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Is This an Emotional Affair?

Dear Chump Lady,

I had been with my husband for 17 years and married 11 of those years. I found him emotionally cheating three times before and I chose to continue the relationship not realising I was being gaslighted and manipulated.

I went down the If-I-Just-Fix-This-About-Me path and boy was he good at finding ways to blame me for him choosing to step away from our marriage. The good ol’ “We’re just friends, I am allowed to have friends.” Or the one that sticks with me: “Why should she lose a friend because you don’t feel comfortable? You’re just making it something it isn’t because you are trying to stop me having friends.”

He would take time off work to have “just friends” lunches, but would be angry at me for suggesting we both play hooky and have a date. He would get annoyed and say we can’t afford to do that, I can’t lose my job. He would sneak around to talk to her and message her, delete all interactions so couldn’t see the texts or call logs.

He stopped using social media to connect with her, as I ended up with his log in details due to the first infidelity.

Each time he would minimise it, then saying course I blocked her, and don’t talk to her, she means nothing to me. But them go right back. The list goes on and I could probably fill pages.

The latest one, I don’t know how, but I woke up and said no to his narrative and no to his blaming.

I noticed your book had a lot of discussion surrounding the choices of the cheater committing sexual infidelity, but not so much regarding emotional affairs.

My question is, what is your opinion on emotional affairs? Do you think they are just the same amount of betrayal?

Sincerely,

Duped and chumped four times

Dear DUCFT,

I don’t have a betrayal scale. This is one of those “How many cheaters can dance on the head of a pin?” questions. There’s only one question — is this relationship acceptable to you?

You keep going down rabbit holes, chasing what you think he’s up to, with phone tracking and his login details. You keep weighing “friend” versus “fuckbuddy” on your own betrayal scale. Oh, friend? Well, then proceed.

Instead of stepping back from this whole clusterfuck and asking yourself, do you WANT a partner who continually steps out on his marriage? Who would rather invest in his “friends” than his partner of 17 years? Do you want to keep eating rejection for breakfast?

Fuckbuddies are furtive. “Emotional affairs” are in your face. Yeah, you’re not as interesting as my co-worker’s texts. Yeah, I’ve got plans Wednesday through Tuesday, that don’t involve you. Yeah, I’d rather spend my disposable income on people who mean nothing to me, versus you, who mean LESS than nothing.

Is that the marriage you want? He’s devaluing you. He gets off on it. He keeps doing it. Whether he dips his wick, well, that adds another layer of abuse, because physical affairs risk a chump’s health. But it’s all abuse, if you ask me, which you did.

You know he is “gaslighting and manipulating” you — isn’t that enough? Do you need more of a reason? You have a partner who will not deal honestly with you, with whom you do not feel safe or trust. Those issues are deal breakers every bit as much as physical betrayal.

I went down the If-I-Just-Fix-This-About-Me path and boy was he good at finding ways to blame me

Where’s his self-improvement? You okay being the only person examining themselves about HIS issues?

“We’re just friends, I am allowed to have friends.”

Translation: You’re Not the Boss of Me. This is some DARVO shit — he’s flipping it so he’s the victim of your authoritarian Friend Police regime.

Sure, he’s allowed whatever he wants. Doesn’t mean you have to stick around for it. He’s not entitled to your continued presence in his life.

“Why should she lose a friend because you don’t feel comfortable?”

Translation: Her feelings are more important than your feelings. Also, he imagines this woman would be just crushed without his friendship. Crushed! (God, the delusions of cake-eaters.) Again, this is more DARVO shit. She’s the victim of your Unwarranted Jealousy.

“You’re just making it something it isn’t because you are trying to stop me having friends.”

More self-pity mindfuckery. If you were dealing with an honest broker (you’re not), you could have a legitimate conversation about together time, and feeling neglected, but recognizing each other’s needs for socializing. But he’s not asking questions about how any of this makes you feel — he’s going on the offensive. Why?

Because he’s not interested in how any of this makes you feel. He does, however, enjoy the power trip of withholding and rejecting you. (And shady is as shady does. Deleting messages? Going back for more, four times that you KNOW of? Secret lunches? Yeah, it’s probably a physical affair.)

I think you should have a long and meaningful conversation with a divorce lawyer. If your husband wonders what’s up, say, “Why should he lose a client because you feel uncomfortable?”

Then serve him.

He’ll have so much more time for his friends.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I hate how we allow fuckwits to waste our time. The behavior is hard and confusing at first to get your head around only because we would never do it.

    • I learned my new golden rule from this site:

      “If I would never do it to you, I don’t have to take it from you.”

      Can you imagine how these asshats would feel if their chumps start up with lots of too-intimate FRIENDS and neglected the asshat’s cake eating needs? They don’t have the empathy required to see their own damage from playing that game and would simply add your FRIENDS to the list of reasons you are so awful and use it justify their cheating all the more. This is a game you can’t win and should exit.

      BTW, that new golden rule works awesome with bad neighbors, co-workers, and flying monkey relatives, too.

      • “If I would never do that to you, I don’t have to take it from you.” My goodness if that doesn’t need to be cross-stitched on a throw pillow for my living room, lol!

        • A dear friend who doesn’t have a lot of spare time (three kids and a full-time career) actually sat down to hand-stitch a pillow cover for me with the faux medieval-themed internet meme: “Here lies the field in which I grow my fucks. Behold that it is barren!”

          I practically cried when she sent it. I had to rack my brain to come up with an equally epic counter gift, but the most important thing is that I honor her reminder not to give a fuck about things that don’t deserve fucks.

      • I have experience of that. My ex wife came home from her weekend of cheating and seen bruises on me that looked like hickies. She started screaming at me and throwing things at me and then punching me. Yet she was caught cheating with near 20 men. Irony.

      • Shit, my FW hated when anything took too much time away from his cake. I was attempting to run a business that he worked for (until that was Too Hard), so it involved my working at a computer 20 feet away from him for 1 to 2 hours a night. Every. Single. Night. he would ask me how much work I had to do and then be a Sad Sausage when I wasn’t available. Yet, he seemed to have plenty of availability for all the girls he chatted with on various apps. Welp, how’s that working out now??? 🙂

  • I look at these things the same as bribery is considered in Europe – not only you get prosecuted if you actually bribe/ accept bribe from somebody, but also if you GIVE AN IMPRESSION that you might want/ be about to bribe/ accept bribe from somebody.

    But … but … I didn’t do anything!!!! Then you’re an even greater moron than a person who actually bribed/ got bribed. cheated on somebody. You got kicked out (to prison) for nothing.

  • Three years into the relationship, he said he was not attracted to the female study partner from his junior college class.

    He said they were study partners because there were no other guys in the class.

    We ran into her when we were at a restaurant one day and he oddly avoided her like she was radioactive. His study partner friend.

    Then I got a call (landline days) from A GUY IN THE CLASS who wanted to borrow notes from the class.

    Then months later he oddly told me, yes, he had been attracted to her

    Confused and not having proof of anything physical and having invested a whopping three years, I decided to stay. I decided to marry him at year seven. I decided to start a business with him at year eight. I had a baby with him at year seventeen.

    At year 27 I got the proof of physical affairs. Game over. Divorce begun.

    Had I known at year three what I know now that I’ve learned here, I would have left at year three, THE FIRST LIE. The LIE was the physical proof I needed and could not heed at the time. The SECRETS, the DECEPTION. Those things are the tell.

    The secrets and lies are the giveaway.

    I don’t believe this man is “only” having an emotional affair either. And who cares whether the knife someone sticks in my back is emotional or physical? A knife by any other name is still a knife.

    • https://secureservercdn.net/72.167.241.180/226.c7e.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/The-Secret-Sexual-Basement_7_6_21.pdf?time=1625615316

      I’m grateful to our member who turned me on to Dr. Omar Minwalla. This article is a denial-buster. Thanks again!

      And a BIG PS….I would not trade my daughter for the world. She is the one good thing that came from my decision to stay with him. I’d rather be me who kept my vows, with her love and trust intact than be untrustworthy him, left with an untrustworthy
      dirty secret woman who fucks married men and a daughter whose love and trust he threw away with both hands.

      • Hi Velvet, I found Dr. Minwalla a while ago, and his work may have saved my sanity.

        I wish every chump in the world would read this.

        Dumped: Click on the link Velvet shared, and read Dr. Minwalla’s work. Please.

      • Velvet,

        Thank you so much for the link to Dr Minwalla’s work. It is the most thorough, comprehensive and on-target description of sexual abuse I have ever encountered.

        I will save it to read as often as needed, and share with psychologists, some of whom were well intertioned but clearly didn’t have a grasp on what it means to be on the receiving end of this type of behavior.

      • Thanks for the link.

        When we were two years married, he confessed to kissing another woman while at a post-sporting event “drink up” in another country. I forgave that indiscretion. At the time, I was 24/5 years old. He said he was drunk. I bought it. Around this time, I contracted genital warts and never made the connection. He insisted he got those from a patient. As I’ve explained here before, it wasn’t until two years ago (at age 59) that a new female OB/GYN said to me, “He only got genital warts from a patient if he had sex with her.” When I was 24/5, the male military OB/GYN never explained to me that my husband’s excuse was total BS.

        At year 25 of marriage, he would fess up to having had sex with that woman from the sports “drink up.” Why did he wait 23 years to tell me? My therapist advised against leaving him because he was young at the time, and I should chalk it up to youthful indiscretion.

        After being married for about four years, I found out he went to a female doc’s home “for a tour.” They were alone. I told him that it bothered me and was inappropriate. He said I was “too sensitive” and “imagining things.” He also wondered why I couldn’t dress like her. Tight mini skirt. I bought a body-conscious dress. I exercised like mad. I was a size 2.

        Every year, he would go to medical conferences and come home in a bad mood. Meanwhile, I was taking care of three young kids and wondering how he could complain about a trip where he stayed at a hotel, ate at restaurants with colleagues, and listened to talks. It sounded luxurious to me.

        Typically, after these conferences, he would complain about my appearance. Here’s a sampling: “Why can’t you do your hair like x (a different female doc)”? “You think you have a nice body, but you don’t.” “Couldn’t you have worn something nice to pick me up at the airport?” (Note: I wore a brand new shirt that chumpy me bought so that I would look nice when I picked FW up at the airport.) Looking back, I think he probably betrayed me on these trips. My therapist speculates that he felt shitty and guilty so, to feel better, had to dump those shitty feelings on me. Hence the attacks. What a way to be?

        NONE of that treatment should have been acceptable to me. And yet I stayed.

        At year 35, he would fess up to a multiyear (+2.5) affair. I guess I needed evidence of a physical affair to leave.

        Of course, I wouldn’t trade my kids for the world, so it’s tough to say I wish I’d left him when he first transgressed, which was before we had kids.

        I sometimes beat myself up for being too trusting. I beat myself for not demanding better treatment. Oddly enough, I thought we had a good marriage. Sure, he said shitty things, but he tossed breadcrumbs my way, and they seemed to make up for all the bad treatment. It’s easy for me to look back and shake my head. While living through it, I couldn’t see the problem.

        Like all of you, I trusted. And for that, we should be proud, not embarrassed. It’s the FWs who should hide their heads in shame, although they don’t (or do they?). They abused us. They abused our trust. I can hold my head high. And my kids, extended family, friends, and colleagues now know what a low-character, entitled fraud that man is. He’s unmasked. The ones who remain friends with him can have him.

        • To this day, when I think about buying his story of getting crabs from a toilet seat before passing them on to me, I get angry!
          We has no way of knowing!

          It’s always the lies that make me mad so many years later.

          I’m proud of not being a liar.

        • You describe a relationship that I had (only I think I only saw size 2 when I was 10 years old.) Same behavior on the FW’s part. I was also accused of being too sensitive and imagining things. Talk about the mindfuck from all of the cognitive dissonance. My military experience with an O-3 counselor resulted in me being told to wear dresses, makeup, and to fix my hair more often. Just more mindfuck. I’m 6+ years post divorce and no longer beat myself up for staying so long (30 years) and wanting to believe the best of the FW. I forgive myself for being so naive and trusting. When you marry someone, you’re supposed to trust him. I now place the blame totally, and I mean TOTALLY, on the fuckwit. Those that still remain his friends are either fuckwits themselves, self-entitled dicks, or have not yet seen behind the mask. As for my sons, they probably don’t know exactly the man their father is; I believe that you only know the devastating results when you’re the one being ‘fucked’ (so to speak.) I was the one being fucked. Their dad was very good at portraying the concerned father and they still have a relationship with him. I don’t begrudge them. I had a dick for a dad and I always wanted a good father/daughter relationship. It wasn’t until my late 50s that I realized that my dad was a dick and was never going to change. That realization didn’t happen until I finally dumped my fuckwit husband (I was age 55) because I finally realized that he was a dick and was never going to change. Once my blinders completely fell off, I was able to start taking off the blinders for everyone around me. Therefore, my sons still want to believe that their dad is a wonderful man. My brother once said to me that he would remain friends with my dick-ex because, “He never did anything to hurt me.” And I reamed him comparing my abuse to someone that got the shit knocked out of her… ‘only my bruises don’t show!’ I’m still confused with the concept of ‘being kind’ were I ever to run into the fuckwit or his skank again. However, I do stick by the concept that not everything you love is good for you. The fuckwit was not good for me.

          • “ Once my blinders completely fell off, I was able to start taking off the blinders for everyone around me.”

            Yes! Ever see the movie The Matrix? The world as Neo knew it was actually a manipulation of his senses. Once he saw behind the mask of the world he thought was, he could see the true essence of everything. It’s like The FW Matrix. RIC counselors are like the agents trying to keep chumps in check from finding out the truth. Bamboozling us into thinking that if only we were thinner, prettier, danced harder, the made up world won’t crumble. Then we see the truth and it’s ugly but it’s authentic and worth fighting for. But yes, once the blinders were off I was able to see other FWs. My grandfather was a given but my mother has been a covert narc, also. Suddenly a lot of things make sense. Seeing it changes everything.

          • “I’m still confused with the concept of ‘being kind’ were I ever to run into the fuckwit or his skank again.”

            I think it’s supposed to counter his nasty narrative about you. I guess it’s also a way of being gray rock. Giving him no kibbles, as CL would say.

            The way I see it, worrying about whether or not he gets kibbles or if I’m providing evidence for his narrative, is letting him control me. Sometimes it’s just good and righteous to be a bitch.

