Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

I Love You But I’m Not In Love With You

Hi Chump Lady:

I am currently living with a cake eater, although I am making progress getting her out of the door, we have recently found her a place, thank God (we have kids so it’s challenging). I found out 5 weeks ago (right before Christmas), that she has been having an affair for the last 8-9 months that coincided with her working out of the home for the first time after being a stay-at-home-mom for 7 years.

The usual dance, the first two days she was contrite and remorseful, telling me she can’t live without me, saying she’ll do anything to keep the family together. Then, two days later (Christmas Eve), I caught her having phone sex with the AP. Now she calls him every night, maybe sees him, I don’t care.

We have two special needs kids that I watched all year long while she went out with her “work friends” every Friday and Saturday with the occasional Tuesday or Thursday (who doesn’t need a work-week pick-me-up fuck?) I’m the primary wage earner and kid watcher.

Anyways, I am writing because I have some new golden bullshit responses to some of your talking points, specifically the “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” line.

She’s been using this one since the beginning, telling me we’re more like “brother and sister” than intimate partners.

So, last night I used some CN-like responses, specifically that she does not love me because betrayal and love do not coexist; intentionally hurting someone and loving at the same time is absurd. I said it was like she was pushing me down a flight of stairs, while yelling she loved me, and to stop gaslighting.

But, Chump Lady, this is the best part, her response was to get very agitated, and she says, “So, now you’re going to tell me how I can and cannot love? I am the only one that knows HOW I love. This is exactly one of the reasons why I had the affair, you always control me!”

Such pure, 14K gold bullshit, thought I’d share! Keep up the yeoman’s work!


Dear R,

You’re so controlling the way you want to disentangle love from abuse. If pushing you down the stairs/fucking strange on Christmas is how she wants to express her affection… well, just wait for Valentine’s Day. What’s next? A box of poison chocolates?


Well that’s awesome. And not everyone wants to be on the receiving end of that “love.”

Who’s the controlling person here?

I have some new golden bullshit responses to some of your talking points, specifically the “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” line.

As much fun as it must’ve been to see the gears grind in her little fuckwit head, (whirrr! empathy? clunk, clunk… must invent more bullshit…), I don’t recommend responding.

Her actions tell you everything you need to know. She doesn’t give a shit about your feelings. Are you free Friday to watch the kids? The last thing you should do here is share your pain. That’s kibbles. And demanding accountability only brings anger. (Or self-pity, depending on the channel flipper.)

So, if you haven’t already, get thee to a lawyer. How beautifully she has fucked herself going back to work. May that work in your favor. Get yourself a settlement and the peace that comes with it. You’re already doing everything now, anyway.

R, well done not falling for her blameshifting, cake-y excuses. Have a nice, brotherly divorce. She can love you from afar.

Good luck.


Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Sending strength.

    I have little words of wisdom, it must be hell living with her still. Hard to practice grey rock or no contact, but the moment you can —> do!

    Use your anger to get thru the legal with a “fair” settlement and then work on letting go.

    I danced so much longer than you so be proud of yourself for shutting that shit down as fast as you did.

    • Well said Tall One.

      I’m sure it felt good to get some zingers in, but you shouldn’t be talking to her at all.

      You say you are “making progress in getting her out the door,” hopefully this means you’ve contacted a lawyer and filed for divorce or legal separation.

      If it doesn’t – stop playing this game with her. It ends when you put down the cards and leave the table.

      • “As much fun as it must’ve been to see the gears grind in her little fuckwit head, (whirrr! empathy? clunk, clunk… must invent more bullshit…), I don’t recommend responding.

        Her actions tell you everything you need to know. She doesn’t give a shit about your feelings.”

        Agreed, it’s time to leave the zingers behind because, no matter what you say (no matter how logical or fantastically Chump Lady-ish it is, a FW will always seem to come out on top and *it’s so frustrating!*

        It took me a long time to figure out how to stop engaging with my FW. I would be earnest, I would be logical, I would explain things to him carefully in such an iron-clad way that (I thought) there would be no way he could weasel out of our conversation to come out “on top.”

        But he did. Every time. No matter what I said, even if it made perfect sense, he flipped the script and walked off feeling like the winner and I felt like crap. Every time.

        If I said, “Can’t you just admit that you are hurting me? You are hurting me so much!” He would shrug and say, “That’s not my fault. Only we are in charge of our own destinies, so if you are hurt it’s because of a failure within yourself; I take no responsibility for things I can’t control, like someone else’s feelings. In fact, by saying that I am somehow in control of your feelings–which is impossible–you are abusive towards me! I can’t believe I’ve put up with your abusive nonsense for so long. Thank goodness I know what real love is now!”

        Etc. etc.

        Having any kind of conversation with him was a rabbit hole of pain and I always felt like the world’s worst person. A conversation with a FW is pretty much literally like banging your head against a brick wall. The brick wall stands and is just fine. Your head hurts and you’ve likely done major damage to yourself.

        I’m a huge advocate for walking away from conversations with a cheater unless it’s about business (moving dates, kid pickup times, what papers to sign, etc). It’s nothing but a professional relationship now. Zingers, your feelings, pieces of iron-clad evidence, or just plain old logic have no effect on a FW.

        Step away from the brick wall.

        • Totally agree! Any engagement with a FW just feeds them kibble. Silence gives them nothing and they hate not getting a hit of kibble.

        • “That’s not my fault. Only we are in charge of our own destinies, so if you are hurt it’s because of a failure within yourself; I take no responsibility for things I can’t control, like someone else’s feelings. In fact, by saying that I am somehow in control of your feelings–which is impossible–you are abusive towards me! I can’t believe I’ve put up with your abusive nonsense for so long. Thank goodness I know what real love is now!”

          Then by his own admission, abuse is impossible, because we can just choose not to feel abused, so he contradicted himself immediately. My fuckwit would contradict himself like that all the time, sometimes within the same sentence. I would point the contradiction out and he’d get this look on his face like a dog would get if you tried to teach it card tricks. Like “huh?”

          Your ex dreamed up a weird combination of cringe-worthy “new age” philosophy, childish petulance, and classic projection. This manipulative dirtbag could give a whole team of experts in abnormal psychology nightmares.
          I think that using some kind of trumped up philosophical excuse is pretty common with cheaters. They vocalize their rationalizations, unaware of how crazy their statements are to normal people. They contradict themselves because they are not at all sincere in these beliefs.

            • It’s just never, ever, ever worth engaging an unrepentant cheater in conversation. No gains are ever netted.

          • The contradictions are crazy.

            My favorite one from FW when we talked to the preacher was. “I had tried for years to get Susie to be more self sufficient” in the very next breath he said “But I (meaning hi8m) am a controller, always have been” Only one of these statements can possibly be true, and in fact it is the second one.

            Preacher looked at him like he had grown two heads. First of all no one ask him what was wrong with Susie, and in fact no one asked him anything. He just blurted it out when the Preachers said, I will have to refer you to a counselor; I can’t be the counselor.

            Then I never said a word, I was just thinking how in the heck do I get out of here. Then fw turned and looked at me and said “I can’t make any promises”

            I stood up and said to the preacher “thank you for your effort, but we are done here” Then I walked out.

            FW chased me to my car and asked me to sign our tax return for that year and he would give me half after he cashed it. I signed it and said “keep it all”.

            Honestly I think he had gone bat shit crazy.

            The preacher called me later and apologized for setting that meeting up. He said FW didn’t say the things I thought he would say. I just said really, he said exactly what I expected.

            In other words, the issue was me, and if I was a good girl then he would give me the chance to try and win his sorry ass back. No thanks, I did that once; wasn’t going to do it again. I only went so I could reject him.

        • Agreed! Walking away is the only thing that works. I, too, am intimately familiar with the word-salad, self-contradictory maelstrom of talking with a FW who does not argue in good faith, spins around, and let’s nothing ever stick or sink in. Do not miss those days! Some of those horrible conversations went on for hours!

          • “Some of those horrible conversations went on for hours!”
            So awful! And I always thought that was my fault. I don’t think I had one single significant, straightforward conversation in my ENTIRE relationship with my ex. You can’t have agency when you build your life with a “partner” like that. I definitely do not miss it.

        • Fourleaf,
          I learnt that the hard way too. It was one of the things that finally got me to able to leave! No matter what, he always had a response that somehow blamed me and made him look like the one hard done by. For example, he would say I’m proud of myself and how far I’ve come (with some token therapy and fake reconciliation), if you would just love me for who I am.
          Everything got twisted into an attempt to have me feel sorry for him, or that he was much more superior and in control of his emotions. The list goes on.
          It truly was a mind F trying to get any truth /empathy/ to admit that he never really loved me etc.
          I danced and threw kibbles, begged and pleaded. How desperate I was to say ‘But I know that’s not how it happened, I know your lying, and manipulative. All I did was let a narcissist know that I wasn’t the cardboard cut out he had ordered on our wedding day 24 years ago. I was three dimensional with feelings, and I trying to hold him accountable. By the way, that eas another one he was always preaching at work as a Director to his staff, high performance and accountability!!
          What a joke.
          Anyway, the divorce papers have turned up. So has the flashbacks, sadness and anger (I haven’t felt in a year at least). What do I do with the anger? He has been riding off into the sunset with his little schmoopie since I left. Though nothing was going on, I adandoned him! Again, my fault.
          Sorry, this turned into a rant. I can’t wait to feel nothing! I’m recovering from the psychological abuse. Please tell me I will get to meh! Tuesday is real.

          • I am not the one to tell you you will get to meh, TObeHAPPY, because I ain’t there too. But I do hope we get there soon and look up to many fellows here in CN that got there. I believe our Tuesdays are coming. Wish you well.

          • TObeHAPPY your words… “All I did was let a narcissist know that I wasn’t the cardboard cut out he had ordered on our wedding day 24 years ago. I was three dimensional with feelings, and I trying to hold him accountable.”
            Really spoke to me. EXACTLY my thoughts and feelings about my marriage. I (and you, and all us chumps) tried SO VERY HARD, and asked for very little or nothing at all. It’s not you, or your effort, or lack of communication skills.
            You are a loving caring person who only wanted an authentic real intimate relationship with your partner. You were doing everything right, while they had not a clue as to what ‘right and true’ even looked like or more importantly, felt like.

            For me, feeling nothing seems to be impossible, and idk if I will ever feel ‘nothing’. I still cry and rage for all of us. Still 2.5 years out, I am sad, incensed, still ask WHY?! But it’s in the spaces in between where I’m calm, happy, joyful and those keep getting wider and wider.

