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He Was Not As Advertised

Dear Chump Lady,

I dated a guy this year, for almost a year, and about 1.5 months ago he broke up with me.

I’m divorced (10 yrs ago, emotionally and verbally abusive ex-h) no kids. He has a kid, and has been divorced about 5 years. Upon reflection (probably with the rose colored glasses still hanging off my face since it’s still a little early) I didn’t see any jarring red flags, we seemed to have a very good relationship. His child seemed to like me, and was comfortable around me. But, about two months before it ended, he started getting weird, saying things that didn’t make any sense, word salad, he got very vague about future plans, and started dropping snide little put downs for the most ridiculously minute things, and it started to gradually snowball. Total 180 degrees in terms of treatment of me.

I noted that over those past months he seemed to be spending more and more time with his ex-wife and his child as a group — events that I was not invited to attend. In a moment of Chumpiness, I mentally made note of it as something to further observe, and this is probably where I should have ended the relationship. The final week of our relationship he gave me the most heinous level of silent treatment and passive aggressive put downs on a level that was comparable to my ex-H. I found myself subconsciously going into gray rock mode, something that I haven’t had to do for years, not since my divorce from a decade ago.

A few days after continued silent treatment, I received a break up email (yes, that’s right, an email) explaining that his XW came to him about ten months ago and expressed that she wanted to attend marriage counseling (or in this case, post-MC?) with the final goal of reconciliation.

He also explained to me that he wasn’t completely honest about the nature of the divorce. In the past, he had told me that it was an amicable decision, no fault of anyone, and that they had drifted apart. He had told me this story several times. He then explained what really happened: he discovered that she was having an affair, he wanted to reconcile and attend MC, she refused, moved out and took the kid with her, she and their kid moved in with the affair partner, she got her divorce, and then proceeded to cohabitate and have a relationship with AP…for the next 5 YEARS. With the divorce, she ended up getting alimony (which ends in like 2 years) and he paid child support.

Fast forward to this year. The affair partner and the XW broke up about 4 months ago, and then a couple months after that is when this entire thing allegedly started. In summary, this man was not at all as advertised. He told me that he decided to end our relationship because his XW has stepped out of her miasma affair bubble she wanted to reconcile, and his strongest argument in believing her was that: “she sounds like herself again”.

He agreed to try reconciling with her, which he patronizingly explained to me was for the sake of the child, so that he has a two-parent home. Apparently this type of dynamic is the preferred healthy and nurturing framework to experience as young child. Throughout his entire email he played the victim, never offered a sincere apology to me, and continued to offer up his child as the sole reason for wanting to reconcile with her. Which I don’t buy, but whatever. Side note: in the email he never said anything expressing that he wanted to do this for their relationship, i.e. “I want to do this because I still love her, etc etc” — that’s the level of cowardice that he demonstrated in his words.

When this happened, I was devastated, and I’m still heartbroken. Despite my hurt, I know I didn’t deserve to be dropped like third period French, and I certainly don’t deserve to be with someone who has the emotional capacity of a character in a Sweet Valley High novel (despite him being in his late 40s). I know that I am pretty, financially and emotionally stable, I’m very smart (although apparently not re: this event) and independent. But I ended up in this revolting mess and I am very angry at myself and at these two people.

I feel like this man (and possibly also the XW) turned me into “the other woman” during this entire matter, when this was not something that I caused. I feel like I was the sacrificial offering in their reconciliation pact, where all of their past relationship problems and hurt from the affair has been dumped onto me, I am now more or less The Evil One, and I feel like I’m drowning under their untouchable pile of leprosy covered shit sandwiches. Now that they are unburdened of their evil humors, I can’t stop imagining that they are skipping off to a happy and fulfilling life that is picture perfect. It makes me feel like I lost and they “won”. Of note, since the relationship ended, I have continued to go no contact.

CL, are they going to recover and be a happy and thriving couple/family? How do I emotionally reject all of garbage that I feel was dropped in my lap? What is so terrible about being with a pretty and smart Chump? I’m in my late 30s, and now I feel like I’m never going to find a good guy who can love me and accept me for who I am.

Please knock some street smarts into me,

The Anti-Other Woman

Dear TAOW,

Here’s what I’m reading: You got dumped by a lying, two-timing shit weasel… and you’re wondering if he’s happy.

HUH? I mean, who cares? He’s a creepy man with lousy life skills, you’re not tuning into that channel.

I get that you’re disappointed. That you wasted a year of your life. That he snowed you and misrepresented himself, but you MUST step back and not catastrophize.

now I feel like I’m never going to find a good guy who can love me and accept me for who I am.

He is not that guy. Thank God you’re not wasting another moment with him. This has nothing to do with how lovable or unlovable you are.

How do I emotionally reject all of garbage that I feel was dropped in my lap?

By REJECTING it. Stop untangling his skein. Stop cross-examining his lame excuses and dubious timelines. Keep on the path of no contact.

We’ll go back together and call bullshit on his story, and then let’s dust off and move forward. You with me?

But, about two months before it ended, he started getting weird, saying things that didn’t make any sense, word salad, he got very vague about future plans, and started dropping snide little put downs for the most ridiculously minute things

Acceptable to you, or unacceptable? Did you talk to him? “Hey Phillip, you seem rather distant and irritable. What’s going on?”

Now, he’s a lying cake-eater, we know now, he probably would’ve lied — but you have this conversation for YOU. Don’t spackle. Send a shot across the bow. “Dude, you are behaving like a jerk. I will not tolerate this shit. You are on notice.”

This is ethical — you’re giving him a chance. But you’re in the deciding seat. You are ALWAYS in the deciding seat. Good enough? Acceptable? Thumbs up? Thumbs down?

In any shitty situation, you have choices to stay or go. You don’t have to pick me dance for someone’s attention. If you feel he’s squirrelly, that’s ENOUGH. Figure out your values, and stick up for yourself.

A few days after continued silent treatment

DUMP. The silent treatment is contemptuous.

In the past, he had told me that it was an amicable decision, no fault of anyone, and that they had drifted apart.

I am HIGHLY skeptical of anyone who says their marriage ended because they “drifted apart.” He isn’t sea garbage. (That would be an insult to sea garbage.)

A naive person either believes this crap, that marriage is a boring cocktail party (“Oh excuse me, I need to fill my drink…”), or they may think We Drifted Apart is politesse. How nice. He doesn’t want to speak ill of his ex.

No. We Drifted Apart is what cheaters say. It’s impression management. I Didn’t Do a Bad Thing. A nebulous cloud descended on my marriage, we fell out of love. Who can fault clouds?

The majority of people divorce for very painful reasons — infidelity, untreated mental illness, addiction. It is rarely amiable.

He then explained what really happened:

He’s a liar. You have no idea what “really happened.”

he discovered that she was having an affair,

That whole story seems concocted to me. Let’s say she was cheating. Then how on earth are you the OW? Until recently, she was living with her affair partner? Huh? Also, it’s very common for cheaters to claim they were chumped. Anyway, it doesn’t matter because he has been lying to you for MONTHS, pursuing another relationship, while he was letting you invest in him. NOT OKAY.

Either this guy is a total fabulist (my vote) or he’s so pathetic that he wants to reconcile with his cheating ex-wife 5 years after the divorce. In either case, he isn’t healthy relationship material. So….

I can’t stop imagining that they are skipping off to a happy and fulfilling life that is picture perfect. It makes me feel like I lost and they “won”.

Reconciliation with a cheater is hell. (Ask a few million of us how we know.) And fraudulent people are not happy or fulfilled — they’re shallow. There is no picture perfect life here, so stop torturing yourself with these thoughts. REFRAME. You LOST a mindfuck. A con. A guy with super shitty life skills.

Imagining you’re some villain in their story is at least a part in the drama. STEP OUT OF THE DRAMA. What’s more likely — and is evidenced by his casual, self-serving email — is that you don’t matter at all to him. Or his ex whatever she is.

So, fuck him.

And if he circles back (they often do. I suspect he’s hoovering his ex-whatever she is), NO CONTACT.

You’re young, you’re pretty, you’re smart. And you’re fuckwit free. You win.

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.
    • Oh no, no, no.

      I’ve had me eye on you for a quite a while, so if the line is forming up, you need to announce that…..

    • Right? That’s brilliance right there. Anti-OW, you proved to me with that smart simile that you deserve someone way cooler than that FW asshat.

      HE’S the cheater. An ex-wife isn’t a free for all to go back to when he’s already in a relationship.

      You’ll be fine. Stay grey rock and trust your gut and CL’s advice.

      • Thank you to everyone for their comments, suggestions, and feedback – I’ve got myself enrolled in Picker rehab with a therapist and CN’s archives of wisdom!

        • I don’t think you have a bad picker. Things take time to come out unfortunately I think around the one year mark is when things start surfacing. I feel for your heart. Don’t think you’ll never find someone. There’s other people, lots of people who just found out they’ve been dating bad people, or incompatible people or who’s spouse just left them or discovered an affair. Good, good looking people still become single and available everyday. This was an inconsiderate person. I think you’re seeing why he’s divorced.

          • I agree.

            I think though certainly it exists, usually a bad picker is not the issue. I know it wasn’t in my case. I was only 18, as was he. Folks got married younger in those days.

            I never once worried after he left and I was ready to date again that I had a bad picker. I knew what to look for and I knew to take my time and really get to know someone. Even then you can never know for sure.

            There are still no guarantees, folks can hide shit if they are motivated to hide it.

    • “Reconcillation with a cheater is hell”. Memorize that please. Also they HOOVER back. There is no point in trying to untangle the skein of a liar/cheater. It is impossible because they are liars and cheaters and that is what they do. You would never get the truth anyway. Do not put yourself through this again when he hoovers back. He will say just enough to try to get you in his good graces. Remember his X or whatever she is is a cheater too. She will be again too. There is nothing good for you in him. Just more heartache. Plz concentrate on moving forward, read all you can on this site and come back here for support. Take CL’s advice; it is spot on. Try a single’s support group, couseling, etc. Whatever it takes to move forward without X and FIX YOUR PICKER. Take time out from relationships and concentrate on taking care of you. Best of luck.

    • Yeah! What a great line. I’ll have to remember that one. All is not lost when you still have a sense of humor!

    • haha UXworld. I had the same thought – and I’m a married, straight woman 🥸. Was thinking about my single son……. but he’s too young.

    • #dropped. Super cute phrase!

      This whole situation reminds me of my most recent dating disaster. A few years after my divorce I met a super dream boat. So so handsome. Funny. Intellegent. Very attentive and so into me! One year later he started behaving ‘odd’. Unexplained Silent treatments. Leaving for a weekend ‘by himself’. He also had a habit of having dinner with his ex-wife and the kids. I also thought it’s super odd that he sometimes slipped up and called his ex his wife. And would then correct himself. I never slipped up like that. But I also never gave anyone the silent treatment. Or took off by myself to go ‘camping’ without letting my boyfriend know. I now suspect he was sleeping with/ visiting ex girl friends and probably his ex wife.

      When I broke up with him he was furious. Which I actual found shocking considering it was after a one month silent treatment.

      His ex wife still reaches out to me to let me know how much the kids loved me and still talk about me foundly. I want to respond but going no contact means having to leave her and the kids out as well. Losing his kids totally sucked. I probably spent more quality time with them than him!

      • Omg ouch. Silent treatment is cruelty and it’s selfish. I don’t think a man on a relationship should spend time with an ex wife – that’s dating. The kids know their parents are divorced, they apparently had reasons enough to split with kids, so that was the decision – parenting separately.

        • You don’t think parents who’ve split up should try to have an amicable post-divorce relationship so the split is easier on their kids because you think it’s “dating” to spend time with their ex & kids?

          Are you HIGH?!?! Or just controlling? Because that has to be one of the most f’d up things I have ever heard.

          Someone who works at having a successful coparenting relationship with an ex isn’t doing it for YOU, and they aren’t doing it for themselves- they are doing it for their kid. If you can’t handle it, don’t date men with kids & exes.

          • More specifically, if you are ever hoping to have a healthy relationship in the future with a man who has kids, this is a completely self defeating belief.

            Divorced parents divorced who care about their children more than they care about themselves are going to work really hard to keep the relationship with both parents as normal as possible after the split, and this at or may not include them all spending time together, and this is true even if/when one or both of the partners did something horrible that caused the marriage to break up. Being an asshole doesn’t absolve them of responsibility to their children!

