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What If He Changes for the Next One?

fraudfoilDear Chump Lady,

I called off my wedding three months before the big day, after discovering that my fiance was sleeping around with multiple women, including his ex.

Anyways, as stupid as it sounds, I feel like I was completely blindsided. He was so amazing to me and he was the one who pursued me all this time. I mean now that I look back, maybe there were red flags. Anyways, I know I don’t want to be with someone like that, but I have this fear — what if he changes for the next woman? What if he takes the lesson from this mistake and becomes the man I thought he was?

I honestly feel so silly as I am typing this, but I would love your opinion on how I can overcome this fear. Just to give you some idea, he never really took ownership of his mistake and said he was just having fun, even blamed me in front of his friends for the whole thing. I don’t want to ever go back. I want to move on and be happy again. Please help. Thank you.


Dear Carmel,

You miss the lie. The man he pretended to be, the creature you fell in love with, the heady intoxication of love bombing, the unspoiled Eden of trust… The lie felt good. The reality sucks.

Reality is your friend here, however. Reality is this creep PRETENDED to love you, CONNED you into a commitment, let everyone else invest deeply in that con (hope you got the deposits back), and CHEATED on you with multiple women.

So now you’d like to swap one lie — the hologram you fell in love with — for another lie — the person he COULD be if he “changes.”

Sorry Carmel, the person he is is that guy who never really took ownership of his mistake and said he was just having fun, even blamed me in front of his friends for the whole thing.

That’s the REAL HIM.

Betraying you was a bit of “fun.”

That’s your prize there.

What you’ve got is a classic case of “Trust That He Sucks.” The hopium vapors are still dissipating. You’re still clinging to the wreckage. Let go.

1.) Let’s buy the reconciliation narrative for a moment that he’s changed. (He won’t, but okay). The Wizard of Therapy gives him a new heart. Now you’re back together again and he’s wonderful! He’s so into you! He wants to commit to you forever!

You’ll never trust him again. How could you? He was super into you before the whole time he was fucking other women. He’s really good at fronting lies. The “Is he really real?” question will haunt you. It doesn’t matter if he changed, he destroyed the trust.

2.) It doesn’t matter who he is for the next woman, he broke this relationship. You must rebuild. I know that’s exhausting, just thinking about it. All that time and love you invested in this person — can’t you get that investment back? Nope. You can only LEARN FROM IT. Whatever those red flags were? PAY ATTENTION. Fix that picker. Go be awesome without him.

3.) He’s a sick fuck to do this. If you really need to detach, keep reminding yourself of this. Healthy, sane people who make good life partners would NEVER do this. Only really disordered, shallow, mindfuck freaks do this. Courtship, engagement — this is supposed to be the loveliest part of romance — it’s the high. It’s life before kids and a mortgage and the disillusion of a thousand annoyances. He couldn’t even sustain THAT. He couldn’t even be there for you when it was WONDERFUL. Now imagine who he’d be if you had cancer, or your mother died, or you lost your job.

Time for that cliche — you dodged a bullet.

Please don’t stand up and take another hit.

The one ran previously. 

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Read and reread paragraph 3.) of CL’s reply until you’ve internalized and fully understand the hollow soul you thought you loved. I’m sorry for your very startling end of this relationship. I’m thankful you saw it for what it was and left. You deserve better. This is your opportunity to find it.

  • I really hope Carmel comes back and tells us how she is .

    I’m going to stick my neck out here and say I’m not a fan of they don’t change .

    Obviously I can only talk for myself but by all intents my ex has totally changed .

    I don’t think he’s ever cheated in any other relationship only on me .

    I don’t think he’s a serial cheater and I don’t think he will ever cheat again

    He never wanted children before

    It took over 2 years of dating for him to ask to marry me . Then 2 years further to get married

    He was engaged after 10 weeks to her . Married 14 weeks after divorce which was less than a year after leaving me and has 2 children.

    That’s NOTHING like he was with me so that has totally changed .

    I am a big fan of it doesn’t matter and he ruined our relationship and that wasn’t acceptable to me

    • I don’t think once a cheater always a cheater — I do think once a cheater in your relationship, you cannot wholly restore trust. And their future potential doesn’t matter — is it acceptable to YOU?

      Also, in this case, someone who is a serial cheater out of the starting gate? Just no. That’s so transgressive and predatory. He went into it looking for someone to chump. To be a front.

      In other cases, I think character change is painful and slow. To do something like this requires the suppression of empathy or no empathy. Entitlement, however, feels great. Odds are not strong that people swap entitlement for empathy.

      Every movement away from entitlement toward empathy (racism, sexism, whatever) to see people as PEOPLE and not things of use, is PAINFUL. It’s struggle. It’s consequences for the entitled. It’s calls to conscience. Some people have consciences to appeal to and some people don’t. Again, entitlement feels great.

      I’ve written about this calculus elsewhere. Bottom line, you’ve got better things to do with your life than wait for a potential change of heart.

      • I think people can change their circumstances, but they only rarely change their ways of thinking or how they relate to people. When they do, it’s a great deal of very hard work. This stuff is often baked in at very early ages of development so change involves a lot of therapy and practice. In my observation, plenty of cheaters get really busy right away proving to the world and you that everything about them is fine and it was all you. So they do a lot of the things you specifically begged them to do to make your relationship better. They refused.

        I begged my financially abusive ex to get a CPA for years. Now he has one. I begged him to go to therapy. Now he says he’s done extensive therapy. I showed him my favorite obscure style of house 200 times and told him what I dreamed of doing with it. He went and closed on that exact kind of house with Schmoops two weeks after the divorce was final.

        Here’s the thing. He still treats the kids like objects. He’s still completely in the rage, charm, self pity mindfuck cycle. He changed his circumstances, but not himself. He used my ideas to present a better version of himself but he didn’t have those ideas for himself. It only shows that he knew he needed a CPA and a therapist but was such a toddler he wouldn’t do that if I asked him to. He’ll do it now because he doesn’t perceive it as me controlling him. This is developmentally the stage of an oppositional toddler. I could think, as he really wants me to, that he’s changed and grown and is better now that I’m not in his life. Or I could know that if he’s improved, he’s gone from the emotional age of 3 to 4. “Look Mommy! No hands!” I don’t want a 4 year old life partner anymore than a 3 year old life partner. Schmoops can try to get him to the emotional age of 5. He’s 48 years old in man years. Good luck to them both.

        This has been so enormously painful over the last few years and now all I feel is relief to have that whole mess gone. I still have times of deep grieving, but only for the years I lost living in a fantasy. I work on forgiving myself for needing a fantasy. I take responsibility for holding on to reality now. People CAN change. They DO change. I know because I have. It’s just really hard work and painful and lots of people won’t do it for that reason. These entitled dingbats are in fact the least likely to make real changes. Changing environments or the cast of characters in your life is no guarantee that you have changed at all.

        • I love this comment. I have seen this several times over in my life. YOU are the problem, now post-split watch me implement all of the things you asked me to do while we were together. Bonus points: I get to take credit and impress people in my new life for having voluntarily done these things – due to my own insightfulness! (not…ahem…from the years of nagging by my horrible ex…)

          They probably truly are the same person deep down because that takes more substantial work. They’ve just adjusted the mask a bit to appear to be different.

          And it is crazy how they act to have their shit together immediately after the split – as impression control for those who are involved. This is one of the most fucked things to me – if you end a long-term relationship, it’s OK to grieve it, in fact I would expect that from two people who truly love each other. Those who jump right into something new and act as if everything is fine seem to be doing this to say “that person was the problem”. Of course the new thing usually fades as reality sneaks up on everyone and that’s when you hear from them as they lament their “grief”.

          Mine reached out after several months to talk to “help me heal” *insert eyeroll*. I sent him a screenshot of him online bragging about his sexual exploits with his new interest and wrote back “looks like you are healing just fine”. lol.

          • Karmeh, you said “…by all intents my ex has totally changed .

            I don’t think he’s ever cheated in any other relationship only on me”

            There isn’t certainty in these statements. “By all intents” and “I don’t think” are not definitive.

            I think your FEAR is what you’re projecting – you don’t know for sure if he’s changed for the next woman, but you do fear it.

            Fear is a powerful distorter of our perceptions of reality. Your view of the “new” him is not based in solid, provable facts. You DO know for a fact that he cheated and lied. Image management is a skill he (like other cheaters) has developed beyond the comprehension of most honest human beings. You can’t imagine someone acting so charming and loving but who is so treacherous in reality.

            He APPEARS to have changed. Please don’t believe his con. It hurts you when you assume he’s Mr Wonderful now when in all likelihood he is NOT what he appears to you to be.

          • One of the first comments I jotted down in my “Chump Nation Nuggets of Wisdom” journal was “Nagging is the repetition of unpalatable truths”. Thanks to you all. I read ALL the comments every day.

            • Love that! I wish I had that nugget a few years ago when I was told (in a rage) that I “always nagged” him.

              Perhaps if he got up off the couch once a week, I wouldn’t have had to remind him that he was a big boy and I was neither his mommy nor his maid? I guess he felt that was a bit too forward of me, shallow entitled WASP that he is…

              It’s never fun to be confronted on your failings. But, as an imperfect grown human, it’s pretty necessary.

        • Fantastic descriptions and wisdom FWFree.

          People can indeed change but very very rarely is it the disordered who change. As you say it is baked in during the formidable years how they view other people (supply) and the world (a threat to navigate).

          I will elaborate in comments below.

        • I could not have said it better! FWFree thank you for a perfect description of what I have dealt with over the past few years! Yes the characters and settings have changed but the actor is the same. Still acting!

          • One of the many things I’ve learned from Chump Lady is that cheating is a character disorder. The ultimate betrayal of trust, cheating is a process of lying, scheming, gaslighting, and justifying, risking their partners health.
            They’ve proven themselves to be untrustworthy. It’s who they are.

            Cheaters typically don’t feel regret or remorse, they feel justified and entitled.
            Age or health issues might prevent them from cheating.
            My guess is that given the opportunity to cheat they will.

        • Thank you for this, FWFree.

          Exactly where I’m at, but expressed so beautifully.

          I’m frequently wowed by the sheer *quality* of the contributors on this site.

        • Wow. FWfree this is SUCH a great answer and so helpful to me, right this very second. I have a support modification conference in a few hours.

          I spent 10 years struggling to reconcile support for my husband’s military “career” (it was mediocre) and this off feeling about his travel. He insisted he needed to be away every single time, work all week away from home, etc. Well not only did I find out he was lying about this being necessary, but guess who is suddenly working from home exactly 43% of the time the minute child support is on the table.

          Anyway. Yeah, they change their behaviors, but they don’t change their character. He’s finally staying home, but it’s not because he suddenly has honesty and empathy for his family, it’s because he’s a grasping, entitled fuckwit who suddenly doesn’t have a wife to do the family-man impression-management stuff for him.

          People whose character is grounded in entitlement don’t change, they just get better at playing the system to their advantage.

          • My ex also was “miraculously” able to work from home half the time the moment I asked for child support, when he had insisted that wasn’t an option for months before that. I am continually surprised how alike these cheaters are.

            • “I am continually surprised how alike these cheaters are.”

              I just hope the Judge isn’t surprised.

              Support modification conference, requested by fuckwit, is complete and resulted in a small increase in support for me. (Zero points for entitlement, who’da thunk it?) However, I’ve still gotta strategize for the long game – divorce court date upcoming.

          • This.

            I grew up with disordered family. None of them changed. I gave up and went no contact with them.

            A few have since passed away, and they died as they lived: reckless, irresponsible assholes. No surprise.

            I once dated a guy who cheated and ghosted me. It’s been 10 years now. I run into him from time to time.

            Has he changed? Hell no. He’s still the same selfish entitled asshole. Only difference is he’s older and his bad decisions are catching up with him. He finally graduated college 3 years ago and refuses to get a Big Boy job despite his wife’s begging. Hilariously, he’s thinking about going for a PhD. Bro, you better get moving on that, you’re 55 and don’t have a penny saved for retirement.

            Disordered people never change. Chumps, don’t waste your precious time banking on someone’s potential. It’s not real, you’ll never see any of your effort reciprocated, and these people would NEVER do the same for you.

      • The likelihood of change is vanishingly low especially if they are serial cheaters. They get their kicks from duper’s delight not the actual sex.
        And even if they did change and became the Dalai fucking Lama you will never ever be able to trust again. That’s a miserable existence. The only thing you can trust is that they suck.

      • I’ve spent way too many years waiting for that change of heart – real change – but each time my waiting was rewarded with another D-Day. This last time I had thought my heart was already cold and dead from being stabbed so many times before, but alas, it can still wrench anew with pain, as the reality of what he actually did with a women (women?) who was not the one who gave her everything to him.

        Today was the first attempt to serve papers. We’ll try again tomorrow.

        I’m filled with anxiety over his reaction, and the financial status of me and our 5 kids after the divorce, but I know I can never ever trust that where he says he’s going when he leaves the house is the actual truth, or that he ever really has my best interests in mind. He’s still trying to deny, minimize, and shift blame, so he won’t be changing anytime soon.

    • Same. My ex seems to have completely changed and appears to have the life I had always hoped and wished for us.

      That makes it really hard. Because you DO trust that they suck to get through it. And maybe he did learn where that line is, what he could/could not do in a relationship.

      Now they seem very happy. While I keep striking out.

