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My Friend Won’t Listen to Your Advice

Dear Chump Lady,

My friend reads your blog, but doesn’t take your advice.

I (and several other friends) have coached her through the hurts and heartaches of the past 18 months during which her husband had an affair (still ongoing!). And I love her, I have listened to all her horror stories (e.g. when he announced he wanted to divorce her just before Thanksgiving and spent the holidays with the OW).

But plot twist! The husband has just moved back into the marital home! And she is happy with that. And the mistress is still in the picture, and I am STILL the confidante who listens to all he puts her through.

I am getting tired of her not taking anyone’s advice. Not mine, not her other friends, not her family who have watched their marriage struggle for 20 years (she even got rid of her therapist who said that the marriage was doomed — her husband has an ONGOING affair, doesn’t take responsibility for anything, doesn’t want to divorce her, but has no remorse whatsoever, etc.).

I have supported her through this whole ordeal, and I am still trying to be a good friend, but we have stopped talking about the affair as she seems to have accepted the mistress. She and her husband are now in “don’t ask don’t tell” territory. He has moved back in the house, they are sleeping together, and she seems happy! She is allowing him texting and calling the mistress throughout the day.

I loathe the husband after everything he has put her through, but my husband is good friends with him. And of course my friend is married to this cake eater. So, for her sake, I try not to be too negative about him. But I just don’t know how to deal with this anymore. She is my friend, but this is whacko.

Should I just accept their reconciliation? I think he will cheat again. He is mean, dishonest, a liar, unreliable, uncaring, unkind, and she has now turned into a woman that will accept everything, and she is no longer the strong woman I always knew. How much longer do I have to support her in this craziness, because it is affecting our friendship. I feel like I no longer know her, and I want her to be happy.

Bianca

****

Dear Bianca,

Whoa. Before I untangle your friend — your husband is GOOD FRIENDS with Mr. Mean, Dishonest, Liar, Unreliable, Uncaring, and Unkind? The guy you loathe, who’s having an on-going affair? Have you had a chat with your husband about his values lately? If he’s a Switzerland friend, or worse, enabling Mr. Cheaterpants — you’ve got a bigger problem than a chumpy friend. No wonder her situation unnerves you.

As to your friend, she won the pick me dance, so she’s probably feeling exceptional. He came back! Their reconciliation has a chance! He still sees the OW? I’m not the only advice out there, Bianca. She’s probably read some reconciliation sites or books and may believe he’s “in a fog” or grieving his fuckbuddy. The MAJORITY of advice out there on infidelity is that she should “stand” for her marriage. And this nasty affair will just blow over if she stays strong and figures out how to improve herself so he doesn’t cheat again.

Don’t underestimate the incredible need to believe. Anyone going through something traumatic wants to feel some sense of agency, like they can control scary outcomes. That’s why the Reconciliation Industrial Complex is so seductive. Being a cold bucket of harsh reality isn’t a winning sales strategy.

Your friend has invested 20 years in this relationship. She’s probably been mindfucked for 20 years and doesn’t have the strongest sense of self worth about now. You mention nothing about her financial situation or her kids (if she has any). She probably feels like she has a lot to lose and lives with a lonely kind of daily terror, however “happy” she appears. (No woman is “happy” to live with colossal disrespect that is texting and calling the mistress every day.)

All that said, I’m sure she is annoying as fuck. A therapist has told her it’s doomed, a chorus of friends tell her it’s doomed, but her cake-eating asswipe of a husband? He doesn’t tell her it’s doomed — he tells her she has a chance! Dance prettier and you can save this!

That Dr. Simon axiom works on chumps too — “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.”

Your friend disagrees that she’s doomed.

So what do you do? You leave her to her doom.

It may be that your values don’t align and you can’t be friends with someone you don’t respect, and you drop her. That’s one option. Another option is to stay in touch, but refuse to engage on the subject of her marital problems. Point out to her that SHE HAS A CHOICE and this shit stops when she stops putting up with it. She is CHOOSING her misery. And then change the subject.

Abusers isolate. If you really feel like she’s in an abusive situation, I’d encourage you to keep the lines of communication open. Do the things together that you two enjoy. Keep it light and superficial and don’t have the long, skein-untangling conversations about Him. The most compassionate thing you can say to someone in this situation is “You deserve better. This relationship is not bringing out your best self.”

And then say a prayer that some day she begins to act like she deserves better.

This one ran before. Still in move limbo until Monday… 

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Also, CN, a documentary company in the UK reached out to me looking for chumps. If you want to change the narrative, consider participating… Their pitch:

    It’s Time to Talk About Infidelity.

    We are currently developing a feature-length documentary that will tell the full story of an affair. Told in the past tense, the film will explore infidelity and its consequences with empathy and honesty. We need to break the silence…

    I would love to talk to you.

    If you are willing to have an off-the-record conversation to find out more please get in touch with me via: theaffair@curvemedia.com

    • I have been interviewed by the BBC, The Atlantic, and Good Morning America about my ex wife’s cheating and results of it. I am glad I did it. I encourage you guys to reach out. You can help many chumps out there.

        • Yes, but for some reason they didn’t use my interview with Good Morning America. I think it was because I didn’t want them to use my real name because of minor children.

      • My lawyers told me that non-disparagement means I can’t say anything that is not true to make him look bad. But I can say anything I want about what is true and what did actually happen. And there is no need to make crap up, when lots of actually shut happened.

      • I signed that as well. It means that I cannot discuss them (ex and AP). I am free to talk about how infidelity impacted me and my life.
        Which means something like “I was devastated by infidelity” and not “I was devastated by my ex-husband’s infidelity”.
        Similar but not equal.

    • This sounds legit and it would be refreshing if they intend to tell things from an informed chump perspective for a change.

      It would certainly be a change. Not to be Debbie Downer but I’m usually a little wary of those “we’re telling things from your perspective” media bids to proponents of embattled positions because some are set-ups by the opposition (via sponsored shill media platforms) to create a stacked deck where they pretend to include “all voices” but in fact only intend to make the opposing position look absurd, ignorant or nuts. And with porn and online dating (aka, hookup/cheater apps) taking over media and becoming profit monsters, I’m noticing that forces opposing the perspective that “cheating is abuse” (or even that abuse is abuse) are heating up. I don’t think it’s much of a mystery why when media empires like Murdoch’s (including Vice and their many other handmaidens) also happen to be invested in porn.

