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Bitch Cookie: ‘He Doesn’t Blame Me’

bitch cookieHi Chump Lady,

Chump me is getting a divorce, after catching my husband cheating on me for the third time. It was a “three strikes, you’re out” kind of deal. I was the chump for even giving him one.

He claims his affair partner is cut out of his life now. He has never once blamed me for his actions. He’s never played any of the cards like “my needs weren’t being met” etc. He has always placed the blame on himself and at least verbally taken responsibility for his decisions.

He claims he’s in therapy which can be corroborated by mutual friends who know him. He claims he wants to live an honest life and become a person worth having as a friend. He wants to win back my friendship, and he seems to be trying to do it.

Is reconciliation, for the purposes of being his friend and not his spouse, wise? Is it worth it? Am I a unique chump with someone who seems genuinely remorseful? Or am I just being played again?

I really do love him and want him as a friend, and my instincts say that he actually is trying to better himself. But the trauma and pain he put me through was a big deal, and I don’t want to give this to him for a few years if I even do at all. I want to be a forgiving person, especially to someone who I loved for 8 years, but I don’t want to be an idiot.


Dear Kayla,

There’s a lot of things you could do. Eat Tide Pods. Swallow livestock dewormer as a COVID cure. Stick a jade egg in your vagina to prevent “shame spirals.” People do these things! People recommend these things. Doesn’t mean you should do them.

Do I sound like your mother? Imagine the slap upside your head. Kayla! What are you THINKING?! Put the hopium down. I don’t care if Gwyneth Paltrow is friends with her ex. If Gwyneth stuck an egg up her ass, would you do that too?

Are you a Unique Chump? No Kayla you are not. You are an ordinary person to whom the laws of gravity, science, and fuckwittery apply. If you jump off that building, you’re going to go splat. If you give a cheater who gave you three D-Days another chance, you’re going to have four. Five. Six….

I swear, exceptionalism is the most lethal drug on the planet. It’s Gonna Be Different For Me. Uh huh. Until you find yourself in an iron lung during a pandemic and realize that gosh, your specialness failed you. Or you take back your cheating ex as a “friend” and discover that all your magic wishes cannot transform a fuckwit into someone who cares.

How do I know that? EVIDENCE! (Science is based on it. Crazy, right?) He. Gave. You. THREE. D-Days.

That you know of. THREE. You valued him. He devalued you. You valued him again. He devalued you. You valued him yet again. He devalued you.

Does that sound like the basis of a healthy relationship?

He claims his affair partner is cut out of his life now.

Okay, whatever. He’s still someone who casually betrayed you and lies. Why would you believe him now, and also, why would you care if he’s still with her? You’re divorcing him. He can go fuck broom handles. He’s a free agent. AKA: Not Your Problem Anymore.

He has never once blamed me for his actions. He’s never played any of the cards like “my needs weren’t being met” etc. He has always placed the blame on himself and at least verbally taken responsibility for his decisions.

Bitch cookie. If he hit you and didn’t blame you for him hitting you does that make it better? Because he didn’t sprinkle extra toppings on his abuse, does it make it any less abusive?

But the trauma and pain he put me through was a big deal,

There. You answered your own question. It’s a big deal. You invested your life with this person, were vulnerable to him, generous with him, and he shat on your gifts, and you’re asking me if you should give more?


He claims he’s in therapy which can be corroborated by mutual friends who know him. He claims he wants to live an honest life and become a person worth having as a friend. 

This is called Hoovering. And it’s part of the abuse cycle. He’s trying to suck you back in, not because he values you, Kayla (see the evidence), but because you’re of use to him. Tell me how friendly he is as you hammer out those divorce financials. Tell me what he does without your “friendship.”

He wants to win back my friendship, and he seems to be trying to do it.

Because you’re letting him. Because you’re not practicing boundaries or no contact. You’d rather believe in his mythical potential (see livestock dewormer and exceptionalism above) and not the EVIDENCE of his character.

Fix that.

I want to be a forgiving person, especially to someone who I loved for 8 years, but I don’t want to be an idiot.

You can be a forgiving person and NOT HAVE HIM IN YOUR LIFE. Reconciliation is not forgiveness. Giving him carte blanche to as many chances as he’d like is not forgiveness. You’re allowed to protect yourself from his harm. Who says that is unforgiving?

If he was a schizophrenic running after you with a meat cleaver, is it unforgiving of you to run away? Schizophrenia is no one’s fault, it’s a brain illness. Still makes sense to escape harm.

A guy who is cheating on you, risking your health mentally and physically, is a meat cleaver. RUN AWAY. And unlike a schizophrenic, it IS his fault, because he CHOOSES to harm you.

Run faster, I say. Don’t stop and have tea and be besties.

You can forgive him later (or not! That’s totally okay too!) from the safe distance of your new life without him. You don’t OWE him forgiveness or friendship or the next 5 minutes.

He thinks he’s entitled to it? Then he’s the same asshole he’s always been.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Kayla, he isn’t friend material. He is a liar and a cheater. Let him go. He sucks.

    • Run away and don’t look back. Learn from my mistakes and others here, he will not change and you deserve better. I wasted too many years believing the lies, the trickle truths and the sparkly veneer of friendship.

  • “Reconciliation is not forgiveness.”

    This – a million times over. Embroider it on your tea towels. A throw cushion. Write it on your bathroom mirror.

    Run run run!

    • Mine was the same. ???? Same. He didn’t blame me, he said. His needs were being met, he said. 3 strikes and I’m out, I said. Turns out he is the sad sausage covert narcissist type. I lived for the crumbs. He was nice, generous, all that. To me, this type is the most dangerous mindfuck of all. Healing takes time so no exposure to him is best. No contact.

      • Mine was a covert narc as well and yes healing was very long and slow because it’s hard to see them as the Fuckwit they are when soooo much about them was a good. I heard some heartless things during the discard, but then later he came back with “he took me for granted’
        And he’s selfish, and he’s a bastard,… And he had his wedding ring on until the papers were signed. All a total mindfuck.
        He was so wonderful until he wasn’t that I really felt that I had lost the best man on earth to the OW. I don’t feel like that anymore.
        It takes no contact and it takes hearing over and over again that he was a professional liar and extremely selfish underneath it all.

        • You described my FW exactly. Covert narcissist. Kept his ring on until he left. It’s a complete mindfuck. But boy, when that mask comes off and you are away from them — you can see how cold and calculated they are. Long process to heal, but I’m thrilled to be free of it.

          Bottom line: Any version of a Cheater is not friend material. Let them go completely.

          • Yup. And he was even calling me ‘baby’ while talking about our separation and using ‘we’ a lot. Oh and he lost weight while the wrecking ball of the discard was doing it’s job on our life (to the point that he looked ill) – and used that as proof that he too was suffering. Complete mindfuck when they are ‘nice guy’ cheaters.

  • Cheating is WHO THEY ARE.

    My daughter and I were talking about character yesterday, a conversation prompted by the secret double life of her father, my STBX, Benedict “OJ” Madoff.

    Character is what you do is when one thinks no one is looking. Cheating is not something good people do. Cheating shows WHO THEY ARE. The
    Nice Guy/Gal they present to the world, is NOT who they are. That is a FACADE.

    Be friends with someone who does not stick knives in your back. Who doesn’t lie and gaslight and abuse you. Who is PROTECTIVE of you. Who you can TRUST. Who is concerned for your well-being, not HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.

    This man does not act like a friend. It doesn’t matter if you’re married or not.
    What is there to love about someone who intentionally hurts you, THREE TIMES, no matter how you define their relationship to you?

    Cheating is abuse and soul-murder.

    You don’t need this man as a friend. You need a new definition of friendship, and friends who fit that definition.

    I’d use the launch codes on your former con artist abusive fake husband.

    • Too many typos in there to correct here, but they’re in there! Sorry! I wanted to post before I got bumped off so I didn’t correct….

    • ^ THIS ^
      All day, every day!

      “You valued him. He devalued you. You valued him again. He devalued you. You valued him yet again. He devalued you.”

      Know your worth, Kayla! You’re more valuable than this.


    • This topic won’t vacate my brain.

      Kayla, please dear, take heed here from all who have shared so openly.

      When dday hit me I didn’t know about CL or CN.

      All the my computer screen showed me was what I now know is RIC ‘propaganda’ and of course I fell for it because I had been with Mr. X for over 30 years and thought he was Mr. Wonderful or soon would be because he had such potential.

      Below is a link to one of the RIC people I found and reading through her stuff now I thank God, Angels, Fairies whatever….that I:

      1 – Flunked out of the RIC

      2 – Woke up and that I am not in her shoes.

      From all I can tell, she is still with ‘him’ and is actually teaching other women how to deal with their trauma while still with their fws!!!!

      Her advice reads like ‘ignore it sweetie but if that doesn’t work, breathe through it and ‘it’ will go away.’

      AAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHH A Charlie Brown response to Lucy and her football swipe a million times over!

      If you want to wrap yourself around a snake, which is what a fw is in my opinion, then go for it. She may be the help you want vs what CN has to offer here.

      There are women who thrive in that atmosphere and the creator of that site appears to be making damn good money off of her situation charging other chumps who want what she appears to have.

      CL is run on volunteer donations.

      CL has a full life of her own.

      CL doesn’t appear to need any advise on how to deal with reoccurring triggering spontaneous trauma reactions.

      CL has my full attention.

      I haven’t regretted any of the time I have spent here or reading her book which is way more than I can say for my lost years (2 of them) in the RIC.

  • Would you be friends with a woman who steals from your purse repeatedly??? Let him go and invite sanity into your life.

  • If you caught him three times, then it is likely he cheated MUCH more than three times.

    • This. 100%. There is no way you caught him every single time. And there is no way it was only three times. You caught the obvious ones. You didn’t catch the rest stop hook ups, the workplace hook ups, the nasty dirty quickies in corners with co-workers and strangers. You caught the three times he liked it enough to do repeat performances.

      • Whitecoatburnout, I need to read that dose of reality. With cheaters I think there is always more than we know going on in the double life. I can think back to times his behavior suggested he was cheating but I am clueless as to who the affair partners were. I found so many small (but highly significant things) over the years, and spackled. It’s so easy to put back the rose colored glasses of who we thought they were, but mostly because it aligns more with us and our values. Most chumps I believe have trouble seeing the cheater for who they are, we look for the good-spackle,
        recall times we were happy-spackle, and believe in the goodness that we’ve seen the cheater display-spackle. The reality is it’s the cycle of abuse, the good times were manufactured by the cheater/abuser, the bad times were discard/devalue. It’s a tough reality to accept, and I struggle with it too.

        • It is so hard for me. Almost every day I look back and recall instances in our life where I accepted any explanation he gave me…instances which in hindsight were obviously adultery related. I am struggling to find authentic happiness in my past. I trusted 100% and he 100% was cheating almost from year one. And maybe in year one, who knows? I am convinced that all that is necessary for anyone to defraud you of anything is that you be a good, honest, and trusting person. You don’t have to be stupid (I have a genius level IQ), you don’t have to be unsophisticated, you don’t have to wear blinders – all that is necessary is that you be a good person and that you expect the person you love the most to be a good person too.

          • WCB, processing my new understanding of my life is the reason I come here when though my life with cheater is 9 years ago. I was such a striving, sparkling wife and (honest to God) I never really suspected anything (I think he was VERY careful who he chose to fuck) and 2 months before I remarried, I learned that deadCheater had been a serial cheater.

            Like you I think back on the simplest things and now (with my blinders off) see situations VERY differently. Embarassingly….I chalked up SO MUCH as him simply being a “quirky guy”…no he was a man-whore cheater.

            When I look for authentic happiness from my past, it has nothing to d with him…I think of my kids and my progression in becoming the person I want to be. I refuse to spend a single minute trying to remember anything good about him…I did that for 26 years which was more than enough.

          • Ditto thought I have no idea what my IQ is….didn’t do me much good in this department 🙂

            Anyway, what hit me is your comment about accepting the lies…

            Not sure if Kayla has children but I do and guess what they learned to do?

            To lie, of course because if they went to their father with a complaint about me, teenager stuff, he was always the good guy and the children would get responses like ‘we just won’t tell your mother’. (I found this all out after the fact.)

            I thought it was cute at the time. Figured they needed an ally because, of course, I WAS the bad guy.

            Now I know differently.