            If that means calling OW a cunt to her face, then so be it. Being kind to sociopaths feels categorically wrong to me. As far as I’m concerned, they deserve whatever I choose to dish (and more), and it’s not my responsibility to make sure anyone who witnesses it feels comfortable either. I will refrain for the sake of my children only. Everyone else can go fuck themselves if they don’t like it.

        • I’m particularly aware of appearance-gaslighting now. I got the reverse– kind of the “Madonna/Whore” incitement to stop dressing up or wearing makeup– but it’s just as damaging. The implication was that I didn’t “have to” wear this or that or wear makeup, never mind that I’d always been a bit of a fashionista related to my job.

          He relentlessly, subtly wore me down after years and years of nudging and hints. He particularly objected to my taste in crimson or dark lipstick. When we started having kids and money was tight, I was under even more pressure to put myself last and wore the mom uniform of old jeans, hippie hair and t-shirts with spit-up on them. The major blow was when we moved houses when the kids were tiny and FW pressured me to get rid of all my designer work gear, some of which I could have resold for a small fortune if I’d hung onto it or worn for decades.

          After D-Day, I discovered that the AP literally spackled her face with full makeup (she had cystic acne scars) and, because FW was embezzling our marital assets to pay for her lifestyle (bars, booze, bistros, weekend travel extravaganzas), she spent all the money she saved on weekly mall retail splurges for full-priced fast fashion, hideous synthetic lingerie, full salon treatments, etc. I thought she was tacky, dowdy and unhealthy-looking, but the sick part was his warped double message.

          Ugh. I admire women who go full natural but it’s just not me. I immediately returned to my former self after that and started rebuilding my fashion collection using a bit of the funds that suddenly appeared because FW could no longer hide assets. Because of my former work, I know where to find serious deals on runway originals and rare vintage, etc., so no need to break the bank and couture lasts forever. I enjoy it, am completely comfortable with it and genuinely do it for myself (or maybe because it sparks up conversations with other women).

          The FU to FW was a bonus. The look of shock on FW’s face when he saw me at my lawyer’s office was hilarious and also very telling that his years of “nudging” had, in fact, been a kind of mandate. I’d defied orders. I have no idea whether the resentful side-eyes and slightly bitter little comments he made to me were because I was geared up to “move on”, or because it robbed him of the implied alibi of bystander perceptions that he had the affair because, poor him, he was married to a drudge. Who cares? He sucks. And I like groovy boots, abstract hair, mini skirts and asymmetrical draped Japanese whatever. I’ll probably be dressing like this for the next fifty years and beyond like Vivienne Westwood.

          Whatever the “real you” is whether relaxed and natural or fashiony, it’s liberating to return to it once the bullies are out of the picture.

          • Amazing! I went through the tear-down, also, although I’ve never been as stylish as you sound! The X definitely wanted me to become a drudge, and be under his thumb. Big mistake, to try to stomp on a Scorpio woman.
            Now that I’m on my own, I can dress as I please, and it feels so much better.

            • My ex hated make up. When I was younger, I didn’t wear a lot after we were married, a little eye liner and blush. I don’t remember it bothering me, but as I got older and was working I wore more, he didn’t like it, but I did wear it anyway. Not overly as at that time I didn’t really need a lot, but lets face it most of us like to wear it anyway.

              His whore didn’t wear any, The reason I know is, I remember once when we were out to dinner once he was talking about whore, and said she knows I don’t like make up. I said, you shouldn’t be talking to your employee about make up, that is none of your business. He just shrugged and said, she knows I don’t like it. Can any one say huge red flag flapping right before you face Susie.

              That was one of the first memories I had after I found out who the whore was. That and him trying to force me to buy her a sweater for Christmas. But, by the time the Christmas sweater deal happened, I knew something was up. I flat out walked out of the store after telling him that buying a personal gift for his employee was inappropriate.

          • Amen to that. My work wardrobe included black dress pants, some sharp black jackets, a black pencil skirt. My tastes are more boring middle of the road Ann Taylor, but I was happy with it. My hair would vary between highlighted in summer and dark auburn in winter. Short in summer, then long again, then back, with everything from bobs to pixie cuts.

            Then I was told I shouldn’t wear black. And I should keep my hair long. And I looked too butch with shorter hair. A million different little rules for how I should look. And don’t get me started on how much he thought I should weigh….

            So yeah, I’m buying black again and getting back to being me. Currently in short, highlighted hair and loving it. I hate that they mold you to an image in their minds and then it turns out the schmoopies are in black or 50 pounds overweight or name whatever rule they had that you could not be. They wanted you to look like and wear X and you did and they STILL cheated. None of the dancing matters.

            I’m going to show up in court in all black with short white/blond hair. Watch me.

            • Sounds like they wanted wives who’d remain paralyzed and lying in the fetal position calling their names in our frumpy mom gear.

              We had other plans.

              I still can’t figure out how I got worn down over the years. It seems insane in retrospect. Was I just avoiding conflict out of exhaustion?

              • “I still can’t figure out how I got worn down over the years. It seems insane in retrospect. Was I just avoiding conflict out of exhaustion?”

                I am sure I did that a lot. I remember thinking, it isn’t worth fighting about, and while sometimes that is certainly true, I know many times; I should have had the fight.

                I likely would have been drop kicked a lot sooner, if I had; and it would have been to my benefit.

          • Great story! I also altered my appearance based on FW’s suggestions and, as a single woman, have been going back to the looks that I like.

        • Your story sounds so similar to mine. I think of my former spouse as a sperm donor now. If I’d left when the first warning sign revealed itself I wouldn’t have my amazing children. I wish you all the best and happiness without a terrible man in your life.

      • OMG. Thank you for the link. I printed all 31 pages, in color, so that I can underline, dog-ear, make margin notes, and completely immerse myself in the wisdom and truth of these words.

      • Thank you for this! I just read this paper and it was exactly what I needed. So succinct in describing the scenario I lived through. I feel I want to share it with my adult children, but I’ll hold off mentioning it until we see each other in person. They were deeply affected and were victims as well, feeling something was ‘off’ in the family. That was the Secret Sexual Basement (double life) their father was living and he used them as pawns in the game too. Both kids are in therapy and I wonder how much they’ve downplayed certain aspects of the abuse we all suffered.

      • I read this article yesterday and was nodding furiously. I had a full blown breakdown after I finally kicked FW out. Hospitalised twice. I still have nightmares. I’m in a new relationship and I can’t trust fully. Emotionally I feel numb. I had about 6 d-days within 3 months and my whole world was turned upside down. It felt like I’d landed in a different and very cruel planet. I don’t think anyone that hasn’t gone through understands how dangerous this type of abuse is.

        • ” I don’t think anyone that hasn’t gone through understands how dangerous this type of abuse is.”

          It is dangerous to our mental health. Also, many/likely most of us don’t know just how close we came to being in the news as was Laci Peterson and many just like her. We don’t know how emotionally and verbally abusive he was to her, or for how long, before he killed her. She is the only one who could tell us, and she can’t. He certainly won’t. I hope he rots in prison,.

      • Hi Chump Nation,
        I’m also grateful to have been pointed in the direction of Dr. Minwalla’s work in the last couple of days. Thank-you, thank-you to the fellow chumps for this. This is the first, spot-on and specific work that describes what happened to me. It’s so affirming. For years I just internalized the blame for all his online cheating with “friends”. Asshole. What’s been hardest all is how I accepted blame for all my-ex’s misdeeds/disorder. Thus will be the hardest part to over come. That, and trusting any man again, honestly. Seeing what happened clinically does help me immensely-

      • Another profound YES to this article!!!

        Heavy reading.

        Reading Cheating in a Nutshell was a good 101 course for me and I am glad I read it first because it is a less traumatic read and written for lay people IMO.

        https://www.amazon.com/Cheating-Nutshell-What-Infidelity-Victim/dp/1948158000/ref=sr_1_1?crid=7OQLGZA380P5&dchild=1&keywords=cheating+in+a+nutshell&qid=1628186879&sprefix=cheating+in+a+nu%2Caps%2C211&sr=8-1

        It laid the ground work for the Minwalla article which is written in a format, IMO, more designed for professionals working with clients which isn’t to say anything ‘bad’ about it.
        It is just more shocking in a sense and readers are warned not read it all in one sitting.

        I love that it has definitions for all the behaviors and feelings that I felt for years with Mr. X and that it isn’t at all about blaming the spouse as do other books on sexual acting out.

        As CL lady says her often….its changing the narrative by labeling the behavior and describing the results of the behavior on us victims.

        Thanks Velvet Hammer for posting this today. I have been wide awake for 2 days now since reading bits of it at a time. 🙂

    • I totally identify with this (except being invested a few less years). I stil kick myself for not running for the hills at year 3 (pre-marriage) when he had all these female friends to whom he was oh so not attracted, one who showed up on our doorstep at 7AM on a Saturday after driving from 4 states away because she was worrid about him/hadn’t heard from him.

      If only I could go back in time and slap myself hard.

      • I completely relate, I wish I had walked away when I first found out, and that I just stopped believe all the lies. Justifying it in my mind and being convinced I made it worse than it really was right? I can’t believe the negative self talk I allowed toward myself for so long.

    • His betrayal involved the infliction of no actual physical injuries. The wounds and the pain I am suffering from are emotional. And it’s off the charts. I often think it would be more honest and more humane and more tolerable if he had actually hit me.

      I understand grasping at straws and splitting hairs and making distinctions and all kinds of rationalizations when any kind of betrayal is discovered. It’s mind-bending, soul-shattering pain. Pain that involves no actual physical laying of hands on the victim. And lots of people will join the perpetrators in blaming the victim, exacerbating it. Extreme pain. Not physical (although it can cause physical symptoms).

      Physical affair? Emotional affair? “Just” an emotional affair? Here’s a test. Say to yourself, “Hey, this pain I am feeling is ONLY emotional, it’s not physical!” How would it feel if someone said that to you? How does it feel to tell yourself that? Is your pain suddenly no big deal?

      • I feel that emotional affairs are much worse than “merely” physical affairs. Ex had plenty of physical affairs, but he also had relationships with some of them. In my situation, the ex and the hamburger whore (final D-Day) had a “marriage” ceremony about three years into the physical affair. They exchanged rings and vows and celebrated their “anniversary” for the next 7 years. All of her family and friends knew that he was married, many of them knew me personally as she was a neighbor and they had been invited into my home.
        If ex and whore had just had sex, I don’t think I would have felt the absolute devastation that I felt when I learned how much he had emotionally invested into the relationship.
        When you are going off to work each day while your partner is spending his time and money and love with someone else behind your back, there’s not much left for you when you get home at the end of the day. And the lack of affection and support really takes a toll over the decades.
        I’m still struggling almost 4 years after D-Day, but I’m still better off without him. I’m trying to give myself the love and support I previously gave him for more than 40 years; it’s not working 100%, but I’m gaining ground.

        • “When you are going off to work each day while your partner is spending his time and money and love with someone else behind your back, there’s not much left for you when you get home at the end of the day.” And, to justify their actions, many will later cite this lack of time spent together as a reason for fooling around. No, no, no. That’s reverse engineering. The affair caused the rift. A rift didn’t cause the affair. It’s illogical and maddening!

          Here’s to gaining ground every year, oldcrone!! Good luck!

        • Oh you’re most DEFINITELY better off without him! It took me all of 6 years post D-Day to feel absolutely happy. I’m so, so happy that he is no longer in my life. In fact, at this point were I to bump into him, I might actually say, “Thanks for being such a dick and making me finally divorce you!” I did a lot of self reflection over those 6 years and I finally learned to love myself for the person that I am just the way that I am. I decided that if someone doesn’t like me for exactly who I am, then I’d rather be alone the rest of my life than to ever deal with the mindfuck again. I’m at peace. Be patient and be kind to yourself.

      • Ya, Velvet Hammer I too get so angry at the mental abuse suffered by all here. Funny isn’t it that the cheating spouse can commit adultery, lie, cheat, steal, cause physical disease and it’s not against the law, we just accept it as part of being cheated on. But if I so much as shove him on the shoulder he can call for law enforcement and receive protection in the form of law. Laws made by men for men. And we’re worried about is the affair ” just ” emotional!!!!! What a joke on us.

      • I used to beg him to just please hit me, if it would make him stop his torrent of verbal and emotional abuse. The bruises from the few times he got violent (no hitting, but shoving and grabbing) healed a lot faster than emotional scars.

        My ex swore she was “just a friend” and gave me the whole “why can’t I have friends” speech. Turns out they were having sex the whole time. Don’t believe the “it’s only emotional” line. And anyway, I would have a far easier time forgiving a one night stand than I do forgiving an ongoing emotional relationship. One could be a momentary lapse in judgment. The other is a series of thousands of choices. The choice to put another person before the one you swore to love and cherish. (At this point I have zero tolerance for ANY infidelity, I speak more of my past self.)

    • I did the same. My husband cheated on me when our daughter was barely 2 years old. How did I find out? When he gave me an STD. I was 26 years old and gutted and humiliated. I was financially dependent on him and didn’t want to have to go back to NY and live with my parents and suffer the humiliation. Fast forward a few years later( we were a military family) and one day I picked him up from work all he did was float about this one girl who was so awesome and athletic etc. My heart sank, why is he so infatuated with this new person on day one at his new duty station and so for the next two years we fought on an off about it and deep down I knew I couldn’t trust him But I didn’t want to break up our family. Then we move again and I find him looking up an old girlfriend on FB. Why would he do that? abs of course that led to another fight. And then there’s our sons soccer friends mom he becomes totally infatuated with. How did I know? Because he’s race home to take my son to practice so he could stare at her while he runs around the field right in front of me. And now here I am after 27 years of marriage, and he’s flirting with a 20 something at work who is his direct report. She flirts with him and has done right in front of me. Shameless lay. I confront him after she sends him a text message at 8pm and he tried to downplay it. IM over Thai shit, he didn’t giveAF about my feelings. I told him to tell her to stop texting him and he said he did. The thing is I work for the same company and I can stop by his office at any time and he knows this. He does nothing to set boundaries with her. I’ve heard him on their 1:1 weekly interview and she’s was laughing out loud at everything he was saying. He’s egging it on. It’s so pathetic. Our daughter is only a few years younger than this girl. Anyway I offered to go to a counselor and he’s dragging his feet. So I threw him out of the house last night and blocked his number. It feels good but scary. Any advice as to what my next move should be.

  • Duped and chumped four times,

    I’m sorry…. I’m about to lose my shit and it isn’t your fault. CL is being very kind and measured but I’m personally sick of the “emotional affair” defense. WTF is that? It’s really just you deluding yourself and questioning if he’s doing enough to leave him.

