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She Was Going to ‘Make It Up to Me’

Hello Chump Lady,

I’ve been reading your posts for the past three years understanding and yet ignoring all of your sage advice till just recently. Love is not only blind, it’s deaf, dumb, and stupid as well. I discovered 5 of my wife’s affairs in 2016. After a psychotic break and several suicide attempts back then, I somehow convinced myself that her contrition was sincere and believed her when she said, she’d spend “the rest of her life making it up to me.” Her sex addiction explanation was compelling and believable to a desperate spouse terrified of being single again in his 50s and not wanting to shatter his son’s sense of security and normalcy.

Back to the present. After 3 years without sex or any real intimacy, (I often wondered when the “making it up to me” was going to start), while looking for a Q-Tip last month, I opened a drawer and found a partial tube of vaginal estrogen cream purchased just months ago. I then understood that nothing had changed at all and that I had been the perfect stooge all along.

Three weeks later, I’m doing the nomad thing going from couch to couch till i can get my own digs. I’m sad, I’m depressed, I’m afraid, but mostly I’m angry. At her for being such a malignant narcissist who used me for the duration of our 15 year marriage, (she invited one of her lovers to our wedding I discovered!!) But mostly I was angry with me for burying my head in the sand and wish thinking for so long when I could have been living life. Serial cheaters don’t change. Don’t let your other followers waste the years that I did hoping beyond hope that they can.

Each day is a little bit better now. The best wisdom I’ve received this past month was from a divorced friend distilled into one sentence. “It sucks getting divorced, but its great being divorced”. I hope to soon find this to be the case.


The Fish Doctor

Dear Fish Doctor,

She’s about to Make It Up To You by exiting your life. Not to say she’ll go easy (fuckwits usually don’t), but you will get your freedom. And may she live happily ever after with her partial tube of vaginal cream.

Please don’t beat yourself up.

I somehow convinced myself that her contrition was sincere

Skepticism isn’t the out-of-the-gate response with someone you’ve spent over a decade loving and trusting. Wanting to believe is normal. Your heart was blown apart by these revelations, and you projected what YOU would do, how YOU would behave — Fish Doctor would be sorry. You assumed that breakdown was for you, not her.

It’s very difficult — and painful — to change long-held assumptions, like “trust wife.” Brain science says it’s “cognitively costly” — so changing course and doing the sorts of things I advise here — go into self-protection mode, be guarded — don’t feel natural. What feels right is stopping the pain, and if she says she’s sorry and going to do “everything” to stop your pain? Of course you’re going to jump on that like a starving Labrador attacks a steak.

We’ve been there, and it doesn’t end well. Sometimes we learn sooner than three years of sunk costs, and sometimes we learn later. The important thing is you got out.

I’m sad, I’m depressed, I’m afraid, but mostly I’m angry. At her for being such a malignant narcissist who used me for the duration of our 15 year marriage,

Learn from it. That’s the only way forward. Learn from it.

T.H. White, in The Once and Future King wrote:

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

Learn how narcissists wag and why you wag. Discover reciprocity in your relationships. Value the people who value you — who demonstrate it.

she invited one of her lovers to our wedding I discovered!!

Me too. I paid the bar tab for one of the Other Women. We should form a chump conga line.

Serial cheaters don’t change. Don’t let your other followers waste the years that I did hoping beyond hope that they can.

It really doesn’t matter if they change or don’t change. There’s you and what you’ll tolerate. YOU can change. You can learn from this sucktacular, unjust situation and launch yourself into a new life. You control that. The ways of fuckwits, not so much.

Look what a lot of things there are to learn.

This one ran before. I’m moving today!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • “she invited one of her lovers to our wedding I discovered!!

    Me too. I paid the bar tab for one of the Other Women. We should form a chump conga line.”

    And I brought a bottle of wine to AP at her supposed “neighborly bbq” (that was really just a ruse to get my son and her kids together)

    Can I hold a pair maracas and yell “ay ay ay!” in our conga line?

    • I had OW over for Christmas. Because I felt sorry for her. She had left her husband (for mine!, I later learned) and it was her first Christmas without her kids. Made her dinner on her birthday, too.

    • What a chump unwittingly did for an AP could probably be a Friday challenge.

      • Tracy – yep. Friday challenge… and also a clear reminder that FWs are abusive masochistic assholes

      • Yes, please!
        Learning that the people (not just your partner) who you helped/were friendly with, were laughing behind your back is an extra level of pain!

      • Sold his couch and moved it for him. Called in a favor to borrow a pickup truck to transport it.

    • Lol. Ay, ay. You make me laugh. Get this: I didn’t think FW should break it off with the AP over text because that would be “cruel.” With what I know now, I might have recommended he do it with a blowtorch. But aww, wasn’t I adorable? So were you.

      When I was a kid, my dad forbade that era’s Disney princess movies because he thought women were brainwashed enough to be forbearing, forgiving doormats. He railed against Cindy Lou Hoo “seeing good” in the Grinch because, in his hard-knock experience, coddling villains doesn’t melt their hearts, just makes them more evil. He fought the school system over squashy gender biased content like this in scholastic books.

      But I was still a chump. My dad might have helped move the dial a little by example so that I at least fought back a little harder but I was still a bleeding heart. The thing is, as an adult I can appreciate that, in a better world, being Cindy Lou Hoo or Belle would be great, optimal, wonderful. I appreciate both women and men with generous, innocent hearts. I don’t like the fact that this type (er, me) typically gets massacred by reality. But I think once the wising up path is followed, the door prize can be being wiser and funnier.

      • Where are these innocent hearts? I see them here on CN. But I’ve disconnected myself from the real world at this point because all I seem to find are the selfish, greedy type. I can’t even watch the news anymore because it makes me sick.

