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How Not to Be a Chump When Dating

Dear Chump Lady,

I fear I will always be a chump.

Text today to and from girlfriend about her co-worker:

JAD: I’m sorry you have to hear people’s sad stories at work sometimes.

GF: Usually I will vent to Pete or Amanda and I will feel better.

JAD: Is Pete the one that calls me the “Rose Guy?” (Because I have sent her roses twice)

GF: Yes…

JAD: Did Hope (co-worker and friend) date him at one time?

GF: Yep… and he wanted me and probably still does.

JAD: Mmmm.

GF: But no worries, we r best friends and always will be it is an understanding that I have made clear… I did tell him I would marry him in 5 years if we were still single… LOL

GF: R uk?

JAD: I just have different boundaries.

GF: Oops…

GF: Ru saying I don’t?

JAD: Just different.

GF: Meaning?

JAD: We probably should leave this for a talk.

GF: I guess.

There are times when we share so much in common and then something like this will come up that stops me in my tracks.

I know I am probably dating too soon but she has really brought a smile to my face when we’re together.

I unfortunately have love bombed her myself but that is how I am built. I do things for people when they’re on my mind.

I struggle to not fall too quickly but I also don’t want to overthink this as well.

Could use a weigh in on this one.

Thanks,

Justadad

Dear Justadad,

Never apologize for being a loving boyfriend who does things for people. DO, however, stop being a chump.

It sounds like you sincerely care and you sincerely invested. That’s not love bombing — that’s going too fast. Love bombing is shallow and deceptive. It’s flinging sparkles at new chump targets to ensure kibble supply. (And there are usually many “love bomb” targets at once. Kinda like Dresden.)

You didn’t mention your timeline, so I don’t know what “dating too soon” is in your case, but dating after divorce is not a chronological thing so much as it’s a mental thing. You need a few new picker skills in your arsenal.

a) Deal breakers. This is the big one, Justadad. Know your worth. I say that a lot, but to really have deal breakers you must internalize Know Your Worth. When something is unacceptable (i.e., her goading you into the pick me dance with her co-worker) you need to recognize the boundary violation and enforce that boundary.

Chumps make the super common mistake of believing that saying something is enough. No. It’s a warning shot. It means crap. Enforcing boundaries is about doing.

“I just have different boundaries.” Okay, it’s an “I” statement and therapists like those. You’re telling her you have different values (like you don’t talk about other women as your BFF and how you might marry them in a few years). Showing her you have different values is dumping her. NEXT. Which you’ll be doing at that “talk” you’ll be having.

Character is revealed over time. She just revealed hers, and it sounds like she has revealed some of it before.

There are times when we share so much in common and then something like this will come up that stops me in my tracks.

It stopped you in your tracks? That means get OFF THE TRACKS. There’s a giant train hurdling toward you. #dealbreaker

b) Reciprocity. You describe yourself as doing things for people when they’re on your mind. Is she reciprocating? IS SHE RECIPROCATING? Imagine I am beating you about the head with a wet sock. PAY ATTENTION! Wooing and pursuing and chivalry is all very awesome — but the level of your ardor must be returned. Good people WANT to do for you too. This is the litmus test. If you’ve been chumpy your whole life you might fan those people away. Oh no, I’m fine. Flinty and independent. Let me get that for you… 

Users are FINE with lopsidedness. You do for me! Yea! And do and do and do and do and do, and let me tell you about this other guy who’d like to do for me. Are you upping your game? Because I am REALLY all that. Dance a little harder to prove your worthiness! 

Feel familiar? YOUR PICKER ISN’T FIXED.

Good people do NOT feel fine with lopsidedness, in relationships or anything else. If you lend a good person your casserole dish, they’re going to return it filled with brownies. That’s how good people roll. Did you do something for me? I need to make that right and do something nice for you.

If you shoo away good people who want to do for you too? The users fill up that vacuum.

Chumps do and do and do and do and IMAGINE that someday, if called upon, the User would do for them too. And then are bitterly disappointed when that day never comes. Good people aren’t waiting for “someday” — they’re there, in real time, returning your level of investment, appreciating you, and DEMONSTRATING it.

There is no short-hand for reciprocity. It’s either there or it’s not.

c) Good instincts. Trust your gut. A new relationship should never make you feel off balance. If you feel compelled to untangle their skein, or make excuses — pay attention. What’s going on here? Just like we learn with cheaters — pay attention to actions over words, and particularly over what you THINK you know about them. Don’t spackle.

Fact is, you might date some perfectly nice but flawed people. Or some really dreadful people. Don’t date until you’re ready to dump and be dumped. I know rejection sucks, but remember, as a chump rejection is your superpower. You’ve lived through worse. You can do this.

Look, Justadad, dump her for the text-speak. RU? What is she, 12? Adults form sentences.

You’re a loving, faithful guy — you’re a stock that will always trade highly. Don’t do the pick me dance for ANYONE. EVER. AGAIN.

You have options. And hey, she has a co-worker she can marry in 5 years. We’re all good.

This one ran before.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • A “relationship” with a person who throws hints (in this case, more than hints) about a potential other romantic partner is not a relationship worth pursuing. She’s telling you straight up that she’s interested in another man. That means that she’s not in love with you, so stop with the roses. It also means that she doesn’t respect you, so stop dating her. This one is a non-starter, OP. Stop running after women who treat you like crap. Pretty is overrated.

    Those hints are there way of bringing up the other person who their mind is preoccupied with. They’ll probably follow through physically later if they haven’t already. My FW talked a lot about “an old friend from high school” for a period. He gaslighted me for my concerns. I found the naked pictures of her on his computer a couple of years later, and when I did, it was partly a relief (partly enraging, horrifying, devastating) because it meant I wasn’t crazy.

