. I never asked.

    She has her own two sons now, so they can TCB.

  • Adjust the pronouns according to your circumstances:

    “Understanding Betrayal Trauma
    Being Cheated On Really Hurts!

    If you’ve been cheated on and now you feel like you’re going crazy, you’re not alone. When your partner’s infidelity is uncovered, you can’t help but experience that as a powerful form of emotional and psychological trauma. It feels like you’ve been hit by a truck – but emotionally rather than physically. You feel battered, bruised, and broken by the betrayal. If you are invested in your relationship, if you love and believe in your partner, then you are rightfully and understandably devastated. There is no way to avoid that, nor is there a way to avoid the “crazy” that naturally follows. In fact, the rage, tears, fear, pleading, vindictiveness, and emotional instability you’re feeling are an inevitable and expected response to being cheated on.

    And this is not your fault. Research shows that betrayed partners, after learning that their significant other has strayed, typically experience stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms characteristic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). And yes, PTSD is the same debilitating disorder we see in battle-scarred soldiers. Is it any wonder that you’re experiencing flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, depression, mood swings, and an inability to focus on and manage basic tasks of day-to-day life?

    The Emotional Rollercoaster

    Amazingly, your cheating partner might be pushing blame for the emotional rollercoaster you’re riding onto you. He might say things like:

    If you weren’t so hostile, I never would have cheated.
    I never know what to expect from you. It makes my life really difficult.
    Why can’t you just forgive me so we can move on with our lives?
    These responses ignore the trauma of betrayal. Your partner’s cheating has injured your ability to trust him. You are finding it difficult to believe anything he says or does in the moment, and anything he’s said and done in the past. And every time you find out another new piece of information, you experience the entire betrayal all over again.”

    Any information you can get your hands on which reinforces that this has nothing to do with you is ESSENTIAL daily reading.

      • ChumpQueen, thank you so much for this link. Have spent the last few days reading and listening to the podcast and digesting this. So incredibly helpful! Thank you!

    • This was me. He didn’t have sex with other women (that I know of) but he used porn, masturbated constantly, and had an emotional affair. Because of his activities he could not be with me in a natural way for years. He finally went to Sex Addiction counseling and gave a “therapeutic disclosure” that shocked me after being married to him 32 years. (there was a lot of stuff i didn’t list) After a year in counseling, he was still entitled, refused to discuss the things he revealed, and wanted to equalize our failures in the marriage. I had moved out but was hoping for reconciliation. He was “discouraged and lonely” so he joined a singles meet up group and hid it from me (“because he was afraid I would want him to quit”) When I found out and we discussed it in marriage counseling, he cried because the group made him feel “alive”
      while our mandatory dates were hard. He insisted on writing the group a letter of why he had to leave. (I never saw the letter but can imagine that it was poor me… my wife is so mean) A few months later he asked for a divorce, filed, and went back to the group and began dating someone. Its been over two years since then and I am finally beginning to feel hope for a life again. Betrayal sucks even if they don’t “have sex”. Plus…he learned nothing about the trauma he caused me from his sex addiction counselor. It was always about him. He is with someone 21 years younger than himself (he is 66). She has never been married or had kids. I don’t blame her at all. I’m sure he told her a bunch of stories and held back a lot too.

  • You know, I’ve always believed that you get what you pay for, but in the case of cheaters this is absolutely not the case.

    Whenever it’s been brought up, I remind him that he way way way overpaid for her.

    Years ago we were in negotiations for a pricey local historic home that we both loved. It went to someone else who found out it was riddled with termites and wood beetles, damage underneath the stucco of the entire structure that could not be determined without removing stucco, the extent of which was impossible for a potential buyer doing routine inspections.

    In affairs, the rotten foundation is on display for all involved to see. Serious stinking thinking of the highest order is required to maintain the denial required to imagine that Camelot is not the crumbling shotgun shack it really is. I want and need to live in reality, not a mirage.

    Cheaters are common and only an idiot pays an astronomical amount for fool’s gold. When someone shows you who they are, believe them. Let the cheaters think what they want. Turning the radio up as loud as it will go never turned a junkyard jalopy into a Ferrari.