            If you only hold out for men who are NC with their exes, you are setting yourself up to meet a lot of men who are too irresponsible or dysfunctional to interact in a mature way with their exes, and you’ll keep despairing that all you meet are FWs.

  • What a mess, TAOW, what a mess. You can’t make this shit up, as the saying goes.

    Be grateful the mess is not yours to clean up and be more cynical from now on.

  • Ugh. Sorry this happened to you. Not easy to have your trust messed with like this. Detach detach detach is the only way forward. This guy is a lying liar who lies. No way does the story about reconciling with his ex 5 years after she left him for another guy add up to a credible story. Good news is you don’t need to care anymore because the ‘real’ story is undoubtedly more mindfuckery that you don’t need in your fabulous life.

    • The story definitely doesn’t add up. If anything, my guess is the ex wife had a so-called revenge affair or exit affair following rampant cheating by this FW.

      The reason I think– scratch that, KNOW– FW from the story is the original cheater (or worse) in his former marriage was how seamlessly he shifted from normal-seeming partner to cruel, baiting, neg-prick, and then didn’t even remark on the shift like, “I don’t know what’s happening to me…”

      I now recognize this shift as the unmistakeable earmark of a serial cheater/abuser. Normal people don’t do this, only people with serious personality disorders.

      As far as whether FW from today’s letter will ever be happy in love, hmmm. Temporary cult-like devotion isn’t love in my book. And there’s something about narc cheater discard that seems ritualistic, almost as if FWs are hoping the gods of fuckwittery will reward them for turning chumps into human sacrifices.

      Maybe the temporary god is whatever current affair partner at whose feet– whether the AP asks for this or not– FWs will ritualistically lay the still-beating heart of the chump, sort of how pet cats lay the remains of squirrels and bluejays on their owners’ pillows or doormats. The cruelty is the process of ritual sacrifice. In my situation, the AP did demand this and FW obliged. And when the affair was uncovered and I retained a lawyer, FW then tried to offer me Shmoopie scalp. He called her a piece of shit and spilled every ugly detail.

      Is any of that “love”? Animals that form hierarchichal groups tend to perform these homages to the designated alphas. Alphas in certain ape species are whomever can unleash the worst consequences. But there’s a particular thing that several species of great apes and our ape ancestors would do that most other animals won’t, which is instantly switch fanatical loyalty from the former alpha to whomever killed the former alpha with no grieving period. Wolf packs are family groups and led by parents who are mourned if they pass. Only certain apes and hyenas and a few other species don’t seem to miss the former alpha-god.

      Humans evolved beyond apes in many ways but I think what marks abusers is that the more benevolent behavioral mutations that make us human are stripped away, probably due to horror-show FOO issues, leaving only the ape core. Without the capacity to love, humans are just nasty monkeys. I don’t see anything enviable about people like that. They don’t love in any recognizable sense, they just continuously switch monkey “cults.”

      • I agree. This story does not add up.

        1. If he was a chump, he would not have kept it a secret. Chumps are pretty honest about telling new partners about their ex’s affairs.

        2. Chump lady brought up a great point. Most People don’t divorce when they have children simply because they drifted apart!!! Any human being that says that is either a liar or does not value committment, marriage, or family.

        This was never mentioned in your post. How much time did he have with his child? Was it divided 50/50 or is he an every other weekender?
        Good people/good dads fight for 50/50 or even 40/50. So if your dating a divorced parent this is a must question. If they are not sharing equal time with the kids it’s a pretty big red flag.

        • I wasn’t given 50/50 because I had a roommate. He was a long time family friend who offered his house because of my ex wife was trying to get me arrested for DV. Judge said I needed my own place. So not always a red flag 🚩.

        • “People don’t divorce when they have children simply because they drifted apart!!!”

          Yes, they do. These are the people who have relatively amicable divorces and relatively successful coparenting relationships. These are ‘normal’ people, not the ones who blow everything up be being addicts, abusers, cheaters, liars, or personality disordered.

          “Any human being that says that is either a liar or does not value committment, marriage, or family.”

          No. They simply value the happiness of the individuals in a marriage/family over blind fealty to a set of ideals. The idea that families must stay together regardless of how awful or unhappy the people in them are is downright toxic and has caused FAR more harm than good.

          Also, there’s not actually anything *wrong* with a person not valuing commitment, marriage, and family…in and of itself, those are neutral values. The “wrong” is when people who don’t value those things steamroll their beliefs over partners who DO value them.

      • “how seamlessly he shifted from normal-seeming partner to cruel, baiting, neg-prick, and then didn’t even remark on the shift like, “I don’t know what’s happening to me…”

        Excellent point

      • This assessment of the power-pleasing dynamics of weak people is astute. I just got this image in my head of “all hail the barbed-wire monkey”!!

        • When someone’s not motivated by empathy, that leaves only consequences as incentives. Leave them to their electrified barbed wire monkeys.

          • HoaC- you are composing words to live by today.

            A prominent component of CN world view is “if there is no empathy-only consequences are in order.

            You are right-they worship at the alter of their god-and they are looking for a juicy sacrifice to place at the feet of the diety of
            narcissism.

      • Wonderfuly written. I always knew cheaters were cultists of some kind, given their penchant to torture innocents, I’d say they worship Moloch.

      • “Baiting, negating pricks… eloquent and accurate!
        Baiting the Chump with hopium-laced words and behaviors is more future faking while
        feigning “ see you can trust me”, then turning on a dime to contemptuous negating -that’s an awful dehumanizing pattern. Human sacrifice..!
        Thanks HoaC.

      • I agree that good people don’t do this. Also I have never known a good person who was cheated on to not say exactly that, and furthermore they definitely didn’t have any soft “we drifted apart” story to what, spare their reputation? The person I dated who cheated said a four year relationship ended because the girl was “materialistic” and made her sound needy. When I said something about her being needy, he defended her and said “I did bad things too”. Anyway yup turns out he was cheating on her and he cheated on me. He just lies about the reasons because “she was a sweetheart” and I cheated on her doesn’t sound good when explaining a breakup.

        • ““she was a sweetheart” and I cheated on her doesn’t sound good when explaining a breakup.”

          I remember one of the few questions I asked fw the night he was dumping me was “did you talk bad to her about me?” he said “what was I suppose to say, oh my wife is great; that is why I am here with you”.

          Of course they are going to dish the betrayed spouse, otherwise they reveal the shit piles they really are. Not that a whore going for a meal ticket would care anyway.

      • Read “why does he do that: inside the minds of angry & controlling men” by Lundy Bancroft. He is a psychologist who has dealt with abusive men for years, and says that no matter what sob story these men invent for sympathy, “horror-show FOO issues” are actually NOT the main reason that people cheat, lie, or abuse.

        The scientists & researchers who are studying the root cause of, and trying to prevent the emergence of, sociopathy/psychopathy are learning that anti social personality disorder is very strongly linked to real organic physical and/or functional differences in the part of the brain that processes empathy…in other words, it’s more nature than nurture.

    • Angrychump, thank you for your comment! It definitely doesn’t add up; I think CL is right in saying I shouldn’t attempt to untangle it. It wouldn’t make me feel better, and it won’t give me any additional clarity, because it’s not based on any healthy foundation of logic.

    • Eh, sounds credible to me- like a guy who still held a torch for a cheating ex who dumped him, and when leaping back the second she decided she was lonely & crooked her little finger his way. He’s ashamed to admit he still loves & is going crawling back to a cheater that dumped him, so of course “for my kids!” is the excuse he’s using to cover it up, and why it doesn’t actually make sense. It’s all his circus, his monkeys and has nothing to do with OP, and she can walk away knowing that she dodged a weak willed, lying, cowardly bullet. The only thing this guy & his ex are winning is the booby prize, and OP can skip off knowing she is free of this sad sack’s drama.

      • Side Eye, 💯 agree with you. His character flaws are evident with his actions, but also how he’s defending his situation. I think maybe an element of magical thinking too so he believes his own woeful story of martyrdom. The reality is, no solid integrity is being demonstrated towards anyone in this soap opera, to include his kid.

        • Yep yep all this. A man with character and integrity would tell you the truth, even if it was embarrassing to admit he still wanted someone who screwed him royally or he thought saying “it’s the kids” vs “I’m still in love” would be ‘less painful’ for you…just rip the damn bandaid off and get it over with.

          Emotions are not under our control and he is going to feel whatever he feels…having feels isn’t what makes him lack integrity. What showed his lack of character & integrity is how he reacted to & handled his emotions- with denial, dishonesty, and abuse. Grown ups manage their feelings in a way that causes the least amount of disruption to other peoples lives.

          • Completely agree with you again, Side Eye. Even if the truth was painful for me, I would have preferred it. We will never know what specifically is truth or a lie in this woeful and tragic tale, I need to accept that. I do know that if you genuinely love someone, you should be able to acknowledge it and verbally express it. It’s not a healthy or safe love if it’s also riddled with shame. Otherwise dude, you’re hiding a relationship just like your ex-wife did. That’s not any kind of love I want. That’s co-dependence and melodrama.

            • I know it can be really difficult, because I have the kind of brain that always wants to know the WHY for everything, whether it helps to know or not.

              But ultimately, it’s exactly like Chump Lady says- there’s no need to untangle the skein because ultimately the WHY of why someone is hurting you, the only thing that matters is that they ARE hurting you, and that ultimately, it has to stop.

              Everything else is just set dressing and distractions.

  • Dear Anti-Other Woman, I feel with you. Being chumped in your late 30’s sucks, especially if you still have wishes for a family or so. (Hands up here.)

    I told myself I am way better off on my own, compared to FW getting to be together with whomever apparently agreed to keep up with him, yet society tells you it’s better to be in a relationship than an almost-40 yo single woman and that sucks.

    But let’s face it, if you’re very honest to yourself you know this guy has no spine and every more second spent with him is wasted time. His recollected family is probably living a lie with the excuse for the child they have – that’s their problem. Go and focus on your life and look for better men. It’s hard but maybe it’s also a good time to figure out what kind of guy you need. Or maybe, that you don’t really need a guy all that badly (a lot can be quite a pain rather than gain).

    I used to look up to my fw as he was a bit older and a responsible father of 2, yet I never thought of why he really had been divorced (and like in your case, he had not been telling me the full story). I will never do that again, and now put transparency and trust first.

    I wish you all the best!

    • Giraffy, I’m sorry that you’ve also experienced dishonesty from your X. No matter what other people say to you or what the standard social norm is, you are absolutely better off alone than with someone who is so incredibly selfish. I was out of the game for a while before this, I’m sure there’s some underlying trauma that caused me to go gray rock instead of confront him, hence why I am in Picker rehab probation. During the devaluing event, the tension was palpable, and I have a habit of shutting down when I’m afraid I’m going to get further hurt. Clearly something I need to work on in my therapy efforts. I really do like that statement that CL made, that I am in the deciding seat. I want to get to the point in my confidence where that is the default response. I need to get more streamlined in reinforcing boundaries where I felt disrespected, and then when it’s time to cut my losses, BOY BYE.

      • Thank you for your reply, TAOW. Don’t be too hard on yourself, I think it’s pretty normal to shut down when you’re being devalued, it’s such a humiliating experience!

        I think a lot of people try to present the best version of themselves when they meet someone they enter a new relationship with. For my fw I think he believed his own lies for a while and managed to live up to it, but then his old character caught up on him. So yeah, we’re much better off without him and I definitely do not envy the woman who might be with him now, on the contrary..

        Wish you all the best for the future!

      • TAOW again I feel for you. Honestly though there is no real response to gaslighting it’s emotional abuse – and intentionally hard to confront. When someone is gaslighting you you know they won’t tell you what’s ‘really going in’. If someone’s essentially been dating (maybe sleeping with) their ex they aren’t going to admit it (if they had integrity none of that would happen). Lastly it’s intimidating. I think he’s broken and it took time to get out. When you feel lighter I’d recommend dating (just dates), and see what goes somewhere, let the guys put in the effort to make it a serious relationship and kindly cut loose any dates that aren’t you’re type.

