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?
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.