      I think I was never the woman he wanted but he didn’t have the balls to tell me. I also think he was young, arrogant, and entitled and believed he could do whatever he wanted.

      After Dday, I refused to speak to him for 2 years and then threatened to go to the police if he wouldn’t leave me alone. Once he finally apologized and stopped, he went on to find and be with another woman in a healthy way. And while I’m not 100% positive, I believe she may have been one of his amours when we were together (unbeknownst to her because he pretended he was single when it was convenient/necessary to his objectives).

      It feels shitty. It feels like he used me. He learned an important life lesson and I am the one who had to pay the price with pain while he gets to start all over and have the sparkly life I dreamed of and that he refused me.

      I try to trust that he sucks but maybe he doesn’t suck anymore. Maybe he’s become the man I always thought he had the potential to be.

      Yes, I know none of this follows the chump land rules but it’s how I feel.

      • “he went on to find and be with another woman in a healthy way. And while I’m not 100% positive, I believe she may have been one of his amours when we were together (unbeknownst to her because he pretended he was single when it was convenient/necessary to his objectives).”

        HM, he can’t be with her in a healthy way if he deceived her from the get-go by allowing her to think he was single.

        “ I try to trust that he sucks but maybe he doesn’t suck anymore. Maybe he’s become the man I always thought he had the potential to be.”

        Why settle for ‘potential’? You (we) deserve so much more!


        • Thank Sue W. It’s a good point. Of course he has “justifications” for the way he behaved – most of which blame me.

          But I spend a lot of time reminding myself, there are many ways to leave – he chose the abuse, gaslighting, cheating etc. He chose to put me down on the regular. I’ve often felt like I needed to leave in order for him to understand consequences. And to your point, I felt like he has/is always learning how to avoid consequences.

          What’s hard is that it wasn’t like I wasn’t saying “hey man, this isn’t right” the whole time. He just argued with me forever about it – in attempt to get me to drop my standards and let him do whatever he wanted.

          He was addicted to video games and several times I’ve reflect on how in a video game you get to try the same challenge over again until you get it right and pass the level. This is the same way he approaches life. I really do think he failed the relationship challenge with me and worked to start over with someone else, nimbly avoiding the same pitfalls with her.

          The only thing is at some point they will advance past where we were and new potential pitfalls will face them. I guess they will have such a strong foundation or combined assets that he will trust her and try to work through it.

          Whatever, he sucks. Someone else on here said, “would you trade places with her?” and the answer is an emphatic NO. He’s not who I want on any level. I just wish he didn’t put me through all of that. I wonder if I will ever fully recover from it.

          • I was talking to a friend of mine about another friend. They were not acquainted. The other friend and I had a great relationship. I was perfectly happy with how things were and recognized her need to be in charge. By happenstance I happened to make a suggestion one time that got a whole group of people together and we had a wonderful time. Because I took it upon myself to make a suggestion and follow through she felt threatened because I took her power away. She never spoke to me again. So this other friend told me these behaviors come from childhood when there is no sense of self. They will grab any way they can to keep power over someone. It can be a spouse or a friend or a coworker. The only thing they can handle is having all the control and if they don’t they will sabotage or they will leave. This is why you don’t understand how this person can be happy. It’s because they’ve got their power. Their spouses evidently handed it over.

          • Same here. I don’t think I was, in his mind at least, his soulmate so to speak. For the little I’ve seen of the ow she likes everything he likes. They’re in the same line of work and lifestyle. Similar background. And she’s British while I’m European. I hate to say it because it’s embarrassing that I was with him for so long, but he was always a little xenophobic even though he was with me. Many times he showed me that he thought my culture was somehow lesser than his, he even criticised the cuisine and without giving too much away about myself I’m from a European country renowned for excellent food.

            Either way yeah, he’s happily settled with her in a perfect match. But that changes nothing about the way he handled leaving me, which was cruel. Not to mention that he wasted so many good years of my life. If he left when he started to feel unhappy in his own words I would have been in my mid 30s, rather than the 40 I am now. If I wasn’t the one for him anymore there were ways to leave which didn’t have to suck the life out of me and leave behind so much destruction.

            • Mr. Roast Beef/Monsieur Rosbif can shove it up his arse. I’m guessing you’re either French or Italian.
              A WASP chump who loves French and Italian cuisine as well as Welsh rarebit and shepherd’s pie.

            • First of all, 40 is young enough to be hot but old enough to be smart. It’s a great age!

              Secondly, that soulmate stuff is a cliche and a cop-out. It’s in the same category as prince charming and “they lived happily ever after.” After the romance, love turns from “sparkly soulmates” to choosing to live a continuous act of mindful commitment. The first part is easy. It’s the second part that separates the souls from the entitled.

            • I was completely my ex’s soulmate/ideal woman, yet he still cheated like it was his full time job. His character sucks. He’s irreparably disordered. He may refine his con going forward – don’t know and don’t care – but there’s no chance he’s graduated from as sick as he is to anything remotely healthy – ever.

              • Yup. Good point, Skeeter. Unless my ex wanted to partner with an attention-loving exhibitionniste or someone into kink, it’s hard to imagine someone else being more supportive and accepting, fitting his ideal any more than I do. I was an independent, loyal and loving *family member* for a decade and a half, through some really tough stuff (his, of course). In almost every department, I am superior to the APs (sorry if this makes me sound full of myself – this entire experience has forced me to shed modesty and own my might I was); and I’m an unquestionably more earnest, principled and compassionate human than any of them. “They” (two confirmed, more hinted at) were all ten years younger, but that does not make them better – and while it shouldn’t matter, I am still fitter and every bit as attractive, if not more, than any of them. But, this all has me off track, just as the fuckwits intend. Man alive! Here I am, still doing a mental Pick Me and evaluating my worth based on a selfish, dead-to-me cheater’s superficial values and ever-changing goalposts. I don’t care about any of this shit, when it comes down to it. And even if I do… a disordered creep with ulterior motives (bagged salad, word salad and DARVO) is not a reliable judge.

          • It could be that, like being a video game character, he’s just learned how to “avoid the pitfalls” through better manipulation.

            Not convinced this counts as “change.”

          • I am not a gamer by any stretch, yet I do believe in the video game concept of advancing in life/life lessons.

            But what actually happens is you don’t advance by doing the wrong thing. Trust that, despite what Gamer Cheater thinks, he is stuck on I Suck At Relationships level. People run on their programming until they do the long slow hard inner work. Those pitfalls with Someone New are still there. Different face, different name, same pitfalls.

        • I second that. If the current shmoop now knows that he was cheating on you back in the day and still chooses to remain with him, she ain’t all that either.

          I also wouldn’t trust myself (or anyone else) to determine “genuine change” in a cheater I was actually still living with much less one I wasn’t still living with.

          • That’s a great point. Why should we ever trust in our perception that a fw has changed? After all, we were chumps. We believed in these people in spite of evidence that they were shady.

        • “HM, he can’t be with her in a healthy way if he deceived her from the get-go by allowing her to think he was single.”

          This, exactly. Once mine moved out he immediately was back in touch with former AP’s, as well as trying to reel in a new woman. Do you think he mentioned to new supply that he’s never been faithful to anyone? That he cheats with women and men? Not likely. He’s going to start out anything new with lies, and that’s not healthy. Even the former AP’s don’t know that they weren’t the only ones.

      • How do you know his current marriage is “100% healthy”? Few of us really know what’s going on even in our closest friends’ marriages, and I hope you’re not so involved in your ex’s life that you really do know.

        But even if it is … was he offering you such a “100% healthy” marriage? I don’t think so – so it’s not like his next marriage was “stolen” from you.

        Many of us here were married for a long time, so obviously the tone of our relationships were established when we were much younger; it’s not surprising that the next marriage is different, from the get-go, than ours was. However, “different” does not necessarily mean “better”, and I wager that the type of person who prefers to nuke an existing marriage and reboot (rather than do the hard work of fixing himself within the existing marriage) isn’t going to be in it for the long term in the new marriage either. Sure, maybe he and new shmoopie are doing great now, but shit happens in life and I bet they aren’t going to stick around and support each other when the going gets rough – as it will – in their new marriage. (For example, my XW dumped me in part because she imagined herself forced to take care of me later in life. This is basically projection of her mother’s situation with her father and has nothing to do with me personally. AP – now husband – is six-ish years younger, so XW bought herself a half decade, but I’m sure he has (or will develop) just as many medical conditions as anyone else; XW will eventually be stuck with the same unreasonable fears she had before, and since she bailed on our marriage rather than learning to deal with her worst-case fantasy internal monologue, she will once again be unable to deal with them.) Maybe they will end up together forever: perhaps they’ll be too ashamed to divorce again; perhaps it will be too expensive to divorce late in life; perhaps they’ll just agree to not examine their lives too closely and they’ll eventually age out of the adultery bracket.

        So: I doubt their marriage is so great. Even if it is, I doubt it will last. Even if it does, it wasn’t being offered to you in the first place.

        • Is this in response to my comment?

          Why do you keep quoting “100% healthy”? That wasn’t stated anywhere.

          I know it is a weird concept but it does feel “stolen” so to speak – not really of course but it does feel like I did the work and felt the pain and she gets to reap the rewards. Of course it’s not her fault so I don’t wish any ill on her but he also gets to reap the rewards and at what cost? He lost us, well OK, he didn’t seem all that interested in us.

          I guess what I am saying is that I think people do change and that’s reasonable. All things equal, I wouldn’t want him to stay the same. I myself learn from experiences and change. But it’s that awareness, that possibility of change that I think keeps us – or at least me – stuck. I stayed for how much I invested, I stayed because I was aghast someone could behave and treat others this way as if he didn’t know or understand…I stayed because I was afraid he’d do better for someone else, I stayed because I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t “good enough” (in his eyes) for him to appreciate me or do better. I danced pretty so he could see my value but of course, he never did.

          I’ve learned my lesson. Most of all, that you don’t stay when someone treats you with disrespect – no matter what. Because it will or can lead to years of sunken costs which make it harder to get out. As hard as it is now when someone hurts me, I face it and accept it; I talk to them and if they shirk responsibility or dismiss me… I just end it and that goes for relationships of all kinds.

          • HM – I appreciate your thoughtful posts. This resonates with me. My ex is remarried and they both tell the community that X has learned and grown and will not make the mistakes he made in his previous marriage (to me). People eat that sort of narrative up – whew no need for judgement! Do I believe people can grow and change? Absolutely; I certainly have. But disordered people? Very very rare indeed. But as the years go by, his life and his “changes” don’t seem as important as they once did. And thinking about it keeps me stuck and angry. So your post resonates with my goal of processing what happened to me, accepting it as factual, and moving on with my life in a positive way. I needed years of processing and acceptance (7 to be exact), before my full attention has turned to MY life. It takes longer for some of us to heal than others – we all do the best we can.

            • I’ve witnessed quite a few marriages that started out as affairs. It seems they all had one thing on common…putting on a spectacular front that they were meant to be and the previous partners were a mistake. When Facebook came out all the Owives posted about their perfect marriages. All the marriages ended in divorce due to every single one of the Ohusbands cheating and dumping. The longest one lasted 13 years and I know personally the marriage pretty much sucked after two years but Owife hung on for dear life. They moved out of state and shortly afterward she was dumped, not just dumped but arrested for DV (set up) and kicked out of the house. Of course Ohusband had a much younger girlfriend, they ended up buying a house together and not long after he was dumped. Vicious cycle. So what I’m saying is don’t be too quick to buy into the happily ever after show. With these cheaters its all about opportunity until then they will bide their time playing along with the happy couple narrative.

              • KB22, very true words.

                KathleenK, ordered, sane, kind people, don’t feel the need to make pronouncements to the community that by implication or explicitly denigrate their previous relationships. Ordered, sane, kind people keep quiet about their all round wonderfulness and let their actions speak for themselves. Integrity is how you conduct yourself when no one is watching. What you describe is manipulation, spin, control of the narrative. Which proves that your ex is unlikely to have learned anything and can give you reassurance that he remains the same piece of poo that he was when he was with you. And even better, you don’t care, because you are living your own deep, meaningful, rewarding life. You won the prize, not the ex and the wife. Good for you because you are wonderful, really.

      • No, he just adopted the mask of normal that you modelled to him to snare another person into his orbit. Their relationship is built on a false foundation. Once he feels that they’re comfortably in place I have no doubt he’ll art art to get lazy again and want to hand over the reins of control on running his life, then get passive aggressive and resentful tgat she’s trying to control him and rebel against it. Trust.

        • Wow. Great analysis. I was the second wife for 20 years. And this was the cycle. They are LAZY. And resentful. And thats-what follows the play acting drama

        • WOW Stig! I think you’ve just hit the nail on the head!!! Sounds just like my X!!! He talked and acted like a spoiled brat to me, saying that I didn’t”own” him!! Bringing up past arguments from 25 years ago that I’d thought we’d settled!!! It was just as some have said, it was a total mind-fuck fest with a lot of gaslighting!! As I write this, I’m getting closer and closer to MEH!!!

        • Good point. I am betting when they have children, he will expose his true nature.
          Ahhh, good times for her!

      • The likelihood of change is vanishingly low especially if they are serial cheaters. They get their kicks from duper’s delight not the actual sex.
        And even if they did change and became the Dalai fucking Lama you will never ever be able to trust again. That’s a miserable existence.