      The environmental health blog I edited would get periodic media requests (often from Murdoch-controlled publications as it happens) to interview readers who followed environmental news because they believed themselves or loved ones to have been made ill by industrial products or practices, particularly herbicides/pesticides but also water privatization scandals, gas and coal industry shenanigans, Vioxx, you name it (much of which Murdoch was invested in). In early days, everyone would be hopeful about the media attention and I think at first the media attention was more innocent and open minded. But then various industries squared off following class action suits and bad press and consumer interviewees would suddenly find themselves on the air pitted against, say, Monsanto scientists and barking quacks on the industry payroll– just one hapless consumer trying to make a case against obtuse Tobacco-style science-speak. It should have raised red flags when the media bids didn’t include requests to interview anyone who could easily hold their own against the bull like the many scientists, medical experts, environmental lawyers, professional journalists and researchers we consulted with.

      From being burned so many times, some of these consumer advocates got pretty media savvy in the end. That was fun to watch. But on the way to that point I knew regular people with extreme disabilities or dead kids who’ve been crucified by ghost writers who pretended sympathy at first. Eventually it was customary to sleuth out the track records of publications or reporters in presenting similar topics, check their ad sponsors, “business round table” associations and ask who else would be on the panel or in the group being interviewed. Personally I developed suspicions of any writer/interviewer who ever penned a tell-all about their past heroin addiction and the like. It often means they’ll kiss any hem to get back in the game. Oh, and I’m wary of interviewers who try to get interviewees to cry and then depict them as “unstable.”

      At least as far as environmental issues go, other red flags were panel members/experts who are known industry spinners or, on the other extreme, members of “woo” groups (those who believe in chemtrail or depopulation conspiracies, crystal healers, etc.) because then it would be clear the intent was to make people who purport common sense ideas like “industrial waste isn’t good for toddlers” and “sourcing drinking water from lead-infested dump sites is a bad idea” look like radicals and nutbags.

      I sense a similar standoff fomenting against any source or collective questioning the sex pozzy media spin currently trying to normalize streaming porn, trafficking and violent kink. There’s just so much money behind these things now and proxy victim-blamers all use the same tactics.

      • Reminds me of “having your day in court“ which seldoms works out that way either. You are right to be leery.

    • Tracy,
      The link to theaffair@curvemedia.com doesn’t seem to work for me. I’d love to talk with you re the documentary. I’m 11 years from Dday, 38 year marriage. Spent 4 years wandering in the RIC and finally found your solid advice which got me out of the woods. Hope to hear from you.

  • “My husband is good friends with him”
    First thing I thought about is watch your husband. It has been my experience that ethical people will peripherally acquaint with unethical people but rarely are they “good friends.” If they are it is usually because they don’t know about the character flaw but unfortunately will find out once they get burned.
    Fay Vincent said in a WSJ editorial about baseball cheating;
    “To ignore a little cheating is to allow a lot of cheating”.
    Unfortunately I believe this applies to Bianca’s husband

    • Also, if your spouse remains “good friends” with that FW, it kind of “normalizes” the behavior, at least in their social circle. Now, it could be that Bianca’s husband is as appalled as she is.

      Maybe.

      My first XH cheated on me with his Admin. Assistant. Turned out, nearly everybody at his office was cheating on their spouse, including his boss. It was “no big deal”, apparently, and yet none of them bothered to clue in their chumpy spouses about what they were doing. I think the only marriage that survived (and it may well not have) was his boss’s, but most of the people there ultimately wound up losing their jobs, including the XH.

      I think dishonesty in one part of a person’s life makes it easier to be dishonest in another.

      • FW’s close friends didn’t provide any red flags because FW in my case had two social pools that betrayed a kind of snobbery or classism– like lords of yore who’d think nothing of shitting or picking their butts in front of their maids and valets but only appear in public in full regalia reading sermons and waving perfumed hankies. So FW was ever so careful not to let his valued male friends (all work related friendships and all of equivalent status) know of the affair because apparently they weren’t the types to advocate it. It’s not like people on his professional level don’t cheat and whore around but he seemed to actually have common sense and good business sense when it came to forming interdependent relationships among equals. He’d stick to the people who don’t embezzle, professionally stab you in the back, plagiarize, etc., which– no big surprise– are also the types less likely to perv.

        But then there was the other world he traipsed in. He had a creepy “work wife” who not only knew about but encouraged and pimped his fucking around in exchange for work perks and free booze. He had a bit of a harem of beards in that way but it’s like he slummed on the other side of the professional tracks for his whoring and boozing and then maintained the image of devoted husband/dad for his own echelon. None of the flying monkeys nor the AP had much in the way of career prospects (if just because women rarely rise to the top shelf in that profession and most bail out due to unequal opportunities and pay) so he seemed to think there was reduced danger that what he was doing would cross the ranks to bite him.

        He was completely deluded to think the powerless, obsequious “plebes” aren’t the worst gossips and don’t use gossip as currency. It’s how I found out.

      • Yes! I thought the same thing – your husband is still his best friend??? Why is your husband not calling him out for his infidelity and abuse of his wife??? Best watch that dismissal of morals and values cause you could be next!

    • Exactly.

      I know of two friends of my ex fw whose close relationship with my ex went away, one was gradually (his best friend from high school, we had been friends with them as a couple for most of our marriage. The other our preacher which was an abrupt about face. He had a close friendship and I have no doubt the preacher trusted he was who he presented as. Preacher became professional, and of course offered to help him if he wanted to rebuild our marriage, and also offered to get him counseling.

      My guess is there were others, but definitely those two. I am sure there were some just like him to continued to buddy with him, I only know of one couple who did that.

    • Yep alarm bells went off for me reading that. I would be very upset if my husband thought it ok to remain friends with such a weasel

    • Yeah. Note to Bianca: if your husband is really good friends with this guy, you probably have a lot more in common with your deluded, Chump friend than you think. Not that your husband is necessarily a cheater, but in terms of normalizing/okaying morally yucky husband behavior.