    • I agree it is their way of bringing up who is on their mind. Never invest in someone who is preoccupied with another person. And please do not get the idea you can make the person forget that other person.

    • “Those hints are there way of bringing up the other person who their mind is preoccupied with.”

      ExFW told me a story about some girl he met at a party while traveling for work – about how much I have in common with her and this amazing project she was working on. And then he told me again. And again. And like the sixth or seventh time he told me, and it’s years later at this point and she’s probably not even doing the same thing anymore, he’s telling me like he never told me before. Like every time he tells me, he’s not seeing me at all, so doesn’t remember he’s told me. Usually I’d just say “Oh yeah, I remember, you told me. Sounds cool.” But this time I got mad and said, “Stop talking about her!”

      This was just the most ridiculous one. The most irritating was my classmate in grad school, and he would always ask how she was. I gave him excuses, like “well he knows we’re rivals as well as friends, he’s probably just interested in the dynamic.” But he also did weird things like he took a picture of her to show her how messy her hair was (the bathroom/mirror was right around the corner). When she was looking for a place to live he wanted me to offer her our spare room. We lived an hour from the university, 1.5 hours in traffic. He said, no reason you couldn’t offer anyway. I said, I don’t think so. He asked why. I said, because you like her. Of course he denied, “I just think she’s cool.” Yeah, she’s cool alright.

      So I knew who he was, Mr. Innocent, but when you know your husband’s “type” and it’s not based on ex-gf’s, maybe that’s a red flag. I ignored and bred with the FW.

      And so I was blown away when he actually cheated. She was small with a great big smile like both of the previous examples, and curly hair like my classmate.

      He still denies any interest/cheating with those other ones. But we’re divorced so who gives a fuck anymore.

      Some FWs really do tell us who they are… too bad we don’t listen, even when we hear it loud & clear.

      • I knew Jackass was up to no good when he started telling me all about the MOW. And speculating about why she didn’t spend more time with her husband…

        • When my FW then still wife began to show me texts from a very complicated and probably criminal subordinate (her AP) I felt funny. Nothing explicit, but very, very inappropriate. And she would tell me details of his troublemaking at the workplace and beyond: he was cheating on his then wife with a coworker; she showed up at the workplace hell bent to beat the shit out of the OW; then she had an abortion in order to punish him (???), he was devastated; he wanted so much to have a child of his own; he wasn’t satisfied with the money he was making on the job, that was way less than what he (said he) could make with his side “business”; he therefore demanded constant changes in his shifts hours, etc. I was puzzled by why on earth she would think that information would interest me. I thought maybe she was affraid of him? I *begged* her to get rid of him before he caused her further troubles. It was her call, it would have been easy-peasy, no explanation required. Funny I didn’t suspect anything (but after all I still can’t quite understand how she’s gotten so entangled with such a human red flag). Now I look back and cringe at all the times she began to suddenly talk a lot about some acquaintance of hers during our 20 years together. OMG…

          • “Now I look back and cringe at all the times she began to suddenly talk a lot about some acquaintance of hers during our 20 years together. OMG…”

            Same! And you’ll never get the truth; they leave you with no option but to just not care. Don’t bother untangling the skein, just accept that they really have always had terrible character, and were literally TELLING us they have terrible character. LAC/GAL.

  • This whole relationship/ exchange sounds childish. She acts like she’s 15 and this is a game. Yuk. You can and will do better. Block her number, drop her things back on her door while she’s at work and immediately start moving on. She’ll act out for a few weeks and then you will see who she really is….

  • Ahhh dating…, what shit show, what an education.

    I started dating too soon. Well, too soon for how serious I felt versus how ready I was. That gal felt 10x better than my newly XW and to an extent it was true.

    But after 1.5yrs of serious dating her, I knew it wasn’t right and broke it off.

    Then the REAL work on myself began as I wasn’t distracted by another.

    Then I really started dating. And I learned that most relationships are not supposed to work out. And that’s the point, no matter the heartache.

    I got ghosted, I ghosted. I got strange sexy texts meant for another guy. It was like sledding in a snowstorm; fun but overwhelming.

    My confidence grew. I saw red flags sooner. My boundaries were enforced.

    Most of us have scars. I am a loving chump with a knack for co-dependence. I have not met one person who made it this far without some troubles. It never felt perfect. But I made boundaries that I enforce. I promised myself to be honest with my fears of being chummed again. To continue working on myself. I get triggered by phone usage and that’s just my own messiness. As long as I am honest and feel safe, I move forward.

    Anyways, I started to feel like a stud. A hot muffin with a big heart. A total catch. And then this woman stepped out of her car for our first date/walk and lightening struck. I knew instantly we were meant to be together.

    Now we’re engaged.

    • MrTall, this is a great description of what (even the best of) dating post end-of-marriage looks like.

      I likely started dating “too soon” (6 months after cheaters death… honestly I would have done it earlier except to do so would have been scandalous) and I suffered in moments for my premature entry into the dragons lair, but it was all part of what needed to transpire to teach me what I needed to know.

      I too was ghosted and ghosted others (rarely but a few times). I almost fell for a catfisher but figured out the ruse very quickly. I am now glad for all the experiences because they prepped me for being reunited with a man I dated before I married cheater. He was abandoned by a (dreadful) woman who gets points for moving out before she started dating.

      Like you, my dating actually made me feel more worthy and valuable. I knew I was a catch and my standards were high.

      I had dates with ~3 fellows lined up, but after one evening with my now husband, that was it. I burned the other bridges and never looked back.

      Good luck to you and your fiancée

    • I love this insight: “Then I really started dating. And I learned that most relationships are not supposed to work out. And that’s the point, no matter the heartache.”