            I too am still in recovery. It’s been a long hard journey, but well worth the time and effort. You’ll get to YOUR “Meh” someday, you WILL! AND it’s only defined by you. You’ll figure it out. I absolutely HATED that my abuse counselor told me it would be “at least 3 years” until I felt better. At that point in time I thought I couldn’t stand one more moment of what I was feeling, but I did, and it’s better. A whole big heaping bunch better!!! Not all better, no, but even if I stayed exactly where I am today, I’m content.
            Just keep moving forward. Lean on your support. I have read here everyday, and night, for years, and it helps…like the tide… wave after the next.
            Stick with it, Tuesday is real.

    • You are so mighty R!! I can’t believe you handled the situation so amazingly well in such a short time. What a way to shut down a cake eater.

  • R,

    The bullsh*t is strong in these cheaters.

    Watch out for her either circling back when it doesn’t work out or hitting you with the “I want an open relationship after the fact” gambit.

    Stay strong.


    • Ooh yes, I got the ‘how about we renew our wedding vows’? 6 weeks after being blindsided.
      That was the confusion of the year in the state I was in. Thank goodness I could see through that one. He could be so convincing.

      • My cheater ex said exactly that! He wanted to renew our vows ASAP!!!
        I was like, huh? You just said you never loved me, never enjoyed sex with me, should have divorced me 12 years ago…..then…..OOOOOOHHHHHH…….IF your chump does that, then they don’t have grounds in a divorce!
        The chump “recommitted”, so everything that came before isn’t admissible in court.
        Ya, glad I didn’t even entertain that idea.

  • I’ll second Chumplady’s response… but add, find a shark attorney and don’t look back. Your children will be forever better for it.

    • And please find any emails or texts about how much she loves her job and being back in the workforce (between you and her and if she ever showed you anything she wrote to her employer )!!! Your shark lawyer will be able to use those to create a fairer settlement for you. Collect everything – you never know what will be the one thing that moves the needle!

      I had one email that ex wrote to me and the kids about me and how amazing I was as a wife and mother (specifics are irrelevant). I kept showing it to my lawyer and showing it. It wasn’t until the day before court that they realized what they could do with that email. It got me a much better settlement than I dreamed possible.

      Keep detailed logs about the division of household labor, childcare, your children’s special needs and her “ free time activities” (do you have credit card statements showing where she goes then and what she’s spending?). If not, start NOW and work backwards as much as you’re able.

      Use your time wisely. Rather than engage her, get all your files, tax returns, credit card statements together and keep copies somewhere out of the home.

      Good luck and good riddance!

      • Great advice!
        And I hated every minute of documenting and “keeping track” of that abuser. It felt like I was right back into being the “marriage police”, sucked into his dysfunction, having to operate and think on his level. After I had put in so much effort to separate myself from him, and not make his every move my energy sucking job…..but…sigh….it’s needed.
        Every last tiny bit of recorded paperwork. I actually was shocked at what mattered and what didn’t, and my divorce lasted 3 long years. Stacks of banker boxes, but in the end… attorney ripped out a piece of paper from my stack and caught him….it was sweet, but not sweet enough that I don’t still think “Family Court” is a playing field for abusers. I survived, like we all have, and will.
        One day in court after we’d had a big “discovery” motion and push my ex’s lazy drunk lawyer wheeled in a luggage cart stacked with paperwork whining to the judge he hadn’t had time to process it all and needed an extension. Gave me a dirty look…and I’m thinking huh? This is stuff you should have had 2 years ago? Why is this all new news? Your client (my ex) should have given you this (no shocker, he hadn’t, so 2 years and 2 attorneys prior, ya, it’s a mountain of actual shit. But MY attorney and myself? Yup totally up to speed and ready to blow your ass out of the water! ) They never recovered.
        Keep fighting. Keep every last record of anything. You got this.

    • YES. And with special needs children doubly so, as their care can be a lifelong financial obligation vs co-parenting through high school and then splitting college costs.

      My financial obligation for my special needs kid extends for his entire life, even after I am dead. I am simultaneously saving for my own retirement PLUS a fund to support him after I am gone.

      I am happy to do it of course, since I love my kid, but I live a very different lifestyle than you would expect for my income. Be sure to include a special needs trust in your financial planning.

      • I second the special needs trust recommendation. Good catch NotAnymore!

        There are different kinds of SNT in terms of how money can be distributed if Medicaid or other gvt. monies are involved so be sure you find a lawyer who is competent in these types of trusts.

        This may feel overwhelming to deal with all at once on top of what your daily life is like but it will pay off big time down the road which may seem like a long ways away now but it will be here before you know it. Better to be prepared if you can.

        When you children are in school you have a safety net. When they graduate all of that changes and it is gone so you are preparing that safety net yourself now.

        I had a good friend come and take notes when I went to my lawyer and it made a huge difference because she heard things I didn’t….I was focused on certain issues and she caught the ones I wasn’t as focused on. Always good to have a good friend to fall back on with whom to do reality checks.

        Good Luck

      • Good advice and me too. I also have to find my daughter an alternative living situation, as she would definitely not want to be with her father if I was gone and could not manage on her own.
        She has a tax free trust set up for disabled adults which the government also contributes to. A trust is essential.

      • “My financial obligation for my special needs kid extends for his entire life, even after I am dead. I am simultaneously saving for my own retirement PLUS a fund to support him after I am gone.”

        I did the same for my kids. Very good advice, NotAnymore!

        • I have a question (a bit off-topic), and would be very grateful for anyone’s perspective.

          My soon to be 8 yo son is autistic, almost non-verbal. Though he’s made some modest strides towards literacy as of late, he struggles with social interaction and I have well founded doubts whether he will ever attain social skills enough to live autonomously one day.

          I started a pension fund in his name (and another in his brother’s name), but haven’t yet had enough surplus money to make big investments.

          My XW and I are both public servants, but in different careers. I am entitled to a permanent reduction in my work hours as a parent of a kid with special needs, but this is all I can get from my job. My XW, on the other hand, besides being entitled to a similar cut in her work load, can apply for a benefit that would have our son earning her wages for the rest of his life, effective the moment she passes away. I am not privy to the details and red tape involved, but she told me it is already available since his diagnosis 5 years ago and would not affect her income or career advancements.

          It would be a huge relief for his big brother. I know that because I am the only sibling of an autistic adult with no income.

          What puzzles me is that she didn’t so far take any steps towards securing this benefit for our son. Not even the hours reduction thing. Things are changing fast in Brazil right now, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this kind of benefits would cease to be available in the near future.

          One reason she gave me (while we were still married) for not willing to do so is her hope that our son will eventually overcome his limitations. I too have hope, but I guess the state would gladly and instantly revoke the benefit once my kid proves himself able to keep a job, so why not explore all the possibilities?

          (In fact, it is somewhat of a scandal and object of heated debate that daughters of army general-officers in Brazil are entitled to their deceased fathers’ pay-checks monthly for the rest of their lives under the condition that they never (legally) marry. My XW is in the military, and this benefit sounds like one of these things.)

          My question is a bit of skein-untangling but can someone please chime in as to why my FW XW would be withholding this safety net for our autistic son?

          Also, should I talk to her about it again? I am not inclined to do so, since I am grey rock and don’t want nothing to do with her job, carrer or earnings, but it is a matter that clearly relates to our children well-being.

          I would appreciate any ideas or advice.

          • I think no one is going to read the late entry above anyway, but if you do, please ignore my questions.

            I did some research and found out the benefit doesn’t apply to our situation and is nothing like what my XW described it to me. Just another one of her misrepresentations of reality (maybe to make my job look shitty as compared to hers). I should have suspected that, since it was too good to be true. Chump taking a cheater’s word at face value contrary to all evidence. Old habits die hard.

            My doubt remais as to why she did not apply for a reduction in her work hours, but that doesn’t bother me at all since it is her decision and results in more time for me with my kids.

            Sorry for the late, innacurate entry and the retraction afterwards.

            • Brazilian Chump – I don’t have anything useful to say, just wanted to let you know that my heart goes out to you. Such a hard situation

              • Thank you for your sympathy, Bruna!

                The kids are okay for the time being.

                Whatever your story and what brought you to CN, I hope you are doing well.


  • Although I know that people lie to me on a daily basis, and feel justified in doing so, there is still something quite offensive about having an intimate family member or spouse lie to your face. I sometimes feel like a lawyer, questioning a witness, when I already know the answer. “You have sworn an oath (marital vows), I have this evidence, now please explain this credit card charge in X, while you swear you were at Y????”

    CL is spot-on! There is nothing to work with here. Your dream of a traditional family is over. Get divorced and set up the best custody arrangement you can. Your partner will probably not remain faithful to that agreement either, but there are legal consequences if she doesn’t comply.

    Life does get better without a FW. Not necessarily easier, but better.

  • R, okay, you tried some CL techniques on the FW. Just make sure your journal it. Hopefully, you already have a lawyer. Whatever you do, do not get into the RIC. I did and it was a waste of time and money (but it did allow me to line up ducks and retain a lawyer). The RIC will only run you through a mind fuck blender. Whatever you do, don’t give her anymore kibble. Time to go grey rock. Your experiment got a reaction from the FW. Even negative attention gives them a good helping of kibble.
    You do know that there is nothing to work with there so take the advice of CL and get a lawyer and line up those ducks. I am in the middle of the process of divorce from a FW and it sucks. I am no contact with the FW since my son is an adult and away from home. Every time the FW tried contact, he was met with the response to go thru lawyers. It gives him no kibble which is great.
    Don’t feed the beast. Get that lawyer and get a good settlement. Come here all the time for advice, venting and support. Good luck!

    • Whenever the cheating ex-husband/father of my children and I disagree on something child-related, I tell him to have his lawyer to talk to my lawyer about it; suggesting to him that they can probably come up with a better solution than we can. So far, that has worked like a charm. He either drops the issue then and there, or our respective lawyers are able to talk him off his stupidity ledge. Despite his lawyer being a crazy cunt, I have found that for just a couple of hundred bucks, I still get the outcome I was seeking in the first place, without having to slog through the mind-fuckery.

      Post-separation, he used to try and invite me to sit down and discuss matters one-on-one, reasonably, so we can work through them without lawyers. I had to learn the hard way there is no reasoning with a proven liar, sadist, and manipulator. My responses or reactions are simply something he is gathering and analyzing to use against me. And I refuse to ever be alone in a room with him again.

      I have so many long back-and-forth emails in OFW from the early days where I tried to reason with him, shame him, get him to feel remorse, or admit the truth. I trust now that he sucks; that he enjoys yanking my chain; and that I was never going to have my day in court where the judge reads through those emails and “gets it.”

      Thanks to Chumplady, I finally accepted there is no winning this game; it’s only when I stopped playing that I started winning.