      • At the end of the day, he was a man who mistreated you. That is nothing to long for. You admit yourself that he didn’t seem to truly love you, so he never would have changed with you. That isn’t your fault- it’s on him for making a poor choice and then not ending it in a prompt and honorable way. Instead, he strung you along, used and abused you. Many of us have been on the receiving end of that. My ex-boyfriend (“marriage is for suckers”, he said) has now been happily married for about 10 years to another woman. But I don’t envy her, because I know who he is, I know that he lies to her (at least about me), I know he’s a sorry parent to our child, and I know that he was abusive to me. He also quit his job upon marrying her so that she can support him- what high standards she has lol.

        My point is, your ex was bad to you and was never going to be truly good to you, so your only regret should be that you ever met him.

      • That woman isn’t what he wanted either. He had to be threatened with the police to settle for her. He didn’t want to be with her legitimately even though he was already fucking her until you got rid of him completely.

        So if you just weren’t the right woman for him, she’s even less so. He still sucks.

      • You’re not alone in feeling that way. My ex and his AP are still together and they seem (operative word) like such a better match than he and I were. I can’t imagine him cheating on her. And one of the things he said to me in the aftermath of D-Day a few months ago was that ours will be a relationship he will always look back on and feels regret. Like, this was his learning moment before he could go and be in a better relationship.

        But you would have never had that sparkly life with him if you had stayed together, even if he hadn’t cheated, I think. Because he was, as you said, arrogant and entitled–and that had nothing to do with you. That’s his character.

      • Thanks everyone for your comments. I appreciate all of the support and being lifted up. It’s so great to have a group of folks who ‘get it’ although I wish for every one of us that we didn’t have to.

    • I have had the same experience Karmeh!!
      I have always felt very alone when reading all the stories here as no one has mentioned this before.
      I was married 19 years when he cheated and left for a coworker, 20 some years younger. Married her in a flash and now has 2 children at 57. when i had a miscarriage, he couldn’t have cared less.
      Thanks for making me feel less alone in my experience ❤️

      • I am sorry you haven’t been seeing stories from other people who share your experience. In some ways, it sounds like your EX behaved in the absolutely most predictable way–he cheated in order to trade in the older wife for a younger model. He indulges the younger model because he sees himself as superior and not as her peer (as you were).

        You deserved better.

        I wonder how glamorous things really are for him? I hope the beers with the “guys” are all awkward as he hangs around the new wife’s much younger friends and relations. With any luck they fail to entirely conceal how much they laugh behind his back as he tries to fit in. I hope she finds his friends stodgy and tedious. From time to time, we all see some of these selfish second marriages. And we know exactly how hollow they are. Although it might be impossible for you to see it, they probably know they are sad stereotypes too.

        • When I was in my early 30s, I was in a long relationship with a man who was nearly 20 years my senior. It was probably the most important relationship in my life and one that I look back on with fondness. But it was also a lonely one because the wives of his friends hated me for being younger, for being career-oriented and God only knows what else. He and I shared many interests but socially his friends were big cocktail drinkers and I was often the only sober person in the room.

          It all looked glam as hell from the outside because they were all power people in our city. But it was lonely. And it didn’t last.

    • “Once a cheater always a cheater” is a moot point for me. Whether they’ve changed or not is also a moot point.

      Burner phones, apps, apps that hide apps, etc etc. Unless you are tied around someone’s neck 24/7/365 and can access the inside of their mind, you don’t know with any certainty what anyone is doing or not doing. All we have is someone’s word, which cheating and lying turns into worthless currency. And as a famous detective said once, “we know another person only as much as they will let us.”

      What is true, and what matters, is that when someone lies and cheats, no one, NO ONE, can ever claim with any certainty that they have changed.
      Like alcoholics and recovery, there is also the phenomenon of going back out again after a period of sobriety.

      At the end of their lives, on their deathbed looking back, only the cheater can say whether they changed or not.

    • Karmeh, you clearly gave a trust that he sucks problem.
      All the changes you speak of are *on the surface*. They say absolutely nothing about the man behind the mirror. Please read what FWfree says and try to internalize the truth of it.

      You repeatedly make these kind of comments on here, so it appears you are invested in believing that it wasn’t about him as a person, it was about how he felt about you. It must feel helpful to you in some way. Maybe you still love the guy and can’t bear to think that he’s just a shit? I don’t know. I do know that normal people don’t behave the way he did to anybody. Not being “in love” with a person doesn’t make anybody treat that person so badly. I’ve seen some of your story here and it’s shocking how cruel he was to you, even by fuckwit standards. Do you really think that kind of sadistic behavior was just about you and not about who he fundamentally is as a person?
      It seems there’s no way to convince you otherwise, if the thousands of posts here have failed to convince you as of yet. Perhaps you are just so beaten down by his abuse that you can’t climb out of self blame. I hope that’s not the case, because you can’t really get free of him until you make that climb.

    • Karmeh, the fact that he dived into an engagement 10 weeks into his relationship with the new person and that he married less than a year after leaving you? Pretty strong evidence that he’s disordered. You “don’t think” he’s ever cheated on her but you don’t know. And you don’t know what other transgressions he might be up to. So I’d say he’s still the guy who cheated on you. His disorder is just evident in other ways. The kibbles he is sucking up from her are about being married and having kids. You don’t know how, exactly, he’s using her but guarantee that even if he lives with her the rest of his life, he’s finding a way to feed his kibble need.

    • I don’t know how you think you know he only cheated on you and no one else. I don’t see any way you could possibly know that. I also don’t know why you think his current relationship is so perfect just because he got engaged and married really fast. It would make more sense to see that as a sign of a trainwreck to come rather than a strong relationship.

      My ex and I were so perfect to so many people. We had such an amazing relationship. He was planning my murder. You know your ex abused you. He’s an abuser. All of the research shows abusers don’t change without a huge amount of work and even with that it’s still a teeny, tiny percentage that some experts still say doesn’t exist. There’s no logical reason to think he’s a good person who only liked hurting you. I’m sorry if you really feel that way but it’s just not logical. It wasn’t you. It’s him. And it’s still him. No matter how long his quickie rebound hangs in there and pretends it’s perfect.

    • Doesn’t sound like your ex changed at all, merely love bombed a new victim.

      Normal people don’t get engaged after 10 weeks of courtship. Normal people don’t form love bonds in 10 weeks. Your partner is still a stranger at that point!

      Don’t mistake marriage and children as a sign of anything. Abusers marry and have kids all the time for terrible, self-serving reasons. For all you know, his newest victim has a trust fund and looks the other way when he fucks hookers.

      At the end of the day, you don’t know what he’s doing behind closed doors. He’s certainly not going to admit to Facebook if he’s cheating and beating his wife.

      The cheating wasn’t your fault. People don’t change easily, let alone in a couple weeks. He’s still a terrible person, you’re just not privy to the sordid details of his inner life anymore.

  • Camel, CL’s right. You really dodged a bullet there. Many of us went on to marry that person, have kids with them, and tie our dreams and finances to them all to find out it was a painful illusion. I still daydream a out the life I could have lived if only I didn’t start dating FW right out of school. It doesn’t diminish your pain but you really, really dodged a bullet.

    But, to the post of the (this one ran before) post:

    “I have this fear — what if he changes for the next woman? What if he takes the lesson from this mistake and becomes the man I thought he was? I honestly feel so silly as I am typing this.”

    This stood out to me because I have these fears too and I’m years away from my last escape from FW; he’s now been married to Wifetress for longer than we were married and I catch myself often thinking: “Well, I guess he’s finally happy” or “I suppose he’s finally acting like the loving, faithful, and responsible partner that I desperately wanted him to be for me.” (I’m NC/grey rock I’ve blocked him as much as possible; I have no idea what his life looks like and the kids don’t talk about him too much to me.)

    I’m fantasizing about his loyalty and his character because even if it’s not with me–even if it’s with one of the APs he left me for–I still want to be able to think of him as a loyal, trustworthy person. Because if he wasn’t, I’d have to face the fact that I gave my youth and the energies of my youth to a disloyal, untrustworthy person.

    So, speaking of Reality…

    There was a comment in a post a few days ago that really helped me depower these occasional flights of fancy and got me back firmly on the side of Reality: Yeah, but would you trade places with her?

    It’s like a bucket of cold water. My answer is always an emphatic and without any hesitation, “OH HECK NO!”

    “Why not?” the fantasy says. “I thought you were thinking that he had changed for the Wifetress. I mean, he’s been with her for a long time now, so that should prove that he’s loyal and true in that relationship. You don’t want to trade places with her?”

    Not even if you paid me. I have zero faith and trust in him. Trying to imagine myself in her place is always a sobering splash of cold water; I can’t even pretend that I’d feel comfortable or happy there. Playing the “I wonder if he’s changed for her?” game ends pretty quickly after that.

    • Brilliant, Fourleaf.

      I missed that comment the other day, but wow are you spot on. I just asked myself “would you trade places” and my gut was 1) bucket of cold water, and 2) “Well, maybe, if…” and I didn’t even complete the thought. I realized I had to qualify it with “if” – “I’d trade places IF.” “if” showed me the answer is still a hard no and always will be.

  • Carmel, this sentence struck me, ” he never really took ownership of his mistake”. One thing that helped me through my divorce and leaving the cheater is to stop thinking of cheating as a mistake, as if they forgot to turn on the dishwasher. Cheating is not a mistake it is a CHOICE to be a horrible human being. It is looking at you every single day and lying to you. It is deleting thousands of texts & emails . It is hiding apps and creating profiles on dating sites. When I started thinking of cheating in these terms the ability to get away from hopium and finally leave the asshole was easier.

    • Exactly this. My ex-wife had at least five affairs that I’m aware of throughout our 8-year marriage including a 2.5 year one with her male boss and one with her best female friend that lasted the entire length of our marriage. Do you know how many thousands upon thousands of lies that involved? It’s scary to think anyone — let alone someone you thought loved you — is capable to doing that and still sleeping at night. Very sobering from the hopium.

  • What if he’s better for/with someone else?

    Well, so, what if he is?

    What if the person who broke into your house and stole your great grandmother’s wedding ring and sold it to a pawn shop changes — never breaks into another house or steals again, goes to school, gets a job, and joins Habitat for Humanity? Does that leave you less violated, less harmed, less grieving of that posthumous bit of family history you’ll never see again?

    What if a platonic friend who told everyone a secret you shared in confidence doesn’t also do that to someone else? Do you conclude that the friend betrayed you because YOU are bad and the other person is more worthy of not being betrayed?

    What if a blind date commits date rape with you but not the person they dated before you? Does that mean you were stupid for wearing the wrong shirt? Stupid for not knowing the person was going to rape you? Deserving of rape in a way the other person wasn’t?

    CL is right that we need to grasp that the point is how we were harmed, not how someone else is, or isn’t, harmed. I think a lot of why we stay stuck in the hopium is our fear that how we were treated means something bad about us. Reframing makes that easier to see.

    But the thing is, even if you actually were an awful human, the abuser who harmed you still had options. The option the abuser chose was abuse. That’s a character problem.

    Abuse is ALWAYS about the abuser’s bad character, bad choices, wrong action, always. Sure the abuser may choose not to abuse some other person — whether it’s to get what they want, or because at the time they’re distracted by abusing someone else, or just random luck of the draw — but that outcome isn’t relevant to YOU.

    The abuser abused YOU.

    Ted Bundy didn’t kill everyone he ever saw. But to the ones he did… or tried to… the outcome was all too real.

    What your abuser does or does not do to others is irrelevant. Whatever made your abuser choose you doesn’t say anything about you deserving the abuse.

    The thing it DOES say is how likely an abuser who abused you previously is to abuse you again. Answer: extremely likely. So YOU have to shut it down, regardless of who else the abuser does or doesn’t target.

    • These are such great points. I’m seeing the “what if he changes for HER?” narrative as another form of self blame. Besides, how do you that he’s actually changed? He could be cheating on the next woman the same as he cheated on you.

    • I’m thinking of the man I saw on a true crime show who murdered a young woman and then never did that again. He said, decades later when he was caught by police, that there was something about her that kept him from doing it again–that he was truly a serial killer but he stopped at one killing.

      He didn’t change. He didn’t confess and end the suffering and uncertainty of her family. He went on and lived his life. He just didn’t kill again. It doesn’t mean he became a good person. Not murdering again is not being even more monstrous. So the fact that a FW seems to be able to stay married doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of terrible things.

  • The probability that he will change for the next woman is very, very low. My therapist is in her 70’s, and she said that over and over when I was upset that he might replace me. She said both in her practice and outside, she had seen that way more times than she could count.

    Given how he heaped the blame on me and convinced his relatives that it was justified, it’s a pattern that he’s comfortable with and will likely be repeated. She even went so far as to say that if a current or past replacement ever called me, cut it off. Stepping into that mess was none of my business.

    Everything is better now, but what a difficult chapter of life to go through. It does get better.

  • Carmel,

    Do understand that, for the Cheater, that it’s much easier to move on and find another victim (or indeed victims) than the whole process of introspection, self-examination and self-improvement; and that’s before you get onto the subject of making amends and earning forgiveness from those they’ve hurt/damaged.

    I’d work on the principle that he hasn’t changed because it’s easier for the Cheater to take the path that avoids hard work and offers a short cut to self gratification.