      The letter feels victim blaming to me. Instead of, our friend is such a terrible loser for putting up with bad treatment for years. Why does she stay? Why does she put up with that?, it SHOULD BE, “ our friends husband is such a terrible loser for cheating on our friend for years. We are horrified! He should be forced to stop. How can we make him stop?“.

  • Drinking the koolaid.

    What about you? Spending your life trying to solve my friends’ problems was one way I avoided and denied my own issues.
    I had issues a plenty.

    I recommend solving them earlier rather than later.

  • It may be the Chump in me, but if I found out that one of my friends (male or female for that matter) was engaged in an affair, I would drop them like a red hot sh*t smeared rock ….. and I would make it quite clear to them why I was doing so.

    I think that Bianca should keep lines of communication open with her friend in the hope that she comes to her senses, but what she needs to to do now is to have a chat with her husband about values.

    LFTT

    • A chat with her husband or maybe a phone consult with a PI to sleuth for a double life, a little tete-a-tete with a forensic accountant to check for secret spending and an appointment with a GYN to test for STDs??

  • LTC Fuckface’s friends are all cheaters. Everyone of them. They condoned his affairs. I join the chorus of chumps concerned about Bianca’s husband.

    • It’s part of the military lifestyle…. Cover for your coworkers. superior cheating? Nothing you can do about it…..you’ll lose your career if you try. What goes on on det stays on det. Plenty of excuses to give, and spouse just has to suck it up and deal. I thought my marriage was different….nope, in fact the dick was at the center of all the s$!t.

    • Same here. All his friends are scum. I wondered how none of them told me, fucking 20 year friendships. Oh, because they’re all doing it too and don’t want to get caught. Then it started making more sense.

  • Once, I had a friend whose husband cheated on her. She was, what I considered at the time, my best friend. We spent most of our time together on the weekends.
    Our families did everything together.
    I supported her wholeheartedly through the situation, but she remained with him.
    When my ex husband first left , she said she couldn’t get involved. Turns out, her and her husband picked “ the other side”. She knew about my exes affair. She even had him and the OW on her boat and at a party before I knew of the affair. That hurt me to the core when I learned of it!
    Looking back now , I think she felt more comfortable with the cheaters than with me because I was standing strong going through with something she couldn’t.
    Our morals just didn’t align.
    Not only did I learn to quit the pick me dance with my ex, I learned that I didn’t want to do it with friends, either.

    • I lived a similar situation with my neighbors. We had been friends for 15 years while cheater wanted nothing to do with them. Cheater claimed that he had nothing in common with our neighbors.
      Suddenly cheater starts waving at the neighbors and stopping to chat with them at the mailbox. It made me happy to see he was finally being social. Cheater had been moody lately and I thought being social might be what he needed to snap out of his moodiness.
      Dday happened a few months afterwards. I was distraught called my neighbors that my world had been shattered. They were unusually quiet as I was spilling my guts and weren’t giving me the support I expected from friends. When they did say something it was, well, there’s two sides to every story…, well, you two weren’t getting along.., they had never seen cheater so happy. I had noticed they were having Cheater over for dinner during this time but being a chump I thought maybe they were just being nice.
      Cheater had only been gone for about 6 weeks when day one of my neighbors stops by to ask how I was doing, and to tell me I needed to move on and get on with my life, because cheater has.
      Her and the neighbors and cheater had gotten together and Cheater is so funny, he was making jokes at my expense and had everyone in tears with laughter.. she couldn’t help but laugh.
      My life was imploding and my neighbors are laughing hysterically while cheater ridicules me for their entertainment. They had all forgotten all the babysitting I’d done for them at the last minute, or who was there for family emergencies, when they needed transportation, it wasn’t cheater but they aligned themselves with Cheater.
      I also discovered these neighbors knew cheater was planning Dday. He confided in them that I was mentally ill and he couldn’t take living me much longer. My ‘friends” added to the trauma of my world falling apart.
      Cheater had bought me a BMW for my birthday and made a big deal about it with our neighbors. A BMW I didn’t want, I was happy with my Honda. Cheater insisted saying I was insulting him by not accepting his gift.
      During the divorce cheater said he didn’t but the car for me and asked that I pay him the entire cost of a car. If I could prove it was a gift then I wouldn’t owe him the money for the car. All the neighbors knew he bought the car for my birthday. I thought it would be easy to prove, so when I asked them to tell the court the car was my gift they all came down with a sudden case of amnesia.

      That was the last time I talked to my neighbors. I realized then that they were more suited to cheater they share the same values.

      • “to ask how I was doing, and to tell me I needed to move on and get on with my life, because cheater has.”

        My guess is they remembered very well who did the babysitting, and emergency aid for them, etc and that is why they needed you to get over it and return to your previous chumpy self. Good chumps are worth their weight in gold.

      • If you ever have the opportunity it would be great if you told the neighbors your ex’s low opinion of them and funny how he didn’t get friendly until he was planning on discarding you. However, it is more than likely in your best interest to have no interactions with these halfwits.

        • This is what cracks me up. They side with the cheater and the cheater doesn’t even like them. One woman I got along very well with but my ex despised her, said horrible things about her. But he went to her and said something during our divorce because she unfriended me and kept him. Hurt like hell at the time but now I find it hilarious. She ditched an actual friend for a man who hates her and smears her to others. Smooth move ex lax!

          Another friend he hated so much and would constantly talk about how he can’t stand her, he now attends her parties. Never wanted anything to do with her before but I got along with her just fine. (We weren’t close, she doesn’t know my story but I would’ve gone to her events if he wasn’t attending, especially at my lowest points. She gave me one of my cats.) but he has to try to take everything from me. She’s probably feel bad if I told her what was happening but like I said, we aren’t close, she’s just a nice acquaintance so there’s no point.

          Jokes on him, he’s just helped me weed out losers like himself. It made the pain worse at a a very difficult time but it the end I think it was better for healing. It helped me cut out all of the cancer.

          • >They side with the cheater and the cheater doesn’t even like them.

            I think that they despise everyone, or at least devalue them. They might be surprised to discover that these despised “friends” feel the exact same way about them. They don’t respect anybody, yet are surprised to find their “lessers” have no respect for them either. My abusive Ex used to sound so contemptuous about people in his friend circle, such as it was. It was only after I left that I realized how weird that was.