      Mr. Sparkles has never been alone and his idea of dating is moving directly from the relationship he is in to a new relationship. He cannot be alone, just like he cannot be monogamous. That is why it is easy for him to hop from relationship (the outward face to society saying “look at me, I’m lovable, it’s my X that’s crazy)… all the while keeping his online dating life varied and on the dark web.

      I’m the sane parent raising a teen son who is dating his first “real girlfriend”… I’m trying to teach him about things like reciprocity… communicating feelings (not mindreading)… and that dating is where you “practice” these life skills and learn if the person you are with share important things in commons (values, beliefs, study habits and good hygiene (ha!)… and that love is something that grows over time… and yes, people can change their minds (whether it be breaking up while dating or breaking up in marriage… the issue is HOW they treat the other person if that comes.)

      The dating waters are murky for sure, but a new red flag for me is a man who has never lived 100% on his own EVER. Live and learn, Chumps.

  • Her exchange sounds very immature. Hopefully OP held on to boundaries and stopped seeing a person who was already trying to triangulate. She does not seem worth his time and effort. I hope we here that he dumped her and perhaps found an adult to have a relationship with.
    This all makes me wonder if dating is even worth the effort.

    • It sounded childish to me also. But, to be fair most of my life was spent before texting and cropped words became main stream.

      I still don’t do it though.

      The attempt to create a triangle is clear.

      • I am in the older chump set too and don’t use the cropped terms. My STBX who is ten years older than me does. So that kind of triggers me with text messages. Of course his Schmoopie is 23 years younger than I am so it may be that he gets that from her. 🤢

  • First, I love that CL used the word “ardor”…I love seldom-used old-fashioned words.

    When I first started dating my now husband, I relished him spoiling me with nice evenings and taking hints of things I liked. At one point, I hinted repeatedly about a play I wanted to see at the Kennedy Center and he ignored it. It was time to reciprocate, so I bought the tickets. Healthy was beginning to take hold in the wake of destruction.

    I would like to say it all went well but that evening, but he said something disparaging about marriage (in general) that I took as an insult to me (he wasn’t going to remarry his ex, I was the best prospect he had since his divorce – what with me being fabulous and).

    What was happening in that moment is that we were both acting like sunburned porcupines both sensitive to pain and also unintentionally inflicting it. We grew past that place but I look back on that night as a failure of boundary-setting for me. I sat there with my insulted self and said nothing.

    He and I are happily married today but I regret not setting that particular boundary (and a few others). This shit really does take practice. What ever happened with JAD and this gal?

  • Believe me JAD, you do not want to pursue a relationship with this woman. Decent people do not attempt to make people feel nervous, unsettled or jealous. Her saying yes, this guy wants me but I made it clear we are just best friends and then going on to say but in 5 years she’d consider marrying him…she’s toying with you, she’s not a decent person and you should dump her ass immediately. Yes, I’m sure she can be fun and you enjoy her company at times, this does not make up for her behavior…way too many red flags.

  • This is a push me pull me dance to keep you off balance. It seems to be working. Stand your ground. It doesn’t mean that you are muleheaded it just means you have a real strong ability to say no and stop. Two very powerful words. Once she starts that stuff just say I gotta go and leave either in person, by phone, or by text. Any relationship that keeps you out of balance this way is not good for you. You might have a yearning for this person but she certainly does not have one for you. She loves the attention. People who crave attention will do anything to get it and the best way she does with you it’s just never letting you relax.
    I know a woman who was a people pleaser beyond belief until one day she realized she had given all herself away. She absolutely stopped in her tracks and said no loud and clear. She said it to anyone who trespassed. The best thing she did was reroute her marriage. They are now equals in everything.
    Remember no one is going to look after your best interest better than you. I think sometimes we want love so badly we forget there are some dangerous folks out there, even those disguised as friends.

  • I took the time of the separation to start my healing. I did start dating right after the divorce. Was dumped and dumped a couple of ladies. Then my now wife came into the picture. We will be married 3 years in May.

    Things I have learned. Heal before you start dating. I am doing EMDR to deal with the trauma from FOO issues and the horrendous things my ex did. I probably wouldn’t have married my wife if I had healed first because she has just buried her FOO and divorce trauma issues. I do love her and she loves me. By the time you get older there will be no one who doesn’t have some kind of issues and baggage 🧳. You have to be willing to live with that. I am not saying ignore red flags 🚩. But there are no perfect people out there.

    I totally agree with the reciprocation. My ex wife ALWAYS had strings attached to her gifts or kindness. My current wife gives to me all the time and I to her. If you are sending roses and she doesn’t reciprocate back that is a huge red flag 🚩. You shouldn’t give expecting something in return, that is wrong. “There is more happiness in giving then receiving”. Who ever you are dating doesn’t live by this then you shouldn’t date them no matter how pretty or handsome they are.

    • If you send roses and she allows her “friend” to mock you as “Rose Guy” as opposed to “Baseball Guy” or “Star Trek Guy,” she’s bad news and probably has a string of “guys” she’s toying with.

  • “He wants me but we’re best friends”?

    Puke. What is she…16?

    Throw this one back. She’s either an attention whore or it’s a manipulative game to keep you in your place by letting you know there are options for her.

    This one is poor partner material.

  • I hope this guy has dumped her the next time they talked in person. Nothing to work with there. This text exchange alone amounts to so much disrespect that I can’t even…

    CL’s advice compassionate and spot on as always.

    FW XW showed me then AP’s texts long before DDay #1. Not even close this from JAD (he’s got very explicit shit), but I felt VERY uncomfortable my then wife was getting texts from a subordinate at work that mention 3 sons (that turned out he didn’t have), his wife jealousy, his being a “provider” and an abortion (all in the same text, WTF???). I begged get to get rid from the guy before he cause her troubles at work (little did I knew…).