  • You may want to get full custody of the kids and now is the perfect time. She is so wrapped up in her AP that she will not want kids taking up any of her time. Play it smart though make off it is best for the kids to stay put, blah blah and she’ll go along because that narrative will work for her. Down the road when it doesn’t work out with AP she can’t turn her focus on you and manipulate through the kids. In any case her manipulation attempts will be limited if you have full custody.

    • I agree with this. Go for full custody she has no time for the kids. I tried like crazy to get full custody of my kids at the time. They were 9 & 6 so they had no say basically, so I ended up with 50/50. Be careful as well with child support and maintenance. My ex wife was the breadwinner and made nearly 3 times what I did. When I filed she quit her job or got fired not sure to avoid paying. I filed in November 2018 and she drug it out for almost 27 months. Finalized January 2021. Going on 4 years now and she still only works part time.
      So where are we now? She has put our kids through absolute hell. She forced her assfuck on my kids and also brought along 4 of his 5 kids who he has 50/50 with his exGF and ex wife. They set their schedule up with having all the kids at once and no kids on their non custodial days. The kids have voiced their concerns with me. Apparently all those two do is scream and yell at each other. The cops have been called numerous times but nothing has been done. My kids have called crying telling me to come pick them up. So I called the police and my lawyer and I made her call and say it was okay to take them. Well she is constantly breaking the court order with taking my kids out of state without notice, keeping my kids longer, and not taking them on some of her holiday weekends.
      So this week now that our order is over 2 years out I am taking her back to court for full custody. Without me asking and me just letting my kids be kids they have begged and pleaded to just live with me. Plus they like that dad has no one so there is zero drama. They understand all
      My time goes to them. My 13 year old son and even said he is going to cut all ties with her family. So I’m not sure what they have done to the kids.
      So R I say to you. Going through this all myself fresh here, do everything you can to get those kids. Even single dads can rock this parenting!!

      • Your poor kids. I hope you get full custody. She totally sucks!

        Your ex and Assfuck provide an instructive example of how cheater twu wuv turns out- a clusterfuck of dysfunction behind closed doors. It’s ironic to be in the position of wishing their relationship was happy so that the kids don’t have to be exposed to that.
        However, they’re never happy. They don’t appreciate anything they have, including their kids. So it makes sense that when they live with another empty vessel who doesn’t provide the love and support a chump does, things only get worse.

        • Yes she does! We have 2 older kids also 23 & 19 that she alienated from me as well. That really hurt when they knew she cheated but still supported those two and their cheating. It took almost 3 years for them to start talking with me again. I ran into some of her family members and they told me that she was talking so much shit about me to my kids. Her own family finally told her to shut the fuck up. So after talking with them I approached my older kids and asked why they don’t talk to me and come visit me because it was tearing me apart as I was always the primary caregiver. The shit I found out from my oldest boy was insane. We sat up one night and cried like babies. Here over the years she was telling him how she resented him for being born. He caused her to miss her younger years of partying.

          He also had told us he was gay during his freshmen year of college. Her reaction was telling him he was going to hell and try and find some mental help for him and she contacted our pastor. My reaction was telling him how much I loved him and that I didn’t care about his lifestyle as long as he was happy. But he ended up telling me everything she said about me and that he had finally figured out she had been lying to him all along.

          So yeah it just takes time but the kids always figure things out. It may not happen right away like I wanted it to but almost 4 years later they understand what and who their mother is and I haven’t even said a word.

  • I too heard the classic ILYBINILWY.

    I too was told we were like brother and sister. Roommates. Don’t you know that the suspended reality romance in the beginning of all relationships is supposed to last forever if it’s real love? TV programs and movies are proof.

    Also, if it’s real love there will never be any problems. Ever. Especially in the sex department. If it’s real love, you don’t even have to communicate. Vulcan mind melds are automatic if it’s real love.

    She’s right though. You certainly can’t tell her how she can and cannot love. Because you either can OR you cannot.
    You can’t can and cannot at the same time. And you can tell her she cannot, that she sucks at it, because your marriage (mirage) is solid physical evidence.


    • Just want to point out that on the Brotherly love/roommate crap I don’t do laundry for my adult siblings and any roommate that suggested I do his/her laundry would have been kicked out with substantial and public ridicule.
      That comment has always cranked my gears but it’s a great window into the chaos that governs their thinking. I’m thankful my thinking isn’t that chaotic.

    • Ugh. I got that line too, “we’re more like brother sister”. FW says this after f*cking me silly that morning. I replied, did we do things that a brother sister would do today morning? I got the blank “does not compute” stare back.

    • I hate that saying, has a non cheater ever said “ILYBNILWY”? I feel like it’s a cheater’s war cry. I’ve never seen it used outside of infidelity and those who have said it are in the midst of a full blown PA and gotten addicted to the dopamine rush of strange.

      Fucking hate that saying, I heard it too.

      • Yep.

        My version was I have been “dating for ten years” (half of our marriage, and I never loved you. Same shit though.

        Like if he never loved me, and had been dating for ten years; well that’s on me not him. Crazy stuff.

        My first cousin who got married the same summer I did went through it just two years later. Her husband of 23 years said the very same thing to her. Out of the blue. In her case he didn’t even do the year of shitty treatment discard; just set his other life up, while lying to her the whole time he was doing it; them boom.

        I had not seen or talked to her since I was sixteen so there is no way she knew what my fw said to me. I told my dad and of course he talked to his sister; but my dad didn’t know what he had said to me because I was still hiding it out of shame. I was so ashamed that I had been that stupid.

        At the time of discard I was an entry level civil servant, at the time of her discard two years later she was a federal judge. Two totally different personalities and economic levels.

        It can happen to anyone, but boy I felt alone going through it.

        • Dating is what single people do.

          It’s called “cheating” if you’re married.

          He said he explained the divorce to his parents as “I told them I was seeing someone.”

          I said, “No. It’s called “seeing someone” if you are single. It’s called “cheating” or “committing adultery” if you are married.”

          They lie to everyone, themselves especially.

    • My ex wife said the same thing, “we are like brother and sister so I can’t be physical with you anymore.”

      • Yikes! I had the opposite problem. From the beginning, my ex was so awkward with intimacy that he treated me like a sister or one of his guy friends. He would tickle and taunt me until I cried. It was the first “serious” conversation I had to have with him, then in our mid-twenties: “You know, it hurts and isn’t enjoyable for me – and it definitely isn’t a turn on.” Terrible kisser, no foreplay, preferred sleeping in a sleeping bag, etc. (Red flags…) But somehow I internalized this: I was undesirable; I wasn’t forward or sexy enough. And when I eventually gave up and grew disinterested in sex with him (not without trying everything first and assuming it was something wrong with me) – he found ways to subtly and overtly blame me. Years passed, and I checked out. I lost myself.

        Turns out he was an alcoholic, had been secretly addicted to porn since he was 14, and went on to have multiple affairs with much younger women who he had zero commitment or real emotional involvement with. I actually came to the conclusion early on that I was ok with the lack of passion or sexual chemistry because he showed his affection in other ways, and we were so compatible. He loved me, he just didn’t know how to express romantic love. Then the real devaluation began when the cheating started, and I absorbed so much shame and negative energy. Distortion and projection. I was such a chump!

  • In my experience, any communication with the cheater can be weaponized against you. I am as NC as possible with XW (we have kids) – not because of some high principle, or to prove some point about my disdain for her – for the very practical reason that she consistently uses information against me.

    It takes a long time to learn this, and you will fail repeatedly. Try to keep a mental record of the times you treat her as a friend and how she uses your honesty or vulnerability to screw you over; eventually you will internalize the idea that communication = danger.

    • “communication = danger”

      Allowing them access to any part of you is danger. It can be so hard to believe they are who they showed you they are. They use that.

      • Yes, even the good stuff. During the early days of Covid, while I kept my son full time because I was able to work from home and school was virtual, I would send my stbx photos of our son doing various activities. Even those nice photos were used against me (“Son isn’t wearing a helmet while he’s skateboarding, which is proof she is a shitty mom.” – regardless of the fact that my stbx never put a helmet on the kid either.) Or I was even posting on my personal Facebook page photos of the meals I cooked (for myself – I mean, what else was there to do during lockdown?), and my stbx turned it around and said I was STARVING OUR SON, because he CLEARLY wouldn’t eat the things I was cooking. Which was TOTAL BS. I made separate meals for my picky eater. But chicken nuggets and peanut butter sandwiches aren’t very Instagram-worthy.

        It was ridiculous. Give them NOTHING.

        • Agreed. Give them nothing. No dialogue. No photos. No personal connection. Because they take everything and use it to make you feel badly about yourself.

          This is nothing but a professional relationship now.

        • My kids need a relationship with their father, and I hope they get what they need from him. I also hope he is capable of parenting them well. But I trust that he sucks. My ex didn’t bother taking or asking for any photos of the kids when he left, so why would I cater to the illusion that he wants any photos of them now? So he can show his next victim what a great co-parent he is? No thanks.

          • As a child of a chump/cheater couple, the cheater who moves out without ONE photo of their children will eventually look like the self-centered p.o.s. that they are.
            In my father’s case, he went through the marital home with a fine tooth comb during the division of assets. I still remember those days, him with his pen and pad of paper in hand. I found the typed list, with check marks, in the divorce box after my mother died. I know he saw the boxes of photo negatives and family albums.
            Somebody must have commented that there were no photos of his children during a visit to his and his third wife’s apartment. Lots of her hideous clan. He bemoaned that he didn’t have any photos of me and my older brother . ????

            • This move of effectively erasing your children when you divorce your spouse can be part of the cheater playbook. First one I noticed in other stories when I found this blog.

      • “Communication = danger.” This is *the* mantra for still-stuck chumps. This is the message I had to repeat to myself to break the cycle and cut contact. It sounds dramatic, but communicating with my abusive ex became a matter of survival. Every interaction with him worsened my already fragile mental and physical health.

    • IG, totally agree. They will try to engage you in any way that they can and then immediately rush to the lawyer with the hope of proving that the chump is mentally unstable. My FW tried this in the very early days but did not have anything to support his she is crazy claims. They try everything they can to make the chump appear to be the crazy one. Since retaining my attorney during the RIC, he only gets the run it through the attorney response. Initially he tried to get more of a response but I just repeated myself and then he was the one who looked crazy. Communication= danger =kibble.

      • Yes, the chump is in for a shock when they see the pack of gross distortions and lies that will be told about them once the lawyers get involved. Buckle up for the character assasinations.

        • Yes, my STBX really tried the character assassination with the lawyers and he could not produce anything to show that I was crazy. I gave him nothing in any written form or anything that he could record and remained silent as he ranted and sputtered. Guess he looked crazy then. Anytime you engage with them, you are opening yourself up to shit. Going through the attorney is great because he has to pay. My attorney really has not billed me very much for his ranting so I am happy about that. She just keeps copies of everything to ensure it is documented for further settlement discussions and court. Happily FW gives them stuff 2-3 times a week and cannot stop. His latest one was a picture of me at a work luncheon with colleagues where he stated that I was on a date. Really in a group picture???? I just wonder who my date was. Anything gets them going so it is best to avoid any engagement with them. Besides, it would really burst my happiness if he got a crumb of cake from me.