        • I’m with you, ChumpQueen. There are so many assholes out there that I’m pretty close to being a hermit. I can’t handle any more toxicity.

          • When Elon Musk puts his island on the market to raise the money to buy Twitter, I’m totally buying it and making a hermit haven for chumps. I’ll send you the address. ; )

              • Karma Island could be fun, though. One of my friends, whose husband was cheating on her, posted a link today to a news story on her FB page – the OW and some other guy were arrested in N.C. for some major Medicaid fraud. Like, millions of dollars worth.

        • lately, because post-covid, bad weather, (and in my own case being replaced by an algorithm- first the other women- now an alogorithm HA!) I took my dear son’s advice and I am watching Obama’s “Our National Parks” on Netflix. It is heartening to know we haven’t quite destroyed everything, so my bleeding heart has been refreshed by it. The parks are not just in North America. The animals are SO watchable, and fascinating, the footage is SO beautiful (and it’s not David Attenborough or Mstual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, not that Sir David hasn’t done a lifetime of amazing work) But here, the animals and ecosystems seem to speak for themselves. Maybe this is off-topic, but I get depressed and sick of the psycho freaks out there (and on line, and everywhere in the media)… hugs etc

          • Hippos catching the waves while listening to Obama’s suave voice are helping me through the week . FW is getting served Monday or Tuesday, and has realized I’m serious… I’ve been threatened of losing my part in our company , threatened he will not leave , has told my children I’m crazy, said I would lose everything… sounds so scary right? Eyeroll , projection. Mofo is scared, tables turned but the monkeys in Gabon are adorable 😉

        • ChumpQueen: Have you ever considered that you’re living in the wrong place? I had to move with the kids to a beautiful culture-packed city in another country to find those people because they were pretty damned thin on the ground where we were living before. But here everything just fits. It was worth the struggle to make it happen.

          I think it’s actually possible to be geographically gaslighted and boiled like a frog in a negative or just ill-fitting social environment. I’ve read some fancy sociological and economic theories about why some places are rigid and insular and others groovy but, just like living with FWs, “understanding” won’t make the proverbial air quality any better. Socioeconomic theories of why that former region was so uptight was yet another exciting idea I couldn’t share with the local prigs and stuffed shirts. I made ONE FRIEND in ten years in that place. Now she wants her kids to go to uni where we’re living. One of her daughters is seriously studying the language for that purpose.

          Other than that one friend and a few acquaintances, our former second-string city/burb was such a social Siberia that I started losing myself and had begun to think it was me. But deep down I had an inkling it wasn’t just me because I’d traveled quite a bit for work before kids and eventually figured out that I’m like a plant that grows best in certain social climates. The kids are the same. They have such a different life here and so many opportunities which is more than half the reason I’m happier too.

          In our former place of residence when I was planning the move, some local armchair analyst psycho-babbled a warning that wherever we go is the same because “we can’t escape ourselves.” Half truth. I did drag myself along but myself turns out to be just fine in certain environments and not so fine in others.

          I think it can be tough for people born in the wrong place to begin with. How would they have any hope that anywhere else would be better? The first step is to meet people from different places and, if possible, travel and scope. In any case, it might not be you that’s the problem or else any problems you bring in tow might be deeply exaggerated by breathing the wrong air and it’s so much easier to “work on oneself” in a generally warmer environment.

          • HoaC: You are right. I am living in the wrong place. But I’m starting over on a small salary after spending 20 years helping FW make 300k+ a year. I had no money for a lawyer, so I settled just to be done with the stress. I have a master’s degree in literature, and I was an adjunct professor for 10 years, but capitalist America has no use for that. (Irony alert: FW teaches tennis, and he’s now wealthy.) My cynicism runs deep.

            I moved where I now live because it’s cheap, and I had an opportunity to get a teaching license. I’d like to put my house on the market and get out when I’ve completed my licensure next year. But I’m 57, so the likelihood of getting hired elsewhere is slim. The world believes I have very little value, and it’s difficult to prove them wrong.

            New chumps and young folks: read my story as a warning. Get away from the FW, and go into sales (or tennis, apparently). Love and literature are for fools.

          • This is so true. I moved following divorce and allowed kids to move where they wanted for college. Warmth and sun beats anxiety and depression!

    • I gave some her some of the candy I bought for my own kids’ Easter basket, for her kid. Because she forgot. Easter candy still gives me hives a bit

        • Ha yes! It’s actually a long story. Short version, my Very Important ex did a speaking event with David Brooks during the discard. They were on such a similar “journey.” Total barf.

    • Mine invited herself to our anniversary dinner, at a restaurant, and spent the rest of the evening with us.

  • Fish Doctor, she sounds evil enough to divorce for her past actions, and you should always trust your gut about what you think is going on now. BUT…vaginal estrogen cream is often prescribed to we women of a certain age to maintain our lady-parts-health, with or without sexual activity. So don’t base your belief she is cheating solely on this. It certainly sounds like you have other things to base it on, though. I am sorry you are going through this.

    • I agree. I probably should’ve marshaled a defense for estrogen cream, but I took his point to be the maintenance may have been for someone else’s benefit beyond her own.

      • Ah, I worked in environmental health for 12 years and looked into this stuff. Nerd alert!!

        I was eventually brought around to the view that, if necessary, bioidentical hormone supplementation can be a legit all-around health strategy impacting every system in the body, so not necessarily proof of cheating. Secret Viagra use on the other hand is open and shut. But the OP had more than enough reasons to doubt to begin with, including the fact that his FW kept her hormone treatment a secret. Who does that? Another hint that the OP’s FW is shady is that topical hormones are generally used on the skin. Only one type of estrogen is prescribed for, um, the nethers, and it’s because vaginal dryness and issues with sex are the specific problems being targeted. That form reportedly isn’t good for anything else (depression, arthritis, fatigue, night sweats, etc., etc.) and isn’t even necessary if the other tailored hormones are being prescribed.