  • “ I did tell him I would marry him in 5 years if we were still single… LOL”

    You make yourself vulnerable and need to recognize forms of joking meant to undermine, instill insecurity and set up competition. It’s abuse.

    • Yep I used to hug and cuddle fw and sometimes say “you are all mine” then he said on more than one occasion “yep, I don’t want to train another one” as a joke of course.

      Maybe my body knew more than I did.

      Oh well definitely good riddance. I have had a blessed life so far that I would never have had, if he had not “left me to train another one”.

  • JAD…right in front of you they are making sport of you. “Is Pete the one that calls me Rose guy?” Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?! That right there screams they are having a laugh at your expense behind your back and that so called girlfriend just let you know they are engaged in that brand of backstabbery . Wow! What a shit bag of a human she is to to not be telling Pete to F-Cough and not belittle her “boyfriend ” oh but I must have forgotten , they have a commitment to marry in 5 years. Nope the fuck out of this one JAD

  • Yes, your peace and sanity are worth way more than yet another disordered partner.

    I’ve had guys asking me out ever since the ex took off to find himself at the beach and to do whatever with whomever. We had been married for several decades. Somehow I believed that we might reconcile and played the games until I hated myself. Then the divorce was a big game for my ex, but his attorney got sick of that and actually ganged him with mine to get it settled. I was happy with the terms. Then closeout went the same crazy way, especially after his attorney died of COVID and my ex went pro se.

    After that mess, my radar is so fine-tuned that I haven’t been out on a single date. I didn’t want to date anyway during separation and the divorce process. I’m old-fashioned. But not one date. There’s always some hint that gives me pause, and that’s fine. I’ve even had guys who supposedly just wanted to be friends with a little one-on-one, and I said no because my gut said no.

    I’m older and wonder if it will ever happen, but it is SOOO much better to be single and happy than to be dealing with unnecessary drama. Every relationship has some drama, but I get to choose with whom and how much.

  • I never enjoyed dating, even when I was young. I guess I just wasn’t very good at it — my parents didn’t really date, they just went to school together and then married young. I dated a few guys in college, but I always felt like I was previewing partners for the long haul — and I didn’t see it as fun. You had problems if you dated several, you had problems if you were exclusive. Back then it seemed easier to get married and get my parents off my back. What a great reason to marry. NOT.

    Dating after divorce was dismal, too. I was surprised to find out how many married men were anxious to date me. Seriously, did I have a sign on my back? It was disappointing. I married again, picker was still broken, divorced again. Surprise!

    When I finally fixed my picker, I somehow lost any desire to date. I was older and had my children. I worked. I could support myself. I didn’t find a partner I felt I could trust to be reciprocal or responsible. It was easier to live alone. I cannot even start to understand dating for a hook-up. That was never what I wanted.

    Here is what I believe to be true, for me: I like being married, conceptually and practically, and I was an excellent wife. But I settled for unacceptable men to fill the role of husband, because that is what I thought I was supposed to do. Make allowances, compromise, take up the slack, make it work. Because I was willing to do all this — and I didn’t think I would ever have reciprocity, because I had never seen it in any of the marriages of my FOO, or my friends. The men took, they did not give. Some of them provided money for the family, some were drains. The “relationships” were all one sided.

    I apologize to all the male chumps who are out there, and I know you have some of the same feelings about women users. My problem is I never met you, and many women I know doubt you even exist. You are like a mythological creature to us. We want you to be our partners, but we don’t know how to connect. If you watch any true crime shows, or have female friends who have tried dating aps, or any advice shows on TV, you will see how many women want to love and be loved. Somehow, they are blinded by desire, and do not see the red flags waving until it is too late. They may or may not be dead, but they are left poorer, and more disillusioned, and lonely than before.

    I understand justadad is frustrated. He wants a relationship; He wants a wife so he won’t be justadad anymore. He is lonely. He is barking up the wrong tree with this woman. She wants someone to bring her roses and take her fancy places, so she can tell her friends how desirable she is. She is looking for an ATM, not a husband. Believe me, justadad, she is no prize. Women put up with this behavior everyday — usually men want sex, but some want money, too. They are certainly not prizes.

    For those who enjoy dating, or found a good partner, congratulations. You are lucky. I feel lucky to be able to live alone and be content. Whatever your fate may be, just be glad you are not living with a FW anymore. That is the greatest gift you will ever give yourself!

    • I am having one of those “God moments” today…. Where God is really trying to hammer home a point in my head that I should listen to. This may be more for me than the group but thought I would share.

      I just got off the phone with my therapist and said a lot of the same things you say here portia and I asked him what was “wrong” with me. OP’s post sounded very familiar to my limited experience in the dating world and CL’s response was perfect. As always.

      My story is: Married for 12 yrs, 2 boys, divorced for a year at the end of March. Throughout my marriage, but especially since she started working again and met her “mentor”, I felt I was never doing enough. Yet when I look back now, I don’t think I could have done more. I bought flowers for her every week and set them up in the home, provided for the family so she never had to worry about money or our families future. I cooked, I cleaned, I handled the bills and household chores. When she was exhausted, I set-up spa days for her and her best friend. When she felt “ugly”, I tried to make her feel as beautiful as I saw her. When she wanted to be a Yoga teacher, I built her a website to get business. When she wanted to try real estate I supported her even though I wasn’t entirely comfortable with not having our family time on the weekends anymore. Real estate was where she found her “mentor”.

      When she started drinking I found the best luxury 30 day rehab facility. Figured it was worth the cost that we couldn’t afford to get my wife & kids mother back. I supported us all as best I could and put my needs and the trauma that drinking inflicted on me and the boys away for another day. Just getting her back to “healthy” was the priority.

