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Chumped, Friendless, and Stuck

cyclops lonelyDear Lady Chump,

This is my first time being a Chump. It sucks.

I am in so much pain right now. I am 25 years old and this was my first serious relationship. We had been dating for 1 year and 3 months. Four days after moving in with him into our new place, I found flirty messages and sexual videos between him and another woman. The flirty messages were to a different woman altogether (might I add she was freakin 40?!)

Sad to say, this was not the first time I caught him, but it was the first time I had physical evidence. The first two times he came up with a plausible (okay, ridiculous) story which, like an idiot, I believed completely because I loved him, and well, chumps.

The second occasion I caught him, I sat him down and said “Look, sexting and messaging other women counts as cheating to me. I don’t want you doing it.” He looked me in the eyes and said “Okay, I won’t do it again. It’s done.” He said it so calmly, so confidently, and so authentically that I believed him.

Fast forward to now. He moved all my stuff out and I am staying at my mom’s house because I don’t want to be alone right now, especially in my old apartment where we had so many memories. The thing is, two years ago, I had just graduated college. All my friends (the few of them I had anyway) had moved away and I was very, very lonely. In the midst of finding a job, I tried my best to make friends but it just never panned out.

Eventually I got so lonely I got into Tinder and that’s where I met him. After that, I thought I had found the one, my soul mate. He was amazing. Suddenly, I didn’t mind that I didn’t have any friends here because I had him. He introduced me to his circle of friends (which he has many) and I felt like I belonged. Fast forward to now, and I feel as if I am back where I started. And I have nothing to show for it except being cheated on. And I’m so lonely and I want him back so badly, even though I know I shouldn’t take him back.

I had my entire life planned out with him, and now I have no idea what to do with my life. I am terrified. I know there will come a point where I get very, very lonely again and I am afraid I will break and get back together with him. The thing is, for some reason I’ve always had trouble making new friends. My two best friends in the whole world live in other states. Honestly, I was thinking of eventually moving to Colorado where one of them lives with her significant other. That way I wouldn’t be so lonely. And I’ve always wanted to move somewhere with mountains. That was my original plan before I met him. But do you think that is wise? I mean, what if my friend decides to leave Colorado and I’m left stranded again? I know this must sound terribly pathetic, but I’m not a weird or bad person. I can talk to people just fine, but for some reason actually making friends is hard. What should I do? Move to Colorado? Something else entirely?

Sincerely,

First Time Chumper

Dear First Time Chumper,

Let’s reframe your pathetic, friendless self narrative, okay? You had a boyfriend. You caught him sexting other women and you SPOKE UP. You said “This isn’t okay with me. I want you to stop.” GOOD. Gold star. That’s mighty.

Because he’s a fuckwit who can’t adult, he lied to your face and then bailed on the relationship. That’s not on you. I know it feels deeply personal, but you weren’t the unlovable person here. You didn’t compel him to reject you. He didn’t have the raw materials of connection to start with. He was fronting an investment, a further commitment, while still shopping around online for other women. It’s not acceptable to you (GOOD). We’ve decided that.

So, I don’t care how lonely you feel, this guy is NOT AN OPTION. No contact. Get off the lease.

Now let’s focus on this gain a life stuff. Friendship. Life plans. Colorado. Trusting again.

I’m a squidgy middle-aged woman (over freakin’ 40. Gasp!) and I remember how disorienting it was to be 25. (I married a fuckwit at your age. Don’t be me.) Imagine you’re at brunch with your weird aunt Chump Lady imparting life advice. Chug that mimosa and sit back.

1.) There are no perfect decisions. Being paralyzed and sitting on the sidelines of life is far worse than jumping into life and making a mistake. You can bounce back from just about anything. The worst decisions I ever made (and I made some staggeringly awful decisions) lead to some of the greatest blessings. My son. Living in beautiful Lancaster, Pa. Journalism. Meeting my husband Mr. CL. (after being a two-time chump). This blog. CN. A book. All of which happened after COLOSSAL FAILURES.

This is the paradox of life. So be a participant. Do your due diligence, but DO something. Jump in. You want to move to Colorado? Move to Colorado. It’s a state, not a pair of cement shoes.

2.) Everyone feels or has been friendless at some point in their life. Loneliness is pretty universal. It waxes and wanes, but remember this is just a window in time. It’s not forever. You don’t have a stamp on your forehead that says Incapable of Friendship.

Forgive the personal anecdote (but we are having brunch and this is my third mimosa), but I remember the hell that was Chippewa Trail Camp for Girls in Elk Rapids, Michigan. (I now will be assaulted by alumni with Fond Memories…) From ages 9 to 15, I was shipped off there every summer for a month where I spent entire summers friendless. (My mother and aunt had gone, were counselors. #tradition) CTC was essentially finishing school in the woods, where the girls had names like Cricket and Boots and did dressage. First week in my cabin, they strung up my teddy bear in a mock execution.

Okay, we can laugh now. (NO, NO WE CANNOT.) But can you imagine being dumped at the 45th parallel in a colony of Mean Girls? I was a dorky kid with weird exceedingly un-preppy hair. I wanted to read a book and hide in the arts ‘n crafts hut. I was not bred for archery. (Oh, and we had to bathe in the lake. And there were LEECHES.)

My point is, it was a bad fit. And I had no friends. Not a one. Summer after summer. I felt utterly pathetic about it for a long time. Like, camp is supposed to be FUN and you can’t enjoy FUN CAMP?

Had I known who I was at 9, I would’ve petitioned for better choices. It’s easier to make friends when you know what you like, what your values are, and what/who’s a good fit. Unfortunately we learn those lessons primarily through bad fits — boyfriends, jobs, summer camp. Which takes me to my next point…

3.) Be your own person. Boyfriends are not life plans. Neither are friends in Colorado. It’s okay to have friends and boyfriends, but figure out who you are first and believe in your own resiliency. Tough out the lonely feelings and learn to enjoy your company. You like mountains? You’ve always wanted to live in Colorado? Great! Dive into that. You can have a life centered on YOUR passions, which makes you a more interesting friend.

Also, to make friends, be a friend. In any social situation, there’s going to be a new person, a shy person, a wallflower. Chat them up. Introduce them. Bust a move. You can do this. You survived a fuckwit boyfriend, which is a massive amount of rejection. You have antibodies! Get out there!

First Time Chumper, it’s gonna be okay. I hear the mountains are really pretty this time of year. Report back.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Good Morning First Time Chumper and welcome to CN.

    I feel your pain from being 25, and I can tell you with certainty that you will be fine and your life is going to be awesome in like a few months or so. 25 means absolute freedom to be you and to make your life what you want.

    Yes, as CL says, it’s unfair. Being a chump is the “blurst” and all the envy, second guessing, pining, jealousy etc is energy wasted on vapid ( your ex ).
    The pain is real, I feel it every moment, but I accept the pain and think of it as the wrapping to the gift I received— a life ( CL’s mantra ).

    Unwrap you life. See what’s under the pain and go live.

    Blessings and happy new year.

  • Yes, yes, yes! Also, if you choose to move to CO, or anywhere else for that matter – do it for you and what you want to do. It’s great that you know someone out there but don’t put all your eggs in one basket in case she decides to go off with her SO somewhere else. I recommend joining Meetups – different classes to meet new people if you can swing it. You will find your tribe eventually – it just takes some navigation. And please be proud of yourself that you spoke up – some people have a tendency to sweep under the rug or be in denial but you will now be the lady who doesn’t take no 💩. You will be glad that you invested X amount of time as opposed to years, babies, and a combined finances with that asshat.

    Also know you have a great online community here with CN that can help with advice – we are from all ages and stages and can help impart some wisdom to you.

  • FTC,

    You won’t feel like it now, but there will come a time when you realise that having this happen to you without being married to your cheater, without co-owning property with your cheater and without having to co-parent with your cheater is a blessing. Much better that you found out now than later, when you are more invested and he has greater leverage through which to damage you. On the upside, you know what is not acceptable to you (this is a huge plus) and, even though you can’t see it, you are clearly pretty mighty; so go to work with that.

    As regards your perceived lack of friends I would offer the following – I lost a lot of “friends” when my now Ex-Wife upped and left me and our three kids to be with her AP. These were people who were “OK” with what she did and who chose to ignore the hurt that she caused me and the kids or, even worse, to do their best to deny the damage and minimise her culpability. But I found out that some people that I didn’t know particularly well (mostly neighbours and work colleagues in my then new job) and wasn’t aware that they were my friends were fantastic in their help and support; these are my new tribe and count them as my most valuable allies. They were friends in adversity – not fair-weather friends – and I thank all of them.