        The latter bit carries with it a little poetic justice: She’s definitely seeing a quack because I’ve been told no doctor worth their salt would prescribe only that particular estrogen alone. Many docs have discontinued prescribing it. I wrote about this years ago because the publication I worked with, while it did lean crunchy, was really careful to distinguish itself from quackery to avoid “anti-science” straw man accusations from chemical industry trolls. So we reviewed crunchy trends in medicine by covering all the science, pro and con. I learned this particular estrogen prescribed alone may up the risk of cancer and has to be balanced out by other hormones (established by frequent lab testing) to allay the risk. Also whomever screws this FW risks dick problems because topical estrogen can mess with male partners’ hormone balance and potentially cause extended ED. If she was having sex with the OP or had any intention of doing so, it would be irresponsible not to tell him of her treatment. But she may not know of the risks herself. There are responsible physicians who inform patients of those dangers but the bioidentical thing went viral in woo circles and some who prescribe this stuff are goofballs and don’t share the caveats.

        On the general subject, it scares me that more and more people are having hormone issues and at younger and younger ages. It really shouldn’t be necessary. It seems to be Erin Brockovich’s new bugaboo– that we’re living in a shit-storm of hormone disrupting chemicals.

        I’ve even wondered if this doesn’t increase rates of cheating. Narcs with shrinking dicks, an inappropriate excess of or decrease in androgens and compromised fertility are extra-desperate narcs.

        Pesticides, plasticizers, “metaloestrogens” (Google it. Who knew?) and synth hormones in food, oh my. To be on the safe side and avoid future medical bills, I invested in a water filtration system, swapped everything plastic in the house for glass and stainless, clean the entire house with vinegar and bicarbonate, use only sea salt and get organic farm shares. I think I’ve launched a cult because everyone around us started doing exactly the same. If I didn’t stop short of making our own soap, I could probably start a chump branch of Fight Club. The first thing I think we’d do is crash a Perel Ted Talk dressed as dancing sparkly genitals har.

    • The fact that she was not having sex with him may suggest this was intended for playtime with others. Seems like there might be some history, although there are other legitimate reasons to use it. It is not unlike discovering your spouse is suddenly grooming their private areas.

      • Thanks for man-splaining the “true” use of estrogen cream. I’ll be sure to share this knowledge with my gynecologist.

        • I would not attempt to suggest the “true” use of estrogen cream. But Fish Doctor felt it was a notable event and I will yield to my fellow chump about it’s significance.

        • He’s accurate regarding the type of estrogen prescribed as vaginal suppository. It’s telltale since it’s only for vaginal dryness/sex lube. I wrote a geeky thing about it.

          • According to my doctor, it maintains the vaginal walls, whether or not you are sexually active, which is a good thing. It’s not lube; that would be a smoking gun, but the estrogen cream or suppositories is not.

      • Dear Bruno and everyone arguing about the estrogen cream,

        I am in agreement that it would be concerning to find the estrogen cream. I am in menopause. But I haven’t had pain or concern “down there” except during sex. And that prompted me to go to my doctor and get estrogen support. Would I have bothered going to my doc or “fixing anything” if I weren’t sexually active? Probably not.

        So it is not unreasonable to believe that Fish Doctor’s FW was using the cream to make sure she could continue to enjoy sex through menopause.

        I am using myself as an example. I do not represent all women. I do not in any way represent this cheating FW.
        So it IS possible that she got the cream just for personal care — and that it had nothing to do with her cheating and wanting to continue to enjoy sex. But….. FW so….

        Anyway … please… let’s err on the side of this: ALL of us chumps have been through enough. Please stop piling on.

  • “ What feels right is stopping the pain, and if she says she’s sorry and going to do “everything” to stop your pain?”

    Imagine the OW (#19) asking why you stayed with a serial cheater?

    While I was aware of the predictable cycles I didn’t know about covert narcissists and the cycles of a narcissistic relationship. Admittedly, I believed words despite his actions. Leaning about these cycles of power and control while humiliating, helped me file for a divorce.

    The pain as Tracy states, is finite. You have to go through it despite feeling it will never stop. It does.

    And I’ll join the conga line; the OW (who was pregnant) visited me in the hospital after the birth of my second child. Then she visited my home unannounced weeks later.

    And to the skanky ho who won the prize? Your investment was my gain.

    • OW had the gall to ask me why I stayed with him. Unfortunately, that kind of question left me speechless.

      • The last OW sent me many texts and emails, telling me that she was a much better and wiser person than me. That her standards and expectations were much higher than mine.
        Essentially, telling me that she would have left him long ago if she were in my place.
        Hmmm, but you stayed with him for 10 years as the side piece. And from what he told me in his final information dump, you degraded yourself by allowing him to experience kinks that he got from watching hardcore porn. I almost feel sorry for you.
        But, on the other hand you knew what he was and still stayed with him. I plead innocent on that charge; I absolutely did not know what he was. You tried to play your mind games with me, but I know too much about you now to ever respect your thoughts about anything.

        • Oldcrone, that’s a perfect illustration of how stupid and delusional these narcissistic fuckwitted losers are.

          • She was rather stupid and also delusional.
            But the ex wasn’t much better, he really thought that I would just forgive and forget, because I did it before. I told him after the first one that there would never be a third chance to hurt me
            He couldn’t believe I would “throw 42 years away”.
            No dude, you did that. I was just following up with the paperwork.