    • I agree with all of this, but the hard thing for me to understand is why I wasn’t worth the hard work? After 26 years together, 21 married, wonderful children and a beautiful home? All that destruction for a restart? I often wonder if he regrets any of it? Guess it really doesn’t matter anymore.

      • BtoKT,

        It’s not that you weren’t worth the hard work. It’s that the Cheater won’t do the work period.

        To give you another perspective, Ex-Mrs LFTT always did have a “Grass is greener on the the other side of the fence” approach to many aspects of her life. Leave aside the fact that the grass is greener where you water it, the grass is also greener on whichever side of the fence you don’t sh*t all over. Having cr*pped alll over the side of the fence that our kids and I lived on she had – once her cheating was discovered – a choice; stay on our side and do the work to clean up the mess she made, or leave and leave me (and the kids) to clean up the mess while she enjoyed her fabulous new life with her AP in pastures new.

        You’ll only need one guess to work out which she she chose, with bonus points awarded for guessing how much she enjoyed publicly criticising me as I cleaned up her mess.

        Serious, your Cheater’s choice reflects only on his worth; not yours.


        • LFTT,
          Agree, they like the easy route for everything. In my case, i get the honor of filing so he can play sad sausage with Schmoopie, the flying monkeys and other assorted people. The chumps never seem to get an easy way out. In the end, I think it will be happier because I will be FW-free.

        • LFTT, thanks for helping to readjust my thinking! There are times like today where I get sidetracked and need this type of reality check. I’m waiting for the day this is always how I always think..
          Of course she didn’t stay to pick up her crap, mine didn’t either. And blaming us is textbook response. It’s amazing the destruction they unleash and then blame us. Truly disordered.

          • LFTT, thanks for your wisdom. 32 years, 6 year office slut affair, packed and walked out without so much as glancing over his shoulder.
            But…. No Contact does have its rewards. No hovering here. Move on.

      • Nobody is worth it to them. They are terrified to look inside and see who they really are, lest they discover the ugliness. In order to change, at a bare minimum you must be able to face who you are right now. Only then can you focus on who you want to become.
        So they will actually invest more time and energy running away from who they are than it would take to make the change.

        • OHFFS, so true! My therapist said I “held up a mirror” to him and he didn’t like it. I am more successful in my career and have a great relationship with the kids. She also said that I was holding him accountable for his behavior and didn’t like it.

          • This is so true. My ex left me for the OW because I had seen who he really was and he couldn’t coast any longer. He would have had to put in actual work to regain my trust. It was so much easier to dupe a new person. He even said to me “too much has happened between us. I need a fresh start.” I pointed out that leaving me didn’t erase the things he had done. That he would take himself wherever he went and couldn’t just run away.

            History repeated itself in the new relationship, and his OW left him for abusing her. From what I heard, she got it worse than I did.

            Eventually everything caught up to him, and he fell into a deep despair and killed himself. He couldn’t face himself and tried desperately to find things outside of himself to make him happy, and people who would participate in his fantasy world where he saw himself as amazing instead of the scared little boy he was trying to hide. He pushed away everyone who genuinely cared for him, in spite of knowing who he was and what he was really like, in favor of people who only knew the image he wanted them to see and who in the end weren’t there for him at all. It’s tragic, but I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t help someone if they don’t want to be helped. I tried for over 15 years.

            There’s a line in Beth Crowley’s song “Here We Go Again” (which is an amazing song, especially for those of us who pick-me-danced) that says “and now I have to choose which one of us I’m going to save”. I couldn’t save him from himself, and if I had kept trying I would have destroyed myself in the process.

        • I agree!
          My ex cheated on his first wife, pregnant at the time
          They were divorced soon after
          I met him several years later with no knowledge of this,,,
          I loved and cared for him and his then 4 yo youngster until he went to college
          He did the same thing to me when his son was 16
          My favorite line of his:
          “You cant put my dick in your purse”…
          What a loser !!!
          No change happening here! he had ample opportunity!

      • Do you know how much harder work it is so sustain a long term relationship, when you know the other person’s bad traits, when you’ve annoyed the shite out of each other on many occasion, when you’ve got a bit bored with each other. When you are ageing, when you might have other family commitments and a family to care for and manage.

        It’s bloody hard and you have to be all in and not expect it to be perfect all the flaming time.

        It is so so so much easier to not work on that and like a child just flounce off and head towards the first air head that shows their interested in you, a little bit of flattery and boom, your head is turned and they are your ‘twue wuv’. It’s so ridiculously puerile. Now, actually they could end up being a better match, they could end being a volatile horrible mess of a couple. There will be many variables but what it says about that person is it was just easier to walk away and not to even do it honestly after many conversations about why things weren’t working for you.

        It’s lazy, it’s childish, it’s abusive and you weren’t worth the hard work because that, it was hard work and they couldn’t pull the wool over your eyes.

        • DGC, you hit the nail on the head – they are childish, lazy and he knew he couldn’t pull the wool over my eyes anymore. They also don’t share the same values of ethics, integrity, fidelity, honesty, empathy,….I could go on and on. I was very loyal and worked so hard on the life we built thinking it was a partnership only for him it blow it up and show his true self.

      • They don’t do hard work on relationships. They just don’t. It’s not that you weren’t worth it. It’s that they don’t do fairness, reciprocity, kindness, honesty or fidelity. They can’t do a sincere apology or make amends. There are thousands of cars on this board that show this is how they operate.

          • LAJ, love your name – it makes me smile each time I see it! Everything you said is so true and reading everyone’s stories makes me feel like I’m not alone. Although I wish none of us were in this club.

  • I agree with everything CL says but I would add, maybe he just improved his hussle. I know mine did. He was married longer to me than his first wife (we met over a decade after they divorced) and although I did not know he was a serial cheater, she could have thought maybe he changed for me. By all outward appearances he was a better husband and father. The fact that I am here tells you he did not. Now he is doing things for the whore he never did for me and I KNOW that jackass did not change because he is seeing other people too.

    At any rate, the only way to move on is to move on. It sucks but you have to retrain your mind. You can stop the thoughts about him as soon as they enter your head. You are mighty. You cancelled your wedding to FW. That takes courage that most of us probably may not have had. You are MIGHTY!!!

  • There are serial killers who have wives and children whom they don’t torture and kill. I wouldn’t want to be the wife. Especially if I was the victim.

    • PS…

      Going forward in my own life, a history of infidelity is a dealbreaker for me. I don’t even want to be friends with cheaters.

      I’ve heard way too many stories of people who cheat continuing to cheat in subsequent relationships. The cheater I was married to has done so.
      He just announced he wants to spend 10K on a Tony Robbins seminar. Can you say “quick-fix hopium”?

      Character issues belong to people, not the relationships they are in. How we conduct ourselves in our relationships is about us, not the other person.

      • I feel the same way about Cheaters Velvet. I do not even want to be FRIENDS with them. And when friends of friends tell me their “friend” is a cheater or affair partner to a married person “but other than that they are really nice and a good person”… I distance myself from the friend I thought they were.
        People who think it’s ok or justified to cheat are sick enablers. I do not need or want them in my circle.

        • I lost a pretty close girlfriend over this. She was good to me, and fun to hang out with, a nice friend. She’d mention sometimes one of her other acquaintances that had a weird affair going on with a married man. She said she avoided her. Well, next thing I know, they are best friends, and she’s putting pictures up, calling her the coolest chick ever! Ugh. I had to just back totally away, it was so triggering at that time (now I don’t really care, not my rodeo). It did make me sad, though, to know that her standards were low, I liked spending time with her, and I just couldn’t get past the change in her ethics.

  • Let’s not refer to this as a “mistake”….it wasn’t. It was deliberate scumbag behavior.

    And so what if he does eventually change? It wasn’t going to happen for you. It’s possible he could eventually grow up but right now he’s a scumbag and it’s a big risk. Even if he didn’t eventually change you’d still have the scumbag years hanging over your head.

    Let all these other trashy bitches have him.

  • If we decide to date, and if the relationship progresses, we all “change”. Even lying lovebombers have to temporarily change some habits to make their lies seem believable. They are inconvenienced, for the con, in order to obtain the prize they are seeking. Different prizes require different inconveniences.

    My Ex(Father of my sons) had many women before and after me. None of his relationships were healthy, IMHO, and all eventually ended. Mine lasted 20 years, but it was devastated by his lies and cheating long before I finally found the grit to end it. He is now 76, in poor health, and says he is married. That relationship may last until he dies, because he gains something from it, and because she still believes she will gain something from it. I think she will end up disappointed, but maybe not. She is not what I would consider to be a discerning person, and she may never calculate the price she has paid for her perceived “prize”.

    I “changed” for him, because I suspended my value and belief system to try to “make it work.” I wanted to believe in my “dream.” I invested heavily, and spackled and hoped he would learn and change and appreciate. All my resources were wasted, and I will never get them back — but I did have 2 sons, and I had some good moments in the 20 years. I learned a lot. I changed, because I learned not to be so chumpy. However, my picker wasn’t fixed, and I fell for another con. Fortunately, I saw thru that con quickly and did not waste as much of my time or resources.

    The point is, we all change and adapt to new circumstances in order to survive. Some of us have a value system that is our spiritual home. We may stray and make mistakes, but we come home to our values. Others, the con artists, do not have that value system, and never will. They are selfish and materialistic, and they have learned to “mirror” values in order to get what they want. They will always be empty, because what they have is never enough. They are always searching for more “stuff”, even while they are pretending to be engaged in who they are for the moment.

    Potential is a real thing for those who have values. It is a mirage presented to those of us who believe in potential for those without values. Discernment is the ability to see the difference, and to act on what you find to be true.

    • I love your point about how you changed for him! You’ve hit the nail on the head. The accommodations we made were priceless, and you’d never be able to pay me enough to give up that much of myself again.

      One of the things that finally inspired me to get divorced was a recognition of how much I was changing in ways that I didn’t like in order to survive in my marriage.

      • ^^^This^^^^

        I changed so much to try and make it work, I completely lost myself. Looking back, I’m appalled at some of the things I did, which were completely out of character for me. It’s like I was a different person, someone I don’t recognize. I will never do that again, for anyone.

  • I, too, constantly think about – was it just me? A quote I came across says it perfectly

    “Anyone who treated you with such venom and contempt is not capable of suddenly loving another
    human being.”

    Psychopath Free

  • Yep.

    I am one of the folks who knew a a bit about how it went down for fw and schmoops. They pretty much made one big mess after the other. My son and his wife even tried to help them over their financial ruin (bankruptcy via gambling) by buying their house at market value and provided them a small attached apt to live in with low rent. They shit all over that too.

    There are other things, including his cheating on her, but bottom line is they stayed together. Maybe they happily danced through each day blissfully in love, maybe they squirmed around in their own shit each day blaming each other; but either way I know it is not a life I would have wanted. I still can’t believe I was lucky enough to get cut loose in time to avoid all that. Though I didn’t feel lucky at the time.

    Honestly, I truly believe just by my own observances of situations like this in real life, and not just my situation, they just don’t change. Yes I acknowledge that rare unicorn, but over all; no.

  • I hope you come give an update, Carmel.

    Re “ what if he changes for the next woman? What if he takes the lesson from this mistake and becomes the man I thought he was?”….I thought that too. It must be a common thought error that our brains offer up to try to avoid pain/keep “trying” to hold on to our barbwire monkeys. It’s been 7 years since Dday, almost 5 since divorce. 25 year marriage. XH lives with one of the APs and they are alcoholic/addict/drama/cheating/screaming matches— a big hot mess. XH has tried on hundreds of occasions to Hoover back and start something (e.g. cheat on AP) with me! ????????????????

    My BF saw him on bumble. A colleague said he was dating a divorced woman and duped her (AP still in his home). Disgusting.

    He treats our kids like total shit.

    They do not change. Not for anyone.

    My serial cheater mom is 81 and married 30+ years and is STILL trying to get other men to come around and give her attention. One young guy – my age — 55– even visited her in the hospital and they were carrying on in a very sexual way. Yuck!

    They do not change.

    • “He treats our kids like total shit.”

      This is what caused me to start googling for Narcissist’s. The fw was treating our son and his family like shit. It brought up some anger, then I found CN (my discard was before CN or even internet).

      I learned so much after the fact, and I began to understand what it was I had lost. Answer to that what I lost was a life filled with hell. Though I would have never allowed my son to be abused, I would have gotten the life whore got. No thanks.

      Though I never thought I would remarry, I knew I would likely have some romances. I met a wonderful man and after us spending several years taking it slow; well we have been married 26 years now, and going strong.

      I definitely traded up, though I was the one discarded. But, honestly even if I had never found another mate; I still traded up. I just didn’t know it when I was going through it.

      Fw definitely traded down, and schmoops got exactly what she signed up for. I doubt life turned out for her like she imagined when she “won” the Police Captain; but then such is life. Hey she had a few bucks for a few years until he gambled it all away; so she got something out of it.

    • My grandfather: 3 wives, 8 bio children, 2 stepchildren. He abandoned them all when the kids hit adolescence. Never changed. And he always badmouthed the abandoned wife as he went out the door.

      I’m sure that the earlier wives thought he changed for #3 until he blew that up too.

  • Out of the 10,000 infidelity books I bought during my Amazon chump phase, one line from one book (Just Friends by Shirley Glass) sticks in my mind:

    “A man (person) with a history of infidelity is a poor choice for a life partner.”