    I hope that you can see that while there is never a “good” time for this to happen to you, some times are less bad than others. Similarly, you may not feel the “mighty” coursing through your veins right now, but it is clearly there, so embrace it. And, lastly, you have friends out there; you just don’t know who they are yet.

    You’ve got this and, I promise you, he is not and never was worthy of you.

    LFTT

    • “Much better that you found out now than later, when you are more invested and he has greater leverage through which to damage you.”

      Absolutely.

    • LFTT, I also lost al ot of “friends” in fact most of them when Cheater left to find someone different, someone ex had more in common with. Ex decided after 20 years of marriage and all that entails, a child, our family, home, the life we built together, we had noting in common. All these “friends”, were also okay with it. A few told me I should be okay with it too, and to “get over it.” Ex is happy why aren’t you? My world as I knew it had just been shattered, and it wasn’t a big deal to them, they’d roll their eyes and sigh, while telling me to get over it. Ex was leading a new exciting life and I was the pathetic loser, worried about my future, my medical insurance, kids and the aftermath. Ex was fun, exciting, they even told me they’d never seen ex happier..
      Not only did ex betray me but these people who I thought were my “friends”turned into strangers.
      .
      Like you people who I rarely talked to knew supported me, listened to me, even when I was in tears, they could have easily said, sorry and walked away. Instead, they invited me to lunch, checked on me, invited me to coffee. These nice people are still my friends and needless to say I ignore those who I thought were my ” friends.” I realize now why they stood by ex and didn’t have a problem with him imploding our family.
      It’s simple, they share the same values.

      • Brit,

        Values come into it, as does character and the courage to see that something isn’t right and ask the awkward or difficult question.

        For me, the turning point was when one of my “news friends who I hadn’t worked out was a friend yet” had the courage to ask me “Are you OK?” and then stick around for the answer. I wasn’t even close to OK, but she heard me out when most would have made their excuses and left.

        I owe her – and others – a lot.

        LFTT

      • I agree about shared values.

        Even quite a few of folks who I lost contact with, never returned to their friendship with FW, He had two couple per my son who they stayed friends with, and one of the couples slowly saw them less and less.

        When he got into his religion obsession, he eventually got shunned out of two different churches. One preacher actively ask him to leave he was creating so much trouble trying to control everything. I don’t know the whole story, but I wonder how he ever became a deacon of that church. He must have told them a whopper of a story about how he and schmoops got together. The church folks figured them out fairly quickly after he had gained some power.

        He really did need something to control, and he had shit all over himself at work, so no more control there. In the end he lost his close relationship with our son, and I assume all he had left to control was schmoops. That must have been fun.

      • Brit, you nailed it! There is some honest leadership, it’s just what we need when we’re in the middle of the worst days of our lives. Thank you for being an up front, authentic human being. All the best to you, what an example to all of us!

    • I lost a lot of so called “friends” too. My son and daughter (17 & 15) at the time were shocked to watch as so called “friends” discarded us and chose to remain friends with serial cheater ex. None of those “friends” saw the hurt he caused the kids and I with his lies, cheating, and abuse. The serial cheater ex made sure that our “friends” only saw the fake image he portrayed as the “great guy”.

      • SOoI,

        The thing that hurts the most is not that “friends” do not see the hurt caused by the cheater, but that they actively and deliberately choose to ignore it or – at best – minimise it so that they do not have to make uncomfortable choices about who is in the right and who is in the wrong.

        Having my son’s godfather (and someone I once thought was my best friend) tell me that he loved me and my now ex-wife equally and that he would not choose between us was incredibly painful; particularly when he refused outright to accept that not only had Ex-Mrs LFTT cheated (which damaged me and our kids) but that her continued emotional, psychological and financial abuse was not just damaging me, but his godson too; and to the point at which my son was conducting serious self-harm.

        I am no longer in contact with my son’s godfather and my son’s contact with him is minimal to say the least; he failed me and, what is worse, he failed my son. Well f*ck him and the horse he rode in on. In refusing to choose, or in thinking he could choose both sides, he made the wrong choice. He is welcome to my Ex-Wife’s friendship anytime he wants, because he lost my friendship (and my respect) and that of my son too. He does not deserve us.

        LFTT

  • All I can say is, your pain is real, and is also a blessing in disguise. May of us chumps here wished our lesson came much earlier on in life, that we discovered the book earlier in life, and will then allow us to have had the tools to move on to much greener pastures earlier on in life. You were mature enough to seek out help from CN for your situation, which means there is more than hope for you. You also have the benefit of time on your side. You literally still have your whole life ahead of you. No kids (I am assuming so apologies if you do have kids!), no ties, just opportunities and potential ahead.

    On the moving side, please go whoever you wish but do this for yourself, not for someone else, or necessarily to be closer to just one person unless you are mentally prepared that one day who is left in that city (wherever you choose to move to) may be completely different to who is there today. If there is one thing I have learned moving countries 5 times in my life (countries not cities I might add!), it’s ok to be drawn to a location because of friends and family, but the MOST important thing is to learn to be self sufficient, have the confidence to build and continue building your own circle, and be completely CONTENT with being on your own. This will be a key thing to help you avoid latching on to people, including douchebags, for too long and falling completely apart when you feel alone or sad.

    We are here for you, and I for one am so excited that you have learned this lesson so early on in life which means you are now wiser than most people at your age! Your douchebag radar has just levelled up!

  • FTC – Very few people spend the rest of their life with their first love. That part is normal. Necessary.

    Your’re experiencing pain because someone you were committed to betrayed you. That is also normal and necessary. It will help you fix your picker.

    You’re wanting to make new connections which reflect your interests and values. Normal and necessary.

    Take the time to heal. And, yes, it can sometimes take a year to fully get over a year long relationship. Be kind to yourself with a heathy lifestyle and investment in your own career and passions.

  • If I had the superpower to go back and tell my 25 year old self anything, it wouldn’t be advice to buy stock in Apple.
    Instead, it would mirror what CL has written to you.
    You are mighty and divine in your own right! You stood up for yourself when you were being emotionally and relationally abused. This is no small thing.
    You miss what you hoped the relationship could be, not what it was. I know it may sound trite, but the world is your fucking oyster right now. You have the agency to do anything and everything your heart desires!
    Fear of the unknown can be a an overwhelming notion, but only if you allow it to be. Trust me when I say, there is so much good in making a fresh start with your abuser in the rear view mirror.

  • I wish I had been as wise at 25 as our writer. Instead, I kept dining at the Shit Sandwich, the crappiest restaurant on the wrong side of the tracks in the worst part of the ugliest town in the crummiest state of the yuckiest country on the stankiest planet of the least desirable universe in the entire galaxy. I stayed there because it’s all I believed I deserved. I stayed there because I was primed to be there by the insanity I grew up with. I stayed there because I did not know any better at the time, could not know any better, could not do any better, at the time.

    Would that 58 year old chump me could talk to 25 year old me like Chump Lady answered our writer today. When I was 22, a wise elder woman landed in my life in the form of a brilliant therapist, but even wise elders cannot compel us to follow suggestions. That skill took more time to develop than I wish now, and by that time I had met the con artist I married. The one who lured me into Ultimate Charades, presenting himself as a Nice Guy, in recovery, and willing to go to counseling with me to learn skills for a great relationship. Thankfully that wise elder woman is in my life to this very day and I am divorced from Traitor X. She recalls what happened, knows him well, and is a living reminder that expert liars can fool anyone.

    I spent 27 years with him. Then the mirage was revealed. The trick cigar blew up in my face. I have the most beautiful daughter in the world which is everything, but that’s not enough to spare me from off-the-charts pain and fear and damage.

    I’d like to also acknowledge the terrible pain and fear and damage our writer is feeling, and offer my sincere condolences.

    The TLC I seek is not Thief Liar Cheater but Tender Loving Care. The first person I need TLC from is ME. How I treat myself will help me determine the admission requirements into my life. I am the gatekeeper, and I’ve realized since DDay that I need to improve my gatekeeping.

    I’ve been working on a meeting bucket list and vision board, and am excited about all the possibilities.

    There are no vacuums in nature. Like a muddy footprint that fills with water, people, places, situations rush in to fill the void. Face the fear…it can stand for Find Everything As you Recover.

    • TYPO…

      “MAKING a bucket list and vision board”

      What Do I Want? is in big letters on the cover of the notebook. I could answer that so easily when I met him, and I have only recently realized that the longer I stayed with him, the more difficult it became to answer that because it did not matter.

      Fear is a signal that I am not in the present moment and on some kind of future trip. Very much False Evidence Appearing Real. I need to switch to Find Evidence (I am) All Right (now). Being cheated on and abandoned at 54 with a young child launched me into Cat 5 fear.

