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Is She Really Just a Close Friend?

broken heartDear Chump Lady,

My fiancee has a (married) BFF who is an ex-lover. They used to hook up whenever they were single. Early in our relationship my fiancee said that he wished he dated her, later swearing that it was just drunken rambling. The problem went away for several years because she moved far away, but now she’s back and he sometimes hangs out with her, usually at her house or at a bar for drinks or an evening walk in the park.

He won’t let us be friends, saying he wants his alone time to catch up with her. I’ve asked him not to hang at her place, which makes him angry; I’m insecure, I don’t support his friendships, I need to go to therapy, he’d never cheat on me (he’s ‘jokingly’ kissed people at parties before), why can’t I trust him?

Recently, he and I were supposed to go to a big sporting event on a day that is special to us; he cancelled because he had other plans with her, stating that we could “reschedule sometime” and making it clear that I wasn’t invited to their plans. He said her husband was coming, but he didn’t end up showing because he had to fly somewhere last-minute for some kind of emergency. I’ve seen the two of them together and there’s clearly attraction there, even though they don’t openly flirt in front of me. He hasn’t bothered to properly introduce me to her, and I’ve never met the husband. This has been going on for a couple of months.

Now here’s the thing. I don’t think he’s lying about the cheating. He has some trauma from a past relationship where he was isolated from friends and family. Recently, I broke down (for the millionth time) about the rescheduling of our important event and things suddenly “clicked” for him; he said he had forgotten that he had not given me a date for rescheduling our event, and he was only trying to make sure he got as much time as possible with the important people in his life. (She was only free that weekend, apparently). Now that I’d reminded him of the exact sequence of events, he realized he’d fucked up. He admitted that he’d been gaslighting me, and promised to do better. He’s even signed himself up for therapy. But he still sees her regularly, and doesn’t take my preferences into account.

Chump Lady, our wedding was postponed due to COVID, but now I’m wondering if I should go through with it at all. I love him a lot, but I’ve been cheated on before and I’m afraid. Is this an innocent friendship? Am I getting chumped? Is it just a difference of values? Will he change? Do I give him an ultimatum, or just leave?


Confused Maybe-Chump

Dear Confused Certified Chump,

You wrote to me, the “Leave a Cheater” lady, so you know the answer here. You just want permission to do it — yes, please call off the wedding.

We can go down the rabbit hole of what sort of hold his “BFF” has on him, but the real question here is what you will tolerate. He’s drawn the You’re Not the Boss of Me battle lines. (He doesn’t have to consult you about his plans, he cancels dates, he won’t introduce you…) Don’t fight on that ground. When you go there, you’re Mother who won’t let Mike Pence sit with the ladies. You’re the enforcer of his nonexistent boundaries. The warden of his dick.

Decide what YOU want in a relationship — and stick up for yourself. Does he measure up?

It’s OKAY to want to be your life partner’s best friend.

It’s OKAY to expect exclusivity — especially when you are engaged.

It’s OKAY to assume basic respect.

This guy appears to be failing all these metrics. He doesn’t have to agree with your exceedingly reasonable expectations (he clearly doesn’t). It’s your job to pay attention to his actions.

Do not give him an ultimatum. He has repeatedly flunked the “respect the boundaries of our relationship” test. When you give someone an ultimatum, you’re handing them the deciding power. It’s a weak move.

Essentially you’d be begging him for basic decency. (Regardless of what’s going on with BFF.) And he can placate you, or pretend, or go underground, but the important lesson is: You had to beg him for basic decency. It does NOT get better.

You’re young, you’re in love. This is where he’s supposed to be bringing his A game. Would you ever treat him the way he’s treating you? He’s already set up the power imbalance. It does NOT get better.

Now to untangle some of your letter.

My fiancee has a (married) BFF who is an ex-lover. They used to hook up whenever they were single.

You’ve never met this woman, but you know that she’s his best friend and they used to fuck.

So, he told you this. So, he’s an asshole goading you into the pick-me dance. He wants you to feel off balance about this. It’s deliberate.

He won’t let us be friends, saying he wants his alone time to catch up with her.

You fell into the Cool Girlfriend bear trap. Oh I don’t want to be that insecure person who won’t let his partner have friends. Watch me be understanding and unthreatened! I trust you!

The answer to this shadiness is not further fealty, okay? You don’t have to prove your cool to ANYONE. He won’t introduce you to his “friend.” Is this a singular policy? Or are you barred from meeting all his friends? Both are bad. You’re not a dirty secret, you’re his fiancee.

I’ve asked him not to hang at her place, which makes him angry; I’m insecure, I don’t support his friendships,

You can’t support a friendship you’ve never met.

I need to go to therapy,

Not for the reason he thinks, but to figure out why you’d tolerate this fuckwit.

he’d never cheat on me (he’s ‘jokingly’ kissed people at parties before), why can’t I trust him?


He said her husband was coming, but he didn’t end up showing because he had to fly somewhere last-minute for some kind of emergency.

Uh-huh. I’m getting the vibe he wasn’t invited either.

I don’t think he’s lying about the cheating. He has some trauma from a past relationship where he was isolated from friends and family.

Fuck his past trauma. He admits to gaslighting you. He is a self-admitted liar.

This is a classic mindfuck: This Other Person pulled the shit I am pulling on you, so You Must Trust Me to Help Me Get Over It.

You want transparency, introductions, assurances. Oh no! Then you’d be like that person who ISOLATED him.

DARVO (Deny Action. Reverse Victim Offender.) He’s isolating you. He wants you to think you’re the controlling one, when he’s being controlling.

Oh hey, there’s the Cool Girlfriend bear trap again. Let me prove to you I’m Not Like The Other Ones! Here’s benefit of the doubt/a payday loan/no pushback…

… wouldn’t want to trigger his trauma.

If he were an ethical person (he’s not), with a traumatic past, he’d have MORE communication with you, not less.

he was only trying to make sure he got as much time as possible with the important people in his life. (She was only free that weekend, apparently).

Translation: You are not one of the Important People in his life.

Actionable information, Confused.

Now that I’d reminded him of the exact sequence of events

Does he have early onset dementia? He needs reminding?

He admitted that he’d been gaslighting me, and promised to do better. He’s even signed himself up for therapy. But he still sees her regularly, and doesn’t take my preferences into account.

Wow, that therapy really seems to be working!

Let’s put aside his obvious inappropriate invitation-only thing with BFF (which is a dealbreaker in and of itself), and focus on this guy’s relationship skills.

1.) He keeps secrets.

2.) Gaslighting is a go-to tool in his tool box when he doesn’t get his way.

3.) Blameshifting (you’re insecure, etc.) is another tool.

4.) You’re Not the Boss of Him — he doesn’t want accountability.

5.) He makes promises and breaks them (see “do better” followed by “keep doing the same thing.”)

He’s not marriage material. Well, unless you want a shitty marriage of eternal chumpdom. Keep the ring (it’s a gift!) and cash it in for some therapy on boundaries.

If he wants an explanation on why you called off the wedding, tell him you’ll get him an answer soon. You’re rescheduling. Had he been an actual Important Person In Your Life, you would’ve replied.

Then, no contact.

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.
  • “He has some trauma from a past relationship where he was isolated from friends and family.”

    Spare me.

    Dump this guy and do not look back. He’s screwing with you, making his “friend” a priority and then claiming to have “triggers” when you call him out. Listen, you are being half assed discarded right now and only being kept as a back up just in case his “friend” decides to take off again. Stop making excuses for this jerk.

    • I know I had to laugh (not at chump) when I read that excuse.

      But then I think pretty much any FOO/previous relationship excuse is bullshit. Don’t get me wrong I think some folks live in some pretty shitty circumstances as a child; but having random sex while committed to a partner is not even a common sense band aid.

      • Yes, and I strongly suspect that the story about past isolation is either an outright lie or a case of blame shifting or not taking personal responsibility. What about CMC’s trauma? Why does this guy feel entitled to use his “trauma” to treat his partner like shit? He plays the sad sausage, CMC empathizes and excuses his mistreatment of her (and even worries about him), but there’s no reciprocity. She is the one who has been CHEATED on in the past, yet this FW is triangulating and putting her last. How’s he showing up to help her through her trauma? Why isn’t she asking him to (hmmm… because he’s a gaslighting bully and she’s learned not to, for one)? Her feelings and needs are equally valid and important, yet neither person in the relationship is acknowledging it. That dynamic is so unhealthy, and it only gets worse.

        I know it is painful, but please try to take a step back, CMC. Your relationship does not sound equitable. In fact, it sounds like you are already stuck in a cycle of abuse. Gaslighting “alone” is highly damaging. Believe me, you do not want to face life’s ups and downs with a “partner” like this. I tried to make it work with someone like your fiancé, and I did all the heavy lifting – while my ex felt entitled to use, abuse and deceive me. I pushed my needs, instincts and feelings down because I was so concerned with him. When I needed help, he wasn’t there. Worse, he was the one who was hurting me. You can’t turn to the person causing you trauma to help you escape and heal from it. When I learned that my ex was cheating on top of everything else, I truly lost my mind. It was, and still is, beyond comprehension – even through the truth had been hiding in plain sight for YEARS.

        • Every chump is traumatized.
          I had( have) a CPTSD due to my h’s gaslighting, cheating, lying, – you know the drill.
          Well, trauma is real BUT
          It made me EVEN more aware of the stuff I’m doing, the way I treat others and the transparency I show.
          Nope, it’s not anymore “ trust 100% cause people are good” but rather
          Look what they do and treat them accordingly.

          Yes, I know 1001 ways to manipulate, lie, cheat and hurt others ( thanks to my h) but I WONT do it.

          This woman should call off the wedding and find someone worthy her awesomeness. He is out there- unable to connect , because she keeps investigating in her fiancé asshole.

          • Recently, a friend/colleague I really like and respect told me that she tries to “kill with kindness” and always assumes the best intentions. Admittedly, I used to feel the same, but being deceived and betrayed for years by the person I lived with, loved and trusted changed everything. Reflection (my euphemism for rumination), therapy and Chump Lady are helping me develop new perspectives and ways of interacting with the world. Although just last week, and despite my screaming intuition and what amounted to hard evidence, I let someone feed me a bald-faced lie that was obviously just that. It sucks being lied to. I hate the position it puts me in, and I hate the dynamics it sets up in every kind of relationship. Recognizing this, I’m working on not internalizing others’ bad behaviors or the ickiness it brings up; more importantly, I’m trying not to let those tactics manipulate me. I’m now reminding myself: I am not required believe someone just because they want me to; I am not a bad person for being lied to; and it’s ok to stand up for myself, ask questions or disagree.

            Back to my friend: I do see some benefit to “killing with kindness,” or some version thereof – where appropriate, given the circumstances, individuals and desired outcomes – but I don’t think that is always the most effective or appropriate approach. It might feel like best response if you’re a people pleaser, however, or if you have few other tools at your disposal due to power dynamics, institutional frameworks, etc. Like you, Asss, I no longer give people the benefit of the doubt, which is not to say I always assume the worst intentions either. I just don’t want to be a naive chump and get hurt again. This makes me think about all the hopium-laced theories about vulnerability that are circulating. Making yourself vulnerable to an abusive person or system, especially if you are marginalized/a minority/already a victim, is never a good idea. Who benefits? And are we really meant to believe that a self-interested, entitled person will actually create a level playing field and make themselves vulnerable? (Every chump who has attempted wreckonciliation knows how well this works.) To be vulnerable, you have to trust and take risks. And when it comes to investing anything – time, energy, money, trust… why should anyone blindly take the risk or, worse, invest in someone/thing who is a huge known risk? As usual, it comes back to power and control. You cannot *give* reciprocity, no matter how generous and patient you are.

            • I smiled on reading, “Reflection (my euphemism for rumination).” Love it. You’re so frank, honest and funny.

              I also relate to feeling somehow tainted for being victimized. I think a lot of it comes from cultural victim-blaming which runs to deep. That takes years to exorcise.

              I think killing idiots with kindness is best done from a position of power. It’s great if you’re not actually vulnerable to someone else’s machniations or nonsense. Otherwise, you have to indicate to the potential perpetrator that you’re guarding boundaries and there will be consequences for overstepping.

        • Letter writer here – before I dated this guy, I dated someone (the cheater) who was really, clearly, frighteningly abusive. I was very young and didn’t know anything different. He turned from extremely charming to screaming mad throwing things. My (stbx?) fiance isn’t like that; he doesn’t love bomb, he doesn’t pretend nothing is wrong when it is, he does conflict, he talks through things. I thought I’d found someone perfect compared to my cheating ex. But reading my letter again, and CL’s response… I guess the bar was still on the floor for me. And that maybe I’m about to be stuck in another cycle of abuse. Because even if he isn’t eyepatch-villain evil, he still did gaslight me, make me feel crazy and controlling, and totally fail to respect me. And like you’re saying, bread&roses, I’ve been through a very traumatic relationship myself but don’t use it as a reason to be awful to my fiance. I guess I never expected him to be sensitive to my trauma, even though I’m constantly forgiving him because of his…

          Seriously, I can’t believe I’ve let it get to this point. Thank you for your insights.

          • My father was like your first a-hole. And my ex was like your second. But because my ex was nothing like my father, I thought he was different. I thought I’d hit the jackpot. That was before I discovered the difference between “overt” and “covert” narcissism. And before I understood that “passive aggressive” meant “acts by not acting.”

            • Adelanto – same. Father was an overt raging abusive alcoholic. So, my ex seemed like Prince Charming comparatively. It sucks when you realize how much abuse you’ve taken without knowing. I mean, I felt it, but I always thought there was something wrong with me for never “appreciating” him properly. I was confused because I trusted him instead of trusting my gut.

              Confused – trust your gut, and stop giving this man the benefit of the doubt. I wasted 20 years of my life letting an asswipe dictate reality to me. Your fiancé isn’t being cool when he admits his faults and promises to go to therapy. He’s being self-serving. Because he’s cheating. And you know he is, or you wouldn’t be on this particular site.

          • Confused Maybe-Chump, Please take the question mark out of “stbx?”. You will be giving yourself the greatest gift in the world: believing in yourself and putting yourself first. You will be saving yourself untold years (decades?) of pain. Get out now before you entangle further, get married, buy property together, have kids together, etc. Break up with him today. And then please read ChumpLady every day for a month, and every day you will see what a spectacular, shining, decision you made. The confusion will evaporate like the fog it is. You are incredibly lucky to have this chance, right now, to get out. Please TAKE IT.

            • Second this. I just ‘took the chance’ to leave and trust my future wiuld be better without him. It was. I don’t know why or how, i just decided to trust my gut.

              Can confirm, you do SEE it clearly once you have time and space away from them. You also see how much they ‘care’ once you break up, which helps to see them in a new light.

              Life is so calm without them.

          • Are you sure you’re not the side chick? How do you know this woman’s husband is real?

            Honestly, it’s not worth trying to find the truth here. This guy’s lying to you and disrespecting you.

            Yes, it’s abuse. Yes, he’s doing it on purpose. Yes, he knows exactly what he’s doing. No, you can’t fix this relationship, he’s already destroyed it.

            For the love of God, get out now.

          • This is exactly the trap I fell into. I met my cheater after leaving a physically abusive guy. Cheater seemed the antithesis of that guy. He didn’t yell, start fights, insult me, etc.
            He seemed normal, but it was only because I had never seen normal.
            I didn’t fully understand what emotional abuse was until 2017. I thought it meant yelling, put-downs and threats of harm, none of which he did. What he did was more subtle, like your guy. Nobody backed me up in the early years, giving him time to groom me to accept it. Absolutely everybody in my life blamed me when I would talk about the things he was doing, saying I was being irrational and too nit-picky. So I was mass gaslighted. Then I got pregnant. He was supposed to be infertile, according to his doctor, but somehow, his swimmers rallied and managed to trap me. The guy always had incredibly good luck. Then I got severely ill and couldn’t work for quite a while. So I married him and accepted my fate. Cut to the present- betrayal trauma, CPTSD, and too many stress related physical ailments to count. Oh, and he gifted me with HPV for good measure.

            My point is don’t be me. I wish somebody had told me about the more subtle emotional abuse tactics before I got in too deep with my fuckwit. I endured it for over 30 years and now I’m damaged for life. Get away from him, Confused. He’s toxic.

            • I hear you. My grandmother was physically abused by my grandfather. My own father passed away when I was a little girl. But I was raised knowing to steer clear of abusers like my grandfather. And then walked right into a lying cheater from hell. Why should he beat me when he can spend all the money I earn, cheat on me, and more? It’s as though the worst physically abuaive partners who yell and throw things set us up to be victimized by the next. And we swallow it because it’s not as bad. But it’s still not good or even decent. When all you know is the worst case scenario, you don’t know what good is. Anything looks better than what you had. You are grateful for crumbs.