    I’m awfully chatty today. Sorry.

    • “Whenever it’s been brought up, I remind him that he way way way overpaid for her.”

      Yep, I think you said this the first time I saw it.

      I know for a fact that he overpaid for her. I also know he figured it out pretty quickly; but he I am sure had to put his money down to prove to everyone that he didn’t fuck up his life royally, when it became clear within months to anyone that he did indeed fuck up royally.

      When you crap all over yourself where you eat, it just does not end well; no matter how much lipstick you use.

    • ‘ only an idiot pays an astronomical amount for fool’s gold.´
      Exactly. We were duped. They were not. It’s laughable how special they think they and their magical connection is. Imagine what you would have to tell yourself to believe this person won’t do to you what they did to someone they publicly declared love and commitment to.

      • “Imagine what you would have to tell yourself to believe this person won’t do to you what they did to someone they publicly declared love and commitment to.”

        Exactly, I imagine the whore was really surprised when she started living with him day to day. Then on top of that he lost his promotion, his standing in the community etc. Idiot had to blame someone for that, and I was gone so… What I don’t get is why she was upset when he cheated on her. I mean she had to see that coming.

        But still, she was better off than she was before he rescued her. At least she had someone to pay the rent and feed her. She retired at age 37 and never worked again,. So I am thinking they each got exactly what they deserved.

    • Don’t be sorry! You share great stuff.

      The line about fool’s gold is fantastic. I always think that APs get what they have coming to them. They actually chase it. It takes a special kind of stupid to imagine you have a wonderful future with someone who is married to someone else.

    • I don’t know who the OW is but I do know he paid a high price for her. One kid disowned him and the other 2 barely tolerate him. He has to pay me support (he thought he wouldn’t have to). He’s working 3 jobs to pay for the divorce that HE wanted. He’s drinking heavily, gaining weight, he’s so stressed out. Oh well hope she was worth it.

  • Happy birthday to Mr. CL! Does he get to play sea shanties, loudly, all day long too?

    Speaking of stars who were chumped, is Colin Firth still single?

  • I had dinner with a man this week. He is wonderful. I have known him for years and we have already spent countless hours hanging out and working on important things with success and I feel I know him well. We have so much in common– we are aligned in all aspects of life and are constantly surprised when we laugh easily at each others’ references. He is handsome, too, with stunning eyes, square jaw, and the perfect farmer’s consideration toward his sense fashion and hair (as in, not much). An outstanding father to his adult children, a truly solid human.

    I could fall in love with this man, but will never have a romance with him. It is unspoken. He agrees.

    I had dinner with him because I used to be his boss. He is retiring now and wanted meet one more time as he goes on a bit of a farewell tour (he works in a central regional location and drove out to see me). I retired a couple years ago so it’s completely acceptable to pursue romance now.

    I will never have that kind of relationship with him. It is unspoken. He agrees.

    The reason is simple and immovable. Though it is a great match we will never be together without cosmic intervention and he is completely in agreement with that. We never discuss it.

    The reason is that he is married. Simple as that.

    Everything that falls into bullshit bucket of “things happen” and “you can’t help who you fall in love with” and “the heart wants what the heart wants” simply doesn’t matter. There is a line and I will never, ever cross it. I will never hint at it. I will never hug him a little too long, or make suggestions that I am lonely or say how perfect we could be together. I feel a definite unspoken connection with him, I am certain he does too, and if his wife died or left him we would immediately be interested in pursuing more. But he will not cheat on his wife and he would never trip into an emotional entanglement. That is why he is perfect for me.

    THAT is what the difference between me and some OW.

    I choose me.

    I hope Rumorhasit got to her Tuesday.

  • As far as being valuable to other people, even if you really weren’t valuable to anyone other than your son (and I don’t think that’s true), you are valuable to the one person who matters most. And having a loving mom who cares matters a TON. Even if she has bingo arms and stays at home every night of the week and knits blankets for shelter pets. Kids don’t need parents that sparkle. They need parents who are functional, loving, and involved.