      The only person I am ever going to be with for certain for the rest of my life is ME. Everyone else, daughter included, is coming and going. There is no arrival and departure schedule. I made him the foundation of my life and that was not a good idea. I am making myself the rock-solid foundation, which seems to me to be the smart move. I get to teach my daughter this. The idea that she may benefit from my hard lessons, less than optimal decisions and misfortunes is a huge consolation prize.

      She is watching how I am responding to this and it is critical that I do it well so she doesn’t get handed any more crap baggage.

    • PS…

      Chump Lady, I do have a fond memory I’ll chime in with but it is from Camp Linden. (That lake had leeches too. Yecch. WTF is it with Michigan lakes and leeches?!)

      I will share the one memory from Camp Linden that has helped me tremendously in my chump recovery.

      We were assigned Secret Pals when we arrived. During our time at camp, we were to do nice things in secret for our secret pals. At the end of our stay, our secret pals were revealed to us. It was a lot of sneaky fun.

      I have found being a Secret Pal, or not so secret, to friend and strangers, very healing since I was chumped. The world felt unkind and mean and cruel and fucked up and untrustworthy after I got hit by the infidelity freight train, and I found being a Secret Pal a great antidote for that.

      Being the polar opposite kind of sneaky that cheaters are feels really really really GOOD.

      One thing I know for sure is that the right thing never happens by doing wrong, a cosmic law that sails right through the tiny little obtuse reptile minds of cheaters and other evildoers.

      Be a Secret Pal today!

  • It’s cute when young 25 year olds think that 40 year olds are unsexy and dried up from the waist down. The fact of the matter is- we can be hot and sexy but (gasp!) also confident and secure in ourselves, where 25 year olds often are not.
    But I digress 🙂
    I’ve learned not to build my life around any one person. Your significant other should support, respect, and love you- and make your life better- not BE your whole life. Not only is that a lot of pressure on them, but it sets you up for future pain. Build a life with lots of good people in it- and make big decisions that are not solely about a boyfriend/ girlfriend.

    • Building on this great advice: No single person should be expected to be our “everything”. If someone tries to be that, run!

      You can have a lover/partner, old friends, work friends, family, workout/hobby friends, etc. When you’re a parent you have “mommy” or “daddy” friends. Acquaintances with mutual interests.

      Also – congrats on finding CL/CN so fast – you are well on your way to the “Gain a Life” segment!

      Advice from a not-dried-up chump old enough to be your *gasp* mom.

    • I didn’t take it that way. I think she was chagrined about the age difference, not saying 40+ = unsexy. Let’s face it, it’s extra humiliating to be chumped for somebody old enough to be the fuckwit’s mother, just as it is being chumped for somebody young enough to be fw’s daughter. It’s like they are so repelled by you that they want somebody completely unlike you. My fw chose somebody ten years younger, which is not that big of a difference, but still, it’s like the fw was saying I am old and unattractive. Plus, she was nothing like me as a person, and was a truly awful woman, which added to the feeling of rejection of myself as an individual. If they cheat with somebody older, it’s like they’re saying you suck so much that even your youth doesn’t contribute to how attractive you are to fw and they want somebody who doesn’t remind them of the chump in any way.

      That’s how I interpreted it. I could be wrong.

      • That is the way I took it too.

        My fw chose literally the town whore. She had tried to lasso several married men before she found my idiot.

        She was only five years younger, but she was short and fat, and loud. Not in any way like me. I know that I got lectured on calling her fat. But fact was, she was fat, and loud and I wasn’t. So I took it as God how bad was I that she was better than me.

        I wasn’t saying you couldn’t be attractive if you have extra pounds, I have struggled with weight for a long time. But, I was saying she was not the traditional sexy young tramp that many of us think the OW would be.

        What she was was loose and easy, as was he. I wasn’t.

        Took me a while to get that it really had nothing to do with me, or her. He proved that by his subsequent life choices.

        • Yep, I hear ya. That was sort of my experience as well. I wouldn’t say she was fat, but she was chunkier than he would normally like, as he was definitely not into overweight women. When we met I weighed 105 pounds. I’m about 125 now after putting on muscle over the years by hitting the strength training hard, so I know my body shape was never an issue for him. OW was also a huge whore, amoral, manipulative and deceitful, exactly what I am not. It feels extra devaluing when they choose someone completely unlike you, as if it’s a way of saying you’re so terrible they can only be attracted to a complete opposite. The truth is they’re attracted to almost anyone who’ll have them and they found another freak who was willing to roll in the gutter with them. Dirty sods, one and all.

          • “The truth is they’re attracted to almost anyone who’ll have them and they found another freak who was willing to roll in the gutter with them.”

            That is the truth, unfortunately it takes a while to figure that out. Heck I was even told that by others, but it still didn’t sink in for a few months.

            It definitely does a number on our self esteem for a while.

  • Take CL’s advice. Move forward, not backward.

    Making friends once you’ve left school is often very hard Pandemic conditions and the expansion of online everything make it much worse. Don’t let yourself feel like you are failing. What you are experiencing is widespread, and you are being honest about it.

    As you engage with life, keep in mind that you need people-dense opportunities. This might mean taking the job with lots of human interaction over a job with fewer people (especially fewer people under 30). Treat making friends like using Tinder, that is to say plan on going on many small friend dates that don’t really pan out. Invite someone you’ve just met for coffee or ask if you can try their gym with them to see if you’d like to join it or go to a church or a Meetup or join a rec league team, etc. The point is, you may have to put yourself out there in all kinds of ways in order to find a few people you enjoy. And probably none of them will be a close friend for a long time, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have friends.

    Keep in mind that friends are different than partners. With a romantic partner, you must have a very high bar (and you are already doing great at setting boundaries). With friends it is okay to have one you like to go biking with but don’t vote the same way and another you have lunch with every Wednesday at work but really don’t see outside of the office and another who is up for trying a new mountain trail with you every few weeks but you cannot stand her boyfriend.

    Finally, try doing some things alone. For many people, that is hard, but it will build your confidence and eventually lead you to other people who are also brave about being themselves.

    I can’t tell you how many of us on CL wish we were as brave and unwilling to settle for second-best at 25 as you are being.

  • Woah….if i was 25 again….my wings would soar. Mine didn’t & I wondered why? Never underestimate what a good therapist can turn up & help boost your confidence. Getting to know yourself like CL recommends is KEY. Then you’ll surprise yourself one day by taking flight with those new wings…. scared, but more fearless as you soar.

  • One of the best pieces of advice anyone can give to someone under 30 is “never settle,” especially when it comes to a life partner.

    I’ve done the cohabitation thing. I know it can work for people who love each other and are planning a life together, but First Time Chumper, it doesn’t work when you are just playing house, moving in together to feel safe, secure and like you’ve solved adulthood. Back in your grandmother’s day (and I am about that age), we broke up that old idea of “marriage first,” which was the norm of the 50s and most of the 60s. So we moved in with boyfriends/girlfriends and then suffered real pain when our whole lives had to be ripped up because the relationship didn’t work out for some reason or another (incompatibility, a BF who won’t work, drinking, or even just a job transfer). I’ve been there and done all that, so let me add to Chump Lady’s advice:

    1. Don’t date for a while. As CL says, “Boyfriends are not life plans.” You don’t know who YOU are yet, so how can you pick a good partner. That’s not to say spend years contemplating the job market, etc. But give yourself 6 months to date YOURSELF. What do you want your life to look like BEFORE you find a life partner? What do you love to do? What skills do you want to acquire? What do you want to give back to the world? Are you happy in your job? What sort of books, movies, and activities bring you joy or make you think? Imagine that you decide to stay single–what kind of life would you want to build if marriage was not your primary (or ONLY) goal?

    2. Stay off Tinder and other dating apps. Get to know actual human being by going out in the world and doing things you enjoy. I met my BFF in grad school. I’ve made other friends through work, through activities like yoga and playing sports, and through volunteer work. One thing you need to learn is how to make good judgments about people. Obviously, the guy you picked is a cheating jackass. So you need to, as we say, “fix your picker.” But that’s why step 1 is so important. You can’t pick someone unless you know what your own values are. You’ve made one good decision: you don’t want to associate with cheaters and liars. So what kind of person do you want in your life? For me, kindness is paramount, along with honesty and a capacity for loyalty. I can have friends with different political views but I wouldn’t want to live with someone whose views on religion and social justice were opposed to mine. I require a person who doesn’t see me as either a possession or a live-in maid with a paycheck, which means I want reciprocity. Once you have a good idea of who you are and who you want to be, then you can do a better job of finding your tribe. There’s a group of people in my city who photograph the eagles in a nearby park and post the photos on social media. Anyone who has the camera equipment and the desire to stand around waiting for an eagle to show up can be part of that tribe! So start with meeting all kinds of people doing some things you love. Once you are good at picking acquaintances and social friends, then Tinder might make more sense–but only if you are committed to DATING and not settling for the first decent looking guy who buys you dinner at Applebee’s.