            • My 15 y/o son was in trouble because of drug use. We had a family counselor. I had found a huge bag of weed and all kinds of hard liquor in my daughters room. I took it and dropped it off at the police station. She knew we couldn’t have that stuff in our house. She told the counselor that her dad told her he would never take her alcohol. I was always the bad guy. I was usually the one to see things or they would tell me things. I always told them they had to tell their dad before he went to bed or I would. He on the other hand, kept so much from me. He hated conflict so he pretended there weren’t problems. I felt completely alone in raising the teens. He was great at the childhood part. Of course while they were rebelling and keeping me busy, he was having an emotional affair with an old girlfriend from highschool.

          • Which is to say they exploit our foundational presumptions of honesty, mutuality, decency, and morality, They defraud you over and over, while you lean on the notion that they are a person with a functioning conscious.

          • “all that is necessary is that you be a good person and that you expect the person you love the most to be a good person too.”

            Yep, and my fw bragged about it about a month before Dday. I won’t go into the situation where he said it again, but he stood there and said “Susie wouldn’t believe I was cheating, unless I told her I was” And he was right.

            He was quite arrogant and proud of himself. Until his life and his job situation started crashing and burning. Then he just looked stupid. Whore didn’t get to marry a Police Captain, with a cushy office job, she married a patrolman, who had made himself a laughing stock of the city.

  • I think ALOT of people get confused about this idea of “uniqueness, specialness, unicorning”.

    You can be special and different – about things you can control. Work ethic. Having integrity. Dropping out of social media to facilitate your mental health and ability to live in the present. How you talk to cashier’s at Publix and children.

    When you are in the driver’s seat, you can and probably are special or at least different than ALOT of people.

    But you can’t control another person. You can’t make yourself perfect for them. And that where you aren’t special. That’s where you aren’t special. And neither are any of us. You would have to be able to affect another human being who has already demonstrated that you can’t affect him. You can’t. You aren’t that kind of special. No one is.

    Chumplady invokes science/evidence. And she is right. But science also involves being able to reproduce the experiment and observe the same results independently. Welcome to chumpnation. We have redone the experiment – whether it be reconciliation or co-parenting or no contact. And guess what. We see the same results, the same behaviors, the same words, the same excuses ( bagged salad, loading the dishwasher incorrectly, walking the dog wrong).

    You aren’t special when it comes to how someone of low character is going to treat you. Sorry.

    But you are special when you go out into this world and live a life that respects other people, that nourishes your soul, that shows the people you value and love that everyday.

    • Great point. Also the darker flipside of exceptionalism/God-loves-me-more-than-other-people-and-that’s-why-bulls-won’t-gore-me-and-sharks-won’t-bite is victim blaming. If bulls gore and sharks bite, it must be that someone was bad and God loves them less.

      Holding that “Calvinism of luck” attitude is common and obnoxious, but the full price of it doesn’t really show until the person who believes this encounters misfortune that was beyond their control and automatically blames themselves for it. It’s like spitting in the wind.

      It takes a kind of humility to accept that chumps don’t have magical voodoo powers to turn perfectly upstanding spouses into lying, cheating, endangering, ab.usive fuckwits. And no one coming after the chump has the voodoo power to “inspire” the fuckwit to de-fuckwit and suddenly transform into an honest, loyal, responsible person.

      So I agree that people can be special in all sorts of ways but no one is special enough to make a good person bad or vice versa.

      • ‘It takes a kind of humility to accept that chumps don’t have magical voodoo powers to turn perfectly upstanding spouses into lying, cheating, endangering, ab.usive fuckwits. And no one coming after the chump has the voodoo power to “inspire” the fuckwit to de-fuckwit and suddenly transform into an honest, loyal, responsible person.’
        This is so great. That’s why- don’t be brokenhearted by what might look like amazing happiness on the outside with their cheating partner. We know what lurks underneath the façade.

  • He wants to be the guy about whom people will day “He isnt a bad guy, he and his XW are still friends”.

    Gah, making that possible for him is too big of a gift or sacrifice to make for someone who hurt you so deeply.

    I try to imagine what it would be like if I were in a room with my )now dead) cheater for 5 minutes and he were being a friend and trying to make amends. I can never finish this thought experiment because I can’t imagine being in the same room with him for 5 minutes. RUN

    • So agree with this! They just want us to support the narrative that they are not bad people. Not our problem.

      • If you have continued contact that involves negotiation and compromise (because of kids, for instance), they also want us to be friends because then we’ll make their lives easier. We will grant favors, or make allowances, or be flexible: basically, we will help them out in the way that you help out your friends.

        I can have perfectly cordial (though not chit-chat friendly) relations with my XW as long as I say “yes” to everything she tells me to do. Most of the time I do say yes, because the kids would be hurt if I stuck to my principles and refused. I literally count these interactions: a dozen yeses in a row, and everything is fine between us; then a single no, and suddenly I am a poor excuse for a human being because I always put my interests first.

    • My FW wanted this so badly during his GF#1 days: he wanted me to approve of his girlfriend and he wanted me to hang out with them as their friend. As I’ve spoken of before, he wanted me to be the Bruce Willis to their Ashton Kutcher/Demi Moore pairing (his words! really!). And he was asking for my blessing and my friendship shortly after D-Day when I was still a weepy, snotty, traumatized mess (with an STD that I was taking care of now).

      I was such an emotional mess that I almost bit the fishhook of “Well… at least I could be his friend” but I just couldn’t do it. Being around either of them made me physically ill. Being around him and GF#3/Wifetress nowadays (years and years later!) makes me physically ill too. Our bodies have some pretty amazing warning signal programs, don’t they?

      Anyway, when my head wasn’t as full of snot and tears anymore, I saw his fishhook of friendship for what it was: the blessing of the soon-to-be ex-wife on his relationship with the young girl he had left her for. You see, he had played the whole first affair girlfriend game *very badly* and had left me in such pain (with babies in diapers) that everyone he knew was furious with him. His lies (and they were whoppers) had all been exposed and he was desperately trying to do some local PR to dress things up because he hates being hated; he loves being a hero. (Every secret GF is someone he’s “rescued.”)

      So, he campaigned hard: he really, really, really, really wanted me to be friends with him. Friends with them. Friends. All of us raising our children together. I felt nauseous then and I feel nauseous now typing it out.

      It was a friendship fishhook and I didn’t want to be caught and hauled on his boat of craziness, secret girlfriends, and pain. I declined. He shook his head like a sage and said it was too bad that I couldn’t put the past behind me and move on from petty grudges. I was very glad I declined now.

      He didn’t want to be my friend. Who treats a friend like that? He just wanted some of that negative heat surrounding him to dissipate a bit and an ex-wife on his arm as a friend is a non-verbal “I have done nothing wrong” cue.

      I may have stumbled and got caught up on the hopium hook that promised reconciliation (spoilers: he was never interested in working on the marriage and found GF#3 half a year after he moved back in) but, surprisingly, I never did bite at the friendship fishhook. Somehow I was able to see it for the trap it was.

    • I also wonder if sometimes those of us who want to remain friends ( even if that’s just in the beginning until we know better ) unconsciously do it for similar reasons? It’s a good look to break up with a partner and remain friends.
      It kind of implies that both people are great – just not great for each other. Chumps have been abused; it’s taken some of us a while to really internalize the fact that we are not responsible for their lack of love for us. We were not ‘less than’ partners. The FW’s wanting to remain friends with us tells the world that we’re OK, we are worth their friendship.
      Or, THEY made a ‘mistake’ but we are evolved and forgiving.
      Or, FW does love me, we have a bond – FW still wants to talk etc.
      Just some thoughts.

  • Thank you for your response. I wasn’t anticipating that you would read my email, let alone, respond immediately. I appreciate your time and your straightforward honesty. It helps give me perspective, which I desperately need.

    • Dear Kayla,

      If I saw a person hitting an animal, I would not ask that person to take care of my animals if I were going on vacation.

      Cheaters and those who cheat with them aren’t that wise.

      Victory is learning to be wiser, not learning how to stay attached to the person who abused you.


      • Kayla, you might look into co-dependency. A lot of us chumps tend this way, and it leads us to think we only deserve friends found in the bargain bin. But that’s not true: we deserve friends who are kind, honest, and loyal, because people who aren’t those things aren’t really friends.

    • Kayla,

      It’s a sad fact that you are not unique and he is not remorseful. You’re hoping because it’s uncomfortable to get through this and it feels like it would be easier to just not.

      If you don’t go through this now you’ll go through it at some point in the future.

      He isn’t sorry – he’s just continuing to abuse you and you’re not far enough out to recognise the cycle of abuse when you see it.

      Give yourself time, any time you feel sad or even an inkling of an idea of maybe it wasn’t/isn’t too bad go and read up on traumatic bonding. That’s what these feelings are. They’re not real, they’re a result of the traumatic bonding that he has created as a result of his abuse of you.
      You can do it. Keep going.

    • He also wants you to roll over in the divorce proceedings because his ‘friendship’ is SO valuable to you. He’s playing on your emotions to line his pocket.

      Don’t forget to get tested for STDs. All of them.

    • Not everything you love is good for you. He is NOT good for you. Go “No Contact” immediately and let someone else intervene for you if it’s necessary for any talking. My lawyer told me that if my cheater wanted to speak with me, to tell him, “My lawyer told me not to speak with you. My lawyer said that if you need to say anything to me, to tell him and he will relay the information to me.” That was a lifesaver! I recommend you do the same. The quicker you go “No Contact”, the quicker you’ll get your head out of the mindfuck blender and the quicker you’ll heal. You still love this cheater, but someday you will say, “What the fuck was I thinking?!!!”

      • I agree. One of my fave Toaist sayings is “If you want the universe to fill your rice bowl, clean it out.” Another is, “Never rob anyone of their consequences.”

    • Kayla my STBX was exactly the same. Third time I caught him he was full or remorse, went to therapy, took the blame and claimed he’d do right by me even if I chose to divorce. He kept it up for months

      Guess what, I caught him again with a secret phone 6 months later. Filed for divorce and he morphed into an asshole. Blames me, claims unhappiness for 15 years, kicked kids and I out of the house (tells everyone I left) and cutting financial support bit by bit.

      People who cheat and lie are not good friends or partners. They never will be. Don’t look back

      • My story is very similar. Discovered cheating, he denied, I stupidly believed him. 7 months later found burner phone and jewelry receipt for jewelry I didn’t receive. I was done and realized it was always going be a game of cat and mouse. Highly unlikely you’ll catch them the same way twice, they learn from your discoveries and close those areas of “weakness”. Mine has become a true professional and I’ll never get the amount of evidence others have, it is ok I know what I know.

  • THREE D-days Kayla, three!
    That you know of.

    Your letter does not mention what Cheater does for a living nor what you do. But, based on my own experience, I bet your FW has done some math and the numbers favored his decision to try to win you back. I bet FW does not love you or maybe even like you. He likes what you do for him.

    I bet if Chump Lady takes a survey of Chump Nation there will be a significant, strong correlation between the number of bitch cookies cheaters dole out and cheaters’ needs. Two categories of chumps will be apparent: 1) chumps who were just dumped because cheaters did not need them and 2) useful chumps who always have to be on the lookout for bitch cookie traps, the RIC trap and getting impaled by unicorn horns.

    I believe in being objective, in examining the data with my brain because I, ClearWaters, deserve better.

    Kayla, dear, get out.

    • Ooh, good point. He realized how badly a divorce will hurt him financially and has decided to play nice to keep you from divorcing him. My ex had a very large balance in his retirement account. So large that he had to pay out some of the stocks to me, and I still the house and half his pension. I think it actually enraged him.

      • I think so many of them are such controllers that they really think it will all go down according to the laws of FW.

        My ex was surprised when his planned scenario didn’t pan out. In short his plan was to dump me with our falling apart house, and the house his mother was living in and I was to take over payments and my reward for that would be that I get the house his mother is living in after she dies. Until then I had to agree to let her rent it for the rest of her life.

        Yeah no. His ass got the marital house and every thing except the one house that was free and clear. Yeah no, my lawyer laughed at that. Also he had to pay all my living expenses for one year, to pay me back for the money he stole from me. He could have bought me out for half the value of the paid for house but he was too stubborn for that.

        He still got way more than I did, but I got a small house free and clear, and he got his mother and everything else.

        Asshole had wet dreams of me taking care of his mother for the rest of her life, while he and whore danced away in a cloud.

        Best laid plans…

      • He probably isn’t trying to prevent the divorce but keep it super friendly so she will cave in and not get her fair share. I have seen this in action. Klootzak announced he wanted out and suddenly was trying to sell it like a win-win. It’s For The Children and all that. I was in shock and didn’t have my ducks in a row so I said oh no, I don’t want a divorce. So he dropped it but returned to acting like an ass.