      • Totally. A bizarro Hoover text after atrocious abuse is not endearing. It is inflammatory. Block it! When that BS hits you at the wrong time, it is SO hard not to respond with some version of ‘STFU you psycho wierdo. I’m onto you and it’s not working.’ (And… it worked 🙁 )

    • Yes my ex wife uses my no contact or grey rock against me when she has talked to the kids therapist, her lawyer, kids doctors, etc…She tells them that “he won’t communicate with me about the kids.” She shuts her mouth though when I chime in that I don’t associate with cheaters. She’ll also say when she talks to me in person that it is very dangerous for the kids that you have me blocked or won’t talk to me.

  • Ahhh yes, the “ I love you but I’m not in love with you” line. Translating into I want to do what I damn well feel like doing and you are in my way, but may be useful to me sometime down the road,so I’ll drop you lightly on your head instead and keep you injured by it and triangulated. No chance I hell you want that.
    That’s a red flag that doesn’t get any redder at all.
    Danger Will Robinson, danger!
    Thank God you are aware she is playing games with you.
    You just keep her out of all the reindeer games and dump her ass. She found the dark selfish side of life and found some lowly friends over there to keep her company.
    Let her have them, “actions have consequences” with be her very worst phrase someday that will never leave her head.
    Once the trust has vanished, the tower tumbles to the ground.
    Sorry you got chumped, but stay angry and locked in and determined to remove her from your life. You got this!
    Beware the hoover on the horizon too, it will show up.
    Stay strong, we’ve got your back over here. You are making the right decision, no other one exists for these “ love you but don’t”cheaters.
    She’s already showed you who she is, now introduce her to you.


    Nope. Now R finally knows and men outside the marriage do as well. Yuck. FW is self-serving. And self-serving “love” isn’t what either of you agreed to most likely in front of friends, family and a religious or court representative.

    Dealing with delusional FWs is a massive waste of time. Grey rock and please get free of her as soon as you can.

      • Yes. You know those statistics like, ‘If you unrolled your small intestine, it would span five football stadiums’? What would be the equivalent of the collective time CN has wasted on fuckwits?

  • I hate these arguments over definitions. My ex’s family loved the phrase “love conquers all.” But my former husband’s version of love was destructive and cruel. He took very little responsibility for what happened and wanted me to tie myself in knots to save the marriage. As if that would have resurrected it? Love is NOT destructive and cruel, period.

    It was over when he chose to live many states away, not caring about the mess he left behind. That was done with his family’s approval, BTW. And of course, he’d come around again and again at times, insisting that he passionately loved us. No, throwing off the responsibilities of love is not love at all. Actions speak louder than words.

    Last month my adult son called one of my ex’s siblings on a matter. And the sibling gave the “love heals all wounds” message and said they were “giving your mom her space.” As if I’d overlook everything that happened. Particularly how they dissected every aspect of our marriage without me present so I was made the cause of the breakup, and how they barely held my ex accountable. Ironically though, my son also found out from that phone call that at least two of the brothers barely have contact with my ex now, so there was some kind of falling out there.

    If I had reconciled (thankfully I didn’t), I would have had to deal with the family disfunction aggressively. Try to do that with a family deep into each other’s business who considers themselves better than society at large!?! My younger adult daughter processed all of this mess over the years of separation and divorce and then broke up with her long-term boyfriend a few months ago, observing that his mom had her hooks so deep into their relationship that she couldn’t stand it any longer. It was at the point of either getting engaged or breaking up, and she broke up.

    So yes, get a lawyer. Some marriages cannot be saved. As my therapist often said, it takes two to make a good marriage, but only one to destroy it.

    • I am not affiliated with any organized religion but I think Corinthians pretty much nails the definition of what love is (and therefore, what it ain’t). And cheating is the opposite of every one of the criteria.

      We live in the age of Alternative Facts, and “my truth” (another phrase which makes me cranky). Somewhere someone confused the words “opinion” and “perception” with “truth” and it caught on.

      I’ve also noticed a recent uptick in people making up their own driving laws…

      • My ex and his family are part of a well-known family in our Protestant denomination, so that of course made it even harder. They knew what “God” wanted me to do, and it was reconciliation at all costs. God hates divorce, you know. When they ramped up the talking down to me and were clearly enabling my ex, I backed off. My ex kicked off the divorce himself not long after that, supposedly a “righteous” divorce in the eyes of my ex and his family because I refused reconciliation.

        Well, the God I know doesn’t want people to stay in highly destructive marriages. Thankfully our long-term church leadership (same denomination) got the truth and respectfully said that divorce was a possibility if it came to that for my well-being. And so it was a mercy, indeed. I’m older and have no interest in dating, but my life is truly filled with love and hope now in so many ways.

    • “Love is NOT destructive and cruel, period.”

      Sorry for going wildly off-topic here, Elsie, but this phrase of yours and Velvet Hammer’s comment as to how the letter to Corinthians nails down the definiton of Love resonated so deep in me. I was recently listening to a song whose lyrics include many verses from Corinthians’ definition of love when it swiftly dawned on me just how twisted my understanding of love have always been (at least of the romantic variety of love).

      I had a saying I told myself (I don’t think I ever said that out loud to anyone) whenever I felt miserable in my marriage: “the only people that can really hurt you are those you love the most”.

      I was thinking about my wife, of course, and it was a way for me to excuse her for mistreating me. As though it only hurt because I loved her so much, and that was okay, just how things are supposed to be.

      I don’t know if I make sense. I hope not, because now I realize how badly fucked up I was to believe (as in the lyrics of a famous, beautiful samba) that “love is as good as it hurts”. If that is the case, then “fuck love!”, as yesterday’s letter writer James said.

      But I don’t think so. My love for my kids is reciprocal and sweet. They’ve never hurt me so far. I hope I did never and will never hurt them too. At least neither as intentionally nor as deep as their mother hurt us all, that is for sure. We are incapable of such deeds of destruction.

      Of course sometimes when I am admiring their innocence and beauty while trying to keep at bay the thoughts of the inevitable struggles and pain they will face through life and the realization of the impermanence of things it gets me in a bittersweet mood, that feels like pain. But it is not pain they inflicted upon me. It only hurts to realize that unfortunately such beautiful creatures can’t live forever and be happy forever.

      What I call love now is the deep loyalty that binds us, my boys and me, and the feelings of safety, warmth and courage we get from it. And it feels like heaven.

      Romantic love is overrated, very unstable and, frankly, dangerous. I am not interested in this shit anymore (and I used to be a big fan). Peace is way better.

    • The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. To quote at least one song.

      Love and hate are both strong and passionate emotions. Indifference = meh

  • R, you have come so far in five weeks! A discovery at Christmas had to have been a major shock, yet you’re already moving her out the door!
    A red flag did go up, and that’s when you wrote “we have found her a place,” even before you explained that you are both the primary wage earner and the primary caretaker of two special-needs children.
    Although it’s in your best interest to get her out ASAP, this may be part of her financial strategy and could harm you later. If you signed or co-signed her lease, try to get off it before you get stuck with the rent. Ask a lawyer if you will be liable if she claims that you chose a place she can’t afford. She could have found an apartment herself; she was able to find a job, an AP, and people and places do Friday, Saturday, and some Tuesdays and Thursdays. She may be trying to put the responsibility for her rent onto you, or maybe it was just easier for her to have your help, and it will be easier to continue to use you to move her stuff, etc.
    You need to take care of your finances, because it’s likely you will be responsible for those two special needs kids. Get a lawyer ASAP, tested for STIs, and get your finances protected as much as possible.
    Consider how her comments about you will apply to the children. When you told her to stop gaslighting, her response was, “I am the only one that knows HOW I love. This is exactly one of the reasons why I had the affair, you always control me!” What is she going to do when the kids try to “control” her by asking for dinner or for reassurance at bedtime? Someone this self-centered may be unwilling or unable to be a decent parent to children, who often need to have their needs put first. A lawyer can help you with this, too, but only if you remember to take care of yourself and the kids by hiring one.
    I suggest also getting a good family therapist because she’s probably gaslighting your kids too. Put your caregiving where it belongs and is most needed. And as others have said, don’t be surprised if she circles back. She may soon realize what she’s lost.

  • I’m not in love with you but I :

    Love your earning capacity

    I love all the child care you perform

    I love how my hoovering works on you

    I love how you look after my aging parents

    I love you how give me a veneer of respectability

    I love how you provide a lovely house for me to live in

    I love how you sacrifice your sanity for our kids (don’t do this one, it helps no one)

    • Yes and no. The minute ex-FW walked out the door to move in with co-worker AP, he rewrote history and I’m pretty sure he convinced himself as well. In the marriage he apparently “loved” all those things about me (great wife, mother, cook, took care of all the travel plans, took care of the house, took care of my appearance, took care of all the doctor and school stuff, took care of EVERYTHING)… but then POOF — none of it ever happened. Mind f*** from Hell.

      FWs create alternative realities to justify themselves. And to gaslight AP about what supposed crap their Chump was. They don’t “love” or appreciate anything ever.

      Now I try not to grin too much with schadenfreude if I even give it a moment’s thought of the sparkly turd AP “won” ????

      • “FWs create alternative realities to justify themselves.”

        Yes!!! And that’s why it’s impossible to try to have any kind of rational discussions with them.

        • Yes indeedy. My STBX is the classic “nice person” cheater, so everyone was SHOCKED after D-Day #2. (I hadn’t ever told most people, including my parents, about D-Day #1.) The thing I told them that resonated with most people was not just that STBX had been cheating on me, but that I was very disturbed by her revisions of reality. Even some Switzerland friends (now no longer my friends) could see how STBX was living in full-on fantasyland. The people I still call friends understand when I say that it was like trying to reason with a 16-year-old. And I’ve seen in many other ways that STBX is stuck in emotional adolescence. But I don’t need to go into that anymore with friends or others! ???? I say it here just to sympathize with other chumps and to remind new chumps that we can’t reason with emotional children. We shouldn’t stay married to them, either.

        • “FWs create alternative realities to justify themselves.”

          This is why I love CL’s message about making ourselves central. I know better than to expect justice, and even the most delicious karma for my ex will not help me GAL. We were never legally married, but our lives and fates are fully divorced.

          • We were also not married, living together. No kids, so blocking and no contact is easy. I no longer care about karma. To care about karma, I would have to know about it. And there is no easy way for any of his family or friends to contact me.