    There is no “emotional affair.” He is CHEATING on you. He is GASLIGHTING you and saying it’s a “friendship.” He thinks he will continue to get away with it and blaming you for questioning him.

    What do you think he’s doing on his “lunches” with a woman? Ignore his words… think about it.

    Holy shit… I beg you. Please know he’s been and IS cheating on you. You have every valid reason in the world to divorce him and free yourself from the lies, abuse and gaslighting. I’m so very sorry.

    And to everyone else… please stop with the “emotional affair” crap. It’s an affair. They are cheating. PHYSICALLY. Married men & women cheaters don’t just “chat”… they are doing something sexual that crosses far beyond the line of what they promised in their marriage. Even long distance — they are sharing pics and playing with themselves on zooms. If one more person asks about an “emotional affair” I may explode.

    • My model for how “real” affairs happens is that (1) a person sends out signals that he’s interested, (2) someone picks on the signals and they start an inappropriately close relationship, and finally (3) the relationship progresses to physical (“real”) adultery. Progression along the pathway requires quite a bit of luck, effort and time, so there will be many flirtations (phase 1) for every emotional affair (phase 2) and many emotional affairs for every physical affair (3). Some people will reach a moral sticking point and won’t progress from light flirting at a cocktail party to late-night texting; others won’t have the time or money to arrange a tryst (phase 3), though they’ll happily continue clandestine sexting. The reasons aren’t that important: the key insight is that emotional affairs are waystations on the way to physical affairs; there are probably multiple emotional affairs (conducted serially or in parallel) for every physical affair. Or, equivalently: an emotional affair is just a physical affair that hasn’t yet ripened to fruition.

      Maybe DUCFT has caught an emotional affair before it’s reached its endpoint (or maybe it’s an elaborate lie), but that doesn’t mean that the endpoint (the physical affair) wasn’t an aspiration, or hadn’t happened in the past with someone else, or won’t happen in the future with another person. DUCFT’s spouse is willing to jump on the adultery treadmill and just happened to fall off – *this time* – before the endpoint.

      (I think there’s another stage, progression from *a* physical affair to *the* physical affair that blows up the marriage. It’s pretty unlikely that an aspiring adulterer lucks into a marriage-ending affair on the very first try – odds are there were many affairs that petered out at various stages before the final one.)

      I acknowledge that this model is biased towards my experience (an affair resulting in a carefully timed, elegantly executed swap-out of the old spouse for the new AP with significant forethought and planning), rather than some of the indiscriminate bed-jumping that sometimes appears here. It also implies that emotional affairs are somehow less serious than physical affairs; I don’t think this is true, personally (as it’s really the betrayal that dooms the marriage, not the sex itself), but that seems to be the general consensus in society at large.

      • I like this model. I also agree that “the betrayal…dooms the marriage, not the sex itself.”

        As Dday fades into the rear-view mirror, I’m less upset about the sex act itself and more upset about the lies. Every.day.for.years. Some nights (like last night), I’m startled awake by intrusive thoughts. That someone I trusted was abusing me in secret terrifies me.

        I’m having a bad day. Struggling to get past the trauma.

        • Yep. It’s hard. I think that “success” is believing that, while you cannot and will not trust that particular person ever again, you aren’t writing off the entire human race.

          It always helps me to get outside, preferably doing something active like hiking or mountain biking. For me, it stops the cycle of rumination. I hope you live someplace with reasonable summers!

      • I agree with this. I also this that the cheaters play the field until they find the appropriate candidate to replace the wife appliance at home. My X probably had multiple flirts until he found the appropriate candidate.

        Where do you draw the line before calling it cheating? It’s just a secret lunch? Just texting while spending time with the family? Just a blow job? Just the tip? It’s not the point. It’s the deception, not being available to the family they have, not being invested, and not caring about the damage they cause.

        • Mine confessed to a multi-year affair. As for “other women,” he argued that one-night stands don’t count as affairs. When I said I disagree, he raged. Geezus!

        • It wasn’t till much later after my divorce when someone pointed out to me, “The time he spent on her was time he stole from you and your family.” So who cares if it’s emotional or physical? Those fuckwits are stealing time away from their spouses and their children. It’s all about them and they’re lying and cheating. Never go back.

        • If you know your spouse is going to consider it cheating, and you do it anyway in secret – the line has been drawn. Cheating.
          Or if you know your spouse is going to be uncomfortable and feel devalued, and you do it anyway and rub their face in it… You’re a superstar Fuckwit.

    • YES! I absolutely agree. What’s the point of categorizing, if not to assist in our own gaslighting?

      Is your spouse using most of his time, energy, and other resources on another person?

      Use whatever adjective you want – emotional, physical, sexual, financial, intellectual, mystical, hyperkinetic, telekinetic, blah, blah, blah – it’s an AFFAIR.

      Focus on the noun, not the modifier. The noun is the object of the sentence. Your husband is the subject. Simplify the sentence to subject/verb/object, and you’ve got your simple truth: He’s having an…affair. Period.

      That’s my English lesson for today.

      • This is spot on CQ! Such a straightforward concept that prevents assessing the situation through a gaslight or hopium haze.

        I’ll also add that you should never allow the liar/cheater or the RIC to provide the modifier.

    • MS,

      I’m with you on this; there is no tangible difference between being “emotionally unfaithful” and “physically unfaithful.” My use of inverted commas is quite deliberate and the key word in each phrase is the last one; unfaithful.

      My take is that cheaters cough to an “emotional affair” because they think that it’s some kind of lesser offence; it is not. I’d also argue that that most chumps who think that their cheater is “only” involved in an “emotional affair” do so because they can’t prove that the f*cking has already started yet. Plot spoiler; if it hasn’t started (and it most probably has) then it’s about to start.

      LFTT

    • CN is the best. You guys (Involuntary Georgian, ChumpQueen, LookingForwardtoTuesday, MotherChumper99…) all calmed my ass down. I think so many times we chumps get so lost in the semantics to continue deluding and gaslighting ourselves (as ChumpQueen said). None of us want to face the truth and take the red pill and see the Matrix. The Matrix sucks. But you’re in it anyway. Might as well face it head on like Neo and find a way out.

    • Michelleshocked, you are so right! The FW I was married to for over 25 years said the same things to me, she is just a friend, I will have friends, you can’t tell me who I can be friends with. The “friend” was a whore from our church, protected by the preacher of the church because word was they had an affair.

      FW married her and became her fourth husband. So thankful she took him off my hands. I would have never believed he would cheat as he was “a pillar” of the church who gave lavishly and could do no wrong. They still attend this so called church.

      Run don’t walk to a good divorce attorney now!

  • I would also ask Duped and chumped four times how many emotional affairs did she have?
    I’m guessing none.

    There is something (well, actually 4 things) that smell rotten in this letter. If it looks like an affair, smells like an affair, it probably is an affair. By the 4th time, it’s definitely an affair.

    Go get STD tested and go find that lawyer. Go back to the post from the other day about how to dig up info…you’re in the best position now to collect information about finances and PROTECT yourself.

    I’m sorry but as it’s stated here many times, adults don’t have hidden friendships, adults have sex.

  • I really wish we all had shown the courage to ask ourselves EARLY ON… “is this relationship acceptable to me”? I hands-down ignored sooooo many red flags. I even questioned the intensity of the lovebombing early on but he made me believe I had just never been loved the “right way” before… sweet jesus. Looking back now, which I try not to do too much, I am unnerved by how he wore down my boundaries… how I became grateful for the littlest attention (after the lovebombing stage and well in to the devaluing stage)… how I could rationalize his behaviors and actions (his poor sausage past)… but never did I stop to ask… IS THIS RELATIONSHIP ACCEPTABLE TO ME?

    Today, I waste no time in applying this question across all my relationships. My time has value, my feelings and needs are real and should be respected and reciprocated, my life is the only one I’ve got and I’ve already wasted 11 years of it with a fuckwit.

    I hope you’ll see your own answer to this question… because once you do, everything else falls away and the brilliant clarity of your answer will propel you… if you have your own self-esteem in check.

    • ^^^Truth^^^

      I had so many of the same **red flags** early on. I know why I ignored them. I am working on forgiving myself.

      But I am working on valuing myself. And now I can easily say, NO those 15 years were NOT acceptable to me.

  • “ He’s devaluing you. He gets off on it. He keeps doing it.”

    This was one of the hardest things for me to get and wrap my head around. My therapist said the same, “I think he likes the feeling of power he gets by hurting you”.

    That was the game changer point for me. Whether I believed it or not, I realized that I had to treat it as if it were true. If someone enjoys hurting you?? Get out, get out now, fast and far and shut down contact because they will always try to hurt you, no matter what.

  • From my personal experience, emotional affairs are equally as hurtful because the AP is in their head all the time – even when you’re supposed to be on a romantic holiday! Mine used to sneakily send & reply to her messages when I was in the shower. He just couldn’t switch off.

    • It’s true! My X would even turn up his efforts with me, to throw up a smoke screen. Going out to dinner, fixing something I’d needed for a while, but then he’d disappear on Saturday. Had to help a friend!
      My X was a total con man, and I was so busy raising kids and working, to see who he was.

    • What startled me awake the other night was the realization that the nurse who wrote out suggestions for our trip to Seattle was mostly likely the AP. So the entire time we were supposedly having this semi-romantic getaway, he was clutching this piece of paper that the OW had given him and insisting we do all those activities.

      Me at the time: How nice of this nurse!

      Looking back, I’m so angry.????Note: I also saw a diary entry he made re that trip. It was a cross-country trip. He slept. I didn’t. So when we got to the hotel, I crashed. He complained that I’d fallen asleep and wrote in his diary that there was “no sexual tension.” I’m sure now that he was texting the OW while I slept. Abusive fucker. I was so unaware, and it scares me in retrospect.

      • Over those 6 years after my divorce that it took me to heal I kept having flashbacks of all the shit shows I was subjected to way, way early in the marriage. It was stuff that obviously didn’t make too much sense even back then but I managed to suppress it as ‘one-offs’. There were a lot of one offs. And then after my divorce I’d be going about my daily business when something would happen to trigger a memory. Maybe I was driving by a particular store, or doing a particular activity, when all of a sudden I’d remember a one-off that occurred many years prior. I’d think, “That dick! He was probably (doing whatever) all those years ago when he lied to me!!!” I’d get livid all over again. Over the last 6 years I think I’m done with the flashbacks. I’m finally at peace. And quite honestly, I’m actually thrilled that he’s putting the skank through the same shit show that he put me through. She deserves it. I didn’t. These fuckwits don’t change. They truly deserve each other.

        • That’s exactly what I’m experiencing. Damn flashbacks triggered by something unexpected.

          I agree that they don’t change. I assume my ex is putting his OW through the same stuff, although she’s one of his few remaining friends now, so I wonder if he is careful. I know that two years ago he had her on the highest frickin’ pedestal, a woman who cheated on her own husband and knowingly cheated with a married man.

          Oh well. Who knows? Who cares? Those two and their massive, matching upper-thigh tattoos can fuck each other til the cows come home. I don’t care. I realize now that my life is so much better without that man. I just wish I could get rid of these flashbacks. In time, I guess. In time. I’m glad they’re mostly behind you now, Amazon Chump!

    • Honestly— mine did both extensively, but I only positively knew about the physical cheating recently. I can easily tell you the physical cheating hurt a HELL of a lot more than the sexting, emotional affairs he carried out.

      • Agree! Later finding confirmation of a PA later helped consolidate that he sucked but it was certainly another punch-to-the-gut DD.

      • Mine was in the day before smart phones. He did have a work provided cell phone. He would sit and talk to his work buddy while I prepared dinner, or was doing other chores. He would talk low sometimes, but I was busy and wasn’t suspicious.

        Miserable pieces of shit.

  • See Friday’s post for sleuthing ideas. When a spouse is using that language to justify spending time with a friend – and you are never invited- you having a sitting duck. A fish in a barrel. Proceed with a plan to end the deception.

    The trust has already been repeatedly jeopardized by THEIR behavior, not your insecurities. Get the information you need to move on with your life.

    • Great advice! I agree wholeheartedly. Time to move on with your life. All of those years ‘invested’ are not a reason to continue. Any more time given to the fuckwit is time you’re losing spending on loving yourself. I saw this great quote: “Your value is not dependent on someone else’s ability (or inability) to recognize it.”

  • I spent several years of my 17 year marriage thinking they were “just friends” and choosing to trust his lies rather than my gut. Doctors refer to your gut as the “enteric” system – the second brain. Your gut knows the truth but your “first” brain has to make a choice between someone you trust and your feelings (i.e., yourself). All chumps go through this, and the majority of us chose the liar. Because, ultimately, the truth about our marriage was traumatizing. And, if we didn’t, we would “lose” everything we had built – marriage, family, home, friends, way of life…. That’s a lot to lose, so it’s more palatable to trust the cheater and hope your gut is wrong.

    Your gut is *never* wrong. Your husband is having a complete, total, absolute physical, emotional, sexual, intellectual affair with another woman.

    If you don’t leave him first, he will leave you. If you continue to believe his lies, that’s a blow that will send you reeling. You will be in shock, traumatized, and vulnerable. He will have made plans and will carry them out while you’re curled up on the floor sobbing. He will step over you to pack his things. He will siphon money from your joint accounts. He will open a separate account (if he hasn’t already) and deposit all “his” money into it. Whenever there’s physical cheating (and that’s what this is), there’s financial cheating.

    Please stop doubting your gut. Please stop believing a liar. Please take care of yourself right now. This is the moment you can take control of the situation and grab some of the power you’re going to need to make sure you don’t get screwed in court.

    I know all of this seems over the top. Your husband would never hurt you like that – abandon you and then leave you with nothing. But he will. My husband was the nicest, sweetest guy in the world. Once he decided he “wasn’t in love with” me anymore, he became my worst nightmare. I did not do what I’m advising you to do, and I will spend the remainder of my life paying for it.

    It’s not a game. It’s real. Take care of yourself.

    • Listen to Chumpqueen because that’s exactly what happened to me. The “nicest guy in the world” stepped over me while I was sobbing with his suitcase in hand, in his way to “she’s just a friend”‘s house.

      • Again, ChumpQueen is absolutely right. Do not ignore this warning. If this is not the exit affair, it is coming- especially (and I hate to say this) as you are entering your “less fertile” years. He is already going underground. Do not confront him again. Get your ducks in a row. Get your evidence now. Be grateful you are on this site today and waking up now and not 10 years down the road.