      Long story short, she was having an affair with her “mentor” and I got my DDay. Divorce and discard after her rehab, and XW introduced our sons to the AP 1 month after the divorce was final at Disney World of all places. OPs concerns felt very familiar to me. That Disney World trip was 10 months ago and I was feeling bad about myself today for not having any interest in dating and felt that she was ahead of me on the path to “healthy” for some reason.

      I am a father and best friend to our boys. Coach them in sports, make them laugh, teach them, expose them to various experiences. Pick them up when they are down and celebrate them when they aren’t. I try to be the sane parent as best as I can even when times are tough because our kids deserve that. Your GF here sounds like she is leaning on you to fix her insecurities by triangulation. She wants you and this Pete fella to make her feel better about herself by creating a competition where you have to prove your worth.

      The part that rang true in my therapy session today was that I need to get back to “vertical”. He said, relationships are like pillars. You both need to be able to stand on your own. Sometimes people lean on you to keep themselves upright. I used to be the vertical pillar that XW relied on, then she resented, for keeping herself from to toppling over. When the drinking, DDay, divorce, Disney World came to be, she knocked me off vertical and that kept me from wanting to date. I felt and was told by XW all the ways I wasn’t good enough so why venture into that world?

      My thinking after divorce is that I don’t want to be using anyone to prop up my leaning pillar the way she used me. If I can learn how to get back to vertical, I will be much more prepared to enter into a relationship if I choose. When we learn how to be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.

      In a book I read during the discard, there was a quote that rang true for me at the time. It all came full circle for me today.

      “The people in your life are like the pillars on your porch. Sometimes they hold you up, and sometimes they lean on you. Sometimes it’s enough to know they are standing by.”

      OP, know your worth. You are WAY MORE than justadad!

      portia, thank you for sharing this today!

      • I love this. Your therapist seems very wise and the idea of getting “vertical” and finding someone who is “vertical” is great advice to all of us.

        Get vertical. Be comfortable in your own skin without a partner. For those of you who want to remarry, once you are vertical you will notice other vertical people for both friendship and dating.

    • Amen to all that, portia. My desire to date also evaporated once I realised – and accepted – that what I already had was more than enough for me.

      LovedAJackass, I’d add that people who ask, “Where are all the good men/women?” are not yet ‘vertical’ themselves. It’s a sign to them and to everyone else that they’re not ready to date.

      I took the road less traveled, and that made all the difference.

  • This is a rerun, so let’s hope Justadad did a course correction. But let’s unpack this statement for anyone else in this situation.
    “I know I am probably dating too soon but she has really brought a smile to my face when we’re together.”

    When you say, “I know I am probably dating too soon,” listen to yourself. You know. You KNOW. So listen to your instinct, your gut, and get off the dating train until you fix your picker. You will know it’s not too soon when you can date without being in a hurry to make everyone you date a life partner. You will know it’s not too soon when you stop seeing someone whose values are different from yours or who disrespects you. You know it’s not too soon when the person you are seeing is not trying to goad you into the pick-me dance.

    “…but she has really brought a smile to my face when we’re together.”
    What does that even mean? Lots of people can “bring a smile to your face.” I look forward to seeing the woman at the fast-food drive through when I stop for a coffee, but I’m not going to date her, or the student who makes me smile with his sly wit or the random person who tosses me a compliment.

    “Bringing a smile to my face” is not criteria for more than a first date. What are you looking for? An exclusive relationship? A new spouse? Someone to date casually? Know what you are doing when you date, what your goal is. It’s fine to date someone casually as you get to know that person, but if you are looking for a life companion, you need better criteria. Mine would be: Honest. Kind. Straightforward. Mature (meaning having emotional intelligence and self-control). Some shared interests. Believes that all humans are created equal and abhors racism and other forms of prejudice. Intelligent. Strong work ethic. Not rich but responsible with money. And I learned one just the other day, when a friend was talking about how she loves to watch her husband enjoy some activity when they are together. That struck me to the heart: I would love to have a partner who cherished my joy.

    What are you looking for? Don’t waste time dating someone who fall this short of acceptable behavior. The “OOPS” is where she lost me for good. You said you have different boundaries and she says OOPS. My guess? She loves a triangle. She likes being central to more than one man. Sound familiar?

    You are worth way more than this. The decision to date someone exclusively right after divorce cuts off your ability to fix your picker or simply to test it. It cuts off opportunities to meet people who might be a better fit. If there’s one thing we learn from reading here, it’s that spackling for shallow, hurtful, or disordered behavior can devastate your life. Don’t be in a hurry. Fix the picker.

    • “And I learned one just the other day, when a friend was talking about how she loves to watch her husband enjoy some activity when they are together. That struck me to the heart: I would love to have a partner who cherished my joy”.

      This is awesome. I was delighted to hear FW XW’s sincere giggles back when we were a couple. They were rare and I felt lucky to get to witness them whenever she was having a good time. Sometimes the kids were with us. It all felt so pure, so sweet.

      She, on the other hand, always had to rock the boat somehow whenever things were going well for me (usually on work, that was what was left for me along with taking care of the kids). At a point I was affraid to tell her good news about myself lest things get chaotic.

      Fuckwits and chumps are definitely two distinct species.

  • Safe People: How to Find Relationships that are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t https://www.amazon.com/dp/0310345790/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_i_96FN1RQTA38PE8PV5KHB

    Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships https://www.amazon.com/dp/0310200342/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_i_7698QMD7YN5FGQ9PP95V

    I’m not dating. I am still in ground school and need to fall in love with myself and want to be rock-solid, sufficiently healed, and again in the position of regarding another person as an addition to my stand-alone life instead of the main attraction.

    It’s clear to me that I am nowhere near ready to date, but that doesn’t mean I should abstain from my ongoing education on the subject in the meantime.