        • Wow, the FW thought process– not even a glimmer of recognition from her that she might be projecting. It’s not like “externalization” is even a modern concept. I was just watching “Little Dorrit” with Claire Foy in the title role and had a renewed bout of appreciation for Dickens. Old Mr. Dorrit, inches from final collapse and losing his marbles, accuses his completely sane brother of being decrepit and out of his wits.

          I need to reread all these books instead of binging on literary adaptations.

  • I’m going to offer the controversial opinion that this chump was probably not partner material. Red flags all over the place including thinking that sex would be the way to “make it up to him” or that estrogen cream belonging to a mature woman was evidence of continued infidelity. The severity of the mental health issues, without mention of a current therapy plan, the lack of individuation/self worth after having been single until his thirties, the lack of pursuing an alternative child custody plan all suggest that this chump was a volunteer. I’m not suggesting he wasn’t in severe pain or being misled by his spouse. Just not partner material. As we know, there are honorable and healthy ways to leave a marriage.

      • It is straight up victim blaming.
        The problem is a flagrantly cheating partner, not a concocted mental health analysis by someone that has only a tiny slice of the story.
        How many people in this group are going to hear that voice in their head saying “I was just not good enough” suddenly get louder and come to the forefront?
        Somebody is just looking to get one up on the rest of us.

    • The cheater was not marriage material. That would have been the first red flag if she had been honest about who she was. She did what she thought she could get away with until she couldn’t, then thought she could lie and future fake, etc. I am very sorry for what this chump went through and is going through. Sorry he had to go through more after the ddays. If one reconciles with someone and no intimacy is being shown, IMO it is time for questions. However, always follow the actions not the words.

      • “…always follow the actions not the words.” Wise, universal advice!

        I spent the better part of 17 years holding fast to my ex-wife’s words; she “loved” me after all, while constantly spackling over her contradictory actions, sadly repackaging them as dismissible personality quirks. I’m now 4 years out from d-day and, in the spirit of Amazing Grace, I was blind but now I see. Looking back, through her actions, she consistently demonstrated who she was and how she felt about me and our marriage.

        We chumps tend to embrace the WORDS, because we inherently trust and believe, but ACTIONS always reveal one’s true character and intent.

        • “We chumps tend to embrace the WORDS, because we inherently trust and believe, but ACTIONS always reveal one’s true character and intent.”

          This is *so* true, but my chumpy self is now learning to look at actions not words. I hope you are, too.

        • My Cheater was an exception the the “Ignore words, watch actions” mantra. His words were grossly disrespectful, abusive, cheater-esque, unpredictable, and fucked up while his actions often followed the “minimum required to look like a good guy” playbook. Dday was followed by him blocking OW and being home all while saying horrible things to me. Turns out that his horrible adulterous actions were well hidden.

    • Hindsight is 20/20 isn’t it? Oftentimes the false narrative precedes our understanding of the breadth and depths of what we are dealing with, especially the devaluation. It’s not uncommon to be in a sexless marriage with a serial cheater who lacks intimacy. Justification to cheat is typically blamed on the innocent partner for not having sex when in fact it is withheld. Blaming it on a sex addiction is also used to justify the holding pattern. No one signs up for the layered abuse of a toxic narcissist.

        • I was in the same boat. How many people can you turn to and say “my spouse hasn’t touched me in 10 years but he says it’s him and not me?”

          • I also did the 10 years no sex trauma. I tried to talk to him about it and he looked sad and shut down. He was never a particularly accomplished lover but I put up with that. He invested very little. I look back now with the help of a therapist and ask ‘what was I thinking’. And as a 62 year old, the answers are very, very painful. But ignoring the answers doesn’t help.

      • Yes, yes, and yes! He withheld sex for years and literally told me it was my fault. I picked at my face until I had scars and then spent too much money on makeup, which made him angrier. There’s no way to fix it, and you don’t know why, so you believe you must be the problem. What a nightmare. And people wonder why I’m done with relationships. Hah! I’ll stick with my cat, thank you.

        • That must have been painful emotionally and physically, ChumpQueen. I developed several tics in those last 10 years of marriage (together 26 years). Those tics disappeared once I started working through the trauma. 2.5 years out from being discarded, I can feel snippets of the real me emerging. And I’ll stick with my dog.

      • This resonates with me. My serial philandering exFW never initiated sex our entire three decades. I remember wondering if he got it elsewhere, but had no proof. My needs certainly were not of any concern to him. Some time before the final DD, I told my therapist that I was not going to initiate relations any more; I was going to wait and see how long it would take him to do so. The answer is ‘never’. During the divorce process guess what exFW threw out there? Yes, that I had been withholding sex. That we hadn’t had any in months and months—probably to justify his cheating. Fortunately I knew exactly what I had been testing. By that time I no longer cared.

    • I was married (chump) to a serial cheater. The abuse caused me to have multiple mental health issues where I attempted suicide and was hospitalized a few times. I also had a few autoimmune diseases. Please be kind. A lot of men suffer abuse in silence because of the stigma that is attached to men who are abused. That they are not manly enough to keep a woman or that they are not believed because women “can’t be abusers”. I had to leave my home in two days because my ex was trying to get me arrested for “abuse”.

    • So what if the chump here wasn’t “marriage material”? That doesn’t mean they deserved to be cheated on and abused. It’s more victim blaming bullshit.

    • Well, I attempted reconciliation so I suppose I’m a volunteer and not partner material too. Oh well, at least I’m not some piece of shit cheater or one of their defenders.

    • Considering the amount of chumps here who married in their 20s only to find out in middle age their partner had been living a lie…waiting until you are in your 30s before marriage doesn’t seem a terrible idea/indication of lack of self worth in and of itself.

    • Perhaps you would be happier in a support group that victim blames? I am not sure you are Chump Lady “material”. There are “honorable and healthy ways” to leave.
      Just don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!