        This is not to scare you or because misery loves company, I sincerely do not want anyone else to experience the crap I have since D-Day (which happened after “emotional” affairs). This site saved my sanity and probably my life. I just wish I knew about it sooner.

      • Me, too. Listen to chumpqueen.

        I was staying and sacrificing and loving more and working harder. I had zero clue he was capable of – and was carefully planning – to dump me. He trolled for a schmoopie, found one who would open her legs while fawning over his self-focused monologues and then suddenly and cruelly packed his shit and moved out of my home and marriage of 40 years to be with her.

        I spent the next year with an attorney fighting to hold on to my home. I lost my adult children in all this as he had been grooming them all along and I never recognized it until it was too late.

        I never saw the evil without the mask until he was ready to make his sudden discard. These people are not human.

        As the divorce became final, he used settlement money to buy a divorce for schmoopie and they were promptly married. My adult children have played along and now she will be sitting in my place at the Thanksgiving table.

        Some days, still, I am not sure I will survive.

        • You will survive. Don’t let that fuckwit win. Start loving yourself for who you are. Start seeing your good qualities and know that you didn’t do the shit your fuckwit did. You have honor and integrity. It’s so hard to pull yourself out of your muck. You get depressed and become your worst enemy. Shoot! He doesn’t have to tear you down anymore because you’re doing it even when he’s not there. It’s time to stop and recognize that you have worth even when nobody else on this planet sees it. And someday, trust me, you will know that the fuckwit is the biggest loser. He lost the most precious thing he had in his life and traded it in for a whore. And trust me, you will believe this. You will also know that he did you the biggest favor. Just be patient and kind to yourself and take it one day at a time.

        • Strange how often the disordered parent has more control over the kids than the loving parent. However, the kids have been groomed their whole life to go along with the disordered parent and if they don’t they instinctively know they will be discarded. It’s a “you’re with me all the way or you are nothing” and so it’s a lifetime of pleasing the disordered parent. Also, and this will more than likely go over like a lead balloon, sometimes the kids are just assholes. A lot of the cheaters had dysfunctional parents but many had great parents and they still turned out to be assholes. It happens.

  • One thing I wish I’d realized, when I was in my 20’s, and googley-eyed over my husband, is the real purpose of a marriage. You’re supposed to lift each other up. This person you’ve made this huge vow to, they are the one you figure out life with, and the most key quality is kindness, and understanding. Not lust, or sexual compatibility, or the fact that they wake up next to you. No, just be on my side, and be the most supportive person.
    Of course, at 20, I didn’t know yet how rough the world could be, and how much I’d need someone who would solidly care about me, so the fun seemed like enough!
    To the letter writer, you feel duped and chumped, and it really sucks, because he doesn’t care. As a person of a certain age, who has been through a lot, I’ll just warn you- he does NOT have your back, and that’s a great reason to leave! Don’t even try to find out what he’s up to, he’s not kind enough to you, and doesn’t deserve your love. I spent 32 years, and sure wish I’d been able to figure it out faster than that! You found CL, so listen to the good advice. Be strong!

    • Ah, my wasted youth. When I think of me aged 17-30(ish), most of those memories are clouded by how googly-eyed I was for my H. I would have done anything for that man in those years and I felt like “the luckiest girl in the world.”

      I know he never loved me but I think he loved how much I loved him.

      • Maybe, who knows what the fuckwits felt?
        I felt strangely guilty when I finally filed, because I had told X I would always be with him! But, his addictions and affairs were getting so much worse, I couldn’t stay. I told my friends and family- I just couldn’t be a human sacrifice to his terrible life anymore.
        I have a tiny bit of guilt, still. I was divorced in 2012, and maybe I’ll never be at ease with it completely, because I WAS committed. But he is a serial cheater, and I had to save my sanity!

        • I think this is me—- I told him I would never go through another divorce no matter what. Que 15 years of serial cheating, 7 yrs fucking the stepsister. AND I’m still trying to get over the trauma enough to be able to file for my 2nd divorce. UGGGH what a narcissist — totally used this against me.

  • CL is right that the focus should be on how much disconnect and disrespect is acceptable to YOU, but I’d bet that 90% of the so-called “emotional affairs” are physical. Grown-ass humans who are attracted to each other tend, eventually, to f*ck. Different-gender friendships happen, but they aren’t hidden or prone to sudden hot/cold turns. Admitting to emotional betrayal is usually just a detour on the Trickle Truth Highway.

  • I could have written this one years ago. But then I found all the proof of the sex. Klootzak used the same words. I was denying him of friends. I was being mean to these poor women who had rough relationships and just wanted his sage advice. And for him to tell them how beautiful they are and how any guy would be lucky to be with them. And then too tell them how kissable their lips look and how he always regretted not kissing thise lips when he had the chance. And then – imagine this – FINDING a chance to make out with them and more. He accused me oof denting that men and women can be just friends. He accused me of not being trusting. He acted as though I was insulting him – a man of integrity and character! – of engaging in such behavior and that if I needed him to prove he loved me beyond the fact that he paid the bills, well, he just wasn’t so sure that HE would want to be with someone like me. And I would cry and eat the shit sandwich.

    I’m telling OP what I wish I had told myself – get the best divorce lawyer you can find and RUN.

    • “He accused me of not being trusting. He acted as though I was insulting him – a man of integrity and character! – of engaging in such behavior and that if I needed him to prove he loved me beyond the fact that he paid the bills, well, he just wasn’t so sure that HE would want to be with someone like me. And I would cry and eat the shit sandwich.”

      Were we married to the same man? I think we were married to the same man.

      Why does the script never change?

      With She’s-Just-A-Friend #1 (who really turned out to be GF#1) and She’s-Just-A-Friend #3 (GF#3, now Wifetress) it was the same. I voiced that I was getting uncomfortable with all the attention he was giving her, as he was never at home with me and the children anymore.

      The responses:
      – She’s just a friend!
      – She’s going through a tough patch right now and she needs a friend.
      – She’s had a rough life. She needs my advice.
      – Are you really that needy?
      – You don’t want me to have friends?
      – You are controlling and untrusting. You know, marriages break down when there is no trust!
      – You want me to stay at home all day and be boring just. like. you.

      That last one lives rent free in my head because he screamed it at me. Nevermind the fact that he knew who he was when he married me (a quiet girl who could go out but preferred to stay at home) and, up until he began participating in the Adultery Olympics, he used to *prefer* just staying at home and hanging out with me.

      Now, his favorite thing to do is stay at home and just hang out with the Wifetress. She’s now been married to him longer than I was. She should hope that he doesn’t catch the Seven Year Itch again, look over at her in the couch, and start to think of her as boring too.

      • Oh, Fourleaf, he will. He will find her to be contemptuously boring, and if another chance to cheat presents itself, he will cheat. He may never leave her (or vice versa), but it doesn’t matter.

        People generally don’t change. If they do, it takes some mighty effort on their part – self-reflection, honesty, intrinsic motivation, a formidable strength of will, and usually a surrounding community that supports the person and the change. I doubt your FW has the capacity for such an endeavor. These are not psychologically strong people. And, as we’ve discovered, society doesn’t think cheaters need to change.

        So, you can depend on the fact that she will bore him, and he will devalue her as much as he did you. Whether their relationship breaks completely depends on a variety of factors – age, money, mental health – but, either way, take comfort in the stability of your FW’s bad character.

        There is no “happily ever after” there.

      • I’d bet the farm he grows tired of Wifetress. It’s how they roll. I can honestly write the script. He’ll start to pick at something that annoys him and one thing will become many. I’ll also bet he inserts you into conversation…Fourleaf always had kept a perfect house, cooked gourmet dinners, knew how to garden, etc. Even if you didn’t provide the perfect house, dinners etc. he’ll still have to make the dig to make her feel less. He’ll start to have “friends” again. So depending on wifetress’s personality (aggressive or submissive) the second break up is usually far worse than the first.

        • My daughter is finally coming home tomorrow after 6 absurdly long weeks staying with FW & OW. (Oh that shit sandwich!)

          In the meantime, she has told me some interesting stories in which FW did precisely what you just described. “ChumpQueen was always really good at blah blah blah…” ????

          They really are cut from the same cloth, aren’t they?

          • Yes they sure are…it’s funny how they can be from different backgrounds, education, etc. but all of them follow the same script.

  • Sadly, I do not believe in emotional affairs. I think those kinds are the ones that haven’t had time to take off yet, those kinds are the first toe in the waters. I believe that if you find an “emotional affair”, you have actually found an affair, period. You just haven’t connected the dots and caught him/her with their pants down.

    • Totally agree with you! I also think that what people choose to call an ’emotional affair’ (which hasn’t *yet* reached a physical stage, but it *will*) is just as much a betrayal as full blown sex.

      The spouse/partner is taking energy and attention away from the existing relationship and investing those things in another relationship. It is a betrayal.

      As CL always says, the question to ask yourself is, ” is this acceptable to me?” If the answer is no, it’s time to protect yourself and get out.

    • Truth!

      And don’t go looking to the FW with proof that the emotional affair is just a garden variety affair either; they’ll just deflect and deny, deny, deny.

      When I told FW (after the discovery of GF#1 whom he was still claiming was “She’s-Just-A-Friend”) that I had been to the doctor that I had an STD, I expected him to, at least, finally fess up and admit that he was cheating on me. It wouldn’t have fixed anything but I was looking for anything–anything!–to respect about the man I was unfortunately still in love with. If he could just admit that, yes, he was cheating on me, well… at least that would be something.

      He looked at me blankly for a bit… blinked… thought quickly… and then told me that I had probably caught that STD in the hospital (a few months ago) having our daughter because hospitals are full of germs. There was no way he had given it to me because She’s-Just-A-Friend. But thank you for telling him, he’d better go get himself checked and no, no, don’t worry… he wasn’t mad at me for potentially exposing him to an STD. How was I to know that I had caught it in the hospital and passed it onto him.

      I remember that conversation well. The amount of mental gymnastics he was performing… the quick thinking… the deflection… the stupid, stupid idea that I had “caught an STD” having our baby in the hospital and then had given it to him somehow (thus shoring up his position that somehow everything was my fault and he had not done anything wrong) was mind numbing.

      I was still in love with him at the time, which was unfortunate, but I had enough presence of mind to know that I was banging my head against a brick wall. I looked at him and thought “He’s…. he’s insane.” And I began to feel uncomfortable around him.

    • I completely think that men and women can be just friends. I have a male friend – an ex who I have zero and I mean zero – intention of getting back together with – ever – the relationship from my perspective was a mistake from the start, but we remained good friends. In many respects he is a nice guy, and good friends are hard to find. Even though I was seeing someone else, his new girlfriend was very hostile even though I went out of my way to try and be friends with her too. He made sacrifices to be with her, and a mutual friend thought she had lost the plot, but I did distance myself a bit as I felt uncomfortable with the situation, even though I thought her behaviour was irrational. So you know, maybe check in with other people or a counsellor – I’m not saying this is the letter writer’s problem, and the other woman may be completely oblivious to the issue, it is more about her partner’s intention, and that boils down to his behaviour.

      I think the problem is, if they treat you like you are less important, if they don’t treat you as their family unit and that the most important thing in their life is you as their family unit (and their kids if they have any), then you have a problem. In my opinion, you actually don’t have a relationship then and it’s time to leave. Their friends of any persuasion gay, staight or the opposite gender should be important, but should not be more important than you. I think people rarely change (not saying it’s impossible though) and the first time they mistreat you if they can’t discuss it, then it’s time to leave. I wish I had known this when I was younger, but don’t waste your time with a fool. They may not look like one on the surface, but people who genuinely want a family unit (doesn’t need to have kids to be a family unit) won’t be treating your needs as less important. It’s taken me a long time to recognise this, and I hope the letter writer can assess the situation accurately and if it’s time to cut bait, then do it, with all the financial etc preparation neccesary.

      • Also thanks to the person who posted the sexual basement articles. I think the shock of discovery can be horrific, and more should be done to support people who have undergone this experience.

  • I have to agree with all the other chumps here: I truly believed him when he said it was an “emotional affair” only, hoping that I could get him to pick me over her. He admitted to kissing her but nothing else. I was so invested in my 24-year marriage that I believed his “we didn’t sleep together because she has an adultery clause in her pre-nup so she would lose her three young children”. What an IDIOT.

    Fast forward post-divorce when I finally got in touch with her ex-husband who had discovered the emails about the affair that triggered the discovery: sexting, inappropriate photos, and travel plans, as well as the “I love you so much” emails…..

    It is ALWAYS a physical affair–it’s just much easier to gaslight you if you believe there is the hope of bringing him back from the brink. It’s already happened and he is GONE.

    • I did this too. FW told me that when he and GF#1 were still just friends that they had kissed but that he had stopped it, told her that “this is inappropriate; I can’t do this” and then he drove his noble and loyal butt back home to me, his wife. I ate it all up with stars in my eyes; I was so lucky!!! I had a husband who unselfishly admitted to kissing another woman and unselfishly admitted to putting a stop to it because he’s a true-blue hero. I looked at him with big cartoon eyes made out of hearts.

      I’m not even begin that sarcastic about it; I genuinely felt lucky and honored when he told me about that and then used it to prop himself up as a great guy.

      It’s hard not to look back at my past self and feel a little disgusted sometimes. I was an easy doormat to walk all over.

      • I feel you, Fourleaf. There are so many moments that I look back on with regret. The shit I took was insane, and a lot of it had nothing to do with his infidelity.

        Self-compassion is imperative in these moments. It’s tough to be a trustworthy, compassionate person in the hands of a bad character. We’re handicapped because we don’t do what they do, and we don’t think like they do.

        We live in a world where spouses don’t lie and cheat. If our spouses had lived in that same world, your behavior would be evidence of your sweet temper. It’s only in their world that you become a “doormat.”

        It’s a shame that we can’t launch them all to Mars, to be honest.

        • Self-compassion is the antidote to devaluation. We did not ask for or deserve to be abused. I took the blame for so much that wasn’t mine to carry, for so many years. I am done with that. However, I’ve come to recognize that while my insecurities and willingness to take fault did not cause the abuse, they did make me easy prey for my disordered ex. He saw what I doubted or disliked in myself, and he amplified and twisted it to hurt and control me. He was mean to me for years, and I was mean to myself. I left him, but I can’t leave myself. I am responsible for how I treat myself.