    As far as the OW…I was in the AF for 10 years. Because I didn’t check all the boxes and didn’t get a masters degree, I didn’t make Major. My backstabbing hell-bitch of a roommate in officer training is now a Colonel. During officer training, she earned Distinguished Graduate. She also spent all of officer training banging guys like a screen door in a hurricane and cheating on her husband, who was back in California taking care of her kid. I might have been less sparkly than her, but at least I can go away on a TDY or a deployment and not fuck around on my husband. When I was single, I also managed to not fuck other people’s husbands. And even though I didn’t make O-4, I left well and I know that my coworkers and leadership thought well of me.

    I also spent a lot of time looking at performance reports. Some airmen spent more energy volunteering than doing their actual job. The airmen who were actually valuable were the ones showing up every day and getting their work done. No matter how good someone looks on paper or how good of an image they maintain, time will see through it. I can guarantee you, there are other people who know what kind of person OW really is.

    Cream may rise to the top, but shit can float too.

  • I don’t try to untangle the skein of fuckedupedness of OWs, but in my case she’s a classic selfish, immature flawed human. When she met my XH, we’d been married for 20+ years, both very successful lawyers, 4 kids, real estate investments, pets, 2 cars, beautiful home we built to our liking, very active in the community with PTSA, little league, HOA board, trips to Hawaii, etc… the suburban dream. We were in our mid 40s. OW was in her 20s, still living at home with her cheater dad and his O-Wife (!), no career, bad credit, never married or engaged, no kids…. Essentially a mooch. She saw my husband as a way to skip all the building a life parts of growing up and get to what she thought would be Easy Street. Ha! As if! Sure, she’s living in a $2M home of his now, but 9 years in he has zero interest in marrying her, he pays for nothing of hers other than providing a roof, he’s never purchased her anything meaningful, she’ll never have a family with him and now her fertility days are numbered (he had a vas). She knows XH is a cheater and already cheated on her many times. He routinely threatens to kick her out. She has none of the self-esteem that comes from having values and working hard and achieving something through forebearance and dedication. She is known in their community of mostly married couples as a home wrecker and therefore she’s on the outside. Who cares that she is 15 years younger than me? I already lived those years and well. She has nothing that I admire or want.

    Last year my 16 year old found her awake at 4 am under the dining table, drunk and crying that she hates her life and all her friends are with hot young men, getting married, buying their first homes, having babies. She cried, “I never wanted to be stuck with an old man (54!) whose kids HATE me…. Waaahaaaaa…!”

    Are you kidding me?! What a loser.

    • Mine STBX targets gullible, needy women whom he manipulates via his sad sausage/mean wife story. I’ve uncovered 5 affairs (so far), and each one falls into a creepily predictable ~3-6 month pattern: 1. the intense drama/love/save me from the “crazy assed bitch” phase 2. the rescue phase, where OW caretakes while he enjoys his prize (simultaneously hunting for his next victim) 3. The trade up (or he gets caught looking) phase, when the relationship goes supernova 4. the smoke screen phase, where he uses the emotional reaction of his discarded strumpet to distract from his own unacceptable behavior (and justify throwing her away to the audience) — setting things up for the next cycle…

      He literally feeds on the compassion (and attention) of well intentioned people.

      BTW – he lives in a trailer/takes viagra too – so sexy! (don’t feel sorry for him, he makes 6 figures – he just can’t manage his finances like a grownup). I’ve been a fool to care for 5 seconds what this asshole thinks about me, but it took me time to get here. Thank you CN – I’ve learned so much from you all.

      • Klootzak operates the exact opposite of that. The OW (plural, there have been many) are always sad sacks. He pays them a little attention and since they have always been on the end of being dumped, he tells them they are special and he thinks any man who doesn’t see how wonderful they are must be a loser. He tells them how kissable their lips are. He says anything they want to hear. He is Prince Charming. He takes them cheap flowers from the grocery store. He either hooks up with trashy women who don’t care he is married or spends time hitting on the low self esteem crowd who spread their legs willingly on a rebound or out of sheer desperation to get laid. The APs are eager to provide kibble because he convinces them that they aren’t bitch trolls from hell. Wife? Yeah, klootzak has one of those but why talk about her when we can talk about MEEEEE. So I have rarely found that he has trashed me because he hasn’t needed to.