    3. When Jackass discarded me, my therapist responded this way: “You can never go back.” What she meant was that there is something wrong with Jackass and I couldn’t go back to that. He’s not the solution to my loneliness or fear or need to have a male companion. When someone shows you what he is, believe him. He’s no good. Move on.

    4. I read a lot about people with “friend groups.” That’s pretty common in HS and college, where a large bunch of people move in a kind of friend herd. And then when adult life comes along, and the herd moved to different cities, and some people get married (etc.), it can seem like you have no friends. You talk about 2 really great friends who moved away. Every single great female friend I have moved away! My BFF lives on the other side of the country! But don’t assume that if you don’t have a friend herd there is something wrong. Real friends are RARE! It takes time to build a friendship. And sometimes, friends are good for one stage of life and not for the next. One of my best friends (who moved across the country, too) was so close to me at one point but once she started having kids, she needed other moms as friends so we spent less time together. That’s just what happens. That’s why it’s important to find out what you love and want to do with your time so that you can have some social acquaintances and emerging friendships–people on the spectrum of friendship, a good social network to fall back on.

    Start walking or jogging in your local park. Join a sports league for co-ed sports. Join a bowling league, once COVID is largely over. Volunteer at the pet shelter or the food bank. Check out Meet Up groups. My own city has groups for movies, hiking, walking, gaming (including board games), investing in real estate, etc.

    5. You don’t mention your job. Do you love what you do? Do you see a career path for yourself? Are you saving money? Do you have a plan for finding a first apartment, even if it is a small studio, so you can experience adult independence? Are you good at managing money? Do you want to own a house or condo? This is the stuff you need to work on before you get too serious about a boyfriend.

    6. Cohabiting has a number of serious drawbacks, not the least of which is finding yourself homeless when you discover that your BF is cheating. Better, I think, to focus on making a home for yourself FIRST.

    7. Never give up your home, your car, your own bank account or your job to live with someone else or to get married. Make sure you always have the resources to take care of yourself. That needs to be a given for anyone you choose as a life partner.

    You were doing what many of us do out of college–trying to bootstrap yourself into adulthood by getting into a serious relationship with someone else. And often that ends in heartbreak. Do your own work first. And don’t be me–I had to learn all this the hard way, over and over.

    • This is all brilliant advice.

      I will never again share a bank account with anyone. We were ALWAYS broke, even with two incomes. Now that I’m single and control my own money, my bank account has a very healthy balance and I don’t have to constantly check it or pinch pennies to stay in the black (even with my exorbitant legal bills). I have nearly the same expenses as when I was married (my rent is actually more than my mortgage payment was) but only one income, and somehow it is more than enough. (Ex and his gf, with their two incomes, were also always broke. Hmm. I wonder what the common denominator was…)

      I highly doubt I will move in with or live with anyone ever again. Honestly not sure I even want another relationship, but if I do have one, I’d really rather we were just neighbors who visit sometime. I like my own space. I love the quiet (as quiet as it can be with a 9 year old, haha). I like being alone in my bed when I sleep.

      My ex and I separated almost 4 years ago, and I haven’t been on a single date. I’m loving my own company, my freedom, my hobbies, my own space. I’m getting back into all the things I loved before I made FW the center of my life (and he made sure he stayed that way by denigrating and ridiculing everything I enjoyed doing so that I eventually gave most of it up). It is so much fun. If I ever date again (NOT getting married, lol), I will never allow a man to coopt my life. I had to relearn who I was after my husband left me. I honestly had no idea what I even liked anymore. Everything had been centered on him and what he wanted (he was controlling and abusive, with a terrible temper, and he’d get angry or stonewall me if I didn’t do what he thought I should, down to how I spent my time, what I read, what I ate, how I spent my money, everything). Now I know who I am, what I love, what I like to do, what I’m interested in, what I care about, how I like to spend my time. I may eventually add a romantic partner to that mix, but I will not do so at the expense of the things that I have in place now.

      It is hard to make friends as an adult. I have ONE good friend. But frankly, I’d rather have one genuine friend than the huge circle of “friends” I had when I was married. Not one of them cared enough to be there for me. They all accepted OW and went cold on me, even though I’d known some of them for 15 years. My best friend stood by me, and she and I also share many of the same interests (mostly delightfully, we have similar tastes in books, and recommend things to one another, read them at the same time, and then spend hours talking about them). We can’t always see each other, but we have long phone calls when we can’t meet up. Once COVID calms down, I would like to go do more activities and meet people. In the meantime, I really enjoy chatting with people on Twitter who share my interests. Twitter is great because you can interact with ANYONE. I became friends with one of my favorite authors this way, and she actually asked me to be a beta reader for her new novel, which was awesome. I’m hugely into Medieval history, and I have chatted with many scholars in the field, including the authors of some books I love on the subject. No, it’s not a replacement for human interaction in person, but it is a way to not feel so isolated in the middle of a pandemic.

      FYI, 40 isn’t old at all. I feel sexier, more beautiful, and more confident at 41 than I ever felt in my 20s.

      • “I’m getting back into all the things I loved before I made FW the center of my life (and he made sure he stayed that way by ridiculing everything I enjoyed doing so that I eventually gave most of it up)
        (…)
        I had to relearn who I was after my husband left me. I honestly had no idea what I even liked anymore.”

        Same here, ISTL, and still haven’t succeeded in rekindle my joy in my special interests. It comes tainted with guilty for enjoying myself.

      • Every word of this is worth repeating over and over:
        “I will never allow a man to coopt my life. I had to relearn who I was after my husband left me. I honestly had no idea what I even liked anymore. Everything had been centered on him and what he wanted (he was controlling and abusive, with a terrible temper, and he’d get angry or stonewall me if I didn’t do what he thought I should, down to how I spent my time, what I read, what I ate, how I spent my money, everything). Now I know who I am, what I love, what I like to do, what I’m interested in, what I care about, how I like to spend my time. I may eventually add a romantic partner to that mix, but I will not do so at the expense of the things that I have in place now.”

        • Lovedajackass and Can’tbelieve, all so familiar. During 26 years I lost myself so completely that when the ex left I had no idea how to function. The way that I did the most basic of tasks was criticised and all I could hear was that abusive pompous voice in my ear. This realisation was one of the most shocking events of my 61 years of life. Who am I? What do I like? What do I do? I had literally to scrape myself off the floor, and watch myself to ensure that I ‘took care’ which meant not stepping out in front of a bus. The pain was intense. Living alone is hard, sometimes lonely, and also liberating and invigorating. I spent my first Christmas Day alone with my puppy. It was the most relaxing Christmas Day I have ever enjoyed. Others offered Christmas with them, saying ‘you can’t be alone at Christmas’. My answer ‘why not?’. I received some pitying responses ‘how sad’. Life is ever changing. We need to be able to cope with being alone and to be comfortable with that state.

          First time chumper, age is no bar to feeling how you feel right now. I would love to say that we get older and wiser. I’ve been married twice. I left the first ex – he was gay, it transpired. My picker was in no way fixed when I decided that the cheating second ex was ‘the one’. The red flags were smashing into my face every day from day one (photo of exgfOW facing his chair at his flat for months and months, even after she had become engaged to her eventual chump, never ever any photos of me) and I chose to turn a blind eye. You have already shown that you are wise by walking away. My advice is that you should take time for reflection, to do a stocktake. Then make decisions, challenging why you are making them, cost-benefit analysis. I felt that temptation to move back to a place the ex had encouraged me to leave, because my closest friends are there. However, all our lives have changed and it’s important to be able to thrive alone before inviting others in. From bitter experience, it is no fun being a waif and stray hanging on to the coattails of someone else’s life.

          Have hope. I saw the ex twice in 2020 (he left in autumn 2019). Once in real life and once at a virtual mediation which left me traumatised for a couple of months afterwards. I have had no contact of any sort with him in 2021. I keep in touch with one mutual friend couple (his friends first). We are building a new relationship which excludes the ex. We do not discuss him, he does not exist in that new relationship. You have resilience that you have not yet tested and that resilience will make all the difference. Good luck with your exciting life where almost everything is possible.

    • What LovedAJackass said:
      Never give up your home, your car, your own bank account or your job to live with someone else or to get married. Make sure you always have the resources to take care of yourself. That needs to be a given for anyone you choose as a life partner.