      • Brit, my heart hurts that you had to deal with such shitty people. Not a decent one in the bunch – how is that possible so many losers lived in one neighborhood?

      • I feel like there’s a sense of added shame when we don’t see the secondary betrayals coming after the big betrayal. But there’s no shame in innocence or a naive expectation that “most people are good.” Not everyone has a hide like a rhino. I was once an innocent naif and, to tell the truth, I liked it.

        There’s nothing wrong with not relating to how shitty and creepy people can be. I experienced secondary betrayals again and again but in a different context (workplace harassment). I wasn’t prepared and it nearly drove me mad. I think the “bystander response” might even do more damage than the initial betrayal. I remember part of trying to climb out of nervous collapse from social betrayal was getting hooked on a Soviet era poet and novelist (Yevtushanko) who wrote repeatedly about betrayal, backstabbers, informants, etc., from his first-hand experience surviving under Stalinism. I read and reread Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago just for the part where the Ukrainian prisoners kill all the prison camp stoolies. I would randomly quote passages from these books and make people think I was a raving lunatic. But in the dearth of actual peer support, all I had were books. I hope things have improved since the #MeToo movement but I sort of doubt it.

        The context was that when I was first starting out in my former career, I was repeatedly harassed by various overlords, bosses and even coworkers. It was murder getting any support even among fellow targets and it especially hurt because this was the profession I’d dreamed of since childhood. While still interning, one big shot attempted to assault me after work. That was the last straw. A guy friend marched me to the police station to make a complaint carrying stacks of evidence from medical reports to witness testimony. The cops tried to wet blanket but my streetwise friend knew how to corner them into doing their jobs.

        Anyway, justice eventually prevailed but the social and professional backlash I got from filing a criminal report was a nightmare. Something else I obsessively read and re-read in the midst of this was Holocaust survivor Primo Levi’s “The Drowned and the Saved.” In the introduction, Levi quotes another death camp survivor who testified at the Nuremberg trials that (translation paraphrase) ““Ten percent of any population is cruel no matter what. And 10 percent is merciful no matter what. The remaining 80 percent can be moved in either direction.”

        Apparently pervy big shot counted on statistics and called literally everyone I knew trying to see who he could move to his side. I lost three friends, including a former high school arts instructor who’d known my family forever. This woman actually tried to turn my parents against me. My mother picked up on it when this former teacher mentioned she’d been invited to some swank industry event by the perv. The former teacher seemed chuffed about it, like my mother would be impressed at the brag-worthy honor. My mother, who’s the reason I always turned to books, cut right to the chase and said something like, “I don’t take kindly to people who try to pry apart my family.” The former teacher exploded and said, “You’ll defend your daughter no matter how wrong she is!” In retrospect it’s obvious that old backstabber decided the perp was the better bet to stay professionally relevant.

        It was such a huge betrayal but I’ll always be grateful to the friend who escorted me to the cops and the 26 year old ADA who told me that she’d regretted not reporting an assault from a fellow law school student. Consequently she wrote a five page charge list against my perv boss. She said she knew the special agony of running into her own perpetrator in professional and social circles and feeling like she was the one who carried the shame of his crime. It’s similar to the plot of “Promising Young Woman.” She turned the tables for me so I wouldn’t have to experience this. To this day the people who sided with the perp hang their heads and dodge away if I randomly run into them even though I’m long out of that industry. So does the perp. You know justice has been served when your heart rate doesn’t even pick up from running into someone who tried to tear your life to pieces. Justice is the best PTSD treatment.

        But I’ll never forget feeling like my brain was melting from bystander betrayal, the crying jags on the freeway, finding myself staring at a wall for an hour muttering in shock. I think this initially made FW’s betrayal that much more devastating because I’d spent my life since then trying to build solid ethical social supports among the kinds of people who don’t turn on you when the chips are down. He knew everything I’d been through and still stabbed me in the back. But if that previous experience provided any advantages, it’s that I’d mostly succeeded in building a support system. All the people around me and the kids took my side after D-Day.

        But look what I had to go through to get to that point. Would I wish that on anyone else just so they’d be prepared for some later unexpected horror show? Nope. Bless you for not knowing what most people are really like. Take that ideal model you carry around inside your pure and untainted soul and build a beautiful life with it free from sharks and creeps and backstabbers.

        • Thanks for writing this. I had never equated the “bystander response” with the neutral responses I had gotten from friends, but that is what it is. There is a lot of moral inertia in the world.

      • I’m so sorry! So when my ex left my brother and his girlfriend wanted to “remain neutral”. I respected that and kept my sorrow to myself. After a week I noticed she was calling him and texting having very long conversations (I saw the bill) and when I called to confront her and tell my brother to watch his girlfriend she stated crying g saying that she was only trying to be “supportive” and that it was my own insecurities that were getting in the way. I truly wanted to choke her. So it was never resolved and for some reason my brother didn’t seem to think it was a big deal. And later when he wasn’t helping support my daughter I begged my brother to stop going and supporting his business- he said just that- it’s only business.
        Unbelievable

    • My skein lit on fire,
      I’m so sorry. That situation sucks big time and hit you when you were down.
      What an awful person to do that to someone!

    • What a sell-out! I’d be happy to have a level
      Headed friend like you! My friends always say,” well, I know you’ll make the right decision for YOU”. And sometimes idk what that means.

  • I have a friend (a therapist actually) who is usually in a relationship where she is treated badly. I have learned to just say “This is hard for me to hear about because I love you and think you deserve so much better.” I think that’s all you can do if you want to maintain the friendship.

  • Side bar…

    “Being a cold bucket of harsh reality isn’t a winning sales strategy.”

    I feel seen, CL. 😂😂😂

  • My oldest friend, hailing from grad school back in the late 80s, remains married to her erstwhile cheating wife (her partner cheated on her years ago, and my friend chose not to end the relationship, and then, when same-sex marriage became legal, chose to marry her partner). We now live in different parts of the country, but email almost daily. Many of her emails include her complaining about being taken for granted, being devalued (she doesn’t call it this, but it’s what she is describing), or detailing other of her wife’s abusive tactics. Before my divorce, many of my emails to her used to include the same kind of thing. We were partners in misery, both of us married to similar kinds of people.

