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He Apologized. Now What?

sorryunicornDear Chump Lady,

I have been divorced for 10 months (separated for almost two years) From my husband of 22 years. He cheated on me for the final two years of that marriage until I found out and confronted him.

He thought we would live together until the divorce came through. It took me two months to pester him out of the house, and I am glad he is gone. Life was very shaky for me and the kids for a while, but I am moving on as the single parent to four teen/young adult children, three of whom refuse to see they’re father at all and one who does so occasionally. We are getting back on our feet and everyone is happier without him around. (He was never much of a father).

Today, he left crying apology emails for each of the kids, I think he wrote himself notes, they all sounded about the same. He also left me a texted apology (no voice mail for me!) The text is as follows:

I just want to say I am sorry. I made some bad choices and we are all paying for them now. What I did to you and the kids was wrong and I’m truly sorry. I know that wont fix anything but I felt the need to say it. I’ve also told the kids the same.

Since I never received a sincere apology from this man in 22 years, I am suspicious of this one. I have a friend who says I should “be mature” and tell him we will “move past this,” but this doesn’t feel right. He devastated five people because he felt he deserved more. I don’t know how to respond or if I should at all.

Help!

Chumped but Happier Now

Dear CBHN,

I’m curious why your friend thinks you should tell him “we will move past this”? You did move past it — you divorced him. And everyone seems like they’re getting on with their lives pretty fine, except him.

What are you supposed to do with this apology? Well, you have a few options here.

1.) You could bolster the cheater. I believe this is the path of “maturity” that your friend is suggesting. (Because divorce litigation is so childish and carefree…) Hey, he’s sorry now. We must infer that he sees the error of his ways, feels great depths of sadnesses, and is moved to communicate his regrets to you by text message. I mean, when you’ve committed an atrocity, why lay a wreath when you could text a message?

Anyway, he’s Sad. It’s your job to reassure him after the divorce, that everyone is going to be FINE. Really, it’s just a flesh wound. No harm done. He’s not a bad person. Oh, stop with the awkward apologies, Jeffery! Let’s be friends.

Cue the conscious uncoupling muzak.

2.) You could let him move back home because he’s Sorry Now. Hey, now that he’s gotten the awkward apologies out of the way, you could cease and desist with those consequences. You know, Chumped, if you play your cards right, you could have a chance with him again. And what would be nicer at a time like this than cake?

3.) You could decode the apology. What would the Universal Bullshit Translator say?

I just want to say I am sorry.

So I thought I’d send you a text, instead of one of those insincere gestures like paying your legal bill.

I made some bad choices and we are all paying for them now.

Yes WE all are paying for my bad choices, by which I mean ME included. While acknowledging your suffering, I thought it important to interject how much this hurts me too. More really.

What I did to you and the kids was wrong and I’m truly sorry.

This nugget is fine. It’s an apology. By text. Without an edible arrangement or anything.

I know that wont fix anything but I felt the need to say it. I’ve also told the kids the same.

Actually trying to fix things? Like not contesting the divorce? Or giving you more money to raise four kids? Let me be clear that those tangible expressions of regret are off the table, because hey, they never change anything! But I feel the need to say sorry. Except I texted it. I did say sorry to the kids, might raise their hopes for a reconciliation! Don’t forget me! I suffer too! I won’t fix anything, but I feelz!

4.) You could do absolutely nothing. Okay, he’s sorry. Perhaps he is utterly sincere and would like forgiveness. Whether you forgive him or don’t forgive him, neither path requires communicating with him. You’re not obliged to confer absolution to break no contact.

If he’s truly sorry that just makes a sad situation that much sadder. He fucked it all up for nothing. And now he has to live with the consequences —  as you all did. Now it’s his turn to take a bite from the shit sandwich. He served it. The least he can do is eat it without complaint.

I vote for option #4.

*****

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  • Image management. Liars lie. And narcissists need kibbles. Go with option #4 and don’t give him the kibbles he seeks.

  • Two years of cheating – that you know about.

    Even if it was two years, that’s two years too long.

    That’s two years of lies, elaborate excuses, secret arrangements, kisses, I-love-yous, or just possibly money changing hands.

    Two years.

    That you know about.

    • Yes, that you know of.

      Even so, it’s 730 consecutive days of the most vile form of deceit and theft of life…and this amounts to “some bad decisions”?

      • You make a really good point there. Bearing in mind that these people will only ever tell you what they feel. they can get away with; mine admitted to cheating over a 5-year period. (We were together for 18 years.) I’m sure you could at least double that time period.

        This means that she admits to 1,825 consecutive days of all the things you allude to. Lying to my daughter and I for all of that time. Lying every time we took a holiday together. Lying before and after sex with me. Lying every time we ate a meal together. Lying every time she was out with me and her ‘friends’.

        I think if you add up all the lies they would amount to thousands and thousands. And for me one lie is one lie too many.