        This can work to one’s benefit if the chump needs to buy time. Klootzak should have dropped papers when he had the chance. He got a huge raise he thought he kept hidden. Booked a vacation for himself (I assume with a schmoopie since kiddo and I aren’t invited). When he’s gone, I have a contractor coming to the house to make a significant upgrade. If I get the house – yay, it’s mine. If we have to sell, it will have increased value on the future sale. He doesn’t want to stay in this town so it’s unlikely he will keep the house. When he returns from his vacation, “Surprise! Look what I did with the house! Isn’t it great?” He’s going to soil himself. I’m essentially forcing him to invest in marital assets and send kiddo to a nice private school.

        His salary just zoomed to such a level that the state calculator for alimony now looks like he’ll likely be paying the equivalent of what will be my mortgage for the next 12 years. That is, unless he gets a super attorney to negotiate a better deal. But oh wait. I spent the last year attorney shopping the best firms in town, thus preventing him from being able to hire the best. Conflict of interest, ya know. Once I have talked to them and gotten their advice, they can’t talk to him unless I approve.

        How do I know what mortgage I would get? I signed up for my own major cards on the sly. (Klootzak had kept all the credit in his name to build up his credit rating.) And now my credit score is up at 800 so I got some quotes. I also have almost all the utilities in my name, so he can’t shut them off if he suddenly decides to leave.

        So maybe he has his reasons trying to stay “friends” and bamboozle her. If she has good reason to play along if she can gain tactical advantage by doing so, that would be the only reason to even feign friendship with the FW. But never should Kayla delude herself into thinking she has friendship. A ruse to buy time or get a better deal? Sure. But I don’t care how many years you loved him, you don’t really stay friends with a FW. Secure your goods and get him out of your life for good. He’s putting on a show because there is something in it for him. Don’t hold out hope he will ever become a decent person. There’s no such thing as a unicorn.

  • I thought I would try to be “friends” with Cheater X after divorce, and I had a bunch of good rationalizations for why (read: trauma bond). I had dinner with him and he yelled and abused me with his new narrative about how terrible I was and stomped away and I thought that was the last I would ever see him, and that was for the best. Then when it was time to move in to my new house, he randomly showed up, like nothing happened (his classic M.O.) and said he wanted to help me move, which he did. So I entertained the “friendship” idea with the “nice” X again. Guess what? A few months later, I got an email from my divorce lawyer, saying his lawyer sent word that he’d changed his mind about a previously agreed upon 50/50 split of an asset he’d “discovered” after the divorce was final. So – it was all about trying to manipulate me into giving up money! That was it for me, no contact for once/all, and hell no I stood my ground and they backed down and I got my 50%. Pfft. It’s always a transaction with them, how you can be of use.

    • This happened to me too ????????????????????????????????

      Beware a seemingly remorseful cheater— they are back to take more from us.

    • What it is with them acting like nothing happened?! If I ever brought up his cheating or lying, I was immediately such an inconvenience to speak to and conversation over. Maybe this is a trait of a narcissist.

      • OMG!! That is so true. Yesterday FW cornered me to harass me and refused to leave me alone. He pulled up a chair and said he was not leaving until I admit how horrible I am. He kept repeating his lying narrative because he wanted his family to hear how horrible I was and the things he wanted that I stopped paying for (because he refused to contribute any money for the last couple of years). Then I told him that the only thing he ever shelled out money for was adultery. He ran out of the room immediately! Dickhead!

        • If it doesn’t fit their narrative, they are so done. Despite that it is true! It’s bizarre.

          • Oh yes. Cheater X only wanted to “talk” on his terms. Meaning, he would talk at me about what was wrong with me, and then if I tried to make it an actual dialogue, he’d walk away, hang up the phone, turn on the TV, etc..

            • 100% yes! Which reminds me how we could talk and laugh about my family being “crazy”, but not his that was off limits. Clearly his family has to be “perfect” they created him????

  • He says he wants to be friends NOW. while you are divorcing. It might be image management, so he can claim the “we grew apart” narative and the support of your friends and family. More likely it’s to keep you agreeable and conciliatory during the financial settelement.
    After months of no contact, my ex offered to shop for me during quarantine. As soon as I replied that his friends, not him, could drop off staples and fresh foods outside the front door. he ranted that he wouldn’t risk his friends’ health, lives or safety by asking them to drop food on my porch. Then a week later, he announced that the friends would come into the house to get itmes he wanted. No, thanks. He was only “friendly” when he though he could get something from it.
    See how friendly your ex is about sharing financial information, making a reasonable settlement and the follow-through with court orders. Mine promised he would make amends for financial theft. Instead I got a huge, costly legal fight to find assets he hadn’t already hidden or spent. The court ordered equal division of the few remaining assets he hadn’t stolen and hidden, He still hasn’t followed through with any payments of signatures to transfer assets. One excuse after another, still running up my legal fees.

  • Also, be wary of these “mutual friends” you speak of. Think Switzerland. They don’t want to pick sides. So they don’t have your best interests at heart. They’re just doing what’s comfortable for them. Also, how can they possibly know if he’s in therapy? Because he told them?

    • Be wary of “mutual friends.” This is a really good point.

      At first, I did not want to make any mutual friends uncomfortable, and I didn’t want anyone to feel pressured or obligated to choose between FW and me. Then, I thought about what I would do if the tables were turned and I encountered this situation with another couple. I would (and have) cut ties with the fuckwit and support the friend being abused/cheated on. I don’t want friends who abuse others, and I don’t want friends who condone abuse.

      I’m more comfortable standing up for myself now. I remind myself that I have worth, and expectations are ok. I want friends who will choose me. It feels really good, if scary. I remind myself that people who don’t care that someone is cheating on and abusing me actually don’t care about me. They are Switzerland. What’s more, if a person I consider to be a friend has been manipulated into believing a known liar’s narrative over mine, then they never really knew or believed in me in the first place.

      It’s all really sad and disappointing. There’s a lot to let go of at once, and it’s hard not to feel responsible for the negative consequences of infidelity – including damaged friendships and social networks. However, I’m trying really hard not to feel guilty, even when I feel rotten. It’s not my fault things got ugly. I was a good and honest friend and partner, and I didn’t abandon anyone. Fuckwit is to blame for the fallout. Mutual friends who remain friends with FW are likewise making a choice, and that’s on them.

      • Oh I feel this. I dropped all mutual friends and haven’t yet gone to any ‘social gathering’ that I used to frequent with FW. A few ‘friends’ did reach out to me and ask what happened, I gave them the truth… nothing more. My life as I knew it was detonated on the final D Day (the 2 previous DDays, FW begged me not to leave, convinced me it was just friendships and I chumpily stayed ????????‍♂️????????‍♀️). I invested 34 years into that loser, I’m letting go of the fact it could have been less.

        With 3 adult children (and their partners) and 4 grandchildren my life is full of love and worth for which I am grateful. Both parents are still here too…. I count my blessings but there is still a sadness that creeps over when I reflect upon what has happened. Its not just a marriage or partnership that dies…. Its an entire fabric of life with ripples that go vast and wide. I am only just a year into separation, still in battle Royale (divorce grinder) he couldn’t have been anymore unreasonable and has pretty much pissed off all the children with his actions since I petitioned for divorce. 2 have stopped all contact (which includes all the grandchildren)… This gives me such a mixture of emotion. I’m grateful I don’t hear anything about him but sad that they don’t have a dad to be proud of. I need to work on those feelings. Just another thing I have to process and let go of. So much to let go of.

        I guess what I’m saying to any newbies (and I am quite new tbf) is, don’t be me…. Get out!!!

        Hugs to everyone here ❤️

  • I want to be friends, is cheater speak for I still might have some use of you. So you need to continue to kiss my ass while I get settled in my new life.

  • Some cheaters are genuinely remorseful and want to make a change in their life because they sincerely love you.
    But they cannot.
    They will cheat again. Rinse and repeat. They are not capable of maintaining fidelity. They appreciate your steady love, but deep down, what they really want is the thrill of cheating. Ah, that rush of pleasure hormones!
    They are not safe relationship material, so run away!

  • Kayla, Kayla, Kayla,

    He wants “to be friends” because he wants two things:

    1) to manipulate you during the divorce process so you will be more amenable to the financial split HE wants and less likely to fight for what you’re due.

    2) to be “friends with benefits”–all the benefits for him. He’d like to turn you into one of his side-pieces. Oh, sure, he’ll still want you to “wife” for him, but you’ll do it out of “friendship” now.

  • A little perspective: I would not be friends with a man I knew had repeatedly cheated on one of my friends. I have more respect for her and zero respect for him.

    Kayla, have that same respect for yourself. You didn’t deserve to be cheated on. And you deserve much better friends.

    • MichelleSchocked, I think this kind of depersonalization can really help chumps get our heads out of the blender – especially when we’re still stuck in the cycle of abuse. We often do not value ourselves enough, which is why it’s useful to ask, “Would I wish this for a friend?” “Would I choose to be friends with a serial cheater?” Etc. The goal is to regain self esteem, but in the meantime,

  • I fell into the ‘friends’ trap with Cheater #3.

    By all means, take Pretendrelate (sodium selfdeludeazine 100mg).

    It’s temporary medication for the pain of separation, grief and loss. And as such, it’s clinically proven to work in the short term.

    But it also comes with many, many, unwanted side effects like:

    – Constantly feeling on edge
    – Feeling bad when you think about the time you spend with your ‘friend’
    – A strange sense of never feeling safe
    – An inability to move on and date new people
    – Living on crumbs
    – Mysterious emptiness
    Regular episodes of delusion followed by painful rude awakenings

    So if you’re okay with that, full steam ahead. (Like most tranquilizers, anti anxiety meds and sedatives, it’s quite habit-forming. Just so you know.)

    Or, you could cut your losses and go and meet some real friends, with whom you have things in common, no false expectations, and you always feel safe.

    • Lola, you are a great pharmacologist… Just what Kayla needs to know about now.

      • Long-time user here. I’ve come off Pretendrelate many times.

        Usually I have ended up being angry at myself for being addicted to it.

        Really, I need to be a lot more kind to myself, and to let myself grieve when it turns out I was in love with someone who wasn’t capable of reciprocating.

        Another side effect of Pretendrelate is tiredness after emotional heavy lifting.

    • Lola Granola,

      This is great!

      Thank you for the diagnosis and the ‘cure’. NOT!

  • My Ex was exactly the same: he took full responsibility, he got on his knees weeping and said all he wanted to do with his life was make it up to me and be the husband I deserved, he went to therapy and would come home excitedly to tell me what he was learning, and he cooked every night for the family while I was basically nonfunctional having a nervous breakdown. So I we stayed together to see what would happen – I had a therapist who said don’t trust his words only his actions and you will be able to figure out what to do.

    It was odd that I would come downstairs already spinning and ruminating about the his secret sex life and he would be whistling and happy. He seemed really surprised that I was still devastated as the weeks went by. Soon he was blameshifting to me – I was unforgiving and did not believe people could change. But still I watched and couldn’t make a decision for 18 months.

    Yes Kayla, it’s all impression management. If he was a good guy and loved you he would not have cheated 3 times. He doesn’t want the story to be that he is a loser cheater; he wants the story to be that he divorced but is still friends with his ex-wife. That’s a gold star for him. Oh and now of course the Ex has smeared me – never loved me, angry person, unforgiving bitter etc etc.
    They have no integrity, no moral compass and are NOT friend material.

    • Mine LOVED the release of tension and anxiety he felt every time I discovered something else he was hiding and lying about… he never once in 22 years came clean about any of it, but forced me to discover his crap time after time. Then he would feel SO.MUCH.BETTER but I would feel like complete crap/angry/sad/betrayed/etc. and he was like… can’t we just move on? I promise I’ll never do it again! (until the next time he did it, or something similar). You’re just mean, you don’t have faith in me, your reaction is the problem. It was corrosive and soul-searing. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully recover, but I am on the road to MEH!