      The first time that Cheater #1 took my car for his commute, leaving me to an 1 1/2 hour public transportation nightmare, I should’ve at least questioned why.

      When I wanted to move to then budding Silicon Valley to further my career and he flat out refused, I should’ve questioned why.

      I can think of other examples from our 20 year marriage, but those were two biggies from right at the beginning. One was a WTF and the other was life changing. Nevertheless, I can see where I went astray (not wrong) in hindsight and I believe it was because I was groomed in my FOO to give up stuff without question to the highly entitled. Because, ya know, they deserve what ever is ours that they want.

      The best life advice I would give my 25 year old self (and to OP) is to question the entitlement first, the rest will become obvious.

      • I once lived with a guy who got his car repossessed, so he took mine to work and I took the bus to the U where I worked. Then he wrecked my car.

        Never again. A man needs to have a job, to pay taxes, to pay his proportionate share of the rent, to have his own vehicle, etc.

  • FTC – welcome here and sorry you encountered a cheater and glad you escaped. (They do NOT improve over time). Figuring out things that bring you joy (like mountains), and taking action to make them part of your everyday life is a great life-long project. Positive psychology field has some great resources. Public service announcement after leaving a cheater is to get STD tested.

  • All us “old” people are chiming in. Oh, to be 25 again….No thank you!

    Mid-20’s are very hard as it is. You’ve graduated and maybe — if you’re lucky– have a clue what you want to do for a career. Friends are changing and coupling-up and its very lonely for lots of reasons.
    There’s a lot of change going on. Here’s a virtual hug. Hang in there kid.

    NOW, you’ve chosen a brave path I did not. My xw cheated on me when we were dating. The ol’ “we were on a break!” excuse. I took her back because I thought that’s what nice guys do. Here I am on this blog.

    You’re learning a powerful lesson I wish I had the guts to learn earlier. Watch yourself blossom; trust your confidence — watch it grow. You’re badass for kicking that idiot to the curb.

  • This same thing literally just happened to me. My ex bf was sexting other women, we had the same conversation. He apologized said he wouldn’t do it again, he said I made a mistake, and your the priority. So one of two things happened after our conversation he either did stop sexting or he started deleting texts. I never could quite let it go though. It bothered me as it should and it was hard for me to believe him. Regardless, he broke up with me, which was a blessing in disguise. I found out he was downplaying our relationship and calling me his crazy gf to other women. I’m thankful I no longer entertain this relationship. It doesn’t mean I’m not hurt. Like you I really poured my heart into this man and relationship and made plans so when the outcome didn’t happen the way I planned it stings. It gets better everyday I promise. Take this time to focus on you and learn that being single has its perks. You can really learn a lot about yourself! Try new things, take up a new hobby, you’ll meet people along the way 🙂 CL has so much wisdom to share and I’m grateful to have access to it. I also recently started listening to a Podcast by Case Kenny called New Mindset, Who Dis? Both CL and the Podcast have really helped me. Live your life, have fun, and know that you’re not alone!

    • The minute you discover a partner who is sexing with another person (or any other behavior that devalues you) that should be the end of “pouring your heart into that relationship.”

      Don’t let anyone devalue you.

  • First Time Chumper,

    The hard part is over. Celebrate your good decision.

    There may be some alumni groups you could join, professional associations or volunteering with something you care about. A couple of months ago I volunteered with some marine biologists and about 20 others to plant sea grass in the lagoon for the manatees. I’m 63. There were all ages but lots of 20 somethings. You will feel good doing good and meeting like minded people and maybe developing friends too.

  • When I was your age–if my cheating fw hadn’t dumped me and we had married, had kids, owned a home, plus me moving to a part of the country I did not want to live where he found lucrative work in his specialized degree, I would have faced the inevitable cheating and put-downs later when there would have been so much more at stake. I really thought my future was with him and had three years with him where I was completely devoted, then blindsided when he left me for someone else. It was devestating–my last semester in college and I barely made it through to graduate. Due to my foo issues and the fw, I had enough. It was my ticket to ride, and I took it. I saw the world, with barely enough money to get from one place to another. Traveling, not tourism. I have lived in boats and trucks. I have passed through mountain villages where no one had ever met someone from North America (they still exist in Europe). Been to North Africa. Lived on a boat in the south pacific. Been to more countries in my twenties than I can remember. You are young, have no kids, no husband, own no mortgage or rent to pay. You can work as you go. Get moving. Once you do and see amazing things you will be so grateful this blip in your life happened and you got out. Take that ticket and use it.

  • First Time Chumper,

    A few rules of the road from an old lady:

    (1) Develop an impeccable cradle-to-grave plan of self-care. You are the gatekeeper of your own life; use that power wisely.

    (2) Never move anywhere just because someone you know happens to live there. If the right opportunity comes along, they could move away and where would that leave you? Move there because YOU want to.

    (3) After what seems like a colossal disaster has had its way with you, it’s OK to grieve, sit in your pain for a little while, and assess what happened and why. But don’t wait too long before you get up and get back to living.

    (4) Time is the most precious commodity we have. Don’t waste it waiting on someone or something to rescue you. Craft your own way.

    • I love this! I learned far too late in life not to waste time waiting on someone or something to rescue me. I kept trying to build relationships thinking I could mitigate risk that way. But in the end, I realized that the only person who was going to save me was me. I know someone who stayed with an unfaithful, abusive husband for more than 30 years. She finally left him, but now she is seriously ill and probably will not live much longer. She says, “I would do anything to go back and undo the past thirty years of my life. I regret ever loving him. I wasted my life.” That is the saddest thing I have ever heard. Time is precious. It should never be wasted on trying to reform a cheater or hoping for rescue. It goes by far to quickly for that.

  • You like mountains! You’re young! You have no kids!

    Oh the possibilities! You can move practically anywhere on either coast. Colorado is fabulous, but I wouldn’t move there with any expectations from your friend. I did that once and it was a bit disappointing. For some reason, women tend to revolve around their relationships and put their friends (especially the single ones) on a shelf.

    But definitely move. Find a beeeyuuuteeful area that you really want to explore and surround yourself with. Somewhere you’ve never been before is best. And, since you’re young and alone, settle in a larger city so there are lots of other alone people and alone things to do. (Yes, there are lots of cities nestled in or surrounded by mountains.)

    I would look for a university town because there’s even more going on in university towns. (Yes, there are lots of university towns that are nestled inside larger cities surrounded by mountains.) Once you’re settled, get your butt onto Meetup, pick a couple groups and check them out! Volunteer somewhere. Go to coffee shops to do your work. Join a yoga class. Invite a nice coworker for drinks.

    I hate to be one of those toxically positive people, and I definitely do not minimize your experience or your feelings. What you’re going through is hell. So, keep going, get yourself to those mountains, and meetup with some like-minded peeps. Your FW will be a distant glich in no time, and in a couple of years, you’ll have a job, a life, and friends that fulfill you!

  • If I find myself giving advice to a young person, I have to remind myself the world has changed since I was that age. I also have to remember that my expectations at 25 were VERY different than the current 25-year-old expectations.

    I often advised students when I worked for colleges. I still advise my own sons. It was never just academic or financial aid advise, because the generation I was advising somehow believed life had a roadmap, and elders were supposed to hold up a lantern and guide the way. They believed problems could be resolved in a half hour or hour format. They believed in happily ever after, and that bad things don’t happen to good people. Their Great Expectations were entirely different from those I had at the age of 25.

    One of my early serious relationships was in college. I was the child of first-generation college parents. He was a first-generation college student. We had a great relationship while we were in school, even though we struggled financially. The big difference was he expected all his troubles to be over once he graduated. He thought of college as an endurance test, if you graduated you would live on easy street going forward. My parents worked as teachers, had 5 children, and struggled most of their work lives until the children grew up. I expected college would give me a foundation for future growth, but I knew I would still have to work, and things would not be easy. I never expected to live on easy street.

    This difference in expectations broke up my relationship. He became angry, post-college graduation, because life was not what he expected. My own sons went through something similar, “Why did I go to college?” I never told them life was easy, but somehow their peer expectations overrode my parent preparation for life. Life is not a fairytale; the prince doesn’t ride in and scoop you up to return to the castle, there is no happily ever after.

    Maybe living through this type of eye-opening experience is part of a life plan. Maybe you have to experience failure to appreciate success? I do believe getting up, knocking off the dirt, and trying again builds character. Life is not easy. Success in life requires work and effort. Success is not only about finances. Material things mean less as you grow older. After all, you cannot take them with you when you go,

    My parents’ generation were obsessed with the accumulation of “markers” for their success. They were proud of all electric homes, and indoor plumbing, and having a nice dining room, and my mother swooned over china and crystal. They were also Depression Babies, who grew up with very little during very hard times. We were not high class, but my dad didn’t have to work in a coal mine. He was very grateful for that. Both grandfathers were miners, and that is a hard life. I am proud that my ancestors were tough people, but I am happy my sons have better options than working in a mine, and don’t have to have a “second” job of maintaining a sustenance farm.