    Cheating isn’t leaving milk out on the counter. It’s not a parking ticket. It’s not an accident. It’s not a mistake. It is lying and deceiving and betraying and abusing and defrauding and harming over a sustained period of time, your own family. The people closest to you. Who placed their trust in you. Who made themselves their most vulnerable to you. Deliberately causing those people pain and damage out of the stratosphere. If that’s not evil I do not know what is. I don’t give a rat’s ass if they change. I wouldn’t want a self-proclaimed reformed arsonist as a roommate.

    Will they change? Have they changed? Only they will ever know for sure.

    Anyone who gets involved is gambling and juggling dynamite. Dancing with a very very dangerous person who has proven themselves to be hazardous to the health and well-being of those closest to them.

    I say, “Be my guest, at your own peril” to anyone who knowingly gets involved.

    I’ve never liked gambling so this is probably why I think this way.

    • My other helpful strategy when my mind goes to places like our letter writer’s…

      I had to call him by a different name. One that snapped my perspective back into the proper place.

      My brain formed major positive associations with his name that I found out were untrue and undeserved. When I use his name, the story I wrote about him, who I thought he was, is activated.

      I now call him Benedict OJ Madoff. Benedict, for Benedict Arnold the traitor. OJ, because he is an emotional batterer who psychologically killed off his family. Madoff, for Bernie Madoff, because he hid money from me our entire marriage….and beyond. I call him OJ for short. Not in the presence of our daughter, of course.

      Will Benedict OJ Madoff change for someone else? Will OJ get married again? Will OJ like them better than me? Is she better than OJ than I am?

      (BTW, I believe OJ was cheating on his wife Marguerite with Nicole?). ☹️

      I also made an acronym out his name which is a way of breaking the spell of his real name and I can say who he is in polite company.

      Missing Integrity Kindness and Empathy

      I stayed in that relationship for as long as I did by engaging in my own variation of mental gymnastics, trusting him, denial, seeing what I believed, whatever.

      That is how people in affairs go off to “succeed” in subsequent relationships.

      It’s important for me to break the spell, which requires tools, practice, distance, and time. No or minimal contact. It takes a while to work.

      Successful healthy relationships are LEARNED BEHAVIOR. They require skills, which must be learned and practiced by all parties in a committed relationship.

      Cheating proves they don’t have the skills. Without the skills, it’s a matter of time before the end…..or everyone can stay unconscious and together indefinitely.

      I for one do not have the desire or ability to remain unconscious in a relationship, and I want a partner that at least has a sincere desire to learn and practice the skills necessary for success.

      I don’t think it’s wise or very kind of me toward myself to stay with someone that stuck a knife in my heart with the help of accomplices….

        • I feel like a basket case today….a lot of anniversaries of traumatic events in October, plus the pandemic plus I have a cold, plus I broke a bone in my left foot, plus my estranged mother died recently, and more…..

          I am at least still standing (when I’m not lying down from a spell exhausted despair), getting the very minimal basics done. But my house looks like an episode of Hoarders, which as a Virgo is NOT cool. Trying to clear the rubble a little every day.

          I had to stop watching Succession on HBO and switch to a documentary about rescuing orphaned baby elephants.

          Thank you for letting me know that I have been of help to you.


          • Wow, you have a lot going on. If the truth is to be told, I lurked a quite a while reading all the posts here but just reading and taking the knowledge from this led me out of a fake attempt at reconciliation, led me to a great attorney, made me see what a cheater truly is, clued me into spotting the lies and deception. Although the FW is still in the house until he he can move into his new place, I learned about no contact. Not speaking to him and if I have to speak keeping it short and concise has led me back to a bit more sane of an existence. Once he is out, I can say life rather than existence. Meanwhile at least the process has started and the FW is probably somewhat concerned (fault state) that he will not be able to fuck me over. On the other hand what I am concerned about is getting his ass out of the house, getting the house saged, getting rid of his stink and getting rid of his clutter. I am trying to find some other ways to get the evil cheater vibes out of the house so I plan to try multiple solutions. I know it is a slow process but at least this is finally in motion so I can work on healing. Thanks to CL and CN, I am taking back my power and not letting myself take blame for his poor decisions. ????????

          • VH, I also do appreciate your wisdom and presence here and posts.

            Light dwells within light. St. Thomas.

    • I took a break from FW after the birth of our second child and retreated to a very beautiful but primitive location. I had a chance to read in peace and came across a line, I think from in the Song of Roland, “…a fine lord would he be were he not false.” That rang true and gave me a valuable perspective that stayed with me.

      He died fairly young after his fifth wife divorced him.

      • Oh, that’s a lovely line. I think so often we stay because we see potential. I really did love my husband, and had a hard time letting go of the “if only”. If only he’d been a decent human being, we could have had a good life. But he WASN’T a decent human being, he was an abusive alcoholic who mistreated me constantly and finally cheated on me. All of his other “qualities” don’t make up for those fundamental character flaws.

    • Such an important book VH! “Just friends” was the most important book I read post-D-Day!! I understood all the ways my ex-FW was not an ally to our relationship. I also read “the dance of anger” and “attached” to understand how f*cked up my relationship was (I always thought he was the Jackpot, despite how poorly he treated me for a long time up to D-day) as well as “the heart of the Buddha’s teachings” to learn how to let go

    • ^ This. Anyone who can do these things is already a NO and always will be a NO. Decent folk couldn’t mete out this kind of harm and trauma under any circumstances. He’s not decent. That’s a permanent condition that may morph and manifest itself in myriad ways, but the bottom line is he’s unsafe and always will be until he’s too old to unzip his pants.

  • Carmel,
    I really don’t think he would change because that would require introspection, maturity and personal growth. Cheaters don’t like that kind of thing. I observed my cheater who duped me for over three years with various and sundry women. They love chumping the chump. It is like a drug. After DDay, he swore he was going to stop and that I should trust him but within hours he was back to his apps. They just don’t have the motivation to change. Sorry, just my experience here.
    I knew after DDay two (less than a month after the first) that trust was broken. I knew I did not want to spend any more time in RIC (between DDay1 and DDAY2) because the blame was entirely cast on me. I am sorry but I am not that bad of a person whereby I compelled him to cheat. Am I perfect? No, but apparently he is. I knew this was BS. Being menopausal, having aches and pains, getting tired, and having a body that did not meet his standards is not my fault. Nope, I am not interested in doing 100% of the work on myself for 0% return. I filed (this makes him feel that I am to blame which gets great kibbles) and I am through.
    You did not lose anything here, YOU WON!!!! You have your life and don’t have to go through years of being diminished. Don’t waste your time on him because that only makes him the winner. Go through the process of grief and live your life free of a cheating asshole who never respected you.

    • Agreed, no way is what he did equal to day to day marriage issues.

      I can honestly say that I was a good partner. I put him first in most things. I even gave up a good promotion because he didn’t want me traveling. And this was just a year before he discarded me, he knew it was not the best decision for me, he didn’t care. he still needed the services I was providing. I worked in the community and in politics to help him in his career. We had a good sex life (up until the last few months). I was only 40 at Dday. I was still in good shape and by any reasonable standard more attractive, smarter and more successful than she was.

      He played the happy camper to me and to everyone in our life circle. She stayed hidden for at least six years. He lied and lied and lied.

      It all came tumbling down when someone dropped a dime to the city counsel (she was his direct report). I suspect that it was another female employee who reported a hostile working environment; since he petitioned for a raise for her and she got the raise. But I will never know for sure who did it.

      Then all of a sudden he had been unhappy for ten years; and never loved me. Why he thought this was a good argument and made him look better I don’t know. But, trust me; it didn’t. Not anyone with two brain cells to rub together, or who knew us both would buy that.

      In essence his argument was I lied to you our whole 21 year marriage; and used you as a place holder and used your services to better my lot in life, while I dated around and found my true love; so I am a decent guy.

      No one bought it in his case; but she won the prize thank God.

  • I have no idea if my ex “changed” for his AP. To me, one of the greatest benefits of no contact is concentrating on my own life. It took a bit of practice at first, but once mastered, I rarely even think of him. I am two years out.

  • I don’t know if this helps anyone, and it’s not my story, but is what I saw from a former friend. He had everything going in life – married to his college sweetheart, beautiful kids, great and promising career. For some reason he had an internal drive to blow up his life. I saw it up close. First he ruined his prospects at the great job. Then he looked for any opportunity to cheat on his wife, unsuccessfully from what I knew at that time.

    They had three kids, one with special needs and ongoing medical interventions, but they seemed to be handling it. He then begged his wife for a fourth child. She finally agreed even though she had a history of difficult pregnancies and her hands more than full.

    He then found someone to cheat with while she was pregnant, with someone in their special needs support group, who also was married with multiple children.

    I don’t really talk to him anymore, but in some ways it looks superficially like his life is better. He is married to the affair partner, he got a foot back into another high powered job, they have a lovely home. They also are juggling 7 children between the two of them – several of the kids look outwardly enormously stressed in even social media posts, and my former friend looks dead behind the eyes. And I heard from mutual friends his parents had to dip into savings to buy his ex wife their former family home and give her a settlement, and have told him to expect no inheritance. Is he “better” for his new wife? Maybe he’s not cheating now and keeping up the front of a good family man, but long term I wouldn’t take that bet.

    • Look how Armie Hammer turned out ?! From the outside he had it all-from a privileged background, tall and handsome, a successful career, married a lovely woman, had two healthy children and then ????. Talk about secret inclinations.

  • I used to fear this too-not so much that another woman would get the life I thought I would have-but I feared that my ex could be right and that he’s a great person-just not with me and that it was my fault he was cheating.

    Six months after I left him-he started dating his previous Schmoopie (the one he told me was “The one that got away.”)

    Flash forward after being with her for 2 and a half years: he just dumped her because she got fat.

    He told our 19 son that he dumped her because she gained too much weight.

    Needless to say-I don’t feel like I’m not good enough anymore-I’m grateful for getting out and creating a life for myself and my kids that’s even better than I could have EVER have imagined.

  • Carmel
    It’s normal that you wonder this. And hard to let go of those thoughts but it’s for the best. I didn’t have CL and CN when going through this the first time. I came up with two things: people only love you as much as THEYRE capable and two: he’s not going to be a different guy for someone else.
    Those two things happened naturally during my “suffering”. It’s gets SO much better. Takes lots of time maybe years to go way, but you’re safe now♥️ I wonder now, why I didn’t take the time to get back to me before moving on. I married a guy who cheated with his ex. I ignored lots. Expectations were already at a low. Now digging out again. My point is: TAKE YOUR TIME
    I’ve missed you CN???? hope everyone’s well

  • My ex used to be controlling and manipulative of me. Now he lets Schmoopie control and manipulate him. I don’t think he’s changed, I think he just attached himself to a more extreme version of himself. Maybe if I had been more controlling and manipulative he would have treated me better but that’s just not the kind of person I want to be. I don’t want a man who has to be controlled, I want a man who can control himself and will allow me to do the same.

  • “Ted Bundy didn’t kill everyone he ever saw. But to the ones he did… or tried to… the outcome was all too real.”

    Wow. That is my situation. XFW is probably THE most charming man in town. But the abuse and trauma he inflicted on me nearly killed me at the final discard. Everyone else thinks he’s great. So he doesn’t try to kill everybody. Just me. If they only knew. I debate on whether to tell people what REALLY happened, or just let it go. What would CL say?

  • I didn’t know until a couple years ago in a random convo with my son that my ex refused to buy the whore health insurance because the cheapest he could get was six hundred a month. He had full coverage as it was part of his retirement, but he would not buy it for her because she didn’t pursue disability after she was turned down the first time. So basically he told her tough luck.

    That is the guy she “stole” from me. There is your change. As CL has stated, these guys do not get character transplants.

    I only know because my son mentioned she had cataracts real bad and he wouldn’t buy her insurance. She didn’t work because a lot of her health issues kicked in after they married. This was years before ACA. She could barely see. What finally happened after a few years was that my son searched ACA and found a policy she could afford and she finally got her surgery.

  • I believe my ex is happier with Schmoopie and therefore treats her better, not because he changed, but because she is just a better fit for him. The thing is, I have no desire to be anything like Schmoopie. It certainly would not have been worth it just to keep ex. The idea of being her is a horrifying thought. Therefore, I could never have been or ever wanted to be the person Ex wanted. Personally I (and a lot of other people including his own family) think he is a fool for preferring someone like Shcmoopie but that’s not something I can control. It was better to let him go make a fool of himself than to make a fool of myself trying to hang onto him.

    • Yes. Absolutely.

      Chumps are good people, but we have shitty boundaries.

      We get confused about sunk costs and about getting a return on all the hard work we did for the Cheater.

      We also trauma-bond with dangerous people and allow them far too much mental real estate.

      The ex’s future is actually none of our business. This is why waiting for the karma bus is a waste of energy. It also leads to pain shopping at the great Potemkin Village known as social media.

      You need to invest that energy in gaining a life instead.

    • Beautifully said.

      I would have said the same a year ago. However, I have since found out that, in spite of being a better fit for one another, they were absolutely miserable and the whole thing was an unmitigated disaster.

      One of the things that made OW a better fit for him is she is on his moral level, which is to say that she has no morals or ethics. She was completely fine with fucking a married man and breaking up two homes (with kids in both) to get what she wanted. I am not like that, and so he and I didn’t “fit” well. The two of them were equally toxic and so were a match made in hell. In the end, both of them were so miserable they each tried to kill themselves on different occasions. My ex finally succeeded, after OW left him for being abusive to her. She was equally abusive to him by all accounts. Having a “happy” relationship is not necessarily the same as having a healthy one.