          A caring partner would have helped me grow. I’m being kind to myself now because I need to be, to fight the sadness and anxiety. I also want to be healthy and strong so that I can defend myself from other narcissists and sociopaths who would use my vulnerabilities against me. I’m not going to help them out. This kind of personal work feels good. After narcissistic abuse, it’s nice to use positive reinforcements. I’m more confident, more accepting of myself and less inhibited than ever before, and it’s liberating. It’s also opening doors.

  • For me the bottom line is that he is more worried about others feelings than yours. He has put others before you. Everyone else is more important than you to him. Forget the promise to forsake all others, he is treating you like a second class citizen in your own home. I heard the same thing from cheater ex. I was sitting there thinking I did not marry this Bozo to be treated so badly. At that moment all the rationalizations dissolved and I saw clearly that not only did he not love me, but he was enjoying actively hurting me. That was the moment I was done.

    His behavior is totally not acceptable in any way shape or form. You deserve so much more.

    Moreover, he deserves nothing more from you. He is toxic and destructive, and the only way to protect yourself from him is to get your ducks in a row, lawyer up, leave his sorry ass, and divorce him.

    Sending you hugs.

    • ^^^this.
      To me, the danger is that once your spouse disrespects you, there is no going back – they won’t about face & start to build respect back. It’s not that you’re not deserving of it. They know you are deserving of respect but in their mind it goes like this: “she doesn’t demand respect, why should I respect her.” Then they have just justified to themselves their shitty behavior and it becomes easier to pile on more.

      • ^^^this. I agree! Once there is no respect, there isn’t getting it back. Definitely time to move on.

      • So true! I wish I had understood that years ago.

        I was too busy trying to be reasonable and empathetic – mindful with my marriage. I didn’t understand that true mindfulness would have led me to draw some clear boundaries.

      • Oh yeah. So true. If there’s no respect, the relationship is over. If you ever see that or hear that, just start up the bus. It’s over.

  • I have yet to see an emotional affair that wasn’t actually a physical affair. It’s just BS dressing to gaslight you into accepting it as most know physical cheating is a dealbreaker (not like emotional isn’t perhaps even worse).

  • The news from the Olympics about Simone Biles gave me a new term for the emotional/mental/psychological/spiritual effects of infidelity…..”the twisties”. I have totally lost my orientation in time, in space, in my head, in my life, in the world. I have no idea where I am in the air anymore.

    Healthy relationships don’t give you “the twisties”. Healthy people don’t give you “the twisties”, let alone enjoy inflicting them on you.

    Good people are upfront and tell you what’s going on with them. Lying and cheating is abuse.

    If you have the twisties, it’s a symptom that you are unsafe and in a relationship with someone hazardous to your health.

    The whole point of a relationship is feeling safe and secure. Not feeling the twisties.

    IMHO.

    • In the days and weeks after my first D-day I frequently felt the physical sensation of falling endlessly through space. Like the ground beneath my feet had literally disappeared. Never heard it described elsewhere but “the twisties” fits better than anything I could come up with.

    • Excellent analogy, Velvet Hammer.

      As someone with a long history of dating fuckwits (and marrying one), my new rule is DARVO in any form = Tempest runs as if her hair is on fire. Mature, emotionally stable, compassionate adults care about how their partners feel, and they talk out issues. Anyone who is confronted and adopts the stance, “the best defense is a good offense” is not worth having in your life. Ever.

  • My Xhole tried to tell me his was an emotional, until the day I found proof of the physical affair and then he laughed at me for believing him

    “He stopped using social media to connect with her, as I ended up with his log in details due to the first infidelity.” My Xhole set up a secret facebook account. I finally realized I would never know what he was doing, with burner phones, secret bank accounts and social media. I didn’t want to play affair police.

    You know he’s lying. You know your feelings don’t matter. You are hurt and humiliated. Why do you want to continue this? What is it you need? Sounds like you would be safer and saner without him.

  • Honestly, I feel for ‘Duped.’ I’m so sorry this is happening. When this happened to me in 2015, I was destroyed. I wish I’d had all these wonderful people on this website to go to for advice. I didn’t, and I somehow survived. Please take all the advice you are getting here to heart. It’s all true. Adults can have friends of the opposite sex, but they are not hidden and they won’t make their spouse question or feel bad. He is doing you wrong and you don’t deserve it. Now, get yourself tested, find the meanest divorce attorney you can, and protect all your assets. And, do it with a smile on your face with the same deception he is in his relationship with this whore. Get everything together then drop the bomb on him and go no contact. That fucker doesn’t deserve it.

    • Yes, I worked in a male-dominated field for years and had friends from that. But never, ever THAT kind of friend, and it was largely work-focused and surface-level small talk. I kept my doubts and fears to myself and bled those out with friends and eventually my husband. A quick lunch date during the workday or a short, public meal while travelling was fine IMHO. I never drank because I wanted to be professional in that situation. Despite eventually getting into trouble with my ex’s lack of boundaries, I had strong boundaries at work. Mike Pence wouldn’t approve though, LOL.

      Once a work visitor cried her eyes out to me because she had gone out for a beer after work with my boss who said he wanted to “help” her with her “career.” They got drunk, and he went for it, just as he had with others that I heard about. I listened, but eventually, she asked if I would ever do something like that. Personally, no. I was all business with coworkers.

  • reading this over this morning i’m struck with the whole issue of CONTROL and it’s got me asking questions. why do these guys have so many controlling behaviours? policing the dishwasher? control. aggressive driving? control.

    as for DUCFT, this guy is controlling the narrative of your marriage, which is a shared relationship. do you want to be with someone who controls you/your relationship? he’s also controlling your response by shifting the blame to you (You’re just making it something it isn’t because you are trying to stop me having friends).

    again, why do you want to be with someone who controls?

    PS your gut is telling you everything you need to know. he’s having an affair. period. now it’s time for you to take back your own control and move on from this unhealthy relationship. you deserve better.

  • These “friendships’’ are the worst. They are so easy to twist around to make it seem like the chumped partner has a problem. I’ve never believed in or understood anything more than a casual friendship between genders that are sexually attracted to each other.
    The one thing I’ve learned from this whole hot mess is to trust your instincts.
    If you’re feeling devalued, it’s probably because you are being devalued.
    Unless you’re paranoid or mistrusting by nature, if you feel like your trust is being violated… it probably is.
    If you’re feeling like something is off or just isn’t right… you’re probably wise to take your instincts seriously.
    Healthy relationships are a team effort, and if you’re getting clear signals that you as a team player don’t matter… he’s not on your team.

    • “These “friendships’’ are the worst. They are so easy to twist around to make it seem like the chumped partner has a problem.”

      YUP!

    • YOur last three points are dead on target.

      Had I in the beginning of the year of discard, when I asked my ex why was he not spending time withme and ignoring me, had also asked of he was involved with someone; he would have flat out said NO, you are crazy.

      I have no doubt of that because, though he knew he was working up to the discard, he didn’t have all his ducks lines up yet. I know that in hindsight because of how it all went down. He had not yet been outed, he was outed in the fall of that year, of that I am sure. It coincided with him starting the raging/screaming at me, and he stopped suddenly saying “I love you”. By then I knew something was up, but it was too late to stop the train.

      I think he likely would have wanted to take one more year for the discard, so that he could have forced me to file, then brought the whore out of hiding to “start dating”.

      I am guessing they decided to have her quit her job, so he wouldn’t be her supervisor. He could have walked away promotion intact, and laid it all at my feet.

    • “Casual friendship between genders that are sexually attracted to each other…”

      DOES NOT EXIST

      • I agree because once a person recognizes what is happening, they cut the relationship off.

        Or I should say once decent people who are committed to another…

      • I meant that although I don’t believe at all in ‘he’s/she’s just a friend’ inappropriate friendships, we healthy non FW’s can have very casual friendships. People with integrity know intuitively how to set those boundaries. There’s no exclusion of your spouse, there’s no making time for each other, there’s no secrecy, no big bond, there’s no flirtation or innuendo. There’s no investing in the other person – no kibble seeking- think kind neighbour or solid colleague. I also believe that non FW’s can naturally turn that switch off if they are in a committed relationship.
        In the off chance that non FW’s did start to feel a spark (say like when helping a colleague) simply backing away would nip that in the bud. Just because that’s the gender you’re attracted to doesn’t mean you are attracted to that particular person.
        People who aren’t capable of conversing without putting sexuality into the interaction are damaged.

    • When my ex tried to act like one of her APs was her friend and “Was there for her”, I laughed. No guy gives a shit to listen to you about anything and meet with your privately without it being to get something from you. Guys do not hang out with women one on one outside work to be “friends”

  • The “friend” angle is a bit of a trigger for me but it seems to be a common part of the Chump story. Yeah, as I’ve already posted here, I went through a ton of his “She’s Just a Friend” which he very easily turned into “You’re a Bad Person because you don’t want me to have friends” moments. Eventually I stopped poking the “She’s Just a Friend” Bear because it was too easy for him to use my concerns against me and make me feel horrible for doubting him. I feel nauseous just remembering those moments and I’m so glad I don’t physically live with that anymore.

    So, I didn’t want to poke that bear, right? But… if she was “Just a Friend” and he was spending so much time with her (I’m condescending my experiences with GF#1 and GF#3/Wifetress into one) then… what was I? I was his wife. I was his best friend, right? That made me more important in his life than a regular friend, right? The words “best friend” was even in our vows. I knew I was being demoted and devalued but I wanted to know that I was somehow still important to him. Maybe he didn’t think of me as a wife anymore but, I thought, maybe I’m still his “best friend.” I was looking for anything at this point.

    And foolishly–foolishly!–I went to him with these concerns. Well, I still thought of him as my husband and best friend. As someone I would open up to and talk to about this. Looking to confirm that he still valued me somehow, I asked him “I’m still your best friend, right?”

    I was either expecting him to say (1) “Of course you are!” or to (2) lie to me and say “Of course you are!” What I got, I believe, was the truth. With his suitcases already packed and at her place he let me know that no… he didn’t think of me as a best friend. He even went so far as to say that his male best friend, who he had met through work, was more of an important friend in his life. I was.. more of a regular friend but not one of his top friends.

    I got the twisties in my stomach. I was married to this man. This man, once upon a time, had told me I was his everything and that I was the best friend he had ever had. Now he was able to calmly admit that “Yeah, none of that was true” and, with true detachment, he “ranked” me on the friendship totem pole; I was at the bottom. Then he left.

    I think I remember checking on the kids to make sure they were still napping and then I went and hyperventilated in the bathroom. I didn’t even have my “best friend” anymore. He never thought of me that way.

    The path between “She’s just a friend” and “I don’t even think of you as a friend” is a pretty short one.

    • If it’s any consolation, Fourleaf, it sounds to me like he’s unable to form attachments. These are sad pod people, who lurch through life looking for someone, and they’re never content. My X is an absolute wreck, he’s let so many people down, and showed his true self, and it’s not pretty.

    • Because I heard those exact ‘she’s just a friend’ I would never believe those words again. He actually added on for effect ‘ she doesn’t even know she’s involved.’ ????
      They had a plan – he left me for her!
      When I asked him about his first marriage and if there were any affairs, he said ‘no’ but he « had a friend to talk to. »
      Now I know what that means.
      Cheaters can be very convincing.

    • So sorry you went through this Fourleaf, with little kids. I went through something similar. I felt so isolated since I had lost my “best friend” too. I didn’t even know who to talk to about what I was going through, I thought I was going crazy. I hope you got through it OK.

      • What helped me get through most of it was his absence and no contact.

        It was painful, yes, but a wart has got to be cut out–roots and all.

        • Same here. I had to pull myself together to take care of the kids, alone. The way I got through the first months was to grieve the person I thought I was married to as if he was dead. He actually never existed but it is very similar… except that I also had to move and file for divorce. Co-parenting with his remains is another story…

    • Ugh. This hits me on so many levels right now. 10 months – to the day- of “wreckonciliation” he confessed he’d still been talking to that bitch all along. Me telling him this whole time that I just need a friend to talk to and him telling me that he’s my friend/best friend yet I’m not allowed to bring up ANYTHING that might “ruin his day”. Ever. He can be a raging dickbag but I have to wear permagrin 24/7 and never complain about anything.

      It was within the last couple of weeks (D-day #2 was 27 days ago but “nothing sexual” ever happened) that it really, FINALLY, sunk in that he is NOT my friend. At all. And, for some odd reason that’s the piece of it all that’s been a real kick in the teeth. Everything from this past year has been just that but fully grasping, finally – after all of the BS I’ve put up with from him for the past 6 years, that he’s not even my friend and probably never was—- it’s been truly heartbreaking.

      So! Now, whenever I find myself making excuses for him or hoping we can move forward, I not only remind myself of the LIES from the past year (and most likely then-some), and how he watched me suffering and continued “just talking to her” despite knowing that I was losing my mind, AND then remind myself that, “He’s not even your FRIEND.” And, every time, it pushes me back to reality and the fact that he and I will no longer be married soon because my feelings were/are Shit to him and his “friendship” with a skank-whore was more important to him than what I was going through.

      A friend- a REAL friend- wouldn’t DO something like that. And a REAL friend would tell their “bestie” if they knew about shady shit going on.

      He’s not even my friend.

      • That sinking feeling is the worst, isn’t it?

        You’re not my partner… you’re not my best friend… you’re not even my friend-friend…

        It sounds cliche as heck but it’s true: he’s nothing but a stranger.

      • It’s hard to go from thinking, “This is the best person I know, and she has been more loving to me than anyone I know,” to “This is the worst person I know, and she has been more hurtful to me than anyone I know.”

        • This reminds me of when we were in the middle of negotiating the settlement, and FW no longer called the shots. He kept texting me with “Trust me. I’m your friend.” ????

          My response: “When we were friends, you treated me like an enemy. Now that we’re enemies, you say you’re my friend. Fuck you.”

          It’s an unimaginable adjustment if you haven’t gone through it. After years of trusting this person with your life, you now have to protect your life against this person. Up is down. Down is up.

  • It’s so easy to find a name for a person like your husband. You can throw the word sociopathic around or narcissistic around and one will probably stick. What you have is a person who is being mean to you. That sounds very childish but it’s the truth. He’s a bully. Think about this. Do you have relationship problems with other people? If all of your other relationships are healthy then who is the bad guy here? The hardest thing in the world to admit is that the person you have loved is not lovable, and certainly isn’t trustworthy. I read this somewhere the description he should carry is vampire. He is sucking the joy out of you. He is the problem. You are not the problem you are the victim.
    I’ve been reading a lot about overt and covert narcissism and one of the strange things about covert narcissists is how they are always the victim. Makes you feel guilty for trying to use your gut instinct to figure out what’s going on. He’s telling you to ignore your own common sense. That’s a bully

    • I was very codependent, so, while he did me dirty so so very many (many, many) other ways, he did me a huge favor by packing up and leaving (twice actually, because I took him back after GF#1).