    • You’re in the wrong place, friend. We don’t victim blame here. Go find a Perel group.

    • My first thought was that it was a troll writing a fake letter.substituting wife for husband, vaginal cream for a condom, exaggerating his health conditions….but new chumps often can’t express themselves clearly.
      Tracy can usually suss out the fakers, so I’m assuming this was legit & I am thankful for how compassionate all CL’s responses are to chumps. I wonder if Mr. Fish ever replied?

    • “I’m going to offer the controversial opinion that this chump was probably not partner material”

      I’m going to offer the opinion that blaming the chump *victim * is a shitty thing to do, and is cheater behaviour, or cheater apologist behaviour.

    • AM, I don’t understand why you think that. The way I read it, making it up to him with sex was her idea, not his, and a male being ignorant of the purpose of estrogen cream would be commonplace, I would think.
      Nor do I understand what you mean about mental health issues. Most of us, if not all, have had or do have mental issues from being chumped.

      Sure, it could be that he sucks IRL. It could be true of any one of us. But it’s irrelevant because the advice is the same- get the cheater out of your life, mind and heart.

    • The fact that 21 people agree with this “controversial opinion” is enough for me to leave the site, which wouldn’t make the world stop spinning. I find not a hint of this idea in Tracey’s response, which is comforting, I suppose. I receive the viewpoint with respect for the opinion — as it is offered — wholly contrary to my view, but I’m a chump. Who knows?

      • It bothers me too. His spouse cheated their entire marriage, over a decade, invited her fuck buddy co abusers to his wedding but we’re supposed to blame him because she has a pussy and is in menopause?!

        Oh fuck no.
        Someone with a pussy who is also in menopause

    • I don’t understand this comment at all.
      * He never said that sex would be the way to make it up to him; it’s normal to want to have sex with your spouse.
      * We have no idea if he was single until his 30s; where is that coming from? This could be his second wife, for all we know.
      * One cannot pursue an “alternative child custody plan” with their head in a blender; ask just about any chump on this board.

      Seriously, what is the point of such a baseless put-down of the LW?? We are here to support each other.

    • Wow! I can picture an abuser using some of Almost Monday(AM)’s phrases here… The FW could have said, “You’re not partner material! You’re lucky I put up with you!” “Your servere mental health issues are showing. Don’t bother me.” “You’re not worthy of sex with me!” “How dare you pressure me for sex when I’m post-menopausal. You know intercourse hurts me. How selfish of you! No you didn’t ask, but I saw it in your face. Don’t lie to me!”

      Fish Doctor (LW) was brave to finally face the horror of his lost investment, and how cruelly he was exploited. He reached out for help from CL. Good for him! LW would have only been a “volunteer” if he had cheated with his FW on someone else as her AP/OM.

      Also, when we say “healthy ways of leaving”, we mean divorcing/separating before diving into bed with APs, lying about it, and then hoovering your chump with false promises as they try to exit. This kind of ruthless exploitation isn’t at all equivalent to some unprepared chump getting hoovered when they’re wobbly. AM should know this, so I’m not going to feel guilty if feelings were hurt.

      I wonder if I’m feeding a troll with attention. But one of the purposes of this site is to help chumps see through heaping specimens of bull***t. Some commenters… I’ve wondered if they were actually FW’s testing whether they can pass as chumps, what BS sticks, and what stance/language would get past our guard. Just fyi.

    • Almost Monday replying to (and clarifying) my earlier comment. My observation about red flags is not to defend or suggest that anyone deserves to be cheated on. At this point in my healing, I view healthy relationships with raised expectations. Chumps need to be supported to recognize when their own pain (including current/ongoing mental health issues) suggests that stepping away from relationships is fine. Pursuing therapy, creating a separate and successful life, being the best possible parent is what we – and our future partners – should expect. Hard in early days, but definitely the goal.

    • I am happy this is just a rerun and the OP probably will not read this comment and risk being retraumatized.
      I hesitated to comment, but here I go (I am sure I will regret it later on).
      I would gladly agree I too am not “partner material”. My FW XW implied that many times, in subtle and not so subtle ways. I do agree with her and that is part of the reason I will not ever again dip my toe into the dating pool. Not going to risk “ruining” anyone’s life anymore by just being me close enough to others. And not willingly making a fool of myself. I am convinced though that I am pretty decent “parent material”, “son material”, “brother material”, “friend material”, “worker material” and “citizen material”, for what it is worth, and I think this is good enough. Apparently, I also have been quite reliable “private teacher material” (we met short before college), “sex material”, “handyman material”, “financial material” and “childrearing material” for twenty years, but then I’ve got obsolete after her last promotion. (The whole commodification of human beings this line of argument entails is sickening)
      What not qualifying to “partner material” does not imply is that our life partners are therefore allowed to abuse us, beat us down (literally or metaphorically) into complete submission, steal from us (money, time and opportunities), cheat on us and humiliate us as they shop for more valuable human commodities in the marketplace. That’s funny… I don’t recall forcing or even begging FW XW to marry me or to stay married to me… quite the contrary. But again, I am not disputing the claim I am not “partner material”, I embrace it. It was long ago since I have been so free (hoover attempts and harassment notwithstanding). I do think she was very fucked up to begin with in order to stick with me for so long. She could have done way better.
      This was just for argument’s sake. I do not agree that there is anything in the OP’s letter that hints at him not being “partner material”, quite to the contrary. Reading between the lines is very murky waters. More so if the lines came from some one in acute suffering. I wish we could try and be more soft and kind with each other.