    The point is, I see First Time Chumper as very lucky. She has options. Her instincts were good. She hasn’t lost much of her precious time. She just has to stop looking for happiness to be provided for her by someone else. She needs to design her own life plan, based on her values, and then start the process of making it work. If she meets someone along her journey who has similar values and dreams, great. But that is not the “purpose” of her journey. She has to become who she wants to be; not what others expect her to be. She has to be able to be alone, and understand that friendship is a choice, not an inheritance based on proximity. She has all the tools to grow, except self-confidence and a plan. If she works on developing those two things, she should be fine. Hope she reports back later and tells us how it’s going!

    • Portia,

      How appropriate your words are, especially right now because they echo exactly what I was reading prior to forcing myself to crawl out from beneath the warm, cozy piles of down comforters and facing my day; before the icy chill of the hardwood floor shocked my system into ‘alert’ mode.

      As I get older the transition from reflection to action can be considered traumatic rather than invigorating 🙂

      Trauma survived. I am awake and alert enough to recognize a serendipitous moment when it happens.

      I was reading a book that delves deeply into the themes of myths throughout the our world and throughout history which all contain the same motifs. Motifs which reflect the customs etc of the cultures wherein they are found.

      And, so what? Just a bunch of stories until something begins to reveal its self – a deeper meaning leading to deeper understandings of ourselves as we grow up and into our lives.

      Your comments above put into practical words the essence of what I was reading. The translation of the meanings of the myths into the actual living of everyday life.

      I have been intrigued by myths for years, ever since taking a course devoted to them while I was in college. The beauty of revisiting those same stories now is that I have my own history to look back on and, low and behold, there were guideposts and the signs were indeed everywhere……I simply didn’t have the eyes to see them and interpret them.

      It is akin to looking back seeing that the red flags with Mr. X were there all along. I was infatuated. I was being seduced into the role I thought I was supposed to play – the faithful, supportive, trusting wife who was expected to give up ‘all’ in order to fulfill her role as a wife to any man. The promises of the fulfillment I was supposed to experience because of my participation in that role were enough to intoxicate me and put me to sleep.

      Well, I was only partially asleep because, even in the beginning, something didn’t feel right.

      His pushiness. His insistence that we move in together right away. His sudden disinterest in sex. His sullen moods. His passive aggressiveness. His emotional distance. His silence.

      I took it all on as a challenge because of the ‘prize’ I was sure would result due to my heroic efforts.

      Yeah, the prize, 30 years later was being dumped and, during the dramatic finale, the unveiling that Mr. X was not only cheating currently, but had been doing it all along.

      Traumatic as it was at the time, going on 4 years now, it bore the gift I am being blessed with now which was the knowing that my instincts had been right on from the beginning. I had just been taught to ignore myself and I had just about obliterated myself quite well as many a good chump has. 🙂

      Hopefully FTC will heed the words of us older ones and learn much more quickly than I did to claim her own life as CL so clearly and succinctly put it all above…I still marvel at how CL is able to do that so well. Envy.

      In any event. I am awake now. I have noticed the gift tossed at my feet today via words speaking to me from people I will never meet but your words have touched me and, thus, are being woven into the fabric of my life as it unveils itself along the lines of ancient and enduring myths. I am now practicing paying attention to both the outer and inner whisperings.

      Thank you for taking the time to write today.

      • Sounds like a couple of books I read long ago and never forgot, The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell and The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer. I was an English major, undergrad, and I love literature — books, plays, and movies. The things you learn make your brain dance!

        Isn’t it interesting that contentment comes at a point in our lives when the hero or heroine is long past days of daring adventure? Maybe all this prepared us to enjoy our later years, time to reflect on what is truly important? Time to be grateful for survival? Don’t be so sure you “lost” anything; it sounds to me like you found a real treasure.

    • You see the progression from generation to generation very clearly. I was raised in a working class home at the same time you were “coming up,” but I didn’t expect that life would be easy. I did fall into the trap of early marriage as a way to bootstrap myself .

  • I have moved a few times and each time I was alone and knew nobody. What I learned was to become a joiner even though I am introverted. I joined causes I believed in and showed up at meetings, gyms and showed up at classes, groups like hiking and went on the hikes, churches and volunteered to give out donuts. Each time I met someone interesting. Become a joiner and leave the loser behind. Hugs!

  • FTC, my daughter is your age. She was in a 5 year relationship with a guy her whole family could see was not good for her. A year ago, he cheated on her and she dumped him. Thank goodness!
    Since then, she’s been essentially “learning how to date” and figuring out all the life stuff she’d successfully ignored while she was clinging to the toxic relationship with her ex bf.
    You don’t mention much in your letter about your family of origin or your family relationships, other than having moved in with your mom (a good idea imo).
    You might want to examine any FOO baggage you’re carrying around, and, like CN is saying, focus on yourself.
    My daughter sort of uses me as “free therapy” and I, in turn, lean heavily on what I’ve learned from CL and CN when I give her advice.
    I met and married my daughter’s father at 23. I was basically looking for a star to hitch my wagon to, something/someone to center my life around. Because it was easier than having to figure out everything solo. Spoiler alert, it didn’t work out so hot.
    And my daughter repeated my codependent behaviors in her relationship. At least she got out after 5 years, no marriage, and no kids. She gave herself a chance to figure herself out, do life on her terms, live where she wants, work where she wants. She wants a boyfriend. She wants to marry and raise a family. But she no longer wants it so badly as to put up with disrespect and abuse. I can’t imagine a better launching pad for her than the one she’s on. Same goes for you.

  • Consider yourself lucky. You found out what a dirtbag your cheater was relatively early into the relationship. The first year is supposed to be fun, exciting and it’s all about being into one another. This guy showed you almost immediately who and what he is all about. Pity the next victim he hooks up with and God forbid the one he marries.
    Colorado is lovely and full of young people. Line up a job, get in touch with your friend but don’t expect her undivided attention. Colorado is perfect for outdoorsy activities so hike, ski or whatever and you’ll meet future friends.

  • I had multiple opportunities to get out of my relationship with my ex in my mid 20s. The larger part is glad I didn’t because then I wouldn’t have my wonderful daughter. But, over the years I’ve imagined what it would have looked like. What else I might have done with those 20+ years.

    You’re gonna change and grow so much in the next decade. Do it on your terms without a lying cheater weighing you down.

    As for the friend issue—I too have just a couple of good friends who live far from me. Been that way my whole life. It’s ok to be a lone wolf, ya know. I’m not antisocial—I attend events and see family and stuff. But mostly, I do my own thing. And, I like it that way. If you’re lonely…well that’s an indicator that you need to change something. But, I’d encourage you to think about how you truly feel versus what society tells you that you should feel. It’s definitely ok to march to the beat of your own drum.

    Best of luck

  • No relationship is much better than a dishonest relationship

    And liars lie. That is what they do.

    Focusing on career, and perhaps taking a few online course in your area of interest may be wise

    Joining a few MeetUp groups to get out and socialize helped me a lot

    Move where YOU want to live, for the amenities there, not because a friend lives there. Or stay if you
    want to be close to your bio family.

    I moved in with my mother for about a year after my split, it helped and we had quality time

  • I love the line about how she should move to Colorado if she wants to move to Colorado–“it’s a state, not a pair of cement shoes.” It took me SO LONG to leave the EX, because people kept giving me all these dire warnings about horrible things that could happen. I could end up alone. Friendless. In financial trouble. etc, etc. When I finally took the plunge and left and moved to the coast, one of the last letters I received from a friend was asking me, “Are you SURE you are doing the right thing?” I just answered, “Well, no, of course not. But I am not sure staying is the right thing either. Everything is a risk; this is a risk I decided to take. If it turns out to be a mistake, then I’ll do something else, I guess.”

    I hate that nebulous question: “Are you SURE it’s the right thing?” because the implication is that unless you can be 1000% sure, you shouldn’t do anything. That just leads to being frozen in a bad situation year after year, because you can never be SURE.

    Fast forward two years–I’m financially doing fine, have lots of friends, and I’ve never been happier. And now I live about five miles from the ocean. So now I’m sure–I did the right thing. But there was no way to know until I tried.