      • This is why reconciliation, for me, was not about forgiveness. Sure, I’ll forgive what you did! I just want to know I can trust you not to do it again…

        You describe the mind boggling cycle perfectly here, Dawn. Don’t know if it will help, but I’ve reflected that my ex seemed to feel momentary relief when he “came clean,” but he actually never came close to full honesty. Even nder the pretense of starting from a clean slate, he instantly began to incriminate himself with more lies and deceptions. FW was in too deep (years and layers of lies – a patina), and it’s who he is at his core. I don’t have to hear anything about or from FW to know he is still lying. To himself, to his new partner, to his YouTube followers, to family and friends. I’m at least being honest with myself now. I can be. I don’t think cheaters, abusers, narcissists, sociopaths are capable of honesty. Ever. They aren’t strong or wise enough to escape the exponential disorder of their web of lies + their fucked up skein. Whatever, the sickness is on them, but cognitive dissonance (Pretendrelate 😉 ) is a dark cloud I’m glad to be out from under. Terrifying, to think of being trapped like that.

    • *Taking* responsibility is very different from *talking* responsibility. My ex talked the talk and made some very convincing promises. He broke every single one the instant I came back and he was again in control.

  • Most cheaters seem to fall into three categories (when it comes to excuses):

    1. the ones who blame the spouse for their cheating (You didn’t load the dishwasher correctly, so I had to cheat.)

    2. the ones who acknowledge their fault but also blame the other (We both had problems. )

    3. the ones who make a big show of taking responsibility. These are the deceptive ones. They don’t blame their partners. Instead, they might blame their FOO issues, their sex addiction, their psychological weakness. But don’t be fooled. It’s a ruse. It’s more manipulation either to hoover or to avoid consequences. “Give me another chance” and/or “You wouldn’t impose consequences on someone who is taking full responsibility. Would you?” “Look, look. I’m a good person. Bad people blame others. I’m not doing that.”

    We have a third-category cheater here. He wants you to feel sorry for him, take him back, and not impose consequences. If you do, he’ll get another get-out-of-jail-free card and go on to have another affair. Please protect yourself. Get STI tested and hire a lawyer. Run for the hills! You deserve better.

    • Yep.

      Also, I think the only reason I didn’t get blamed for loading the dishwasher correctly is the cheap bastard wouldn’t let me buy a dishwasher.

      I was still living like Little House on the Prairie, only without the respect.

    • Quite right. Generally, I think that’s true. Mine, however, tried all three tactics at once according to his mood. It was maddening. One day it was my fault, the next it was totally his and he was so, so sorry. Other days mistakes were made on both sides, bla bla. Most often it was the it was his fault but there were extenuating circumstances.
      I honestly think he’s just that stupid as to have no idea why he does anything. He pulled whatever he could think of out of his ass in the moment, forgetting that it contradicted what he said before. I think that’s a fourth category of cheater; a blithering idiot who wouldn’t know the truth if it bit him on the arse. It’s someone who use only the emotion of the moment when making life-altering decisions and therefore cannot explain any of them.

      Kayla’s cheater seems a solid number 3 type and 100% using it as a ploy.

  • Kayla, you are still in love with the man you thought he was, in love with the dream. It is a mirage in the desert, of an oasis, and you are thirsty. Quit dreaming, start living.

    Even if it was “just” 3 times in 8 years (doubtful), imagine yourself 20 years older, and with children, and then what? How many more times are acceptable to you? How much risk are you willing to take with your life and health? You think saying no to him makes you a bad person? What kind of reverse guilt is that?

    Accept that he is who he is. You have evidence. Don’t look for excuses to forgive him. Look for reasons you deserve better.

    • “Don’t look for excuses to forgive him, look for reasons you deserve better.”
      That’s solid advice there and CL brilliantly spelled it out for you with humor, love and truth.
      The three d-days you have, should be viewed as the first three beacons of light that lead you out of the fog. They are not the last of what will eventually be revealed to you about this man, but they are all the confirmation you need right now to begin your exit from his abuse.
      Take full use of CN’s universal connective experience, we have all been to the other side of the mountain and are sharing story after story of how it plays out.
      I wish you well, Kayla. There’s another side to all the trauma and chaos and it’s a better, safer place to live.
      He’s not your friend.

      • Last night, I woke up from a nightmare involving FW. I head hit by a reframe that felt like an epiphany- embarrassing to say about something so obvious: All the confusing back and forth, on and off, “push/pull,” problem solving… the stuff that somehow incriminated me for staying in spite of the difficulties and that made me blame myself and believe I was incapable of healthy relationships… THAT is the cycle of abuse. It’s not, “Well, I’m to blame for staying through all that. I consented, I contributed and I deserve it. I’m an idiot for staying.” That is what abuse looks like.

        If you’re going through it again, or if you see a friend struggling through a similarly nebulous relationship, it’s abuse. I love CL’s pro tip from last week. Something along the lines of, “If you’re getting mixed messages, get out!”

  • If your husband truly wants to be your friend, and is willing to prove it, tell him to sign off on whatever separation agreement you and your lawyer agree is in your best interest. But be prepared for him to throw a tantrum, suddenly become nasty to you etc.

    • He claims he will give me whatever I need or ask for in the settlement. I called lawyers who haven’t called me back yet. I’m hoping to get this process started asap. It may not show me all of his true colors , but the way he responds to the financial stuff will be telling.

      He is the breadwinner and I relied on his income. I’m assuming this means I can ask for alimony. But I don’t know anything about divorce. I’ve never done it before.

      • Oooh, yes, you will be legally entitled to spousal support (alimony). THAT’S why he’s playing nice right now. He doesn’t want to have to pay you anything. I’m glad you’re talking to lawyers. When I was first starting out on my divorce journey, I found this website really helpful:

      • Adopt a “wait and see” approach and indeed lawyer up. Start reading attorney blogs/Facebook pages to educate yourself and attend a Second Saturday seminar (most are online still). I had been a SAHM for over twenty years, and he promised “quick and easy.”

        It should have been a matter of months and took over two years total (he also dragged out closeout). Legally I got better than what a judge would award, but by no means was that enough to live on. He had to retire early, so no alimony. I’m OK now, but it took a while to become self-supporting.

        By the end, I knew he had to completely be out of my life forever.

      • Kayla – If you haven’t met with a divorce lawyer yet, you need to go “gray rock” or “no contact”. That means you keep your confusion and needs to yourself so they can’t be weaponizied by him.

        It also means you give yourself the weeks/months of real support from people who have your best interest at heart until your divorce is filed/final. Check the Chump Lady archives under Divorce to get your ducks in a row.

        Are you still living together?

      • Well, then, it’s clear what he has to gain by making you think of him as a “friend.”

        Get a lawyer, ASAP. And stop talking to this guy until you do see the lawyer.

        And meanwhile, start looking for a way to support yourself because alimony does not last forever.

        • I believe 10 yrs of marriage is the bar for alimony in many places. There could certainly be temporary spousal support while job-seeking or retraining. Look into nearby schools/programs and get that tuition written into the divorce settlement.

          • Absolutely check the state divorce laws and get legal help if possible.

            In my state of D, there was no alimony. It was a 50/50 no fault state. However, my lawyer said right off the bat he could get me three years of temp maintenance. I chose six months, and fw delayed it for another six months. Also, if there has been marital monies spent on affairs that can be recoupled. You don’t necessarily have proof. Run cc and bank histories highlight suspect charges. Part of the reason I could get the temp maintenance was the money he had stolen from me for his jollies.

            In our state the divorce couldn’t be finalized until the temp maintenance period was up. which was a good thing because then you would have to depend on the fw to honor agreements. As long as the D was pending, if they want a D, most will do what they are told to do.

            Main thing is put it on on the table for the lawyer, get every thing you can. They have screwed you over, fair is not even a consideration.

            I kind of wish I had gone for the full three years. In hindsight I am pretty sure fw would have gone along without a fight. For some reason though he was going to marry whore, he was in no hurry. He could have ended it in the six months I asked for, but he started dragging his feet.

            But then he was in a workplace shit all over himself with his direct report situation, who know what was going on there.

      • All of us were new to divorce. My advice to you is to do your own research and reading on what the process is and what your rights are. Don’t expect your lawyer to take care of it all, and certainly don’t expect your ex to be generous. When you know what you deserve, you will know if it is a good offer or not.

        Once place to start reading:

        And look for resources that are specific to your area / state / country. You are likely due alimony.

        Hang in there. It can be a much longer process than you think. One step at a time.

        We’ll be cheering for you here at Chumpnation.

      • Kayla, I have to agree with everyone else here. This is just an act to get the best out of the divorce on his part. He is just trying to avoid consequences, AGAIN. Cheaters are never sorry for cheating, they are only sorry for getting caught. Pay attention to what they do, not what they say.

        Here is what you know: he lies and he cheats. Apply that knowledge to the current situation: getting a fair divorce settlement. Chances are this is just image management to get you to agree to his terms when the time comes, and not to look too deep into your joint finances ( hidden assets, presents to APs, etc).

        Trust your gut to lawyer up ASAP. If there is goodwill on his part, most likely it will be short lived so better draft something fast. Also “whatever you want” in his mind is much much less than what you’d think, or what the law entitles you to. Ask me how I know…????

      • You don’t need to decide now whether you will divorce. You do need to inform yourself about what divorcing would mean: get a lawyer and find out exactly what the process entails, how long it would take, and what the likely outcome would be.

        At some point in the not-too-distant future you *will* need to make a decision, but you want to be well-enough informed that you’re deciding between your current marriage and a known post-marriage future.

        It may be a good idea to do this somewhat secretly if you’re concerned about what your husband’s reaction will be, but to be clear: you are not doing anything wrong here, and have nothing to be ashamed of. Divorce is a legal proceeding, and it is totally legitimate to get professional guidance about what it involves as you weigh whether or not to embark on it.

      • Dear Kayla,

        This is where I am currently but maybe a few months out from where you are. In April of this year I got a lawyer and started the divorce process. My STBX also is very agreeable to whatever I want and majority to be in my favor. Hes letting me keep the house plus 50/50 of the rest. He too said he’s sorry and has been in therapy wants to make amends. He says he wants to win me back, still loves me and wants to be a part of my life.

        BUT his decades long chronic lying cheating and out of control sex addiction and manipulating is in COMPLETE CONTRAST to who he now presents to me. This makes me skeptical and doubt the divorce will really go smoothly. I often wonder what is his alterior motive.

        Im barely functioning. My brain is mush and live in fear of what is and what isnt and how to tell the difference. What is he really after and can I take this at face value? The track record tells me no.

        Perhaps he doesnt want his dirty laundry aired in divorce court, maybe a hostile divorce would dig into income tax records and show financial infidelity, maybe wants to appear like the nice guy to his children, maybe to keep my involvement with him to further get his kibbles and play games.

        One thing I can say with absolute certainty in both our cases, neither is that special “unicorn” that has turned over a new leaf and has finally seen the light and the error of their ways. Its temporary in nature. Transitory. Its called future faking and image management. I hope you can get a good settlement before the worm turns.

        • This resonates with me because it is how I currently feel. I love and trusted this man with my whole heart. I know who he was cheating with. I know the details of this particular affair. He was in deep. It was a complicated, abusive relationship. He told me after I found his burner that he cut her out this time and wanted to do his utmost to be the trustworthy man worthy of my time. He told me this affair was the only one. But I gotta put down the hopium pipe and operate on the only facts that I know.

          Every single person here is advising me to go NC and not to look back. But there’s still that side of me that wants to believe in this unicorn. Because I love him. And the circumstances of this particular betrayal were so complex. I want to live in this unicorn land: Once the divorce proceeds, once he does everything right, once he proves he actually loves me and respects me over months of dedication, there’s a friendship in our future.

          But that’s hopium, I guess. And it is too early for me to pave a road to a future that might not exist. I mean reconciled couples do exist right? Are there any reconciled couples in chump nation or have I found a community that I’ll inevitably join in my future once I realize reconciliation really is impossible?

          I just love him so much. I feel dirty even talking about it here, like I’m betraying him (ha). The fact that my real name is signed here is because I forgot to sign my email with a pen name. I didn’t even think CL would respond. I’m thankful she did. It knocked me on my ass and I needed it. It’s just still so hard to view my beloved husband as an irredeemable abuser because I know he’s capable of greatness.

          But I can’t help him get there I guess. Only God can.

          • “It’s just still so hard to view my beloved husband as an irredeemable abuser because I know he’s capable of greatness.”

            Kayla, I loved my XH the Substance Abuser for 30+ years. No one could compare to him in my mind. I had seen he was capable of acts of kindness. He had an artistic bent and could make beautiful things. He was smart and funny and handsome. At times, he could be unselfish and thoughtful.

            He also drank to the point of nearly killing himself. He hurt me over and over with nasty remarks, forgetting major events, breaking my stuff, screaming at me, ignoring me, being rude to my friends–and almost never being sober when we could have time together.