            His karma is that he knows what he did and that he was dead wrong thinking I would understand and reconcile. His karma is that he has to live with himself and the fact that he will never be content.

    • Yes, and:

      I love how I can continue to have sex with you (and practice some new moves).

      I love how powerful I feel that I know something you don’t know. #secretsturnmeon

      I love having two people vie for my attention. #I❤️kibbles

      tl;dr: I love ME!!

      • This is just so true:

        “I love how I can continue to have sex with you (and practice some new moves).

        I love how powerful I feel that I know something you don’t know. #secretsturnmeon”

        I am so not of the same brain as the FWs that I have a hard time understanding why they get angry at us about their behavior. I never cheated, lied, gaslight, stole time, hoovered or had cake. So why does FW get angry with me? Please, CN, help me understand this ongoing insanity…..

        • Because you slipped out from under his control. You defied him by refusing to accept his cheating. As with any abuser, his enormous sense of entitlement is the genesis of primal rage. You don’t serve his agenda and aren’t stroking his ego. To the entitled, that constitutes oppression. If he’s a narc, his entitlement feels like a survival imperative to him, as the only self he has is the false one who is so speshul and exceptional. So if they even sense that you don’t believe in this delusion, it triggers fear that you might be right. This triggers rage.

          All you really need to know is that they are overgrown toddlers; no real sense of their identity, insecure, needy and completely self centered. Have you noticed how a toddler sees mommy and daddy as instruments to get his/her needs met? That’s how they see a partner. Maybe they can’t help it and maybe they can. Who knows? It doesn’t matter. They aren’t suitable as partners.

          • Thank you so much for this, OHFFS. I often think that he is less mature than our almost tween son. It is so strange that he seems to have no empathy for anyone but himself. I do believe he is a narc. He loves himself so much and doesn’t understand why I don’t love him even more than that. Just because he had sex with a few women? Just because he didn’t get tested for STDs until he thought he might have a yeast infection on his eyes? Just because he lied to and gaslit me for a decade? It really stretched the imagination what they expect to be able to get away with. He even brought his cake shopping for houses with us under the guise of her being a family friend who was lonely and wanted to spend time with us. I am starting to think his FWishness is part of his DNA and his narc personality is permanent. The rage is the most surprising thing since I am not the one who did any of this!

        • They have to demonize the chump to make their actions ‘right’ in their narrative

          The Dictim; the dick that plays the victim

        • I am clueless about this too, CHaBoD, and find it very puzzling and unsettling. But I am good with the explanations offered by others in this thread.

  • Pretty much my story from forty years ago… I won all around , got the kids , found a golden hearted companion several months post divorce , together now 38 years. Karma bus hit EXW multiple times over the years. Her AP was living with his mother , recently divorced , paying his own child support , menial job , and joined the navy two weeks post divorce , leaving EXW with nothing. This is when she came knocking on my door , teary eyed , telling me I was “The best friend she ever had”…..RIIIIGHT .. hit the road you skank. Never ever got any words of remorse… of course it was all my fault she cheated. But I do admit , I can’t help but have pity for someone who let’s their emotions rule over their common sense. She lost everything….EVERYTHING. It’s often been said the best revenge is a life well lived. I got revenge in spades.


    That sure is a lot of cake, she is going to get diabetes.

    R, congratulations for you brotherly divorce (choked on my coffee on that one CL).

    PS: and I bet she will not ask for custody.

    • Oh that is superb – my FW must have diabetes for sure because he was mainlining cake every day for YEARS.

  • Ah yes, it’s a classic line. I didn’t even get the “I love you, but…” part. I got, “I don’t have any romantic feelings for you”. Reader, it was like a switch flipped in my brain when I heard that. FW seemed surprised when I told him I’d be cutting out all of the (unreciprocated) affection he’d been getting from me. When I left a few days after his confession for a parenting conference (that I signed up for because he told me I was a bad parent), he went in for a hug, which was unusual for him to initiate. I dodged it, and he snarkily says, “what, no high five or anything?”. I still roll my eyes at that. What an idiot.

    • Don’t feel bad. I got “I don’t love you! I love AP”… and he got all giddy and was grinning like an idiot while my world fell apart.

      But gotta hand it to your FW… having the balls (or really an idiotic lack of self awareness) to go in for a hug after saying he doesn’t have romantic feelings for you anymore? What a moron. I can only hope your face showed complete disgust and repulsion 🙂

      • Same!

        MichelleShocked, I got:

        “I think you can love two people at once.”

        “I love her and think we’ll probably get married” (followed by, “It’s untested love.”)

        “I know the games she (AP) plays.”

        “It just happened.”

        “Can we get back together in, say, 3 years?”

        “You will always be the love of my life.”

        Good riddance! So glad I don’t get the mindfuck channel anymore.

        • “Can we get back together in, say, 3 years?”

          Hahaha. It’s astonishing how entitled they are. What inflated ideas of themselves they have. Do they think we are going to wait around pining for them, abjectly waiting for their favor and attention? That they could think in this way is yet more evidence that they think only of themselves.

          • The ex thought that I would take care of him if he ever got sick. He said he could see himself in the hospital with me by his side at the end of his life. I WAS very loving and caring before he fucked and “married” his girlfriend behind my back. Now, he can die alone and unloved. Buddy, you caused this situation and I owe you nothing.

            • My mother in law said something like that to me.

              It was about the time, I had started to move on; and we both knew he was crashing and burning. She said: “you would have taken care of him if he got sick” I didn’t say anything. I wish I had known to say, yes but he fired me from that job. But it was pre CL or internet.

              I still feel kind of sorry for my mil; she got fucked over too, and it was no more her fault than mine. She had been good to us both. But eventually blood took over.

              • Sounds like my experience. My former in-laws were initially shocked and horrified by FW’s behaviour and loathed his first few extramarital GFs. However, after D-Day 2, when GF#3/Wifetress came around I began to hear less and less from them as time went on. Eventually, I realized that I had been completely replaced as I found out that they were taking FW, GF#3, her kid, and my kids all out on a big (expensive!) family vacation. FW and I weren’t even divorced yet.

                I wasn’t mad; eventually blood takes over. But I was heartbroken.

                I wish them no ill will but I do not talk to them anymore.

        • Spinach… I’m sure he thought you’d be waiting around… ????????
          Mine announced – in the Mediators office, after I insisted HE be the petitioner- (after all he moved in with his AP the same night he left our home…)
          Anyway with pen in hand signing the papers, he looked up at the mediator and then at me, and said, “We can stop this at any time right?”
          Him: typical perplexed look.
          Mediator: eyebrows raised in disbelief
          22 days til divorce is finally! ????

        • What really is behind the “We can back together, in say, 3 years”? My FW said 2 years but he was 68 years old at the time.

          I don’t think it was because he had remaining feelings for me or even an objection to the divorce he left for me to file.

          I think it was the same reason he kept receipts for EVERYTHING, even socks. He was frequently disappointed by his own choices, doubted his own judgement, felt victimized by malfunctioning appliances.

          • Right. He’d used the AP but kept the original box, just in case.

            Not only did my x want to keep his options open, I think he also thought he was throwing me a bone, one that would help sustain me because, ya know, he’s so awesome, and I seemed so devastated. He thought he was giving me HOPE!!

            Christ on a cracker. He was convinced of his own greatness. Always had been, but, a covert narc, he hid it quite well.

            Once you find Waldo, you can’t believe you didn’t see him right away.

            • I love this so much. “Once you find Waldo, you can’t believe you didn’t see him right away.” Thanks, Spinach. I don’t comment much, but that statement is classic. Mine was a creepy covert narc too. It is astonishing to think about his level of self-importance. Yuck. I gave him 32 years of attention. What a relief to be on the path of absolute NC and divorce, but God it’s ugly at the moment.

            • “Christ on a cracker. He was convinced of his own greatness.”

              Yup. The strange, cartoonishly arrogant things my FW said after D Day #1 were astonishing. My parents (whose house the kids and I had moved into for awhile until I could find a place to live) were stunned and mused out loud, “How does he get that giant head of his through door frames? Because geez louise!”

          • My fws version of that was: “If you really love something, let it go and if it was menat to be yours it will come back”.

            Asshole. This was said in response to when he confessed about whore and said “I have been dating this girl, and we are in love and want to get married”.

            First of all “girl” my ass; she was a 35 year old cow with three big assed boys; and had been ridden by half the married man in our town. Second of all, the vows we took meant we were supposed to belong to each other.

            Third and most important, by the time he hoovered back after the second chance I gave him (shouldn’t have), he sickened me to even look at his smarmy face. Wore deserved him way more than I did.

            About a year ago I found an old story on CL with that saying in a cartoon. It said: “if you love someone and let them go and they come back to you, that means no one else wanted them either. It reminded me of his stupid comment, and I rolled laughing.

        • Wait a holy minute here. I got the EXACT same, word for word! Honestly, could it be the same person??? Plus more about how his love for her is separate from his love for me and it would work if I wasn’t so morally rigid. Plus how she hopes we “get our spark back” that I didn’t know had disappeared by the way. Plus I will always be his one and only valentine. Even though he was having sex with anyone that would look at him. This triggered me but in a healing way. I’m 18 months no contact but these hurtful words are still inside of me.

          • There are so many hurtful words and images, Aurora. Mine are, “You’re pretty. She’s cute.” Who says things like that? Only a totally twisted, delusional sociopath. It is mind boggling. I understand your comment about how words live inside. I’ll probably remember those — among so many other cruel remarks and looks — for the rest of my life. But now that I’ve escaped, I remember the source. It is shocking and traumatic to know that I was hoodwinked by this creep, but I don’t carry the burden of respecting anything he said or did. Great for you for 18 months NC. That’s something to celebrate!

            • I got the “she’s pretty” line. She wasn’t, not at all. Her teeth are incredibly bad. Anyway, the only thing they see is someone willing to join in the deception. That’s what they mean by “pretty” or “cute”.

        • Mine reverted to his six year old self with the “I don’t know what love is” crap.
          I know what it ain’t. I walked out the door with those words ringing in my ears.

        • I got:

          “Why can’t you understand that I hate them as much as you do?!?!”

          Ah yes, when the fun times with the OWs were over (at least THOSE 3OWs), he wanted to bond with me about how much those nasty OWs had hurt HIM with their actions and entrapments. “OW2 told me that YOU were cheating on ME.What was I supposed to do?” Of course, I knew them all and so he thought he could tap into my visceral disgust after he vomited out confessions to me at the start of the pandemic.

          These FWs have no bottom and no boundaries.

          • No, no bottom, no boundaries.

            Believe it or not, my FW XW tried that exact ridiculous charade on me too: that she only cheated because AP and friends/accomplices had her convinced that I was having an affair (while confined within a house with two kids, three elderly people and an autistic adult, taking care of all of them during the first covid lockdown – which, contrary to her, I complied with).