    • PS I agree with not necessarily moving for your friends though. I mean, maybe it’s better to go somewhere that you know someone, in case you get into a bad situation (car broken down, etc) and need a little help. But you can never tell how those relationships will go. It might not be as close as it was before. That’s okay. The best thing is to make a plan. What do you want to DO? Make a career goal. Plan an adventure. Get a job teaching English in Asia. Go to graduate school. Start a tutoring business. Whatever. Friends will be found along the way with people who share the same passions and interests.

  • Hey, First Time Chumper… COME TO COLORADO! Colorado Chump Nation will welcome you with open arms. We are a fun group, and we live in one of the most fun states you possibly can. Over 300 days of sunshine a year. Awesome skiing and snowboarding. Hiking in the mountains. Over six hundred and fifty miles of paved bike paths. People don’t realize this about Colorado, but it is a very foodie state. It has a great concert scene. There is nothing like experiencing a concert at Red Rocks. And if you like wineries and microbrews, Colorado has tons.

    Just join the Facebook group, and make a post that you are thinking of moving to Colorado. We will connect with you there and invite you to the next Chump Nation meet up, which is in January.

    You’re young and have your whole life in front of you. This is not a bad time to have an adventure and shake things up 👍🏻🤣

    Sending you big virtual hugs, and good luck with whatever decision you make. You’re not alone now though. You have all of us here at Chump Nation. ❤

  • I caught my first cheater exchanging porn and commissioning porn drawings with other women on the internet and that was one of the biggest fights we had because he didn’t understand why I was mad and what was even wrong with it.

    You should not have to explain to a grown man and your partner why exchanging sexual messages and texts with another woman is wrong. Any man to whom you have to explain this is neither partner material nor life plan material.

    You need to build a plan that doesn’t involve him. Or anyone, except you, for that matter.

  • Dear First Time Chumped,

    I think you’re gonna be okay. I really do.
    The part of your letter that had me worried was:

    “I have no idea what to do with my life. I am terrified. I know there will come a point where I get very, very lonely again and I am afraid I will break and get back together with him.”

    Please don’t get back together with him. He’s already showed you what he’s capable of and once is one time too many. I’ll give it to you that hoovering happens all too often and its easier to fall prey of it when one is felling lonely.

    When I was about your age I broke up with my now ex-wife (XW) after some serious boundary violations on her side and thought it was for good. My reasons had nothing to do with infidelity, although with hindsight now I think she was probably having an affair by then. Long story short, I took her back after a few months only to find myself in a living hell through the following decade. I can’t say I regret it all because my kids were born in this last decade and I have plenty of good memories of their infancy. But other than that, hell. A few good moments with my XW every now and then (to keep me hoooked, I guess) interspersed between a lot of steadily increasing abuse, culminating with a serious case of infidelity, homewretching, and a hellish divorce. I am a few days out of this mess and feel like a shadow of my former self, the one that broke up with her 14 years ago. My health declined, I isolated myself from friends and family, lost intetest in many activities, my career suffered, etc. Please don’t make the same mistake. You look quite awesome with setting boundaries, but we can unlearn this invaluable life-skill if subjected to enough abuse and manipulation for a long strecth of time. And it is hard-work to gain it back. Leave while you’re ahead.

    Now, on a lighter note, I would like to suggest you some ideas as to what to do with your life from now on that might help with your loneliness as well. I don’t know how strong are covid restrictions where you live (or where you are going to move to), but there we go:

    1) you could do voluntary work;

    2) take up a hobby (an old interest or a new one), preferably something involving physical exercise: sports can boost your self-confidence and mood.

    3) I don’t know what your major is, but have you considered applying for graduate studies? Would you be interested in pursuing an MA, MSc, PhD? Is that your thing? If you’re into travelling and foreign cultures, you could even look for opportunities abroad.

    Any of these options will make you meet a lot of new people effortlessly and give you a sense of direction.

    And if you would allow one last piece of advice from a freakin-almost-40 (no offense taken, I’m just kidding), I would resist any temptation to a rebound for a while now, specially through dating apps. Go meet new people in person (if possible) with no agenda other than enrich your life and theirs and give yourself sometime to heal.

    Cheers, child, you will be fine soon. Keep enforcing healthy boundaries and move on with your cheater-free life. Best wishes!

  • OK, I must reply to CL about CTC! 🙂 My sisters all loved it, but I shared your experience. Not a good fit, but I learned it’s ok not to fit in sometimes. I hope FTC learns this too. I was so afraid of being alone after DDay (3 years now), but I LOVE it! Good luck!

  • Like you, I’ve never made friends easily. Good on you for kicking that dipshit to the curb before you it was too late. I highly recommend staying off the dating apps. Another thing; predators and sociopaths can sniff out loneliness and a lack of self-confidence. It happened to me. Being alone is hard, but it’s a lot harder being in a terrible relationship with a gaslighting, cheating POS.

  • FTC, it’s not a good idea to make big life decisions while you’re heartbroken. Give yourself time to heal. It’s hell, but it’s survivable.
    Once you feel better it’s time to figure out what you want to do with your life.
    If you do go to Colorado, make sure you have a good, stable job waiting for you. Don’t go just to be near your friend, but go because you like Colorado and have a good chance of making a healthy, happy life there. Read up on Colorado. Watch travel videos about Colorado.
    OTOH, if you have a good job that you like where you are, maybe you just need to take the suggestions here on finding new friends. However, friends (or boyfriends) aren’t a substitute for a solid identity. I feel like you’re unsure of who you are and what you want, and that made you easy prey for the cheater. Your identity was wrapped up in being his girlfriend, and now that you’re not, you’re feeling lost. Do the inner work to find out who you are. Being in your early twenties is all about carving out your identity. It’s an exciting time, full of possibilities. Don’t narrow those possibilities out of fear of being alone.

    BTW, I wouldn’t try to meet men on Tinder. Since it’s known mostly for hook-ups, it attracts creeps like your ex. Don’t date until you’ve figured out what you want from life, either.
    You’re young. You’ll bounce back, and you’ll bounce back faster than us over freakin 40 chumps because you have that greatest of gifts, time. Also, you have youthful resilience. I’m not minimizing your pain, I do know it feels like the end of the world right now. However, once you recover you will see that it’s really just the beginning of your adult life, and you’ve learned a valuable lesson about guys who seem to be too good to be true, aka lovebombers. That’s what you have to show for it and it will serve you well throughout your life. If only all of us had learned that lesson at your age. I was 23 when I met my fuckwit, and at the time I did have misgivings that he seemed too good to be true, but I ignored my instincts. Here I am 35 years later, chumped and entering my so-called golden years. But you, FTC, have a lot to look forward to and you can both fix your picker and dust the fuckwit off your shoulders, then go on to have an amazing life.

  • First time chumper- you need some tough love. I’m over 50 and got chumped (double gasp). Oh how I wish I were you with my whole life ahead of me. I was lonely at your age too so I married someone who I thought loved me. There were some red flags and I ignored them because he said he loved me and I didn’t want to be alone at the ripe old age of 26. We had some good years for sure and I have a gorgeous daughter. But girl please! If you’re lonely find some friends. Date some great guys and value yourself. You have a real opportunity here for a great life but get the fuck away from that cheater and don’t look back. You are mighty and you deserve better. You got this!

  • Look at it this way, now that you are free of FW, you can move to CO because you have always wanted to move there but being tied to FW was holding you back. Just make sure you are doing it because you want to live in CO, not because you have a friend there.

  • I’d suggest joining CrossFit, a climbing gym, a co-ed hiking group, swing dancing group, a chess club…or something like that. I’d also suggest going to graduate school, and focusing more on developing your mind, resume, and career. In the meanwhile, work on your current job, and getting a better one, or a promotion.
    Go no contact FOREVER with this fuckwit, stay off Tinder, and let friendships happen when they happen. You are putting way too much emphasis on other people. I’d also recommend NOT “living together”.

    • This is GREAT advice. Had I gotten a bachelors then masters the first time being chumped- I may not be living this again! Just saying. Loving yourself, learning to cut things that hurt rather than excuse and slather on the sappy “remorseful” love sessions afterward.
      Plus you’ll be financially FREE. Who wouldn’t want someone like that!?!

      Does anyone here know why some names show up in RED? Mine included

      • Your name shows up in red if you put a link in the Website field when you comment. It’s meant for you to link to your own site/blog/whatever if you want. It’s OK to leave it blank.

  • I am a long time lurker of this blog and have never chimed in, but I had to this time because I was in this exact same situation, only I couldn’t move back home, I had to continue living with him and the friends I thought were my friends until I could afford to move, and I to left my state and area where I’m from and moved far way (Miami, FL), and I just want to say to the writer, if she reads this comment, do it. More to Colorado. And when you move to Colorado, get out there and meet new people. You can start slow by having your best friend and significant other introduce you to people (and then you make your OWN relationships with them) with the purpose of not only meeting new people but getting out there, and since you have no problems talking to people, once you are out there and around a bunch of people, you will thrive.