        • Basic point is – I don’t think your broken he is! I do like CL line to put a guy on notice and follow through if need be. Unfortunately I don’t think this ever needs to be said with a man of integrity…something fishy is going on when they bark at an innocent.

  • TAOW,

    A hard earned pearl of wisdom if I may. Cheaters lie; you can’t believe a word they say:

    – If a cheater says something to make them look good, then it’s because they have or are doing something that they know makes them look bad (likely because it’s bad) and they are trying to “impression manage” you.
    – When a cheater tries to tell you that they are doing something for noble reasons (eg reconciling for the sake of the child), they are doing it for their own selfish reasons, but they don’t want you to know this.

    I can remember the first Christmas after Ex-Mrs LFTT left our kids and I. She said “I can’t bear the thought of you being alone this Christmas and New Year, so I think that the kids (then 11, 16 and 18) should stop with you. We can sort out arrangements for next year in due course.” What she really meant was “I am going off with AP to have a fabulous time and having the kids with me would cramp my style” – but her version obviously plays better to the gallery.

    You can boil this down to cheaters lie (and lie a lot) because it suits them. This man is no loss to you and – to be frank – who gives a sh*t if he and his AP are happy? Even if they give the impression of being happy, you can bet that it no more than that; impression management.

    You need to focus on the fact that they only won each other; you won yourself, which is a far bigger and better prize.

    LFTT

    • LFTT- I got the same line from STBX regarding Christmas this year, our first year separated. STBXH: “How could I take the kids from their mom on Christmas?!” UBT: “I’ve never gotten to spend Christmas with schmoopie, but now I have a socially acceptable reason to ignore my kids and spend Christmas with her instead!” Pulled the same stunt for New Years. I can’t wait to see what happens next year. Did the kids ever stay with Ex-Mrs LFTT after that first year?

      • TbT,

        Not once in 7 Christmases/New Years!

        The totality of her involvement with them this year was a 90 minute drop in to my house to drop off their presents a couple of days ago. They are now 18, 22 and 25, to be honest, they see her as an irrelevance.

        LFTT

        • LFTT,

          My kids were grown when Edgar Suit and I divorced. The sum total of their Christmases with their dad in the last 6 years was each receiving a Christmas card in the mail with a small check enclosed. They haven’t seen him in person for a long time. This year, there was ONE card which said “Merry Christmas to my Daughter and ‘Son'” which was obviously intended for a daughter and son-in-law who is like a son. 😀 At least he still sent them individual albeit small checks? Happily we are all at meh with this shell of a man so everyone found it humorous (and a little skeevy for siblings to be mistaken for spouses) rather than hurtful.

        • That breaks my heart. I do not understand someone being that self absorbed. That said, it sounds like your kids are no worse for the wear.

      • Jerks.

        My fw was a police officer. He used to “work” on Christmas Eve (after our son was grown) to give guys with young kids the day off. He also used to work on New Years Eve so folks that like to party could enjoy. After Dday, I wondered how many of those “work” days were actually spent fucking the whore(s).

        I will never know as I didn’t track his days off, but who knows.

      • A perspective change might help.

        Instead of seeing it as him getting a ‘win’ by bailing out on his responsibilities to be with Schmoops, view it as him LOSING the opportunity to continue making wonderful holiday experiences & memories with your children, and you get to have those precious times & memories *all for yourself*.

        If you keep expecting him to act differently than the man you already know him to be, you will keep being disappointed.

    • Oh, this rings SO true! Whenever FW offers something that seems magnanimous (e.g., time with the kids), I automatically assume it benefits him and AP in some way.

      • I should clarify that the kids lived with me exclusively from the time we separated in 2016 until last October, when he finally got his own place (he had moved in with his mother and just … stayed … for four years). At that point, our teenage daughter started splitting her time between my home and his (week on, week off), but my teenage son never lived with him. However, once we stopped doing “family” Christmas and other occasions, he was very generous around me having them every Christmas Eve and morning, supposedly for my benefit, but I’m pretty sure Christmas Eve was when he would get together with the married AP, since she’d have to navigate her own family’s expectations. The last year we did “family” Christmas, he had to leave early on Christmas Eve to “take his mother to Christmas Eve mass” (he usually had to leave due to having develop “anxiety” during our separation and constantly had to rush off because he was “too anxious” when we were having family meals or spending a family evening together, usually after engaging with his phone). He then showed up on Christmas Day and presented me with the program from the mass he’d supposedly taken his mother to, which was super-weird (“thought you’d like to have this”), but I realised later that he’d likely been meeting up with AP and the mass was just a cover story.

        Same with taking the kids for vacation, etc.–all the supportiveness and helpful suggestions were just a ridiculous attempt to seem selfless while providing cover. He’s utterly pathetic.

    • Yes!! What late 40s breaks up a year long relationship by email. He BLOCKED her from confronting him and asking tough questions. That’s why he emailed, so you wouldn’t get to ask the tough questions about this ‘doing it for the kid crap’. I can tell you right now he’s not doing it for the kid. Nobody gets back after divorce for kids. Nobody. It’s just something people have heard other people say and it’s a ‘gotcha’ excuse. It’s for the kid, welp can’t argue that – he’s a saint!

  • The man described here is abusive.

    At the very least, lying and the silent treatment alone are ginormous red flags.
    Healthy people, good people, do not do these things.

    The silent treatment is on the 16-page list of Controlling Behaviors that I got from my local domestic violence facility when I was seeking help way back in 1989.

    I grew up with DV. I sought help when I noticed (in 1989) that I kept choosing men with that emotional blueprint. I thought I had done enough work to break that pattern. Since DDay (OCT 2017) I have come to realize I have not. Traitor X did not hit, did not yell, didn’t OUTWARDLY express anger at me hardly ever. In 27 years. Literally.

    But the controlling behavior? The secret double life? Passive aggression? Off the charts. Obfuscated by his Nice Guy easygoing friendly mild-mannered persona.

    If I told the average person who knows him (thinks they know him) that I was in an abusive relationship, they would think I was crazy. The affair (the one I found out about) is the thing that broke the spell.

    At the end of the day, I have not lost but ESCAPED. I have GOTTEN AWAY. I have been FREED. His father was very outwardly physically abusive and I am
    lucky to be alive. His father could have easily killed his mother. Traitor X’s Nice Guy PERSONA fools a LOT of people. My desire to have a better life than I grew up with, and believing his Nice Guy Persona, only served to keep me confused and in it for half my life.

    I have personally found that my programming for abusive men to be very insidious, more deeply ingrained and difficult to break than I realized.

    We see when we see and hear when we hear and believe when we believe. Denial can’t be broken any sooner than we are ready, and if it happens before you lose your life you can consider yourself lucky

    This man and his XW do not sound like hotbeds of mental health to me, at all. There is no “happy perfect life” there.

    OJ was very charming. I think Nicole
    was an affair partner when he was married to Marguerite? ☹️.

    • Affairs are about power and control.

      Power and control have nothing to do with love.

      I was taught this in therapy and by my domestic violence organization.

      I agree.

      (Affairs are on that 16-page list of Controlling Behaviors as well).

    • This is also my experience. I grew up in an abusive household where the abuse was more ‘obvious’ but there was liberal amounts of other toxic communication as well. So my partnership didn’t seem so bad. Sure I was not able to bring up any issues ever, felt like I could never please him and essentially folded myself neatly into as small a package as possible but I had food in the fridge and was not being hit so everything was hunky dory only it wasn’t. It has been quite difficult to come to terms with the fact that I was treated badly and that, that was not okay.

    • Thanks for this, VH. I can identify with being married to someone who obfuscates “by his Nice Guy easygoing friendly mild-mannered persona.” I came from a large family that yelled. Every door jamb in the house was cracked because we slammed doors. My dad was an alcoholic, and my oldest brother was straight-up abusive. At 23, I thought I was hopping on a sane train with this new guy who seemed so quiet and thoughtful.

      Even now, I’m sure people can’t believe that he could possibly be abusive. He perfected the pained-physician persona, someone who cares so deeply about his patients that he can’t engage in idle chit chat. In truth, he really can’t make conversation. As a male friend of mine put it upon hearing of the affair, “How is that possible? X can’t even string two words together?”

      But he could string words together, especially to form a snide remark. He whispered his insults. He used the silent treatment. He mastered passive-aggressive behavior. And I spackled, conformed, appeased, tap danced…

      I was grateful when he was nice to me. I mistook sex for love.

      Revelation of the affair snapped me out of my stupor.

      Although I relish my freedom from the abuse, I live with a sometimes paralyzing concern that I’m somehow attracted to abusive men (wolves in sheep’s clothing).

      To TAOW: What happened sucks, but I’m happy for you that you didn’t end up like so many of us who spent decades with an abusive person. I hope you find someone who loves and respects you. All of us deserve that.

      • My therapist reminded me on Tuesday that he duped, and continues to dupe everyone, herself included.

        Why would anyone not be attracted to someone who presents as charming, kind, thoughtful? It’s really important to have some compassion for myself. By the time the abuse, not physical, started seeping in, I was SNARED. Like a fly in a spider’s web.

        I truly believed his Nice Guy act and of course, after the good looking war zone I grew up with, I thought I had won the lottery. Nice Guy, in recovery, went to therapy with me to learn and avoid what we grew up with.

        Revealed as ALL A LIE 27 years later. Who knows how much was real, sincere, genuine I will never know.

        I have a number of pre-DDay voicemails from him which I saved because my daughter is on them and they are from when she was little. On them he sounds sweet, kind, like he loves me. Typical of how he spoke to me. When I hear them now, I think, “Of course you stayed. Of course you speckled.” The way he SPOKE to me, compared to what went on in my family growing up, was like a rainstorm after a drought. A HUGE hook. It also made his BEHAVIOR very confusing. Confusion kept me rooted to the spot and motivated to sparkle. Hey, everybody has issues. He’s really a Nice Guy.

        The affair broke that spell. It blew the lid off a Pandora’s Box with a portrait of Dorian Gray in it which blows my mind to this very day.

        Just like him, I will be bringing my unresolved baggage to any future relationships I get into. But unlike him, I am on my own post-divorce doing my homework and healing after our MIRAGE addressing my issues and blind spots that were undesirable contributing factors.

        Yes, my FOO programming links love and abuse. It’s a very tough association to undo. And what’s important going forward is that I stay awake and aware, get better at recognizing bad situations, strengthen my boundaries, get better at loving myself, and exit faster when my patterns and programming land me in an unhealthy situation.

        • Yep I also had a nice guy, sweet gentle, loving, patient. I was duped for 14 years thinking I was the luckiest person to have such a happy marriage.
          Coming to grips with reality was brutal. Like leaving a cult I said to my therapist.
          Ten years in the signs were very obvious that he was not who I thought he was. There was the silent treatment, the superiority at my expense, the put downs and the big one, the sexual coercion and gaslighting when he flirted in front of me. but I refused to see it and have my whole world collapse like a house of cards.
          These covert narcs are truly the worst.

          • I once intercepted one of my ex-husband’s girlfriend’s online posts after their relationship ended She was telling her friends that “kink break-ups are so much harder than regular break-ups.” No sweety, you were manipulated by a sadistic narcissist/sociopath whom you believed to be the most kind and caring man you had ever dated. You are lucky to not have been robbed of years of investment in him, nor do you have to coparent two young children with a lying monster you thought was your best friend. Covert narcissism is a bitch, and I honestly feel sorry for any girlfriend/victims of these men.

      • Agree. Thank you to VH and Spinach. I could have written these paragraphs if I was further out from the fog of D-day. Abandoned/discarded 18 months ago after more than 3 decades of marriage. Reading CL and everyone’s insights has helped me come to terms reality even though I still have a ways to go in the healing department. And of course it helps to know that I am not delusional, dramatic or unsupported.

    • I’m going to point out that I have a near-perfect track record of picking out addicts and abusers–as “favorite” actors or “celebrity crushes.” If I’m attracted, it’s probably an addict of some sort. If I really, really like the person as a FRIEND–probably a normal person. (There’s a part of me that’s still trying to sparkle Ben Affleck’s behavior…but thankfully, CN reminds me what I already know, that addicts are not available for relationship, so JLo will eventually be history, again.)

      So you’ve got some company.

      • After hitting off with someone over the weekend (crazy chemistry, sparks, attraction, fireworks), only to find out from google on Tuesday that they have a semi-recent DUI and a DV arrest, I feel you on the attracted to addicts part.