        One married AP klootzak had would share with klootzak all these weird quotes about it being possible to love two people at the same time. It was her version of morality. You know, cheating is OK because you can love two people at the same time. 🙄 Except, why not tell me and her husband so we could date and find more love, too, no?

        Anyway, I guess I was spared hearing too much of what an awful wife I was because my existence only served to make the affairs exciting for klootzak. These rubbish APs were eager for whatever sparkledick came along to stroke their ego. I suspect it made them view themselves as more special that klootzak was willing to cheat on his wife to be with them.

        I could never compare myself to them in an unflattering way. I would never cross a line with a married man. EVER. It’s basic human decency. Nothing else about them could overcome that stain on their soul. I may not be the richest, the smartest, or the prettiest, but I’m a decent fucking human being. I will always feel “better than” every one of them – even those who “only” had emotional affairs with him. It amazes me that they sleep at night.

  • Happy Birthday to Mr. CL and a very somber yet in rememberance Happy Birthday to Lady Di for what would have been her 60th birthday today. If Lady Di had had Chump Nation to lean on and learn from and laugh along with fellow Chumps she would most likely be here today. She would have realized she didn’t marry a Prince, she married a Polo Pony’s Horse’s Backside (no offense to beautiful ponies and horses) but she married a horse’s ass not a Prince. And the OW….. as Rumorhasit described purports herself to be an asset to the community with her Girl Scout leadership (yes… laughed right out loud at CL’s suggestion for a sew on badge for home-wrecking) just as Camila parades around London with the Horse’s Bum while the peasants wave their little flags in glee. Now Lady Di gets a statute in Kensington Palace…. oh the guilt gift….the very Palace they banished her from – while she lays in a cold damp grave. Do not let the charlatans – the OW’s that appear to sparkle have any power or effect on you….do not let them lead you to a cold damp grave – they have no morals or values when it comes to the bond of marriage or knowing right from wrong. Look what happened to the Boy Scouts with those leaders…..Happy Birthday Lady Di – I wish you had known Chump Nation – you were young and silly and tried to find love in all the wrong places – we can now learn from your mistake. You’ve got to love yourself first.

  • My ex’s OW made a BIG show of doing a particular charitable deed. Local TV covered it!

    This occurred while she was fucking my ex. Note: She was married, too!

    After DDay, I learned about the charitable deed (my ex couldn’t wait to tell me). Image managment on steroids!

    These people suck! The OW may be a lot younger than my ex and me, and she may be more attractive, but honestly, I feel superior. I didn’t lie and cheat for 2 1/2 years. I didn’t sneak into a married man’s house and sleep in the marital bed. I didn’t help destroy two families.

    Let those two cheaters live with each other. May they always wonder if the other is lying or cheating. Each knows what the other did…and could do again. That stain won’t come out.

  • Happy birthday to Mr CL! Many happy returns.

    On the subject of comparing oneself to OW, the fw tried to get me to compare myself unfavorably to his whore by making comments about how she treated him so well, which was a laughable lie. She was fucking other men and made sure to rub it in his face. She’s also a raging alcoholic, a serial cheater of massive proportions, and emotionally abuses her kids.
    I’d have to go lower than sub-basement level to be comparable to that loser. Fw thought she was wonderful because she never argued with him. He’s so stupid he couldn’t figure out that it was because he never once said no to her, never once contradicted her, and didn’t dare to call her out on any of her outrageous behavior.
    He was totally dominated by her, and he put his anger about that onto me. Somehow it was MY fault she was a domineering bitch.

    An AP may involve her/himself self in the public good, but that’s because it’s public, and that’s attention and admiration kibbles. In private, 100% of them are selfish assholes.

  • Rumorhasit–

    CL is right. You’ll never find a more manically charitable character than the local pedo. To quote famous literary hebophilic douchebag Jean-Paul Sartre (who oughta know), “Everything is permitted the hero.” It’s a quote from his rather confessional play about a douchy, hypocritical social justice warrior journalist who ends up in hell.