  • is it me or is there a lot of fuckery in the workplace? i mean, my X met his next at work–his direct subordinate who he promoted to director but who am i to say–so i’m a little sensitive to workplace fuckery, i know. but seriously.

    work isn’t a fucking dating pool.

    and why are folks sharing so much about their personal lives to co-workers?

      • I can relate. I met my exh FW at work.

        Swearing is needed to get over these horrible cheaters. No apologies necessary. It’s helped me a lot!

        • I met my now H at work, but he was well vetted by me, he was not my supervisor or in anyway was it inappropriate to date him.

          Otherwise I wouldn’t have.

          But, dang these fws, just go boing and go for it. My fw started dating his exit whore before she worked for the city. He got her hired, and then subsequently petitioned for a raise for her. All while they were screwing like bunnies. Boy did it blow up in his face, which of course he deserved.

          I am actually thankful he got her hired on as his direct employee, otherwise he may have been able to keep it under wraps for longer, which would have been bad for me.

      • RE: Work as a Dating Pool…My FW’s coworker spoke with him about her vaginal issues at work! WHO DOES THAT?! What 29 year old woman feels it’s appropriate to talk to her 50 year old male coworker about her vagina?! Surprisingly (NOT!), he left me for her and is married to her now. She obviously had the objective of titillating him at work. And, he fell, hook, line, and sinker! Don’t tell me the affair partner isn’t partially – or wholly – responsible for our divorce. Don’t feed me the “something must have been wrong in your marriage for him to leave” BS. Yea, something was wrong – improper boundaries between a man and child at work! My ex is the same age as her mother, for goodness sake! I just don’t get it…I just don’t get it…

        • Honestly, I totally disregard anyone who says the AP is not responsible, they owe you nothing.

          She/he is equally responsibly for any lying, sneaking, stealing that they knew about and were a part of.

          True He/she owes you nothing. Conversely the betrayed owes them nothing, no respect, no regard, no pass nothing. Assuming it won’t hurt the betrayed, they need to be outed as the scum they are, just like the fw. Actions have consequences and it shouldn’t be limited to the betrayed who has no choice but to endure the consequences of someone else’s actions.

          • 👆👆👆 This!

            I too don’t take this crap anymore from whomever, and have cut previously very close people from my life over saying the AP partner owed me nothing. There is basic level of human decency that everyone owes everyone else.

    • Yep, it seems to be.

      I can see why poachers do it, they have to get the target to feel sorry for them. But you would think a reasonable intelligent target would say to themselves, self this could cost you your jobs and everything you have built. I mean it isn’t like we haven’t seen that happen often enough.

      Forget being loyal to a spouse, what kind of idiot fuck in the workplace pool when he or she knows it could destroy their lives. Do all of them really think they won’t be caught.

      There are easy lays everywhere, why crap where you eat.

    • My ex-wife had two affairs at work. One with her married with children direct boss and another with a grotesquely overweight senior director who had a fetish for her feet.

      In my 20s, a longtime serious girlfriend also cheated on me with her direct boss. It’s VERY common.

      I never understood it personally. I’ve never dated anyone where I worked, even as a teenager. Don’t shit where you eat!

      Sadly, so many people don’t think of it that way and just use it as an opportunity — work projects, overtime, lunch meetings, business dinners — all vehicles for affairs with built in alibis.

      • “Don’t shit where you eat!”

        Yep, bet my ex wished he had never drug his whore to his work. The moment he brought her onboard, she had control. So stupid.

    • Exactly my feelings, this just boggles my mind. I mean, my FW XW fucked a subordinate too, so maybe I am a bit oversensitive to the issue? LOL

      I expect people to be on their best behaviour at work. I mean, if you don’t know how to conduct yourself where you earn your living, what to expect from you at, say, a party? (or driving, or in the grocery line… or what to expect from you when there is no one watching?)

      I just can’t wrap my mind around how things get so intimate and personal as to give occasion to an extramarital affair among any professionals worth their salt. Call me square, but please don’t get me wrong: I am saying nothing against “in the open” couples that happened to meet at the workplace; what I am talking about is the necessarily sleazy and underhanded activities involved in an extramarital affair.

      My former thesis advisor and coauthor became a very good friend of mine over the years. We are the same sex and heterosexual, okay, so nothing sexual going on, but who doesn’t like a good chit-chat? He knows of my recent chumpdom, has an idea of the devastation it caused me family-wise and work-wise (for a couple of months I was unable to even think about our research, let alone write anything) and is always so kind as to ask me every now and then “how are things, are you doing better?”, as an opening for me to share if I feel like it. I think I only took the opportunity to talk about more personal matters a couple of times, and it was only because they had a direct impact on the little time and energy I was putting onto our work together and I thought I owed him an explanation. I kept it very brief (hard to believe coming from me, I know, LOL; writing is another story). We know each other for over a decade now and don’t even work at the same university. But I can’t help but find it inappropriate to conflate matters too much.

      People oversharing at the workplace has become a huge red flag for me, I avoid them like the plague. I think there are right times and places for everything under the sun. Don’t get me wrong, oversharing is cathartic, I do and recommend, but please, do your job first. I for one, overshare (a lot, I know) here on CL’s, with my therapist and now with just one very close friend and that’s all. I have also cut a lot of whiny people from my life as of late. Walk a mile in my shoes, then tell me you have it hard on you. No longer take anyone’s crap. I *earned* my grumpiness through very painful chumpdom. 😅

      • One of the things my dad told me before I went to work was don’t get too involved with the first person who comes running to make friends at a new job, that is usually the troublemaker. I found that to be true in several instances.

      • Please don’t apologize for oversharing: this is the place for it. Your thoughts and experiences are valuable here. I wish all the best things for you!