            At some point, you have to sort out the “love” you feel for what he COULD be from the righteous anger and disgust you should feel at being duped and cheated on. Where is your anger? Where is your respect for your own feelings?

            You don’t have to see him as an “irredeemable abuser.” You just need to see that he has poor character. That he has lied and cheated many times; you have three “D-Days,” for the three times you discovered an affair, but every time he cheated, every time he covered up his actions, every time he locked his phone or gave you some excuse for being late or told you that you are paranoid and jealous, he LIED. He manipulated you. What’s to love about that? I get that you have feelings for the person you thought he was and that you are financially dependent on him. I get it that you still feel the emotion you call “love” for him.

            But love is also an action and a decision. Right now, pour the love on yourself. Get your act together so that you can make a life that doesn’t involve someone deceiving you and eventually leaving you high and dry financially. Because that’s how this story will end up if you aren’t smart about it.

            You don’t have to hate him to go “no contact.” You just have to give yourself a few months to get out from under your “he’s my prince” spell and see him as a person who is not Satan but who has serious character flaws that will take years to fix. Yes, therapy can help him but the kind of man who cheats over and over is a different bird from a person who drinks too much and makes one terrible mistake. Your husband has a serious character problem. He’s a liar. A cheat. And his disrespect for you is clear in that he didn’t change after D-Day 1 or 2. And you are spackling his character defects because you “know he’s capable of greatness.” I’m capable of never again eating chocolate but the likelihood of that is zero. You’re in love with a “potential man” not a real man.

          • You know why things get “complicated?” Because someone is lying. The truth is very simple. Is he telling you that HE is caught in an abusive relationship? Puh-lease.

            And what about your greatness? YOU are capable of greatness, but not while you’re trying to “help” someone else get there. Especially someone who has betrayed you. Repeatedly.

          • Kayla – You’re confusing friendship with reconciliation. Do you really want to be a part of his life when he’s free to date and start another family?

            Are you afraid that if you don’t go along with friendship you will have lost some sort of chance to remain married? Read about Timid Forest Creatures in Chump Lady site. His “complicated abusive” affair is his problem. You don’t have to understand and you certainly don’t have to excuse it.

            I know it hurts. All of the chumps here loved their spouse. Go “no contact” until you get all the legal information you need. Protect yourself financially and get tested fot STDs.

            • Kayla: My (tall, late thirties, serial cheating) ex sobbed to me about the scary, abusive (petite 22 year old) woman who was stalking him and who he wanted nothing to do with. He hadn’t spoken with her in years. Well, the emails, texts and voicemails I later found told a VERY different story. Two weeks after I left, with him crying for me to stay and professing his undying love, he reunited with this woman he’d thrown under the bus. Cheaters lie. How many times do you KNOW he’s lied? You’re going to uncover more and more lies, whether you want to or not. I am so sorry, and I thought my ex was special, too. Just like you describe. It takes time to get over that, but you will (no comfort now, I know). In the meantime, keep reading here, protect yourself and get out.

          • Kayla,

            I’ll say it again, “Not everything you love is good for you.” Put that on your bathroom mirror and look at it everyday. Oh yeah, you mentioned that he confessed AFTER you found his burner phone. Notice that he had no guilt prior to getting caught. It was only after you found out – again. For the third time. Again! Your husband is acting the same as all the fuckwits that the rest of us chumps have had in our lives. They didn’t come clean about their actions before we ever found out. They were filled with remorse only AFTER they got caught. And like the two times before, your fuckwit is tap dancing around telling you what you want to hear because it worked before. And if you fall for it because “he’s capable of greatness”, the next time he gets caught, he’ll pull the same lines on you again. By the way, he’ll get better and better at hiding his actions. Believe us. “But this time he means it!” That’s what my son said about his skank wife when he caught her the third time. “Caught” is the key word. She would have continued her liaison had he not caught her. I told him, “Yes. This time she DOES mean it. Until she gets you back to trusting her, until she gets board and likes the attention that other men give her, and then she’ll just go back to doing what she wants to do because she feels entitled to do it.” Like everyone here says, you do NOT want this loser for a friend. Have respect for yourself. He has beat the shit out of you; the bruises just aren’t visible when you look in the mirror. If you had a girlfriend that kept getting smacked by her husband, would you advise her to stay when he told her that he was sorry, and this time he really, really means it when he says he won’t hit her again? Would you tell her to be ‘friends’ with him? I would hope not. Kayla, you are being abused. You have been smacked upside the head at least three times. When are you finally going to say ‘Enough is enough!’ and get that wife beater out of your life? When are you going to respect yourself enough to say, “I will not have a liar and a cheater in my life! I’d rather be single the rest of my life than to ever have a liar and a cheater in my life again!”

          • Hi Kayla:

            It’s 3 years + since my Dday and I am a veteran/victim of the reconciliation complex. So I’ve been to therapy, my husband had a CSAT, I’ve attended Weiss therapy sessions and groups, member of another website for women whose husbands betrayed them.

            So hundreds and hundreds of couples. Let me list the success stories:

            There aren’t any that I know of. By success I mean that the couple was together, loved each other and trusted each other. Nada, Zilch. Zero.

            There are partners that seem to have made some accomodation with the poor character of their partner and are still together. Some are women with tiny children, disabled children, or who are financially dependent on their partner, or who have a strong religious belief in marriage as a lifetime committment. Happy? No. More like barely able to tolerate the suffering, most days. It’s no way to live. Like Stepford wives, minus the smiles, spotless homes and big boobs. Most are on anxiety meds, but are filled with anxiety anyway. And they watch their husbands like a caffeinated hawk watches a mouse.

          • “It’s just still so hard to view my beloved husband as an irredeemable abuser because I know he’s capable of greatness.”

            Oh Kayla…my deadCheater was a person I believed was capable of greatness. He had every piece of the puzzle to have a truly awesome life…a FOO who adored and idolized him, a faithful loving wife, 3 great kids, an excellent education, good friends, a Faith Tradition to glue our family together and I learned after he died, that he spent whatever energy he ought to have used to be a leader of his family to instead fuck coworkers.

            I did everything possible to create a stable, loving home where his potential greatness could be cultivated but I learned too late that he was never in on the same plan I had. He expended his energy elsewhere.

            It doesnt matter what I thought he was capable of, he shat on it all. I had WAY too much faith in him.

            • More thoughts on “It’s just still so hard to view my beloved husband as an irredeemable abuser because I know he’s capable of greatness.”

              I felt something similar about my ex throughout our relationship. I thought he was a wonderful person with great potential. We got together young, and I kept expecting that potential to some day be realized, as we matured together. I thought it could happen if I supported him enough, made enough personal sacrifices, etc, and then I thought there would be some reciprocity for me and my goals.

              After my D-day and some fruitless counselling, I learned that among his complaints about me was that I kept trying to change him. What I expected was a natural growth and maturing process when we took on responsibilities like finding jobs and supporting ourselves, having a mortgage, becoming parents, etc, he perceived as me pressuring him to change. And he didn’t want that. He didn’t want the greatness I perceived in his potential.

              Are you in love with him, or in love with his potential? EVERYONE has the capability of greatness. But he’s just vividly demonstrated that he has no intention of pursuing that greatness.

          • My FW sounds sincere, and did the counseling. And he may very well be faithful in his next relationship.

            But he wasn’t faithful with me, and so our relationship was forever changed. The memories we shared were all false, because there was a 3rd person in the relationship that I didn’t know about.

            There will always be that 3rd, 4th, and 5th person in your relationship. Even if there aren’t any more, you will always doubt him.

          • Kayla,

            You say that
            “Once the divorce proceeds, once he does everything right, once he proves he actually loves me and respects me over months of dedication, there’s a friendship in our future.”

            That’s a strong case of hopium talking. How do I know? Because he hasn’t done any of this while you’ve been married to him. And if he hasn’t done any of it while you’ve been married to him, there’s less than a snowball’s chance in hell he’ll do it after you divorce.

          • Dear Kayla

            Personally if he is going to be very fair in the divorce, I would not go no contact yet. Going no contact suddenly now may trigger him into hellish divorce.

            After the divorce tell him you are taking six months to yourself to mentally recover. Use this complete no contact time to focus on yourself. Stay complete no contact. You will surprise yourself how your feelings will change, new perspectives and attitudes emerge. Journal, treat yourself, do things that you enjoy and try something new. Take a breather.

            Anyway thats what Im planning to do in my situation. Then after the six months if you still feel he is worthy to be in your life, then decide. If you do, watch his words and actions with fresh eyes. You may realise he was never an authentic friend to you. Most posters here can see that clearly given the info you provided. Its foggy when you are in a sea of cognitive dissidence. Look up these terms now or when you go no contact. It will help.

            • I was a 30 year chump.

              I agree with what you have written about NC.

              I was agreeable with Mr. X during the divorce because I was still high on hopium and thought he would wake up so it all went very smoothly.

              He couldn’t get it over and done with fast enough so he could move on unencumbered by me and I went along with it hoping he would see the error of his ways and call the whole charade off.

              I hadn’t found LACGAL at this stage in our debacle so all I was banking on what the RIC literature and there are tons of stories wherein couples divorce and then re-marry. That is what I was after. Little did I know what went on after for the poor chumps in those relationships…..Brutal.

              Anyway, after I found CL and CN I learned about NC and I realized that he had indeed moved on and I was the one whose life was on hold because he was still in my life and it was still on HIS terms, not my own. He called when he wanted to. He dropped in when he wanted to.

              That is when I saw the ‘real’ him at last. What others describe here when consequences do hit.

              So yes, hold off on NC. It makes it much easier to go through the divorce process – at least it did for me. What a blessing for me – I see that now but back then I was heartbroken because he really didn’t want me or our marriage or our children except as objects with which to decorate his life/self-image. We had no value to him anymore. OW had it all and we were cast aside.

              • Yeah they’ve moved on because they’ve moved on during the marriage ????. It takes us a very long time to catch up. Mine still had a key to the house during the discard and I found it unbelievable how he would just walk in without knocking without ringing the bell, like it was still his home.
                I mean technically it was still half his home but really…. I told him it was confusing to the kids when he just walked in like he lived here and that was very surprising to him.

      • Yea well wait until he sees what that means, financially speaking. I agree that striking while the iron is hot is a must. Right now, he’s having a mea culpa moment. Those don’t last with these personality types. He’ll freak out soon. In any event, take actions quickly and secure the best deal you can, but also start working toward getting educated and/or trained to enter the workforce at a job that will fully support you. Alimony, if you get it, won’t last forever and most states, even those who allow liberal alimony, cap it. Every capable adult should be able to support themselves, whenever possible. It’s like an insurance policy against being beholden to fuckwits.

        This will feel like taking a few steps back at times, but that’s necessary so that you can take many steps forward. Best of luck.

      • Any lawyer you called who hasn’t called you back within 3 days is NOT a lawyer you want to hire.
        Read all the previous blog posts about how to find a divorce lawyer (there are many).
        I’m sorry but you’re making what will be very costly mistakes right out of the gate.
        And please find your ANGER. This isn’t a game; it will impact your ability to survive as you create you’re future.

    • The best litmus test, SC!

      Sparkledick wanted to reconcile, all snuffles and tears. Don’t you miss me? We won’t see our grandchildren together?

      OK, said chump here, sign over everything to me, leave your useless bull-shit factory of a job (think think-tank), I’ll buy a farm and you can run it and get part of the profit.

      Guess what? I bought the farm, but I don’t have a FW in my life anymore throwing tantrums

  • Ladies, please stop being taken in by this stuff. There is no need to be friends with an ex. This is a gag people use to have continued access to emotional labor from you. Cut them off.

  • OMG, the last part, about the meat cleaver, and forgiveness, is one of the best, most useful and true things you’ve ever written! Loved and copied to my Chumplady goldmine.
    As the cherry on top, the X loved cleavers, not that he’s a cook, but he hoards cooking equipment, so um, unusual. I’m glad he’s not violent, because he has probably 4 cleavers. Never could understand that.
    Anyway, just brilliant today, CL.

  • Kayla – you are a good human. You obviously love and care for him. Whether he deserves it is another thing entirely. Why not reframe it as you’re giving him a gift? The gift of consequences so he can work on his personal growth. The gift of dealing with the results of his craptastic behavior. The gift of realizing that he has harmed you and that you will no longer be in his life in any way, shape or form. Maybe, just maybe, this will help HIM do the work HE needs to do.

    Please give yourself the gift of no contact. Wishing all the best as you travel your path to healing.