        • Same here, BTR. It supposedly went back to not very long after we were married (6 years), which was horrible enough. To think that this was probably even his MO when we were dating, or even as we started dating (there was a co-worker who he had supposedly hooked up with when they were single not long before we met…or were they in fact dating?)..probably sadly much more accurate. Shady behavior that you will only ever see the tip of the iceberg on should be enough to say no fucking thank you. This level of entitlement knows no bounds.

          • Yes,ChumpOnIt, my cheating ex-h had a “friend with benefits” that “didn’t love (him)” before we started dating. I think she had a bit of a hard time when we started dating, and I thought that was strange. He called off their “benefit” relationship as soon we started dating (I had no idea before the first or second date). Now with what I know, I wonder if they were actually *dating* and more serious than I ever knew? She was nice to me when I ran into her a few times after that, so I guess she knew that I had no idea about whatever had been going on with them? And I later learned that he had left a live-in girlfriend that he was about to buy a house with to date her (but then they ended up being only friends with benefits). Now I know all those things were red flags….

    • “That you know about.”

      Yup. It’s the ol’ Iceberg Theory at work. Years later I was still finding out new news about FW’s extramarital adventures.

  • Let him go 🧺 alone on the shit sandwiches he made for himself, in the pouring rain, alone. Poor little sad sausage. Cue the 🎻

  • I would guess that he

    1) Doesn’t like the consequences of divorce (kids don’t want anything to do with him, lost the house, child support, you name it)

    2) Got dumped by his AP/gf/whoever and needs someone to pay attention to him

    3) Is trying to manage his image to impress whomever (He can’t look like the perfect dad if his kids aren’t speaking to him – my ex fought really hard for custody of our son whom he did almost nothing to financially support – just wanted to be a Disney dad, because one of his big ego trips/public images was working for an autism charity and without his autistic son he’d lose all credibility with the group)

    I’d say don’t respond anything. Even if you do forgive him/believe he’s sincere, you don’t owe it to him to tell him. But I would sincerely doubt it’s a genuine apology. He isn’t sorry he hurt you or the kids. He’s sorry you found out and dealt him the consequences.

  • There are two parts to a sincere apology, IMHO. It needs to be public in some way, at least in front of all the aggrieved parties, and delivered while making eye contact, with no weaseling or blame shifting. If the person who devastated others cannot admit it out loud, he/she is not sincere. The second part is atonement. You don’t request that consequences be removed, you acknowledge you deserve the consequences, and then go on to try to offer reparations in some way to those you harmed. You punish the guilty party (you) by offering to go beyond what is required by law.

    I really don’t know which part would be more impossible for type B personality disordered people. Image is everything to them, and their selfish behavior knows no bounds.

    If my requirement is impossible to meet, why set it as a boundary? Because then you can stop wishing and dreaming for something that is never going to happen. We cannot all “just be friends.” When we have opposing values, and one party has severely injured the other, the best you can hope for is civil peace. You still live separate lives, there is no celebration which includes cake, and you don’t pretend everything is fine. You just agree not to be actively hostile, and act responsible as you move forward in your life.

    The most important thing I have learned in my years on earth is that you cannot go back and change history. Many civilizations have tried to rewrite history, but that pesky truth keeps finding a way to the surface. Accept the truth, no matter how painful it may be. If you need to change, do the hard work of changing. Then live your life without guilt. If you are honest and realize no one is perfect, and mistakes have consequences, you are prepared to live your authentic life. There is no reason to continue to punish yourself if you have done the best you can do.

    • Thanks Portia. I understand your perspective, and accepting the truth has been difficult— she’ll never apologize and even if she did apologize it would have some weird motive. #4
      My mother keeps telling me to shut the door and walk away, but 3 kids under 3, means that shit sandwich comes with my morning coffee until forever.
      I’ll do the best I can do and know who I am for my kids.
      They need an awesome father.
      Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

      • 3 under 3 is really tough. Mine were 9 and 12. The thing I realized (finally) was I was modeling bad behavior for them — what a bad relationship and marriage looked like, putting up with things I should not have. I didn’t want my sons to think it was ok to treat their wife the way I was treated.

        My rebound relationship was awful, too. He used the boys to manipulate me. I just saw it faster and got out quicker. My sons had to learn some hard things before they should have. Fortunately, they were resilient.

        I had to work on my own vulnerabilities and learn to set boundaries before I felt like I was being a good role model for them. I was always the sane parent, but I had to learn to live with what was real instead of what I wanted/hoped/dreamed was real. That was very hard to do!

    • during the last, I think, wreckonciliation, I asked my now-ex to create something to offer me atonement. I didn’t care what it was, but I wanted to see him make some effort. He cried that it was too hard to figure out what I wanted, so I gave him some ideas. He declared each of them impossible for him to do. I said “so you figure it out” but he just couldn’t decide. It was maddening. If onlyI’d had Chumplady then!

    • Your point of view has checked all the boxes for me and my situation. Thanks for you wise views. I must say your words have helped me tremendously. Thank you.

  • Respond back in 2 years. It took him that long to apologize right? In fact, he was cheating for 2 years before that… so you could go with 4 years. Either way, he set the pace of correspondence for you.