      • It’s not oversharing to talk to your best friend or your therapist or your chump friends here. All of these people sign up for being on your support team either in real life or here in CN.

    • This is a pet peeve of mine- how people make the workplace their whole world by spending too much time socializing with them and by dating them. After all, the only thing you really have in common in most instances is that you work at the same place. People need to expand their worlds, not close them in. It’s lazy and unimaginative to make the workplace your everything and we need to be careful of the company we keep.

      Fuckwit made work pretty much his whole world. He only knew one person outside of work. He bored me with endless talk (sounding like a giddy, gossipy teenage girl when he did it) about coworkers I had either never met or didn’t like. Anybody at work was automatically his “friend ” no matter what the person was like. Zero discernment. Naturally, he found his AP there in that shitty office full of other heavy drinking fuckwitted fools.
      I became the enemy because I didn’t want the adolescent lifestyle he and his coworkers favored. How dare I be a grownup and harsh his buzz. Bleh. They can have him.

      • Untangling skeins a bit, I think this worplace thing is just an instance of FW’s self-regard as larger than life characters and deserving of the ultimate experiences during their existences. An ordinary life, with down to earth goals and aspirations and reasonable constraints to their behaviour is not worth living for these disordered folks. They resent it like a bridle. It’s plain thrill-seeking, I think. They have to extract maximum excitement of whatever they experience and work is no exception. They have to exhaust all of the resources of whatever environment they find themselves in. They are dumb parasites that don’t care if they kill their host (partner, family, job). They leave the carcass and search for another host if the wreckage they leave in their wake doesn’t fall too hard on them. Or they cocoon into spores waiting for the dust to settle (as my FW XW told me she was doing during wreckonciliation).

        What puzzles me is that this all-in attitude seems to contradict their well known compartimentalization skills. I don’t know.

        Nowadays, I think my FW’s constant accusations of me lacking ambition in life is just that I (if left unperturbed) tend to be stable, singleminded and easily satisfied. A compliment in disguise.

        As for the undiscerning attitude about whom to befriend, I think it also comes from their own sense of awesomeness. Of course everybody would love to be friends with them just for the sake of their own qualities, and nobody should be denied a place to worship at their feet. It’s like Nietzsche’s unbelievably narcissistic brag that his Zarathustra (himself) was so good that no bucket that descended into his well would come up without being filled with gold (or something like that). They do think they’re all that and a bag of chips.

        To sum up, I think it all just boils down to entitlement and kibbles, as Tracy says.

  • She doesn’t have respect for you,she is viewing you as one of her many little playthings she can throw around any which way. ( entitlement) 🚩
    I agree, she sounds like a middle schooler in her text thread. Wth?!
    Advice: Run, Forrest, run!! 😵‍💫

    The red flags are waving high in this one, she is already pushing to see how much you will tolerate, trying to disguise it as humor or she’s just kidding, “lol”. 🚩

    Maybe you can be more worthy than the other guy, but time will tell. ( pushing boundaries, making you feel less than) 🚩

    Good ppl don’t use triangulation to make others dance for their attention.
    She sees herself as having more value than you and more deserving of other’s attention. 🚩

    She plays with ppl for entertainment, that’s not a high caliber person you want in your safe and loving circle. 🚩

    Let someone else be the one to buy her roses, she’s on the “ it’s all about me” journey, you don’t have time to get enmeshed in her fake games and drama, which will only escalate the deeper you get involved.🚩

    Summary: she’s a loser and you need to leave.
    Your radar is not that damaged, you pretty much already knew writing to CL that you were being chumped again.

    You just need to know that you are bulletproof before you wade back into the dating land mine pool again. Be careful out there!
    Good luck to you, let that other guy marry her in 5 years and open a bottle of champagne that it isn’t going to be you. Outcome: You won! 😊👍

  • She’s doing that pick me dance. Super big red flag! It’s simply rude. Ghost this person. Don’t waste anymore time on her.

    Best of luck on getting your picker fixed. It takes time!

  • Father Time and Mother Nature have given us great gifts of wisdom and manageable hormones to date more securely and wisely after the age of 50. We know things. We know better. When we’re young and our breasts are still pointing north, that handsome guy with the iffy reputation and the slightly crooked nose that snorts “I’ll protect you” sets our limbs on fire and makes couscous of our brains.

    Fast forward post-menopause? We know better, or at least we should. If we get confused, most of us have a sister-in-arms who can gently steer us back to reality by saying six little words between sips of Chardonnay: “BOUNDARIES” “INTUITION” “SNAP OUT OF IT.” Experience brings with it great gifts, much like the perfect dinner guest.

    So, here’s a quick tutorial with some tips on how to navigate dating waters after 50, like a Chump-free Queen:

    1) One of the best predicators of future behavior is past behavior. That nice gentlemen in the Ralph Lauren polo shirt that casually tells you over crab salad that he’s “met nothing but crazy stalker women” over the past ten years and asks amusingly, “Are ALL women crazy?” Your answer should be “No, only the women a man bilks out of money to pay for a Ralph Lauren shirt that he wears on a date with yet another woman after he leaves the stalker woman’s bed the night before.” #REDFLAGSMATTER

    2) 5,000 texts and smiling face heart emojis does not a relationship make. People have unlimited phone plans, you’re not that special. What sets the foundation for a real, viable relationship is the consistency of flesh-to-flesh contact. If it’s a long-distance relationship, face-to-face via Zoom or Facetime at the very least, then concrete plans to meet in person.

    3) If your gut, your intuition, your spiritual GPS, whatever you prefer to call it, is blaring like a NYC fire engine at midday when you’re around that seemingly benign, stable accountant with three well-adjusted adult children, listen to it. Never, never, never ignore your intuition. It’s God’s superpower gift to women.