              OP You have a chance to avoid a lot of misery. What you have described never gets better. I wish someone had told me 20 years ago what we are telling you. You are being duped by this guy. If you marry him, you will regret it. You will be sad that you wasted years on him. And maybe you will be stuck with him even longer if you have kids with him. RUN.

              • When all you know is the worst case scenario, you don’t know what good is.

                ☝Those are pearls, right there.

          • Out of the frying pan…

            I was married for 26+ years to an emotionally- and financially abusive covert narcissist. When I finally got the nerve to divorce him (the hardest thing I’ve ever done) that’s when I met the cheater-to-be.

            No one had ever given me attention, love, affection like he did. We talked about everything, the communication, the sex. the friendship was great. I didn’t see the red flags. He was honest about his past, which included serial cheating on his then-wife. Well, it took 2 years and then he started fucking around on me, until I randomly discovered it after he had been cheating for a year. I dumped him immediately – I knew I didn’t want to be stuck in that trap of policing him/not trusting him.

            So just because the next guy is better than the previous, doesn’t mean that they’re the one.

            I was very happy I didn’t marry the cheater, just engaged, so it was easy to kick him out of my house. Divorce is way harder.

          • see my comment below hun, I was the EXACT SAME. I had a crap previous relationship, my ex was perfect, but he wasn’t. He acted the same as your fiancee and i left. My new current relationship was my reward for putting myself and my boundaries first. I bet once you leave, he does a sad for a week or so and then it comes out they are cheating. Stand your ground with him and tell you are leaving. Cut contact, don’t beg, don’t let him feed you some ‘future faking’ reasons to stay. Eventually it will come out he cheated. Only took me 5 days of saying” i am leaving, you cheated, tell me you are not, but my gut says you did” and he finally came clean. I was right about him the WHOLE time despite what he told me. It was only a 2 year relationship.

            I am now 3.5 years into a healthy relationship, and i thank MYSELF every day, every day!, that i was brave enough to put myself first and want better.


          • Wow, from this response you are already moving to mightiness! You are going to be amazing! Good luck and Happy Tuesday!

          • Sometimes less blatant abuse is worse. It’s harder for others to spot and the subtle abuser is more than happy to help us learn to gaslight ourselves. I married one like yours, for decades. It was awful. Please get out now and get help to “fix your picker.”

          • Forgiving..?!? Meaning you forget the latest insult, boundary violation, episode of neglect…and move on. That is not actually forgiving… it’s being in denial. Trying to minimize these hurts only lets him know it acceptable to treat you this way. It becomes his normal way of managing you. No to this.
            Go to therapy to fix your tolerating this and learn how to stand up for yourself.

          • He may play the “you are just insecure/jealous” card. Never confuse insecurity or jealousy with taking issue of being disrespected. He is blatantly disrespecting you. Period.

            Sorry you are going through this crap but better you know now and can move on (it will hurt for some time I won’t lie) and eventually find someone that makes you a priority.

    • Yes, I can imagine his trauma and isolation stem from a relationship with a woman who dared to call him out about his inappropriate relationship with the female best friend.
      How dare the woman he put a ring on with intent to love, honor, and cherish actually think that means his words and the ring aren’t enough to keep her company when his presence and actions don’t and won’t? No! How dare he isolate you on special occasions and play games with your affection and emotions!

  • Confused, please listen to Chump Lady and call off the wedding to this lying loser. He won’t be a cheater once he’s single again, he’ll be back to being the Other Man. His BFF however …. perhaps you could drop a line to her husband on your way out the door.

    • I agree he is borderline discarding you while keeping his eye on the “bff” the best thing to do is usually the hardest. Call off the wedding and asap. You do NOT want to be married to someone like this. And trust me, a divorce is way worse than calling off a wedding! You can do this and once you do, you’ll see this as a blessing.

      You deserve more.

    • I don’t think there is a husband …just more gaslighting and cheater-speak.

      Confused Maybe-Chump … please DON’T marry this man. You deserve so much more than second place.

      • I thought the same thing…no husband in the picture or they are now separated. That may be the reason BFF came back and is hanging out with Confused’s fiancee.

        • This would be crazy if true, but it’s possible. One time, I did meet OW in a group setting (his birthday party) but he was talking to her the entire time and I didn’t really get to talking to her (didn’t want to either honestly). But I noticed that she didn’t mention her husband even once. And now that I’m thinking about it, there have been FOUR occasions where I was told her husband would be there, but he was suddenly not. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t think the three of them have EVER hung out. So it is completely possible that fiance is lying… But if he was lying about that then why not lie to me and say that husband was present at their meetings?

          I guess it’s also totally possible that husband exists but OW is making sure that he doesn’t meet my fiance. Or that they’re seperated. OW has a history of coming to my fiance whenever her relationships are going bad, and then they’d hook up. I’m not sure if she cheated on her exes (and fiance says he doesn’t know), but it seems like this is a pattern.

          It does give me minor satisfaction to think about the fact that she always gets into new relationships (“very quickly,” as my fiance once bitterly said) with new people rather than trying to date fiance. Clearly she sees his lack of value more clearly than I do. (But it would absolutely gut me if they got together).

          • So sorry your in this situation, but run now and don’t look back. My x is more of the vulnerable/covert types too. One of his tactics was to give a shred of truth along with the lie. It made it more confusing for me, it seems to be a typical tactic. Don’t get too hung up on the truth. This guy is a controller and the covert types are awful, it’s such a mind f.

          • None of this matters, right? Because he is not offering YOU his emotional allegiance, his loyalty. You’re at his birthday party and “he was talking to her the entire time.”

            Now, I don’t think people need to be joined at the hip when they are dating, engaged or married. But making sure his GF or fiancée met all his friends is minimal level politeness. And it’s really unkind for him to ignore you and talk to her “the entire time.” He breaks important plans with YOU to spend time with HER.

            You should be his primary emotional partner. Not his only friend, but the #1 person in his thoughts, his plans, and his concern.
            You should be his primary social partner. He can do things with other people, of course, and so can you. But you operate as a social unit as well. I left a marriage because his primary partner was his drinking buddy. He got all day, every day, every weekend.

            If she really has a husband, then you might be engaged to him because he wants someone to fill in the time she isn’t available. Maybe he wants “cover” for their activities.

            And maybe neither of them can do real intimacy, so they nominally find other partners and then triangulate. Maybe they like fooling other people. It doesn’t matter once you figure out he’s not in an intimate partnership with you, in spite of the engagement.

            When you break off the engagement, don’t be surprised if he tries to “win you back.” So go no contact and work on getting your mind clear of all the gaslighting and blame shifting. Don’t fall for his sad story. After all, he has his friend to “console” him.

          • I know it would absolutely gut you if they got together. That’s the Pick Me Dance in action.

            They’ve already been together as sexual partners in the past. I’d say that in their special private get-togethers, there’s been at least kissing, if not more.

            He doesn’t love you the way he loves her. This hurts, because you’re his fiancee and supposed to be No 1 in his life.

            But you’re not.

            So while it may gut you to think of them riding off together in the sunset – and everyone here understands exactly how that feels – this is way, way better than continuing the Pick Me Dance in your marriage for the next ten years while he has sex with another woman.

          • “But if he was lying about that then why not lie to me and say that husband was present at their meetings?”

            Because it makes it look like she’s safe.

            Look, I love my three kids and am so grateful they are who they are. They are the best thing to come from a 20-year marriage that was really, really hard. But I envy that you are in the position to call it off on the FRONT end of your relationship, and that there will be zero arguing over child support or medical reimbursements in your life.

            I am now engaged to a guy who had been royally cheated on in his 20’s. He certainly has some trauma about this. But it manifests in a desire to be completely open about the truth between us—he said it yesterday, in fact: “You don’t ever have to tap dance around me, to try to figure out how to tell me things in just the right way like you did your ex, afraid of what my reaction might be if you don’t do it perfectly. I love YOU. You don’t have to be right or good or perfect for me, I just love you.”

            I know all of his celebrity crushes, so I’m crystal clear on the fact that there are many women he finds attractive. But there is not a party in the world we would attend that a) we would have to be joined at the hip to enjoy or that b) he wouldn’t want me anywhere near him so that he could chat (flirt) with an ex.

            I’ve actually got a good enough relationship with his ex-WIFE (with whom he has children) that she and I can have a good-enough chat and he will leave the room (I mean, she’s not my favorite person, but we can be pleasant for 30 minutes). Also, if he ever needed to catch up with someone? He’d want me there to share in it.

            Do yourself a favor. Figure out your FOO issues NOW, so that it doesn’t take life knocking you around for 20 years before you figure it out. Figure out NOW that you are worth being in a relationship with a guy who will never forget that you are the most important person in his life.

          • He has shown you they are together now, and you are either his spare or the lever he is using to try and pry her loose from her marriage. Get out, block them both, and don’t look back.

          • It will not work out with them…she’s using him for an in-between before hooking up with someone else. More than likely she doesn’t like to be alone. However, whether it works out with them or not should not concern you…he is treating you horribly and that is not acceptable. Plus he has shown himself to be a pathetic weak little worm…ugh.

    • I have a feeling that she is NOT Married and he is saying that to make her feel better about him hanging out with her.
      Bet you a coffee 🙂

  • Do NOT marry this guy! Go no contact today and heed ChumpLady’s advice about getting therapy for yourself regarding boundaries. But most of all, do NOT marry this lying, gaslighting meanie.

  • TL/DR:
    1. Yes he’s cheating, and it won’t stop if you marry him. The face might change but the game will continue.
    2. Call off the wedding and go no contact. Immediately.
    3. Get yourself a good therapist and learn about how to develop personal boundaries.

    And consider yourself lucky you figured it out out got out before the marriage. It’s much easier that way.

  • “Recently, he and I were supposed to go to a big sporting event on a day that is special to us; he cancelled because he had other plans with her, stating that we could “reschedule sometime” and making it clear that I wasn’t invited to their plans.”

    This ON ITS OWN is grounds for putting ANYONE on the launch pad and reaching for the codes. This ON ITS OWN is NOT love. From ANYONE. Good people DO NOT EVER cancel plans with ANYONE because a Better Deal came along. I listen to Miss Manners and my therapists, who are in total agreement on this one. Whether he actually cheated (which I think he has/is) doesn’t even matter.

    Reading the letter today was a curbside seat at the red flag parade. More later. I have an early morning commitment.

    In the meantime, I do hope you use the launch codes on this one. He is not marriage, or boyfriend, or friend material.
    At all. And please work on fixing your picker. LOVE to you.

      • LW here. Man, I can’t believe I’m in my late twenties and let him off on this (like you said) totally basic etiquette. In the dating phase of our relationship, he was great on invitation etiquette. Really great! But at some point, I became his backup plan. It’s not just this instance; he wouldn’t even make plans with me because “well, my friend X might hang out with me on that day” and he often cancelled last minute for fairly arbitrary reasons (“I have work!” was a common one – he works freelance and can work literally anytime). It became an unsaid rule that if other people wanted to make plans with him on the same day I did, he’d always reschedule plans with me for the other prospect. Like, as a default. (“I just want to maximize my time with everyone, and Friend X is only free today! was a common refrain). Maybe I’m giving him too much credit, but I really think his thought process wasn’t meant to devalue me, but was something like “well, my partner will move her schedule around to spend time with me whenever, so I might as well prioritize other people and have her work around me!”

        Anyway, what I’m trying to say was that even though this instance was particularly egregious, he has been doing this for years, and I’ve stopped feeling it as much since we moved in together. This has been a real wake up call for me…

        • Hi CMC, sorry to read about your ordeal. Glad you came here to talk it out though. The combined experience in the matter you will find is second to none. What you are describing is textbook covert narcissist behavior, ask me how I know… After the initial love bombing, there is devaluation. This is absolutely devaluation but the way. And it only gets worse if you marry them. Cut your losses, call off the wedding. Don’t invest any more time and affection in the parasite. Write this off as a learning experience and continue fixing your picker. Once you’ve gotten some distance you will thank your stars (and COVID) for dodging a huge bullet.

        • CMC
          This boob is using you as a “plan b”. If things don’t work out with the BFF, he’ll come circling back like a hungry vulture. Kick him to the curb and don’t look back.

        • AKA Bait and Switch behavior.

          I’m glad you got to wake up before the wedding and the marriage and the child and 27 years like me…


        • “I really think his thought process wasn’t meant to devalue me, but was something like ‘well, my partner will move her schedule around to spend time with me whenever, so I might as well prioritize other people and have her work around me!’”

          CMC, that *is* devaluation. He values you less than himself and less than other people. Reread what CL wrote about the Cool Girlfriend, and don’t fall for it. Value yourself. You are worth every bit as much as your STBX. It might feel ok to you right now, but true, lasting love and partnership is grounded in reciprocity. These kinds of sacrifices you’re willingly making – emotions, time, opportunities, maybe even money – will erode your confidence, boundaries and expectations. You have to take care of you, because this isn’t love and this guy isn’t there for you. Not now, not ever.

          Go on a trip ASAP, r at least spend as much time as you can (safely) with friends and family. You need to get out of pandemic isolation with him to be around people who love you and will validate and reflect your true worth and self.

          • Also, would you be this accommodating if you were aware that your ex was a serial cheater and pathological liar? Because that is a distinct possibility, and I’m guessing that 99% of the chumps here, who’ve been in your shoes and once believed what you do, have the experience to read the clues – ahem, red flags – and spot a cheater. I write this not to be harsh, but because I gave too much of myself without knowing what was really going on.

            I don’t think it’s healthy now, but for years with my ex, I was genuinely alright with making huge sacrifices in the name of love. For example, I gave him all the time and space he needed to get sober, even though it meant putting my life on hold to wait for him and to take care of his sick mother and her home and animals. I was also there at the drop of a hat if he needed anything. Meanwhile, he sent mixed messages and was mean, distant, needy, depressed, reckless, “suicidal” (who knows). I was isolated from friends and family and it was very difficult, but I was worried sick about him and put my needs aside because he needed me. That was love, as I understood it, and I was “happy” to do it. I didn’t learn for another five years that he was cheating on me then (and would continue to cheat and take until the end). I would not have willingly sacrificed if I had known that. That’s just one example of how a person who’s willing to lie and cheat will take advantage of you without a second thought about the very real consequences you face as a result. It’s hard to even imagine when you’re not wired like that, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you. I can see a hundred other ways this imbalance showed up, in retrospect, and I see a lot of every similarities in the relationship you describe and in your mindset.

            I hope you do keep reading here.

            • This is crazy. I’d like to believe my ex (we just broke up!) was not lying that blatantly… I’d like to believe that he was at least honest about there being no physical cheating. I can’t imagine what it must be like for someone to have lied so flagrantly to your face like that. Don’t they feel gut-tearing guilt? I wish I had a way to know if he has been lying to me. Probably better to just let go though.

        • CMC, Sounds so much like the FW I’m currently trying to stop doing the pick me dance for. I’m 18 years into this relationship with kids, and I’ve just learned of a 9 year affair. I had no clue and I was (am?) still embarrassingly madly in love.

          But the behavior I had to get used to, the constant gaslighting, it all makes sense now, even if it’s still almost impossible to take in. It sounds so much like what your fiancé is doing. I recognize your confusion. It will only get worse. Your vision will only get cloudier if you stay. It will only get harder to understand. Know this: If he can treat you like this? If he can treat anyone like this? It will definitely not be a balanced relationship. I’m sorry it’s so painful. Take it from all of us chumps – you deserve better!

        • Glad you’re waking up now and not post-marriage with 2 kids in tow. Yea, this guy just doesn’t prioritize you. And that is the best case scenario. More than likely, he’s also been cheating on you with this woman (or other women) in some form or fashion. He is who he is, and your time is better spend figuring out why you put up with it and ensuring you never do again. The old “fix your picker” routine. End the engagement, call off the wedding, and break up with him and go on this personal journey.

          You deserve to be love and cherished. This guy doesn’t do that. But it’s worth finding someone who does because it’s wonderful. DO NOT SETTLE for being someone’s Plan B.

    • “Reading the letter today was a curbside seat at the red flag parade”.

      Yes, this.

      I was married to a man from whom I begged for basic decency in how he treated me. Once I literally asked him “Is there a basic level of decency we can agree to that you will not sink beneath?” and he said “no”.

      This guy is giving you the same answer with his actions

    • Triple C, I concur with everyone else. Listen to your gut. 🙂

      You are uneasy about this because there is something very wrong with this dynamic. Our hearts are extremely dumb, our brains can deceive us and give us relationship amnesia, but your gut never lies.