    In fact, the posh-pretending suburban community we used to live in had a headlining scandal that illustrated the point in the most gruesome way. In retrospect, I’m so glad I saw through and rejected that community’s hypocrisy before D-Day because, in a certain sense, this helped me understand how much FW and his AP genuinely sucked. Hard to explain, but I’d had the chance to define myself and my values as being clearly apart from the hypocritical model and it helped in processing in the aftermath.

    There’s a sort of hazardous stage in PTSD where the victim’s lizard brain asks “Why did this happen to me and what can I change about myself to prevent it in future?” In the wake of adultery trauma, the survival mechanism can slip-slide too easily into comparison and self blame. The only remedy is a bit foreign to non-narcissists, which is to take stock of oneself and one’s better traits. Anyway, I was lucky that circumstances defined these things for me.

    When my kids were all in secondary school, several adult men came forward following a major national pedo scandal and spoke out about their past experiences of sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher who’d been on the district school staff for a dozen years.

    The wails and shrieks from the philanthropic pedo’s defenders was deafening– even after 16-20 more adults came forward with even more credible allegations. Oh what a hero that alleged pedo had been in the community! Maybe more to the point, everyone was afraid the bad press would kill real estate in the area.

    Those few of us with kids in the school who confronted the district over their poor vetting practices weren’t invited to the parent-staff solidarity bonfire party that was scheduled in reaction to the headlines. You could hear the screams of manic, fake revelry from blocks away. There’s an icky sound to this in some communities that should probably be studied by science, maybe by setting up microphones at varsity ball games. The men kind of roar themselves hoarse as if self consciously asserting exaggerated masculinity. And the grown-ass women squeal in faux little girl squeaks. Very cringe-inducing.

    A fellow community rebel and I and our respective kids passed by the picnic and our kids asked if we could go. I said, no, it looked like they were about to sacrifice a goat to appease the real estate gods.

    There among the crowd were all the busy-body, virtue signaling charity luncheon parents, soccer dads and muffin-bakers. None had joined the campaign to improve the school’s vetting nor demand that staff from the upper grades sign in before being admitted to the secondary school complex. None had complained when the school attempted to circle the wagons and deny, deny, deny. They cared more about community image and their own emotional comfort than their own or anyone else’s children.

    I’d only moved to the burbs because I thought it was a better place to raise kids. I realized my mistake and moved back to a cultural metropolis where it’s easier to throw a wide net and find my tribe and educational resources for the kids. My experience in Stephrn Kingsville scared me. Thank God for that change because when D-Day rolled around, I had been back on track building a better life in better circumstances.

    What was interesting was how FW reacted to the whole pedo brouhaha– by sort of furtively withdrawing as if my reaction to the problem was the problem rather than the problem being the problem. I was too distracted and consumed by protecting the kids to really mark his skughtly covert attitude, but it was a defining red flag. When, during a period of transition of moving from burb to city, FW launched into a workplace affair, I couldn’t help noticing he chose a sort of dead-ringer for one of these perverse suburban denialists– maybe a childless larval version of hypocritical church-going charity luncheon moms. The AP, like the denialist parents, didn’t lose a wink of sleep over the fates of vulnerable kids. When D-Day came, the AP wailed and wept over her damaged reputation (so she thought, though several of her coworkers attested she never had a particularly good rep to begin with). But never did she shed a tear that my tween daughter had found some filthy emails and was traumatized. The AP never offered to pay back her share of the affair costs to replace the kids’ bilked college funds.

    During my blindsided shock stage, I agreed to see a few horrible RIC therapists, the only benefit of which was the cheater “full disclosure” confessoonal bit. I learned the AP was from a similar burb with evangelical roots and your stock paunchy alcoholic cheating dad and tranced out church charity luncheon mom.

    If I might have been tempted to compare myself to the OW, the basic facts killed the tendency. More important than the fact that the AP was sort of a drab mushroom of a woman, I knew in my gut the OW and clan were the exact types of people to turn a blind eye to community predators. They were the bonfire bunch. And I’m not. The end.

    Of course a FW seeking skeazy sex and a double life would gravitate to the fake callous bonfire crew and away from the rebels and whistleblowers.

    Anyhow, when CL says “trust they suck,” you can bank on it. Maybe not everyone gets such a graphic illustration of that suckage like I did, but to the extent that FW’s dogshit affair was in no way special, the general principle can be generalized.