    Pay very close attention to money, how it’s spent, how it’s handled and how it’s spoken about when you’re both over 50 and in the initial throes of dating. We’ve come too far to be scammed out of savings or ruin our credit rating. If you meet a great guy and have three candlelight dinners under your dating belt, two lovemaking sessions and a concert in the park and he asks to “borrow $10,000 for an emergency because his money is all tied up in his golden toilet investments” smile and say no. Tell him to try Bank of America. Guard your money until you trust someone and even then, if you choose to enter into marriage, seek legal advice. At this age, earning power tends to diminish (generally speaking as it refers to the workplace) and recouping assets becomes more difficult.

    Bottom line is always trust your gut. Use your years of experience, both the bad and good, to make wise decisions. Men who customarily play around wear Eau de Scoundrel Cologne. There’s a stench to deceit. Trust is earned through consistent action and commendable behavior. Place yourself in high esteem, accept nothing less.

    I think the late, great Maya Angelou said it best: ‘Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.’

    • I second your suggestion to watch closely how he handles money. Yes, if a fellow spends like crazy, he likely doesnt HAVE money, he just SPENDS money. One of the sweetest things my now husband bought me early-on was a pink coffee travel cup…he got a “his and hers” set for $1 each.

      At some point before we got married, I figured out how cheap he is and I made peace with it (I have everything I need and many things I want but we dont spend stupid). His thriftiness would always be a fact but brought with it the benefit that I would never again have to worry and me being thrifty is sort of a love language I can speak to him.

      • H and I are like that. We are both careful spenders.

        We think large purchases through, do research. And we don’t buy much small stuff aside from everyday needs. Part of that I am sure is we have a small house, and we don’t have a lot of space. We don’t really need a large house, some do of course.

        But, it is in a safe (as any place can be anyway) area, and we paid cash for it.

  • My stbxh used to constantly talk about people at his work like that. “I can tell the programmer in DIT is totally into me”, “One of the lawyers I work with has a daughter who is also a lawyer working in our office and I think they’re BOTH into me”, “Rachel’s husband doesn’t know how to treat her, so I let her vent, but I can tell she’s a little too excited about me”, etc. He was having an EA with Rachel and saving bikini pictures of the rest of them from Facebook to his spank bank (they didn’t look like they were taken for him either is the worst part. It was like he skimmed their vacation pictures from ther social media for anything he could “use” 🤮) At a minimum I think they’re crushing on the coworker when they say stuff like that, like they’re a little too hopeful/excited about the possibility of the crush being reciprocated, you know? I mean I’ve noticed looks like that from coworkers before too, but I always pretend not to notice because I figure it’s human to look sometimes and I don’t care as long as they leave me alone/I don’t see direct evidence I’m being pursued (which I never have.) The ones wanting it to happen hope for it out loud like that.

    • My fw started talking about whore. I even questioned him, I should have known; but I stupidly trusted. However, it wouldn’t have mattered because by the time he started talking about her they had been rutting for years.

  • If someone I was dating told me their coworker ‘wants them’ I would say buh bye

    Insensitive people don’t make the cut

  • Whenever someone is talking a lot about someone at work too much, pay attention. Does it necessarily mean that there’s something between them? It depends on what they talk about. Trust your gut.

    IE: there was a guy at my old office. Total prick. Gaslighting lazy misogynistic jerk who got a managerial position but certainly didn’t deserve it. He was horrible to work with. I complained about him a lot and celebrated when he moved to another company. Nothing to worry about.

    IE2: introverted FW — out of the blue — started talking about a female coworker. She’s so nice. She’s become a good friend. Please call her to help her get tshirts for her school. And she kept coming up. Then she started randomly SHOWING UP. We’d be at a store and “oh look… it’s coworker!”

    Trust your gut. If all that talking about a coworker makes you uneasy… there’s a reason. And you are also subconsciously picking up on how their voice changes or body language shifts when they talk about them.

    For the person you’re with to tell you that a coworker mocks you (he calls you “rose guy” hee hee) and keeps wanting to date them and they are each other’s back ups?? She is with that guy all day. He gets more time then you do. And she’s enjoying the “pick me dance” already. Time to go.

    • My ex started talking about his coworker a bit too much – knowing too many intimate details about her and sharing them with me. Then I started having dreams that he was going to abandon me. I wake and tell him about them and he’d say, “I’d never do that to you!” Guess what he did…ALWAYS trust your gut!!!

      • True.

        In my case I am pretty sure he didn’t start talking about her until he had been with her for several years. He was starting to prime me for the discard. I am sure he was also trying to convince himself she worth what he was about to do.

        It wasn’t just dumping me, that was the easy part, he was about to disclose to the community that he was a con man. I believe he had convinced himself once he rid himself of me, he would be able to talk himself out of losing everything else he had worked for. Or at least he had a strong hope that he would.

        He didn’t. He blew up his life right along with mine. In his mind I was the only one who was going to suffer the consequences. I think that too is pretty common among cheaters, they generally think they are just too smart to fuck themselves over.

  • I had a very similar conversation as that outlined by Jad many years ago with my boyfriend at the time, not by text, actually in person and after a huge amount of horrible experiences, a lot of time and a lot of research (unfortunately I was pretty naiive and conditioned by a sociopath parent to believe absolutely everything was my fault), I worked out my boyfriend at that time was a sociopath. He really does have issues with women unfortunately cloaked under superficial charm, good looks and intelligence so you can’t see the parasite underneath (I actually do feel mean saying that, because he did have a crap childhood, but it does not change the fact that he is sadistic manipulator who thinks people are fools for being sucked in by his behaviour). Like I think someone here has observed before, many of these unpleasant people all seem to have read from the same playbook, so I hope Jad ran a mile from GF.

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