      Even if he isn’t having a physical affair with this person, he’s certainly having an emotional one. We have to observe his actions here. He’s placed this woman on a pedestal and prioritizes time with her. He refuses to acknowledge your very appropriate concerns. If there was nothing going on, he would be completely forthright and candid about having you meet her and including you in the time he spends with her. He’s emotionally investing in another woman, and refuses to respect your needs, which is incredibly selfish and childish. Whatever pathetic excuses he wants to breadcrumb you with down his path of victimization and pity, don’t listen to him. I know it’s hard because you have feelings for him….but save your emotions for someone who isn’t a complete turd. Think about it this way. How would -he- react if you were doing something similar with a guy friend in your life, where you insisted on spending time with a dude and perpetually refused to involve your fiancé in your interactions with them? Based on some of your statements about him, I’m guessing he would implode. Or alternatively, put one of your girlfriends or a younger female family member in your shoes. Would you expect them to tolerate this kind of manipulative F&$kery?

      You guys are engaged, you’re supposed to be absolutely nuts about each other. Don’t walk into a marriage with this guy. You don’t deserve to feel emotionally unsure of his commitment, and trust me, as more and more challenges present in the marriage, he will not magically grow a pair, drop this woman, and have an epiphany of the importance of marital bliss and fidelity. Putting your worries towards someone like this will do absolutely nothing to fix the problem, because his malignant character isn’t fixable. So don’t waste your feelings on him. Trust that he sucks. His behavior is revolting.

  • Confused, you wrote to the Chump Lady so that leads me to the conclusion that your gut is screaming at you.
    Run! Dump this guy because he has shown you that you are Plan B. Go no contact ASAP and thank God (or your higher power) that you did not marry this loser. Don’t ignore the red flags and be like many other chumps who married our FWs. Get out while you can and work on boundaries.

  • Ex (26 year relationship, 18 years married) kept up his relationship with exgf longdistance. I did not know about this and assumed that they had no contact. At least you know the score and can make an informed decision to dump this person and his BFF ex. The exgf in my case happily became the OW when it suited her. Please do not go there. This issue will never go away. I was dumped unceremoniously at 59. Please do not be me.

  • The OW in my marriage was the wife (then widow) of FW’s best friend. The excuse of “visiting a sick friend” was particularly believable.

    When I finally woke up and insisted on counseling, he defended the friendship (in front of therapist), saying he actually had known her longer than me. We had been married for 30 years. I think he really believed this covered their time together which he told me about. It didn’t cover the secret, sexual relationship they had been having for years.

    Trickle truth. Gas lighting. Future faking. A terrible, terrible way to start a marriage. It was enough for me to end mine.

    • This sounds like Charles, Camilla & Diana.

      He’s in love with the BFF and is keeping the fiancée around to make the married BFF jealous.

      • This would be true if there were some grand plan going on here.

        BFF is married, and available for dates and/or sex only sporadically. Fiancee fills the gaps, providing company and sex in between and probably other things as well (cooking? cleaning?). If BFF ever becomes available, he will drop the engagement or marriage like a hot potato.

        Part of our problem as chumps is that we see marriage as a big deal – as in, not something we’d engage in just to lock down someone’s services for a couple of years while waiting for plan A to come to fruition. Then we project that serious attitude onto others, and assume they wouldn’t propose marriage unless there was some larger plan involved.

        • I definitely see your point here. When he proposed marriage I actually grilled him on whether he saw me as a life partner. His response was somewhat lukewarm (essentially he just he loved me and that I brought a lot of great things to his life, so why not). It was frustrating because to me marriage is a massive thing (a lifelong commitment!) that I have to think through very seriously; but I think you’re right and he just thinks of it as a placeholder until the next thing comes along.

          • Do not marry anyone–ANYONE–who is “lukewarm” about why you should get married OR “[you] brought a lot of great things to his life.”

            You get married because you have the SAME VISION FOR YOUR LIVES. You want the same kind of family, the same kind of social lives.
            You get married because your values are aligned.
            You get married because you can count on the other person to stick it out in times of financial hardship or sickness.
            You get married because the other person treats you with love and kindness–not because the other person SAYS he or she loves you.

            Don’t be a spouse appliance.

          • There is no “how do I love thee? Let me count the ways” with this person. Drop him and get therapy for why you think you deserve to be treated like this. Heed the ???? and listen to your elders’ hard earned wisdom.

    • IcanseeTuesday,

      Using “visiting a sick friend” as a cover story seems especially despicable to me. He mounted a moral high horse so he could mount this OW. Gross.

      Btw, I would have believed such an excuse, too.

  • Some people do have important friendships with former lovers. In order to keep these relationships, ALL honest people know you have to involve your new partner in them. You introduce your new partner to the old friend, you plan events together, you do everything you can to build trust so that you can enjoy both relationships. Your partner’s refusal to do this means either that he is lying about his relationship with his EX or he doesn’t trust you (he might be lying to the EX about how serious your relationship is or some other facets of it, which is why he won’t “properly” introduce you).

    Chumplady is right that behavior does not improve after marriage. If you don’t like the way a partner acts now, don’t marry him or her. Like many people, I excused a lot of bad behavior prior to the marriage, and I ought not to have done so. Wedding vows only transform your legal situation, they do not transform anyone’s character.

    • “Some people do have important friendships with former lovers. In order to keep these relationships, ALL honest people know you have to involve your new partner in them. You introduce your new partner to the old friend, you plan events together, you do everything you can to build trust so that you can enjoy both relationships.”

      Yes!!! This is true for all opposite-sex friendships, but it is ESPECIALLY true in the case of former lovers. (In the case of gay men or lesbians, it’s true of same-sex friendships/ex-lovers.) Transparency is crucial, as are efforts to involve spouses/significant others.

      Confused Maybe-Chump, your fiancé is not only not being transparent, he’s explicitly saying he shouldn’t have to be, explicitly shutting you out of getting to know the woman, and attacking you when you express either your willingness to get to know her or your discomfort with the exclusive nature of that “friendship.” Instead of doing all he can to show you that this is a friendship that isn’t a threat to your relationship, and that you, as his fiancée are his primary commitment, he’s doing the exact opposite.

      He has told you in very clear terms that you are not his first priority and that he is not committed to you but to himself and what he wants when he wants it. He canceled plans with you on a date important to you to spend time with someone he considers more important than you. He is already devaluing you and letting you know it, and you aren’t even married to him yet!

      Declare that you are not willing to play second fiddle to a former girlfriend, draw a boundary around what you find acceptable treatment, call off the wedding, and ditch this man.

      I was married for 35 years to a man who made it clear before and throughout our marriage that his primary loyalty was not to me. I did not have Chump Nation to make clear to me what Chump Nation is telling you. You do. I hope you listen. Your life will be a far better one in the future without this man.

      • My current bf, a decent human being and fellow chump, is best friends with a high school friend that he had a crush on back then. They have stayed friends this whole time. He is friends with her STBX, and we’ve all socialized together. I happen to have been friends and neighbors with her separately from him.

        My bf was devastated when she moved out and filed for divorce from her husband. He thought they were a great couple, one of the few left. (They weren’t – her husband was emotionally and financially abusive like my ex).

        I absolutely trust my bf and her together. Even now that they are both single. Would he dump me should she suddenly profess her love for him? He wouldn’t do that to her ex, or to me. And she wouldn’t do that to me, or to her ex.

        So yes, I am happy he has her as a friend. She gives him a good perspective into the female mind, and vice versa. When I found him on Bumble and asked her (well we both asked her if what she thought, she gave a resounding yes).

        So yeah, opposite-sex friendships can be great.

    • “Wedding vows only transform your legal situation, they do not transform anyone’s character.”

      This should be shared with anyone who is contemplating marriage!

    • Thank you for this advice. You are right about the wedding. I guess for me vows hold great meaning and I had some kind of expectation that they would change things. You are right; they won’t.

      Your description of the proper way to introduce a partner to an ex was hugely enlightening. I am sure that if he had done that this wouldn’t be an issue. I once witnessed him interacting with OW in a group setting and he was talking about his ex (the traumatic relationship). I noticed the way he framed it to OW was COMPLETELY different from the way he framed it to me. To me he said something like “she was abusive, it was traumatic, I couldn’t leave, she left me for my best friend” and in front of her he said “Yeah I really wanted to leave but couldn’t because I was helping her through xyz. But I never really wanted her and was glad she left”. I thought it was very strange that he could create such different narratives for us. It makes me wonder what he tells her about me and our relationship.

      • Liars lie and manipulators use people and change the story to play to their audience.

        Run. And don’t look back.

      • GAH! He is a lying liarface.

        I just want to add my thumbs up to the great comments here about opposite sex friendships. They are not common for a lot of reasons in this culture, but when they are possible (and honestly, when they are really true friendships and not screwed-up crushes) they can be great–for me, like having extra brothers.

        And I would NEVER behave to the wives/partners/ etc of my guy friends they way your fiance’s BFF acts around you–refusing to meet or hang out with you, helping fiance ignore you. That is grade A bullshit.

      • You need to start planning to leave. Pull the rug out from under him for a change. Leave, go no contact and never look back.

  • My ex fiancé had a best friend, younger, thiner, cute as a button mannerisms. He was reluctant to let me meet or hang out with them. It was always weird. I would reach out and invite her to things with us, but if I was there she wouldn’t come. She identified as a lesbian at the time, so of course I was ‘crazy’. I always wanted to go camping with him, he went with her instead. She was an hour north of him, I worked an hour south. When he had a day off, he would go north unless I begged him. When I got a year round job and he promised to move in.. he never showed up. I visited him, and her bra was in his bathroom. He said she drove an hour down to “do laundry” but then he dumped me. They were dating and married within a year. I am fortunate he left before we cohabitated, but I was just a place holder until she was single. For 7 years. I wish I had those years back. I wish I didn’t beg, plead and cry to be his priority. I could have spent the time finding someone who would love and include me without hesitation.

    Pay attention, not to his words, but to what he does on his own free will. Does he drive north to her, or south to you?

    Don’t marry someone who won’t even let you meet their alleged ’best friend’. A real partner would want you to meet his friends, would show you off. Would want you with him. A real partner wouldn’t ditch you on an important day to just hang out with a buddy.

    It’s better to cut your losses now, before you have to deal with divorce lawyers and traumatized kids. Even if he isn’t cheating now, he clearly doesn’t prioritize you. Gaslighting is an abusive behavior, that is enough to end it now.

    • I wouldn’t worry about Confused marrying her boyfriend. He has no intention of marrying her and is is in the process of dumping her for BFF. Confused will beat herself up (as all Chumps do after discard) for going along with fiancee’s nonsense. However, if Confused quietly, without any fanfare or stupid talks discards her cheater (yes he is cheating) goes no contact, she will have a little less to beat herself up over as at least she controlled the end of the relationship.

  • This guy is already cheating. Even if it’s not physical (it probably is), it’s at least emotional. I would also bet his “therapy appointments” are with the other woman. Don’t marry this person.

    • And never stay with a gaslighter. Like BlackCat says above, gaslighting is abusive. Don’t marry an abusive person.

  • He’s showing you what your married life will be. Add on the discard and abandonment in a decade or two, with kids..

    • Exactly.
      I also ignored every warning
      Including female friends who were given priority over me. Oh and his mother
      I gave him every empathetic pass, lack of social skills, lack of maturity – he was 23 when I met him,
      Bad upbringing / spoiled up bringing
      I thought he cared enough about me to stop
      Then I thought he would care enough about our children to stop.
      Ha Not once

      Courtship did not show me what my marriage would be like. My marriage was WORSE.
      His behavior became even more abusive.

      My expectations in marriage were higher and for some reason I expected him to magically change when he was actually married because after all we were… Married
      Nothing changed and I was trapped, and he knew it.
      He’s now 59, we are divorced and he is still playing women off each other.
      One of the CL mantras
      Or may be two
      It should hurt him to hurt you
      It’s not what they say, it is what they do
      You have to get away befote you invest any more time, energy or create sunk costs in this damaged person

  • Confused,
    Please call off the wedding now. I ignored so many red flags and ended up cheated on, emotionally and financially abused in a 15 year marriage. I kept thinking there was this great person inside my ex husband- I was so very, very wrong. I am begging you to please don’t make the same mistake I made. Your whole life is ahead of you! Be with someone who truly loves you and respects you- this guy clearly doesn’t. It sounds like you’re a placeholder until the BFF decides to leave her husband. You deserve to be the PLACE not the placeholder.

  • Even if it was a guy BFF with no history of being lovers and no likelihood of ever doing so, it’s still not acceptable relationship behaviour. Anyone who doesn’t prioritize their fiancée over their best friend, is disrespectful of their feelings, who keeps secrets, lies and blameshifts about it, is not going to be a great husband. Add those other elements of opposite sex friendship with sexual history and ongoing attraction back, and it’s a field of red at the flag store.

    You already feel you can’t trust him. That’s no way to start a marriage.

  • Wow, I could have written this letter.

    My ex-husband had a female best friend, and he would not introduce us. Well, she called him her best friend, but he claimed she wasn’t his best friend (what, were we 12?) She tweeted about how much she missed him a lot because he (allegedly) stopped talking to her after I repeatedly told him this relationship made me very uncomfortable. She worked across the street from him, so she’d bring him coffee at work and lend him money, etc. That’s when I drew the line. So she’d tweet out lovesick Taylor Swift songs and say how much they reminded her of him. (This bitch was married, too! Did her husband not follow her on Twitter?)

    When we separated, he reconnected with her on Twitter pretty quickly and borrowed a few hundred bucks FROM HER HUSBAND! That’s when I told my lawyer to draw up the divorce papers ASAP.

    I hate to be this way, but a guy with a female best friend is a huge red flag for me now. Fool me once, shame on you….

    • Most men with female best friends are usually gay or the woman is his sibling (think twins or close in age). It is rare to have an extremely close friend that you could possibly have romantic or sexual feelings for when you are sharing extremely intimate details about your life. Don’t get me wrong there is always the possibility of gay or straight people having friendships with people that could be potential romantic partners but it usually has defined boundaries. No sleeping in the same room, no drinking/drugging alone together, no exclusion of the actual spouse, etc.
      Best friends are somebody who accepts you warts and all. You buoy each other up, cry on each other’s shoulders, share good and bad times, reciprocal socializing. In my family most of the married couples (straight or gay) point to their spouses as their BFF.
      x used to call one particular guy his best buddy, I was not his BFF . He also slept with the guy’s wife so I don’t think that was really his BFF, unless his definition of friendship is warped as hell.

    • When we were dating in college, my (now) ex used to tell me he has always had more female friends than male. Women always felt comfortable talking to him. This should have been my first red flag, but I was 19 or 20 then and felt it was nice that he liked ‘helping’ women.

      Flash forward 30 years (25 of which were spent married), my then-husband flew the biggest, flaming red flag in my face – he started telling me about his 29 year old female coworker’s vaginal problem. I asked why she would be telling him about her vaginal problem. He said it was because sometimes she had to sit on a donut and “wanted to explain” – and that she “has no filter”. I thought it extremely inappropriate but had no reason NOT to trust my husband of 25 years. But, that very year he left me and is now married to the woman with the vaginal problem.

      What woman talks to her senior male coworker about her vagina at work?! If it were me, I’d have just told my male coworker – if he asked, which he probably wouldn’t, “you don’t want to know”. But, imagine how titalating that must have been to my awkward 50 year old husband – having a pretty, young woman talk to him about her vagina?

      Well, he’s her problem now.

      The more important lesson to this story is, if something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t. Protect yourself!

      • Or maybe he just lied about th conversation, thinking if you though she was inappropriate he wouldn’t be interested.

        My fw about three months before he left me for whore, told me while we were out to dinner that whore knows he doesn’t like make up, and whore knows he doesn’t like Sam Smith (alias).

        She may or may not have known, I am pretty sure he was just confessing in his own way. He told me so much shit the last year that other guys did. I still think he was confessing; and thinking if he told me this shit; I wouldn’t suspect him.

        • I get that feeling sometimes, too, Susie Lee…that he was confessing little bits here and there to see what he could get away with. The last thing he told me about her was that she had surgery down there to stop her pain and it didn’t work. That was about a month before he left me for her. If she really had pain down there that surgery didn’t fix, and she couldn’t have sex, then why would he run away with her? The lies, lies, lies…trickle truth…lies and gaslighting…

          • Honestly we should just assume everything they said is lies.

            Just for point of interest, “Sam Smith” was a guy the ex hated, he accused him of stealing from the civic club that they were members of. I do think he “sam smith” did steal from them, because I worked as a volunteer at the window and a much older guy was the manager. Whenever Sam volunteered there was money missing. I never counted the money or was ever alone with it, and I knew the older guy didn’t do it.