    Barring some defining external trial by fire (beyond adultery, the fact that you’re NOT a cheat, you’re the sane parent, and the fact you’re among the rarer chumps who immediately kicked ass– which is enough proof of character in any book) that proves your better traits, I would recommend taking stock of your own better traits, owning them and seeking out company that recognizes and respects them. It helps. It seems a bit narcissistic to do this but it’s protective.

    • P.s., typos. Also left out the most important detail: that the reason defining external events (pedo scandal) were so timely is that I’d been boiled like a frog by a covert FW for years and had otherwise begun to lose touch with who I was. Chumps should never underestimate how much they may have been eroded long before D-Day. It can take time to redefine and recover.

      • “I’d been boiled like a frog by a covert FW for years and had otherwise begun to lose touch with who I was.”

        I hear you. I feel like I was literally chewed up and spit out. My anxiety was so out of control that my hands shook almost constantly. No matter what I was doing or where I was, I felt wrong. Four years out, and I no longer shake, but I’m still working on feeling valuable. These coverts do quiet damage, which is what makes them so damn dangerous. If he had beaten me physically, at least I would have known I was being abused.

        • If he had beaten you physically he might be in jail.

          One if the best cures for PTSD is justice. Without it, we’re left to philosophical processing which delivers long term (and very slow) justice.

      • omg Hell of a Chump, your writing is brilliant!

        “he AP was sort of a drab mushroom of a woman” — this is hilarious. nothing against mushrooms, of course—which i like—but this!!

  • “This wasn’t your fault. Your husband’s failure to value you has nothing to do with your worthiness as a person. It has everything to do with his lack of character.”
    Gosh, so much this.
    Having gained 25+ kilos in the years leading up to the cheating starting, and aging markedly, I initially very much compared myself to the OW who was about the same age as our relationship, 28! and slimmer, more adventurous, etc etc. Then I discovered the porn. He had/has a type. And I’m def not it. More feeling inadequate.
    I think I see past all that now. I usually remember to trust that he sucks and I most assuredly do not want him back!
    However, trying to overcome feeling worthless, after being so discarded has been a battle royal. CL’s words of wisdom have helped enormously. I can honestly say I wouldn’t have had the resolve to ask him to leave at the time and I’d probably not be on the planet were it not for LACGAL and my kids.
    Approaching 1 year out from DDay, discovering their 3 year relationship, I’m still feeling very raw.
    It’s not that I think she’s all that, it’s that I was so disposable.
    Not sure how to make this lesson, that’s it’s him, not me, stick. Looking forward to the day I can internalise this. Sometimes we know things intellectually but it takes much longer to take them to heart.

    • Continue, Fuckwit looked like he would literally fall apart or jump off a building if he didn’t end up with OW. He looked like a fraction of himself and I knew there was something very unhealthy going on. That didn’t stop me from being in deep pain and going through all the trauma. Still working on it, but getting better.
      Although part of me knew this /I read something recently about false desires that clicked with me. The means to false desires is through deception, secrecy or a demand for a conformity. The after effects will be a sense of hollowness, narrow obsession and increasing despair.
      The example was given of a drug addict who longs for the drug even though the effects have proven to be devastating. Physiological addiction aside, will the addict feel, whole, loved and satisfied after the drug? For me, I take this to mean that it wasn’t about the OW. She was the one who at the time filled up his empty soul with drug kibbles.
      I did that job previously, that’s why we were together and why he was once ‘in love’ with me.
      So it’s not about the cheating partner. They really suck because they are entitled, shallow fuckwits with no shame or empathy. But just as I wouldn’t compare myself to heroin, I’m not going to compare myself to the sparkly OW.
      I’m not giving the cheater a pass because they were on ‘a drug.’
      I’m just saying, cheating partner was filling up something very unhealthy
      and missing in the cheater.
      As we’ve heard, some cheating partners are hot, some are slobs, some successful, some aren’t. All of them are unhealthy people who momentarily gave a fix to the cheater. Who knows what happens after that? A lot can be impression management.

      • Zip: That was one of the best things I’ve read in a long time. Thank you.