            Afterwards, when the affair blew up in her face, she wanted me to sympathize with her humiliation for being told by her XAP that she was not attractive enough to be with him and should get a boob job ASAP. Oh, and he also criticized her varicose legs and bald spots (the guy is a charmer, isn’t he? the motherfucker has manboobs!) She wanted me to comfort her, what a delusional freak! Maybe in her twisted mind I should be outraged by the OM criticizing the looks of “my wife”.

            These freaks don’t do self-reflection at all.

      • Yes, the delusion…

        After I got “A divorce wouldn’t be so bad.”

        “I need to be able to fuck whoever I want.”

        “I loved the fuck out of you.” (Past tense, yes)

        I got “ why can’t you love someone who doesn’t love you back?” Yes, why? I’m shallow like that I guess.

        You’re probably wondering why I am so harsh with my teenage boyfriend, but that was my husband of 11 years, almost 40, father of our 2 little kids sleeping in their room a few feet away when he was telling me that shit out of the blue. Ex-husband now, thank god. And he wanted to be best friends and do stuff together. Whatever, asshole. Have a nice life.

      • I am so sorry you had to hear this words from his grinning mouth, what a monster. I still wish him a very bad place in hell.

    • Schrodinger, you were married to the ex! He told me he was leaving but not why (until the final character assassination). I asked him, in my shocked zombie-like state, whether there was anything he liked about me (without knowing about his long affair with exgfOW). He thought for a moment and said ‘I can’t think of anything’. I struggled on alone, discovered the emails between them, and started divorce proceedings. The hopium flame was dead as an affair was a deal-breaker for me as he knew. To this point I let him hug me. I was hopeful. After this point, I arranged a meeting at a neutral venue to try to close it all off financially. I arrived, bought my own drink, walked over. He stood up to hug me. I said ‘you’ve lost that right’. The discussion took place. He described it in mediation as ‘emotionally charged’. I was as cool as a cucumber while he told lies as usual. He refused to admit the affair. As we left, parting for the last time on this and any other planet (mediation was virtual and pointless), he tried to hug me again (he was clearly testing whether there was a chink in my armour). I stepped back, looked him straight in the eye and said ‘NO, I know where you’ve been’. I turned round and walked away without a single look back. I was so proud of myself. It was a ‘nobody puts Mighty in the corner’ moment.

      • MightyWarrior… I love this.
        I had a similar (but not as mighty)
        The AP kept implying to my “husband” that she was afraid of me… you know the damsel in distress routine…
        When he told me that, I was stunned, I’m no fighter lol – anyway I stared him down with what must have been a total look of absolute revulsion and said:
        “I’d wring her neck but I wouldn’t want to get my hands dirty.”
        Yup, felt good.
        Him: mouth agape, stupid perplexed look once again.

        • Fw’s whore told him she had been getting “telephone calls”.

          Fw came by and mentioned it to me. I was furious; first of all I never once called or even thought about calling the whore. I told him I never called her, and you know I didn’t. I said “I would give either of you the satisfaction”. He slunk out, the next day I had the locks changed, and if anyone was coming in my house to “make calls” that stopped it.

          To this day I have no idea if it really happened or she was just trying to get him to “protect her” from big bad me. Or maybe he made it up; who knows.

          I do think they (the OW) projects though. They are usually rough numbers, and would beat the shit out of anyone who did to them what they are doing. I wouldn’t have lowered myself to touch or talk to either of the piles of shit.

          • They WANT us to get involved by calling the AP and/or the AP’s spouse. They want the drama and centrality of all that. It gives them a thrill!!!

            • Also, I never called him but to tell him to file, then once to tell him if his mother stole anything else from my yard, I would be calling the PD. She had come over to my yard and taken out some concrete critters that I had bought. She had given me one of them, but she took them all, including the one I was using as the head stone for my sweet dogs grave.

              So I called him twice in six months. In retrospect I wonder if that bothered him that I never called him in tears or begged him to come back. The one time he came back, he called me to ask. I let him, but of course shouldn’t have.

              When he left I was literally falling apart, in a puddle so to speak; I don’t know why but I never once had the urge to call him and beg or cry.

            • It all just feeds into their narc fantasy life. I actually wrote up a Maury Povich episode featuring all of them and sent it to him. It gave me a much needed laugh when I was in the depths of misery and sorrow.

              I was worried that the child of OW1 might be his given the timing of their disgusting acting out, and FW was as ever cagey and fundamentally a liar. FW told me he was worried for my safety that if I reached out to OW1 her dad who is in prison would send someone after me and our son. REALLY?? FW wasn’t too worried about my safety when he engaged in unprotected sex with me after sticking his unprotected junk (and it really is just so much junk) into the poopers of numerous OWs. And then he finally tells me – and this is such a narc move – that he only had anal and oral with her but he thought she went into the bathroom after the oral and tried to spit him out and use it to use to get herself pregnant. Their minds are just so damaged and ruined.

        • TooManyTears, that’s a brilliant response. The timid forest creature OW! The problem for them, well one of many, is that without a fight the prize looks worthless. So they make up a fight to keep it worthwhile. The last thing they, OW/OM, want is a wife or husband who says ‘watch my back as I walk away’.

          • “…without a fight the prize looks worthless.”

            Exactly. They want a tug of war. Best strategy is to drop the rope and walk away. Shrug. “Ok, you win. Enjoy that FW. No tag backs.”

    • After dday 1, FW’s flying monkey told me that FW wasn’t sure if he loved me romantically. (FW of course denied it and threw him under the bus for that one.) That when he told me, “I daydreamed that our kids (imaginary – I wanted kids but he used that to fuck with me) were running around the house we were building…” FW didn’t mean he *wanted* it; he literally just daydreamed it. (?) Then later, same flying monkey told me that I was the love of FW’s life, he’d made mistakes, I was beautiful… God knows what this sycophant would regurgitate if I’d let him utter a word to me. Thank you for ILYBINILWY, Chump Lady. You deserve a Nobel Prize for this illuminating work.

  • My ex wife told me “I can love two men at the same time, like men in the Bible who multiple wives”.

    DO NOT get into saying zingers or sarcastic comments. It will bite you in the “ass”. I told my ex that she was abusive, a bully, a narcissist (therapist and psych told me she is), etc. and she went around telling everyone what I said and that I was abusive. Lost friends over it.

    Just remember you are not Plan B or the #2 love in her life. The husband/wife is #1! And your kids are looking at your actions. Don’t demonstrate that you tolerate being cheated on. Also remember that she is your kids mom. If you are saying anything bad to their mom in front of them they will never forget. My kids still remember me arguing with mom after DDay.

    • “DO NOT get into saying zingers or sarcastic comments. It will bite you in the “ass”. I told my ex that she was abusive, a bully, a narcissist (therapist and psych told me she is), etc. and she went around telling everyone what I said and that I was abusive. Lost friends over it.”

      Great advice, but, at the same time, it’s sad and unfair. I’m sorry this happened to you. ugh

      I guess it’s a good time to trot out Mr. Cl’s line: “If it feels good, don’t do it.”

      • This was before Chump Lady and being educated on Narcissism. Grey rock is the best way to go. I was so surprised how many people give the cheater a free pass to be abusive but if the Chump reacts in any negative way then you are a bad person and abusive. Made me very sad at the time. Now, no matter what my ex says or does I am Grey Rock and have my manners.

        • What is “gray rock”? Sorry – new here. Not a new Chump, but new to CN. Trying to find my strength to leave…..

          • Grey rock is a communication style that consists in being as interesting and brief as possible. It is useful when dealing with narcissists and abusive people to avoid feeding them information or reactions. No contact or NC is the extreme form where one cuts all communication for self protection, but it is not always possible.

            • Most likely the FW knows where all your buttons are, because they put them there. When you don’t react, you don’t give them what they want. Don’t volunteer any personal information either, they can’t use what they don’t know against you.

            • Thank you! I somehow missed GRAY ROCK but I am now going to be using that mode regularly.

              FW actually tries to use how traumatized I am by his behavior – a decade of infidelity lies abandonment and a true double life – against me by repeatedly telling me how fragile I am and how I need space and time to heal. Suddenly he is the high and mighty parent who finally got sober and is now on a healing journey.

              • I have kids with my XW. So have to have communication with her. So No Contact is possible in my situation.

        • Right?!? If we say ANYTHING negative, we are somehow ‘bitter’ or a ‘crazed ex-wife.’ Huh?? We can’t even defend ourselves. It’s infuriating.

          My ex put the reason for the divorce on the document as ‘have been living separately for one year.’ I said that I wanted it to say ‘due to long-term infidelity on the part of FW.’ My lawyer said that would just make me seem bitter and angry. Lol. I said well, his infidelity is the real reason! ????‍♀️ We can’t even expose the truth!

    • If you lost friends because you called your abusive, narcissistic wife what she really is…I say good riddance. No one needs halfwits for friends.

  • Dear Chump Lady:

    Thanks for your sage advice, spot on as usual. Despite the shit show that’s going on in my house right now, it is always entertaining to hear the fuckwit’s warped replies when I call her ass out on her entitled bullshit.

    I do have an update. Some context first; when she’s not out “working” she is in her room alone, texting and talking to the affair partner while I am downstairs with the kids, working, making dinner, doing normal, sane parenting stuff. I called her out on this one time, and she came down and sat with the kids for about 20 mins before saying she was “just a mess” and had to go back up to her cocoon and phone. Too much time apart from the fantasy I guess. Anyways, yesterday she comes downstairs and tells me the place she was hoping to move into was confirmed by the agent. She then starts sobbing and crying and telling me how sad she is now that it’s real and she’s moving out. Meanwhile, I am internally jumping for joy, one step closer to extracting her from my life! She says to me, “You seem to be taking this well.” To this I just smirk and leave the room, which felt great. Later that night she says, “I really want to start marriage counseling, maybe this move will just be temporary.” As much as I wanted to tell her to go fuck off, I just said, “I don’t think marriage counseling is what we need right now.” And I left the room, again.

    I owe a lot to this website and your book for providing a clarity that has helped immensely through this process. I look forward to a happy and cheater-free future soon!



    • “As much as I wanted to tell her to go fuck off, I just said, ‘I don’t think marriage counseling is what we need right now.’ And I left the room, again.”

      Way to go!!! Cool, calm, neutral. Perfect!

    • You are doing great! I’m very happy to read this update.

      Mine gave the same “not in love with you” spheel as a surprise twist after 40 years of marriage. Packed his stuff and moved in with schmoopie immediately. He was way to busy getting her locked down to deal with filing any paperwork and I used that time (through buckets of tears at the scanner) to make sure my attorney had everything she needed. He married schmoopie just as soon as he could get his settlement from our divorce to use it to pay for her divorce and buy a diamond. These people are beyond sicko.