    Then my ex’s dalliance with an ex-student and his secret life “as a woman” was revealed, I wised up–a very slow process–and divorced my spouse.

    My friend remains married, and continues to bemoan her fate with her wife. I have never advised her to leave her wife, but I have tried to educate my friend with the terms and lessons I’ve learned here in hopes she would begin standing up for herself more. That has happened to a small degree (very small), but I doubt my friend will ever leave her spouse. What works for me in maintaining our friendship is to have adopted a modified version of the “cool, wow, bummer'” approach when my friend complains. I’ll agree that yes, that was unfair of her wife, but then I move on to talk about what in my friend’s life reveals her own talents and strengths (she is an artist). And yes, I hope that I am not just bucking her up in the face of her wife’s continue devaluation of her, but hoping that in learning to value herself she can act to demand the respect she deserves, whether or not she remains with her spouse. Of course, all this would be much more difficult were we still living in the same town.

    • I would have done anything to keep my family together, once upon a time. But I was alone in my commitment. My spouse had other ideas, mainly that a contract of marriage didn’t mean anything.

      I will say that I did stay until Dd#3 when I realized his cheating behavior was a pattern and not a mistake or circumstantial (his sibling died young and he became depressed). This was when the serial philandering was revealed. Cheating was a dealbreaker for me but would never have left otherwise. It took years for my therapist to peel me off the wall prior to DD#3 and that was just realizing my ex was indeed an alcoholic who had zero interest in recovery. Or our marriage it turns out. I was detaching with love for years before DD#3 for my own sanity.

      I try to be kind to others because I remember getting the ‘why did you stay so long’ from friends and family. They did not understand trauma bonding, abuse etc. and were not supportive. Then they wonder why I can’t play nice with him over the kids he abandoned. The head blender continues.

      However, once you accept the cheating then you become a volunteer like the RIC tells you to be. At-fault divorce is no longer an option—and most no-fault states do make exceptions for adultery if you can prove it. It is leverage for the abused spouse. I had given up almost all my dignity and self-respect by the end but I had to draw a line finally. I took back my agency when I said I wasn’t going to take it any more. The exFW still kicked it off by stating he wanted a divorce, I pick me danced for 6 mos, discovered a new affair and he confessed to many others and I had to file. He refused to take any action whatsoever and dragged the whole process out over another year (and beyond with custody).

      • Detaching with love can often set you up for further abuse, sadly. I learned a lot- and very quickly from a very slender book called “Getting Them Sober volume 4: Separation Decisions” by Toby Rice Drews. It fits alcohol drugs and narcissists… and is a bitchslap of compassion for their partners- we are getting ourselves sober and wisedup to reality.

  • I regret the infidelities I excused earlier in my life, assuming they weren’t my business. Several were in the “hemisphere” of my former in-laws and I wonder how their silence about infidelity contributed to FW’s behavior. Having been chumped, I can no longer be in close proximity to disrespect or abuse. It would feel like complicity.

    • I’m in a similar boat. My friend was cheated on by her boyfriend in college, and I am still feeling terrible for in retrospect not support her enough…maybe not having gone through it, maybe minimizing youthful relationships/expecting they will eventually end in one way or another. But I could not support it in any context now. You either honor the relationship as outlined by the parties involved, or there are honorable ways of exiting a relationship. Cheating is explicitly showing your partner that you care more about yourself and your wants more than you care about them or how such a hurtful action might make them feel. If anything, I would think the Golden Rule would apply extra to someone you are in that kind of intimate relationship with.

      • I always hated cheaters but wasn’t keen to how much pain it is being chomped. Until you go through it you don’t get.

        • Before I was Chumped I had no concept of how painful it is. I had a cheating friend and it made me uncomfortable but I never spoke out against it. Now, any form of cheating I cannot stand and have lost a single friend when I spoke out against her relationship with a married man. Songs and movies with cheating I avoid and if I find out a celebrity has cheated I will no longer watch them. Looking forward to CL documentary about cheating.

          • Agree. No no friends of mine. Not even an acquaintance. Once a coworker said she was dating married man I said i am the wrong person to be talking to and that’s a terrible idea. She repulses me. I can’t do the movies or shows either and can’t stand the fact that my daughter was recently cheated on and my husband told her “once a cheater is not always a cheater” I said dont tell her to accept this abuse! (Like I have)

  • Friendship comes in many varieties, some casual, some long lasting. It is rare, in my experience, to maintain a relationship with a friend over a long period of time. There has to be reciprocity, and truth, and transparency in any successful relationship, IMHO.

    Cheating is not the only issue you face with true friends. There is also a tolerance for some general griping, some important times when you show up to support them or open your door to shelter them. There are times when you tell them a truth they don’t want to hear, and times when you just keep your mouth shut, because an argument is pointless.

    I have a long-term friend who is a good person, at heart. She chooses to live in a delusional world some of the time, because she just doesn’t like reality. For instance, she has struggled with her weight all her life. She has gone on various diets, and the group of long-term friends we are a part of support her struggles. Most of us have the same issue, to varying degrees. When I see her sabotage all her efforts to be healthier by buying a bag of cookies or chips, I keep my mouth shut. She is a grown woman with serious health issues, and she knows what she is doing. I am not her keeper. However, she has another issue I don’t keep quiet about — she picks terrible men. As a group, the friends will listen to her griping up to a point. We have to stop her when we have had enough, and say “Why do you stay and put up with it? He will not change. We don’t need to be convinced how awful he is. We agree, he’s awful. Do something, or don’t complain.”

    This may sound harsh, but we had to stop talking to her entirely about her first husband before she finally did divorce him. We never liked him and tried to talk her out of marrying him. We could see all the red flags, and we warned her. She thought her love could change him. Disaster. We supported her, we talked about other subjects, we were there for her in every other way — but we were tired of hearing about him. We are very close to doing the same thing about husband #2.