        Continue: Being discarded so easily by the person you trusted with your life is nightmarishly traumatizing. It distorts your thinking. If anyone in this scenario is worthless, it’s your ex. Truly. What would you think of a person who tossed a tied-up bag of puppies into a lake? Would you think he was a great guy and the puppies were worthless? No sane person would think that. But the trauma distorts your perception, so that’s exactly what you think — he’s a good guy and you’re worthless.

        It’s especially hard for women, too. Gaining weight and aging in a world that only values us when we’re thin and young makes us more vulnerable to feeling like we no longer have value.

        I fight this battle every single day, and I’m four years out. I’ve been working on losing the weight because it helps me feel healthy, energetic, and better about myself. I’m also using makeup again and growing my hair long. I think it looks pretty, and that makes me feel good too.

        I’ve decided that I don’t have to be anything I don’t want to be – fat, old, or worthless. And, from now on, no one gets to decide my worth but me.

        Keep battling for yourself and don’t let the bastards grind you down.

        • Oh that puppy image is strong – pretty much what he did to his step- kids – just tossed them away along with me – for sparkly 15 yrs younger OW and her kids. What kind of a woman would welcome a man like that into her life? A disordered, entitled, delusional one. We give them way too much thought. Ugh

        • Thank you, ChumpQueen. Appreciate your words very much. The puppies analogy was brilliant and I cannot unsee it that way now. I am not quite up to your level of mighty but I’m trying to regard myself as a person among people and not worth less than anyone else. I am trying to care for myself now, if nothing else than being stable and well for my kids and my work.
          The link you posted, above, to Dr Minwalla’s work is life changing information. 🙏

      • 👍

        For a laugh I have to tell you guys; when my ex left me he wouldn’t tell me who the ow was. I guess trying to protect her delicate reputation. Lol.

        Anyway, the only complaint he lodged against me that day was my housekeeping. Keep in mind I am not a terrible house keeper, but I am not a spit shiner. But, the man neveer washed his own clothes, never did any house type work, and evidently working full time, doing his bidding in the community, and going to school to get promotions so he could have a bigger boat didn’t matter.

        Of course I was devastated, and all it took was that one complaint for me to take the blame. Anyway, I imagined in my head him leaving my dust bunny riddled house and and going to her house; in my imagination her house was so sparkly and clean it glowed, she was skinny, and she calmly came an put her arms around him and they lived happily ever after.

        When I found out who it was, well that blew that image all to hell. She was not skinny and calm. She had the body of those little troll dolls, and her life was utter chaos. I had heard about her from other PD employees. I had met her a couple times, and each time I was not impressed. She didn’t act like she was particularly bright. But, maybe she was just nervous. Definitely not someone to feel bad in comparison to. So that ended pretty quick with me. I never gave her much thought until years later, when she and he started blowing up, or trying to blow up my sons life. That is when I found the lovely and smart CL.

        Skinny and spit shiner was what I had always envied about other women. I was not overweight, but I was never skinny, and I was never a spit shiner. I do believe being a spit shiner house keeper is a gift, and not something one can do without that gift. Much like an artist. His sister was a spit shiner, and you could tell she just really loved spit shining.

        Per my daughter in law she was a horrible house keeper, and made me look like a spit shiner. Now that is weird, to use that as his only complaint, then go to someone who is a worse housekeeper. But, I am guessing it was the only thing he could think of in his desperation to dump it on me and get out the door.

        As much as I hate to give him credit, about eight months later write me a letter of apology and referred to himself as a lowlife. But, I am guessing it was only in response to him finding out I went out on a date. He didn’t want me, but he certainly didn’t intend for someone else to have me.

        I still get an occasional giggle out of me wringing my hands and imagining her shiny house and skinny body, while I chastised myself on how I should have worked harder.

  • The happiest of birthdays to Mr. CL.

    I think most of us compare ourselves to the AP, especially in the early stages. It would be my guess that we inflate the attractiveness and “sparkle” of the AP and downgrade ourselves. For those of us who recognize a “devaluation stage,” this internal comparing mirrors what the cheater did to us–devalued us while overvaluing the AP. We need to give up the comparison for that reason alone–so that we don’t abuse ourselves as we were abused.