    Of course if you don’t reply for 2 to 4 years…. by then he won’t remember he apologized at all. 🙂 (see: no response needed)

  • He probably is sorry on some level but it’s self serving. He gave very little but got a wife appliance, home, kids, and respectability as a family man.

    On top of that he had the excitement of a side whore.

    I’m guessing things didn’t work out as he imagined and that’s what he’s sorry for.

    My ex would never apologize because he’s so invested in phony image management that he’ll never admit anything. But any sorry’s I would get would be about the fact that HIS life fell apart. Without me and my boys he’s just a pathetic old man with a shitty toupee that has to keep his gf secret because even if she’s divorced husband number 5 he’d never actually be seen with her. What would his friends and church think of his trash?

    She is apparently too stupid to realize that in at least 18 years of messing with him she hasn’t been introduced to anyone. I asked former coworkers of his since they used to work together and nobody knew who she was.

    • Some of the fuckwits express apologies when they are caught, outed and have to suffer consequences. Sorry not sorry.

    • I will never, ever stop laughing at the shitty toupee. Your description once had me doubled over. Klootzak is going pretty bald and I keep asking myself how long it will be until he staples a squirrel to his head.

      • I’m glad….we all need humor in our lives and I’ve found it to be great medicine.

        I wish I could share a picture without getting into trouble. I can tell you that I’ve had several people ask me “what’s the deal with the hair”?

        A friend of mine had me doubled over once. She’s one of my best friends and I’ve known her over 20 years. She’s black and I’m white and that is relevant because she once asked me how long he’d had the toupee. I told her I’d seen a picture of him with his daughter that was at least 15 years old and it was clear it was the same toupee.

        She then said to me: “Kim, that’s disgusting. Take it from a black woman who’s worn a lot of weave….you have to throw that shit out because it deteriorates abd holds bacteria. It needs to be replaced somewhat regularly. Ugh….he’s disgusting”.

        She had me doubled over 🤣

        But it’s true….look up how long synthetic toupees last. I know he had 2 of them that he wore the entire 13 years I knew him.

        • It is refreshing to look at these FWs – who often not only cheated but who have been threatening, abusive, and controlling – as ordinary and even laughable. They believe they are all sparkles and perfection and they are anything but. Keeping the humor in mind helps get me through many rough days.

        • Or at least washed ! But we all know some of the fuckwits have repulsive hygiene and personal habits. Nose picking and flicking, refusing to brush one’s teeth and/or go the dentist, etc.

  • What are the bad “choices” he made? Did he pick the wrong item on the lunch menu?
    To me the word “choice” lessens the act of cheating and gives the cheater a break. Similar to the word mistake, as if your genitals just magically entered another persons genitals.
    If he is sorry he needs to say exactly what he is has done. I am sorry for cheating, putting your health at risk, lying, etc.

    • I agree! Got tired of “I made bad choices, strayed from the marriage, did naughty stuff, don’t remember”. Screamed that he had to say “fucked prostitutes, went down on whores, lied for years, risked giving me AIDS”. It took him weeks after d-day to do that and he was dry heaving the entire time (not faking, he really does throw up easy). They “compartmentalize”, rationalize, and justify everything in their sick heads.

  • That friend who thinks you should be “mature” and that “you can move past this” is wrong. You already are mature and you are moving past this by refusing to engage with that cheater. Your friend isn’t much of a friend to suggest you open your life back up to the misery that is a cheater.

    Your kids are grown. Block him.

    • Yes, my ex contacted me to say he was graciously willing to acknowledge that we were “both equally responsible” for the death of the marriage. I responded asking, in that case, would he be willing to pay half of the attorney’s bill? I know everyone here will be shocked to hear that he was NOT willing to back up his words with cash. I paid for the entire divorce myself. The insincerity of these fuckers boggles the mind.

      • I also paid for the whole divorce. She said you filed, you pay. Yet she told everyone how she apologized to me and how sorry she was. 🙄🙄🙄

      • Yup, when Ex tried to hoover and image manage after I kicked him out, he actually said ‘I’m sorry’ to me. But this time (unlike after Affair #1) I wasn’t willing to make all sorts of positive assumptions about what that meant. So I asked him what he was sorry for.

        ‘I’m sorry things didn’t work out between us’.

        Oh, OK.

        (KarenE walks away shaking her head and sighing ….)

    • Your friend is suggesting that you expose yourself to a known abuser/bully/take your pick so that person can punch you in the gut again and again. Why would a “friend” want that for you ?

  • Awww, the poor cheater is realizing there are consequences to what he did. Everything is about him after all. He is such a pitiful sad sausage. Let him stew in his own juices. You probably ate a lot of shit sandwiches. Now is the time for him to enjoy his shit sandwiches with some sprinkles. Ignore him, he is not worth the time or attention.
    He got what he wanted, the freedom to fuck whoever he wants and not have to lie or hide. He should live his best life with that freedom.

    • Yep, probably thought he could go to Plan B or C or D. Cheater is just sorry that he does not have a fuck buddy.