    You cannot save a person who chooses to live in an alternate reality. It is not your job. It is hard enough to keep yourself focused on what is good for you in the real world. You cannot carry the burden of a friend who refuses to help herself. Sometimes it takes isolation in a painful place to make a person realize the pain of change is less than the pain of clinging to an untenable situation. The RIC advice keeps you in a bad place, prolongs your pain. ChumpLady tells you the truth. Leaving a toxic relationship is the path to gaining a life. It may not be what you want to hear, but it is what you need to hear, or tell a friend in a toxic relationship. Don’t waste your time listening to fantasy or agony stories. Tell the friend you are not there to be a sounding board for something with such an obvious solution and change the subject. It is hard, but it is what a true friend would do,

  • Bianca, does your husband owe the cheater money? Does he have a secret that the cheater knows? The only thing I can think of is that their “friendship” is so superficial no conversation about the cheating ever comes up. They probably talks about fishing, cars, football etc and nothing about feelings. As far as I can tell most men prefer to stay far away from any subject dealing with emotions, except with their wives…..and even that zips by quickly.

    Your friend sounds like she is terrified of abandonment. In her childhood did she lose someone she relied on? That lose can trigger abject fear in adults facing it again.

    • I have a different perspective Letgo, where the buds in the locker room liked to brag about their conquests extramarital and otherwise. This is my experience with athletes, racing, military and first responders and a lot of intensive hobbies. My ex was focused on two things: his pecker and the bottle. Everyone and everything else was in service to those things including his job. I just didn’t know or understand that until much much later.

  • Bianca, your husband is cheating on you. That’s why he’s such good friends with a man who openly cheats on and abuses his wife right in front of everybody.

    I’m honestly not trying to be snarky but you’re upset that she isn’t seeing it but you aren’t seeing it in your own life either. Does your husband hang out with his good buddy and his mistress? Does he fuck the mistress too? Is that why they’re such good buddies? You might think that’s ridiculous but that’s the kind of shit cheaters do.

    • Can verify. My cheating ex once casually mentioned that he and a certain good friend used to fuck the same women. As in, “I’ll take my turn now if you’re done with her for tonight.” I was appalled but at the time I figured that maybe I was just too uptight to understand such things. And it never occurred to me that “used to” could refer to “last week” rather than “before we met”. In fact, I even felt a blush of pride that he’d given up those kinds of exploits for me. Ha!

      Yep, my current self is screaming at my past self.

      • “My cheating ex once casually mentioned that he and a certain good friend used to fuck the same women. As in, “I’ll take my turn now if you’re done with her for tonight.” ”

        Ewwww, and how misogynistic.

  • I would be worried about your husband. I have never stayed friends with an unrepentant cheater. Heck, I would have dropped any friend who was cheating on their spouse. You are being used as a therapist by your friend. Maybe set some boundaries with her about you will or will not about? Since this is a rerun, I wonder what happened to this woman?

  • Everyone, calm down. Bianca here. I wrote this letter years ago. This letter wasn’t about my husband, but I wasn’t clear. He and cheater were good friends since childhood, through uni. The affair was a shock to my husband. So yes. They were good friends. But we told cheater we would always be on HER side. And once the affair was in the open my husband said he would be there in case friend/cheater needed him, but he would be on the wife’s side. It wasn’t an active buddy buddy friendship at that point anyway. In reality it was really just a Facebook friendship, we lived in different towns, cheater never took him up on the offer to talk. So yes in theory they were friends. In practice it wasn’t an active friendship, I think they saw eachother only on her birthdays (as we were HER friends we would support her) and they would talk for a bit. Affair never came up again. Friendships have all fizzled out since then.

    Affair and marriage lasted for another few years. It finally ended when cheater and OW took wife’s car (more fuel efficient) and disappeared for 2 weeks for a vacation. She had no clue. She was worried sick. He texted her after a day to tell her he would be back in a few weeks then turned off his phone. He missed important school functions including a daddy/daughter thing. She cancelled the bank cards so cheater and OW couldn’t use them during their “holiday”.
    Thankfully she saw the light and filed for divorce. When the divorce was final she married another chump the next month. So it was never about the cheater, she just wanted a man.

    • Ps I occasionally still check this blog as I love the way CL writes, and my friend always said she would write in one day. CL makes me laugh and gives kickass advice. Decided to check today and saw my letter!

    • Wow! Thanks for the update! I’m glad she divorced him, and I’m glad your husband isn’t like her husband.

    • It’s nice to know that you have a husband good, solid morals.
      I still think your friend was afraid of abandonment because she jumped on to someone so quickly. I just watched a TED talk about brain scans and it’s amazing what goes on, and does not go on, in brains with chaos and toxicity forced on them. She carried something from childhood.
      Curious. Did the husband marry the mistress?

      • Ha. No. But what no one ever knew or suspected was that cheater was actually quite an abusive husband. Mostly emotionally, he would have these bursts of anger and go off his rocket and say the most horrible stuff. Blaming the wife for all kinds of stuff. She and kids were walking on egg shells the whole marriage for fear of him blowing up at them in public. So this I never knew. He would get angry and shove the wife. Or yell at her for hours, locking her up in the house. Or walk down the stairs and shove the kids down the last 2-3 steps. 3 kids, they all moved out young, tolerated their father only because of their mother.

        Apparently he and OW got in a huge fight one day, she kicked him out. He trashed her place, she called the police. But the love was strong. Months later He blew up at her in public. She ended it.

        • Everyone should have CL’s idea that you take your dysfunctional crazy right along with you. It sounds like he met his match in the OW.

          • That’s what I’m hoping for deep down inside, i.e., that he took the dysfunctional crazy right along with him. Instead of the dynamic, wonderful man that everyone thinks he is, I hope he’s making his skank miserable (the one he left me for and married). As CL says, they don’t get a brain transplant. They’re still the same ugly people with their new acquaintances as they were with you. So even though I may never see karma, I have hope that his skank is getting everything she deserves. She coveted the fuckwit for years. Since she was married when they started their fling, I hope that he gets everything he deserves meaning that two selfish cheaters are still selfish and selfish people eventually want the other to make them feel wonderful about themselves. Might they be possibly cheating on each other now? Who knows? They’re in the late 60s and the bodies just don’t function like they used to. Maybe they’ll stay married the rest of their lives and it will be proof that it was ‘true love’ after all.