      I am so grateful that he left because every day that he’s been absent has been a million times better than when he was here.

      People throw around the word “toxic” pretty liberally but, yeah… he was toxic to be around. I felt sick and uncomfortable around him. The last few times I saw him in person (to go over and sign the separation and, later, divorce papers) I arranged for it to be in public place (a mall food court). I knew I was going to be royally embarrassed by crying in public (I did and I was), and I didn’t hate him, but I finally was able admit that I never wanted to be alone in a private area with him ever again.

      I’m glad I conducted that painful experience in the food court. He just sat back and took it. He probably would have had hurtful, gaslighty things to say if we would have done it alone in the kitchen.

      I don’t feel good around him so he’s not allowed in my house. I’m still foolish in many ways, in my life, but I’ve learned to trust my gut.

      I haven’t heard from him (expect on childcare/child support stuff) for years and it’s been fantastic. Wifetress can have all his “don’t poke the bear” and “walk around him on eggshells” moments. They don’t live day to day in my life anymore.

  • Dear DUCFT, save yourself. Run to the nearest “pitbull of a lawyer”. Stop the madness, reclaim your power and say NO to further abuse. You are not his priority. That cheater is spending time with another woman that he could spend with you. He is choosing her over you.

    Choose DUCFT, choose you. Choose to free him to fuck around. Don’t stay for more of this abuse. Four times? Don’t make it five. Let him go. Let him enjoy life without you. He isn’t invested anyway. Make it official. Divorce him.

    Don’t be me. Don’t stay for 33 years, settling for crumbs of his affection and time. Don’t waste your sweet precious life on that cheater. Get out before you are a day older.

    Choose you.

    • The divorce from x was final three days before the 40th wedding anniversary.

      He was a serial cheater for the entire marriage.

      What a fraud.

      What a liar.

      What an abuser.

      What a user.

      A good person doesn’t do that.

  • “ It takes a village” to uncover the depth of abuse from these fuckwits we’ve all encountered. Dr. Minwalla’s insight is exquisitely accurate to what a sexually betrayed victim experiences. I devoured his words in the 30 plus paged paper like it was manna from heaven, it’s just pure gold. Thanks so much to those who shared it, really great material!
    I chastise myself for staying maybe too long on online chump sites thinking sometimes it might be slowing down my progress to heal dwelling in that space for too long. Then I thankfully am pointed towards some very valuable material such as Dr. Minwalla’s work, and think, thank God I caught that today! There is something so validating and comforting in discovering over and over that yes, you were deeply traumatized by someone you loved so very much and yes, there are ppl in the world that actually fully get that and are at all stages of healing themselves and you can help one another. I get to have the pain legitimized as is so difficult to get from ppl in my life system that just wish I would hurry up and heal and can’t fully grasp this level of pain. It gives me faith that healing may be a real possibility some day and that my baby steps out have real value. It’s been a blessing to walk through the fires with such wise, kind, giving and loving people. Like the Churchill quote says,
    “ If you’re going through hell, just keep going”. We are all headed in the direction out and to more manageable and enjoyable climates in our lives, I know that’s true.
    And Duped and Chumped, those “ friends” of your husband’s that you are being so selfish in not letting him enjoy in his life, sound like ‘friends with benefits’ to me. Believe what your gut is telling you about it, he does not have your best interest in mind, but you,thankfully, do. He’s a cheater, whatever pkg he wants to disguise it in. Stay with CL and her nation, they have your back, he, absolutely, does not. Best of luck to you, you got this.

    • I printed that sucker out and put it in a notebook so I can refer to it again and again. Such validation!

  • Having a secret life and lying to your spouse about it is abuse. And is betrayal. My husband did not tell me before we married that he is a porn-obsessed, gay-friendly transvestite. Supposedly he never acted on it with other people IRL, but it doesn’t even matter, even if I beleived it. The important thing is that he lied, repeatedly, strategically, with planning, malice, and extreme cruelty to me…and further lied, gaslighted, manipulated and abused me, accused me of homophobia etc, as I was figuring it all out, to throw me off the truth. He happily threw me, my sanity, safety, love and trust under the bus to save himself from the truth and villainized me as a crazy and irrational person, while I am neither. The important thing to me now is that he is a lying liar who lies…all the rest are just details.

  • The first affair was Just Emotional. He lied and DARVO’d for 18 months about his ho-worker twat before he finally confessed in a trickle truth way, and blamed me for his inability to be honest with me because I Couldn’t Handle the Truth.

    I still don’t have “proof” that there was sex but there was certainly kissing and fondling and staying out till 4am. I do know there was a request made to his teenage daughters if it would be alright if he moved out to think for a while. Yes, he asked his young daughters if it would be alright for him to go fuck around on Mom for a while. When confronted by me the whore ran into the darkness like the cockroach she is and I won the pick me dance by default.

    When he finally abandoned the marriage 9 years later for another ho-worker twat (half our age) he said he had a lot of shame about that first Just Emotional Affair. My hopium toking had me thinking he felt bad for being such a colossal asshat during that time, but no, he openly said now that his shame came from the fact that he didn’t just leave us way back then. He regretted not imploding our family at that time. Sure, he had shame, not for packing up and abandoning his wife of 28 years by e-mail when I was away, nope, his shame was for not doing it much earlier. All the daily lies and future faking in between? That was my fault because I Still Couldn’t Handle the Truth.

    He deserved to be happy, you see. The faithful wife who cooked from scratch, made great money, was very loving, took care of everything in his life and who put up with his lies and forgave the first affair? I deserved to be abused and abandoned. His daughters deserved to have their family destroyed.

    If truly only “Emotional” it is just a warm up for getting physical, 100%. He is a cheater.

    This is how little they think of us.

  • This hits close to home. I thought that my X was a little too close to the ladies he was working with, but I didn’t think he was the kind of guy to have an affair. Countless times I was wondering why he wasn’t home when he said he would. Why was he texting continuously when he was and was getting angry when I was mentioning it. Why he thought it appropriate to bring one of his friends back to her apartment in the middle of the night after a work event and put her to bed because she was too drunk, while I was home with our babies worrying about where he was. Why he started needing viagra while still in his late thirties. When he started talking about separation it gutted me and I also thought he was having an “emotional” affair. Then he walked out on us with only one bag to an undisclosed address… fast forward a few years of lies and mindfuckery and he is living with the same OW. So never mind the “whys” and the “emotional” affairs, if it talks like a *uck, walks like a *uck, it’s probably a *uck.

    I also wished I hadn’t wasted so much time believing his lies, but I never thought people like him existed. Live and learn. Thanks for the life lesson.

  • It’s physical, Duped and Chumped, and there are probably more “friends.” I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this, but you seem like a wise person. You’ve identified these relationships as cheating, you’ve recognized the gaslighting and manipulation, and you’ve “said no to his narrative and no to his blaming.”
    You’re already mighty!

    My Knave-man had so many female friends that were actually affair partners at once that it was like his harem – he could choose which one to pursue at will, and kept them all dangling as concubines.
    How did he get away with it?

    By presenting them as friends.

    I cooked for his friends, we sailed with his friends, met them at pubs, had them as houseguests, went to sporting events, lectures, the theater, and concerts together, traveled to meet them –all things you would normally do with friends. Knave-man really got pleasure kibbles from seeing me unknowingly interact with his APs. There would sometimes be enough male friends along to throw me off track. He was energized by being clever enough to pull it all off – and proud of his “stable of thoroughbreds” (“they’re all so intelligent and accomplished!”).
    He’s a man of voracious appetites and immense charm (according to him).

    I finally found out the truth and recognized how devaluing these deceits were– to me and to all women.

    Sending you strength and self-assurance to find your best life on your terms.

  • Not long after I wrote this to the amazing ChumpLady, surprise surprise more lies were uncovered. I could go into what they were but there isn’t any point because there isn’t any point to his lies, just that rabbit hole.
    I looked at him said; don’t worry I will free you from the burden of having to think of lies, hide and delete texts/call logs, I will even step right to the side and never question your friendship ever again, you will have all the opportunities to be with her without pressures, he seemed confused at first and said, “oh so your finally going to let it go, good because I have to have her and you I can’t only have one of you”, and with a laugh that I didn’t realise would happen I just said “no mate, here are you bags I wanted to make sure you didn’t have to worry about packing, I called your parents they know you are on your way, you’ll be hearing from my lawyer”.
    Once you see them for who they are, there is no going back. If only I wasn’t so blind until now.

    I can safely say that my eyes opened more after listening to ChumpLadys audiobook

    • Way to be mighty, DUCFT! You have all the information you need to Throw Out That Cheater and Gain a Life. I hope you don’t have kids and can go No Contact forever.
      Hugs to you, we’ll be here for you!

    • Calling the parents is a nice touch, love it. I wish I’d done that to my manbaby at the time, in a “defective, return to factory” kind of way.

      • “defective, return to factory” kind of way! Love it! To call his parents- sure put you in the driver’s seat. Perfect response DUCFT

    • LOL he thought you were giving him an open ‘mirage’! ???? No, bye! Go off to yer Mom’s!
      Well done!
      You will be much happier now.

    • YASSSS QUEEN! It’s hard, but you are free of the gaslighting, the lies, the disrespect.

      CL on audio is the BEST!

    • Bravo! I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall and see his smug face fall when you told him that. Go you!

    • Arg. “I have to have her” and “can’t only have one of you.” Nope. That’s incompatible with my view of marriage, so we’re done.

      Mine idolized a girlfriend from decades before that he always said was his ideal of womanhood. The old me put up with that. The new me would say, “Good, go find her because there’s only room for one woman in this marriage.” She called periodically for YEARS and told me in the last call that she was newly divorced (again) and that she just wanted to make sure that my then-husband was doing OK because he was such a great man in her eyes. Lie. She wanted to see if I was still around. Guess where he ran off to when he left? At the very least, running off isn’t what a committed partner does, period. He wanted to do his own thing which isn’t what committed partners do.

      By the time the divorce process was in full swing, I didn’t care anymore and didn’t bother with a P.I.

    • ????????????????????????
      ????????????????????????

      You’re a rock star and a queen who takes no shit. Keep that spirit up and stay badass!

    • Good.

      Now be prepared for reconciliation attempts, hoovering, circling back, and plenty of flattering ‘you are the one I really want’ Imitation Naugahyde remorse.

      Don’t budge. Push for a good financial settlement while his head is reeling.

      He’s all hers now. No tags back.

  • And FWIW, you’re perfectly allowed to not want your spouse have friends of the opposite sex.
    It’s just shady every way you spin it, for grown adults. And people who insist it’s fine are always cheaters, I wonder why.

    • Funny how my cheater didn’t want me to have male friends. Yet he had tons of girls he was “friends” with, and that was ok! I was supposed to trust him and he didn’t trust me. They are a special breed.

  • You rock!!!

    “oh so your finally going to let it go, good because I have to have her and you I can’t only have one of you” ????????‍♀️ Like it’s only what he “has to have” .. ???? Poor OW, I’m very doubtful he’ll be satisfied with “only” her!

  • The question isn’t whether emotional affairs are as bad as physical ones. The question is what you’re willing to live with.

    Let’s step back from emotional affairs and look at basic boundaries. I’m not willing to deal with a guy with poor boundaries, but others might be.

    I know a guy at work who really doesn’t care about what he calls “harmless flirting”. I’m his defense he applies the same standard to the woman in his life…he just isn’t bothered by flirting.

    He is upfront about this, which is good.

    But I don’t want to deal with “harmless flirting” or any other poor boundaries.

    So who the hell cares where things register on the betrayal o meter? Let’s assume for a minute it is just a friend (which we know is bullshit, but I digress). You’re either willing to live with “just a friend” or you’re not. If so then let it go.

    If not then file. I got the same “we’re catching up she’s just a friend” bullshit with my ex and his skank ex gf. He also lied and gaslighted about everything. So who the fuck cares what’s as bad as what? I wasn’t willing to live with a conflict avoidant shady liar.

    • I finally let a man in sphere know how I felt about his “harmless flirting” recently. He’s not available, he’s in a long term live-in relationship. But he thinks he’s just so cute and being friendly with his flirting.

      The other day he had the audacity to moan to me about a male friend of his (who is a Player) being overly flirtacious and rubbing all over his girlfriend and how it pissed him off. I got really annoyed with the conversation and finally stated what I would think should be obvious. “When a man who is not available flirts with me (or makes passes at attached women) its hugely disrespectful to everyone involved. And insulting to me personally.” I don’t find it flattering. I don’t enjoy it. It’s not “harmless”.

      He had the grace to look a little ashamed at least.

  • DUCFT,
    There are so many great comments above, and it sounds like you have already made the most important decision. Good for you! I just want to add that I eventually realized that my STBX was engaging in all kinds of shady “affair-lite” behaviors in between her first and second “hot” affairs. Even if she didn’t sleep with anyone during that period, she still:
    1. Had intense friendships with people she was attracted to (all women, in our case)
    2. Kissed her straight-married “best friend” and then longed after her FOR YEARS
    3. Spent a ton of time in online communities of queer moms.

    Even though STBX would tell me about some of the above interactions and didn’t actively hide them from me, I frequently got the distinct impression that she was way more interested in all those other people’s opinions than in mine. (And recall, I had already been chumped once, and was dealing with the trauma of it.) Occasionally, I would offer my thoughts on STBX’s work issues or whatever and she would dismiss them, and then a couple of days later, she would say “so-and-so thought this about my issue,” and I would say, “I literally just said the same thing the other day and you dismissed it.” STBX would always just wave off my concerns: “Oh, did you say that? Sorry…” and then I would let it drop. And the cycle continued…

    The point is that STBX was ACTIVELY devaluing me while ACTIVELY idealizing these other people.
    She didn’t talk to me about her real feelings, because she couldn’t (due to her disorder). Even if she was not exchanging loving language or bodily fluids with them, these friends were giving her primo kibbles. And I knew it, on some gut level – only I didn’t realize that people like STBX rate kibbles, and shit all over the person who is not offering the most primo kibbles, especially if that person is a hard-working chump who does boring things like laundry and dishes and kid care.