    Also, don’t be afraid to go out by yourself, they different groups and restaurants and activities alone, you’d be shocked at how many conversations you can start and friendships you can make.

    Also, when you get to Colorado, look at places like Reddit, I’ve actually made some very good friends and acquaintances from there (always be safe of course).

    The point is, do it. It’d a chance to reinvent yourself and start fresh.

  • Girl,
    You got love bombed and it’s hard to break that addiction but not breaking it means wasted years. Wasted. Years.

    Start by taking a step back and looking at what you were dealing with which was a predator.
    They target all kinds of people and they have a predator instinct for ‘trusting’ people like you and me. Easier to break the addiction when you see that you were conned by a liar, cheater, abuser, fraud who will NEVER change.

    The codependency book by melodie beatty is good insight reading for people who describe themselves as you do.

    Staying with your mother may be a good idea until you get on your feet and make your plans and do your homework and go no contact. Remember – no contact – the way out of pain.

    It’s a shock, I know. There’s many of these subhumans out there. Time to get savvy about your gifts and strengths whilst you build up yourself with education about these kinds of predators and what happened to you.

    25 is young. You have so so so so so many years to live a life you want. This experience was an excellent part of your education.
    I’m sorry for your hurt and your pain but learning about these kinds of people that come in all shapes sizes ages and sexes will help you tremendously in your life.

    Breathe, take good care of you.
    Share your story here.

  • Thank you CL for always being here doing this page, for all your writing skills for your journey… your pain has lifted you to a place that we can all be rewarded by your experiences. Life is hard being chumped feels like death sometimes. I’ve been transforming for nearly two years. After being chumped it’s more difficult in my opinion that he doesn’t want to leave.
    Colorado was my best road trip ever and I’ve had many. Mostly in Michigan which is why I think I’m SO drawn to Mrs CL. Been in metro Detroit allllllll my life. My trips to the UP were breathtaking but when I got those mountains in CO holy shit it’s had a piece of my soul ever since.
    Please go if you can. I may not be too far behind. Girl, he’s such an inconsiderate jerk for doing this to you but I promise (also in my second-round as a chumpee) it’s for a reason. The loneliness will pass I am forty something. It doesn’t matter your age.
    And about that other lady- she may not have even known about you, sadly. Ps they don’t usually care about age.
    Hurray for you graduating college you’re a smart girl keep
    Pushing forward.

  • Wow, you are so NOT alone – in your loneliness! Your age group is pretty much exactly where ‘peak loneliness’ is located.

    https://psyche.co/guides/how-to-overcome-loneliness-in-adolescence-and-young-adulthood

    But from here, it can get way better.

    Listen you your weird aunt ChumpLady – she’s talking excellent sense.

    I wish I’d left when I was Chumped even younger than you. But I thought like you did – HE’S THE ONE; MY LIFE IS PLANNED AROUND HIM.

    Thankfully I did leave a year or so later – when I was still younger than you are. And I’ve never looked back and regretted leaving.

    Yes, it was scary, but the alternative was much scarier.

  • FTC, Move to Colorado. It’s a great state to live in. Rent a place for 6 months to a year and see if you like the location. If you don’t like it you can move somewhere else. Make new friends.
    new beginnings are hard but it might be just what you need.

  • Great advice!

    Also, summer camp was the same for me too. Each year, friend or cousin I went with ditched me and I was the friendless geek.

  • Oh sweetheart, I know that it feels like everything has fallen apart and that the future is scary, unknown and you are NEVER going to find your life partner…but this is your fear telling you lies. I know because I felt this way too at 25! When I left a highly abusive relationship with a man that then spent 18 months stalking me before it escalated to him hitting me with his car. I then moved onto a relationship with a supposedly good man that developed terminal cancer…and turned out to be a prolific cheater. I left him when I was 34 and in the middle of IVF with him. Yeah…I picked real winners in the love department.

    But it was only when I was 34 that I learnt the lessons that you are being gifted with right now at 25! Please listen to Chump Lady and Chump Nation. The wealth of knowledge here will help you on no nonsense ways to build a life that you want. A good life.

    As we say here…find your tribe. I did this after the cheater. I finally signed my butt up for all those activities I always thought might be cool but I always found an excuse not to do. So I put myself out of my comfort zone. I signed up to volunteer, I went to meetup groups and I took charge and invited people to coffee that I met at these activities. I met my best friend because she caught the same bus as me in the mornings and I asked her to go to a coffee! It really is easy…once you realise the worst that can happen is they say “no” or you have a boring coffee. That same attitude carried me forward into dating. And guess what? I met my beloved and wonderful Chump husband at age 35. My story 4 years later is sad as my husband died 4 months ago when I was 23 weeks pregnant with our first (and now only child). I am now a widow with a newborn baby (She was born on 14 December) and I spent my first Christmas with our daughter grieving my husband, her daddy not being there. I need to rebuild my life now too… for a third time. It is scary, overwhelming and lonely. I get it. The lovely chumps here all get it. But I know it can be done. It’s hard and scary but that doesn’t mean that it will always be. I like to believe there are great things ahead for you. You have so many opportunities before you and I think that you will be brave and grab them.

    Biggest hugs. You can do this!

    • Wishin, I am so so sorry to read of the passing of your beloved husband. But I’m in awe of your courage. I’m in awe of your wisdom in not just grieving but knowing how important it will be to others that you mention it here.

      There are great things ahead for you, too. I remember how much you wanted a child when you first found Chump Lady and how far away that dream seemed to you. It’s heartbreaking that you lost your husband before he ever saw his child. But he gave you the sweetest gift, a child to love.

      I hope you stick around here for a while. You don’t need the chump lessons, but you probably need the company we can provide. And give some thought to joining us over on Reddit. Lots of moms over there to talk to. And some of us non-moms too. Big hugs. You are so mighty. I hope you have lots of support in real life, too. It was so kind of you to write to First Time Chump.

  • First Time
    Welcome to the club you never thought you’d join ….or even knew about

    My daughter lives outside Denver. Real estate is Hot and Rentals expensive$$
    I was stationed there at Lowry AFB for Calibration school. Now its a cluster of cookie cutter housing. The B52 training bomber survived to mark a TOTALLY COOL museum that i got to visit with my homeowner spawn and her STB Master Sergeant!!! In Spaceforce no less. 💜Huzzah!!

    Virginia is my preferred paradise after having driven up a few CO “teeners”.
    It was Scary AF in the day going up Pijes peak.

    It’s a wonderful place and growing. Public Railway system. The cultural Works

    Also, to make friends, be a friend. My mom raised me to do this growing up as a pimply teen!! Sage Advise and you gotta work at it a bit. You’re not the same person.
    Neither are We!!🎶💜☀️

    You’ve got A Lot of Livin To Do. Come hang with The Nation!! The pain Ends on Tuesday🤘😎🆒

    • Ummm PS- Do you like Bluegrass??
      Go find a live gig and listen. It lifts me.
      Auditory toe tapping therapy!!

  • I could have written that myself at your age. Except I believed the lies and never got the hard evidence that pushed a breakup. So instead I married the guy, we have 3 children and I have ptsd. It’s been a long marriage, he’s put me through silent treatments that are cold and icy, and looked at me with eyes so cold and dead I would get a shiver up my spine. He would devalue me for extended periods of time. Switch hot then cold. Then circle back like mr wonderful and I was so desperate I lapped up the “love”and attention like a starving puppy. He cheated the whole time, I didn’t realize it until the end that he lied about everything, I’m not even sure he knows the truth. There were girlfriends, fuck buddies, anything with a hole basically. It has been a long and painful marriage to a man that I now attribute to a ghost, he never really existed. Please do yourself a favor and go
    no contact, and learn the signs of narcissism and run at the first red flag. Fill that hole of loneliness, narcs prey on that, build yourself up, I’m sure you are an amazing person. Find hobbies, get a dog, and lots of people feel lonely and early 20’s is hard, there are more other early 20 somethings feeling the same, I promise!! It’s only upwards from here!

  • FTC, we are in a really similar situation! I’m 35, living in a place I never wanted to live (moved here for XH and stayed for the FW), and have NO IDEA what to do now! I want to move, but I don’t know where, and I’m paralyzed by fear making more bad choices. Doing job applications is daunting, as is moving long-distance on my own. I have very few friends who all live 80+ miles away, and I don’t want to make friends here because I want to move, but I’m super lonely. It’s the worst! Feel free to reach out if you want to talk. My name is the same on Reddit.

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