    • My ex actually said this to me: “I wish I’d never told anyone.” (He also told his sister.) Realizing that he was perfectly willing, even in retrospect, to have continued to deceive me, was one of those clarifying moments.

      • Mine said “the worst part of me cheating is that if people hear that, they’ll think it was my fault we got divorced” Ummmm, yeah, it is… He was pitching the “we grew apart” scenario to me, so that he “wouldn’t have to tell everyone how awful you are” Truth be told, I have no idea what he told everyone because we never communicated again after that conversation.

        • What a dick Mehverly. My cheating ex was much the same. He was so concerned with “the story” that after DDay he kept hounding me about what I was telling people. He was more worried about that than what I’d found out about and how hurt and traumatized I was by all the lies I discovered. It was really cruel and uncaring. He still spins a huge lie to anyone who asks. Amazing though, he was trotting around town with the OW about one week after we split up. We lived in a smallish town so it was more than obvious what happened.

  • Any sincere apology begins with correcting the lies he told about me to those he told them to. In my presence.

    So it looks like I will never ever get a sincere apology as long as J live. I can now forget about it and keep moving forward.

    The other day someone asked how I was doing and I said, “It’s up and down but forward.” It’s taken me four years to come up with the perfect description of how I am doing.

    My guess is that these kinds of apologies come from things not going so well with the APig. (I am riffing off of KatiePig’s story of where her handle came from).

    APigs are cockroaches. The one you see just means there are forty thousand more in the walls. I did not want to be married to a traitor who fucks cockroaches and fucks over his own family. The ability to “have fun” while fucking over your own family is nothing to be proud of or tethered to. There is no bigger proof of relationship ineptitude than being an APig or a cheater. Just because someone thinks they are Jesus or a zebra does not mean it is so. A delusion remains a delusion to the delusional.

    My daughter arrived home from one of her sentenced visits Benedict OJ Madoff (Traitor Dad) the other day. She is always very angry when she gets home. She has not spoken to him in two years. She goes to her room at his place, shuts the door, and waits three hours to come home. This week she was extra angry because he said, “I’m sorry I could not give you a better CHRISTMAS.” She said to me, “Yeah, ever since you blew up our family in the middle of fifth grade.”

    He has never apologized for lying to her (which continues) or for burning down our bird nest with us in it.

    They are only sorry for themselves, and their self-pity is ridiculous.

    When you discover a cockroach infestation, it’s terribly unfortunate but after you call the exterminator you have shown who has the real power. In the end, minus one soul-sucking parasitic human and his/her posse of cockroaches, you are the winner.

    • Velvet Hammer,
      I must remember she’s a cockroach and her AP is her mate. Yep. Got that in my mind.
      Need to make sure my children grow up in a nice, clean house when with me.
      Over time, they’ll see who I am and they’ll understand what she is — I can see the infestation.
      Thanks and happy holidays and merry Christmas.

    • “They are only sorry for themselves, and their self-pity is ridiculous.”

      Agree. And if you sit them down and explain this to them, they’ll never get it because that would require empathy.

      At best, you’ll get, “Yes, I understand you’re in pain but, but, but you did blah blah blah blah blah, and I feel so sad, and you are overly punishing me.🎻”.

      As much as my own kids didn’t seem to want to hear from him, I think they did crave a sincere apology, not one dripping with self-pity, which is the only thing their dad can do. And he can’t see it. He’s truly incapable.

      • “They are only sorry for themselves, and their self-pity is ridiculous.”

        Thank you for highlighting VH’s very astute observation. When I read that sentence, I thought, yes, and their self-pity is ridiculous not only because of what they’ve done and their incomplete understanding of what they’ve done (or their obstinate refusal to understand it) but because their self-pity, too, is self-serving.

      • What they see as ‘punishing’, I see as the chump finally focusing on their own life!
        The X is firmly fixed on the sad sausage channel, and has been for years, I guess it gives him something important. Whatever. He can spend his time contemplating the 32 years he chased neighbors and employees around behind my back. Too bad AP dumped him, she’s so mean.
        I’m absolutely not punishing him, he wrecked his sweet home life ( where I did mostly everything) all by himself.

  • “We are getting back on our feet and everyone is happier without him around”

    I highlighted this to copy and paste because it was so perfect and to the point. FWs are emotional vampires–black holes. Isn’t it amazing how much better we feel after they are physically removed?

    I wish those well-meaning friends and forgiveness-pushers could understand this. The letter-writer *is* doing better and moving on. This is enabled by the absence of FW.

  • CL nails it with this: “Whether you forgive him or don’t forgive him, neither path requires communicating with him. You’re not obliged to confer absolution to break no contact.”

    I think this is an especially difficult concept for chumps to accept: we no longer owe them anything, even an acceptance of their (sincere or not) apologies.

    My x apologized in the way that is described in this post. Sincere? Eh. I don’t know. Talk is cheap. And he feels most sorry for himself, so there’s that. Oh, and he was a snake during the divorce. Sorry is as sorry does.