    And guess what? Even though we’re not yet legally divorced, STBX has already “partnered up” with one of the queer moms from her online forum. There’s a very fine line between “affair-lite” and the real deal… Cheaters just have to give themselves permission to cross it. And then they feel entitled to manipulate the truth and abuse their partners.

    ALL of it is unacceptable to me.

    • “Occasionally, I would offer my thoughts on STBX’s work issues or whatever and she would dismiss them, and then a couple of days later, she would say “so-and-so thought this about my issue,” and I would say, “I literally just said the same thing the other day and you dismissed it.” STBX would always just wave off my concerns: “Oh, did you say that? Sorry…” and then I would let it drop. And the cycle continued…”

      This was happening to me FOR YEARS. It didn’t matter what the topic was, a restaurant recommendation, something I’d read in a book, something I was knowledgeable about from training at work, he always had conversations with clients, his mom, his coworkers who’s opinions far out weighed mine and or sometimes were the same as something I’d previously mentioned but it was never taken seriously until he heard it from someone else. At least you got the “Sorry” he never even acknowledged (or remembered) anything I had ever said. In hindsight, I was being devalued for years before the betrayal and heavy duty devaluing. I’m always amazed at the similarities in experiences of us chumps.

  • While each chump needs to answer the question of whether the relationship is acceptable and perhaps not be too concerned about establishing whether it’s physical, there are a couple reasons why a chump might want to.

    Proof of physical infidelity might strengthen the chump’s ability to get a fairer divorce settlement.

    Also, the cheater’s “friend” is more likely be re-written into the history of the family. There will be a second familiar voice (not a stranger) telling children, in-laws, neighbors, etc. that the intimacy began only after the divorce. Again, it’s up to the chump, but there’s little opportunity to set the facts straight years later.

  • I know of one long term emotional affair. It began when my brother, nephew, and sister had died/were dyeing, our teenagers were using drugs, and I was devastated. He said the “atmosphere in our home” wasn’t good and he needed validation. His ex girlfriend from 40 years ago made him “feel alive.” She and her husband lived thousands of miles away. They instant messaged constantly (including during my sisters funeral). He was cold and angry. Usually he was falsely “happy and upbeat” but he didn’t even try. I was so broken that I didn’t notice at first. It got worse and then I searched “I love you but I’m not in love with you” on Google. It is something that cheaters say. I was shocked since he came home on time every day and stayed there. Later I learned they met up twice. Once he went to his High School reunion and didn’t ask me to go too. The other time she convinced her husband to camp in our area. They made out but did not have intercourse. He really doesn’t think he cheated since they didn’t go all the way. He told me they were just friends. Their messages (that I found hidden in a secret account) said otherwise. I stayed with him. He tried to start more emotional affairs. I found out he molested our daughters when they were babies. I moved out. He began dating. He didn’t know how to commit. I wasted 37 years of my life. If he had had physical affairs, I think I would have been able to leave sooner. The emotional affairs just tore me up but didn’t set me free. What finally did was learning about the sexual abuse of my girls. Even that has a justification from him. Even that took me awhile to accept. I lived in denial for a few more years…just coming out of it. I lived in this false reality my whole adulthood. Now I have to figure out how to go forward. Its hard. He is with a women 20 years younger than him now. She never had children. Thank goodness for that.

    • That is just awful. Did you go to the police? If he did that to them he needs to be prevented from doing the same thing to someone else.

      • Yes. I didn’t know this was going on until 4 years ago. It happened almost 30 years ago. Its on file but sadly, nothing can be done at this time.

  • Whoa…I felt the pit in my stomach when you mentioned the fact that he manipulated you by saying “I can have friends” and the whole bit about her needing a friend too and you being uncomfortable didn’t allow her that. ALSO, the whole lunch thing and saying you can’t afford to do that when you suggest playing hookie. My ex FWH did ALLLLLL of that. Wow…I think they all were given the same manual in FW school. The only difference with the “I can have friends” was that he groomed me to not say that. He would complain about his ex-fiance saying that to him and not liking this particular friend and it really upset him. So I never said that and actually befriended her to make HIM feel better. Vomit.

    If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last year is if it smells fishy…it is fishy. If it seems manipulative, it is. I’ve started seeing this in so called friends recently too. I have no room for that in my life anymore and I owe a huge part of that to this CHUMP community.

    Sending you lots of love. It takes strength to leave a FW and even more to continue to set boundaries.

  • I was told I was controlling for keeping cheater from having friends even though this “just a friend” was someone cheater sent flowers and teddy bears with hearts to, told “I love you,” talked about wanting oral sex with, sent valentines day gifts to, “just crashed” in her bed, sent sexy photos to and received nudes from…. Yet somehow I was supposedly the real monster here… They all use the same lines and excuses no matter how bad the situation.

    • The “just a friend” stuff is funny because for someone who is “just a friend”, they refuse to cut ties and are suuuuper attached. If someone was just a casual friend, I’d have absolutely no problem dropping them and being transparent with my spouse to make them feel comfortable. Because if this were truly the case, would a sane person throw away a spouse they built a family with for some “friend” they’ve known for weeks or months?

      No.

      But cheaters absolutely would throw it away for sex and attention.

  • “Why should SHE lose a friend just because YOU’RE uncomfortable” is the dealbreaker for me. He is telling you that he values another woman’s emotional state more than your own. That’s not marriage.

  • Once again, just moments ago, my beloved therapist of many years, who was formerly our family therapist, who fired him for lying, assured me CHEATERS HAVE VERY DEEP BIG PROBLEMS.
    This means all parties in the illicit relationships.

    You don’t get an Olympic gold medal by hanging around with losers. Stick with the winners, and by definition, cheaters and those who cheat with them are NOT winners.

  • Lying and deceit is bad even if it’s that’s “all” that it is. But honestly, it’s very very likely that the affairs were physical as well. My STBX still maintains his affair was an “emotional” one. Yeah… no. A recorder in our bedroom while I was away visiting family showed that was very much a lie.

  • Isn’t it just amazing how many ” friends ” these cheaters with cognitive dissonance have? Maybe that mental disability is a real chick magnet. Sweet Mother of God, I too agree, there are no emotional affairs, they are just plain committing adultery. Many of us need that positive proof though. It takes times but on the day that I found that proof I felt like I could fly! I shook with happiness that now I knew I was not crazy after all. I hate that the ex broke up a truly wonderful family, I’ve lost lots of friends because of their insulting advice. I no longer just smile and let those comments roll off because I now feel obligated to try to enlighten them to the truth. Character is all that matters, when you are with someone who is an arrogant, entitled, liar there is only one way out. Take it.

  • I just read the NYT story today on the report that Andrew Cuomo harassed several women. What struck me were how the details of the incident show that this guy (like so many fuckwits) just gets off on seeing how far he can go. Like, all guys are aware its a boundary crossing to run your finger along the shirt/chest of a woman you’re meeting for the first time, but these guys feel they’ve ascended to the Alpha/Chad position of being able to disregard the rules for mere humans and piss their godly piss on their territory. And they want to show that everything is their territory: they can put their hands on women / say suggestive things / take multiple women to “work lunches” (wink, wink).

    I think all kinds of people, men and women, feel insecure about their level of social power and buy into a model like the above where *actually* following the rules is far less important than the appearance of following the rules when it comes to image and being in control/”bending” the rules when it comes to accountability. Now I’m not saying, aw, poor them, they’re so insecure. Rather something about the Cuomo story is making the entitlement piece sink in, and I’m just thinking out loud about where I’ve fit into the lives of my last significant male partners, who treated me like DUCFT is now putting up with.

    At first I was a conquest (just territory they figured should be theirs but hadn’t secured), and then once I was underfoot, I was just a homebase from which to go out and scope more new ground. This lots-of-women-friends thing happened with the rich banker politician, with the modestly employed literary magazine publisher and with the relatively poor boyishly handsome young musician. Only with the last one did I try questioning that it was my “insecurity” and “jealousy” that was the problem and start the slow process of tuning into my mistrust.

    • With people like Cuomo, it really drives home how the majority of politicians are predators with a desire to get something from you (not to serve you). Cuomo with the help of media, knows there’s never been an iota of accountability. This guy has been allowed to sexually harass women and caused a ton of elderly people to die last year and media just ignored it.

      Like cheaters, they don’t care about boundaries or ethics because there aren’t any in their world. There’s no one slapping their hand after putting it in the cookie jar.

  • Actually, I think this past weekend offered a test of my new ChumpLady-fortified boundaries.

    I was invited by a younger, attractive, single man from work to a private party at his house. This guy runs a small music scene in town that connects to my background culturally even though most of the scene is not of my background. I was a little excited. I presumed it was a house party / outdoor backyard kind of thing. Almost compulsively, I cooked Caribbean food to take over. There was no potluck mention, and I hardly ever cook, much less cook for a man as an overture, even further less cook The Food Of My People for someone. I had a good cry about my ex, like this was a moment of moving on. Like, it was as though my body knew it was a date, even though there was no explicit mention of dating vibes. But I had this undercurrent feeling of weirdness, of “is it a date?”, of “oh, this is probably all professional community socializing.”

    So I go — the guy’s got a literal stage on his property, and it’s a scene, reggae, herb everywhere, and local politicians, exec directors and power players too (I hadn’t expected that). I’m welcomed by people on my own professional merits, but I remember viscerally how electrified I have been to be taken to parties like that by my exes, introduced around, etc. I’ve been in this town a few years and it’s the first time I’ve felt that insider buzz, the first time in this town I’ve watched as men flock around other men trying to curry favour. Back then I was not as individually grounded in my own power. Before, I was one of the young women who worked for a particular guy, or was trying to break into the field, looking to connect, etc. and also still smarting from FOO stuff and early assauts. Ripe for being excited at the attention of the host, or of any of the who’s who.

    Anyway: emotional flashbacks galore! He’d invited me! I gave him curry! Would he talk to me? The whole thing was so impressive! Sexy, even! This man is a player, a public speaker, a local community builder, wow! We’re so compatible! But also: gut churn. He invited me, why is he not even coming to say hello? Why does the tension feel thick when he brushes by me on the dance floor? Should I go talk to him? Am I imagining sexual tension? Is this all in my head?

    Then I saw him do the small-of-the-back touches whisper-in-the-ear thing with another woman. Mini gut punch. Okay. Deflate. Time to halt. I could feel all the rationalizing surge up: well, it’s not like he asked me on a date! He didn’t do anything technically wrong! But instead of immediately deciding it was all in MY head, I just decided to keep my eyes open, and see what my instincts said.

    I felt that for myself, the damage had been done. That from the get-go, even if he later he is no longer dating the woman I saw him touch and he pursues me, I have been witness to him inviting me with ambiguous vibes, as a single femme, to his place, when he is with someone else. He did not introduce me to his girlfriend. He was almost deliberately “too busy” to say hi all night, but there were definitely physical brush-bys and dance floor approaches. And then when I said good night, then he chased me down at the front gate of his yard and kept me there, chatting, one-on-one, for about 10 minutes. Inner-child Magnolia felt special and chosen, and years-of-therapy Magnolia was like, hmm, let’s get little Magnolia out of here because I don’t think he means her heart well.

    Thing is, if I were that woman he was with, and she got a weird feeling about me, of course he can say, oh! Magnolia? she’s just a woman I work with! We’re work friends! But I know for myself that my approval-seeking buttons were on hyper-pushed, that I had a more-than-friends interest in him, and that I got the vibe that he was scoping all of that out. That if I’d said, oh, let’s meet for an innocent coffee, he’d have scored somehow. All subtext, all energy, but I’ve been the kind of daddy-issues girl who has pursued that energy.

    Even now, I can feel myself asking, am I making all this up? Could it be that I’m the only one adding subtext? And that feeling is very familiar, and my exes would have assured me that yes, I am making it up, and would make a mention of my past abuses making me too suspicious to boot.

    For what it’s worth, I met another man at that party who was pretty straightforward, open, seemed interested, and yep, later he found me on social media and followed up to say “nice to meet you.” No weird vibes activating all my wounds. And at another soca party the next day, a young man straight up asked me for my number, and whether he could call next time he came to my town. Like, straightforward! Grateful to those dudes for offering contrasting experiences to the shiny, sparkly boy. And grateful to myself, because I think the work I’ve done on me is showing. If I’d been more susceptible to sparkle boy, I may also have been less present for the grounded ones.

    • What insights.

      Sparkly boy and the sparking sexual undercurrent of cat and mouse. No fukking thank you.

      So sorry for your homemade food – that was a precious gift to spend on a fuckwit.

      • Ambivalence is always a huge red flag. If you don’t know it’s a date, then it’s not a date.

        Or better still, decide for yourself in advance if this is a date or not (hint: decide that it’s not; you will have much more fun).

        I’m so sorry. I bet you’re an amazing cook, and there are clearly plenty of men out there who can see your worth right away.

        Sparkle Boiz are just awful. I speak from experience.

    • “Inner-child Magnolia felt special and chosen, and years-of-therapy Magnolia was like, hmm, let’s get little Magnolia out of here because I don’t think he means her heart well.”

      This is one important mental frame that can save us, over and over, from getting involved with predatory people. I hope everyone takes notice of this very smart line of thought. We can’t allow the “inner child,” especially a child who was deprived of love, attention, respect for his/her person, who experience abuse or neglect or contempt, to make decisions for an adult life.

    • The man’s hand on the lower back of a woman as he’s talking to her. Could somebody speak to that? Fuckwit did that to a colleague early on in our relationship at a party. Right in front of me like it was nothing -his hand stayed there during a very long introduction of her to me. The woman was younger and I thought I felt her unease with that(especially since I /his girlfriend was standing right there) – but I wasn’t sure if this was all in my mind.
      I literally asked a couple of girlfriends about this later and they thought it was a generational thing… That men in their 50s used to do that thinking nothing of it -and he was quite a toucher in general.
      Just curious what the men on this site think of guys who are touchy like that with women.

  • Dear Chumplady

    I am an old friend of a man who continuously cheats on his wife and has done since early days of dating. I removed myself from the group as I couldn’t stand his cheating but couldn’t face being a social pariah by exposing him. They have now had 2 kids and are constantly posting happy family pics that make me want to puke. This guy cheats all over the place, users hookers and more. Do I tell her? The information coming from me would be neither welcomed nor believed.

    • As Chump Lady says, they always deserve to know.