            But, anyway whore hung around with “Sam” (who was also married) a lot, I guess before he and whore started their fuck fest. He was evidently jealous of him. I mean it was no secret she was the town bicycle for married men, (single guys wanted no part of her) so I don’t know why that one guy would bother him so much.

            I knew she was friends with Sam and Sams wife, but it never occurred to me she was fucking him. Heck it didn’t even occur to me fw was fucking her until it all blew up.

  • Confused CERTAINLY a Chump, i

    If you love yourself cancel your wedding. You are sooo lucky.

    Listen to CL and CN. We have been to the place were you do not need to go.

    You were smart enough to land here, stretch it some more and free yourself from this manipulating, selfish freak!

  • Confused, you have been handed a crystal ball. You are blessed to foresee your future with this man-boy. You can change your future by changing your present. Please use this gift wisely. Good luck to you.

  • Dear Confused, there is nothing confusing here other than the gaslighting, DARVO, and lies. Get some distance between you and this cheater and you won’t feel so confused. He has checked out and is keeping you on board as a sure thing. Don’t let this liar use you. He is lying to you. You are not his priority. Your gut is screaming at you. Listen to it. Go back and read what Chump Lady told you. Read the comments. Not one chump is saying give this cheater a chance.

    You are so lucky you aren’t married to this abusive man. You have an opportunity to do what every member of Chump Nation wishes they had done. Girl, RUN.

    Go no contact. Give him back his shit. Keep the ring as it was a gift. Then delete him from your life. You owe him nothing. Block him. Get this abuser out of your life.

  • Here is what you do. Say the word “No” a million times. No to being gaslighted, no to being left out, no to hiding relationships to Chumps(you), no to being secretive, just no. You do not need this cheater. You would be dealing with this every single day. He wants another woman. Plan B is a horrible place to be. You are a plan A to someone but it is not him. No, just no.

  • Wow. The letter writer wrote my life. But, of course, each time my H scooted out for the night to spend time (that I was not invited to) with Just-A-Friend, the story always changed later to “Just-A-Friend and I fell in love; I’m sorry I don’t know how that happened and no, Ihave no idea how you got that STI; that must be your fault somehow. ” Twice I walked into that bear trap.

    Run, don’t walk, away.

  • “Nuke the entire site from orbit–it’s the only way to be sure.”
    Actually, there’s a great bit of gaslighting in this scene (also swearing so…)

    Cancel everything to do with the wedding, pack his stuff, block him everywhere and change the locks. If this is his “best behaviour” then I’d hate to see him at his worst.

  • Our kick ass Chump Lady wrote that the husband probably wasn’t invited…but sis do we even know if she actually has a husband? Cancel the wedding. As difficult as that will be it is far better than getting a divorce. The people who love and support you will agree you made the right decision. The people who will judge you don’t matter. At the very least you are questioning getting married which is reason to take a pause. We’ve all been where you are so it’s easier for us to see the situation more clearly. Liars lie, cheaters cheat. I love the idea off selling a ring for therapy. You got this.

  • As a fellow chump whose FW had a “very special” best friend, I just want to make it very clear to you.
    I have been through the triangulating, being cancelled and deprioritized because of the best friend. When his best friend broke up with her boyfriend, my FW became a completely different person. He was available 24/7 for her, and I got the breadcrumbs.

    He will cheat on you. It doesn’t have to be with her (my FW did not cheat on me with his bestie, I think she just wanted the attention and she was leading him on a merry go-round.) but he still cheated.

    These are the tell-tale signs of a man who is not committed to you and whom you should not marry

  • Yes to all that CL and CN have said.

    I’m worried that the bf and his flying monkeys will try to get you to reconsider your decision. Expect them to paint you as the unforgiving bad guy who is throwing away a perfectly good relationship because you’re too sensitive and untrusting.

    That’s BS, of course. You’ll need your own support system in place to hold you up if you begin to wobble.

    Also, remember that you don’t have to give a reason for calling off a wedding. I don’t think I’d argue or engage. I’d just say, “I changed my mind.” Maybe add: “I deserve better.” Stay strong. Good luck.

  • For how terrible covid is, it at least bought you some time to truly see how terribly you are being treated. I bet had you married this guy on your original date, you’d be writing this letter to CL as a newlywed confused about your new husband’s behavior. You dodged a bullet, sweetie. We have your back now.

  • ” Recently, he and I were supposed to go to a big sporting event on a day that is special to us; he cancelled because he had other plans with her” NO. It was special to you only, it meant nothing to him. He showed you that. Dump his sorry ass because you deserve better.
    And I do not buy the husband being invited and not attending last minute, that was an opportunity they had because the chump husband was going to be elsewhere. You do not even have to be out of town for him to hook up with her. Zero respect, and worse, he is not even worried you can end things. Please, prove him wrong and show him your worth. I really, really hate this people.

  • His past relationship who tried to “isolate” him probably didn’t like the “best friend” any more than you do.

    • HE ACTUALLY TOLD ME THIS! He said, “I’m very protective of my relationship with OW because my evil isolating abusive ex told me not to be friends with her.”

      Wow. I am stupid, huh.

      • You are not stupid. No more than everyone here, including me, anyway. I do more lurking than posting these days, but I have been reading CL for years, and it is obvious that love makes us all stupid and blind. For a while.

        Chump Lady just rips those blinders off and helps you see straight again.

      • If she really is just a best friend, he would have introduced you two by now.

        Can you imagine having a close best friend and not wanting them to meet or get to know your significant other? My close friends meet all my more serious partners, and I value their thoughts in them as people.

        Also what you said earlier about how he has a totally different framing of his past relationship with her and you.

        He is telling you point blank that she is his priority, and if you question it you’ll be his next ‘crazy ex’.

      • You’re not stupid. You were targeted by a skilled con artist. It can happen to the best of us, because good people are able to bond and trust, and good people are compassionate. Con artists know that. Covert narcissists are particularly good at getting you to feel sorry for them, which draws you into their web. They always have sob stories, which are usually distortions of reality, exaggeration, or outright lies. Sometimes a story is true, but the key is that they use their alleged trials and tribulations to their advantage to dupe you.

      • Another vote for not stupid.

        Believing that people aren’t always lying to us is a good thing.

        It is not stupidity to seek wisdom and perspective as you have done.

        It is not stupid to listen to what people are saying and consider the ways that their experience fits into your story.

        The only thing this shows is, without judgement, where you have some shadow work to do. Having the courage to open up to that is the wisest thing you can do.

      • Start a plan to leave without telling him. Next time he says he has plans with OW tell him to have fun, be indifferent. Please leave though and never look back…can’t stress this enough

  • A holiday! I have a little time this A.M. Hi, all!

    My two cents: Marriage is, at its root, a contract that binds a person to another legally, financially, medically, and in generally all of the most significant ways in life, AND the person must get the agreement of the other party to end the contract, AND the person must share whatever was gained during the contract period with the other party, AND it can cost many thousands of dollars to fight the terms of the ending of the contract in court. (And that’s all before any conversations about children.)

    Whatever else you may choose to do that’s ill advised, I beg you, do NOT get married quickly, or if any lingering doubts at all (including the proverbial “cold feet”) exist in your mind or heart. No tax breaks are worth the shit show that is being married to someone horrible or going through a divorce. Even the best divorce is costly and shitty.

    And CL is right. If the relationship is questionable at all at the start, that’s bad. We all put our best face forward early in a relationship and relax more over time. The only relationships that improve with time also get tougher with time, and the reason that’s weatherable is because they get tougher in acceptable ways and better in important ways in equal measure.

    If you’re going to stay with someone questionable because you’re not ready to leave, that’s your choice, but I beg you, do NOT marry that person. If that makes the person leave you, bullet dodged, says me.

  • Good thing I checked the calendar! I almost showed up at the dentist a month early. My appointment is FEBRUARY 17. Jeez.

    Now I can retake my seat with the rest of Chump Nation screaming and yelling for our Dear Writer to run like hell from this loser.

    That woman is NOT a friend. She is a FUCKBUDDY that he is joining forces with to fuck you over. And her husband too. Whom I’d be calling to inform.

    He isn’t your friend either. He needs to go back to Friend School and learn how to be a friend. You need to learn to be a friend before you can become a boyfriend before you can be a husband/partner/spouse.

    When you can keep a plant alive, then you can move on to a pet. When you are good at plants and pets, then you can move on to a romantic partner. I’ll bet he sucks at plants and pets too.

    Friends have your back and are loyal to you, stand up for you. This man is doing neither.

    2 x 4 of truth here….I don’t think you are ready for marriage either, based on your choice of fiancée. Also based on what I have learned about myself since my own marriage was revealed to be a MIRAGE four years ago. I’m not judging you from On High but encouraging you to join those of us getting outside help with a great therapist, BEFORE you get legally and financially and emotionally mired and entwined with the serious responsibilities that go with marriage. Or bring little folks into the tar pit. ☹️ Your time, your life, is NON-REFUNDABLE, and if you give this Relationship School flunkie more of your precious time, you will NEVER get it back.

    Everyone here is responding with the intention of pointing out the train wreck ahead and sparing you the pain and suffering we are going through.

    I had a friend who told me how much she loved baseball because it reminded her of when her father took her to games when she was little. I have really nice season tickets ten rows behind home plate so I invited her. She accepted. She later called me to cancel our plans because she had been invited to a Passover seder, had never been to one, and might never be invited to another.

    Wow. Bye.

    That is a crystal clear sure-fire way to tell someone how ZERO they matter. NO ONE who loves and cares about you would do that. Again, I say cheating is an aside here.

    I don’t know if she ever got invited to another seder. But she never got another invitation from me. I dropped her immediately.

    How bad would it have to be before you heeded the memo? He’s telling you loud and clear what a colossal jerk he is. I think some therapy would be a great idea, for YOU, on your own, after ditching the jerk.

    • I’ve never been comfortable with a former lover/now “friend” in the life of someone I was with, and I never will be.

      Too many house fires start with tiny embers in the ashes.

      • Velvet Hammer, thanks.

        Contrary to some comments upthread–while mileage may vary–

        As the long-time close friend and former lover of someone who, after a long career of playing the field, finally got married, to somebody else, I don’t WANT a relationship with them as a couple. The more so, maybe, because I’m still single myself.

        She was bothered by our friendship when they were dating (so he said), and it’s not like a wedding ring sets the mind all at rest, especially if you’ve been divorced already once, as she has. But now it’s, “She wants to meet you,” and, “At least talk to her on the phone,” which feels to me like putting the failed competition on show, and/or like marriage police, and I want no part of any triangular dance of any kind! It’s hard to believe his wife could be comfortable either.

        If I had a husband myself so we all four could be friends and do things as a group, that could be one thing; maybe; or maybe then both spouses might just feel uncomfortable. In any case, fond as I’ve been of the guy, I’ve forced myself to distance.

        Thanks for your viewpoint. It’s how I’d feel.

    • And for the record, the fiancé and the f-buddy are not friends either.

      They are ASSOCIATES. There is a big difference.

      In order to be friends, your actions have to demonstrate an understanding of the concept, which they are both clearly unclear on.

      The only way to have a friend is to be one. The actions of both prove ineptitude, even in relation to each other.

  • I wish CL had written this to me in 2003.

    Klootzak had a “friend from college days” like this. She wasn’t married, though. It was only after D-day when I finally got to read all of the texts and emails that I got the truth. He was marrying me but telling her that he was “unsure” and “torn” and acting as though I railroaded him into getting married. Telling me he was going off for a guys’ weekend somewhere when he was actually driving 4 hours to spend weekends with her. Then to my face he was saying he didn’t understand why I was upset that she was calling our house and leaving messages for him to call her. He “had to” call her on the sly from his cell phone because I was insecure and didn’t want him to have friends.

    Then in the next breath he would say she was a nut job like Julia Roberts in “My Best Friend’s Wedding” because it seemed to him that she was suddenly interested in him because he was engaged to me. Gawd he was enjoying all those kibbles. Pick me! Pick me!

    I get incensed remembering it. And I have no doubt he still drops by to see her while on “work trips.” I don’t even get angry about him being with her. I get angry at myself that I was being lied to and disrespected and I was such a chump!

    I remember at the time reading a Dear Abby column where a wife was asking if she was out of line and too jealous because her husband had a box of letters, cards, stuffed animals, etc. from past lovers that he still kept. Her response was something like you shouldn’t deny someone their memories and what if the grandkids want to know about that history. Klootzak had a large box of such mementos I liked to refer to as “the shrine” and Abby’s letter made me feel wrong to be jealous of all this stuff. So onward I chumped. How dare I not be “cool” about all this.

    That one line really got me. He needed room for “the important people in his life.” There’s your sign right there.

    Run screaming, OP. You are dodging a bullet!

    • The Shrine. X had a shrine of our marriage in our bedroom. And a wedding photo of me on the fridge. For 7 years after I moved out. Well I was doing the Pick Me Dance during this whole time. The Shrine appears to be gone now that I filed for divorce.
      I remember the 1st time he took me to his house and bedroom, a card on the dresser from his ex gf (3 years broke up). Then I found more old break up letters once I began looking. Add to that the hidden cards and gifts from the Dear Dxyz! he’s collected for the past 9 years. I get the having memories but I don’t understand the shrine other than the lazy part of anything to do with his life outside of working.

  • Wow, this bozo is setting up the cheater’s dream playing field! He calls all the shots, and because of his fragile ???? status, you can’t question him. With some big Sad Sausage thrown in, and promises to go to therapy, he’s all set! Take it from a woman who was married to a guy who stacked the deck in his favor- it’s torture, and will strangle your spirit.
    Please don’t fall for this. Give us his email, and we’ll all call off the wedding for you! Better yet, you do it, to practice standing up for yourself. Try it, it feels good!
    Confused, it seems like you want a committed relationship, and he was just there. (But his heart is clearly not available, the married OW has it) So, if you’re single, you might find someone, which is a much better plan. I hope you can enjoy your life soon, and start by ditching this poser. GAL!

    • You just cited one more reason that I’m sick of “counseling” as being the end all of The Solution to Everything. If you ask me, which you all didn’t, a counselor can be helpful but are either a version of Switzerland or push some value that may or may not be your own.

      Why then, have I been in counseling the first 20 years of my adult life and still picked a Cheater Peter?

      Going to a counselor checks off a box for the cheater, in my case, so he could get more kibbles from me. But I expected it to propel us into reconciliation when he said he wanted that. Except, he was lying and the counselor couldn’t possibly “know” that.

      • “Why then, have I been in counseling the first 20 years of my adult life and still picked a Cheater Peter?”

        Because he is an expert liar who lies, and he has free will, and what he did was to exercise that free will in an adverse way, and that had nothing to do with you or the counseling and it was/is beyond your control.

        I asked for counseling at the beginning of our relationship so we could learn skills and avoid replicating the shit-show marriages we both witnessed growing up. He went. I participated sincerely. He did not. He fooled me and the therapists we had. Most people greatly overestimate their ability to detect lying, I have since learned from experts who are in the field of studying predators.

        That he ended up cheating was not the failure of counseling. It was not a failure of mine. It is his failure. I’ve always practiced implementing what I learn there. He didn’t. Like failing to take prescribed medicine from a medical doctor. Not the doctor’s failure but the patient’s.

        Because I’ve participated in earnest in therapy over the years, I have been able to respond light years better to what has been revealed.

        My therapist is a doctor for my mind, and I am much better off having one around than not. Just because cheaters use therapy to advance their dishonest agenda, like they use everything else to advance their dishonest agenda, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with therapy….it means there’s plenty wrong with the cheater.

        IMHO. Says me who has been in therapy all my adult life too. (22 when I started. 58 now. I have no wise elders anywhere in my family so in my therapist I have a paid, expert wise elder….)


  • Confused Maybe-Chump,

    You’re not “allowed” to meet this “friend .

    You aren’t “allowed” to join them when they get together.

    You haven’t met her husband.

    There is serious secret keeping and gaslighting going on. It’s abuse.

    Please free yourself now. you’re in “the best behavior” dating part. After marriage it will only get worse and you will have accepted his shit ways and then be married to it.

    Trust your gut. Their relationship is inappropriate. Of there was nothing to hide, you’d be included.

  • Confused Maybe-Chump — A lot of us out here are jealous you caught on before you got married. He has shown who he is — get out while it’s easier.

    Covid has sucked royally, but gave you the gift of time. Take advantage — although being divorced is great (mostly), GETTING divorced is awful. RUN NOW.