    • “The gift of realizing that he has harmed you and that you will no longer be in his life in any way, shape or form. Maybe, just maybe, this will help HIM do the work HE needs to do.”

      Absolutely, so good. No way I would have ever been friends with my fw. But, had he really gone to work on making himself a better man, even if it was with whore, it would have made my sons life a lot easier.

      But reality is very few ever really want to work on themselves. Too easy to use people, and let the others bear the consequences.

      • So true. Cheater and liars use people because they feel entitled to do so. Because of no consequences, because they are lazy and it’s easier than doing all the work of actually being a good respectable person when you can just appear to be. Because they get a kick out of getting away with bad behavior at your expense. Whatever the reason, it is not for you to figure out, and it is definitely not a reason to be friends with them. Give them the gift of self-awareness as you walk away.

  • I was also a chump cheated on at least three times (that I know of). I kept forgiving due to his “promises to change” and every time the Cheating got worse. Finally, the 3rd time, in my early 40s, I was done living that life of constant trauma. Been divorced from Dracula for 6+ years and it’s been great. I’ve never regretted my decision to not take him back for even one second.

    I saw Dracula this summer for the first time in a few years (kid related events) and he is WORSE now than he was 8 years ago when he left my house. The entire time I kept thinking “thank God he’s not in my life anymore, thank God!!”

    If he’s a three time Cheater, he’s going to keep cheating. Don’t sign up for more abuse. Once they learn you’ll keep taking them back, the abuse & cheating gets worse the next time.

      • We need the “thumbsup” emoji!

        Agreed, Adelanto, I don’t give myself enough credit for my FW free life! I’m usually thanking Providence, or The Stars, or some other Higher Power to get him out, so I could finally break free of the trauma bond.


  • Kayla,
    There is so much great advice from CL and CN.

    1) as you said, how he responds with financial settlement is telling. If he is sincere with wanting “friendship” then that’s a discussion AFTER the divorce is final, after you know if he’s trying to screw you financially.

    2) impression management was mentioned here. He wants to look like a decent guy, sure he cheated but SHE rejected my friendship after she divorced me.

    You can forgive him, but you don’t have to. Forgiving is not reconciling or being “friendly”. Friendship only benefits him.

    3) he may have changed, he may have seen the error of his ways in cheating on you.

    My exFW sounds like yours, he sounds sincere, he never blamed me (he blamed a brain malfunction ????). He dumped the AP (I know that for certain).
    He’s moved on to the next victim, moved in with her after 2 months. He sounds sincere in saying he won’t cheat on her. Maybe he won’t. Maybe yours won’t cheat on anyone else. BUT they cheated on us, and that doesn’t change. If they cheated on us they will cheat again. Your FW proved he will cheat again. I didn’t give my FW the chance to cheat “again”. His year-long affair, plus his cheating on his ex-wife during their marriage, was enough.

    It’s hard thinking that someone else gets the “better version” of them, especially when the breakup is new and raw. But he never showed YOU that better version. He’s only willing to do that now when he has the REAL consequence of divorce.

    Sure, “let’s be friends” sounds tempting. You have memories and experiences and shared hopes together that only the 2 of you know. But those memories are tarnished. It’s hard to accept that when you go no contact, that you lose that chance to reminisce. But he chose that my disrespecting you. It’s something to grieve. Just like a death, the death of a relationship is something to mourn.

    He chose to kill the marriage. It’s hard when a decision about the marriage is made through no choice of your own. Even if you filed for divorce, he ended it by being unfaithful.

    That’s not how friendships work.

  • This topic is so ironic today due to Friday’s challenge to which I didn’t respond because Mr. X. didn’t throw any reasons at me either. In fact, he was quite the ‘reasonable’ gentleman about the whole thing owning up to his part and his exit mantra was in regards to what he was chasing vs why he was leaving.

    Mr. X fits the description you described….Cheated early on in our marriage, before I knew what cheating was ALL about.

    I forgave him for all of the reasons you stated above plus some you didn’t mention like we already had children at that point and they were young and he was ‘such a great guy’.

    30 years later – dday – it was revealed to me he had never stopped cheating. He had just gone deeper underground and I was totally blind to it ALL.

    I was still in denial at 30 years and I devoted a couple of years to the RIC because that is all I could find at the time on the subject of cheating and I had a lot of investment into our marriage….I was sure I COULD DO IT because THEY were doing it as their literature demonstrated.

    Somehow I ran across LACGAL and my eyes were shocked open. Took my brain a bit longer though….
    The rest is history. I found CL and this book which spelled out even more to me about who I was really dealing with:

    It wasn’t until I went NC that I was able to begin to see the manipulation going on. It has been about 2 years now and I keep seeing more and more of the red flags that were flying over my house all along.

    People have written about them above. They were all there for me especially his reaction when I went NC.That was when I saw the ‘true’ him and it was eerie…Yep, he fit the description.

    Good Luck to you. You are lucky you found CL so quickly. There is a ton of wisdom backed by experience here.

    Oh, and I was lucky because I had really good friends who told me to RUN from the beginning of the whole ordeal. They are all extremely patient too because the stuck with me while I waded through my RIC years but their clarion call was always RUN.)

  • Hi Kayla:

    It is hard to think clearly when you are in the middle of a war zone. That is what us veterans are for. 🙂

    In my opinion you are still looking at him with love goggles on, while for him it is purely tranactional. He want to be “friends” because there is a lot in it for him. In no particular order: it supports his narrative that he is a good guy; maybe he can get sex out of you, or ego-fuel to him; his lawyer (and I am 100% certain he has one) has explained the financial impact and he probably far prefers cheating with you as an ever-forgiving wife applicance to divorce and splitting his assets; he may need additional time to hide assets and make you out to be the bad guy; at the very least he hopes his friendliness will keep you from getting a pitbull lawyer and a fair settlement.

    None of these reasons have anything to do with valuing you. He doesn’t value you or he wouldn’t have put you through hell three times, wouldn’t have seen your distress and agony and repeated what caused it. He is wearing a good-guy mask, but under it is a monster. What he is doing is all manipulation. Please find yourself a lawyer and a therapist who has experience with trauma and marital abuse.

    You will find out how remorseful he is when you negotiate the financial terms of the divorce. If he is usual (notice I don’t say “normal’) he will morph into the worst version of him you’ve ever seen, and spray you with bitterness, rage, resentment, hate and blame. It is frightening.

    Wishing all the best for you, Kayla. As Churchill said, when you are going through hell, keep going.

  • kayla, your H is no friend and if he genuinely thinks he is, he needs therapy because friends don’t treat friends abusively. nonetheless, you’ll grieve the loss of your friendship with your H.

    as you wait to speak with a lawyer, see your GP and get checked for STI’s and other blood-born illnesses, including hepatitis. then see a therapist so you have a safe space to vent. they will help you connect the dots on his abusive behaviour. with time, you’ll be able to clearly see the abusive patterns in your marriage.

    i’m sorry.

  • Cheaters cheat and liars lie. They run on entitlement and have no concern for others. For the entirety of their lives.

    True story: my 82 year old lifelong cheater narcissist mom, whom I swear invented DARVO, has had a few years of health issues. She’s feeling a bit better so I asked her to join me on a weekend getaway. We are all vaccinated but Delta is causing breakthroughs here. She arrived and both she and my step dad (chump) who has dementia were coughing and sneezing and congested. A day in it was getting worse. I suggested maybe a Covid test was necessary. She trickled truth and revealed she had had a Covid test the preceding Monday and was still waiting for her results! Wtf?! Then, I overheard her telling someone on the phone that she had been exposed to two friends who had tested positive at her weekly card game last week. This was on the 3d day of our vacation. We’d been taking them in our car to restaurants, watching TV together, preparing meals — all within close proximity. My own narcissist mother had not one iota of concern for me and my spouse. None. She believes in Covid and is very worried about it for herself. Others? Nah. Trust they suck. Forever. They NEVER change.

    • When we give them another chance, to them it’s a chance to hurt us. I hope you give your mom a wide pass from now on!

    • I am so sorry, Motherchumper99. It hurts to be a kid-appliance as well, and like you, I know that from experience. I hope you and your husband stay healthy.

    • OMG! I’m so sorry Motherchumper99. I hope you stay well. Keep us posted.

      What she did is awful. It’s classic narc behavior.

      I remember refusing to fly to my in-laws’ 40th wedding anniversary celebration because my infant daughter had chickenpox, and I didn’t want to expose someone (esp a pregnant woman) on the plane.

      My in-laws did NOT agree with my decision. “Just don’t tell anyone she has chickenpox,” they said.

      I wasn’t forgiven for what they perceived as a slight. And let me just say that their son, aka my FW, learned selfishness from the best of them.

  • I grant you permission to spit on him if he’s on fire but that’s all the friendship he’s allowed with you. He’s just a tiresome fool and the guy you love doesn’t exist. He’s just THE dream you’ve kept alive for eight years. Your dreamboat is a shipwreck. Let this one sink. Don’t waste your youth, beauty and fertility on a douche bag cheat

  • Dear Kayla, as I told my ex when he wanted to be “friends,” I do not need friends who lie to me, betray me, and abandon me the first time I really need them (I had thankfully temporary health problems when he dropped his bomb – he went from holding my hand and stroking my head and making the nurses swoon over his devotion to me in the hospital to telling me he wanted a divorce less than 2 weeks later).

    You would not accept this treatment from any other “friend.” No contact is very hard at first but it gave me so much peace and clarity. You’ll most likely find your life is better without him and his “friendship.”

    • I agree. Friends don’t act like that period. He took off and threw our lives into chaos and stoked that fire over-and-over. If he didn’t want to be with us anymore, he well could have been decent about it. He wasn’t.

  • I got the friend request too. My exH didn’t want to “lose me.” Soon found out he was buttering me up to sign the financial agreement HE wanted and for me not to take him to court.

    Trust that he sucks. Run away….far, far away. You can forgive him, but please love yourself far more than any care or love you show towards him. You are worth it. Protect yourself and keep yourself safe.

  • Kayla: Why are you still talking to this guy? What are you talking to his FRIENDS, who apparently have no problem with his behavior, about his therapy?

    You haven’t even gotten the divorce yet; you are still “getting a divorce.” Well, is he being cooperative? Is he being kind and fair about the settlement? About child support, if you have kids? Is he paying his share of the mortgage if you have a house and want to sell it? Is his attorney dragging things out or helping things move along?

    Take a long look at how he’s handling divorce, settlement issues, custody and child support, if applicable. That will tell you a lot about how remorseful he is–or what he’s trying to control by controlling you.

  • Yes, as several wise chumps have already pointed out, “staying friends” is impression management on their part. I do think on some level they actually believe their own rationalizations, that this means what they did was “not that bad,” that they are actually really good people, etc.

    Shortly before I discovered the idiot’s affair, he took me to a fancy restaurant for my birthday and bought me an expensive purse. I think he thought of these acts as generous “consolation prizes” that would lessen the sting of his infidelity. When the affair was discovered and I pointed out the hypocrisy of these hollow shows of affection, he then used my “lack of gratitude” as further proof for why he was justified to cheat.

    As I was also guilty of leaving too many lights on and failing to load the dishwasher properly, what choice did he have but to betray me again? This all happened after being caught for an “emotional affair” (yeah right) and other “indiscretions.” That I still tried to make things work after all this I now attribute to trauma bonds. I’m learning to forgive myself, but he is unworthy of my forgiveness.

    I’m almost completely no contact (except for occasional parenting issues). What stings is how many of my so-called “friends” still believe his “nice guy” narrative and continue to interact with him on social media, etc. That is like a whole other layer of betrayal, and I have cut a lot of these people out of my life as a result.

    So yeah, in short, RUN.

  • ChumpLady – you should watch the Joe Rogan experience, the work of Dr. Pierre Kory, episode 1671.
    I have been a big fan of your work and given your website out to countless people, btw.

    • Laura,

      Is this person promoting the parasite drug for horses as a treatment for COVID?

    • Laura:

      I thought that was a good video also. It is interesting with the antiparasitics and I expect we’ll see a lot more in the future about their efficacy with other diseases. I know some are being tested, and used off-label, as a potential treatment for cancer. I think there is something there, though it isn’t my area of medical research. Just a hunch.

      (Although, of course, killing parasites is a huge life-saver that we don’t fully appreciate living in first-world countries….Globally, parasitc diseases kill over a million people a year, hence the richly deserved Nobel prize in 2015 for research into artemisinin and ivermectin.) But we don’t see if because it isn’t a regular part of our lives….