  • I’m glad the OP left – but isn’t vaginal estrogen for menopause and/or vaginal atrophy? I don’t understand how it could be a “smoking gun” for cheating. Seems like he’s thinking: “she’s not having sex with me so why does she need to take care of her vagina” – but vagina’s need health care whether or not they are being used by a man.

    I’m glad it pushed him out the door anyway since he already knew she was a cheater. I just wouldn’t want any people without vaginas reading this post to think that somehow having vaginal medication = infidelity.

    • This. I think the other stuff is enough. The lack of intimacy or conversation around it for three years, the cheating, are all reasons to leave. Wanting to leave is a good enough reason if the OP is unhappy.

      But I didn’t quite understand why a used personal moisturizer was the smoking gun.

      • Finding it in her drawer was most likely a trigger–a very tiny straw that broke the camel’s back. He surmised she was, once again, cheating and the cream was his evidence. This ‘evidence’ is flimsy and unsubstantiated, yet proved to be a catalyst for finally leaving her. The fact that he is triggered so profoundly by things that may have nothing to do with her cheating is enough. You don’t want to stay with someone when every little possible thing creates huge flashbacks and upends your world. There’s a reason for that: it’s time to get out.

        • I think you are right about finding this cream a trigger. Stupid things cheaters say- I found my cheater to have several bottles of viagara ( we weren’t and hadn’t had sex since Dday four years ago). His explanation of keeping 90 pills was “ just in case we became intimate again, I’d be ready”. Went on to explain his confidence is an issue, and having that would help him out- ya know just in case ????. Talk about triggered !

      • “But I didn’t quite understand why a used personal moisturizer was the smoking gun.”

        Maybe he thinks it’s used as a lubricant. Unfortunately a lot of men are ignorant about women’s health issues and might jump to the same conclusion.

  • I discovered her serial cheating while we had been cohabitating for years but not yet married. I found myself trauma bonded and married her anyway. She “invited” 2 of her 4 balling buddies to our Wedding by meeting with one of them the day before, & then I caught her holding on to a photograph of another one at the reception. This “love the sinner, hate the sin” isn’t working for me anymore when I have terrible nightmares & unwanted intrusive thoughts about my Wedding day and what has come afterwards: 45 years of a vicious cycle of love bombing and disrespectful shunning & remarks defending what she did. Then when I reach my saturation point and blow up about it, I am painted as the unloving, unstable lunatic, instead of my Covert Narcissist spouse who has brought all this into our lives. It is my own fault for not running immediately upon discovering the cheating.

    • Blue, it is never too late to exit an abusive marriage. I left after 33 years. Took me an additional 2 years, 8 months and 18 days but I divorced LTC Fuckface the day before our 36 anniversary. I’m still battling his narcissistic ass to force compliance with the court order but at the very least I have built a wall around me consisting of my lawyer, and No Contact.

      Call a lawyer today.

    • “that I had been the perfect stooge all along.”

      hard to accept.

      divorced life is good life.

    • Blue, you don’t owe her a damn thing. Please end it. This unloving nonsense is DARVO. She’s the unloving, unstable lunatic. We all wish we’d left sooner. It’s never too late. Don’t waste another minute.

    • Hi Blue
      Perhaps age or time invested isn’t even the factor we should be looking at. Because I am also in your shoes. “Why is mom so angry all the time”?
      The same reason I have debilitating migraines, severe muscle aches, extreme fatigue, and a nervous belly all while trying to play the part of trustworthy sane parent. Planning the birthday parties and holiday dinners. Going to school for a better career. Trying to continue normal things . Like cook. Do my hair(?)
      Mostly i pray now. So that these two girls don’t experience a life like this.

      Recently my adult daughter was chumped. I don’t even have words
      It is scary. But I’d say we need to get healthy. We’re supposed to love ourselves more than this

    • I learned here to stop listening to others and to follow my own intuition. I cut toxic people out of my inner circle. I walked away from sunk costs (26 years- my entire youth!) The only question that matters today is whether I agree with what I’m doing/thinking and whether any given relationship is ok with me just as it is with no one changing. If the answers are “no” I change my actions.

    • Blue, it’s never too late. Please see attorney and make a plan. Don’t make any announcements to her; we’ll walk you through it. I filed after 41 years of tolerating abuse. Take the journey to Hope and freedom.

    • “This “love the sinner, hate the sin” isn’t working for me anymore”

      Blue, it doesn’t work for anybody when the sin is abuse. Some sins simply aren’t forgivable and render the sinner unworthy of love and respect. At least you found out who the people you can’t trust are. That’s how I look at it after losing relationships with people who defended my cheater.

      It is NOT your fault you were abused. The trauma bond is real and powerful, so cut yourself some slack.

    • Blue, my ex turned on me when I flipped out and said, “You’re crazy!” I just yelled back at the top of my lungs, “I’m crazy!? I’m crazy!? Is that what you’re going to tell the kids!? I’m crazy, and that’s why you had to divorce me!!? Well FUCK YOU!!! I’m divorcing you, you FUCKER!!!” I recommend that you tell your cheater the same exact thing. Maybe not at the same screeching volume, but tell her the same, that you’re divorcing her ass. Get out and stop accepting disrespect and her fucking reasons for why she did what she did. She did what she did because she’s a liar and a cheater. Start today to decide to love yourself. It’s very, very hard to do, but you can do it. Just take that first step. Stop having liars and cheaters in your life. It’s so, so much better to live fuckwit free and alone, than to live with a liar and a cheater.