        Since my divorce, the people that I’ve had the fastest chemistry with all had substance issues. One guy did not, but he was not at all healed from his breakup with his ex (which I paid for). I don’t drink much, and never dabble in anything else, so I keep wondering why I keep clicking so well with people that are such a mess! At this point, if I have instant sparks with somebody, I’m going to take that as my warning cue to take a step back and do some heavy due-diligence before investing any more time.

        At least I’m learning to recognize the red flags for what they are, and walking away only a few months, weeks, or in the most recent case days in. I’m bummed the latest guy I clicked with has the issues he has, but at least I’m not letting myself spackle over it for a dopamine hit from his affection and attention. Trying to console myself with my progress, even if my already small dating pool just got that much smaller.

        • To be honest, the “fireworks,” crazy chemistry feeling is probably a red flag in itself. Most healthy relationships start from a basis of something other than fireworks – like mutual respect, when you’ve me someone through some sort of shared activity, etc. After my marital experience, I will always be leery of people who expect instant chemistry/fireworks.

          • I don’t “expect it” but I have had it happen while bonding over mutual interests (met them skiing).

          • I was taught to beware the fireworks, and I still agree. And I did not have that with Traitor X. We were friends for a long time before dating so I assumed he was a good choice. ☹️ I figured the slow burn was a good sign.

            Stanton Peele’s book on love and addiction is a good read. I also love Earnie Larsen’s Stage 2 Relationships. I am back to the drawing board to see where the holes in my cheese were….

            • My ex was convincingly kind, loving, and caring throughout our marriage, though he was frustrating at times. I couldn’t tell if these were normal frustrations of living with another human being, or truly signs of disrespect. My FOO issues predisposed me to spackling and accepting what I considered immature, but not abusive, behavior. Discovering his infidelity was revelatory. I accepted an enormous amount of gaslighting and emotional abuse during wreckonciliation that I wrote off as affair fog. I had to learn the hard way what a covert narcissist is before I truly came to trust that he sucks.

              When I look back at how I fell in love with him, I can see that he was mirroring my values and good qualities. And when he waivered from them, I wrote it off as immaturity or lack of awareness. He appealed to my ego in that I seemed to have a good influence on him and make him a better version of himself. Until he no longer cared to impress me. Then I saw his true nature.

              Reminds of that scene where Jack Nicholson tells Helen Hunt she makes him want to be a better man. Ugggh. Run.

            • I met my share of garden variety assholes by relying on “instant spark”, but the guy that I dated after he’d been my good friend for nearly 2 years, that I thought I could trust, that I’d seen treat his previous GF well (and she was a well known a-hole)?

              Yeah, that’s the guy who flooded me with so much mental & emotional abuse in <1 year I almost had a nervous breakdown, and who still stalks me 30+ years after I broke up and went total NC, from a state 1000s of miles away where he is married with 3 kids.
              The third time I had to block a FB friend request from a new account he’d made just for that purpose, he also sent a DM where he “jokingly” told me that his wife “hates me”, because he talks about me to their daughter so much she is growing up to be just like me.
              (I find this APPALLING BEYOND WORDS and my heart breaks for this woman who must think of me like the Demon OW that will never go away. I wish I could tell her, he’s all yours! I DON’T WANT HIM!)

          • “To be honest, the “fireworks,” crazy chemistry feeling is probably a red flag in itself.”

            Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. When we feel the fireworks right away, it’s a sign that something other than our judgment is at work. “Chemistry” has zero to do with character. It’s usually our unconscious chump, trained in our dysfunctional FOO, that’s doing the picking.

            • “Chemistry has zero to do with character”.

              So right on.

              And for us to know and the cheaters to find out.

              Heheheh.

            • The reason that picking someone on “instant sparks” alone does work is because that feeling is a physiological reaction to being around someone with whom (very simplified) your sex hormones mesh really well- hence the reason we call it “chemistry”. It’s nothing more than horniness, or “thinking with the little head”…and we all know how well that works for men!

              Only, when you’ve been conditioned to think that those fluttering butterflies mean “true love” not “pantsfeelings” or “how Evolution propagates the species by encouraging people to boink”, it’s a recipe for disaster.

        • Actually, your dating pool will EXPAND if you beware of chemistry and sparks and instant attraction. Once you start looking for character first, that will slow you down and get you focused on the other person’s values and availability for an actual relationship (and yes, addicts are NOT available for a relationship.) You will be amazed on how many non-sparkly guys are out there waiting for someone who has similar values.

          And “fastest” chemistry is THE MOST DANGEROUS KIND for people who have a faulty picker.

      • LAJ, Jlo or as I like to refer her to as, Jho!! She’s as bad as Affleck!! They deserve each other!! These clowns run from one relationship to another and don’t give a damn who they hurt. The “fans” are the other idiots who swoon over these selfish fools!

        • I know. It’s like a double-Hoover! They’re awash in kibbles. And imagine anyone taking that relationship seriously.

    • I’m so sorry all this happened to you more than once. However encountering abusive people doesn’t mean you’re broken, it means you encountered an abusive person. This behaviour only starts when they have your trust. It’s not you who’s broken. I went a decade of not encountering jerks, and after that long I was less skeptic so, then I met a jerk. Only he wasn’t a jerk to start, but he wasn’t a man of integrity. So I figure now I just need a rule where I can’t date a neutral guy, a man had to be intentional about morals and integrators or he isn’t relationship material. Without strong morals and integrity they are only good for shallower relationships like friends. Intimate relationships will take someone doing the right thing when it’s hard and consciously putting in effort to be kind and fair. It doesn’t happen by default or by accident.

  • Rejection hurts. It is natural to feel that way. You wasted time on someone who was not honest with you and did things behind your back. A person that truly cared about you would have been upfront and honest about their decision and not send you a breakup email. Trust that he sucks.
    You are lucky that you were not married to this cheater and liar and did not breed with him. Count your blessings on that one. Don’t spend anymore time trying to figure this out. I know this is easier said than done. Leave the drama between the two fuckwits and lead your life. It may be lonely but at least it is safe and you do not have to contend with lying, drama and being treated badly. In the end the only one you can count on is yourself. Good luck, you know you will get through this.

  • No, they lost, you won. She now has a lying, immature little worm, and he gets a using cheater who wants him back because the alimony stream will be drying up soon. You going grey rock is perfect, because they can’t prop you up as the “other woman” anymore, something you never were to begin with. Steer clear of these two. They played stupid games and got stupid prizes. You got your life back.

  • TAOW, that dude is a mess and you’re well rid of him. IF his story is truthful (unlikely), I read it as his XW’s alimony was ending and AP wouldn’t marry her so she headed back to your boyfriend as her backup plan for financial support. All billed under the banner of unicorn-reconciliation and Selfless Parenting. It’s a total train wreck waiting to happen. Again. You do not want to be a character in their effed up Fractured Family Fairy Tale.

  • I did not learn until many years later that the man that I was seeing and who would eventually become my husband was also liberally seeing other woman. I did not know that I WAS in their minds often THE OTHER WOMAN. It pissed me off! Back to you: I say good riddance to bad rubbish (I get you may be hurting but maybe you can think of it as just the wound he inflicted healing).

    • This is what bothers me when people here categorize the APs as scum & whores & b/himbos and so on.

      While I am aware that awful people are often drawn together like magnets, I’m still certain that the vast majority of APs are just as much victims of these narks & sociopaths as the people here denigrating them. They are getting lied to, manipulated, used, and flooded with 100% made up stories from whole cloth that make the Chumps look like horrible abusive/neglectful demons that they would not recognize as themselves. They aren’t just saying “my spouse doesn’t understand me” and having APs fall into their beds- they are GROOMING them.

      I mentioned elsewhere my ex that I dated in the late 80s- were were friends for close to 2 years and I had no clues that he’d turn out to be the mentally & emotionally abusive monster he was…finding out that this 20 yr old was hanging out w/a 17 yr old HS student behind my back was the last straw. I dumped him, immediately went no contact, and haven’t spoken to him for over 30 years. I am super low key about it with people who were then-mutual friends (many were creeped out by his constant prying for info & faded away), I don’t want to stir up anything…because he hasn’t stopped stalking me this entire time, despite being in a state 1000s of miles away, being married, and having 3 kids.
      When FB happened, I had to go under a pseudonym after he found me, because after he sent me a friend request & I blocked him, he made a total of 3 NEW accounts to send friend requests from & I blocked them all.

      The last one came with a jolly note where he ‘jokingly’ told me how much his wife HATES ME because he talks about me to their daughter *so much* that she wants to be just like me and has taken up my main lifelong creative outlet/hobby/passion as her own. This was the only time I ever responded in ~30 years, when I wrote back LEAVE ME ALONE and blocked him. I haven’t been directly bothered since, though when I recently reconnected with *another* then-mutual friend, he said the first thing my ex did after finding him online was ask if he knew anything about me, and if I “was still married”…and this friend was baffled/astounded- “dude, I have no idea, I haven’t talked to her in 30 years.”

      I can’t even BEGIN To convey how appalled and horrified I am to know that he’s done this to some poor innocent woman, who must think of me as the Very Devil, a Phantom OW that will never go away. That he thought I’d find this flattering or some kind of compliment is REVOLTING. And quite frankly, if they didn’t live almost on the other side on the continent, I’d be terrified as well, both of him, and the possibility of some kind of abuse/manipulation fueled confrontation with his wife (remember, I lived with this guy, I KNOW the things he is capable of…the guy who seems too nice & jolly to be abusive.)

      I wish I could tell her that he’s ALL hers, I want NOTHING to do with him, and want nothing more than for him to FORGET about me FOREVER, but I can’t, and she’s going to think of me as the classless scumbag bimbo whore that ruined her marriage FOREVER.

      • “While I am aware that awful people are often drawn together like magnets, I’m still certain that the vast majority of APs are just as much victims of these narks & sociopaths as the people here denigrating them. ”

        Bull shit. It is rare for the adultery partner to not know the guy or gal is married. If they don’t then obviously they are not at fault, unless they find out and continue.

        Sounds like you may have been a victim, most aren’t.

        If you don’t like whores being called out for being whores, this isn’t the right place for you.

        • LOL well no, I wasn’t a victim because I was never an AP- I’ve never had the slightest interest in getting with someone who’s already partnered, or otherwise unavailable for a relationship. And I’m not a chump, either, simply because cheating is a complete & permanent dealbreaker for me, one and done, forever, nor do I have the patience/tolerance to put up with a helpless man baby who needs a mommy to wipe his ass, or an a-hole that does nothing but cause chaos in my life. But I’ve spent DECADES watching women I loved get caught up in this BS, from BOTH sides; watched my sociopath/narcissistic sibling pull this exact grooming routine over & over as he cycled through relationships- and most of the women he sucked into it were really nice people from messed up FOOs/backgrounds that made them extremely vulnerable to a narc’s predatory abuse; and I knew someone for decades that was a covert narc who had to make up outrageous, unbelievable lies to explain why all their old friends/supply had walked away when a serious health crisis was the catalyst turned their narcissism overt & malignant.

          Even ChumpLady says it:
          “ You know who also stays stuck because they “love” the cheater? The affair partner. Isn’t that what they tell themselves? It doesn’t matter who I hurt — because I “love” this person it’s all okay. King’s X.”

          (From here: https://www.chumplady.com/2020/04/love-the-all-purpose-spackle-3/ )

          Narcs lie and manipulate as easily as they breathe. It’s what they DO, and they more or less to it to everyone they know, because they don’t have any other way of relating to the world. It’s why narc on narc dysfunctional relationships are so spectacularly disastrous to see- they can’t stop trying to control and manipulate each other.

          Narcs don’t cheat because affair partners are available, narcs cheat because THEY ARE ASSHOLES, so “calling out whores for being whores” is pointing the blame at the wrong person. If easy partners don’t exist, a narc will find one to groom, even in a penitentiary or a cloister full of nuns. Even if the AP is scummy & immoral, they still didn’t cause the cheater to cheat. Period.

          And whore is a misogynistic slur for a sex worker. Using it as a derogatory insult for an AP because you are upset your partner betrayed you and broke your trust isn’t just inaccurate, it stigmatizes sex workers and contribute to a culture of violence against women & BIPOC who engage in sex work. “Cheating asshole” works just as well for the AP and doesn’t bring even more hatred down on some of the most marginalized people in our country.