      Present your information from anonymous.
      I remember reading someone gave the betrayed spouse an envelope delivered with signature. It said- open if you want to know what’s happening in your marriage. The letter told the betrayed spouse what they knew was happening. Also, an additional envelope stating it held the evidence. Open only if they wanted to see the evidence. (Was delivered by the AP’s spouse– who had the evidence). It gave the betrayed spouse plenty of opportunity to know what was coming and to read or throw away their choice.

    • I agree with chump no more. Send her an anonymous email or letter. It’s up to her if she believes it or not. You could also send her LACGAL to help her face the truth.
      When you know you’ve have done the right thing and tried to help another chump it will be a relief.

    • From personal experience I would say yes. I know it will likely cost you your friendship, but if someone had dropped a hint to me, I might not have accepted it right away, but I think it would have caused me to notice more red flags, and maybe got me out of that mess sooner.

  • I spent too much time looking for signs indicating I should stay in the marriage. Then too much time being the marriage police. He was an absent person in my life. After he pulled a gun, in those short traumatic minutes where I was sure he was going to shoot me he then threatened suicide and raped me, I knew I was leaving.
    Then I got pregnant.
    Then I got cancer.
    I over thought things thinking maybe it was a rough patch and this is the second chance. Nevermind that I stayed with my parents through treatments because he’d already proven he wasn’t vested to help with a newborn, 3yo and myself. I tried to hold a vision that we would make it through. He’d come around and we’d grow together, travel as empty nesters, be rocking chair buddies. I invested close to 17 more years.I just could not hold that vision. It always ended blank. I now know it was because we didn’t even have a present together so there is no way we could have had a future.
    I can visualize a great future and plan my life according to my values and self respect.

  • DUCFT – Would you do this to someone? Is it acceptable to you?Questions that could have saved me time. Agree with others it likely is more and if not is on track to be.

  • Can these individuals really have “emotional affairs” if they lack any real emotion and ability to bond to another human? I believe they are incapable of emotional affairs as that would require something they are missing as humans.

    The DARVO of “I’m allowed to have friends” is so familiar. Mine liked ho-workers so he would go on and on about different women at work. When I’d mention I was uncomfortable he would say “I’m just doing my job! Are you saying I’m not allowed to do my job?!” I’m pretty sure it’s not company policy to email your boss your spouses holiday schedule, to alert him of when he was going to be home. I am also pretty sure if the relationship was not inappropriate he wouldn’t delete text, and find secretive ways to communicate. That is an affair, with or without anything physical (and let’s all be real it’s physical).

    • Oh, don’t you always hide talking to your friends and then delete the conversation so your spouse can’t know? LOL

      I assure you that any “friend” wouldn’t disrespect someone’s spouse, wouldn’t put themselves in a situation where it remotely looked bad. The truth is, the cheater can’t own up to the fact that they’re a giant piece of shit so they gaslight you to make you feel “crazy” or “insecure” about the reality of the situation.

  • Here’s my question:

    If you were in (let’s say) Year 1 of this relationship and knew that there would be a parade of wannabe girlfriends in a series of emotional affairs (and perhaps or even likely physical ones), would you spend 16 more years?

    Aren’t you entitled to respect, love and affection? In marriage, you should be the primary female FRIEND. He is supposed to be your social partner, economic partner, and emotional support. He’s failing on all fronts.

    The line between a husband or wife having a friend of the same gender as their partner (in this case, a man having female “friends” is when the friendship takes precedence over the marriage–when the friend(s) get more of the available downtime; when the friend relationship interferes with marital responsibilities (e.g., parenting, household chores, family obligations; when the friend gets more attention, respect and affection than the spouse; when there are sexual overtones; when the friend is the one getting special time and attention (e.g., special time off for lunches). That’s not “friendship.” That’s someone giving what belongs to the spouse to someone else.

    You don’t mention if you have kids, but if you do, what is this disrespect teaching them about marriage?

    One reason I ended my marriage to a substance abuser is the he spent every weekend morning and afternoon drinking with his buddies, coming home drunk, so that I almost never had time with him when he was sober. He was giving away the time, attention, and regard he should have had for me to his drunken buddies. I finally wised up.

  • Isn’t it funny how the cheater has to have “friends”, girls/guys night out, “me” time to take classes/hunt/fish/play sports/shop for new clothers or widgets, and on and on….
    But the chump is supposed to be at home, not working overtime unless it buys cheater new clothes/toys/wtf ever, and chump must be on call to respond to cheater’s whims.
    I could never get cheater to respond to phone calls or text messages. for several hours or even a day or two…I was harassing him! But if he couldn’t get me on the phone while at work or shopping I was being unsupportive and disrespectful He phoned one time demanding that I show up with a gas can because he ran out of gas 5 minutes from our home. This chump was literally 1 and 1/2 hours away 2 hours into an 8 hour work shift. He still thought I was an asshole for not helping him. How? Not teleporting home with a gas can? Not calling one of his drinking buddies to rescue him? Not calling a taxi to pay for and deliver the gas? Grown ass man was literally a stone’s throw from a Wilson’s stop and go.
    Only in retrospect do some us see that the marriage was the cheater’s domain. We were merely servants or pawns within their world. We were never a respected friend or even a somewhat liked companion just merely an unpaid cook, cleaner, manny/nanny, gardener, blow up doll/dildo, source of revenue for their creature comforts etc.
    Biggest red flag is the dismissal of the chump as nothing but “the help” and only valuing the cheater’s interests Once you are disrepected the marriage is done…there will never be a partnership with the lopsided contract you just passively agreed to. It’s like stepping into a pile of manure and expecting to wash off the stench with a garden hose. Nothing will fix being devalued.

  • I met a guy the other day, a random happenstance moment, and we talked for a while. He was a trucker, in a sense, and he was oh, so handsome. Movie-star handsome. Lots younger than me, and I’m not into dating right now, but I did notice the blonde hair, blue eyes and nicely proportioned everything.

    He was talking about retiring one day. And I asked him about his dreams. He talked of another job he would get until he was 65. I said, “And then what?”

    He said, “I really don’t know. I haven’t thought that far in advance.”

    I said, “Do you have any hobbies? Or any guy-friends that you hang out with?”

    He said, “No. I just go home to my wife. She’s my best friend, really the only friend I need.”

    I said, “Do you both of like to travel?”

    And he said, “Well, yes… we’ve been to Spain, Portugal, France, England, China, Canada, Mexico, South America, Australia, and we’d like to go to Hawaii sometime soon. We have kids, and they’re married now, and we love taking vacations with them! Can’t wait for grandkids!”

    And I just thought, “Hmmmmm….”

    It might have been a providential encounter. I feel a new hope rising…

  • Another thing…

    I have a guy friend that I’ve had for about 10 years now. When either of us has been dating someone, we haven’t been in touch, but we check up on each other from time to time.

    Recently he let me know that he found someone! And it was progressing nicely, so he needed to say goodbye to me. He said that he was sure his new woman would understand that we’re just friends, but he didn’t want her to wonder at all, so he thought it best to cut all communication.

    And I agreed…

    So there are good guys out there!

  • Sorry… my third comment…

    I’ve often wondered about this thing, “emotional friends,” and… going even further… just plain flirting. I had trouble with this in my relationships post-marriage. It’s kind of like we’d enter a room and the guy would put his chest out and start working the room, to see who he might attract, and he’d lock eyes with whomever… and they’d have a back-and-forth all evening that wouldn’t include me, and any mention of it would be totally denied, should I break character and say something… but I usually didn’t, because then I’d be “so insecure!” A no-win situation for sure, for me. To just ignore was next to impossible, but I did it, many times. When I could pull it off, as if I didn’t care, he just upped the anty and went into overdrive… until I had to just leave…

    But it took years from my life.

    Too bad, he was really my type in some important ways. But he didn’t mind doing the deal breakers, just to flirt with my comfort zone and see what happened.

    Cheating = He’s already left you.
    Emotional Affair = He’s lining up someone for a sure leave soon.
    Flirting = He’s thinking of leaving and he wants you to know. Fair warning!
    Porn = Oh man, I don’t even know…

    What about Porn, Chump Lady? Where does that fit in?

  • Ahhh the proverbial “emotional affair.”

    Not buying it.

    His behaviour has all the hallmarks of full blown cheating. How do I know? Because X FW behaved in the same manner. He was always flirtatious with my friends, waitresses, work place ladies etc. Yet had looks of disdain, contempt and on-going insults towards me. Gaslighting, devaluing, crazy-making, WITHHOLDING OF AFFECTION, this one is very telling. He criticized me, picked fights, undermined my parenting in front of the kids, NEVER gave a compliment to me but would mention another lady’s attractive features. THESE ASSHOLES GET OFF ON THIS SHIT! It will get worse and worse leading up to the discard. Which hurts like hell after your self esteem is already zero.
    He gains momentum with POWER AND CONTROL by triangulating you with these other women. It hurts deeply. I know. The writing is on the wall, I’m very sorry to say. He’s cheating and rubbing your nose in it is my take. This is extreme emotional abuse. I am so sorry. You deserve so much better than this.

    • Google the term “Monkey Branching”. When a spouse puts the feelers out to line someone else up before fully leaving the marriage. Like a monkey hanging onto two jungle limbs going back and forth before finally moving forward. Cheaters aim to have new shiny lined up, locked and loaded before they go.

    • “THESE ASSHOLES GET OFF ON THIS SHIT! It will get worse and worse leading up to the discard. Which hurts like hell after your self esteem is already zero.”

      If I could do anything for new chumps it would be to lesson the discard phase. It is so painful, I am not sure how so many of us recover. It speaks to our character and strength.

      • Excellent point. It is sooo soul crushing yet here we all are. Still putting one foot in front of the other. Morals intact. Sane parenting. Focused on the future and finding the silver linings to being fuckwit-FREE! I can honestly say if FW did not abandon / discard I don’t think I’d be alive today. Narc abuse is incredibly damaging and not an easy recovery. Tuesday awaits.

    • Omg yep withholding of affection. My husband has a “secret” friend on FB who direct messages 24×7 – all the standard stuff – oversharing, (even I know she’s getting her second breast augmentation sheesh) and complaining about her fiance, taking the phone to the shower etc etc . Last week when he was eating a dinner that I cooked he was dm’ing her about some conflict he has going with his adult son – I could see them typing right next to me. I asked “hows Caroline” and that sent him into an absolute purple rage and he didn’t speak a word to me for 3 days. I feel so stupid for tolerating being punished for wanting to discuss his choices. I’m so glad I found this site and book I cant even describe how over all of it I am right now. Thanks so much for being here!

  • I am current in this exact situation and I am so glad I found this article. I am currently listening to Chump Lady’s audiobook very carefully.. trying to get strength to leave.
    He has had this new “female friend” for the past two years. It’s his only friend. Talk about a “pick me” dance. He is either spending time with her, or spending time with me. This “friendship” of theirs started so inappropriately (going to her house when he boyfriend wasn’t home, staying out until 2am drinking with her, sneaking off somewhere on our large property at 1am after everyone had gone to bed after having a party at our house, the list continues on and on and on.). At first I was “not allowed” to join them. I was told I would be intruding. That I would be the third wheel. I have been told many many times again that if I don’t like their friendship, then I can leave.
    Most recently.. he told me he was going to work. on a Sunday. My *gut* (IT NEVER FAILS!!) said something was off. I drove by her house and his car was in front. HER boyfriends car was not in the driveway (as it always is).
    So… why am I still here? I am 90% sure they are having an affair. Since I have yet to catch sexual evidence, that 10% is haunting me and making me want to stay. I am 32. I want children. Starting over now, going through divorce, healing, possibly finding someone else, settling down with them and TRUSTING again… I worry my biological clock is going to run out of time and I will never be a mom.
    I know, I know. DONT have kids with this man.
    I am scared to leave.
    I wish I could catch them in the act of something sexual. What if they ARE “just friends”.

    • This is painful to read. He treats you like absolute crap. You have caught him in big time lies. Of course he is having an affair. But regardless, he doesn’t care about your feelings – at all. Thank your lucky stars you have not had a baby with him.
      Leave ASAP. You are young, plenty of better things for you out there.
      The type of relationship you have with him, will just get worse and worse and worse with time..

      • Here’s a suggestion. Freeze your eggs. Then you can have a baby when you want to with a guy who deserves you. He certainly does not

        • Yes! I stayed with a giant Ahole to have kids. In retrospect it would have been easier to have kids on my own! Freeze your eggs or get a sperm donor if you have to. If what you want is kids you can do it any number of ways that don’t involve staying with a jerk who treats you like crap.

    • AIAC, I can relate, as I left a narcissist at 37 (last year) when we were just agreeing to have a child. As I am a child of a narcissistic parent, by any means I wanted to repeat this painful pattern and I escaped it, at the expense of probably not becoming a mother myself. These are hard choices, but you are still young and a lot can happen. Believe in the fact that you can truly be loved!

    • Run away! You don’t want to have kids with that guy. He is going to treat you like shit and drive you crazy, while you’re having your kids. That’s not parent/partner material. Trust me I know. You’re still young, you can start over. I had both my kids after 36. Thinking you “have” to stay in an impossible situation will cause you a lot of pain. We’ve all been there. Cut your losses.

  • Am I a chump,
    I’m so sorry your in this situation. All I can say is, my ex was the same snd constantly picked the relationship with her over the relationship with me. And we were together 17 years and have three kids.
    It’s so much more painful when kids are involved. And trust me they only get more attached to the AP when kids are around, I think it’s something to do with them not getting the attention they want.
    I know it’s hard and it hurts and their are usually thoughts of am I enough? Or will anyone else love me? The answer is YES! You will find someone who will treat you as you deserve.
    I’m 34, 3 kids, trying to work through a new me without him, a new me without the constant worrying and grief of being not even second priority.
    It’s a big, but a life of committing to a person who to someone who doesn’t commit to you is beyond painful.
    I decided to love me and find a better life for my babies.
    Good luck and I hope you find your happiness.

    • I agree, having been in the same situation. Except I didn’t leave him. A lot was left unsaid, I didn’t confront him about his friend. I was overwhelmed, overworked (working full time and taking care of 2 kids on my own, plus one overgrown manbaby when he graced us with his presence) and confused (he made sure of that).

      You made the right move DUCFT. I waited and eventually I was dumped for the AP. I lived through the devaluation and the final mindfuck and it almost broke me. Having lived though it I can definitely say it wasn’t worth staying, and I wish I had made a move sooner.

      However I made it through and 3 1/2 years later, finally divorced, I can say things are MUCH better. I am single, with two kids and never been happier. And it’s still getting better and very day!

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