      I had and have no desire to be anything like OW because she is the antithesis of everything I value – honesty, integrity, kindness, loyalty, respect. I wouldn’t trade places with her for the world.

  • Here is my two cents.

    I think people absolutely can change. I think they can change really negative habits (alcoholic goes to AA and is sober for an extended period of time). I think people can also change for the worse (someone can’t handle a traumatic event and has a mental breakdown).

    From a scientific perspective the idea is that of neuroplasticity. This idea that your brain (both physically and neuropathically) is highly influenced by life’s events and on what you think on and how you direct your thoughts. So there is a bit of scientific evidence that states one can change.

    Now for me here is where reality comes in: will a person change? ????‍♂️ It’s up to them. It’s up to them and the choices in life they make.

    I teach my kids an old tall tale about two wolves that are in a fight and ask them which one will win? The answer: which ever you feed will win. Meaning: if you feed entitlement, self pity, anger, lashing out, that will be the “wolf” that wins because you fed it your thoughts.

    If instead you feed compassion, self growth, compassion, and self care. These things will grow and you will change.

    You and I have a lot of control and power over how we grow and change. We can influence (not control in my opinion) our selves to grow in a certain direction.

    The reality is my ex wife (she had an affair with a woman and now claims to be lesbian all of our 18 years together) is feeding entitlement, blameshifting, a victim mentality, using people as objects, and food as comfort. Because of this she grows on a direction where she is different than we were together, but not in good ways.

    Anyway, my two cents

  • I believe people can change but most don’t because it’s hard. They might make some superficial changes that improves their lives but at the core they are still the same person. The pain is still there and maybe this new person is a better supply but with these people enough is never enough. Eventually the new supply will become the old supply and they are right back where they started.

    And staying married for 50 years means nothing it just means they will be miserable and one or both of them will end up physically sick.

  • I had this fear as well. But I don’t care what it looks like from the outside – it’s very unlikely he has fundamentally changed who he is.

    -The new woman could just be easier to control, and so he is “happy”.
    -She may put up with a lot more BS than you did, so they are “happy”. Any woman who is willing to screw a married guy and break up a family (in my case, two families, since OW was also married) is automatically someone of poorer character than you.
    -She may be ignorant of who he is, and so they are “happy”. These guys are great as playing a part as long as that serves them.
    -They may still be in the honeymoon phase before reality sets in and so they look “happy”. Remember the beginning of your relationship?
    -They may be an absolute mess, and presenting a “happy” public image. My ex and I looked happy to the outside long after things were horrific. And length of time doesn’t equal a stronger/better relationship. I was married ten years. Most of it was absolutely awful, starting with our honeymoon. No one had a clue. My ex was a master of maintaining the public image.

    I used to be so angry that the OW waltzed in and stole the life I worked so hard for. She didn’t put in any of the blood, sweat, and tears. She just reaped the benefits. It enraged me. But then I remembered what my life was like with him. And how I don’t want to ever go back to that. Being treated like garbage. Criticized for everything I did. Lied to. Spending all my time and energy on keeping his mood up. Dealing with his anger and drinking. He had no idea what peace or contentment or joy was. It was just constantly chasing thrills and highs and bemoaning how hard everything was for him (because he expected to just be handed things in life). Always talking about how much better things would be when X , Y or Z happened. But when it did, things were just as bad as before, and he’d find a new reason for his discontentment.

    And guess what? For all the saccharine, fairytale, perfect life my ex and his “perfect new woman” projected to the world, the reality of what went on behind closed doors was a nightmare. For every “you’re so perfect” Facebook post, there were drunken, screaming fights. For every “I love you” post, there was terrible anxiety. For every “happy family” or “kissy face” photoshoot, there were suicide attempts and hospitalization in a psych ward (OW). It wasn’t pretty. But no one knew until the relationship imploded. She learned soon enough that he hadn’t changed. She learned that I wasn’t making up my stories of abuse. They weren’t attempts to smear his character, they were true. I know he blamed me 100% for our marriage failing and his unhappiness, playing the victim, and she bought that story hook, line, and sinker. They had been together for four years. She thought she knew. She moved in with him and lasted all of four WEEKS. She fled the state to get away from him. He ended up killing himself a few months later. Now she has to live with the reality that she destroyed a lot of lives to get what she (thought she) wanted, including her kids’, my kid’s, her ex husband, the man she “loved”, mine. And she has nothing. She lost her job (two, actually), she lost her homes (hers and then theirs), she lost a LOT of money, she lost her health, her sanity. She knows that his suicide had a lot to do with her. I don’t envy her one bit.

    She wanted my life? She got it. I decided she could have it, and welcome. My old life was the price I paid for my freedom. For my peace. The life I’ve built for myself since STBX has been out of the picture has been 1000x better than my life with him ever was.

    • I can relate to Carmel’s letter; I had the same thought. It mind-fucked me to know that he sincerely believes he will not cheat with his newest gf (she’s not the AP). He did realize how hurt I was. He didn’t like that I gave him consequences. I dumped him immediately, refused his love-bombing and apologies, and blocked him. But, he even admitted that he probably wouldn’t have changed had I not dumped him.

      So yeah, she gets the better version of him (maybe). I was worthy of that, but I didn’t get it, through no fault of my own. And without Hermione’s time-turner, I would never get that version.

      “-She may be ignorant of who he is, and so they are “happy”. These guys are great as playing a part as long as that serves them.”

      Yes this! Is he happy? Maybe for now. Will he get “restless”? Maybe.

      “-They may still be in the honeymoon phase before reality sets in and so they look “happy”. Remember the beginning of your relationship?”

      Yes this also!

  • Cheating is not aberrant behavior.

    It REVEALS who they are.

    I was taught in counseling decades ago that it’s a very bad idea to form a relationship with potential, hoping someone will change. I still agree.

    I was duped and deceived. Affair participants are not. Let the affair accomplice wish and hope and pray they’ve changed. They will never know.

    • “Cheating is not aberrant behavior.

      It REVEALS who they are.”

      Velvet Hammer, you’ve summed it all up in a nutshell.

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

      Then he cheated on me.

      It’s the mindset of a person who is capable of looking one in the eye and lying, lying. Who is capable of *sustained* lying, deceit, just so they can have what they think they are entitled to. Who has utter contempt for truth, straight dealing, kindness, empathy, compassion. As you succinctly put it, this is who they *are*.

      I totally understand the dread voiced by Carmel, I felt it myself for a while, I think it’s a natural human reaction at first, but the *core* of this feeling is really the belief on our part that it was our fault on some level, that the betrayal wasn’t *really* him/her, but a result of some perceived lack in us, and that is just not *true*.

      People’s actions define their *character*, not the other person’s actions.

      Someone who is capable of betraying trust, lying to someone’s face, shows who they really are, this is not some slight character defect, it is *fundamental*.

      I don’t know whether someone like this can ever really change, my feeling is no, because the willingness to do these things is such a bedrock attitude towards others.

      As others have said, as you have said, as CL said, to change this *contempt* for other human beings into a realisation of guilt, an acquisition of empathy, would require 1) a knowledge and recognition of how shitty one is, 2) once that knowledge has been achieved, a willingness to attempt to rectify it.

      For someone like this, how much easier to just move on to another relationship, probably telling oneself, “oh, it wasn’t my fault, they drove me to it”, or even, “yeah, I fucked up, but this time it will be different”.

      Yes, I believe people can change, but it’s a tremendously hard thing to effect, it requires a good, hard look at oneself, which is unpleasant, difficult, and harrowing, if it’s sincere.

      And really, in the end, as CL, you, and others have said, even if they do change, it doesn’t matter in terms of *our* relationship with them. They lied, they betrayed, with a smile on their face. That can never be forgotten, that relationship is dead.

      I have no idea whether the fuckwit is still with his rat faced whore, because I went total NC from the start, blocked everyone, including family, and I’m so glad I did that, because whether or not he’s changed for her, I don’t know, and I don’t care. He lied to me, betrayed me, that’s *all* I need to know.

      • Here’s a snappy edit…

        Cheating is not an aberration.
        It’s a REVELATION.

      • “It’s the mindset of a person who is capable of looking one in the eye and lying, lying. Who is capable of *sustained* lying, deceit, just so they can have what they think they are entitled to.”

        And they lie to so many people. My RFB lied and conned so many folks. For the life of me, I don’t see how he thought he was going to skate away with no major effects to his life. He pulled a con of epic proportions.

        Just from a clinical view, I would love to know what was going through his mind as he worked his way through the scam he pulled.

  • Through an odd series of events that included an accidental HIPAA violation, I learned that my ex was getting a full battery of STD testing. This was after he had married the second wife. Now, I don’t know if they had some kind of open marriage, but I doubt it.

    When he met her she was separated from, but still married to, a previous husband; and shortly after they met she lost her daughter in a tragic accident. I’m sure he acted like he deeply empathized with her loss. Never mind that he had told me a few years before our divorce that he had never felt empathy. He said he didn’t really understand the emotion.

    People don’t change without going through a lot of hard work and difficult life experiences. I think a lot of these disordered types mostly learn better ways to hide their double life.

  • carmel,

    if you’re a chump, you’re an optimist and that’s okay. wondering if he’s going to change for another person is a whiff of that optimism left in you and that’s okay, too.

    i know this is rephrasing and probably irritating, but the truth is that chumps are okay people with love to spare and hope for a future. we work hard to fix things. what’s wrong with that? nothing. somehow we end up with people who sense that side in us, and they use us to their advantage, and that’s on them.

    he’s not going to change who he fundamentally is which is cruel*. and past behaviour predicts future behaviour, right?

    there’s someone out there who will love you for being an optimist and hard worker inside your future relationship.

    *fuck that guy

  • This is all so hard to deal with. I have this too, even though I know my ex sucks. He wouldn’t have a dog in our family, now he has a dog. He wouldn’t go for walks with me, now he’s a big walker with the dog and takes my daughter on big hikes. He wouldn’t live in an apartment like I wanted to, now he does. On and on. I always imagine that the OW is getting all the love that I didn’t. But really? My abuse therapist said that people who abuse don’t just change. They use the same tactics on everyone. He isn’t magically better even though he has some of the superficial things I wanted. He love bombed me and stuck around for 25 years using intermittent reinforcement to keep me on the hook. Everyone thought he was a loving husband and doting father. It was only me that experienced the hell and confusion at home. Everyone else thought we were the perfect family and that I was the lucky one. I agree that the fantasy is not our friend, the reality is. But that fantasy is so seductive and powerful that we can’t let go. The fantasy continues when we imagine them happy and wonderful in their new lives. It just isn’t real, and none of us really knows what their new lives are about because luckily we aren’t them! My ex could be just as easily putting in a fake life for her as he did for me.

    • The FW hated pets. (I got kittens after I dumped him.) His newest victim, that he lives with, has a dog and a cat. And oh, the cat is named Eddie, after Ed Sheeran – I was a big Ed Sheeran fan from way back. The FW went to one of his concerts with me, fell asleep, and said he would never go to another of his concerts again.
      It makes me laugh to think he has that daily reminder in the form of a pet that he has to pretend to like. bahahaha!

      • What is it with FWs and pets? I had 2 cats with my FW, and I was the one who solely cared for them. Even the psycho demon cat who hated me. FW declared that after demon cat died we wouldn’t be getting any more cats. He cited concern for the furniture. When he moved out, I made him take the demon cat, and I got 2 lovely kittens. My kitties are the sweetest, most tolerant and best cats ever. Demon cat eventually died, and FW got a new cat who is destroying is furniture and chews cords in half. It makes me laugh.

        • I wonder if the cat was demonic because it hated your ex ? Just sayin’. The two kittens weren’t exposed to him, were they ? ????

          • I forgot to mention the ex amd I got our daughter a dog named max. He abused max and I found her a nice home up in the woods with my uncle.
            He now has a little dog named max. ????

      • I LOVE this! It’s the little things I swear. This is not just by “chance”. And it’s probably not IT!

    • He took notes from you on how to better con a partner. My ex did the same – did so many things with OW that I had wanted to do (for instance, I had tried for years to get him to go to the pumpkin patch with our son, but he always said he was “allergic” to farms; once he was with OW, what did I see but pictures of all of them – him, her, my kid, her kids – at a farm picking pumpkins). He also did things with her that I thought were special to *us* (like the same restaurants and concerts we always went ot). My guess is he did most of those things with the gf before me, too. These guys aren’t original. They use the same modus operandi, and just add to it by coopting things from each partner.

      • My ex even used the same French poetry he used to read to me, to seduce the new women. I found that he had the poetry books in the bag that he used to escape to be with the others – it was a bag of sex toys. My daughter said there are love notes all over his apartment. This is what he did with me. It made me feel so un-special. But then I finally realized that it is making the OW un-special. He started all that stuff with me and now he’s just rolling it out for her. Gross.