      My regret is that I didn’t see that for at least a year or two (probably more like 20) he had been playing the “brother and sister” sadz card at work and also with our adult children. All of those people believed he was such a victim and he finally found happiness (blowjobs in the closets at work with a married coworker). I am angry/sad/confused that so many people believed his shitshow. Him and I never had a full discussion about any of his unhappiness until the day he moved out and gave the “I don’t love you…….” line. That’s the first time he had said more than a few words to me in years. If he was so unhappy, why did he beg me to stay each and every time I questioned what the hell we were doing in this marriage? And why did everyone else know all about how he felt about the intimate parts of our marriage – except me? It’s because he was playing it all out step by step.

      Even my adult son screamed at me, “He’s happy now, Mom. Why can’t you be happy for him?”

      Believe me, if ever he would have told me this instead of going into a rage or silent treatment over and over for decades, saying only, “Of course I love you! Why would you say these things?” Then he would say to anyone else, “See how she’s crazy? See what I have to deal with?”

      Recently I ran into a former coworker (I also worked at this place at one time) who seemed confused when I didn’t respond cheerfully as if now everything in my life is peachy? I have to wonder how she would feel if it happened to her. And I also wonder how many people knew but not a single one of them bothered to text me with a “Hey, this may sound weird, but……”

    • A cheater asking for marriage counseling is like an arsonist calling the fire department after the house has burned to the ground.

      “You are stunningly mistaken about my feelings for you, Grasshopper.”

    • Cheating = permanent damage/consequences in exchange for temporary emotions and even more temporary orgasms

      • Hahaha. FW took to passing on ‘Fun Facts’ about OW (Yup…he actually said: Here is another Fun Fact about her ????‍♀️) She has no sense of smell! Isn’t that amazing?!? and She doesn’t think a woman of her age should have to perform oral sex! (Good luck with that! ????)

    • Bravo R!

      Don’t you just love when the cheaters state this could be temporary? Always needing the back-up plan and thinking the chump is stupid enough to buy into being the back-up.

      • Sadly , I know someone who has taken her husband back twice. 2 different AP. They were in process last time. I think reality sat in for him. She’s the one with the pension and higher SS. It must be so humiliating for her but she allows it. He should be aging out of cheating ????.

    • Wow, she’s a real cake eater – complete with buyer’s regret when she gets her cake.

      The Pick Me triangle is about to collapse, and become just two people sitting in an apartment.

      She’s setting you up to hoover. Be really careful, because she’s going to try to come back.

      This can really mess with your head: At Last I Am In Charge of the Narrative. She Will Be So Grateful. The Sex Will Be Amazing.

      And all that’s true – till she finds a shiny new lover. Rinse and repeat.

      Get out now, and save your kids and your sanity.

  • I got the “I don’t love you and likely never did” so not a lot to work with but I spackled anyway.

    Zingers have almost no good effects. In all my chumpdom, I remember 2 and neither had any beneficial long term benefits. Anything you say to them or ask them is like loading a gun, handing it to them and telling them to shoot you

    • So FW told me he was leaving me because I was such a terrible wife AND I should have been willing to have more children with him, 3 wasn’t enough. I said “really, then how many children did you want to abandon me with?” (The answer, I eventually learned in another crazy rant was 7).

      My other zinger was pointing out to his very toxically masculine self that OW was turning him into a very feminized version of his former self and I described it in a crass manner he was not likely to forget. I will never know if that rang in his ears… I hope it did and that it tormented him….especially as the feminization campaign moved along.

      • One zinger I didn’t resist and don’t regret is the following: I told him on the phone (as we were on hold during a conference call with the real estate lawyer a month or so after D-day) that I’d heard that the AP had slept with another doc before him and wondered if he knew.” His flat response: “I did not know that.”

        It was true, by the way. I had heard that from a reliable source (namely, the wife of the other cheating doc.). I knew it would mess with my x’s image of himself and of their twu luv.

        He married her anyway, but I do delight in knowing that my comment might have lodged in his brain somewhere and torment him every once in a while, like an unwelcome herpes outbreak.

        That’s not a very “meh” thing for me to wish, but here I am.

        • I don’t know if it matters to them, but yeah I get where you are coming from.

          My fws whore had a town reputation of going after married men. The married man she was with before fw was a total loser, really big fat guy, who only worked sporadically, his wife held the permanent job.

          She was a singly mother (divorced twice that I know of) who was clearly trying to secure a meal ticket.

          I didn’t know a lot of this until right after we split. I knew she was the town slut, but didn’t know who.

          He married her anyway. I don’t know if it was true wuv, or the fact that she was his direct report and could have sewed the pants off the city. Maybe both.

          Either way I am glad they ended up together, he crashed and burned: Further cheating, gambling, bankruptcy, fall out with our son and his family etc. I really think they both got exactly what they deserved.

    • I had one effective zinger. When I realized that AP talked exactly like his mom I kept that in my back pocket for when he was being really shitty to me early on.

      He was screaming at me outside of his work place and I said something like “you know I couldn’t think of who AP reminds me of… then I realized! She talks EXACTLY like your mom! And she even wears her hair similarly. Holy shit — you’re fucking you’re mom.”

      He stopped dead, shut up, turned red and walked off.

      That one zinger was helpful. He complained about a lot of things with his attorneys, but that one he didn’t share with anybody — I’m sure not even AP ????

      Worth. It.

      • That’s hilarious ????

        I had to talk to FW about our commercial property and told him when I was 28 I would never had looked twice at a man his age- then 61. What kind of self esteem does she have that you’re the best she can do?

        I had always been his cheerleader, it crushed him, I could see it in his face. Nothing compared to his 1.5 year affair with this employee, or becoming a late life addict.

      • OK, not very meh of me MichelleShocked, but I love that mid-thrust your FW might remember those words and lose some of his enthusiasm….BAM!

    • One I’m not super proud of was a time early in our separation I was trying to have a serious discussion about moving to separate apartments and shared custody arrangements that would ease the transition for the kids. He kept bringing up how I was trying to control who could sleep with and how he was too young to be married (at almost 40 mind you). I lost it and told him “I don’t give a fuck where you stick your small d@$*, I am talking about the kids”, which I regret putting in the same sentence.

        • ????hardly staying cool under pressure but I spoke my truth…

          You guys are the only ones I can share that stuff with, my peeps!

    • Unicornomore, this is so true:
      Anything you say to them or ask them is like loading a gun, handing it to them and telling them to shoot you.

  • The whole ILYBINILWY (rhymes with Milli Vanilli) thing depresses me so much because it’s as meaningless as “You’re the love of my life.” Neither will remain true as much as a FW might believe what they’re saying when they say it. I heard the former just before D-Day, then FW was clinging from the window sill howling his undying love. It nearly killed me.

    FWs are a study in nihilism. There’s no “there” there. It gives me chills that people like this exist and can get past our alarm systems because once they get in, the damage is guaranteed, it’s just a matter of degree. You have to block, block, block or go as gray rock as possible lest you end up like a dog in a Skinner “operant conditioning chamber” lying inert on the randomly electrified floor, no longer even trying to escape the shocks.

    • Well said, Hell of a Chump.

      I’m finding that even now, not even 2 1/2 years post D-Day, I need to block ALL the people who remind me of my x. His sister just wrote to me this morning. TRIGGER!! Blockety block block. The only way to go.

      His mother sent me a prayer last week, urging me to “move on” and “forgive.” She urged me to do that two weeks after D-day. As much as it was easy for me to toss her note in the trash, I realized that it caused me to spiral down for several hours. Dammit.

      p.s. How presumptuous of her to assume I haven’t moved on. Yes I have. But then I realized that her definition of moving on is unblocking x and all flying monkeys (namely, her).. Nope!!! My sanity comes first. I don’t have to interact with my abuser. And to hell with the people who minimize the abuse and demand that I forgive and forget.

      • Spinach– I can’t tolerate breathing the same air as the “minimizers.”

        The imsta- forgiveness thing in FW FOO gives you some insight into how FWs were turned into FWs. My ex-MIL told her son (FW) at 17 to forgive the older family friend who *raped* FW.

        That family waa way out of my paygrade of fuckedupedness. Obviously FW was trying to depart from family patterns since I’m the opposite of his mother and would eat the still-beating heart of anyone who abused my kids. But in the end FW rehurned to his origins, where the unforgiveable is cast as “no big deal.” Toxicity in a nutshell.

        • I am late to this party but this resonated with me Hell of a Chump. My ex fw returned to his FOO toxicity, I would say he even set out to ‘outdo’ his awful abusive father in the end. Shortly after that ‘man’ died he became entranced by his image eventhough he had spent much of his adult life escaping and shunning him. For so many years I was his breath of fresh air, then I was supposedly suffocating.
          I struggle with all the joint good they throw away. They knew and experienced the joint good, so why would they return to poison? It doesn’t make sense.

          • HOLY!!! SAME HERE!!! His father (and grandfather!!) cheated on his wife. His father actually cornered my brother-in-law to tell him about his escapades whenever they went over ???? (my brother-in-law was disgusted by him) Five weeks after my sweet mother-in-law passed away, my father-in-law came over and told us with glee that he had ‘gotten lucky.’ ????‍♀️ He was seriously a terrible human…not physically abusive but emotionally abusive. Also had a sickly sweet persona…that he showed everyone. Alcoholic, but life of the party.

            FW claimed to have zero respect for him. He was super close with his Mom. (She might have been the sweetest human on earth.) After he died, there was definitely a transformation in FW as well! He started making these weird whistling type sounds his Dad used to make sometimes and started saying things his Dad used to say (yabba-dabba-DO! ????‍♀️)

            It was like he started channeling his father! ???? And then he BECAME his father!!

      • Oh, I hear you Spinach! I received an envelope from X last week and my whole being responded like some stranger just pulled a knife on me. Fortunately, I could feel that there was some kind of ID card inside, so I ripped the envelope, snagged the card, and immediately trashed the rest.

        It’s been several years since D-day, and I’ve been over X for quite a while. I’ve moved way beyond moving on. What I’m not beyond, however, is the trauma of that day.

        When X informed me that my family and life as I knew it was over, it’s as if I had been brutally attacked and left for dead. The only difference was that the attack was psychological instead of physical.

        Any reminder of that attack sends me back to the very moment I felt it. It’s not even a memory. It’s just a feeling. It’s overwhelming powerlessness in the face of destruction, and it leaves deep and ugly scars.

        If I had my way, every cheater and AP would experience the full, unadulterated despair of that moment every moment of their lives, for the rest of eternity.