          Lastly, as hard as this is to accept, the only person in the affair who had any responsibility towards not fucking up your marriage was your ex partner. They are the one who made a commitment, and they are the ones that broke it.
          Barring some other kind of relationship that holds its own social obligations, the only thing the AP owes you is the basic we all owe each other- don’t act like a dick. Your ex is still 99% at fault, and putting all your anger on the AP is just another form of spackling.

  • I dated someone post divorce and after a year, same thing. Less calls, more vague. There was someone else. Thing was, he could have just been honest with me. But in order to avoid confrontation, he broke up in a way that reinjured my confidence level that took a beating from my ex husband. But it also made me realize the picker wasn’t working good. Well. Live and learn. Whatever you do, don’t give this dude a second chance now that you know he’s a cheating liar along with his ex. And you know, if his tale is true, he’s walking into a classic chump tramp and there’s no happy ending there.

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you Trudy! I really think the picker is a bit of a myth. Truth is we don’t have a culture that upholds morals and integrity so there are a lot of people living selfishly. You didn’t pick him, it ended. Your picker is fine, everyone meets bad people and it takes time to realize they are bad. The important thing is that you’re able to keep away from them and you did. He’s your ex. Being married requires someone takes integrity and holds themselves to a standard when they don’t FEEL like being fair and kind. That’s when the love comes in. Many people are too selfish to love. Love isn’t a feeling – love is sacrifice to maintain goodwill. I’d say most people don’t have what it takes which is why pretty well everyone ends up with horror stories. That shouldn’t make you think your picker is broken or off – you were the good one and you’re still looking for another.

  • To some extent, it doesn’t matter; most dating relationships are not supposed to work out.

    That’s a super hard lesson for an empathic person to learn. But it’s important.

    Dating post cheater is a big education. You learn to meet people, quickly see if you are compatible, hang out, and likely break up. Again and again. Sometimes you are ghosted, dumped, lied to, etc…

    Sorry you are hurting. But what a little lesson and victory all in one.

    • True, dating sucks. The one time I tried dating again after dumping the cheater I was ghosted. I have decided it’s not worth the effort at my age. Dating should be fun, not a struggle, but there are just too many crap people out there. After you’ve been betrayed, you’re more aware of it because your innocence is lost. Still, I’d rather know the truth, depressing as it may be.

      • I feel for you. Dating is hard…I still think it’s worth it when things are lighter and you can bear the crap you’ll inevitably go to. You really have to go into dating expecting 90 percent of these people will end up being a*%holes…but willing to cut early so you can find the rare ones who have integrity. It’s not okay the ghosting etc but it definitely isn’t personal…adults who do this have been doing it forever to everyone – they are children inside.

    • I think it is a social problem to consider going out on a date as “the start” of a relationship. If you choose to go out, you are giving the other person consideration. You are exchanging information, exploring interests. This is why it is so important not to have sex right away. Sex bonds people who are otherwise incompatible.

      From where I sit, going out on a date is more likely to be the start of an elimination process. Familiarity often does breed contempt. The dating process peels back the veneer of someone’s life. He may be a successful man who has been divorced 5 years on the surface, but he is actually a man who lied about his divorce and is still hung up on his ex. That is not success.

      The other thing that stands out to me is the worry the other couple will skip off to a happy life for ever and ever. Really? Look around. How many truly happy relationships do you see? I grew up in a community where people stayed married but were clearly miserable with each other. When I started trying to figure out why I was unhappy, and started working on fixing me, I realized that I had no good role models especially when it came to men. Unacceptable behavior was a staple in my life, so it felt familiar to me. It was not something I wanted, but something I tolerated. Now, I do not tolerate it. It may be hard for some to believe, but it is possible to be single and be very content. I have been happier with myself and my life since I decided not to look for happily ever after. New people I meet are either potential friends, or not, whether male or female.

      If you find yourself looking for love with all the wrong expectations, stop it. Fix your picker. Concentrate on the kind of life you want to live, and the happiness you deserve. Learn to love yourself, concentrate on being happy yourself for the rest of your ever after.

      • This, times a thousand –>

        “I think it is a social problem to consider going out on a date as ‘the start’ of a relationship. If you choose to go out, you are giving the other person consideration.”

        TAOW, read what Portia has written over and over. And let’s look at your relationship timelines with this guy:

        *You dated him for almost a year, so let’s say 11 months.
        *He started acting differently 2 months before he broke it off, so you’d been dating about 9 months.

        So you had only been dating him 9 months. You were already spending time with his child.
        Now, in retrospect, doesn’t this seem a bit fast? You meet someone and don’t really “date,” as in going out once a week for 6 months, getting to know each other; you’re already in relationship with his child (who has already been in one divorce.)

        Now, I don’t know who rushed things–could be him, could be you, could be both of you. ButI do know that (in spite of the many stories we hear about “love at first sight’), the early discovery months in any relationship are more likely to be limerence or infatuation or fantasy fulfillment than “love.”

        You have to know someone to love that person. It’s why once I got my head on straight, I knew I didn’t “love” Jackass because turned out I didn’t know him. He was a fraud. That made it a lot easier to get over him. I wasn’t in love. I was telling myself a fantasy story and investing my heart into it. It’s OK to feel heartbroken. But be realistic about WHAT you are heartbroken about–almost certainly, finding out that your “happy ever after” was a mirage.

        Many replies remind you that this guy is a liar and a cheater. Note how much of your post is built on what he told you. He’s not a “reliable narrator.” Just as he misrepresented his past when you started dating, he’s likely not telling the truth about what happened with his X or how long he was courting her and dating you at the same time.

        Your story reminds me of my experience with Jackass. We were “dating,” too, and I got serious way too fast, having come out of a bad marriage wanting “happy ever after.” Things were seemingly fine for about a year (sound familiar?) when… he changed. He broke promises. He spoke harshly to me for the first time. He talked to me with contempt. I got the silent treatment. His habits changed…and so on. I spackled, too, so you aren’t alone. But of course it turned out he was involved with a married woman who lived near his mother (which explains why he moved in with mom) and had planned to just fade out of the picture without telling me.

        I came to learn, via Chump Nation, that the “change” part was actually “devaluation.” He had love bombed me up front, made me feel like “the one,” and so the change was inexplicable to a normal person. But to someone with a character disorder, moving from having someone on a pedestal as a soul mate, etc. to devaluing the person is just par for the course.

        Look into the cycle of relationship commonly attributed to narcissists. That might illuminate what you’ve experienced. You went through a devaluation and discard, which leads me to believe that your FraudsterXBF has real character problems. He’s a liar (as you know). He’s a coward (because he devalued you instead of telling you the truth. Plus the email breakup). He’s abusive (the silent treatment, not telling you the whole story of his past, keeping you in the dark). You don’t need to diagnose FrausterXBF. You know what you need to know. But it will help you moving forward to know that there is a subset of people who get intimate quickly (lovebombing, hasty intimacy), then start to devalue you (spending less time, criticizing, the cold shoulder, smirking) and then discard you. And even worse, sometimes they hoover back if it’s in their best interest. (Which I suspect is the kind of reconciliation that FraudsterXBF and his X are engaged in–it’s a hoover on one side or the other.

        Hoovers are about going back to pick up resources and ego kibbles from the past. FXBF may be tired of paying alimony. Two years of living with the XW and he can be done with that, eh? And the kiddo will be 2 years closer to emancipation.

        • LAJ, I agree with the most with you say but in the same time I think a year is quite a lot. The lesson we learn from engaging with narcissists is that their true character comes out only after a while. It can be 3 weeks, 3 months, 3 years or 30 years. Sometimes there are clear red flags, sometimes they hide it damn well.

          Now for those who have had a happy relationship before experiencing the character change, should they consider it a failure over all? I think it’s just one of the risks when meeting people: they can be deceitful. And the longer you know the person, the more sure you will be about their character, so I completely agree to not to rely on the other person to soon. But to say TAOW went to fast, that seems a bit harsh. You cannot be on reserve for years, you cannot foresee everything. She did what she had to do, now she just needs to reframe her story to see the guy is not a lot a loss.

          • I agree a year is a long time and she only had a month or so of strange behaviour….I like CLs suggestion but it’s so hard to dump someone when you aren’t getting the truth. You worry they are just going through something, or maybe heck, COVID has changed them or they are depressed! The thought that it might be a funk and then not being honest is a mind eff. I think this man was cheating and hid behind an email. Going back to your ex if he did nothing wrong would be a conversation. He is a coward and he is a POS and TAOW didn’t do anything wrong or anything to deserve it. She came across a loser and I feeeellll for her.

  • TAOW, this asshat used you as a placeholder until he could get his ex back. He’s a user and a liar. He’ll no, they are not going to have a healthy, happy relationship. Nor would you have had, not with this jerk. You dodged a bullet. Stay away from them, do not look at their social media, and get on with your life. I know that’s easier said than done because you were mistreated and want justice. The justice is that he’ll always be a loser and you’re not. You can live an authentic life and he’s permanently moored on Fantasy Island, except it’s really a nightmare and he won’t face it. Whether she cheated, he cheated, or both if them did, it’s a dysfunctional mess, and it’s not your problem.

    • “He’ll no, they are not going to have a healthy, happy relationship. Nor would you have had, not with this jerk. You dodged a bullet. ”

      Ditto

    • My money’s on they were never divorced in the first place.

      On the off chance they actually did, then the ex is just as crazy as he is.

      Dear letter writer, you never waste your time wondering if the trash is happier now that it’s been put out on the curb, do you? Same situation here. This guy sucks and it’s not worth your time figuring out which part of his elaborate lies might be true or not. You dodged a bullet.

      • Yes, Cam. She should spend no more time thinking about these bozzos as she does about how happy is the trash on the curb or would the trash be happier in the house. Trash is what her X and his maybe XW are. I do suspect there was no divorce between the FW and his X. Nothing worth spending a minute thinking about here. She should look forward and try to be happy without seeking out a relationship, make friends and maybe something will turn into a relationship when she is least expecting it. Goal should be what is best for her and lying cheaters never fill that bill.

  • I’m a longtime lurker and occasional commenter, and I’ve never recognized myself in a story to this degree. Except for minor differences, TAOW is me.
    I left an 18-year marriage to a cold, critical man who turned out to also be a cheater. I was 42 when I left, having never really experienced a loving relationship built on trust and reciprocity.
    So I set out to build that, the next time around, with these two hands and a shit ton of codependency, control issues, and cherished outcomes.
    I thought I did everything right. I stayed single for 3+ years. I built a life, worked on my mental and emotional health, healed from the abuse my ex had subjected me to, etc. etc.
    The I met the Lying Cheating Loser. In my mind, we were going to build the perfect second-chance relationship, blend our families without any tension or resentment, be amicable with the ex-spouses, all the happily ever afters.
    Cue the worst four years of my life. Early on, the LCL correctly pegged me as a fixer, a caretaker, and a chaos janitor. He took full advantage by doing the absolute minimum amount of adulting. My payoff was that I got to feel competent and in control (the opposite of my role in my marriage) by doing All The Things.
    The most absurd example: I “fixed” the first D-Day by proposing an open relationship. Which he agreed to and then promptly set out to violate every rule and boundary we had established.
    All this to say, there’s a skein here that’s worth untangling when we find that we’ve chosen poorly the second time around, and it’s ours. That’s been my work since I left the LCL for good almost 4 years ago.
    Our actions and choices are always driven by some payoff we are getting. My payoffs in my relationship with the LCL were that I got to indulge my need to feel in control, and also my “terminal uniqueness.” Meaning, I’m such a special, understanding yet strong, independent, unconventional, awesome and rare in every way partner that I can turn any shitty set of circumstances into relationship gold.
    I left the LCL a few months before my 50th birthday, and have been single since. For a long time, I was angry at him for wasting “my last good shot at a lifelong relationship.”
    But now I know, if it hadn’t been him, I would have just picked some other fuckwit. I had things to learn.
    I will never be grateful for those four years. Even the things that appeared good on the surface are tainted by his duplicitous agenda. But I am grateful that, at long last, I learned the important lessons, and that I’m free to live a wonderful life in balance and harmony.
    As for the unsettling (to a chump) idea that our cheater is going to ride off into a happily-ever-after sunset with someone else? Yeah, that doesn’t happen. And by the time it becomes evident that their life continues to be a raging dumpster fire, we no longer care.
    Or, no longer care *much*.
    Here’s the epilogue to the saga of WalkawayWoman and the Lying Cheating Loser: the WalkawayWoman bought her dream house outright and moved 100 miles away. Living mortgage free, she was able to devote herself to her art avocation and no supports herself as an artist. She has two cats, a handful of friends, and three grown kids, and nurtures good, reciprocal relationships with all the above.
    The LCL slunk off to the part of the state where he was from, several hundred miles away, effectively abandoning his two teenagers. He is a hobosexual, crashing with whomever is the Schmoopie-du-jour. He has fathered a child with a coworker and may have another on the way with yet another woman. He is on the outs with his family, his teenagers, and his baby mama. Not to worry, though, he has a horde of adoring women on his route as a delivery driver, practically throwing panties at him on a daily basis. #livingthedream
    TAOW, I encourage you to do your own work, whatever that looks like for you. That’s where the good stuff is. And count yourself lucky that you didn’t invest deeper into your FW than you did.