    We don’t have to verbalize any of our feelings!!! NC all the way. Go with #4!

    p.s. Re the “friends” who want us to forgive and move on: they don’t have an effing clue. In my circle of friends, I have only those who appreciate my pain, realize that infidelity is abuse, and make no demands on me to forgive.

  • An apology is just a set-up for the next affair (ask me how I know). He’s just looking for a safe place to land until the next time he brings his crappy lifestyle to your doorstep. Sure, he misses the kids now that the shine has worn off shmoopie. He longs for hot meals, sympathy and a place to call home. So do stray dogs. He’s not your problem anymore.

    • I know how you know because it’s how I know what I know. Apologies were heaped on me after GF#2 fell through and he needed a partner (me, his wife) again until he found GF#3/Wifetress.

      • We are better the Plan B. FWs just don’t know it, so we have to prove it by showing them the door. Time for Chumped but Happier Now to figure that out.

        Mine came sniffing around after many years (after cheating on me at least twice, that I know of) knowing full well that I am married. Honestly, they think they are so special. Guess he couldn’t forget how I forgave him after the first D Day, thought I was an easy mark and he’s getting old. It was absolutely delicious telling him calmly just exactly what a loser he is.

      • Sure, and more in need of our sympathy. But stray dogs also carry diseases. (I grew up in the hard realities of rural life, and a pack of wild dogs is nothing to sneeze at.)

  • He hasn’t changed.
    He may be sorry, but only because he doesn’t like the icky feeling of paying for his hurtful choices.
    It doesn’t have anything to do with how much he hurt his whole family, he just doesn’t want to hurt from that himself.
    No response is the most appropriate response.
    He’s just morphing the games he plays into some new entertainment for himself. Probably is bored with the replacement person too, needs to shake it all up.
    Glad your life is going well. You owe him nothing at all.

  • I can’t remember where I read it, but it was some sort of ‘teaching a child to apologize’ guide that boils down to this.

    There are five parts to a sincere apology. The first three are words, and the last two are actions. But the order can be mixed up.

    Acknowledgement – you understand what you did wrong
    Empathy – you understand the impact it had on the person
    Regret – you express your apology
    Atonement – you make up for the damage you caused
    Resolve – you take steps to ensure it won’t happen again

    Example: I’m sorry I lost my temper and punched you in the face. I know I broke your nose, and that must have really hurt. Let me know the doctor’s bill and how much time off work you lost, and I’ll pay for it. I wanted you to know I signed up for an anger management course, and I’m cutting down on my drinking, so I never do something like that again.

    It has none of that “sorry for whatever I did” or “sorry you were offended” crap you often see.

    This poster got only one of the five parts, and is right not to trust it.

    • Also, no apology has the word “but” attached to it, as in “I’m sorry I blew up our marriage/family, but you weren’t perfect either.”

      Please.

      • Exactly. “But” negated everything thing else in his apology. That word marked the end of my compassion.

        It’s really hard to say no to a weeping, broken man asking for forgiveness. Especially when you want nothing more than to put your family back together, learn from the experience and move on in a better way. But under the surface, his regret wasn’t genuine. I couldn’t articulate it at the time, but I knew something was seriously wrong.

  • I hate to be the one to break it to the OP, but this isn’t an apology. An apology consists of verbalizing sincere regret for how your past actions affected the person, what you specifically did (Poor choices? That could be anything.) and what you’re planning to do moving forward to keep from ever doing something like that again. Is he trying to be a dependable person you couldn’t depend on when you were married to him? Is he in counseling to figure out his motivations around cheating in the first place? If he’s paying child support, is he paying it on time?
    I understand there’s a bond there because he’s the father of your children, but would you really allow this guy to get into your bank accounts again?
    You can certainly move past this, but that does not necessarily involve him moving back in and taking a seat at the table again. (Also, I think your “friend“ may be sleeping with your ex-husband. If I were you I’d stop trusting that “friend“.)
    Good luck to you and hang in there.

  • Dear CBHN,

    The friend who says you should “be mature” and tell your XH that you’ll “move past this” is no friend, but rather, an imposter, just like your XH. A real friend — someone who respects you, cares about your well-being and understands your character — would never suggest that you accept less than you deserve.

    Gary Chapman, the man behind “The 5 Love Languages”, also wrote an excellent book on the anatomy of an apology (“The Five Languages of Apology”). The rambling drivel that your XH submitted is a perfect example of what not to do when you’re sincerely sorry and remorseful for your actions.

  • I’d vote for a 5th option: Just use the thumbs-up emoji on one of the sentences. No other response/context.

    Especially if you don’t do this very often.

    • Very snarky – I like this option!

      The “friend” bothers me, too. Wonder what “friend” would be saying if this happened to her?

      I find people seem to be all about giving this advice because they have zero clue how it is to survive this level of abuse and betrayal in their most trusted, intimate relationship. As some of you have said before, and I agree, if Fuckwit would have knifed me in the street, I think the recovery would have been much easier. First of all, EMTs and a good surgeon would arrive to help. Witnesses would be appalled and fight for justice. Neighbors would have checked on me and brought me a casserole.