  • in private, i got the following:

    1. i love you but i’m not in love with you
    2. we’re like roommates, anyway
    3. but you’re my best friend

    in public, at the marriage counsellor’s office, i got a performance review:

    1. if past behaviours are present indicators, etc. etc.
    2. i conclude, on the balance of probabilities, this marriage is not viable
    3. and, the clincher, but she’s been a good mother to my kids, etc. etc.

    then he fired me.

    • Damn, if you were fired, I hope you spent half the work day on social media and used the company credit card on girlfriend lunches. But being chumps, we don’t do that, d’oh.

  • In-home separation with a cheater = hell on earth.

    Been there, done that. Sorry, R, that you find yourself here.

    Since you didn’t mention a lawyer, I too am concerned that you don’t have one yet. It’s vital that you get one lined up ASAP!

    On a few occasions I tried verbal jujitsu with my then-husband during that hell on earth period. I was generally trying to keep my responses simple, brief, and neutral but sometimes I just couldn’t resist. It never went well because it always escalated the already tense atmosphere. You might win the battle (with a fabulous zinger) but you end up losing the war (bad enough you’re living in hell but the temperature just went higher).

  • R, I’m so sorry she’s abusing you and your children. Nothing to work with. Go as close to no-contact as possible. Get her to move out asap— seize any possible opportunity while the limerance-phase with this AP is strong. If you delay, she’ll likely turn on the rage channel and manufacture a fake DV event to get you arrested and barred from seeing your kids— all just to further destroy you. She likes to harm you. Watch out! She’s your mortal enemy.

    • Yes, watch out for the fake DV charges. I worked as an advocate for domestic violence survivors and actually never encountered a faker client in five years while working for this service. Some things can’t be faked if you’re familiar with the terrain. Plus I suspect fakers can’t stand being in a group advocacy setting with real victims, either because they fear being be found out or because, as perps, real victims make them want to puke. But in real life, I encountered a few prevaricators: two side chicks with boyfriends and one married she-cheater who was doing another married FW.

      As much as I hate to acknowledge that this even happens because of how it discredits genuine survivors. IF it does, I think the culprit is pretty much guaranteed to be a FW. See studies on “mate poacher + dark triad.”

  • Dear R,
    It sucks. I know cause I lived through it and came out the other side. There is no giant rainbow to follow to a pot of gold or a clear marked path…but you get there by putting blinders on and one foot in front of the other. I would liken my journey to being stuck in a rip tide…I could see the shore…but each wave hit me and dragged me down. And then there was the annoying fucking fish that kept saying” just keep swimming” Fuck you Dory! You don’t know Dory! Where’s that fucking shark when you need him? Bruce where are you buddy?
    The weight of the pain was like lead around my ankles and arms. Life sucking. Then I got hella mad and paddled like idiot wasting my energy and sinking deeper and farther from the shore. Add whatever metaphor you would like here_______but to get to the shore I had to get out of that primitive brain and strategize. Admittedly I was not the best parent at the time. I was not the best anything at that time. I was in survival mode and I needed a plan. I followed the advice here and I used this board to empty my guts that were full of pain, fear, anger, resentment … name it…and I put my blinders on, one foot in front of the other and started crawling toward my shore. I even had a really cheesy theme song….”The Climb” by Miley Cyrus…judgement free zone right? Well me and Miley climbed that fucker but not without a few stumbles and scraped knees. All good, me and Miley we are a little older and wiser.

    Its been 8 years and I have eaten many a shit sandwiches for my kid…I prefer mine with fries and a light dipping sauce…a la carte baby! I thought I had my fill of shit sandwiches when she turned 19 but realize the shit sandwich buffet has a lifetime membership ….because there will be graduation shit sandwiches, wedding shit sandwiches, grandbabies shit sandwiches and birthday shit sandwiches. Choose your sauce! Trust me I am no martyr. My kid is not buffered but she is not in the middle either and that has ultimately been my goal to raise a decent human being amidst an ugly divorce. Score! Now this irritates my ex to no end because he needs his fix….so he will uses whatever tactic he can to get some reaction from me. Sadly he has used up all of his kibble quota. He will use a lot of ?????!!!! when his kibble stores are getting low. No kibble for you! And when no kibbled is offered he will resort to threats ….. this week he told me he wished my daughter ran over me with the car as he would help her clean up the mess. This was his response to a question I had about changing the cars registration from his name to hers as I will be adding my daughter to my insurance plan. Now as sarcastic as I am I know this will only lead to a fury of profane texts and more !!!! to drive his point home. So I don’t bite…not even a nibble. Its not worth my sanity.
    Navigating a divorce with kids adds a whole other layer of bullshit but your kids deserve one sane parent. Do what you gotta do to be the sane parent. You don’t have to be anybody’s punching bag or crutch…accept that you will have to eat a shit sandwiches…choose your sauce. Find a cheesy theme song, mantra, or quote…live it ….. keep swimming or climbing or pole dancing….you do you!
    Me and Miley…we got you!
    The Clip

  • The thing I observed is, once they get caught, they will never again say a rational thing. At least it’s what happened to me. It’s so weird but my ex confessed to the cheating in waves, then when I got mad or hurt he had some way to deflect it and ensure my feelings weren’t valid. For 2.5 painful years of trying to separate, all he did was lie, lie, lie, obfuscate and otherwise make no sense. Last week was the mediation. He lied about everything big and small. He defended himself over everything and made himself the big sad sack victim. I guess it’s just what cheating fuckwits do sometimes- they get on that narcissistic roll after DDay and their true selves just explode a big mess all over your life. R- this shit will keep going. Get out now! Stop the mindfuckery and seek peace.

  • “I love you but I’m not in love with you” is really saying nothing because they have no clue what love is.

    At the outset of my slow walk through hell and the divorce process, two of the most important lessons for me to learn were:

    1. Do not seek comfort from the source of your pain.

    2. Grey rock.

    These two things provided a stable foundation and helped put me on the path to recovery and wellness. Godspeed to all newly minted chumps!

    • I don’t completely agree with this. There is an alternative (“I don’t love you at all because you’re a shit person”), so when they say ILYBINILWY it means that, basically, it’s not so much that you’re a bad spouse but rather that they found someone better. It contains a little sliver of acknowledgment that you didn’t do anything wrong.

      ILYBINILWY means “you’re a good guy and all so no hard feelings on my part, but I’ve found an upgrade so I’m outta here.”

      • My point is that a narcissist has no real concept of love. To them, Love = Limerance and Love = What Have You Done For Me Lately. Grounded people know that love is not 24/7 butterflies.

      • Well, I have to disagree with “found someone better.” When I worked in a very top-down, high stakes, cheater-and-creep-ridden field, even before I was chumped myself and developed a bias against cheaters and side dishes,. I never encountered a cheater or witting side piece who wasn’t a total piece of shit in every other sense.

        I know all veteran chumps know this but I thought I’d repeat it for fun. 😉

        • I should have put that in quotes. XW believed she’d found someone better, but I am not endorsing her opinion on that. Or on many other things, come to think of it. I can definitively say that his XW isn’t such a big fan of him (what with the cheating and abandoning his family and all).

  • Pfft! She’s just throwing word salad at you to rationalize her shittiness. She knows that she is not being loving towards you, but her ego won’t let her admit it. Cheaters convince themselves that not being “in love” justifies all manner of mistreatment. Well I’m not “in love” with anybody and it doesn’t make me feel like being an asshole towards other people. If she is being consistently unkind on that flimsy a basis, it’s because she is actually an asshole. Assholism is baked into her personality. The asshole is telling herself it’s situational assholism, due to a deficit in kibble production, and not part of who she is. Not true, but leave her to her delusions.

    I heard multiple versions of ILYBINILWY, got plenty of zingers in to my fw and eventually got him to admit he is an asshole who does not understand what love is. It didn’t make me feel better. So I said my piece and disengaged. That’s almost impossible to do if you’re still in the same house, so getting her out needs to be priority number one.

    • “Cheaters convince themselves that not being ‘in love’ justifies all manner of mistreatment.”

      Ohhhhhhhhhh yes . . .

      • What grown-ass adult stays in “limerence” past the first six months of a relationship anyway? Isn’t kiddy infatuation supposed to be replaced by something deeper, more satisfying and enduring?

          • I’m not even sure the word limerence covers it. I’ve known how absurd puppy love was since I was 7. I still experienced it but had a sense it was delusional. I get the feeling the “twu wuv” category of cheaters are more like perverted stalkers happening upon fellow stalkers and having little stalker communions.

  • It is true that you cannot tell someone how to love, but you can have your own damn efinition. In your world, and in the world of many many other rational and normal humans, love and betrayal don’t mix. So, “yes sweetheart, I don’t get to tell you how to love, but I do get to tell me…and I tell me that someone who lies, cheat, betrays, and steals DOES NOT LOVE ME. And, I’m not alone in that very basic concept.”

    But, with people like this, a much better response is a blank stare along with “OK. So…are you done packing for your move”?

  • “So, now you’re going to tell me how I can and cannot love? I am the only one that knows HOW I love.”

    After that extremely logical point you made, her response is INSANE. It’s like something my NPD ex would have come out with. It’s fruitless even trying to argue with someone like that – you could give her an hour-long PowerPoint presentation, complete with video clips and refreshments, and she still wouldn’t take full and honest accountability for what a nightmare she is. She’d just enjoy that the presentation was about her. Conserve your energy for YOU.

    Well done for realising your worth and taking steps to navigate your way out of this nightmare. It must be so hard with kids, but it sounds like you’re figuring it out. I hope you’ve got a good support system you can lean on when you need a breather from being so strong.

    Wishing you and your family (but not that bitch, obviously) all the very best! X

  • I never got the “I love you, but I am not in love with you”. I got the “I love you, I never stopped loving you”, really!!!! you loved me when you were fucking strange, you loved me when you were telling me I was crazy for knowing something was wrong… 38 year marriage, 10 plus years of fucking me over…compartmentalization is a wonderful thing..

  • If she’s the only one who knows “how she loves,” then she doesn’t know how to love.

    Love is a gift. It has to be given in order to exist. And if it has been given, then the recipient would certainly know “how she loves.” It’s like Gronkowski not knowing how Brady throws a pass.

    She’s a moron. Ignore her so hard she questions her own existence.

  • I think I love you but I’m not in love with you is the cheater’s favorite and most useful phrase. My ex pulled it out day one. My interpretation is “I love you” (Aka, I love what you DO for me) but “I’m not in love with you” (AKA, I’m getting my Below the belt Tingles elsewhere).

    It serves so many purposes, it’s just incredible. They’re not bad, they still love you. It gets them sex with you. It keeps you guessing. It keeps you dancing, putting up with shit you shouldn’t be putting up with. If you ever hear this in a relationship, Get Out!!

  • >