    • Thanks for the update. It’s a relief to know that creep is out of your husband’s life. Your friend certainly sounds like a highly dependent person who is desperate to not be alone. Jumping from the cheater to a new guy so quickly means she probably didn’t take time to heal and fix her picker. I hope she got lucky this time and he really is a good guy. Sadly, being chumped doesn’t stop a lot of people from cheating.

      • We don’t really keep in touch anymore. But I think she’s happy. They are both chumps that were in the same situation and they found eachother as a person to talk too while still in their marriages.

    • Thank you for the update! I’ve mentioned many times on here that I wish we could have a follow up on so many (all) of these stories.

    • That does sound a lot better. I thought they were being close friends through this. How you describe it here sounds way, way better and makes more sense.

  • A tailor/dressmaker once told me that she has lots of clients that stay with Cheaters because they like their home, the money, and their life – they’ve invested 20-30-40 years and have no interest in any man pawing them – they are happy with the fkwit just being their bank. The exact words were “ let him pound someone else’s flesh” they travel, lunch, and try to live their best life albeit with a cold cash cow that is their ATM machine but they are satisfied and the Cheater provides $. There’s no physical abuse – So they’ve reached a different kind of ‘mehh’. Maybe it works, maybe it’s cultural, maybe they laugh all the way to the bank. These people are in very high income brackets – it doesn’t mean the wives don’t feel the pain of betrayal they just handle it differently. At age 60 they’d rather keep shopping on Neiman’s than working there. And the Cheater gets his cake and kibbles and full portfolio in tact. I’ve learned not to judge how other people decide his to live. However if your friend complains and complains about the cheater maybe she just likes the attention and to complain. That’s not healthy for you. Her identity is sadly wrapped around being the mentally abused wife.
    Be a good friend and let her live her own best life however she, not you, define it. And I echo the others – maybe your husband has chosen to do the same- the cheater is a good golf buddy but lousy husband and he overlooks that – or your husband sadly is a cheater too- who knows what’s in people’s heads. Certainly not me…I was mindfucked for so long I forget how to drive home some days as I pass all the hotels he frequented with hookers- and my mind races through 30 years of horror scenes- my cheater made all my nightmares come true. But he didn’t kill my ability to still dream.

    • Klootzak and I are fairly high income and the only way I could dream of staying married to him would be if he lived someplace completely different and I never saw him. If someone is a cheater who is a decent human being to be around otherwise, maybe that works for some. But in many cases – certainly mine – FW is an AH in so many other respects, devaluing and making you and the kids walk around on egg shells while they think they are all-powerful. No amount of him being an ATM can make me tolerate the awful way he acts. Maybe we aren’t high enough income. lol

      I’m already working full time and we have enough assets that my slice of the pie will keep a roof over our heads though we might not have much furniture for a bit. I’d rather have less in the bank than continue to live with the stress of a FW more than I need to.

      Just want to say to OP that you tried your best with the info you had. I have close friends who keep me on track and have given me tools and resources and opened their homes to me so I can get out. It has meant the world to me. Their husbands don’t give klootzak the time of day. Having friends who see your strength and encourage you is an amazing thing. It was clearly psychologically hard for your friend to get out. It’s harder to see from the outside. I get that. Glad there was a happy end to the tale.

      • I would rather be single than ever stay with a fuckwit who cheats on me. Fortunately I have an income that will also enable me a retirement; it won’t be as nice as it would have been had I stayed with cheater ex, but good enough. But even then, I’d rather live in a tiny little apartment with my dignity than to know that my husband has a piece on the side. As for the Switzerland friends that are still friends with the dick ex, I don’t have anything to do with them anymore. If I had a girlfriend that put up with her husband’s infidelities just so she could continue shopping at the high-end stores, get her pedicures, etc., I think I would not be her girlfriend anymore; she would be relegated to ‘acquaintance’ status – probably just a Facebook acquaintance. I can say this because I have the luxury of living in a country that provides opportunities for single women to go out and make it on their own. But what if the girlfriend was very, very sick and depended on her husband’s insurance money? Or what if the girlfriend lived in a country where the men made all the money and it was normal to keep a mistress? If such a girlfriend would be left destitute were she to ‘maintain her dignity’ and dump her cheater husband, I would have to be more understanding. I’m very grateful to have been in a position that I didn’t have to stay married to the fuckwit.

  • I had a large group of friends and after DDay I spread out my talking so as not to burn any of them out. For a long time, being around me was like visiting someone in the ICU and talking to me was like sitting right next to a burning house. This subject is so intense the potential for burnout is high.

    Is the advice solicited or
    unsolicited? If it’s unsolicited, the easiest first step is to stop offering advice. If she asks you for advice, be honest. If she doesn’t like your honest response, she’ll usually quit asking. She may distance herself. It’s always a good idea to resist the urge to offer unsolicited advice.

    If you feel drained talking about it, say so, say why, and change the subject. Then you’ll see if you have a friendship or if you are just an auditory garbage can.

    To be honest, I also have to be aware of the ego trip of being asked for advice. I have found it helpful to look at myself if I am angry that someone has not followed my advice….

    Being honest, straightforward, letting someone know what is going on with you is always a good way to sort things out. Good friendships are revealed and characterized by honesty.

  • Bianca, I immediately had the same thought as CL. Why is your husband friends with this pig? That worries me more than the chump friend does. It’s obvious she’s so deep in denial she can’t possibly be talked out of it, so you have to let that go, and as CL says, keep things light. Let her know you’re there if she needs you, but until she is willing to do something about it, you won’t discuss it anymore and you won’t have anything to do with her husband, so there will be no socializing or going on outings as couples.

    My FW had a cheater friend too, though I did not know it at the time. A few years after becoming friends with him, he also started cheating. I’d sure as hell wonder what Bianca’s husband’s values are that he is good friends with such an abusive POS. Bianca, your husband needs to read CL and you need to have a long talk with him about his values, emphasizing that he is enabling a domestic abuser. You may need to put your foot down that he either keeps his creep friend or keeps you, but not both. One of the biggest red flags for cheating is having cheater friends. Get to him before it’s too late. I think you need this couple out of your lives. It’s stressful and disturbing to watch and it’s courting trouble in your own marriage if strong boundaries about who you are friends with are not in place. Methinks if the shoe was on the other foot, and you had a friend who gleefully cheated on her husband, your husband wouldn’t be okay with you hanging out with her.