  • Sorry, but he’s cheating, or setting up a plan to cheat. Don’t waste more of your time – or, you can hire a PI and see where that goes. I heard this line of crap so many times from my ex about his “friends” who were special, and yes, women. I did hire a PI, and got photos of him and one of his good female “friend” leaving a hotel together and holding hands. It was painful for me. I also saw a photo of them holding hands and kissing at a cafe. He didn’t know that I had the photos, and gas-lighted me, telling me I was jealous and didn’t trust him. Ya think? You have a whole life ahead of you, cut it before your heart gets even more crushed.

  • Geez. He might be cheating on you but for sure he’s cheating you out of an honest, healthy relationship. This stuff is just, well, mean. If ever a guy deserved a good and proper ghosting, it’s this lying liar. Your soon to be ex and his bff are in some sort of forbidden fruit loop where each of them needs an innocent partner in the wings as part of their hard on for each other. remember that it’s about what they actually do that matters. They can promise you the world and talk about how it’s gonna be, but he’s not doing it now. And honestly, at this point, he’s just so boringly annoying, don’t you think? The whole scenario with this idiot is just so boring. And annoying. Let’s do zee math. The shortest line between two points is not a triangle. So, how do you break up with this guy? First, stop making plans with him. Make plans with your friends, your support system, your parents or even your cat lady auntie in Peoria. Start filling your life with anything but him. Get your wedding deposits back. Tell everyone he didn’t survive the pandemic. Sell the dress. Maybe he’ll notice right away but probably not. Oh, great! You have plans with bff? Great, I have a million things to do. His pecker might also be radioactive so get checked for std’s. Change your locks and say they didn’t give you extra keys. Say you’re tired. So – yawn- very tired. No more ‘the future’ talks. Sign back up for online dating. Click single on your fb page. Don’t answer his calls. Then text ‘I’m busy in mtg’ insert happy face message. Practice the art of ghosting. Because, no, we don’t date married lady’s fuck butty. I mean, buddy. No oxygen. No cpr. Let’s face it. This dud doesn’t deserve a big confrontation screaming blowout of a fight. Let this acquaintance just fizzle out by just doing nothing. Nada. Let him be somebody you sorta used to know sorta. One decision I FINALLY consciously made that really made dealing with others less distressing was to stop being the one who cares more than the other. So go. Get free of this battleship sized anchor. Be free. Go.

    • “He might be cheating on you but for sure he’s cheating you out of an honest, healthy relationship. This stuff is just, well, mean.”
      Great post, Trudy! This is not a nice man. He is a despicable SOB. I’m hoping Maybe is running for the nearest exit and doesn’t let the door hit her where the good lord split her.

      Maybe-Chump, what honest, healthy people do in a relationship is introduce you to their friends. ALL of them. Before and during my marriage, I had many male friends and many male co-workers given I worked in a male dominated industry. But I never spent time with any of them without full disclosure and full transparency. I introduced them to cheating bastard ex. I included cheating bastard ex by inviting them to our house or inviting him to whatever event they would be at. I encouraged friendships between them. Hell, even if I texted or emailed a male friend, I told cheating bastard ex about it. I had one friend in particular, a gay man, who spent almost every holiday with us since he had no family or partner and was like a brother from a different mother.

      Once, very early in the marriage, cheating bastard ex told me he didn’t like that one of my male co-workers called the house wanting to talk to me. I immediately made it clear to that person that my husband felt uncomfortable and told him if he needed to speak to me, it could wait till we were at work. I always kept boundaries in place to ensure I would never breach his trust. That is what a good partner/spouse does.

      But what your fiancé’ is doing is vile and abusive. Only you can stop that. Trust me, you deserve so much better.

    • He is a Dud ???? Thanks for the smiles this morning Trudy! I’m fantasizing now, about how I could have canceled my wedding, and disappeared from my X’s life! He was only 24, he would have turned on a dime, and found someone else.

      • Hey, I’m in the next city over to the east. I don’t have any cats right now but I love them! (Mine died, and when I left now ex I went to a rental where no pets are allowed.) I would happily join you for a cat lady lunch!

    • Trudy: Excellent post. …he’s cheating you out of an honest…relationship…”
      Maybe Chump: This is no way to start a marriage or even a friendship. People who value us will be honest, open, etc. No one gets better with marriage. This is the make a good impression point right now. You are not at a good starting point for a marriage. What bothers you now will eat away at you later. Like others have said partners want their friends to meet their partner. If not BIG RED BANNER. Treatment of you by him will not improve by saying I Do with him. Character does not change. Best of Luck to you. You can do this. Keep coming and reading on this site and my all means get CL’s book: Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life. That is what this site is about.

  • “Later swearing it was drunken rambling” – People say the truth when inhibition is lowered

    “Wished he dated her” either wants to be or already is/has cheated on you

    “The problem went away because she moved far away” – No it didn’t. You were and are number 2. Geography didn’t change that.

    “Hangs out with her at her house” he’s cheating on you

    “Won’t let me be friends with her” he’s cheating on you

    “Jokingly kisses people at parties” that’s cheating. And don’t kid yourself about that. Committed caring partners don’t go around kissing other people. Do you put your lips on another man’s lips?

    Cancelled your important plans for her, didn’t invite you, but did invite husband who couldn’t make it last minute? And you bought this bullshit? The husband was never invited, she’s cheating in him when he’s out of town

    “I’ve seen them together, there’s clearly an attraction there, they don’t openly flirt in front of me” – they’re attracted yet manage to not openly flirt in front of you. Should we give them a medal for that accomplishment? How do you think they behave behind your back?

    “She was only free that weekend apparently”. See above. This is the second time in your letter it’s very obvious that this was a cheating weekend. Husband was out of town, so she was “free” to cheat on him

    “Time with people who are important to him”. His fiancée isn’t first on that list?

    “I don’t think he’s lying about the cheating”. Honey. He’s lying his fool head off

    DUMP THIS GUY. Please. Dodge this bullet!! Thank God you’re not married yet you can get out easily. Please listen to us. Sorry to be harsh But it’s out of concern and caring. You need a huge wake up call here

    • Note also that they don’t need to “flirt openly.” Flirting is a way to signal ATTRACTION. They already know that are attracted to each other. They’re already in relationship. So it’s not exactly a big achievement not to flirt openly with some girl he’s banging.

  • I have a guy friend. In our old old days we slept with each other a couple of times, but it was never a relationship.
    Then we got married- staying in touch here and there.
    We see each other once in a blue moon but lines and boundaries are clear- no inappropriate topics, no touching, nothing that would be seen as “ off”, and only if our family life permits, not otherwise.
    His w knows about me- I always send her a small gift whenever I see her h( if she is unable to attend )
    Our kids know each other.
    Would I sleep with my friend, just for fun?
    Would I adjust my family schedule to meet him

    Situation in which this woman is- is so shady and weird- run run as fast as you can.

  • Confused
    Please don’t marry this person. I married my husband after he cheated on me when we were engaged. I left and he begged me to come back. I did. I married him thinking marriage would make him faithful. 21 years and multiple affairs/lying/gaslighting later, he finally decided the grass was greener at the neighbors house. You know this relationship with this other woman is inappropriate. No man who is engaged should be hanging with another women that his fiancé can’t meet. You and his girlfriends husband are the at-home spouse appliance’s so these 2 can live in fantasy affair world. Also, don’t feel bad about canceling the wedding, I have a friend who canceled her wedding a week before she was supposed to walk down the isle. She felt bad, but 2 years later she knows its the best decision she ever made.

  • The disrespect alone is enough to say “enough”.
    A friend is more important that a fiancé?
    It’s not hurting him to hurt you!
    Liars lie. Chesters cheat.
    End it. Go no-contact.

  • Confused, run like your life depends on it, because it does. Protect your precious future unborn children from this abusive fucker…. He’ll emotionally abuse them too, ask me how I know????.

    If I feel I have to explain to someone how to be decent, it’s a waste of breath, nothing to work with, futile, relationship not acceptable, nothing to do but leave, go no contact, build a new abuse-free life.

    There are millions of wonderful men who want monogamy and value their integrity and have character. Leave, go no contact, work on supporting yourself… you’ll meet a much better person, fall in love, have a romance that makes your heart sing, not one that drives you to write to Chump Lady.

    You can do this! Don’t wait another second of your precious life on this fuckwit!

  • You’re the enforcer of his nonexistent boundaries.

    Love this Tracy. And he ‘jokingly’ kisses other women at parties. Just look at how he repeatedly expects you to accept his disrespectful behavior. Her plans involved the timing of her husband being away. So if you tease that out why couldn’t you have been invited? He’s cheating, run. He’s a con artist.

  • Confused Definitely-Chump:
    1) He doesn’t “love” you.
    2) He’s cheating.
    3) He’s not marriage material.
    4) Dump him immediately. No (further) explanations or discussions needed. You have plenty of data.
    5) Keep the ring, if it’s worth anything. You’ve more than earned it, for all your time he’s wasted.
    6) Go strict NO CONTACT immediately. He will hoover.
    7) Don’t ever settle like this again.

  • 1. You say this has been going on for months, yet he still sees her regularly, “saying he wants his alone time to catch up with her.” Surely they are caught up by now.
    2. You said they hang at her house, at bars, and long walks in the park. “I’ve seen the two of them together and there’s clearly attraction there, even though they don’t openly flirt in front of me. He hasn’t bothered to properly introduce me to her, and I’ve never met the husband.” What consistutes a preoper introduction? It sounds like you’re in the same place as your fiancee and his BFF, so why aren’t the three of you interacting? Unless you’re stalking them, why wouldn’t he introduce you, or why don’t you introduce yourself? I wonder what her response would be if you said, “Hi, BFF, I’m X’s fiance.” Sounds like they’re enjoying the thrill of dupers’ delight and their big secret.
    3. “He has some trauma from a past relationship where he was isolated from friends and family.” Maybe because someone else caught him cheating and he was shut out by friends and family, too. If he isn’t introdudng his ex to other people, maybe she’s not an ex. Maybe she’s writing Chump Lady about her boyfriend who had an overly-controlling GF and now refuses to introduce her to anyone.
    4. “(he’s ‘jokingly’ kissed people at parties before), why can’t I trust him?” It’s no joke to kiss people who don’t want to be kissed, or to publicly kiss people other than your fiance/GF if it’s not a peck on the cheek and is something he has to explain away. He may have dones so deliberately so if he’s caught with his “BFF,” he can blow it off as something he does that doesn’t mean anything. Or to test your boundaries and how far you’ll let him go. Or so he can tell mutual friends you may be engaged but you have an open relationship. If he’s kissed same-sex “people,” maybe the BFF is a cover for seeing a man, or men. Whatever. It doesn’t matter.
    5. You can’t trust someone who admits to having a serious friendship but is doing his darndest to keep you from speaking to this best friend or her husband–in short, keeps you from finding out any truth, if it’s not the same as he claims. And keeps HER from learning the same about you. Or you’re the beard they use for her husband. Again, they don’t matter. You do. You don’t need to know what or why he does what he does. Chump Lady laid out the lyvng, glameshifting, gaslighting, etc. and the outcome if you stay with him: ” He’s not marriage material. Well, unless you want a shitty marriage of eternal chumpdom.” Believe us, you don’t. You don’t even like being engaged to this guy.

  • Agree with everything regarding this guy’s behaviour. I wish I had someone to tell me this before I married my ex. He was the same, putting everyone’s needs ahead of mine, breaking commitments to me (no matter how big) if something (anything, no matter how small) came up at work, with family, with friends. It was a huge red flag that I stupidly didn’t realize was a red flag because I believed him when he said I was insecure, needy and selfish. Many years and much heartache later (including a serious post-divorce boyfriend who also had numerous “BFFs” he’d slept with and wouldn’t introduce me to and gaslit me when I was concerned he’d hang out with these women without telling me – “I have to lie to you because you’d just get mad at me if I told you I was seeing [lover]), I’m in a relationship with someone who talks to me about his plans, keeps his commitments to me, includes me in his plans or clarifies when there’s a special “boys’ night”. Don’t settle for less than the honesty and transparency you deserve.

    I would look into whether you’re allowed to keep the ring. Check your local laws on that one. In many places, engagement rings are conditional gifts – legally you can only keep it if you actually get married. If the engagement is broken, it goes back to the giver.

    • I designed my ring. I gave it back when we met for our first mediation session. It made him cry. How bizarre that was after how he had deliberately used our marriage certificate for toilet paper. I didn’t want the ring or the money from it (which is always going to be a paltry sum compared to what you paid unless it has serious provenance). The ring and the money had negative energy and refusing both felt right for me. My understanding is also that you give the engagement ring back if you break the engagement.


      • Velvet Hammer, reminds me of the day after dday when I found the strength to get out of bed to take our formal wedding portrait off the wall & smash the glass. I then threw it in the kitchen trashcan. Later in the day I saw the asshat look in the trashcan & do a double take. I said, “so how does that make you feel?” He paused for a bit & said, “not good.” Wish I had the strength to cobble him right then & there. Instead I continued with my crying fest.

      • I had several weird moments like this: then-wife was having an affair, leaving me and the kids to be with her AP (who was leaving his wife for her), but still she was offended at signs that my feelings towards her were changing. It was AOK for her to reject me, but not OK for me to have any doubts about her. I guess this is because she was trading up (so naturally she wouldn’t value a loser like me), but she wasn’t expecting any diminution of my feeling towards her (because she’s so awesome, as proven by the fact that she had two men vying for her affection).

        Basically, they’re allowed to reject us because that’s the natural order of things, but when there’s a hint that we might reject them it throws them off kilter.

      • What a powerful message to send!!! Brava. I had a ring that was worth selling — and I used it finance a high end bathroom renovation, including a literal toilet. 😉 That was my personal version of similar messaging, lol.

  • There’s so much BS from this guy.

    This jumped out at me:

    He told you they used to fuck when they both were single. Then he told you he wished they would have dated. So if they were both single when they hooked up, they could’ve dated.

    Also, you had something planned on a special day, and he broke those plans for her because she was only available then. And then gaslighted you that he forgot it was a special day. Let’s reframe that: She was available then because her husband was gone, so he dropped you to fuck her. And then told you he makes time for the important people in his life. He told you that she is more important than you.

    Be glad you didn’t get married yet. Keep the ring and dump him. No contact. Go to therapy.

    He told you, and showed you with his actions that he doesn’t respect you or your boundaries.

  • He clearly has no boundaries, but you need to set yours up NOW, and the very first one should be NO CONTACT with this jackass. He is showing you what he is (a cheater who prioritizes the OW over his fiance). Ignore his words. His actions show what he is.

    Is it acceptable to you that his BFF is more important than you? Who cancels “important dates” to be with somebody else? Who always has excuses at the ready for whatever Bad Thing He Has Done with the implication that you are a terrible person if you don’t immediately believe and forgive?

    Whatever deposits you may lose on the wedding will cost you WAY less than a divorce down the road. And please, please, PLEASE don’t allow him to reel you back in. He will try, and, if successful, will only go deeper underground. This isn’t going to get better.

  • He is fully entitled to have what he wants when he wants it and I’m sure he completely enjoys watching you frantically “ pick me” dance for his time, attention, respect and just basic decency that should be afforded in any relationship that matters to a person.
    Love doesn’t come before trust and this is not a trustworthy person.
    You are not even on his radar as a priority and these are the very best years of treatment you can ever expect to see from him.
    Is that what you deserve in a relationship that you give everything of you to?
    It will never get better than your current view, believe what you see and what your gut so desperately is trying to let you know. If someone tells you to stay, dump them too.
    Let him go and if there is a husband of this low life “ BFF”, please inform him of how he is being abused by his deeply narcissistic loser wife, so he can break out of the trance and be free of the abuse.
    I would have loved that gift from somebody that cared about my welfare.
    Your bf actions are showing an abysmal lack of respect for you, the very one person in the world he should love and respect above all others and if you stay in that relationship for 30 or 40 years, you won’t even know who you are any longer or you scarily would begin to imagine you don’t even deserve anything better anyway.
    This red flag parade is honestly a blessing you will not be able to fully understand until you are completely free and clear.
    I liked the response from
    CN that you tell him you just don’t want to marry him any longer because you deserve better.
    You DO deserve better!
    A whole lot better than what he bread crumbs in your direction.

    • Haha… I don’t think I could find the husband… Don’t know his name, can’t access OW’s social media (her privacy settings are excellent). Suspicious, huh?