    • “Chaos Janitor”: I’ve seen that before but today I see my old self (and sometimes the now me) in that term.

      Hobosexual: This is perfect.

      “…a skein here that’s worth untangling when we find that we’ve chosen poorly the second time around, and it’s ours”: Absolutely fundamental to fixing the picker.

    • WAW
      So many pearls in your post, and similarities / things that resonate. Thanks for a thoughtful chock-fun post!

      • TruthBeTold, SweetChumpgirl, LovedAJackass, and Lost3fiddy, thank you for your encouraging and validating responses! For the longest time, I was so baffled by my out of the frying pan (marriage) and into the fire (the LCL) experience. It’s comforting to know that other member of CN share that experience.
        The good news is, we can then rise from the ashes. (Except not like Ben Affleck. Barf.)

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story. I think the idea of figuring out what the “payoff” is is so key. And love your epilogue!

      • Thank you, Suse! I got the “payoff” concept from Dr. Phil. And yes, he’s a gigantic boob, but much of his stuff is useful in a common sense way.

        • I watch doctor Phil and much of what he says I appreciate, however the payoff thing is very classical conditioning thinking like we are trained a certain way. It lacks the idea and concept of intimacy and giving your heart to someone however by framing everything as a reward. If there is such a thing as love – it’s self sacrifice which is a wonderful thing if two people ‘love’ each other and invest their hearts, but tragic if only one does. Doesn’t sound like it was a rewarding relationship with payoff – sounds like you were trying to do things differently then before and still got hurt. We have to remember that, although this unpopular with people, we are dealing with people now who’ve been watching porn for decades and are addicted to the porn kind of sex which doesn’t fit with a long intimate relationship. It also promotes the idea that sex means nothing and objectification. That you can love someone but ‘need’ other women for lust. I’m not just coming up with this there isn’t a study out there that isn’t showing that porn wires brains to objectify sex partners and takes intimacy out of sex. I think the way people see other people they have sex with now makes relationships and love rare these days.

    • Thank you for this. Some how I have found myself in a shit show, keep getting hoovered back by a LCL while has been hoping to take a non sparkly relationship to the next level . I’m hoping I can keep coming back to this post to give me the strength.

  • Yes, Lez! Thank you for saying what I was thinking!

    And, this whole conversation today is so very good in many ways.

    Love to you Lez & all of ChumpNation, as we continue to ForgeOn! together

    • Nice to see you, ForgeOn! I’ve often invoked your CL handle in real life when I hit some adversity. Forge On!

  • What you think is going to be their lives is not true. She cheated, left, moved in with her AP, and had a life with him. Your Mr Ex is plan B. He knows it. His way of getting on with life is to lie to, cheat on, and dump a caring person for a known cheater. My take on their future is more of the same.

    I don’t say this lightly, you can use a sperm bank if you want a child. Diane Keating, actress, and single mother, seems delighted with her life, although her kids were adopted. Just a suggestion.

  • If tinfoil man is telling the truth about his ex wife then he is an even bigger asshole because he knows the pain he is causing you and he doesn’t care. The good news is that Karma is guaranteed and she will be a bitch. There is no way that “reconciliation” is going to go well. Just make sure he has no way to contact you when you tries to circle back. That ship has sailed.

    • If it’s true the ex wife cheated, left and moved in with another man then it means the relationship with the OM went sour as it usually does and she needed someone to rescue her from feeling like shit. True to form cheaters tend to circle back. Plus her ex chump may have looked good because he was involved with someone. Again if true then ex-chump hubby is a complete halfwit and he deserves what is coming his way. Cheater ex-wife will soon grow annoyed with ex chump and just a matter of time before she meets someone else and his ass gets dumped. Usually it’s far worse the second time. TAOW is going to have to be prepared for this asswipe to also circle back. Block his number and shut him down when he attempts to come back.

  • As a guy, I say he is lying about his marriage breakup. There is no way you would not tell your new girlfriend what happened (not on the first date obv!). At best you might say you don’t want to talk about it but no no way would you say it was no ones’s fault and you just drifted apart. Every guy I know who’s wife had an affair got hit very hard and without exception would mention this to a new steady girlfriend. Just my two cents…

    • I agree. They dated for nearly a year and he would have divulged his ex cheating at some point. Unless of course he knew there was trouble in paradise and he waited in the wings hoping while still dating TAOW.

      Whatever the case neither one of this dysfunctional pair has exactly grown or evolved since they split so their days are numbered. I just hope TAOW stands her ground when he circles back.

    • As soon as the LW said, “He then explained what really happened …” I thought — “well, here comes some other lie.”

  • The only thing you are losing out on is a great deal of drama, pain, chaos and mountainous piles of mindfuckery from this man for years and years to come.
    Trust the chumped here, that is a nightmare you want no part of.
    That’s their “ happily ever after” you envision and feel envious of, a devious, harmful and deceitful existence of soulless disordered people. Does that sound like love to you?They don’t know what love is.
    Gladly give that all to him and his ‘cheating’ ex ( not sure I’m buying that story either, but with these human walking tornados, there is always a story going on and you do NOT want to get sucked into the cyclone of it)
    What a weasel of a man, sending you an email to call it quits!
    He just fully revealed who he is though, and that is the most truth you will ever receive from him.
    Don’t fail to see the huge red A for abuser stamped on his chest to show who he is and always will be.
    I listened to a podcast yesterday from the founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery( Anne Blythe) as she interviewed Dr. Omar Minwalla. It was excellent.
    The takeaways are that these ppl cannot be fixed and that it is truly abusive what they do to people.
    Anyone who has what he terms a “ secret sexual basement” is an abuser.
    The secret sexual basement being defined by Dr. Minwalla as “a place that houses a person’s deceptively hidden sexual, romantic and/or emotional intimacy with others that is not shared with the primary intimate partner. A place that is characterized by an ongoing system of psychological and relational control, domination, violation and harm.”
    I’m sorry you got hurt, it’s horrifically painful, but excited for you that you escaped in time to have a life worth living.
    You now get to drop him like third period French!
    He will prob hover back around when she’s done with him, but you don’t have time for abusers in your beautiful evolving cheater free life.

  • Along with the lying and cheating, a big part of our recovery is not so much trusting others again, but trusting ourselves.

    How could we have been so fooled?
    Yes, it was false advertising!

    It truly takes time to completely BELIEVE
    that the fault lies with these messed up, pieces of rubbish and their sidekick cheats.
    As others have said, dust yourself off and live a great life.

  • Girl, you need to wise up:
    1) Husbands and wives with a young kid did not “just drift apart amicably”…and clearly their genitals didn’t drift very far.
    2) Did you even verify whether he is legally divorced, who filed, dates? Did they jive with what he told you when you met? You do realize that this is public information, and can usually be accessed for free online through the county court website.
    3) If you have been No Contact since getting this letter, then how is it that you are aware of them supposedly thinking that you are the “evil other woman”?!
    4) It would have been fun for us to read this colossal turd’s “letter” to you.
    5) This guy is a complete liar. He is clearly a cheater, as he cheated on you. And probably cheated on his wife. Consider yourself lucky that you are free of this POS. And never ever give him the time of day again. No matter what excuse he gives to contact you. Once they start with bullshit, dump them cold.

  • Imagining that this cheater is now going to live happily ever after is a common chump problem. It’s only natural.

    But when you really think about it, it doesn’t make sense. These are entitled people who lack empathy and lie to get what they want. They are users and abusers.

    I find it hard to believe people with cheater values and poor character can be truly happy in a relationship. They may live together forever and post fabulous photos, but, eh, I doubt that all is well.

    Also, remember that he was a jerk to YOU. Who cares what he’s like for someone else? He abused YOU. And you escaped. Stay NC with this loser.

    Good luck!

    • I get the wondering if they are going to be ‘happy’. I think when we put our hearts in something, who cares isn’t the way any human will feel. I do find the not caring and being tough thing not a realistic goal unless you’re a robot. Someone who is capable of love can’t love then not care when someone is cruel and mean. It hurts. It doesn’t have to not hurt. However I have good news. The answer is no. First of all people aren’t happy all the time whether they are with someone or not. However he isn’t happy, they got divorced already, and I can tell from how he behaved here that being married to that would be horrible. He gaslights! It’s emotional abuse. That woman may or may not have cheated but either way he is abusive and abuse is hell.

  • Sounds to me like you got yourself mixed up with a narcissistic a**hole. The odd behavior at the end is call “the discard stage”. Im now divorced over 5 years after 21 years of marriage and my XH said and did the most bizarre/strange/wacko crap that last year before we separated. I don’t even tell people some of the crazy crap because it only makes me look like the crazy one. Be thankful you only invested a year in this idiot. My advice:
    BLOCK, BLOCK, BLOCK. Total No Contact and move on. Truth be told, he is probably the one who had the affair.

    • Same happened to me Lorie. I thought he’d been replaced by an alien that last year. With hindsight, I now know that was the narc discard.

      As the kids emancipate and my gray rock transforms to no contact, I’ve become a keen observer of their relationships with him and his disorder becomes clearer every day.

      • Sunrise, I thought that ex was suffering from an undiagnosed brain tumor. Ex became more and more distant, angry, he’d explode into unprovoked rages over something insignificant.
        Looking back I should have known it was the discard phase, In some ways I think I did know but was in denial. The person I married wouldn’t cheat or become abusive unless of course he had a brain tumor.

        With time and distance I’m horrified of what I accepted as normal in the relationship.
        I also didn’t realize how much I had changed, I went from a confident, self assured woman who didn’t hesitate to stand up for herself into a pick me dancing fool who “let things go” afraid if I didn’t I’d be accused of never being happy, or confronted with are you bitching again?

        • Brit,
          Did u do a lot of pick me dancing? I pick me danced my ass off and it only got more bizarre!!🤦🏼‍♀️

        • “he’d explode into unprovoked rages over something insignificant.
          Looking back I should have known it was the discard phase, In some ways I think I did know but was in denial. ”

          Yep. I have told the story of the rage over me running out of salt. First time in 21 years, I guess I had been preoccupied with his changes. Railed at me for the longest time. Said things like “what kind of idiot runs out of salt, no one runs out of salt” Then he stormed off to fuck the whore. He showed me.

      • Keep it up sunrise! Total no contact is on the horizon! An alien! lol 😂. I had no idea what a narcissist was until after the divorce and I started researching his behavior.

        • Oh the things we should have learned as children. So grateful the research on personality disorders is so easy to find now. Kudos to you for searching for answers instead of huddled in the corner blaming yourself. Brain tumor lol!

          My attorney summed it up when I wailed to her that I didn’t know who had replaced my husband: ‘you’re not dealing with a he anymore but a they and you don’t know her.’

          My baby emancipates May 29!

    • Yep, that year of discard is horrible. Especially if you don’t know what the hell is going on.

      Mine started out at the beginning (right after he was promoted) with gentle distancing. I noticed it after a few weeks, and questioned him. He said “oh work stress, yada yada yada”. “I just need space until things settle down”.