  • I used to have a friend like this who stays with her husband because “the Bible hates divorce “. But she could have divorced him if he left her (because then it wouldn’t have been her fault? I swear, the pretzels she twisted herself into to follow the rules of her marriage, her religion, pleasing her parents, was mind-boggling.) She finally told me we couldn’t be friends after a conversation where she insisted that helicopters were following her husband and I asked if she was aware of how paranoid that sounded.
    She called me about three months later like nothing happened; it was the strangest conversation I’ve ever had. After hanging up I then blocked her number.
    In retrospect, I suspect she may be on medication where the side effects are paranoia, and she’s taking these to cope with her husband’s infidelity. Ultimately though, it doesn’t matter. It’s not my job to fix her life. If she’s emotionally masochistic, there’s nothing I can do about that.

  • I’ve known many, many woman (and men too) who have stayed in their marriages despite the ongoing infidelity and emotional abuse. And they do it for many reasons, financial security, religious conviction, co-dependence, love….

    If you don’t want to leave, then accept this is as good as its going to get, and may get a good deal worse before the end. Gonna have to suck it up Buttercup.

    I didn’t want to be one of those women. So glad I said FU and left.

    • SC, I agree. It is important to me to have trust and stability in a long term relationship. I got married because I wanted a partnership and to give and receive love from someone who was ‘my’ person. I’m sure marriage can be built on other more mundane and contractual aspects but I just can’t get over the lack of loyalty and affection that infidelity implies. Which, to me, means the cheater holds all the cards and is saying ‘we can be married until something better FOR ME comes along’. Relying on someone else financially is a mistake I made, thinking that supporting his career was an investment in our mutual future. He disagreed. What a Crock.

  • Bianca
    I maybe wrong but IMO I feel your husband is also cheating. For him to still be friends with such a low life narcissistic man makes sense. I hear desperation in your post with insecurity in your marriage. Your friend is in a terrible place because I’ve been there after long marriage and know the pain . But I got to the point that when the hurt with staying with him was worse than leaving…
    I knew there was nothing to hold onto.
    Heartbroken and financially strapped I now live for myself with self respect and peace. Your friend hopefully will divorce that dirt bag of a man and love herself more.

    • I typed an update above. I’m still very happily married. We are no longer in touch with friend and cheater.

  • This reminds me a bit about a good friend of mine, whose long term boyfriend (they’re gay and don’t believe in marriage) was a drunk. Every six weeks or so, E would panic call me about how S was drunk again, so he had to leave to go to their city apartment. Then, six weeks later, E would start to use the royal we again. “We have been enjoying that TV show….” Finally I just said, “I do not want to hear another word about S, ever. I can’t take it. You know what you should do, you’re too weak to do it, and I can’t stand the drama any more.”

  • Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. You need to extract your husband from this friendship or your friend won’t be the only one with a FW living in her house.

  • I have probably a little more empathy for this friend — only because I know how nightmarish things were in the worst moments of my marriage. “Just leave him” sounds a lot easier when you’re telling someone else to do it.

    I know it’s the right thing to say, and I know it’s the right thing to do, but think about this: among women in my demographic, 27% of us end up living below the poverty level after divorce. That’s quite a disincentive.

    I thought putting my daughter through that, just when she was in her tweens, would traumatize her and she’d never forgive me. Turns out, she’s far more unforgiving with me for putting up with an impossible husband, as she says, “for the money” (as if!). The truth is, I was looking at the lesser of two catastrophically bad choices — not because I was in denial or hesitant, but because I understood reality much better than any bystander ever could. I’m not the one who forced these two choices — I shouldn’t be punished.

    That has to change. We shouldn’t be beating up on the weakest and most vulnerable to be the agents of change here, we should be publicly shaming the judges and lawyers and husbands who profit off of this travesty.

    Be a good friend to her. She will need it. Don’t force-feed her advice she resists; just be there for her.

  • Funny how Letter writer glossed right over how her own husband was “good friends” with Cheater, and only brought it up because it made it harder for her to distance from Chump. Looks like Chump is neither the only one with a problem here, nor the only one burying her head in the sand. Bianca, time to find your own values and backbone, and tend your own garden.

  • I find the most powerful response in these kinds of scenarios is not try to sway your friend but simply to let her know you’re here if she needs you. Sometimes they focus on digging their heels in against their naysaying friends and it takes the focus off of the cheating idiot.

    In regards to your husband being friends with the cheater – be careful. My cheating ex was besties with a rampant, lifelong, dirtbag cheater and guess what? My ex was cheating too. I don’t think people can be that close with folks who’s morals values are vastly counter to our own.

  • It took me 5 years to leave after I caught the cheating for the first time. The abuse and cheating only escalated over that time. I was so lucky to have a couple of great friends who stood with me through all of that. They heard me every time I told them about a new abuse and cheating incident. They were my reality check. They listened and confirmed my feelings that it was all deeply wrong. I maybe put them through hell because I didn’t know how to leave. Domestic violence is incredibly hard to escape from. But I probably wouldn’t have survived or made it out without the support of these friends.

  • I have a friend who left her husband not long after I kicked mine out because she found out about some dating apps he was on. She found this site read LACGAL but continues to take his calls, meet occasionally. I’ve told her the only peace is to go no contact but she doesn’t listen. Recently she told me he’s got a new partner but he told her the relationship is only until my friend and her fuckwit get back together. They’ve even been sexting!🤮🤮🤮 despite her telling me he’s old and fat etc etc. I’ve asked her how she feels being the other woman and whether she’s thought about his new partners feelings. She says she doesn’t care. I don’t think We can remain friends after this.

    • I agree, CDU. Not friend material. It’s like CL says- you can suck and still be chumped. All chumped people aren’t good people, naturally. Some of them are actually FWs themselves. What a shame your friend turned out to be such an ass.

  • I would say he is definitely an abuser. Please make sure your friend knows you will help her when she is ready to leave the abuse. You’re in an impossible spot. (PS Your husband is enabling the abuse because the patriarchy has brainwashed him into thinking this is acceptable).

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