      Fuckwits know how to knife our deepest soul and keep twisting to get maximum jollies while we quit breathing in the silence of our own bedrooms. They slip out in the dark hoping we die. They have their alibi already in place, acting so concerned about our “recent craziness”, accepting condolences from people they’ve duped for decades all the while collecting the proceeds of our assets and insurance policies for their new life.

      This may be too crude to post here on CN – so please read this next part with a trigger warning……

      I swear, if someone would have pointed out to me that Fuckwit would have walked away with my house and life insurance proceeds, forever to be remembered as the confused, caring spouse who tried so hard………..a full sweep of everything he planned to take from me…. I would have snapped myself back into upright position immediately instead of driving myself to the ER for SI. I shudder when I look back to see just how close he came to getting that exact result.

      These people are psychopaths on the comparable level to any serial killer.

    • I usually respond to Ex’s emails and texts that are all about him and nothing substantive relating to our children with the thumb’s up or “ok”. Neither commits me to any feeling, thought or course of action regarding his nonsense du jour. However, they serve as an acknowledgement of his communication so he can’t claim I’m ignoring him and whine to the court or kids. When his messages are nasty I just ignore him completely. When I do need to respond, I try to lmit my reply to 10 words or less.

  • Words, not deeds.

    A man who understands he was a bad husband and is now a bad father would do something different. Hence CL’s suggestion that increasing child support or contributing to paying off legal bills or paying some of these’ s young adults’ college loans or tuition bills would be a start.

    Anyone receiving a similar plea for absolution (served with kibbles and cake) can respond this way: “Seeing you did terrible things to your family is one thing. What you do after you figure that out is another.”

  • I ignored the “apology” I got. It was a word salad email that used the word “sorry” a lot but really blamed me. Anyway, I ignored it. You don’t give attention to people who don’t deserve it

  • My exFW is famous for the apology text messages. Our divorce has been final for more than 2 years and I still receive them. Always full of I miss yous, poor me, I’m so sad, blah blah.

    The kicker is that since our divorce, he got engaged to the OW, possibly married her, and had a baby! He’s only sorry that he got caught, it’s never been about me.

    And I agree with CN… anyone telling you to “be mature & move past it” is definitely not your friend. Ick!

  • So, I wrote this letter to Chump Lady about 5 years ago. I was tickled to start reading it and realize I wrote it! I never answered his text. Chump Nation gave me great advice then just as you are doing today. You all rock! He is blocked on my phone, he can still email me but I don’t think he realizes that because he never has. In the past five years, I have continued to get back on my feet, enjoyed time with my kids, went back to school for a Master’s degree, and am now job-searching. Life is really great. There are problems here and there (It’s real life, after all), but I deal with them. I go where I want and do what I want, and if the house is a mess and I am tired, I don’t clean right then AND I don’t feel guilty about it! Oh, and my kids and I didn’t have to sneak behind his back to get COVID shots. Yes, he does not believe in them and would have tried to stop us from getting them. Good riddance to bad, sorry rubbish!

  • The best response is no response.
    No contact, or only as necessary.
    You cut that cancer out of your life, so don’t let it’s tendrils reinfiltrate your life.
    Maybe he will learn something from having to deal with his guilt without the participation of his victims.

  • This text message after 22 years? Too little too late would be the understatement of the year.

    Not an apology. It’s all about him, how he feels now (i.e. consequences) not what he did to you and your children.

    With anyone but especially this kind of self centered self serving asshat it should be: pay attention to their actions, not their words. Has he tried to do anything to repair some of the harm done? Offered to pay for legal fees, college. Above all: has he respected your wish to be left alone now that he blew your family apart? He obviously hasn’t. So this one falls under “Sorry, not sorry”

    Last but not least: you and your kids are happier without him around. The appropriate answer: shrug, delete.

    Enjoy the peace and quiet.

  • This one’s easy. A parent who did something so incredibly wrong then *crying* to minor (or barely adult) kids? It’s abuse. It’s called “parentizing” children.

    After FW was kicked out of the house, on one of the kids’ birthday, he left tearful messages on all the kids’ phones which I intercepted, deleted and messaged back, “Try again without the tears and sad-sack tone. You’re parentizing.”

    He knew what that meant because part of the reason he’s the way he is is because his parents did that to him as a child. They made him emotionally responsible for them from the time he was six years old in ways that were equivalent to the gesture he made. The gist is “I can’t be the adult you need me to be and I’m selfishly letting you down in an unforgiveable way so I will now saddle you with guilt to last a lifetime and make your heart break for me as if I were the child and you the responsible parent.”

    It’s classic sick shit and very damaging. It’s not the same as a parent being seen crying once or twice over events beyond the control of children which happens in the most normal families. It’s parents crying or rhapsodizing in self pity to the very child they just hurt.

    In the case of the letter writer’s ex, the crying self pity was the point, the apology just the delivery system.