      So I backed off and gave him space and he and the whore used it to further sexually bond and write me right out of the picture. Even conned me into buying a river front property mid summer, though I protested. I finally caved. He got progressively nastier and nastier. By the last couple months of course I knew he was committing adultery, I just didn’t know with who, and I didn’t know officially until Christmas Day. He left the day after New Years.

      I do think he was in the process of making it so miserable I would kick him out and file, then he could bring sweet whore out of the back alley and while she was consoling her poor boss for his evil wife kicking him out, well you know the rest. But, about three months before the end of the year, someone dropped a dime and he was outed, then the last month he went into over drive being nasty.

      I was basically just waiting for the hammer to drop. Still hoping against hope he would “wake up”. It was years before Tracy or internet; so…

      • That is horrible and so cruel / mean and abusive to you. Cheating, lying, betrayal, and cruelty. What a monster.

        • It was cruel and to be honest it took me about a year and a half or so before I could admit it to myself how bad it was. I was humiliated, and I think I was also trying to protect my son, I just didn’t want folks to know how bad his dad was. I was also ashamed that he said he never loved me. I guess I thought by being mum, that would not get out.

          I shouldn’t have wasted my time fretting. few years later, he and whore went on to treat his own grown son and sons family like shit. That was when I started googling narcissist’s and CL came up.

          Up to that point I thought my situation was unique. Nope he was a typical cheating liar in all his glory.

  • The ex went back to his ex girlfriend from school after being in a relationship with me, including an 18 year marriage, for 26 years. He and exgfOW had tried to have a relationship twice, as teenagers and in their twenties. Both times the relationship failed. I know exactly how you feel. There is a special sort of betrayal attached to being left for an ex. I too felt like I had been the OW for those 26 years and in some respects I was. A bit like Diana, Princess of Wales must have felt as the side piece to Charles and Camilla through no fault of her own. The ex threw ‘Sliding Doors’ at me which didn’t help. Therapy has encouraged me not to give a toss about what’s going on in the minds of FW and exgfOW. Let them play at Romeo and Juliet with all that that entails. They were kids and all these stupid people do is behave like kids. They break up, they make up, they break up, they make up, it’s lots of drama and attention. It says nothing about me and everything about them. You will come to feel the same, I promise you. People who do this, especially when they use their kids as an excuse, are disordered and toxic. I’m 62 nearly. You are likely much younger than me. There are sane, grounded men out there who will enjoy your humour, wit and style. Let your now ex fester in his unpleasant bed of his own making. He sounds like a lying doormat with dirty footmarks all over him. Rise up and be proud. No secondhand crumbs for you.

    • “There is a special sort of betrayal about being left for an ex”; I would add cheated on emotionally and/or sexually with an ex.

      I have identified with today’s post much more than any other since I have been reading here. As someone said earlier, they were not modeled with a good relationship when growing up or something to that effect. I did not come from a home where the husband respected the wife. I guess I was destined to fail with my background. I guess a lesson in take your time, etc. would have been in order.

    • He’s not capable of love. He should’ve had your back – someone who can leave a person after that long is heartless. I’m sorry.

  • I always tell my daughters, “You don’t need a reason to break up with someone. If you don’t want to date him, that’s a good enough reason.”

    But that also applies the other way. Sometimes they date someone they like reasonably well, but then they get some stupid break-up reason. Recently my daughter had a guy she went out with a few times tell he he doesn’t want to date her anymore because they don’t share the same taste in music. Is that a stupid reason? Yes. And it’s probably not really the reason. Maybe he just doesn’t like her that much. Maybe he has his eye on a different girl, and that girl just became single. Maybe he is secretly gay and plans to come out of the closet next month. Or maybe he really can’t tolerate listening to classical music, and the thought actually did propel him into a breakup.

    At the end of the day, it just means, “I’m not that interested in dating you.” So say, “Okay,” and move on. If he is as weird as indicated, then you dodged a bullet. If he is making up reasons because he just doesn’t want to date you, then that is his decision. A person who is interested and available for a relationship won’t act that way.

    I think the best thing is not to spend too much time deconstructing their reasons. But if there were red flags sooner, ask yourself how you can recognize them sooner and not waste time with someone who clearly just isn’t that interested or available.

    • It’s sorting. We get to decide if someone we’re dating is someone who MIGHT be right over the long term. The other person gets to do the same. And it takes 2 people saying “yes” to proceed.

      The worst case scenario is to go on a 1st, 2nd or 3rd date wondering in the back of your mind if this person is “the one” or going in determined to make the relationship “work.”

      The effective point of view is to keep looking at how well this person fits your life, your values, and your hopes for your future. For example, if a guy is ambivalent about children and you want them, stop dating him immediately. You want someone who wants the same sort of life you want. If you love to travel and prefer new experiences, including relocation and changing careers, then you don’t want someone like me who prefers “home” and stability. If you are a neat freak, don’t marry a guy whose toilet is too dirty to sit on. And so on. It’s like what the late Dick Bolles, author of “What Color is Your Parachute” said about job hunting: you will get lots of rejections but you only need one “yes”–if it’s the right one. The trick is not to look for jobs–or life partners–who aren’t right for you.

  • I loved CL’s “I am HIGHLY skeptical of anyone who says their marriage ended because they “drifted apart.” He isn’t sea garbage. (That would be an insult to sea garbage.)” Hilarious! It is so true that these pat answers are not true and shallow, but it sounds good.
    It takes time to realize you dodged a bullet, and were the winner having also wasted just a year and not decades. Kudos on no contact!

    • Also be very wary when they claim their ex is batshit crazy too. Take things slowly and verify before trusting.

      I do need to say something about the letter writer meeting the young child so early in this fraudulent relationship. Less than a year is TOO SOON. No child of divorce needs a revolving door of their parents’ boyfriends and girlfriends. The child has been through enough. Be the sane parent who provides stability. That would have been a 🚩 in my opinion.

      • Yup, I didn’t go on a second date with a guy who kept referring to his ex-wife and his last girlfriend as “crazy ladies”. I didn’t want to belong to that club 😂🤣

  • As Dr. Jordan Peterson with all his years as a clinical psychologist is fond of saying ” and this is something that really scares me, ‘no one ever gets away with anything at all EVEN ONCE.” Reality always wins, Cheaters are so arrogant they think they are the rare one that will be able to get away with it. Oh really? Anyone who cheats is destroying himself, there is no win from that. I know sometimes all this advice seems impossible to believe at the time of suffering but try anyway. I was married for 50 years when I discovered my now ex had lead a double life for at least 15 years. Yes, he put on a good front, didn’t make waves, lived a normal life with me all the while living in tremendous deceit . But, I did find out and got out. And today I’m OK, I will never trust again but that’s the price you pay. Stay awake, and watch the hell out.

  • As Dr. Jordan Peterson with all his years as a clinical psychologist is fond of saying ” and this is something that really scares me, ‘no one ever gets away with anything at all EVEN ONCE.” Reality always wins, Cheaters are so arrogant they think they are the rare one that will be able to get away with it. Oh really? Anyone who cheats is destroying himself, there is no win from that. I know sometimes all this advice seems impossible to believe at the time of suffering but try anyway. Stay awake, and watch the hell out.

  • A woman looking for a knight in shining armor will probably have to clean up after his horse. 💩🤣 I’ll choose which stalls and how many to muck out.

  • ‘I am HIGHLY skeptical of anyone who says their marriage ended because they “drifted apart.” He isn’t sea garbage. (That would be an insult to sea garbage.)’😂
    Agreed! I was told by FW that « we
    drifted apart » …The only drifting in our short marriage was his drifting into the arms of the office whore!

    • lol, my ex says this to people about our split. He tends to omit the entire bit about cheating on me with very young women.

      • Drifting sounds so innocent doesn’t it? Oh the love drifted, the spark was gone, the magic faded. Marriage takes devotion, not drifting for purpose. Both people bringing spark and magic. Working at the magic. If someone says this about a marriage relationship they are not marriage material. After all the tide is always a changing…drifters gonna be drifting for life. I hear a lot of cheaters describe floating and drifting in all areas of their life. They don’t do things on purpose, they don’t get that life takes them making things happen – they believe they are the main character in a magical story. When things don’t feel like the universe is spinning around them they assume they are in the wrong situation and the ‘drift’ starts. Routine isn’t for super extra special people like them, they are Simba!

  • What resonated for me was this: “I know that I am pretty, financially and emotionally stable, I’m very smart (although apparently not re: this event) and independent. But I ended up in this revolting mess and I am very angry at myself and at these two people.” When I read it, I thought, “I have a good picker,” was not on the list of what OP knows about herself.

    Lots of CN has mentioned the picker issue. I am still working on mine. I wouldn’t have called myself emotionally stable, but I’m all the other things, and I’m learning that so much of my emotional distress came from involvements with people whose behaviour I didn’t realize needed a certain kind of scrutiny, namely, “How do I feel as they say x? How do I feel as they say y” rather than “Are they right? Do they have a good point?”

    I’m an overachiever and smart and have my own place and accomplishments and am in shape and cute; why do I end up with deceitful guys? I guess the shortest answer is street-smart is a different kind of smart. Part of my CN education is just coming to terms with how widespread and common and uninventive are the people who use other people, and how common their tactics. If I wanted to do the same now, I would look for someone just like I used to be.

    Yesterday, I ran into a man that I have been out with a couple of times. I’m a writer; he’s a writer too and also a doctor. Let’s call him Chad. He’s handsome enough, still, and would have been golden-boy looking in his prime. People fall over themselves in public to thank him for saving their relative’s life. He gets good literary attention, and can speak fascinatingly about writing. He’s got a boat. A catch, right? From the get-go, I got the vibe that this guy thinks he is hot shit, so I’ve never taken the bait whole-heartedly. But yesterday’s interaction (we were at the same cafe so we had a lengthy chat) gave me some new information.

    As usual, with most of the dudes I’ve gotten into trouble with, they don’t start with real interest in me. They ask surface questions or with professional praise. I feel bored; I feel like I’m an audience. IF I do what I’m trained to do, which is to ask questions and let them talk about themselves and show interest, they then follow up with some questions. I’m starved from FOO stuff for genuine appreciation of who I am, and I often soon myself talking about something I feel strongly about, as soon as I feel comfortable. Then these guys offer some kind of support, like, oh, of course you’ll get that job, or oh, yeah, a person with your credentials should totally pursue this, or whatever. MY ACHILLES HEEL is men who act as cheerleader to the go-getter career girl, who come from a place of being able to give an opinion I could respect because the person gets what I do. Anyway, this guy did that: called me a queen, raved about my reputation, claimed to envy me etc. More than he usually does. He kind of kept at it until he got it right, as in, it felt like flattery at first and I could feel my stance be like, whatev, but after a little while, he got the tone right so that it felt more like he really meant it. Like, in my body, I suddenly felt a shift like, oh, Chad’s actually quite interested and kind!

    Chad dropped it into conversation that he’s out of a one-and-a-half-year relationship. Told me that he said yes to an open relationship when asked for one by gf who was “lonely” being away for a few months but then she got too interested in the other guy. Other guy was married, “so, kind of a mess.” Old Magnolia would have made a ‘joke’ here: “Oh, your ex went after married men? What a keeper!” New Magnolia just says, “Hmm, bummer, wow!”

    At this point I still feel like I’m just having a conversation without too much sexual/romantic charge. I feel like I avoid the bait of this relationship info. He asks if he can buy me a tea. I’m fine with a tea; ok. We talk more about professional interests. Next thing you know he says, can I buy you a book? And I’m like, what? And he’s got his phone out to online buy me a book he recommends. Books that are right up my alley. I protested, though I must admit I protested weakly, to this, rather than, no, put your phone the fuck away, don’t buy me sheeyit. He says, “Please let me do it. It’s fun for me.” So, that happens.

    Now I have a real feeling of interest in him. I feel like taking care of this guy, like being like, “Oh honey, you don’t have to buy me something to get my interest, you have to take a genuine interest. Here, let me show you. Let’s go out again. I already know you appreciate and support that I’m smart, but do you know I’m kind, too? I’ll buy you something this time, so you can see that I’m independent and reciprocal and not gold-digging.” I do not act on these feelings; I notice them! But wow, I didn’t even know those feelings happened before I acted on them before.

    As I packed up he said it was the richest conversation, the best time, he’d had in months and months. When I got home, I texted a nice thank you for the 3-hr chat and the books. Told him to stay safe (working at a hospital during covid and all that). He texted back:

    “U 2!”