  • Dear Carmel,

    “The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour” – always applies. Why? Because disordered liars, thieves, criminals are either born (psychopath) or made (narcissist).
    Does he have REMORSE and EMPATHY? for yourself or anyone else he has found sport in duping? No. He does not. Admittedly this was “fun” for him. Quite frankly, anyone who gets off on psychologically tormenting and physically threatening another persons body and mental health, (cheating) is just a dirty criminal who chooses a crime non-punishable by law. Unless it’s a fault state.
    Here’s the thing:
    The first time a thief steals and gets caught, they LEARN. they learn that it sucks to get caught and if they want what the want they must up their game next time. Look around for those convex mirrors and overhead cameras in the store. Act natural. Get a buddy to create a diversion (cheaters LOVE accomplices and duper’s delight partners!).
    Fuckwit will up his game with Schmoopie. No doubt about it. Of COURSE, it will appear that he has “changed” as he creates an even thicker smoke screen. He has NOT changed. He is a disordered, arrested development fake and phoney.
    Never forget that you are MIGHTY Carmel. You dumped his pathetic ass. Celebrate that.

  • Agreed, VH. Cheaters aren’t quality people. They’re hustlers, players, users and abusers. It’s how their game plan operates to meet their own needs. Whereas the chump offers character, conscience, courage, an ability to love, and stability; the cheater possesses none of these atributes. After the game gets predictable and the cheater can use it against us for personal gain, the devaluation and discard can begin. There is no shortage of available partners willing to latch onto a cheater. Free spirits, emotionally immature, seekers of financial gain, fellow-cheaters, status seekers, caretakers, emotionally detached non-bonders, addicts, etc., are just a few of the readily available partners available to cheaters. It’s not about the relationship – it’s usery – plain and simple.

    Carmel, retain your quality and dignity. Build upon it and make it shine! There is nothing at all you need to recover from a cheater-abuser except your full independence.

  • Many people could probably change their character if they genuinely wanted to, and some highly motivated people do. People who cheat, lie and abuse others just aren’t the kind of people who do. They won’t even admit that they need to change, much less do the work. They aren’t motivated. These are people who by nature run from reality, from anything that taxes them emotionally. If the cheater hasn’t even admitted blame and accepted responsibility for what he/she did, it’s as close to a 100% certainty that change isn’t going to happen as it can get.

    He’ll, my fuckwit admits he’s to blame and that his character sucks. He says he wants to change. He still hasn’t done the work over 3 years later. Sure, he goes to therapy and occupies a chair. It’s self delusion, something cheaters are champions at. They just don’t have real change in them, with some rare exceptions. The RIC wants us to think the exceptions are the norm and that we should trust in what they say and in outward appearances. Let’s not do that.

  • I am watching a Dateline episode right now that illustrates the truth about cheaters perfectly.

    So this woman cheats on her husband, and is such a coward she hides in the closet and makes her kids tell her chump to leave. She then goes on to marry the AP and by all outward appearances they’re blissfully happy, fine, upstanding citizens and soul mate schmoopies.

    Many years later, tragedy supposedly strikes. Her husband, she claims, has died in a boating accident as they were on a trip up a large lake to a romantic lodge for breakfast. Her kids all rally around her in her grief, but notice some odd things, like she has bruises all over her that she can’t explain and a bloody nose.
    Then, shortly thereafter, she is arrested and charged federally for fraud and forgery from the non-profit she works for. She had created fake companies, forged faked invoices, and pocketed the money.
    Not only that, but three of her daughters were listed as the owners of the shell companies and had been taking a share of the ill gotten gains. Another daughter had been conned into laundering some of that money, which all told, amounted to between two and three million dollars.

    Well, you can probably guess some of the rest. The “boating accident” was a murder. She skipped bail in the fraud and forgery charges, leaving her daughter to pay almost $100,000 to the bondsman. She eventually turned herself in, possibly because she found out Dog The Bounty Hunter was going to be hired to capture her. What she didn’t know then was that she was suspected of murder as well.
    A long history of lies and manipulations was uncovered, including to her family.
    She had done Google searches related to drowning prior to the “boating accident”. It turned out she had overdosed her husband on allergy medication in order to make him drowsy enough to push off the boat.

    There had been some red flags over the years, of course. She openly flouted rules, considering herself to be above them. She bragged about the lengths she went to to get what she wanted by unethical means, including a bizarre B&E job on her employer. But nobody did the math of cheater+unrepentant rule breaker+narcissistic braggart= disordered wing nut. She had seemed to adore her husband. Even her kids were fooled.

    Most fuckwits aren’t going to go to this extent, of course, but character will out eventually in some way. The chump isn’t going to be there to see it, which is the good news. But let’s stop thinking they change character just because they change partners and appear to be happy, especially since we aren’t privy to the truth about their private lives.
    They’re going to do something wrong at some point, and maybe they won’t get caught and nobody will know. But unethical folks don’t turn into good people just because they are allegedly in twu wuv with somebody new. They don’t even want to. You can take that to the bank.

  • I’m guilty ????????‍♀️of falling into the chumpy trap of imagining that my ex has changed, that he’s better for the wifetress and/or that she’s better for him. I just wasn’t a good match for him, and SHE IS! If only Spinach had been better at x, he wouldn’t have been an entitled, gaslighting, lying, low-character, passive-aggressive, moody AF jerk with zero self-awareness.

    I mistakenly frame it as, “I wasn’t good for him.”

    My re-frame needs to be, “He wasn’t good FOR ME.”

    If he doesn’t suck for her, then so be it. But, honestly, it’s hard to imagine that he had a personality transplant. I suppose they might have some weird folie a deux that works. They may be made for each other. Each was a cheater. Each has a character screw that’s loose.

    The point is that my ex has a lot invested in making this new relationship work, especially since he lost not only his family (kids and grandkids) but also much of his reputation when his multiyear affair was discovered. And he’s getting old. His looks are fading. Finding a new young thing at this point would be tough.

    I hear they’re moving to a far-away state where the fly fishing is good. That’s what he values. If they are happy, so be it.* I like to think that entitled people with poor life skills and sucky character can’t do well, but who knows?

    I’m trying not to care. Not my circus; not my monkeys.

    I’m now investing in quality people who are honest and trustworthy.

    *I don’t really mean this. I hope his fishing arm falls off. ???? ????#notatmehyet

  • I would love if someone could respond to this. My ex husband had tremendous anger issues. Cruel emotionally violent, slice you to bits verbally kind of issues
    He cannot wait in a line anywhere.
    He had tremendous anxiety and an almost uncontrolled competitiveness and insecurity.

    We have been divorced a few months now. My adult children tell me he is on a lot of medication. He is now very “chill and present”
    I know he has a new girlfriend though she lives in a different country and her primary language is different.

    Not only did he lose our marriage but he lost his business. He has suffered tremendous consequences for his behaviors and poor judgment.
    Could medication make him a better person? The therapist says it may make him calmer, but it will not give him a character transplant.
    This still frustrates and hurts me. He had tried medication on and off during our marriage but he never stuck with it.
    His anger caused so many problems and distance in our marriage. And it caused me to withdraw. Anyone have any experience with this kind of change ?

    I am haunted by the fact that he would not make this effort for me and our family and someone else will benefit and just get the positive parts of him

    • Two questions for you Meanwell.

      What were his supposed positive parts ?
      Who says he’s going to continue taking his medication, given his known history ?

      • SPBAS
        CL has mentioned in the past, if FWS were awful all the time, none of us would have the emotional conflict that we have
        I mean he had a good sense of humor, he had an interesting career, he was a voracious reader,we shared some common interests
        I found him physically attractive
        And of course in the end, one of my most motivating factors, he was the father of my children.
        That being said, in the end, I did divorce him because his negative behaviors were just intolerable

        I agree with you about the continuing of the medication and his ability to maintain himself
        I guess I was thinking he would do it for someone else because he would value them more than me. But that is my issue I understand that.
        Thanks for the thoughts and input

        • My ex had a terrible temper. I hated it. Anything would set him off. Even if everything was fine and peaceful, he would lose his mind over politics or sports. Ugh. Sooooo awful. I tried to get him to therapy—he wouldn’t. It was when I was looking on Amazon for a book for him on anger management—what a joke, like he would ever read it—-but, when i was looking for that, I found Lundy Bancroft’s book, “Why does he do that?”. I started reading the reviews on amazon, and i couldn’t believe it. I devoured that book. Bought copies for two of my sisters. That book gave me clear insight into what the anger was—and i decided then and there to get divorced. So so so happy to get away from him. I highly suggest you read it. The anger is just like the cheating. entitlement.

    • This is a tricky one. Generally it’s best to separate mental illness from character defects. I.e., someone can have a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, but if their character is well-formed, they’ll get treatment, try to minimize the effects of their illness on their family, etc. However, with Cluster B personality disorders like narcissism (which seems to underly a lot of cheating behavior), it gets harder to separate mental health from character issues. Still: I have several people in my life who tip the scale toward NPD/BPD. Some have chosen to deal with their shit and try to minimize the impact on their loved ones; others have blameshifted and taken their shit out on their loved ones. So, I think it’s still possible, and important, to maintain the mental health v. character distinction.

      And, in response to the OP, “character is destiny,” as CL likes to say. I’ll also note there is NO WAY to tell from the outside of an intimate relationship what is going on inside that relationship. Anything you think you know about how the people in that relationship are feeling is a fantasy you’re projecting onto them.

      • Thank you
        When my ex tried to dip his toes in therapy a few times ,most lasted just a few weeks,one lasted about a year and even by his own admission didn’t help him at all.
        When he was really starting to “ suffer “ in the marriage he did have some psychiatric testing done. I believe it came back with depression and if not narcissistic personality disorder than certainly narcissistic traits.
        He certainly comes from a family of male narcissists and I believe his mother is absolutely one almost, boardering on psychopathy
        She absolutely cheered on his infidelity

        Absolutely-no one can tell what goes on behind closed doors. And I do try and acknowledge that for myself, that there was no way I could’ve anticipated the depths of his issues.

    • Meanwell, I left a similar marriage after 25 years. “Why Does He Do That?” By Lundy Bancroft opened my eyes to the exact mindset behind the abusive person’s choice to abuse. They don’t change, they just discard and move on to new supply.

      You say he has suffered consequences but has he? He’s got you pining for him, his kids fawning on him and being his flying monkeys, and he’s got consequence free and contact free cybersex on tap. Sounds like a sweet deal for an angry abuser. Still controlling, still winning, everyone still dancing.

      Fact: its up to us to tell the truth and change the narrative for our kids so they don’t fall into the same traps we did.

      Fact: someone who needs to be heavily medicated to be civil is someone you should be glad to be away from and should never consider going back to. Constant anger, cruelty, never chill and never present – yes I experienced all that and it was used to manipulate me and my kids and to inflict pain and to destroy. Thats what cruel people like to do. Because they can.

      Fact: Cybersex is not a relationship.

      I have no contact so I have no idea who my xh is with. I’m just really glad that I’m not the one tasked with polishing the sequins on the sparkly turd anymore.

      • NC
        Lundy Bancroft’s book changed my world view on men and on my marriage. His writings actually helped me leave and feel more comfortable with my divorce. I believe I also first heard about it from CL or CN
        When you marry someone with that sense of entitlement, the marriage is doomed from The start It is rare for them to alter their behaviors, no matter how many partners they go through.
        “Someone who needs to be heavily medicated to be civil” Exactly. “cyber sex is not sex”
        Amazing how they delude them selves that way.
        (my ex was actually able to flip it into a physical relationship however in frequent)
        Is he suffering? Well he lost a lot of public “face”
        And status with the closing of his business etc.
        and I think the divorce. So we know that that hurts narcissists. But that may be part of what I am dealing with now. He may very well be relieved to just MoveOn. Not miss my 30 years of love and effort. And I guess that is just a grieving process for me.
        Oh he went no contact with me he won’t communicate with me, but he is hovering our children very hard

        • Meanwell, i managed the hoovering of the children by setting a boundary. I refused to participate in their relationship with their father or his family.

          I stepped back and let the kids experience him (and the inlaws) unspackled and unfiltered. Chump lady’s “Cool” “bummer” “wow” was great for this. I told the truth without rancour about our marriage when asked. My ex lied. The kids were there. They knew who was lying.

          I let my youngest manage custody visits to suit himself and supported his decisions but always made it clear that he could decide anytime to stop. Which he did at 17, went no contact and lives with me full time.

          If the kids expressed anything negative about him I said “he is showing you who he is. Believe him. Calibrate your relationship for your own comfort and safety.”

          In trying to alienate them from me, he instead alienated them from him, all five beautiful young adults, all on his own.

          • Thank you NewChump for your testimony. My kids are younger, so I am very grateful for your “he is showing you who he is. Believe him. Calibrate your relationship for your own comfort and safety.” Perfect wording! I will be using it when the time comes ????

            I can relate to the eye opening power of “why does he do that”! And the very usefulness of practicing Chump Lady’s “cool bummer wow”!

            Thank you again for sharing. Thank you Chump Lady for hosting the blog and sharing your wisdom and your wit ????

      • I’m sorry you went through that as well. It is a gigantic tidal wave of damage To deal with

        • Meanwell yes it was a lot. But I don’t regret it for a minute. I’ve done a lot of work on myself -boundaries, oh my yes, so much on boundaries and still working on it (i am after all a Chump!); FOO issues, attachment, toxic people, you name it. And I have much healthier, more honest and more enjoyable relationships with all the people in my life – my kids, my siblings, my mother, my few friends.

          I hope my children learn from my honesty and seek to build healthy, reciprocal, adult relationships. The signs are good so far.