    Instead of comparisons, we are better off deciding what kind of life WE want. Maybe instead of being a coupon queen, you want to go back to school. Or maybe you like your current job and want to spend your free time hiking with friends or being a soccer mom or dad. The urge to compare your life with the lives of others is much less when you are happy with yourself–and not looking at yourself through the eyes of a cheater.

  • The whore got your lying, cheating, pathetic, fake, easily manipulated, kibble needing, little boy.
    I guess mine felt powerful because he could step into someone else’s marriage, take the place of the chumped H -(who supposedly made whore unhappy and filled with anxiety), save the day and make it all better. Because whore wished she had someone like my wonderful husband. Although she told him she didn’t want to live together until her kids were older and out of the house he moved in with her almost immediately 😂. So you lost someone without common sense or integrity. He lost someone wonderful who would’ve made his life better moving forward – and he gained a selfish, entitled, opportunistic troubled fuckwit like himself. In my case, the whore is so proud of breaking up my marriage that her public Facebook profile pics are a constant revolving testament to her entitlement.
    And then hysterically, my former ‘lovely’ mother-in-law will like and comment on the presents from my Ex displayed as her profile pictures!
    These people have as much depth as a sheet of lined paper.

  • Thank you to everyone for the kind birthday wishes. CL made my day extra wonderful with highlights including the gift of a beautiful fountain pen and dinner at a nice Italian restaurant (eggplant Parmesan is the most evolved state a vegetable can attain). I think she might’ve even let me listen to sea shanties on the drive home if I’d wanted. But I didn’t push it: I know how lucky I am! #ShiverMeTimbers

  • Mr. CL: Hope your birthday is terrific. Agreed about the eggplant parm—preparing it for dinner tonight, as a coincidence. Enjoy and show gratitude for what you have made happen in your life!

  • The answer to this one is so simple yet so hard to grasp for us chumps at first. I think some of it just comes from the sheer devastation and void that occurs after being cheated on. As a guy I can tell you, I was completely emasculated, enraged, sad. Just broken. Fixating on the other person is just natural at first I think. It’s hard to believe we were that blind and admitting that we means we have to look at ourselves. Yeah, not what I wanted to do in those first days after Dday. There’s a lot of things in between, but if comparing yourself to the affair partner is an ongoing thing, then yes. Problem. I remember the feeling, is he better looking, stronger, bigger dick, better in bed, I’m just a loser I guess. WRONG way to attack this from. You’re X is a cheater and a liar. Someone who goes after married women or men is NO prize. Just that realization in itself should be enough for our minds to process. I know the heart is a different matter. Our hearts tell us everyone wants to be good and its not their fault if they have issues. Well who the hell’s fault is it then? And even the fault doesn’t really matter. What matters is what are YOU willing to tolerate to be in a relationship with someone. 4 years out and now I kind of feel silly for even being threatened by another person in my love life. Boundaries, was the most important thing I learned from this experience. What is ok and what isn’t. The other partners rarely last and there will be more anyways. And if you’re in that world you’ll start all over with them. I see so many people. Even people who have moved on still watching X’s social media and I’m like, WHY? You think they’re gonna post how miserable they are with current schmoopie? NO, it’s gonna be rainbows and unicorns and somewhere over the rainbow. Disconnect, live you;re life, finally you;re best one.

  • Filet mignon versus Alpo dog food in the can.

    Raised a glass to my late mum this week. ♋️ rule as nurturers. Happy birthday Mr. Chumplady 🎂🎉 !

  • Ex asshat was a member of a town board. He was always so charming, sparkling, all shiny turdness. I will never forget an email he sent me (yes, it was in WRITING) about hating the board, the public, just everyone, and also saying “Boy, I really have them all fucking fooled, don’t I?”

    Until I forwarded that email to the mayor, the board members, and the editor of the local paper.

    He knew, and I often told him as I’d done corporate PR for years, that you shouldn’t do anything or say anything that you wouldn’t also like to see on the front page of the newspaper.

    What a jerkwad fuckwit. Glad I kicked him and his diseased dick to the curb.

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