  • Dear Confused,

    I married someone who acted pretty close to the way your fiancé is acting. He did have one female bff that I wasn’t allowed or invited into their oh so very special friendship. He also had tons of other female friends over the years, and he started triangulating me with them pretty much as soon as we officially started dating. And he continued to have lunch and dinners with his ex-girlfriend, but I wasn’t allowed to be upset about this! “She’s just a friend!!!” “Everyone in college does this!!!” “Why are you so jealous?!!!!” Dear Confused, if you marry this guy, THIS IS GOING TO BE YOUR LIFE FOR THE REST OF YOUR MARRIAGE!!! It doesn’t get better, it gets worse. And if you complain, he’ll go underground. And then one day you will find evidence that he’s cheating and then you’ll be blamed for it, because of your “trust issues and you’re too controlling and judgmental”. I didn’t recognize or ignored the red flags and my gut screaming at me. Don’t be me! You’ve been given a gift to recognize that something isn’t right in your relationship. This man is not marriage material. He’s abusive.

    I copied this from The Single Woman on FB last night: “I get so many ladies asking me the same question: ‘How do I know if he loves me? He says he loves me, but his actions are confusing.’ And therein lies the answer to the question without me having to say a word.

    “His words say one thing, but his actions say another. He confuses you. He misleads you. He’s halfway out and halfway in. Ladies. We are smarter than this. If anything about the relationship leaves you confused and questioning and doubting and wondering and pacing and fretting and guessing and puzzling and stressing and worrying…as harsh as it might sound: He doesn’t love you. Or at least not the way you deserve to be loved. Love is never a question. It is always an ANSWER. True love is peaceful and joyful and clear and secure and life-giving and hopeful and honest and intentional. A man who truly loves you will never leave you with doubts because he won’t want to risk losing you. This doesn’t mean that you won’t ever have disagreements or obstacles to overcome or trials to get through…but it DOES mean that the question of whether or not he really loves you will never be one of them.
    So, in closing: If his words are saying one thing and his actions another…if you are more confused than content…if he hasn’t made it 100% crystal clear that he loves you and values you and wants you in his life: Walk away now, before you get in any deeper. I’m not telling you to hold out for a perfect man; they don’t exist…I’m telling you to hold out for the one who is confident and sure and clear about his feelings for you. Because you deserve that. We all do.”

  • maybe-chump, you’re a chump. sorry.

    if you choose to carry on with your fiance here’s a possible trajectory, based on my experiences:

    1. lack of loyalty to you that includes his friends and family. he will side with his family before you. this can be serious. for example, my MIL refused to speak to/see me for 2 years when i confronted her on giving my toddler a pill bottle with ativan and tylenol #3 to play with like a rattle. you will question his judgment, as you should.

    2. a pattern of little crushes. your fiance will have a series of crushes wherever he goes, mostly in the workplace. these crushes may be innocent but it’s the pattern of yearning for another that does not bode well. this will slowly destabilize your self-confidence. FYI he will eventually act on his yearning. you will be devastated.

    3. addictive behaviours. people who get a dopamine rush off crushes and flirting and infidelity also exhibit addictive behaviours like shopping, drinking, drugging, exercising, overeating. i watched my X cycle through these addictive cycles and co-dependency grew inside me. what happens with co-dependency is that you slowly lose your joy.

    4. you will take care of most things in your household and with your kids, if you have them. you will parent on your own because your fiance is not capable. he is self-centered at best. you already have evidence of his self-centeredness. the result? you will be lonely.

    you already sound unhappy. why continue into a known environment of unhappiness? do you somehow believe you deserve unhappiness because you do not.

    • #3 resonated with me. He got that dopamine rush off of exercising, addictively buying tools, swimsuits and underwear. He got the biggest rush when a woman approached him with interest, and off he went, dick in hand, to happily get his ego and everything else stroked. Was she better than me? Nah. Did that matter? no – he got off on the fact that she wanted him, and that he was deceiving me.

      • it’s the dopamine rush and it doesn’t last. but they aren’t smart enough or emotionally capable of understanding that fact.

          • I have wondered why this is not a part of sex ed, especially for men who seem to be more prone to blowing up their life over it. I am betting you that most of the men who ever went into the military aside from MDs never knew the physiology of sex and the accompanying hormones.

            Yes I know women do too, but I am still convinced there are way more men than women who blow up their whole lives over elicit tail, and I don’t mean just blowing up their marriages, I mean their lives.

    • This is exactly how I would’ve broken out my exes behaviors.

      The little crushes Everywhere is a very important nuanced point
      My husband did this for 30 years I felt it I just didn’t know what to do about
      When I tried to call him out on it he tried you are uncool and insecure wife thing.
      Maybe if I were more like these women I wouldn’t be so jealous of them

      And the whole dopamine hit. Mine too. Ranging from compulsively eating handfuls of sunflower seeds to texting other women..That’s conditioned neurology there’s no way stop it without extensive
      Therapeutic and biological help

      And I finally found someone who had a worse mother-in-law than me
      My sister-in-law used to open the sliding glass doors to her pooI when my son was crawling and my back was turned. I swear she was trying to kill him

    • He has tons of addictive behaviors. The compulsive overeating and then compulsive working out, absolutely! Also, he used to drink 10+ cups of coffee a day at one point. He’s cut down on the coffee, but now drinks a lot of alcohol.

      And yes, he flirts… a lot. In my earlier even-cooler girl days, I’d laugh along at his flirting stories, and he’d say, “wow, it’s great how you don’t mind when I talk about this stuff!”

      • CMC, He is a cheater. You are a chump.
        Cannot change him. Can change yourself.
        Get CL’s book. Get std tested. Get out.

      • Addictive behaviors along are a huge red flag. We all do too much coffee, or binge chocolate once in a while. But “drinks a lot of alcohol”? On top of the inappropriate relationship with his BFF/Schmoopie?

        No. Just no. Excessive drinking or drug use alone is a reason to walk. Right there.

  • Do NOT marry him! You will constantly be wondering if he’s being faithful. You’ll constantly be looking watching and searching harder than the FBI. And he’ll only go deeper underground. Relationships aren’t supposed to be so uncertain.
    I know it will hurt. It will hurt like hell, but please, don’t marry him.

  • I would not date or stay with a partner who cancelled plans with me to spend time with a friend

    This guy is a douche. A self centered idiot and likely he is playing both women to decide which one he really wants.

  • The chumps reading the original message can see that the poster has been given a crystal ball into the future. We know that from painful experience and misplaced trust that it will not get better. I so truly wish I had that list of unacceptable behaviors so clearly laid out for me — and I wish I had the courage to act on them much earlier.

    While the future is clear to us, the original poster is being gaslighted and abused, so it’s probably hard to think straight and know what the right thing to do is.

    My advice: Since you are unsure whether or not to marry him, put the wedding on hold for now, and tell him “we could reschedule sometime.” And then read and re-read this advice until you can truly see how disrespectful he is behaving towards you.

    • Yep.

      One of two things will likely happen. He will turn on the charm, be all attentive until he gets you under control again, or walk away. If you are lucky he will walk away. If he tries to hoover and charm; still put the wedding date on hold and work on building you own life. He likely won’t/can’t keep up the charm for long.

  • DDay was OCT 2017 and I’ve been on my own, doing my healing and homework, peeling more onion layers, checking out what has been revealed, gluing me and my daughter back together since then. It’s a good thing I have been doing that.

    Only in THE LAST MONTH did I realize how confused I was….by his VOICE, his demeanor. He doesn’t SOUND like a cruel, mean, abusive person. Literally.

    He never hit, yelled, called me names. He presents as Nice Guy, Easy-Going, Friendly. He rarely, and I mean rarely, SOUNDED angry, or even admitted to being angry, in 27 YEARS. Which made me feel defective and crazy with any authentic non-abusive expression of normal human anger.

    He STILL hides his anger. Still completely out of touch with honest expression of emotions. Still Mr. Smooth Talking Friendly Nice Guy.


    That is warning sign. DANGER.

    I have a number of voicemails saved from years past because my daughter is on them. Traitor X is on them too, SOUNDING like a man who loves me and our family.

    I dismissed and minimized unkind actions because of his VOICE. How he SOUNDED. He even laughed reassuringly when I asked him if he was having affairs. Which I took as a sign he was telling the truth.

    I don’t have ultimate power over sensing when I am being duped. Expert liars and con artists hone their skills of deception and I may fall victim again in some way some day. But I need to plug the holes in MY door where they can get through, the ones that are obviously where I am lacking in some way and don’t have the drawbridge up.

    I’ve only had this very helpful insight surface about a month ago.

    He SOUNDED like a nice guy. And because I grew up in a crazy alcoholic war zone with people slinging lighted arrows and yelling and fighting all the time, is it any wonder I stuck like glue to Mr. Pacific? Who was going to therapy with me? Who was pretending to be sober/in recovery? No wonder I was confused. But Traitor X was dishing out the confusion as fast as I could eat it up. My brains definitely needed washing when I found this site.

    The only peace and love I ever felt in my house growing up was on Christmas Day.

    • The first mediator, in a session, boomed at me, “Why did you stay with him?!” He promotes the Both People Responsible Theory of Cheating, and therefore both people are responsible for the marriage ending.

      I played one of those voicemail messages, which are typical and representative of how Traitor X always spoke to me. “Why would I leave someone who talked to me like that?”

      The mediator was fired.

      I’ve come to recognize Traitor X’s voice as how the devil talks to someone when it’s time to sign the contract.

      • I have a “box of lies” full of cards, letters, etc. I received over the course of my marriage. I keep it to remind myself of why I stayed, whenever I fall into the “how could I have been so stupid” self-blame trap. This is someone who went out of his way to tell me how happy he was, how much I meant to him, etc. I understand now that these cards are not expressions of love; they are evidence of HOW he was able to con and deceive me for so long. On the surface, he presents as the devoted family man, but the issues and behaviors themselves that caused issues throughout our marriage were never addressed, and abuse/betrayals continued to escalate.

        I was a trusting, naive, “easy mark.” He took advantage of my trust to abuse and betray me. As they say on Ted Lesson, “The truth will set you free. But first it will piss you off.”

    • ….and just last week, Dr. Kickass CoParent had to elicit from him that he was angry. He has been gone for four years.

      Not too long after we started seeing her, she told him that I was a straight shooter, and that a marriage between him and a straight shooter was not a match made in Heaven and was guaranteed to fail.

      …..which was worth her hourly rate.

      A marriage between a liar and a straight shooter has already failed, well before the wedding.


    • Once you figure out someone is a liar, then the rest is easier. If they lie, you need to be done with them. Once I caught Jackass in a lie, and once I figured out his narcissistic patterns, it was relatively easy to walk away.

  • Let’s say you’re not in a relationship with him. Let’s say you were going to start a business with him. Every time you had a meeting scheduled to talk about business strategy, goals, etc., he cancels the meeting or doesn’t show up. He’s not forthcoming with his time, or his finances, or his commitment to this project. Would you, after all this, start a business with a person like this?

    I will also quote from the movie the Pirates of the Caribbean: You can always trust a dishonest man to be dishonest. Honestly.

    • “I will also quote from the movie the Pirates of the Caribbean: ‘You can always trust a dishonest man to be dishonest.’ Honestly.”

  • How I wish I had read this exact scenario twenty years ago! Do not marry this person. Having an ex-lover as a best friend is a huge red flag! Not always for the reasons one might think either. How about him telling her secrets about a girl at work but not telling you? How about him telling his female best friend about how poorly he feels in his marriage because he doesn’t know how to talk to his wife? It happens! I know from chumpy experience.

  • Red flags a’flyin all OVER the place on this one!!
    Run away while you still can! This guy would be a total nightmare to be married to!!!

  • Chump Lady, how do you do it? This post should be linked to every abuse site’s page about emotional abuse and gaslighting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it described so well: actions vs. words, basic decency, ultimatums, gaslighting, Important People, the Cool Girlfriend, the relationship skills checklist. This was 100% my ex – and me. I just couldn’t see/accept it. He was super covert, and I never had to deal with the “friend” OW, but many of the red flags you spell out were there from the beginning of my relationship, even when we were young and everything looked rosy. It was subtle at the time, but it’s glaring in hindsight.

    Also, those GIFs are the best. Thank you!

  • After you get all your affairs financial moving new place arrangements dial in on the down low:

    Dear John (fiancee),

    I realize now that your friend is the important person in your life. I am breaking off our engagement because your action show me that.
    I’m not willing to accept the relationship you offer. I am worth so much more.
    No-longer-confused x chump

    • Or, maybe she can flip the script. She can show HERSELF that that she doesn’t care what he “feels” or thinks with his “alleged” mind (nod to OHFSS) by going fully NC. It makes no difference whether or not she’s important to him; he’s unimportant to her. She’ll be busy gaining a life, and he’ll be obsolete.

      Not what I did, but what I wish I’d done!

  • ” What is the one thing I’m doing wrong, that I know is wrong?” Jordan Peterson invites us to ask ourselves. Trust your intuition, your soul is telling you what you need to know. You now have a chance to change the course of your life. Time to learn to value your worth. Become someone who follows her core values and isn’t flim flamed by some low life creep who does ” hook ups.” I wish you all that you deserve.

  • I’m seeing these behaviors in my son now. It has made our relationship impossible. He just turned 18, still in high school, and he emulates the behaviors of his father. Finding it difficult to approach as he is my son, but I will not accept or get into a communication cycle that allows the behavior to happen. In such a bind.

    • CL
      Calmly enforce your personal boundaries for respect and your own value system for yourself.

      Do not lecture
      try not to lose your cool.
      I have been there, it is so painful.
      I hope for your sake and his that he is mimicking his father’s behaviors but has the healthy emotional structure to learn from his mistakes.
      My son is 25 And never saw anyone treat me with any respect. His father or my mother and father for that matter. Divorcing abusive husbands shows tremendous strength and your son should see that at some point in his life. Also I used to try and “take the highroad” all the time I am now more quick to tell the truth of my side of the story if it becomes relevant, so my ex-husband cannot gaslight my kids best of luck to you

  • The husband being invited is irrelevant. Actually, I’d take it as a worse sign since he didn’t actually go and maybe this “friend” is also trying to arrange alone time. Anyway, look at what they do, not what they say. They repeatedly end up alone together and you’re not invited. That level of clarity is a gift.

  • Letter writer here. I’ll read comments tonight but just wanted to give CL a big thank you… I needed to hear this and I feel ready to call things off. When he apologized for the gaslighting etc I found your page about real remorse vs GINR (it seemed like real remorse in his case until he happily went to see her again the next week and only let me know after the plans had been made – “last minute,” as always, and I wasn’t invited, as always). Honestly, this sealed the deal for me, because it confirmed that he doesn’t actually care about my feelings. At all, apparently.

    When he admitted to the gaslighting he also said “look, if you want to break up because of this, I would understand. It was really awful of me”. At first I thought this was a sign of real remorse. He didn’t expect forgiveness! This must be genuine! In hindsight… maybe he just doesn’t want to marry me and is looking for a way to get me to leave? (He once told me he wishes he hadn’t dated his ex so he could have slept with more people in the time he was with her. Wonder if he feels that way about me). Unsure, but either way, I’ll be taking his advice and getting out.

    Thank you all so much for the kind comments, support, and real talk. I’ll be making preparations to untangle my shit with him and then leave.

    • You are so strong, and it sounds like your gut feelings are exactly correct. He is a coward who is putting the burden on YOU to break up. Oh well – indulge him! Your future self will thank you for calling this wedding off. Onwards and upwards.

    • Remember when you break up with him that it isn’t a discussion, you’ve already made your decision. If you have to hang up on him, do so.

      Then block his number. You don’t share kids (thank god) so you have no reason to stay in touch. DO NOT fall for him circling back down the road with questions or wanting to stay in touch or see how you’re doing.

      I’d make the cleanest break possible and get all your belongings from his place first and cut all financial ties, change passwords, etc then dump him.

    • Good for you!

      Cut all ties as quickly as possible and remember all FW are playing from the same book. Fortunately that makes them predictable, expect him to tune to anger/charm/self-pity and stay strong, don’t fall for any of it. It’s all fake and just intended to manipulate you. Once you can go no contact, you’ll be able to look back and appreciate how mighty you are.

      Good luck and Godspeed!

    • Confused – I am so glad you found CL and CN!
      What you will do is hard. If you haven’t already, read Leave a Cheater Gain a Life.
      Also, Cheating in a Nutshell is really good.
      It will help you navigate this. Because he may hoover, he may want you to do the pick-me-dance. If you recognize the pitfalls while you extract yourself, and go no contact as soon as you can, it will help.

      You don’t owe him an explanation. You don’t owe him anything. And don’t expect anything from him. It may feel like there isn’t closure, but you don’t need closure to gain a life.

    • The real cowards (ask me how I know) want US to be the ones to do the break up. Something about not being the bad guy. Lying, cheating, gaslighting, discarding ALL OK! But don’t be the one who openly admits to being unhappy and calls it quits.