          • Will keep this in mind. Have tried similar approaches. When I filed, I told my children I hoped they would view me as “brave”

            My ex pulled a fast one, having my son fly to him out of the country and then bringing new supply… er girlfriend to the airport to pick him up with out telling or asking my son about her.
            Ex explained this woman did not break up marriage, he started after I filed, which is true. He just left out the part about thow he had been fishing on line for a relationship for YEARS and this women finally bit.
            My son is in early twenties, but he was upset and told me about it. Yet, they love their father and are trying to work with him

            Probably tied into the same insecurities as “will he change” is – for me-will he succeed in changing the narrative on the divorce as to why I was the problem.

    • Meanwell,

      My Cheater was given to rage. I watched a pattern and his normal rages happened when he made a small error and then started to think about it…it would simmer for an hour or so then burst into wild, emotionally violent, abusive language (including a lot of blasphemy) and accusations of some failing or mistake on my part and the end was always the same “marrying you was the biggest mistake of my life”.

      Im almost embarrassed to admit that I cant remember much about what he said in the rages, my mind seems to have shut those memories out.

      He claimed (after Dday) that he told OW that he had an anger problem.

      He went to a Priest who he claimed said “well she must be doing something to make you that mad”

      He had to do an Anger Management course in the military but I dont know why…I think he got in trouble in some manner that he never told me.

      His mother tried to warn me before we got married that he had a problem but she waited until like 3 days before the wedding and I dismissed her words. Many years later, his sister was telling me about the rages he had as a teen and I asked her how often he raged “every day”…oh God…he was bad but never raged every day.

      He blamed me for everything including every sort of abuse he inflicted on me…he once said that he never got treatment for rage because I never left him over it. I had saved $40,000 in my escape fund and was ready to leave. He had had a rage where he smashed things and I was DONE with it. I promised myself I would go if he raged again and his mood was blustery and angry and distant. I was preparing myself to move into an apt and buy a car (mine was in his name) but he didnt rage again, he dropped dead. Nothing in my life will ever surprise me as much as that did. Mt life is better now, needless to say.

      • I appreciated your list of his good traits and reminder that if every moment was abuse, we would not have stayed so long.

        I thought my dead husband was decent, handsome and smart. He really wanted career success and was a very hard worker. He had a keen sense of humor but memories of it cause me pain because he used it as a weapon against me in really cruel ways.

        I really believed that he had every piece of the puzzle he needed to be a great husband and father but he seemed unable to put the pieces together – I didnt know why but I endlessly smoked hopium. Learning he was a cheater explained a lot.

        • Same. He had all the gifts and could not create lasting happiness.
          This was part of why I stayed, I could not comprehend he would not “get with the program” or how much he was taking for granted.

          He had it all in front of him. My thoughts now are that his value system and character building from FOO was very screwed up, and it dominated him. Even at 58 he is taking relationship advice and direction from his raging narcissistic 85 year old mother.

      • Wow. What a story. . Good for you for planning your escape, regardless of what happened to him.

        People would say to me that he wouldn’t stop because I never left or gave him consequences. Then, when I filed, they said he never thought I would do it.
        Rock and a hard place.

  • So to summarise – you have divorced an abusive man who you are afraid of – but you want him back, but heavily sedated so that he can’t hurt you any more?

    If one of your adult kids was in a relationship like this, and they came to you with this scenario, what advice would you give them?

    Listen to your therapist. And perhaps start investing your emotional energy instead in asking yourself some hard questions, like:

    What is it about my upbringing that taught me to accept abuse as part of a marriage in the first place?

    How do I see marriage?

    How can I model good decision making for my adult children?

    How can I put some boundaries in place so that my adult children stop bringing me news updates about a violent man on meds who has a webcam girlfriend in a developing country, thus combining sexual and financial exploitation in the one pretend relationship?

    Please wake up. For your own sake, and for the sake of your adult children.

    • His fantasy/pretend “girlfriend” ???????? who is probably being trafficked and addicted to drugs

      • Actually, no. Professional woman. Good career. Has regular contributing spot on local news. Attractive. Does not help my thoughts

        I will focus on earlier points about it does not matter how he treats her, it was how he treated ME that mattered. But it still hurts.

        • Yes, that’s what she tells him – or what he tells your kids.

          And even if she is a director of the World Bank, it’s still a pretend long-distance relationship with a language barrier.

          You don’t know if any of this is actually true, as you’re dealing with a known liar.

          And if you do know it’s true, then I’d suggest you stop Googling her. This is what we mean by pain shopping.

          I know it’s early days for you – but seriously, No Contact will help you immensely with the mind movies, fantasies about getting back a new improved version of him, and other wastes of your valuable time.

          Psychiatric drugs don’t really change anything. They don’t cure mental disorders, and they don’t give people character transplants.

  • Hi Lola,
    Thank you for taking the time to respond. As usual with your comments, I think you pretty much nailed it.

    ” you have divorced an abusive man who you are afraid of – but you want him back, but heavily sedated so that he can’t hurt you any more?”

    I don’t want him back, that much I’ve got down, but am hurt that he “appears” to be trying to be better for someone else. ( GF and Ahole see each other periodically, and FT everynight. I know this because he was doing this while we were cohabitating during divorce, he wouldn’t leave house, but that’s for another thread.)

    Trust me FOO has gotten put through the ringer in therapy
    My children are young adults and sometimes want to talk about him and their experiences with him, I want to be there for them for that.

    You re point about wasted energy struck me the most.

    He IS abusive, but now he is more or less gone. Divorce is new – this past July, and we are still tying up loose ends and I’m unpacking boxes that are triggering

    I think question that needs work for me is –
    I got out. I survived a divorce process complete with threatening texts and financial shenanigans and did ok – actually rather well.
    So why do I, and so many here, continue to emotionally abuse ourselves in the place of our exes?
    even “FOR” our exes.
    Thanks again for the good thoughts

    • We continue to abuse ourselves because we’ve internalised the abuser’s world view and opinion of us.

      We abandoned ourselves by the side of the road a long time ago.

      You now have to do a long walk back down that road and find the person you were before you met the abuser, or at least before the abuse started.

      Getting yourself back after an abusive relationship and divorce is a real process, and it’s work, and it’s painful, and soul stretching. You will have to actively decolonize your mind.

      But it’s absolutely worth it for the peace and healing and wholeness and honesty and contentment waiting on the other side.

      • Went back and reread this thread for re enforcement. Thank you Lola and all for input. So frustrated as it really is like the frog in boiling water. You don’t feel it happening and then – if you escape, you are burned.
        I fee so horribly damaged and I am furious about that.
        Therapist is suggesting outpatient trauma program, will post if it is helpful.

  • Cheaters, as part of the definition of the nature of the beast, change their outsides
    (people and places and things) instead of what needs changing, themselves.

    They want the quick fix, the easier softer way. But painting over dry rot never works.

    In what other arena does someone choose a pre-owned anything with a glaring, obvious, fundamental defect? If one is looking for love, how about someone shady? Cheaters and those who cheat with them are stunningly unclear on the concept. I’m not religious but I think Corinthians defines love very well, and cheating is the very antithesis of love.

    I always believed that a guy who was taken was unavailable. And I wouldn’t want him if he left someone for me. If he was willing to leave his wife or girlfriend for me then he would be nothing but a massive undesirable jerk. Trust a display of betrayal when you see it and steer clear of traitors. No one with self-esteem hurts their family or settles for being the secret side piece.

  • My ex-fiancé (and partner of 7 years) did the same to me, never admitted to anything besides a “friendship.” (Their child conceived while we were still together says otherwise.) It was a total mindfuck. All the apparent years of elaborate lies and deception (involving friends and family too) did not align with the person I thought he was, hence the mindfuck. Once the shock wore off, I realized how many red flags I had ignored. I felt stupid, but I’ve since forgiven myself and learned to trust my gut. Most importantly, I am grateful to have avoided getting married, getting financially entwined, having kids…wasting my life with a liar. I don’t care what he does with his life, who he’s with, if he changes, whatever. I know you’ll get there too!

  • The OP may have had dreams that he would change because she didn’t know him enough years. I feel like the longer you were with a FW and got to see the full spectrum of their FW behavior, the more easily you can trust that they suck and will not change. I have known klootzak for over 20 years. After a few D-days, I finally saw that he is mostly a big act. He is totally ugly underneath. IDGAF who he ends up with, that ugliness doesn’t suddenly change. The transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge is a fairy tale. A person who can repeatedly lie to their spouse and abuse them is wicked, plain and simple. They can fake for a long time and pretend to be different but once they get comfortable, the devaluation and all will start again.

    Klootzak has cemented who he is as all cheaters do. You know, in the military, if you rise to the rank of Captain, Admiral, General, whatever, you keep that forever. Presidents and Secretaries of State or whatever department are like that, too. Jimmy Carter is always President Jimmy Carter. To me, it is the same with cheating, lying, FWs. They earned that distinction by fucking strange and they never lose it. They could join a convent and emulate Mother Theresa the rest of their days and they are still a cheating, lying, FW. That stink is permanent. Do they all continue to be FWs? No, but the recidivism rate is so high, it’s not worth losing sleep over.

  • My ex was a violent alcoholic who could and did spend us out of house and home! When he moved in with the skank I thought he might be happier with her because she is also a drunk and they spent all their time down at the bar. But I heard through the grapevine when they split up that she was telling everyone she HAD to leave because she was afraid he would kill her. So nope, he was still an evil drunk with her. As for latest Schmoopie they bought a house together pretty quickly (they’ve known each other since childhood) and on the surface they go better together. BUT by the time they got together he’d spent his way through the financial settlement I gave him to buy him out of the house and started a new mortgage in his mid-50s! Whether or not he’s violent with her I have no idea as they are in the States. I suspect he has reigned it in somewhat because she has family around (as does he) and he might not get away with it. I still don’t believe a leopard changes its spots though, but who knows. What I do know, having met Schmoops at both m kids’ weddings, is that Schmoops, while attractive, is a miserable sod, no fun and not happy unless all eyes are on her! Enjoy that sunshine!

  • Nope Carmel. Maybe a few can change, but you’ll always be wondering if he’s lying. Don’t waste your life on a cheater, and take it from me, if he’s over about 25 or 30, that’s his personality. I went out with someone in my 20s. I didn’t understand about personality disorders then. I do now. I went out with him again in my 40’s. He is still exactly the same. No change. Don’t take the risk that he is one of a very few that can change, look for someone different who is a good person. Don’t waste my experience, you deserve better.

    • And what I got to see, over that 20 year time frame, he did exactly what he did to me to all these other women. It was a real eye opener. He had an unfortunate family situation and his defects were fixed by that unhappy family situation, he took out his underlying hatred of women (cruel mother substitute, step mother etc) in his relationships (yes I untangled a lot of that skein), he was charming, extremely intelligent and too good looking for his own good, and will either never develop any insight into his behaviour, or if he does he will genuinely not give a shit. Don’t imagine that it’s all going well for any other women, because the likelihood is that he will just repeat the pattern over and over again is high. They’ll get the charm to start, and then a high chance of things hitting the fan later.

  • What the hopium did not allow me to discern is that my Cheater had used blame as a coping tool for so long, there was a point (I have no idea when) where

    1) he had no other skills and he had used blame as a church for so long that he could not change
    2) no mater how much I was not to blame for every single inconvenience in his life, the contempt he felt for me (no matter how delusional the genesis of it was) was real and would never be overcome

    It is possible that had he lived and attempted a subsequent relationship with his main ow or someone else, he might have been a little nicer to her but only because he would have kept me as his scape goat. Either way, staying with him was staying with the enemy no matter what.

    What would or wouldn’t have happened between him and someone else would not have changed the fact that he would never have loved me or been kind, no matter what

    • crutch, not church… although he likely used church as an inappropriate crutch, but that is another topic

  • Character change only has a scintilla of a chance of happening when there are consequences—inescapable consequences and a genuine will to doggedly pursue change. But in the majority of cases, even with severe consequences, like prison, character change doesn’t come.

    Dr. George Simon has dedicated his life to studying character disturbances and has written several books on the subject. He even has helped some prisoners manifest character change in their lives. So character change is possible, but it’s a daunting task that requires constant vigilance and self awareness. I would guess it’s something similar to admitting to being an alcoholic and then living a life to affect that change every single day.

    Most cheaters slither on to the next relationship under the cover of excuses and lies about their ex. They avoid consequences like a vampire avoids daylight. They seek out people and situations that supply adoration and support entitlement. For most of these FWs character change is as likely as passing a camel through the eye of a needle.

  • Wherever you go, there you are… They may move on and seem to have it all with the next person, but FWs rarely change. They are the same lying, blameshifting, controlling person. It may work out with the other person as long as they don’t change lane, or they invested so much in projecting the image of the successful couple, or it gets harder to monkey branch as they get older… who cares? You only need to spend a few minutes interacting with them to realized they haven’t changed and why you don’t want to be involved with them.

    I have to interact with my X for “co-parenting” and I am always surprised how much he hasn’t changed in the more than 20 years I’ve known him… and he still expects me to be the same too, which I am not. We met in our twenties , I’m almost 50. He still talks about high school as if it’s relevant… The OW is welcome to him, really. Frankly I’d be embarrassed to be stuck someone as shallow and immature now that the dust has settled.

  • A character transformation will occur with the ‘right woman’ ? ? ?


    People know right from wrong by about the age of 8. The moral fiber develops (or does not develop) at a young age.

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