    • Dear Blue, I stayed with an FW for years longer than I should have. I didn’t acknowledge the abuse and I didn’t know about the cheating, but I have evidence and memories of my many attempts to fight for agency, safety and the pursuit of happiness for *years* before dday 1. I knew I needed to leave for five full years, and that entire time I felt weak and conflicted for being unable to do what I knew I needed to save myself. I actually did get free a couple of times, but I let my ex Hoover me back. Then, after dday 1 and one very ugly year of reconciliation attempts, I left for good, feeling disgusted and done with the cheater and very much toeing CL/CN line — at least in my mind. Yet I *still* couldn’t go NC for several more months. I hated myself. My continued attempts to get closure defied all logic and I was ashamed and crazy with frustration that I couldn’t just let go. I haven’t quite forgiven myself yet, but reading about how so many others went through similar patterns has helped me feel less alone.

      Please know and repeat that nothing is wrong with you, and the abuse (and the terrible predicament of needing to leave it and find a way to rebuild a new life) is not your fault. You are trapped in a cycle of abuse, which can take people years — decades! — to escape. Many never do. It is so, so normal for victims of abuse to feel conflicted and stuck, the way you do now. But if you’re here, it shows you’re questioning and fighting the cheater’s narrative and control. I’m guessing that what your cheating husband has to offer will never again feel acceptable to you. It’s really hard, but this is the point of no return because you know too much and have been through too much. Know that CL/CN are here for you 24/7, and we’ve been in the exact same place you find yourself now. Read the archives and you’ll see you’re in good company.

    • I feel for you Blue. I only did 30 years hard time. But as CL says, this isn’t the pain Olympics to see who suffered more. Suffice it to say I have an idea of what you went through. My only thought is that you are complaining to the wrong person: your abuser. If they felt what they did was wrong, or cared about your feeling more than their own selfish gratification then they wouldn’t have done it in the first place. Infidelity is not a mistake; it’s a choice. A whole series of choices, none of which were your best interests. Now make yours to love yourself more. Get a lawyer, get out and get a therapist who believes infidelity is abuse.

    • It is not your fault, Blue. It is really hard to break the cycle. Just try to get out now, there is a better life for you to live outside this maddening situation. Love the sinner as much as you can or want to, but keep your distance from her, so that her sins cannot hurt you more than it already did. As for the nightmares and intrusive thoughts, I’ve been (sometimes I still am) there too. I think many of us here know exactly what you’re experiencing, this is awful. Hope you get out of this soon. (((Hugs)))

  • Geez what’s with all the ads, can’t even read this site properly anymore. The old design was so much better.

    • Elle, I’m working on it. But big picture — you pay exactly NOTHING for this content. And yet it cost me time and money to make this site exist. Ergo ads.

    • Elle, the ads make it so CL can run this site without a pay wall. That way everyone can read it. There’s also patreon to help support.

      The ads are the price we pay for free access for all to this awesome info.

      Besides…. I’m kind of curious about the ad for “perfect lipstick for the mature woman” lol

    • Are you a Patreon subscriber? If not, why not become one? The more Patreon subscribers there are, the more possible it will be for CL to run the site without, or less, ads.

      Also remember that CL doesn”t get paid for doing this, and you get all the wonderful advice, snark, and cameraderie for free.

  • “Cognitive costs” is both a helpful concept and comforting to me. We’d been married thirty-two years of marriage at d-day, and it took me three years to learn enough, rework my thought processes enough, and emotionally detach enough to finally declare I wanted a divorce. After I left, even as I mourned the life I thought I had and the marriage I had hoped to have, I excoriated myself for not leaving earlier. So it’s both helpful and comforting to know that there’s a good reason it took me so long to screw my courage to the sticking point.
    What I’ve discovered in the three and a half years since my divorce is that the process of unlearning and relearning–of rewiring my brain–is that I now look through a new lens at other relationships as well. I don’t invest in one-sided relationships, I don’t spackle over bad behavior, and I don’t tolerate disrespect and devaluation.

    • Thank you♥️ For this
      And congratulations your hard work and dedication to yourself has paid off

    • “… I now look through a new lens at other relationships as well. I don’t invest in one-sided relationships, I don’t spackle over bad behavior, and I don’t tolerate disrespect and devaluation.”


  • As my therapist said to me several times, some people just don’t deserve to be married. It sounds naive (and is), but I realized only then that some marriages have to end. I always thought before that people who got divorced just didn’t try hard enough. Because of my own issues, I thought he was the man of my dreams. His expectations were so high that no woman could ever meet them, and his way of dealing with conflict set up our marriage for collapse. Even being married to a man with major mental health issues and a previous suicide attempt, I thought I just had to try harder. Ah, no.

    So the marriage ended after a crazy, high conflict divorce that my attorney said was one of the most memorable of his long career because of how opposing counsel threw his client to the curb. My ex was acting up with his attorney exactly the way my ex had acted up with me as our mutual therapist predicted. Of course, I shared that with my attorney. My ex’s mental health took a nosedive when it became clear that he was losing control of me to the point that his attorney told mine that he was considering calling the police where my ex lives to do a mental health check.

    Frankly after all I went through, I’m perfectly fine single. I love my work and have a lovely life now filled with family and friends. I am truly blessed.

  • The chump conga line is growing. My FW invited the OW (they were on year 2 at this point) to his massive 50th birthday party at our house. The $10,000 party that our friends and families (his included!) slaved to plan for months. The OW even took photos with me and FW and posed as a true ‘Just friend’ in her slutty bodycon dress and stiletto’s. When I found out about of their 3 year affair, I went directly to a lawyer’s office within 2 hours and never looked back. Didn’t even tell him I filed until he got served. 9 months later (last week) divorce is final and my new, better life has started. Chump Lady and Chump Nation knows. Don’t play the pick me dance or hopium bunny hop. Waste of your time and dancing shoes. Get in our Conga line and we’ll guide you to the best party of your life.

  • “ Your heart was blown apart by these revelations, and you projected what YOU would do, how YOU would behave — Fish Doctor would be sorry. You assumed that breakdown was for you, not her.”