  • Oh Kayla, tell yourself the truth. This man (and I use the term loosely) is not worth a fig. He did not care when you did not know, remember that. My ex also never blamed me for his adultery. I finally figured out why. He felt so entitled it never occurred to him he needed an excuse. That is the height of arrogance. Get the divorce, work on becoming the person you were before you met him, try to get her back. You owe him nothing. Of course he wants you as his ” friend ” now before the divorce starts so you’ll go easy on him. Don’t turn your back on that snake for one minute. Put him in the rear view mirror as fast as you can. Stand up for yourself, there are plenty of good people out there to be friends with, not him.

  • Kayla, I truly understand where you’re at. I was there once, too. D-Day #3 was over 9 years ago. I bought into the RIC (reconciliation industry complex) and blindly agreed to the “wait one year before making any major decisions” BS, which was just another way to continue being gaslit. He was diagnosed as a “sex addict”, went into “recovery”, which was just another cover for him to continue cheating on me. Just like ChumpLady says, ” If you give a cheater who gave you three D-Days another chance, you’re going to have four. Five. Six….”. Well, as predicted (and I knew deep down in my heart it was inevitable), D-Day #4 happened 7 years into his “recovery” (2 years ago), in which he claimed himself “cured”. I am now in the midst of divorcing him, though he delusionally tells me he “never wanted this divorce”, and let me tell you it is another level of hell. Please, please, please go as no-contact as you possibly can, finalize the divorce as quick as you can, and if you don’t have any kids with him, go 1000% no-contact. TRUST THAT HE SUCKS!!!!

    • Waiting a year and attempting reconciliation has only deepened my depression, anxiety, and feelings of worthlessness. And, to top it all off, housing prices have skyrocketed in the past year and I have no idea how to get away now. I don’t make a ton of money and have no idea how I’ll get approved for a rental or how I’ll pay so much for rent without getting a second job (I have three teenagers from my previous marriage whose father dumped them a few months ago and they live with me full time now).

      If I’d left last year (this week is the anniversary of the shit show that lead to d-day #1) I’d be better off in more ways than one. I should’ve gone then. Because now I have no idea how to get out. I have a settlement coming from a car accident from almost 2 years ago but no idea when that’s coming and that won’t cure my income situation when it comes to getting approved for a rental (that whole “must make 3 times the amt of rent business and the rents in my are have gotten INSANE – I genuinely am clueless as to how I’m going to make it work).

      Go as soon as you can and don’t look back. You’ll regret it later. Trust me – because I’m living it now and walking around in a fog of despair and tears isn’t helping. I wish I’d left sooner.

    • Of course they don’t want the divorce! They had it so good, Chumps are amazing people. My X thought he could go on forever, using me, what a great deal for him!
      Now I put all that effort into myself, and my other deserving family members. He always thought he was the big genius, now he’s alone and can wow the world on his own (PS-he won’t)

  • “Definition of ’mutually exclusive’

    If two things are mutually exclusive, they are separate and very different from each other, so that it is impossible for them to exist or happen together.”

    It seems to me that friendship between a cheater and the victim of their infidelity is mutually exclusive. It’s definitely unclear on the concept of friendship.

    Cheaters and those who cheat with them are marinating in a giant cesspool of stinking thinking. Don’t jump in with them.

    • That’s a good one.
      Here is another one :
      ‘irreconcilable differences’ : inability to agree on most things or important things.

      Such as you believe in valuing your partner in a relationship, whether it is marriage or friendship, and he doesn’t.

      You believe in honesty, and he doesn’t.

      The list continues…

      You will lean about this one once the lawyers return your call. Once you get down to it, it is pretty simple.

  • Please build up your self esteem and divorce this cheating lying dirtbag! What does he further have to do to you to see he’s using you?
    Don’t waste anymore time staying with him. Many of us here stayed for decades like myself and threw away our youth. How can you live with a husband who shows you
    he has no love or values you? RUN!

  • Oh I so get this, and all the responses are very good. I too am naturally wired (or was trained by dysfunction) to have a lot of compassion. A LOT. I had that “everybody is doing the best they can” mentality. Two things to think about. Not everybody is doing the best they can. Some people know what they’re doing is wrong and they just don’t care. – And if you’re able to move forward without having hatred and a negative attachment, then fantastic you can get to MEH faster. The bottom line, is there’s absolutely no reason to have any attachment to this person. Absolutely no reason. He has a lot to gain by being friends with you, you have zero to gain and a lot to lose by being friends with him.
    He chose to repeatedly mistreat you. He just didn’t care. Value yourself and find better friends.

  • Each to their own.

    But I could not gift a serial cheater with my friendship.

    He doesn’t deserve it.

    If he was my business partner and pilfered money would I want him as a friends later? Same process.

  • My phony, full of shit image conscious ex wanted to be “friends” too. He tried sending me chit chat emails about running…we’re both runners and it would seem his dime store whore wasn’t good for that.

    I ignored everything.

    Remaining friends with me would’ve helped him maintain his phony nice guy image…the one that’s terrified for people to find out he’s just a garden variety scumbag cheater .

    But why would I want to be friends with him? I don’t like him and certainly don’t respect him, and criteria one for my friendship is that I have to respect you as a person.

    I’d encourage Kayla to think long she hard about why she wants to be “friends” with this guy. Is it to maintain some kind of place in his life?

    My ex has a few other exes like that…they enjoy the ego kibbles they get from his phony hoovering.

    Because that isn’t healthy.

    • It would definitely be unhealthy.

      Right now you are confused, who wouldn’t be?

      My XH also wanted to be “friends” right away when he imploded my life and my kids’ lives. At first I was wondering what, why, how and is it reasonable to expect this from me? The trauma of betrayal in a close relationship is real, as is trauma bonding. Don’t fall for it. Gain a little distance and perspective. Take care of yourself and your kids if you have some.

      It is wrong to ask this from you, especially so soon. Chances are in a few months you will look back and realize you don’t even like that person. But at the very least you deserve a little time and space first.

  • Kayla,
    Don’t do it. Go No Contact all the way. I thought I wanted/could be friends with my XH too. The problem was I couldn’t move on doing this. Something just didn’t feel right. I tried to move on and I would start to feel better and then he would come hoovering around and instantly I would take 5 steps backwards. It’s awful. I played this game for over 1-1/2 years after our divorce. You will constantly feel like something isn’t right if you keep this person in your life in any capacity
    No Contact is the only way to heal!!

  • Be your own friend first. Love yourself first. Have high standards for yourself and then know you deserve to be treated by yourself and your friends with those standards. Not lies, trickery, cheating, sneaking, blatant and hurtful disrespect.
    I’ve had to remind myself of this also.

  • Either of these scenarios is bad:
    1. He is pressuring you to be friends because it benefits him in some way, like maintaining his fake “reputation” of a good guy, or by cheating you out of a favorable divorce settlement.
    2. You are used to having lousy friends, in which your contribution to friendship is way more that what you get out of it.
    Shore up your boundaries! You are going through a divorce, which is drastically changing your life financially, emotionally, and physically. Why go through all that and then stay in the confusion you have been in for 8 years?
    Love, friendship, forgiveness, and reconciliation are all words that have different meanings to different people. The biggest difference in interpretation is between chumps and cheaters.

  • He’s a dirtbag, and dirtbag’s make shitty friends. Pass. Please don’t waste one more minute than you have to on this guy. Spend that emotional energy rebuilding you and your life. Don’t give him another dozen opportunities to wrong you.

    Also, BTW, it’s quite possible that he’s making this friendship play in an effort to prevent you from asking for alimony and things like this. This guy’s shown you how sneaky he can be, he might be thinking that if he can keep you in his emotional trap, then he can control the financial outcome of the divorce.

  • It sounds like he’s trying to be friendly as a way to potentially keep you from getting what you need from the divorce. From getting what’s fair.

  • I hesitate to write this, and I have not shared this part of my story here before, but for some reason I feel compelled to add it. Kayla, this is not prompted by any specific red flag or otherwise in your letter, and maybe it’s not for you but for some other chump who maybe needs to see it.

    These people are disordered and are not safe, and the faster and further you create that distance the better. Reeling after my ex told me he wanted a divorce, needing his support as I battled health issues that left me unable to drive for a period, etc., I tried to keep things normal for six weeks as he “decided” if he could continue our marriage.

    One day he had some extra money and offered to take me clothes shopping. I went, and part way through I felt a strong sensation that I could not continue to be around him, pretending to be normal, any more. Just physically I was completely spent. He drove me home, and I went to bed and fell into a deep, deep sleep. About an hour later, I stirred and opened my eyes, to find him kneeling by the bed, staring at me while I had slept. I have no idea what he was doing or thinking. When I looked at him, he stood up without a word or explanation and walked away. The feeling was so scary that after he finally left, it was two years before I slept in that bed again. I used a guest room in my own house for two years.

    A couple of weeks later, we were discussing finances. He had always said he didn’t care about money. Well, once it came to dividing it up he certainly did. He had bought me a puppy as a housewarming present and we had raised her together for 10 months. At one point during this discussion he started toward me where I sat on a chair. He had never been remotely violent or angry, and I don’t remember feeling he was particularly aggressive in that moment, just that he was now a stranger, and not a pleasant one. Without skipping a beat the puppy, who never bit or was remotely aggressive to anyone before or since, jumped up and bit him. He was so stunned it stopped whatever he was going to say or do in his tracks, and thankfully he moved out very shortly after.

    This is very long winded and I apologize, but these individuals do not have our best interests at heart. They are, at best, emotional vampires, and possibly also pose a physical threat. They certainly are not our friends.

    • Wow! Obviously that puppy knew something that you didn’t. I’m very glad the puppy was there for you that day, and I’m very glad the human dog is out of your life. Your gut was telling you something. I’m just glad the puppy figured it out.

    • Thank you for your courage in sharing this story.

      I don’t think my stbxh is capable of physical violence. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t start wondering if there was a hidden demon in there that could be capable of hurting me or the pets. When I kicked him out I changed all the locks and got a taser. One day when he came over to get some of his things I had a taser and a knife.

      I felt psychotic, standing there with a knife. I don’t think he would physically harm me. I was just terrified of that tiny possibility that he could, since he already proved capable of psychologically abusing me. It’s like I don’t know who he is anymore and I had to think of myself and my cats and dogs.

      • You’re smart. I didn’t think my ex would physically hurt me ether, but then he threw a bottle at me when we were arguing about his affair and after that I wasn’t so sure. One time early in the divorce, I felt compelled to flee our home with our daughter because he was becoming increasingly irrational. He then proceeded to hate-text me like 20x that day.

        Cheesygrits story is spot on. Once money is involved, these supposed docile people go insane because, as it is stated here before, that is a REAL CONSEQUENCE of their actions. And, they don’t like real consequences. I suggest avoiding being overly paranoid, but definitely expect him to ratchet up his bad behavior once divorce proceedings begin and you (gasp) actually want your fair share. These dudes all work from the same disordered playbook.

        • I second everything NotANiceChump and CheesyGrits write here about money and more, and I want to add some of my own story as an additional warning to Kayla and other chumps who are staying/considering going back/considering friendship:

          When my sister expressed her concern for my safety, I responded that while everything was fucked up, I couldn’t imagine FW would ever hurt me physically. She said, “Yeah, but did you imagine any of this would ever happen?” This made an impression, but not enough for me to leave. A couple weeks later, FW attacked me. I somehow rationalized it. Then the next day, he attacked me again. This time, it was so bad that I couldn’t pretend it away. I’d never dreamt the man I loved was capable of any of it.

          The scariest part, maybe, is that I held this belief even though he’d been doing “small things” like following me around the house and blocking me, banging on closed/locked doors and screaming for me to open them, ripping me out of the car, taking my car keys, “restraining” me, etc., for years. We’d even talked about it; I said it was a red line and needed to stop, and he’d agreed it was unacceptable. I would’ve been rabid if someone did this to my sisters or friends, yet I was still letting myself believe this wasn’t physical abuse. My ex was putting padlocks on doors and playing with guns and had said many creepy things over the years that I’d always interpreted as harmless because I believed he was a good person. After I left, he switched manically between stalking me, apologizing to me, crying to me, and raging at me. He was a scary stranger, and I saw through his manipulations, and even then part of me still believed in and loved him.