    Emotional child abuse. Respond accordingly.

    • Very good points. Cheater parents hurt children terribly, and it has both short and long term impacts on children of any age. To expect consolation or semotional support from child IS emotional abuse.

    • Yes. My cheating STBX was parentized by her narc mom. One of the many fucked-up things that likely contributed to her fuckedupedness later. Without diagnosing my STBX, I can say that she’s a woman-child, very adolescent emotionally. And it makes sense that she would suck at boundaries, since she did not have them modeled to her as a child.

      • I never saw my parents cry nor express feeling sorry for themselves. I did hear about my dad crying second hand after his closest friend moved out of town for work. It moved me and humanized, so I thought the stoicism might be a generational thing and might be going a tad too far. Consequently I do share (with words, not rhapsodies and weeping with violin accompaniment) with my kids when something’s going on with me just to normalize emotions. But when I heard the stories from FW of some of the things his parents did, I had no idea what to make of it and looked it up. Ah, “parentizing.” Very similar effects to sexual abuse since it’s an adult using a child for self gratification. Sick shit.

        Sometimes untangling skeins can provide learning opportunities. FW childhoods are great for parenting “don’t'” lists. Other times untangling skeins is a waste of precious time.

      • That’s why the OP got just the dry text to cover the main agenda of trying to make the kids pity him and view him as a victim, spend the rest of their lives burdened with guilt and unable to hold him responsible. Motherf*cker.

  • This was no apology. It was nothing more than “I am feeling very sorry for myself and will reach out to the suckers that will comfort me with my half assed fake apology” Also sorry to say but the friend that suggested the chump tell the cheater “we will move past this” is a halfwit. Never take advice from a halfwit.

  • He’s sorry – he’s sorry that you gave him consequences. Now that it affects him negatively he may truly be sorry. It doesn’t mean you have to respond or forgive.

    My FW was sorry that I gave him consequences. I do believe he was sincere in his apologies. Of course they were self-serving apologies because he wanted me back and didn’t like the consequences I gave him.

  • think this was a sadz or hoover.

    once sprung x had a brief period of remorse. he was “SO sorry” he would do “anything to make it better”
    set up separated finances? agree to co-support kids with college? “NO not that!”. x then changed tack and moved in with a new partner a few weeks later).

  • The more I read on here the more I think that people who abandon their children are sociopaths. I’m not going to say they’re not human because I love a lot of things that are not human. All the dogs in my life, the cats we’ve had I have loved and they have loved me. Getting on the Internet and looking at lions who remember who raised them, geese who put their wings around a person. All these so-called dumb animals know and do unconditional love. My brother’s ex could not love and did not love and abandoned her family, children included.

    You can’t fix a personality disorder. You can make sure they are some other place where you are not.

  • Today I was triggered to remember the first apology I ever got from FW. It was only a minuscule part of the bigger picture that I found out later.
    I think their apologies are not to be trusted. It’s issued in the moment, from a proven liar, who doesn’t have the same values as you.
    Likely, it’s issued for more impression management – either of themselves, as in, “if she forgives me, what I did can’t be that bad, ” or to show someone else that you’ve forgiven them.
    It’s another way to keep violating boundaries, and to keep using you & the kids as appliances.
    I vote to ignore this creepy reminder of the past.

    • If my ex would try to apologize now, I think I would just laugh.
      I would never accept an apology because I will never know the extent of his deceptions. And whatever he’s done, I don’t want to know at this point. Will children from past sexual encounters come out looking for him? Would abortions come to light? Why was he really let go from 5 jobs?
      How much money was spent over our 36 year marriage on things I wouldn’t have agreed to? What type of porn is on his computer? Who knew about his cheating & didn’t tell me?
      Yech ! No!

  • I find the etiquette of receiving an apology somewhat baffling.

    There are things I am content to receive an apology for and put behind me. But when I have experienced a deep betrayal or something very difficult, I don’t know what I am supposed to do with an apology. It isn’t an adequate response, but in our culture, there seems to be a burden on the person receiving the apology not only to listen graciously (I can manage that), but then to demonstrate via words or gestures that it is accepted.

    I don’t always want to accept an apology, but saying so seems to put me in the wrong. I don’t even always want to thank someone for an apology. A non-response also seems to be a form of rudeness that reflects poorly on me, despite being the injured party. If the person apologizing is manipulative, I don’t want to engage in any way that invites further communication and thus another shot at manipulating me.

    Given my frustration with apologies in these sorts of situations, I wouldn’t respond at all to the text the letter writer described. And I would just have to grit my teeth and wait for the blow-back narrative in which I would learn my EX was describing me to anyone who would listen as a bitter witch who wouldn’t even accept his apology.

    • I have been thinking that “betrayal” is the societal expression which comes closest to what chumps experience. And if family/friends recognized the betrayal was so deliberate that it destroyed a family, cheaters would not receive forgiveness.

    • Silence is an etiquette-accepted response to an apology that you do not accept. Traditionally the “cut direct” (publicly not acknowledging someone, just acting like they’re not there when you happen to cross paths in public), was the way people dealt with moral adversaries in social situations.