      It’s like those people on ID channel who murder their spouses because they’re afraid of what people will think of them if they divorce. Some really screwed-up moral compass.

    • That’s a pity play, so that you say “no, of course I’m not going to break up with you!” Don’t fall for that. he is 100% cheating on you. My ex denied his affair for three years, and then only admitted that it was “emotional”. But they were fucking the whole time, I later found out. I was right in my gut and I pushed it down.

      Also, getting introduced to the “she’s just a friend” doesn’t make it better. My ex’s AP used to come over to our house all the time so our kids could play together. How they must have laughed at stupid, chumpy me, cooking dinner for everyone and being nice to OW (even though I was VERY uncomfortable about her relationship with my husband).

      Just because your current (hopefully not for long) fiance doesn’t scream and throw things doesn’t mean he isn’t abusive (he is) or that it could never get to that point. My ex didn’t do anything like that for 8 YEARS. But then he did. He was terrifying. But by then I was so broken, I stayed. He nearly killed me one night in a drunken rage, and I still fought like hell for my “marriage” because I “loved him”. I was also trying to the be the cool wife who is okay with his female friends and not controlling. I made all kinds of concessions for him.

      I’m glad to hear you’re getting out. Now is the time. My divorce cost me $50,000, not to mention the anxiety and depression from a decade of abuse that nearly killed me. I love my son and I wouldn’t trade him, but I wish I had run years ago. Good for you for recognizing there is something wrong. You deserve better. Marriage will only make his behavior worse. Once a man like this “has” you, there is NO incentive to treat you well. If he’s doing it now, it will only escalate.

  • I wish I would have called off my COVID wedding. Instead, I minimized the red flags and “communication issues” (read: gaslighting) and mistakenly believed that things would improve after we got married.

    Now, 1.5 years later, I’m in the process of divorcing him after he cheated on me and gave me an STD.

    I remember feeling like calling off my wedding would be “dramatic,” and as the world’s biggest people-pleaser, I couldn’t find the strength to do it. So I let my dad walk me down the aisle and just pretended everything was fine.

    It wouldn’t have been dramatic at all – maybe temporarily, but one in five weddings get called off! It’s so common!

    What IS dramatic is having to tell my family and friends, who just stood up next to me at the alter, that I’m getting a divorce. Having to divide up our un-opened wedding presents in mediation. Having to pay HIM money to get this done since I make a higher salary than him.

    I would do anything to go back in time and call off this wedding. Thank GOD I didn’t get pregnant, so I can at least make a clean break now.

    You know the truth. He is lying, and you are in an abuse cycle. I was too. Your gut is screaming at you. Listen to it!

    • I’m so glad you got out IDW!

      Just here to say that if for any reason she decides to move forward and get married, don’t step foot in that isle without a pre-nup.

      I don’t know the financial situations here, but know that when you get married all of your DEBTS are joint as well. And like IDK said, if you are the breadwinner, half of your everything will go to him (or paying off his debts), even if the marriage is short.

      Being robbed blind after 20 years of hard work is the main reason I will never marry again. The only people who will get their hands on my money are my kids when I die.

      • Thanks NotAnymore, I’m glad too.

        Agreed – I will not get married again without a pre-nup in place for protecting myself!

  • My XW said while we were dating and engaged that she was going to keep her male friends. You can guess how this turned out. RUN AWAY from this man. He is screwing her. I warned my wife that it was inappropriate for a married woman to hang out (without me there) with male friends. My XW had work friends, she screwed 3 of them. I believe that you can have friends of the opposite sex BUT you include your spouse in everything. I don’t believe you should be a BFF when you are in a commuted relationship.

  • Run for the hills and don’t look back! As chump lady said, this is the time when he should be bringing his A game. He is showing you who he is and it’s not good. It might hurt now, but make the break. Don’t be like heaps of us here and hang in there for 20 odd years, bringing kids into it, hoping they get better. Trust me, they don’t. Get out now. Adopt a dog….much more rewarding! Good luck xx

    • My loser ex-h brought his A-game during our engagement. He showed his true colors after the wedding. Consider yourself lucky you see it pre-wedding.

      Agree with this ^, especially getting a dog. Train him to growl if this creep ever comes near you.

  • Like so many others here, this BF’s gaslighting about his BFF reminds me so much of my ex-h and his then “friend” (now wife). I tried to set boundaries and got all the same crap about trying to “control” him and “not letting him have friends.” Bleh.

    Joining the chorus to lace up your running shoes, cancel the wedding, move out, and go no contact everywhere.

  • Picture this, CMC. You’ve just had baby number two and after a long, exhausted day of caring for him and sick toddler number 1 you realise that you’re down to your last nappy for the little one. You call Fiance – now Hubby and ask him to pick up a pack on the way home, but can’t raise him on the phone. You try leaving messages but it’s only hours later that he arrives home, without nappies, and explains that he was spending quality time with the BFF. Or he misses his turn picking them up from daycare, because of same. Is this what you want?? Because this will be your future, if you allow it. Don’t marry a guy who is mooning after his ex, giving her all the kibbles while he waits for her marriage to implode so maybe she might date him (I have the feeling she is using him to prop herself up, because if they had meant to be together, they would have made it happen by now, apart from possible furtive fucking) and is weak enough that he is happy to use you as a life placeholder and go along with a marriage and children even though if he had any balls he wouldn’t lead you along and allow you to plan a life with him, letting you do all the heavy lifting, only in five to ten to leave you, saying how much he resents your controlling ways, doesn’t know how he got here, but he ‘deserves to find out what really makes me happy’. Because that’s what you have, right there, a weak-willed, passive-agressive avoidant man-boy who’s happy to chase a fantasy rather than admit that she’s not really available, and build a life with a quality person like yourself. You deserve so much better. Set him free and go for the real deal. I remember in the guilty pleasure Xmas movie The Holiday (and that one would be ripe for unpicking right there) someone told Kate Winslet, be the leading lady in your own life, not the best friend. Don’t be a support character to the people around you, it’s your own life, make sure you are front and centre.

  • Hey CMC, not to untangle the skein but the only relationship that your FW is in is with his best female friend, or OW if you will. Unfortunately you and her putative husband are just triangulation accessories. It’s only a fucked up game to them and you are just collateral damage.

    The only question that counts is: is this acceptable to YOU? If this is the best that your relationship will ever be (and it is), are you OK with it? Does this match YOUR values and what YOU expect from a partner. He is treating you like garbage, get angry, put all his shit in a box, kick him out and call off the wedding. Then never talk to him again, ever.

  • Do not marry this man! It doesn’t matter if he’s cheating or not, you are not his first priority! Don’t you deserve, as his fiancee, to be his first priority? Of course you do. Cut and run, honey!

    • Yes! It is not selfish or wrong to expect this. It is not controlling. Just look at what he is expecting of you. Can you imagine asking the same?!

  • If there is one thing my 60-year-old self wishes to do in a moment of earned eccentricity, it’s to stand on a crowded street corner, bullhorn in hand instead of a chalkboard that says, “The End is Near,” and scream, “Listen up women under 40, if you’re looking for a healthy marriage partner, I’m here to fill your ears…”

    This guy is a never-ending bowl of misery. Confused Maybe-Chump needs to run like Forrest Gump. He’s the type of narcissist who wants to present a version of the ‘scripted life’ to the world (“see Mr. Employer, I can do adulting, I’m married, I have a mortgage” …) yet wants none of the commitment, boundaries and work that goes with forming and keeping a healthy marriage. He hooks his prey with great sex, because like a true narcissistic shark with a refined sense of smell for vulnerability and low self-esteem sport blood, sex isn’t about intimacy, it’s a weaponized skill. They learn how to push the right “buttons” so when their victims start to pull away, the reel-back is only a fabulous orgasm away. Same goes for the inevitable passive-aggressive punishment: “I’m angry with you! No intimacy for you! Enjoy your silent treatment. Watch as I transform myself into a marble statue. Take that!”

    He’s also still “in love” (the empty soul version that is; the snow-white bag of heroin that’s one syringe away from a great high) with his new “BFF” and his former Let’s-Hit-the-Sheets-When-We’re-Hammered-and-Horny Pal. Since Confused Maybe-Chump will never be able to fulfill his ideal (no one can), if she marries him, she’ll have years of policing an emotionally stunted, self-absorbed toddler who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about her feelings, respecting boundaries, or getting her take-out order correct. And my money says he’s still having sex with his “BFF” while hovering her marriage, much like a hungry dog circling a dinner table hoping to snag a scrap of meat. In his sadistic fantasy, BFF’s husband will discover the infidelity and dump her, and he’ll sweep in and dump her again. Score! Kind of like a 2-point basket in basketball.

    Confused Maybe-Chump, I sympathize. I’ve been in the same play, just a different set design. Chump Lady’s advice is spot-on, as usual. Please take heed. My suggestion is to keep her response handy and read it over and over and over again, preferably in the early morning when your mind is clear and more absorbable. Break the engagement. Do not marry this man. Keep the ring as CL suggested and use the proceeds towards healing yourself, whether that is through therapy, workshops, or a restorative vacation. If he pouts and howls that he wants the ring back answer “Nope. Sorreeee. I’m keeping it. Emily Post says the person who breaks off the engagement relinquishes the ring. You broke off the engagement by screwing your BFF. Buh-bye.”

    Good luck Confused Maybe-Chump. You’ll get there. Be kind to yourself and fix your picker. Once you do that, your chances of finding a partner who will mirror the commitment, fidelity and respect to have a healthy relationship will be much greater. Think about how fabulous it will feel to not be in a state of perpetual insecurity and fear. Peace.

    • I would love to see you on a sidewalk and listen to your advice. You’re right, the sex is great. He doesn’t withhold intimacy (my last partner did!) and does get my take-out order correct… Some of his less-bad qualities have blinded me to his more-terrible ones (he’s gaslighting me, but he only does it about once a year! He can change!).

      I will read CL’s response over and over until I can leave. That’s good advice.

      • Oh, honey, you can leave today. Pack and go. Call your parents, call your BFF. Pack and go. You aren’t married. You don’t have kids. And take the pets with you.

  • I always look back at how bamboozled I was by a cheater and think how much my shame over being fooled and tricked played a big part in my hesitation to end things. For some reason, I thought that in order to be a worthy person, I should have been able to magically see through the BS. But now that we’ve gone through this worldwide pandemic, I think humanity is getting a better grasp on how viruses mutate in order to trick our immune systems. FWs are no different. They adapt and mutate to bypass people’s radars.

    My FW told me several VERY DEEP, TRAUMATIC STORIES (TM) within a month of first meeting and dating. Then in more than a symbolic sense, he subjected me to every trauma he endured over the next 20 years. My earliest concept of honesty and integrity is that PEOPLE WHO CAN TALK ABOUT DEEP THINGS (TM) are healthy and honest. But people with personality disorders are exposed to the same ideals and impressions and they mutate to fit those ideals because you catch more flies with bullshit.

    I think it helps to remember that every accusation by someone with a personality disorder is a confession and every traumatic experience they recount is actually an instruction manual for what they’re going to do to you. For people without personality disorders, their past traumas are instruction manuals of what not to do. Anyone who does otherwise even once is messed up and not to be trusted. The inverted “Golden Rule” is the only measure anyone needs of character. Do they do unto others the very things that wounded them? If so, run.

    It’s a really hard standard to maintain because the worst perpetrators are often the most sincere-seeming. Because I worked in media, I’m always fascinated with what reads as culturally “authentic” to most people. FW sounded very “authentic” and understated in recounting his tales of woe. He didn’t overplay anything. I’m no the only one who found him convincing. Extremely intelligent people were very taken with him and some of the best human lie detectors I know were fooled. I’m beginning to think that, as a society, our entire concept of “authenticity” has been molded by cinema, usually by actors who screw under-aged circus animals and snort freeze-dried kittens for kicks. Our alarm systems have been hacked.

    Anyway, it took a long, long time to identify FW’s patterns of manipulation and gaslighting because he came off as entirely sincere at first, at least until anyone started to peel away at the contradictions, and then the rage and entitlement would start leaking out like a toxic spill.

    Another theory of mine is that FW’s faux persona took 20 generations to perfect and that he hails from a long line of gaslighting motherfuckers. I imagine that many generations ago in times of war, strife, famine, whatever, these tricky personality traits were the reason his bloodline even survived. Call it evolution or Darwin’s “survival of the shittiest.”

    • Wow. I haven’t delved into my ex’s skein for awhile, but you just did a better job than I can! SO many similarities, and I also see a lot of myself in what you write. I fell in love with my ex because he seemed so authentic and genuine, and many people are still under his spell today. In reality, he is profoundly shallow and phony. (Absolutely one in a long line of POS’s. I’m chuckling, thinking of the line in Spaceballs: “We’re all Asshole’s, sir!”) Thanks for sharing your insights.

  • Um, hell no. Just hell no! WTSF? Any man who keeps an ex fuck buddy as their BFF and lords that over his relationship and keeps it away for himself is a complete ass. And, of course they’re fucking. Sorry fellow chump, but you need some tough love here. You’re lucky that you know now. GTFO and save yourself years of wasted time. He doesn’t respect you and he seems to care more about the fuck buddy. What a dick. Re-read your letter and pretend it isn’t you. What would you tell that poor woman to do?? Big hugs and I can’t wait to hear about how awesome it was to kick him out of your life.

  • I HAD TO COMMENT! This is the EXACT same thing my ex did to me, word for word, action for action.

    These people use the SAME script. I know you think he is being ‘unique’ and ‘acting like the good guy’ and this makes you want to believe him. But your gut knows he is being shady. It is guilt, he is trying to act like the good guy for future score keeping and the throw you off the trail.

    My ex used to act like the good guy when he was guilty, and then try to blame shift guilt to me – guilt about pulling him up on my boundaries, guilt about asking to be important etc.

    I ended up getting anxiety and going to therapy. The constant having to beg for basic decency was giving me anxiety. All the advice i received from my therapist is similar to CL advice. Did i want to live in a relationship like this forever? Where i was not considered important?

    I LEFT.

    I left and my life got better. Looking back, I am so proud of myself for leaving a relationship 2 years in when i was confronted with this. Because in my gut, i knew it would get worse and i did not want to waste 10 plus years or have a failed marriage (never married).

    I am now in a healthy relationship with respect and it shows you how bad your relationship with them is, when you have something healthy and loving to compare it against.

    Please trust yourself and leave.

  • Be Keyser Soze….

    Quietly and methodically plan your exit. Lock down finances, no sex (sti risk), new accomodation organised, call him from your new place/leave a letter telling him relationship is over and block him from all social media.
    Poof. And just like that she was gone.

  • CMC after reading all your further input, it looks like you are not plan B but plan Z … as long as you let yourself be. He is soooo not worth your time.

    Your late 20s and you didn’t marry and have kids with the guy – two big pluses right there. You can leave, go no contact, get therapy and learn to value yourself as you should.

    You still have lots of time to get out there and live a healthy, honest, cheater-free life, comfortable with yourself and not needing another person to complete you.

    And lots of time to find a great man and have a family if that’s what you want.

    Best of luck. We are all cheering you on!

  • Alright, I have an update. When he came home today he found me distressed and we talked. I essentially said I was tired of being treated like a backup plan. His response: he wasn’t sure about the wedding anymore. Or the relationship. He was thinking about calling it off (because he thinks we’re “incompatible,” we’ve always been incompatible, he’s not “as good a person as you think I am,” – interesting, that we should “explore other possibilities in life” – what other possibilities, I asked? Graduate school and work, apparently). I asked what had changed since our engagement and he just said he’d had some time to reflect and realized he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be married to me.

    I would like to tell you all that I broke things off, but I did not. First I begged, then I cool-girl’d (“just think about it a little! Take your time! We can postpone this until you’re sure”). He was happy to stay together if I was clear that he was unsure about me.

    I took a walk outside, came back, and told him that if he wasn’t 100% committed to me and only me, we had to break up. He said he wasn’t sure. I gave him a week to decide.

    I know you said no ultimatums, Tracy, but this was as far as I could go… I think that no matter what he comes back with, I’ll leave anyway. Even this small step has taken all my courage, and thank you everyone for giving me that courage.

    • In the week you are apart, go and see a therapist to get support. I was seeing someone when i was treated like this and i *let myself* be treated like this, and having a therapist took off my rose coloured glasses. Trust the process, leave, and in a few years you will cringe about this lol
      good luck!

    • Also be careful, this is an admission almost of guilt….“as good a person as you think I am,”.

      He is telling you he does not want to marry you, and that he thinks he is not a good person…. I mean, what else do you need.

      Being single won’t kill you, it might hurt a little bt to break up but you don’t *need* him to have a full life.