          The moral of my story? Don’t believe everything you think. Expect the unexpected. Even if your ex hasn’t been physically aggressive, this doesn’t mean he won’t turn violent. Also, please remember that emotional abuse is also dangerous. Kayla, you’ve already shared that your ex has traumatized you, and this is true to some extent for all chumps who’ve been cheated on. A trauma response is a physiological response that can spiral out of control and only gets worse when you remain in unsafe circumstances and relationships. I was dangerously distracted and very unhealthy, depressed and anxious. I wanted to escape the pain but felt hopeless, and I’ve heard from many other folks here that they felt the same. This was maybe the greatest danger. I’m just now beginning to feel safe and calm and myself again, even though I left one full year ago. It took leaving and NC for me to being to move through grief and loss, see clearly and settle down.

          i think it’s worth noting that the pandemic and the polarized political climate (and climate, period) are not helping anyone’s mental health and are exacerbating abusive behaviors and patterns.

          • So true. Things that make us blind with these ‘snakes’ – our love, loyalty, compassion and empathy. I was shocked when I saw what I had been doing all along and not even realizing it – that is how blind I was.

            I have stated here before that now I know what true denial is because I had it. I truly did not know nor suspect him of any of what he did. He was that good at it and I now know that unknowingly I was equally good at my ostrich role – keeping my head in a hole in the ground.

            I was innocent. He was not.

            Big difference.

            Someone told me this story and I think it is worth posting here because it says it all in just a few paragraphs:


      • Hi Kayla I had to comment on this when you said you don’t think he’ll get physically violent with you. In 8 years that I was with my ex, he NEVER showed any violent tendencies. He was actually very AGAINST violence. But when I found out about his cheating and the identity of his OW he threatened me with physical violence! He became DERANGED. I slept with the bedroom door locked because he couldn’t move out of the house fast enough.
        Be careful. Just because they’ve never exhibited violence before doesn’t mean they never will! I mean, you didn’t think he’d cheat on you did you? Yet he did. And you caught him 3 times. With cheaters, the only thing you should EVER assume is that you don’t know them like you thought you did.

      • I can relate to this.
        I have never felt such instability in my body and emotions
        Never have felt so despondent, untrusting of any human
        Never said Mother F——— so many times
        Never cried as much
        I loved my husband
        We had a wonderful home, jobs, children, holidays
        An adventurous life filled with skiing, hunting, back packing, camping,
        After I found out about the the year long affair
        His “unhappiness” and our “not getting along” made since
        I am a strong woman emotionally and physically and It broke me
        He would rather make up things about me and us then to tell the truth
        I just wanted AWAY from him
        Thats for a reason, its protective
        He destroyed himself and us in the process
        Hope he had “fun”
        Get out and build up YOU

  • Even in the off chance that he were on a road of redemption (I’m taking the generous approach here), he isn’t there now. So a friendship with him now is definitely off the table. Depending on your definition of friendship. I like to feel comfortable, safe and respected with my friends. That’s why I don’t have any, but that’s another story.

    I can brutally promise you’ll feel very different about even considering a friendship once you get your distance from him. Just some time, and some space. You’ll see how different life is when there’s no one like him around calling the shots behind the scenes.

  • The thing about the road to redemption…when it is authentic, you seek proper counsel. Proper counsel would advise you that your journey is one that must be taken on one’s own and that now is not the time to expect that you are given another chance by the person you hurt. You are not ready to be what that person needs.

    A reality in the journey of healing is that it must be self-centred, which is different than being selfish. You have to put yourself at the centre to be closely examined, deconstructed and reconstructed. You surround yourself with good people who are positive contributors to that journey, if they are able to do it for you. You seek out resources that challenge you and help you heal.

    Being a long-term cheater is a major personality/behavioural defect, years in the making of such an individual and requires years to unmake. It is something he should start alone if he is sincere about change. He should absolutely NOT have any expectations of you or ask anything of you. To do so is a sign that he is still acting selfishly, which means he still doesn’t get it. And how could he? He actually hasn’t started any of the real work, he just wants the convenience of leaning on you or having you to prompt him.

    No way! You have your own journey of transformation to engage in. One where you are at the centre and making decisions about what makes a positive contribution to the life you are trying to build. No time or space for leeches.

    If he is real about his intentions, he will move ahead in his healing with or without you. Make him do it without you and that will be the real test of his sincerity. The odds are not stacked in his favour.

  • Oh my gosh. I am certainly the same person, divorcing the same man, and in need of the same advice.

  • Kayla,

    Even if he were the last man on earth, NO!

    Look elsewhere for friendship.

    If you bring him back in, whether it is under the guise of friendship or another round of romance, it will not end well. He cheated on you three times???

    Advocate for yourself dear. If you were my daughter, I would stage an intervention.

  • My X said he would be fair in our divorce. He said he would give me half his retirement. He said he was a “changed man.” His tune changed pretty quickly. I had been a stay at home mom with a tiny job for years. (We were married 35 years). Well he started dating as soon as he filed. (he joined a meet up group for singles while we were in marriage counseling.) He became aggressive and hateful. (This is Mr. Nice Guy) In the end he did not give me half his retirement. Even though I was with him his entire career, he used loopholes to get around that. He refused to give me any alimony and got away with it because he retired and waited to get a job until the divorce agreement was signed. He let the house go after I moved out so our savings that was to be split was gone. I have half of the money from our house. Unfortunately I can’t find another one because the cost of housing has gone insane in just one year. Go for whatever you can get. I felt sorry for him and thought since he worked so hard during our marriage I should not take anymore money from him. We used a mediator not a lawyer. Since he is so good at hiding who he really is, that was to my disadvantage. Once again, fight for what you need.

  • Like others have said……THREE d-days!!! I had two…..and then found out about the multiple others. You trust a liar to tell you truth? Think about that for a second. He didn’t just tell you, no honey I didn’t buy the kids ice cream tonight and say it’s dad’s little secret. He stomped on everything sacred in a relationship, and not just once. I guarantee you it wasn’t just 3 times. If you wanna drive yourself through the madness of sleuthing this out, I would not recommend it. You know all you need to know. Now, as to the “can we be friends?” Yes, I have so many friends that betray and lie to me on a daily basis, but hey!!!! Let’s go have a beer!!! I’d sooner sit at a table of people I know who hate me……at least they’d be honest. There’s a reason why Dante put Judas in the innermost circle of hell. Betrayal, is truly the worst thing you can do to another. So no……this wasn’t you’re friend and cannot be such. The hopium is strong and the good and bad thing about human beings is that we have a short term memory for pain and a very long one for gratification. All those good things you remember about him were constructed by you. A person doesn’t just “change” character overnight. He was that person all along. Make that you’re mantra and move on to those worthy of you because you are.

  • Kayla you didn’t cause it, you can’t control or cure him. You deserve so much better than 3 DDays. Only you can decide if this is acceptable to you. Advice? Run!!!

  • Kayla:
    A) Fuckwit cheating *once* is a him problem. You should have divorced him.
    B) Fuckwit cheating three times is a you problem. You need therapy, a job, and a lawyer, and to read about hoovering.
    C) You don’t want him as a “friend”, you want him to be a person that he isn’t.
    D) He wants to keep you revolving around him, and not moving on to a real man, for the rest of your life. That’s what you will do if you are “friends” with him. No contact.
    D) He will *never* end it. You need to go grey rock or no contact, get an attorney, and be prepared for him to not be “friendly and a better person” when you try to take your half of the assets, and maintenance.

    • 3XaChump

      Excellent, concise summary.

      Love how you worded ‘C’. That is soooo true and it was such a mind-twister for me.

      I was sure Mr. X was having a mid-life crisis and my role was to wait it out being the dutiful wife that I was – RIC influenced 100% at this point following dday.

      I kept waiting for him to wake-up and snap out of it….as you well know….It was for ME to wake-up and snap out of it which happened when I found LACGAL but that took me over a year to do.

      It was so completely eerie to see the man I loved, (we were together over 30 years and he is a covert passive aggressive narcissist,) -but something didn’t feel right. It looked just like him but it was like an imposter – someone else had taken over his body because the man that was there wasn’t him at all. I still miss the man I thought he was despite the fact that I know he was a fake.

      Anyway, your ABC’s are right on for me!

      Thank you.

      • ‘It looked just like him but it was like an imposter – someone else had taken over his body because the man that was there wasn’t him at all’ I had that exact same experience. I even said something like that to him… Like ´you look like my husband but you don’t sound like him at all’ -then months later when we met to sign off on the house, he didn’t even look like my husband anymore. His energy was completely different. He actually didn’t even look at me the entire time I was sitting across from him watching him on his phone… He wouldn’t even make eye contact.
        It’s scary isn’t it!

        • It is scary.

          My ex’s looks changed completely too. Don’t know if it was him, or just how I viewed him, but he became a stranger.

          I don’t mean this as a pat myself thing, because I didn’t see it as that. But, both of us are not very tall. He was 5’7, I am 5’5. But after a few months and I was feeling human again, the few times I saw him, it felt like I was towering over him. He just looked all bent over and kind of like just a big rat (literally looked like one).

          That was not how I saw him when we were living in what I thought was a loving committed relationship. I saw him as this cute, dimpled guy with big blue eyes. His eyes never looked the same again. Not even in pics I saw that my son had taken of him through the later years. They looked dark and squinty.

          Was it him or me, I don’t know.

  • Consider my life as a cautionary tale–I took her back & MARRIED HER after FOUR D-DAYS while we had been living together for years. She gave me an STD. She even met with one her her balling buddies the day before our Wedding and had a picture of another one in her hand at our Wedding reception. I am not making this up.
    I WAS A FREAKIN’ IDIOT to keep her in my life.
    The Trauma Bond was so strong and at the time I was a young (24) forgiving, sensitive ‘lil snowflake (AKA “sucker”) who thought he couldn’t live without this gorgeous, charismatic, sexy little poptart. And guess what, we are going on 45 years of wedded hell, and several nervous breakdowns on my part. Big surprise. I truly believe she hasn’t cheated since we’ve been married–but I could be wrong. Please don’t tell me I’m deluded about that; I have my reasons. She still shows no remorse or takes any responsibility for any of it.
    I knew nothing about Personality Disorders at the time (1976). There is a strong undercurrent of NARCISSISM that runs through any cheating scenario. It can be just narcissistic traits (such as entitlement), or it could be full-blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). But I was the absolutely perfect target for a narcissist. I still am, but at least now I am aware of it, for what it’s worth.

    Bottom line: NO SECOND CHANCES, NO EXCUSES, AND GET THE FUCK OUT AND STAY OUT–Is what I wish I had said.

  • You will spend the rest of your life with him wondering if he is lying to you again. You will never know the full truth. That would be a horrid existence for you. You deserve better. Let him save his sorrow for the next woman he feels the need to step out on.

  • Married 5 years , 2 small children , during year 4 her personality started to change. Behaviors unlike anything I had known began to materialize.
    Then I , with my kids in tow , caught her with AP.
    This was the beginning of a protracted existence in hell. She would not communicate , she would not quit the affair , and acted like it’s just another day , every day. That lasted about a month after D day. I’d found she was still screwing this low life piece of white trash and said to her “If you love him go be with him.” She packed and left . My heart was smashed to smithereens.
    It took a year for the divorce and she still treated me like a friendly roommate. I remained amiable but I knew who and what I was dealing with. I was deep into the meh by then. Two weeks after the divorce she shows up on my doorstep all weepy telling me I was the best friend she ever had. Mind you , she had played the hot divorcee for nearly a year and a half while we were technically still married. I knew more about her activities than she ever thought possible , so when she told me that I just chuckled inside and told her to get back in her car and go back to wherever she’d came from.
    side note: I got full custody of my kids , that should tell you something.
    Kayla , run very far very fast and get on with a new life. Your just asking for more abuse otherwise. GO!

  • “With a friend like that who needs enemies” is the saying that comes to mind. If your divorce is not yet final, it is very likely he’s all about the mind fuck so he can manipulate proceedings, especially all concerning money.

    He is an abuser. He is a manipulator. He is NOT a friend.

    Shoring up boundaries is a hard thing to do after being gas lit for years but it’s Job One on my to-do list and is the first line of defence against fuckwits.

  • Come, bring your $50,000 into my bank, I am your banker. I said,hey, you will make lots of interest and it will surprise you How well you will do! Come back in a year…you come back and there is $40,000 left and you say what???? Hey you promised! I say, bad year, wait till next year, leave it one more year. You do because I’m nice and you WANT to trust me. You come back now you have $30,000… oh, I say, you are right, this is awful buy next year will be a better year I say, ok you are nice and so charming, next year will be better. You come back and you have $10,000 left and I say hey, let’s be friends, it’s only money. YOURS right?

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