      Not that doesn’t mean that in today’s world that everyone will accept it socially, because we live in an enabling society. But stay true to yourself, and only verbally accept apologies that are morally worthy of acceptance.

    • Perhaps something along the lines of, ‘While I acknowledge the gesture on your part, given the circumstances, I think that it’s best for both of us to recognise that it changes nothing’? Or words or actions to that effect (which may well be silence).

      • This only invites rebuttal. It’s an invitation to engage, which is what those drama-kings and queens want. Nothing says ‘apology NOT accepted’ or ‘I don’t care anymore’ like SILENCE. When I saw exFW coming towards me at one of those inevitable life events, I simply turned my back and struck up a conversation with the person next to me. No Contact is my golden rule.

  • He’s between chicks & wants attention. Ignore him and keep on moving on. And drop the friend who’s telling you you’re immature for going no-contact with a person who broke up your family.

  • This one is too easy. No response. When you truly apologize for anything, there should never be any expectation of response or action on the part of the wronged person. That’s a REAL apology.

  • My ex cheater was the king of the sobbing faux apology. I also received numerous versions via text which included standard cheater issue harm minimizations, deflections and rationalizations.
    All such “apologies” included a request for something he wanted at the time. It took me far too long to understand it but the Hoover is inherent in a cheater apology. Cheater wants something from the chump (for the chump to hop back on the cycle of abuse) and he will manipulate to that end with tears, the sadz, a fake apology… whatever they think it will take to break the chump. They are brazen FWs doing Brazen FW Things. Chumps beware. They haven’t come to their senses. Don’t fall for this deep inhale of Hopium 😮‍💨
    Silence is golden.

  • I’ve had dozens and dozens of apologies from my ex- cheater wife. And for some time I felt guilty for refusing to accept them. And then one day the reason why I was refusing suddenly hit me.

    I refuse to accept her apology because I’ve never actually received one. Not a real apology. Just words, as if writing down a few platitudes would absolve her of all guilt – not that she really knows the meaning of the word guilt.

    We don’t communicate at all now after 28 years together. But I think that if I was ever offered another apology I would ask her to give me precise details of what the apology was actually for.

    We know that she cheated with at least five different men; that she made herself into the victim and turned mutual friends against me; that she turned our 15-year-old daughter against me; that she lied during the divorce (actually accusing me of having an affair!); that she fought tooth and nail to rob me of any financial settlement. And that she lied to me on a daily basis for at least five years of our marriage.

    So again I would ask – if she wants to offer me a real apology she’d better tell me exactly what she’s asking forgiveness for. And that’s never going to happen.

    Sorry if I’m venting.

    • One chump to another. What apology would be acceptable? Stop all communications with her. Write down what would be an acceptable apology from her if you must…….you’ll find that pen paralyzed in your hand.

  • If he was capable of that much depth of feeling he could not have cheated for 2 years. All that lying and deception.

    He either would not have done it at all, or he would have quickly ended the screwing around and felt like a bum.

    I think he is feeling sorry for himself

  • I think chumplady’s comment is so true : even if he is truly sorry , that makes a sad situation just more sad.
    No way should you go back, he has shown what he is capable off and didn’t care at that stage what would happen to wife and kids . That doesn’t even need contemplating , the damage is done beyond any repair .
    A friend of mine cheated , admitted this to his wife and tried for 6 years (!) to get her trust back . She couldn’t give him this trust and they are now divorced. The divorce was civilised and they co-parent well.
    I have seen my friend change , he is a completely different person . Don’t get me wrong, I’m on her side – once something like this happens , you can’t go back . And whilst the majority of cheaters are surely repeat offenders , in this one case , I think he learned his lesson. Sad for everyone involved .

  • It is Christmas morning. My first since learning that my partner of 32 years cheated on me with one of his customers for months. I had seen some overly friendly texts in March and confronted him. He swore nothing was going on. He looked me in the eye and told me he would never cheat on me because he knew how much it would hurt me. He repeated this several times and then said that I was the person he wanted to be with. So I trusted him…welcome to chumpville for me. On Friday of Labor Day weekend he withdrew $286,000 from a bank account to which I was the primary and on Monday told me he had been cheating. He wanted to make sure that this new relationship would “stick” before leaving me. He left me for her on that day and immediately moved in with her. And by the way, he told name they both felt very bad. REALLY?! I am torn in pieces right now and just wanting the holidays to end. NEVER forgive that chump. He never deserved you in the first place.

  • Out of the blue today I got a “sorry for the pain I caused you” text. It is 7 yr since our horrid gas lit break up of our 35 yr relationship. Years of therapy and I am rocking my best life. No contact for all this time and suddenly this?! Plus quoted lyrics from a sad sausage song as a bonus. I turned to you Chump Nation and you did not disappoint! I wanted to reply WTF with a poop emoji but you have helped me correct my course and stay here in my happy Tuesday. No response is the proper response indeed.

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