      There are heaps of men out there, and this one has made it clear you are not the girl for him…. I feel sorry for you ((hugs)). It hurts, but find your worth and leave hun.

    • CMC – I know that this is extremely difficult for you, but you must put YOURSELF in the driver’s seat! It isn’t HIS place to choose what happens in YOUR life. This guy is the worst kind of game playing, chaos creating, thrill seeker. He’s getting his kicks at your expense. And please trust me when I tell you that the conversation you just had with him wasn’t even real. It was intended to fk with your mind, generate some drama, and to further test your boundaries. If he’s “generous” enough to change his mind after the week is up and you decide to stay, you will be gin I guess him permission to up the abuse ante. DO NOT fall for this performance. Get out and stay out. Also, cut all ties by going no contact. I wish you all the best and hope that you find the strength to vote for yourself by using your feet- to walk away from this loser.

    • CMC – I know that this is extremely difficult for you, but you must put YOURSELF in the driver’s seat! It isn’t HIS place to choose what happens in YOUR life. This guy is the worst kind of game playing, chaos creating, thrill seeker. He’s getting his kicks at your expense. And please trust me when I tell you that the conversation you just had with him wasn’t even real. It was intended to fk with your mind, generate some drama, and to further test your boundaries. If he’s “generous” enough to change his mind after the week is up and you decide to stay, you will be giving him permission to up the abuse ante. DO NOT fall for this performance. Get out and stay out. Also, cut all ties by going no contact. I wish you all the best and hope that you find the strength to vote for yourself by using your feet- to walk away from this loser.

    • Clearly there are things about your story that are striking major nerves with me.

      Is there any amount of courage I could instill in you from across the interwebs to go back to him and say, “Just kidding. I’m not giving you a week. We’re done.”?

      Because I would *love* for you to have the experience FOR YOURSELF, of knowing that you took a stand, that you have strengths you did not know you had, that you can advocate for yourself in the face of difficulty. This would be a great lesson to be able to carry with you.

    • I’m so sorry – but also relieved that you are getting closer to leaving him.

      I had this kind of mess with Cheater #1, when I was very young. The relationship that wouldn’t die.

      I wish I could give you the courage to tell him right now that you’re done with this mess, and that this is finished.

      But you’d have to mean it – or you’ll go back as soon as you feel sad.

      No matter what he “decides”, this situation is only going to get worse.

      He has told you who he really is. Please listen.

    • From my own life:

      I dated him for a year and then we moved in together. I then waited five more years for him to ask me to marry him, as he said he was going to do.

      Year Six I told him, “I want to get married and have a family. I want to do that with you. If you don’t want to do that I need to leave.”

      He said he wasn’t sure, then said he was. Well, he must be sure because who gets married if they’re not sure?
      Plenty of people, I have since learned. Including him. He said, “Where am I going to find another girl like you?” I found out he was finding plenty of other girls everywhere and anywhere he went when he wasn’t with me. And now they can sit on the couch, with you and your child, watching a Disney movie As A Family, and sext their secret side ho. Thank you, Steve Jobs.

      Twenty years later, with a child, I found out he had been having affairs, probably the whole time we were together. In particular, the female “study partner”, whom he lied about, was most likely the first affair I knew about, three years into our “relationship”. She was definitely the first woman he lied about. The LYING is the Big Ginormous Red Flag to pay attention to.

      The lying permeated our entire relationship. We separated four years ago. We are divorced. He is still lying. It is a complete shit show. I am now in a position to review all the screaming red flags I ignored before I married him. All the screaming signs to leave after I married him. The 27 years (at the time, half of my life) that I spent with someone who didn’t love me but pretended to. And not very well, either. I met him when I was 27. I could have been with someone who actually loved me, still be with someone who actually loves me.

      I didn’t love myself enough to launch him. I settled. I was afraid. The fear then is nothing compared to the fear being abandoned at fifty four along with a beautiful little girl who was ten for a cockroach on Craigslist from a foreign country of his preferred racial demographic, a proclivity I never knew about.

      All the wishy washy shady going on in your “relationship” is only going one place, and it’s Doom. You have been given a Golden Ticket on Chump Lady. Ripping a Band Aid off now is going to save you from major surgery without anesthesia later.

      The two essential elements of a healthy relationship are trust and safety. You have neither with him and never will.

      The wishy washy is the other Big Ginormous Red Flag to pay attention to. It is a neon STOP sign, visible from space.

      Enter into a legally binding marriage with someone who is wishy washy about you at your own peril. What starts out shitty does not get better.

      I hope you will decide to value yourself more than he values you. He does not value you, and successful marriages are only made of people who value each other.


    • You shouldn’t have to ask someone to think about it for a week before they break up with you. Please seek therapy. This guy has told you that he is not in love with you nor does he respect you. You have nothing to work with here and yes, you are begging. I know the thought of being alone and him possibly ending up with OW is scary absolutely sickening but it will pass. You need to get out.

    • Call your support system. Your parents, if they are able to be “there” for you. A sibling. Your best friend. A therapist. You need someone to help you make the break. I’ll bet you’ve kept all this shit secret. What happens if you tell your mom or your sister or your BFF that ManBaby is “not sure”? I would be over there in a shot packing your stuff.

      ManBaby has said he’s not sure he wants to be married to you? Believe him. I look everyday at my young married relatives who are all IN LOVE and SURE about it. You can have that, but not with this guy.



      You still want to pick-me dance. You still want him to pick you instead of the OW. There’s nothing to gain in that because you are competing to be with an immature man baby. A cheater. A liar. An alcohol abuser. A gaslighter.

      Leaving him does not involve courage. It involves self-respect, self-care, and being the driver of your own life.

    • Dear CMC, please do not throw your life away. You don’t owe this ass anything, you owe yourself everything. We’re a bunch of strangers who have shown you more love and respect in one day than him in probably years. Think about it. We care about you. Turn to people who really love you for help. Get a good therapist. Practice self care and self love to remember how it feels, it’s high time.

    • I don’t know if you recognize that what you are dealing with his emotional abuse. A kind person would not keep you hanging. You know as well as the rest of us what he’s doing is getting ready to go after the other woman, but instead of being a thoughtful person, and telling you nicely that he can’t do it, is a sign of a very selfish person. Please pack your bags and leave. You don’t have to explain one thing to him or ever talk to him again unless it’s about money. It takes an enormous amount of courage for you to step over that threshold and move on but once you do you will understand just how under his control you have been. Please take care of yourself.

      • Your reply made me think a lot – a kind person wouldn’t leave me hanging. So I asked him to make the decision now. He said that if he had to decide now we were breaking up. So we broke up. I moved most of my stuff out and am staying with a friend until I can find a new place (shouldn’t be too long). We went through wedding cancelling logistics (not much was paid for). I am going strictly no contact except for logistical matters. Blocked him on everything but text. Social media gone. I feel totally numb, like I’m in shock. This is it, I guess. I was dumped but in a way I at least stood up for myself at the very end. And honestly, even if he’d said “I want to stay together,” I think I would have left anyway.

        • You weren’t dumped. Seriously. You weren’t dumped.

          You called him out on is bullshit and he admitted he’s a future faker. So you dodged a big bullet by taking control of your own life. By knowing your own worth and being willing to see him for what he is.

          I’m greatly relieved that you ended this.

        • You did great. If he tries to hoover, and he likely will tell him to piss off.

          I wish I had done that to my ex fw. He hoovered back just about the time I was starting to get stable and I let him come back. As soon as he was in the house he started emotionally abusing me again. Luckily it only took me a few days to kick his ass out.

          He tried again at least three more times that I remember, and I said nope.

            • It has been so long ago, but if I remember about three months after he left which would have been about two months after we legally separated.

              I knew it was a mistake when I let him come back; but I still had hope I guess.

              He was not about really wanting to come back; he came back to get the car to be able to do his politicking and pretending we were getting back together. It was miserable; and the only thing I did that I am ashamed of. I should have never let it happen.

              I am not saying it never happens right; but from what I have read and believe it is rare that they come back for any reason other than to serve themselves. These folks are all about themselves.

              We had a 21 year marriage, please don’t wait until that happens to you.

            • Block him everywhere so you don’t have to expect anything. He’ll never be able to reach you.

              You deserve the peace of mind. He’s already stolen enough time from you, he doesn’t deserve anymore of your thoughts or consideration.

        • Your fiance (hopefully ex by now) is a con, not a unicorn. What you’re experiencing is awful and seems unique to you, but we’ve all been through it. We couldn’t believe it at first (and even for years), either.

          I tried this same ultimatum approach, feeling “strong” and direct, multiple times, and it DID NOT WORK. Once, I flat out said in a couples counseling session that if he wasn’t ready to make a long overdue commitment, proudly and with joy, I was done. He decided he was. I found his ongoing emails with one OW the next morning, and it was SO much worse than I could’ve dreamed.

          Take a step back and ask yourself why you asking him to make the decision? You’re letting this person decide if you’re worthy, after everything? Shouldn’t you be the one deciding about him? And haven’t you already…? Also, even if he “chooses you” – “but I chose YOU” was one of my ex’s reconciliation refrains – he can lie, and he can change his mind. If he’s this shallow and uncommitted, what makes you think he will change overnight?

          End it and go NC. CL and CN have spoken up. Please read and reread.

    • “He was happy to stay together if I was clear that he was unsure about me.”

      Wow he just gave you a head’s up that he is going to dump you and when he does you can’t get upset because you assured him you were clear on his lack of feelings. I’m so sorry this will not end well for you. Confused, you had an opportunity to at least control the break up and walk away with head held high (this may sound shallow but plays an important part in the healing process) instead you chose to beg him not to make any decisions? What are you hanging on to? A guy that has made quite clear he is not going to marry you and there is no future. However, he is happy for the time being to keep living together till he makes other arrangements. I wish you the best and hope you eventually come to grips with the reality of this situation.

    • If you allow them to, people like this will string you along forever. You have to put on the big girl pants and say no more, this is not acceptable to me. I was married for six years, found out about the prostitutes and lord knows what else (you will never know the whole story, and that’s fine – one transgression is honestly bad enough), and then four months later this was what I went through when I realized that divorce was the only option. Best thing I could have done for myself and my daughter, who would have had to witness the emotional and psychological fallout from that bullshit. I gave myself my life back. If they have a use for you, they will not give it back to you. You must take it.

  • I’m going through something very similar, my boyfriend had a relationship with a girl who is an acquaintance of both of us, she was having revenge sex on her boyfriend and used him who was also going through some shit, they both did wrong, when we connected she had broke the contact with him, but he seamed to still wanted to have something with her, time passed and we started a relationship, a year later she reached out to him and I didn’t like it at all, but try to be tolerant with it, then they continued to have communication and he denied it, which made me so angry, and I confronted him, he told me that she said she only wanted a friendship with him, and she misses talking to him, that he didn’t have any interest in her, I was mad so I ask him if he told her that he was in a serious relationship, and told me that the conversation wasn’t so long so he didn’t, we had a little break up because of that because “I was being so controlling and toxic” that separation didn’t last and aparently that was off, we had a lot of fights because he doesn’t seem interested in me or the relationship, but we were still together until last Wednesday whe I realize she was back, and he didn’t even tell because I was gonna get mad at it, and i asked him again did you tell her about our relationship? The answer was no, “because he never speaks personal things with her”so I was more that angry, and he finish the relationship with me because I was being so “untrusting, making him look like a bad person and he never did anything wrong” he said that he has forgive a lot of stuff ( me telling him that’s he was losing interest in me and that maybe he is gaining that interest in somebody else) and won’t even speak to me, at the beginning I was so sad, had panic attacks for two days, and even apologized for being such a toxic person, at this point I think that even if I was toxic, I had motives and he did not respect me when a told him I was uncomfortable with him having connection with her.

    • Andcasi, are you still with him? I HOPE NOT! Please don’t listen to his B.S. anymore and listen to Chumplady! Save yourself, you are worth more!

      • He broke up with me last week, I am still devastated and going from wanting to get back to him to accept the end of the relationship. He made me feel like I was crazy imagining things or being so untrusty with him, and that he never Did something wrong. I must admit I feel very guilty for causing the end of my relationship, I think I might have a cognitive dissonance, sometimes I’m sure I was right and he was still interested in her and loosing his love for me, sometimes just plainly ignoring me, and sometimes I think he is right and I have so many insecurities that I course this to fail.

        • You did not “cause the end of your relationship.”

          You asked for normal, decent treatment and he can’t give you that.

          Sometimes we need to be secure in ourselves before we get into a relationship. But sometimes, a stable, mature and emotionally secure person gets involved with an abuser (who stirs up “cognitive dissonance” through gaslighting and blame shifting and DARVO tactics) and is de-stabilized by that abusive relationship.

          Your job is to figure out whether you need to build self-efficacy and self-respect (which is what security is about) or whether this jackass just broke down what you had built.

        • Don’t confuse insecurity with not tolerating disrespect. I bet right now you are thinking if I only did that and didn’t say that we’d still be together. Nope you wouldn’t. They drive you to act unreasonable and then blame you for the break-up. Very common ploy of cowards wanting to escape a relationship. Move on, don’t look back.

  • Please listen to the messages to end this. As a recent chump with a person who swore he would never cheat on me because he knew how much it would hurt me after I confronted him about too friendly texts with a customer; only to have the cheating start within two months of the conversation; don’t trust him. He is sending billboard sized signals that he is cheating now and will in the future. Don’t do what I did. I lost years of my life to this terrible asshole and am destroyed right now. Tuesday is a long way off for me.
    Find a happy life. I know this first step is hard but it is such harder after many years.

  • Dear CMC,

    you have time and wits to avert a lifetime of misery with this manipulative piece of shit and the many, many lasting consequences thereafter (these suck donkey’s ass, I speak from experience).

    Please, run for the hills!

    Best wishes!

  • I’ve said this before but I will put it here again.

    Tell the people who love you, CMC, what he has done and said to you, including the “I’m not sure” part. One reason you think it takes courage to leave this douchebag jackass is that it just you and him and you are stuck in the pick-me dance, giving him the choices.

    The people who love you (family, true friends) will help you make the break. The people you find for your support team (therapist, CL and chump friends here) will help you see why you must.

    When I caught Jackass lying and cheating, my therapist told me: “You can never go back.” Those words were my life raft. My BFF flew across the country to sit with me while I cried and cried. And then she put me on my feet to get back to the business of living.

    Reach out for support. It’s not about courage. It’s about self-respect. It’s about SAVING YOURSELF. As CL says in a number of posts (and probably the book, too), you are in a burning building. Are you going to stay and die in that building? Or will you get out and save yourself?

    You think you love him. But you must love yourself more. That’s primary.

    • This is such good advice.

      And, to the OP, praise the Lord you found out how low of a priority you are to him BEFORE you were married with children.

      Someone who will you and appreciate you may be out there. It doesn’t sound like this is it.

  • Don’t so it. I was you. I had a simple rule, you don’t hang out with people you used to f$#@. You can have her as a friend or me as a lover, but not both. My STBex husband swore he ended the “friendship”. He went underground. I caught him & he swore he meant it this time. We married 18 months later (with supposed transparency). DDay was 12/12/21. He has been messaging her via insta – messenger everyday for at least a year. It would have been simpler & less heartbreaking had I ended it before we married 2 years ago.

  • This is so sad. OP, you sound so much like I was, frankly. Only in relationships with men who were terrible prospects & who didn’t share my values. Gave them chance after chance, accepting so little, accepting abuse, because I wanted love so badly & didn’t know how to get it.

    OP, I can’t tell you how to find love. What I can do is tell you how you will NOT find love. Clinging to a guy, such as your ex (yes, he’s really your ex now- he just dumped you), will not make him love you. Accepting his abuse with good humor will not make him love you. Being the most gentle, vulnerable & understanding person in his world will not make him love you. Ask one who knows from experience.

    Walking away will not make him love you, either. But it might remind you that you need to highly value yourself. You clearly believe that you deserve to be treated like dirt. Get away from this toxic person and then get therapy, seriously.

  • I have nothing more to add than, once again, CL tells it like it IS. Not how we want it to be. BOOOM, CL advice. Now take it!!!

  • Run away fast. Yesterday. He IS cheating on you. He IS lying to you. He IS abusing you. Do not listen to anything he says. Lies are their specialty. Thank God you are not married to him. Do not even bother breaking up in person with him. Keep the gift ring. He will try to keep you around to abuse you and to have someone to control and lie to. GET OUT IMMEDIATELY. Just as you would with any other variety of abuser. ESCAPE. NOW.

  • My 30 year marriage started like this with me trying to be the cool girlfriend. It just ended this year and I was a chump all the way through. Don’t be me. Run.

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