    😂What resonated for me was this: “I know that I am pretty, financially and emotionally stable, I’m very smart (although apparently not re: this event) and independent. But I ended up in this revolting mess and I am very angry at myself and at these two people.” When I read it, I thought, “I have a good picker,” was not on the list of what OP knows about herself.

    Lots of CN has mentioned the picker issue. I am still working on mine. I wouldn’t have called myself emotionally stable, but I’m all the other things, and I’m learning that so much of my emotional distress came from involvements with people whose behaviour I didn’t realize needed a certain kind of scrutiny, namely, “How do I feel as they say x? How do I feel as they say y” rather than “Are they right? Do they have a good point?”

    I’m an overachiever and smart and have my own place and accomplishments and am in shape and cute; why do I end up with deceitful guys? I guess the shortest answer is street-smart is a different kind of smart. Part of my CN education is just coming to terms with how widespread and common and uninventive are the people who use other people, and how common their tactics. If I wanted to do the same now, I would look for someone just like I used to be.

    Yesterday, I ran into a man that I have been out with a couple of times. I’m a writer; he’s a writer too and also a doctor. Let’s call him Chad. He’s handsome enough, still, and would have been golden-boy looking in his prime. People fall over themselves in public to thank him for saving their relative’s life. He gets good literary attention, and can speak fascinatingly about writing. He’s got a boat. A catch, right? From the get-go, I got the vibe that this guy thinks he is hot shit, so I’ve never taken the bait whole-heartedly. But yesterday’s interaction (we were at the same cafe so we had a lengthy chat) gave me some new information.

    As usual, with most of the dudes I’ve gotten into trouble with, they don’t start with real interest in me. They ask surface questions or with professional praise. I feel bored; I feel like I’m an audience. IF I do what I’m trained to do, which is to ask questions and let them talk about themselves and show interest, they then follow up with some questions. I’m starved from FOO stuff for genuine appreciation of who I am, and I often soon myself talking about something I feel strongly about, as soon as I feel comfortable. Then these guys offer some kind of support, like, oh, of course you’ll get that job, or oh, yeah, a person with your credentials should totally pursue this, or whatever. MY ACHILLES HEEL is men who act as cheerleader to the go-getter career girl, who come from a place of being able to give an opinion I could respect because the person gets what I do. Anyway, this guy did that: called me a queen, raved about my reputation, claimed to envy me etc. More than he usually does. He kind of kept at it until he got it right, as in, it felt like flattery at first and I could feel my stance be like, whatev, but after a little while, he got the tone right so that it felt more like he really meant it. Like, in my body, I suddenly felt a shift like, oh, Chad’s actually quite interested and kind!

    Chad dropped it into conversation that he’s out of a one-and-a-half-year relationship. Told me that he said yes to an open relationship when asked for one by gf who was “lonely” being away for a few months but then she got too interested in the other guy. Other guy was married, “so, kind of a mess.” Old Magnolia would have made a ‘joke’ here: “Oh, your ex went after married men? What a keeper!” New Magnolia just says, “Hmm, bummer, wow!”

    At this point I still feel like I’m just having a conversation without too much sexual/romantic charge. I feel like I avoid the bait of this relationship info. He asks if he can buy me a tea. I’m fine with a tea; ok. We talk more about professional interests. Next thing you know he says, can I buy you a book? And I’m like, what? And he’s got his phone out to online buy me a book he recommends. Books that are right up my alley. I protested, though I must admit I protested weakly, to this, rather than, no, put your phone the fuck away, don’t buy me sheeyit. He says, “Please let me do it. It’s fun for me.” So, that happens.

    Now I have a real feeling of interest in him. I feel like taking care of this guy, like being like, “Oh honey, you don’t have to buy me something to get my interest, you have to take a genuine interest. Here, let me show you. Let’s go out again. I already know you appreciate and support that I’m smart, but do you know I’m kind, too? I’ll buy you something this time, so you can see that I’m independent and reciprocal and not gold-digging. Oh, and while I’m at it, let me help you see why dating a woman who dates a married man suggests you have boundary issues.” I did not act on these feelings; I noticed them! Big progress, woot woot! Wow, I didn’t even know those feelings happened before, I was actin on them before even feeling them.

    As I packed up he said it was the richest conversation, the best time, he’d had in months and months. When I got home, I texted a nice thank you for the 3-hr chat and the books. Told him to stay safe (working at a hospital during covid and all that). I felt kind of off, sending genuine thanks. He texted back:

    “U 2!”

    😂😂😂

    I dunno, that just kind of got me, because, duh, Magnolia, you knew your instincts said this guy is not a real warm fuzzy monkey! Chad has done this weirdness before: go over the top with compliments and gifts when he wants to, kind of pushing past social convention and your too-polite to insist he not give when after saying no thanks he says “let me,” then, when you initiate a bid for simple warmth and acknowledgment, he withholds even the full spelling of two words! And the man writes books as a hobby!

    For me it’s the combination of 1) playing my pleasure at being recognized professionally as competent and even impressive and the simple pleasure of talking deeply and engagingly about shared interests and 2) figuring out how to trigger my girl/daddy/provider issues and senses of worth and attractiveness through gifts and then emotional withdrawal. It’s pretty genius, if what you want to do is hook impressive women with FOO issues.

    Old Magnolia would have deeply felt a rejection in that curt answer, and it is a rejection. But Old Magnolia would have also probably done whatever was in her power to unfeel it, because it tapped too much into old, might-die-from-this emotional shit, and move forward in numbness and hope.

    Thank goodness for CN and meditation.

    Anyway, LW, from one attractive, smart, stable person to another, I ask: are there ways that you can be destabilized while it looks like they’re actually supporting you? Does something in you that needs love even when small and plain feel like professional approbation is pretty darn close and you’ll take it? Do you get baited into the witty verbal jousting that movies play as repartée but is really actually fucking jousting, like someone poking at you to see what makes you go, “LOL, sto-op!” Or maybe, like me, it doesn’t have to be repartée but something that sound and looks like soul-searching, but when you slow down is a guy revealing things strategically to get you to open up?

    Wishing you the best. I know what kind of numbness I need (and that he seems to demand, in fact) to keep performing if I want yacht excursions with Chad. When I think about your question about your ex and his ex, and their picture-perfect life, I just think about how much looking-the-other-way it would take to have Chad let me co-star in his glamour.

    • Brilliant post. Brilliant analysis of how a certain kind of predator works–and how our own needs make us close our eyes to what is happening or mistake the manipulation for something real.

    • Hey Magnolia. Don’t want to sound like chad here but…men are from Mars is a pretty spot on book (I’ve read a lot and try not to book people to death but this one makes sense). Anyway – one thing the author says (he did counselling with couple his whole life) is that women listen and ask questions because they appreciate it, but when men talk about themselves they don’t feel a spark with the women because they are thinking of themselves too much. He says that it’s important women do most of the talking and dont feel bad about it. Men need to be paying attention to you and asking you questions. Also people feel more the more they invest. Sounds like you invest and listen and pay attention, now get them listening to you and dont feel you need to show them you aren’t a good digger if they buy a book or 5 dinners. As long as you genuinely like them and aren’t using people (I can tell you dont) then investing in you and listening to you talk will help them FEEL it.

      • “Men are from Mars” is pop psychology nonsense. Men and women are not fundamentally different from each other, and all book like that go are reinforce tired, outdated, socially constructed gender stereotypes.

  • So I don’t t think this really falls into the whole chump spectrum. They dated for less than a year and he broke up with her. He doesn’t have to date her if he doesn’t want to. She chose to overlook obvious issues (the we just drifted apart divorce, being a part of his kids life after only dating a few months etc.) Unless they were married or had a kid together, he is absolutely entitled to end the relationship and pursue something else. It’s pathetic that he’s trying to make amends with his cheating ex wife, but it’s his life and frankly there is a lot of pressure on men to fix broken things, marriages included. I don’t think anyone would be brow beating the ex girlfriend if a broken hearted man had written in upset that his girlfriend of a few months dumped him. Getting dumped sucks, but that’s why you date first before you get married. Unfortunately alot of people try to force their relationships into what they want them to be and ignore what they really are.

    • The problem isn’t that he dumped her (you have every right to dump your partner, married or not) but that he had at least emotional, if not sexual affair with his ex while he was dating her. What makes her a chump is his two-timing, not his dumping her. This applies to both men and women so stop playing a victim.

    • Chris, I think there is a lot of pressure on both men AND women to “fix the marriage”….the concept or title of the relationship or marriage becomes more important than how the individuals are functioning, their ability to commit, and whether or not they are good for each other. The reality is that this person was divorced for half of a decade. It didn’t just happen. That was a time that could have been used to self reflect and grow. In a normal situation, the relationship would be marked as “over”. Or alternatively, if it wasn’t “over”, then this person shouldn’t have hedged their bets with another woman and wasted her time. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean that the ultimate end game for me is marriage. I’m grateful and content where I am with everything else in my life. I don’t need a man to complete me. To begin with, I want a partner who respects me and our relationship, and who doesn’t drag me into his personal episode of Jerry Springer.

      • I’m not at all sure that he’s been truthful at any point. Don’t assume he is, since you know he’s a liar.

      • Don’t pay attention to Chris, this guy was mean to you, snapping at you, dating his ex while with you and blocked you from an honest open conversation by using email. He. Locked you from poking holes in his story and he is a huge coward, selfish and a jerk. You were owed an empathetic, honest conversation that honoured you. He went behind your back and didn’t face up to it. Coward and loser. You sound like a kind beautiful woman who met a man child. This probably has more to do with the reason he is divorced than anything he said to you about it. Give yourself a hug, and, I hope you let people on the future take you out, a mature man who did right will give you real explanations about his past and talk to you and listen in tough times. Maturity is rare but it’s there. I know it’s not popular but I really think until a man expresses that he wants a wife and feels you would be a good match for him you should stay on the market. If he’s not that serious then I don’t think it’s serious enough for you to not date other men.

    • If someone is in an intimate exclusive relationship then someone treating them mean, and writing them an email, and pinning it on the kid is cruel period. He was a coward and cruel at best and also a cheater at worst. I am not sure why you would come in critical of this woman who got no closure, and face to face honest open discussion after a year with this man, and not the man who was mean and wrote an email. What is peoples obsessions with saying she ‘chose’ to ‘overlook’ him saying drifting apart but he didn’t choose to be a dickwad by being mean and ending a year long committed relationship in an email? And how is spending time with your ex and pretending it’s for the kids not cheating exactly? No need for you comment really it sounds arrogant. If someone gave someone a hard time for saying drifting apart then you’d say that is brow beating to. No human would dump a person they liked over that and normal people wouldn’t pry too much for fear it’s a very sensitive subject…until way later in the relationship.

      I say this girl did nothing wrong and this guy was cruel and cheated by spending time with his ex for dating while in a relationship with this woman. The email was a block to communication and she was owed that. He deserves scorn.

    • I wonder if “Chris” is trolling. Pretending to misunderstand that the problem was breaking up, rather than the OP’s Ex being a two-timer. The page title was “He was not as pretended”. This web site is called “Chump lady”. These are all clues that the dispute here is lying cheats, and not a demand to fix the unfixable & never break up. It’s not polyamory when the chump was told it was monogamy.

      • I think there are a couple of them around, side piece or something like that, and another one chastising us for dissing the whores.

        Maybe a full moon, or the new year.

        • Or maybe someone whose spent 40+ years giving the same advice as Chump Lady does, to her friends that were being chumped, who could see from day 1 that OW & AP aren’t actually the problem, and focusing on “whores” instead of the personality disordered abusive narcs who bear the ENTIRE responsibility for breaking the marriage vows they themselves made doesn’t help Chumps heal from their wounds, or better learn to avoid narcs & abusers in the future.

  • I have moved on situationally from what happened to me, after being left for someone else two years or so ago. I got a high flying job in a beautiful new country, lost 20 pounds, new hobbies and life skills, been in therapy, met a new lovely guy … but my brain and body just aren’t over the shock, from two years ago. I still constantly feel in danger and trapped in horrible cycles, nothing I do is working. Life feels so tiring. I look like I’ve done so well, but I feel like a husk of a person and a failure.

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