    This is a great Chump lesson to learn. For so long I thought the tears were for me/our marriage until I realized he was an entitled a$$ that only cared for himself. When I started to ask myself how I would act in a situation, I realized it was a 180 from what he was doing and begun to see how disordered he was/is.

    • When I was interviewing attorneys, I told each one that I wanted a fair settlement but that I also wanted to walk away with my dignity. Only one responded enthusiastically to that, and he was actually the powerhouse of the ones that I was considering. He said that we would be firm, strategic, and polite. He was, and I got my fair settlement. I actually felt empowered afterward because I had behaved reasonably and honorably while my ex had not.

      • Same here, I had an amazing lawyer. Honestly, I regret never going to court just to see the sad sack my ex hired. The same sad sack he wanted me to share with him so they could together screw me into poverty.

        My D took a year because I was recouping money he stole from me, I could have gotten him for three years of maintenance (and he still would have owed me), but I only ask for six months and fw pushed it to a year. Fine with me as long as my living expenses were being paid. Allowed me to save even more money.

  • Many, many, many people have an extremely poor understanding of vulvas in general, and vaginas in particular, and why keeping them healthy is important (and it is NOT entirely about sex). This is even true for many of us who possess them. Dr. Jen Gunter can help us with that. She’s like Chump Lady, but for lady parts. (Not everyone likes her points of view, but still, she knows her lady anatomy and is good at snark.)

    The specifics of vaginas don’t really mean much for the chump in this post, so I read it without bothering with the vagina medicine issue. The rest of the information is just as significant without that detail, and there’s plenty to unpack. (Also, it’s a post that ran previously.) Bottom line, I loved CL’s response and think it’s spot on. Intimacy is important in a relationship, and “intimacy” can take many forms, as can “sex”. The issue isn’t whether two people are “doing it” like “everybody else” (whatever that means). The issue is whether two people are both good to each other, and how they are good to each other, and whether it’s all honest and consensual, and that sort of thing.

    This chump’s cheater failed at being good to the chump in many, many ways. CL has it right.

    • About the vagina creme…. Lots of women over 50 use that kind creme for reasons other than active sex life. It’s YMMV. Vagina creme might be smoking gun for this particular letter writer’s FW. Presumably SHE only uses v-creme for sex; so she must be cheating since she wasn’t having sex with her husband. But you can’t make this assumption about every woman.

  • Risk taking is part of the appeal for cheaters. Once they get a little bored with the usual hotel sex, they go for the marital-bed sex. And, I’m convinced that, once banging in the home bed becomes ho-hum, they thrill to the chump unwittingly meeting the AP.

    Cheaters are bad people. I have no other word for it.

    I don’t know if I ever played host to the OW. I did take a pic of x posing with a different nurse at his retirement party. Their cheeks were touching. I snapped the photo and then thought, “What the hell? He never poses like that with me. Never in 35 years of marriage.” I learned of the affair a few months after that party. Now I look back and think that he mostly likely had affairs with others, including that nurse with whom he pressed cheeks IN FRONT OF HIS WIFE! It’s so incredibly rude and disrespectful.

    The man is mean and disordered. He married the AP. She was well aware of me when she was part of his double life. Heck, she was married, too. They suck. God they suck.

    • They do suck, and I don’t even know them, but I am certain they both know exactly who the other is when they look at each other. Will they ever admit it, unlikely; at least not publicly.

      I know I was one of the fortunate ones in that I knew about some of fws “karma”. Because some of it was in the paper, and through the years my son and daughter in law, who were also victims of some of their shit, told me of some of the antics they pulled or tried to pull. Luckily the only folks they destroyed long term was themselves.

    • My ex wife would invite them to sit with us for lunch when I would visit her work. Sick!

  • Mine introduced my 15-year-old daughter to her lover before I even knew she was cheating on me. He is 25 years younger than I am, Italian, waiter, closer in age to my daughter than he is to my ex-wife.

    Never forget that these people are wired differently to neurotypicals. They have no empathy. Without empathy there is no limit to the pain that they are capable of putting others through.

    • I hear you. My ex wife used the kids to meet up with her AP and his daughter in a playground.
      Then when we were separated 3 weeks they were all going out together as a new family.
      We weren’t even near divorced and they were rushing things along, without thinking about our kids

      • Ugh, how did that pan out for them GuideDog? I’ve been through something similar. It already seems to have done untold damage. Why on earth do they have to drag the poor children in so soon? Height of selfishness

        • The youngest seems to have the biggest difficulty adjusting so far, but nothing serious. They did sense that something was wrong. They kept mentioning and asking that we weren’t in love anymore and that’s why we were apart. Until one day I told them (then ages 5 and 8) that their mom and AP (who were living together and have since then married) were being sneaky together when we were still married and that that’s the reason we are no longer a family. My youngest one said “ohhh”. I saw in his face something clicked and they botj never asked again. The mystery was solved.

    • My XW did the same thing, except that she didn’t know that my 15-year-old daughter had broken into her phone and was well aware of the cheating and of the AP’s identity. This is actually what led to my discovery of the affair: my daughter was so angry and upset when I next saw her that (after some agonizing), she eventually told me about it.

    • What is it with female FWs wanting to introduce the children to APs. Mine took my at the time 9 year old son to a movie and dinner with AP. He is 15 now and told me a couple of weeks ago about it. I asked him where was I and he responded “home sick from the chemo you got the day before. Mom said you knew him.”

    • Hey, I’m not “Neurotypical” but I would never intentionally hurt anyone for any reason. Neurodivergent folks don’t necessarily lack empathy and morals.

    • Dear BackToReality,
      I want to believe that you used the word ‘neurotypical’ in a somewhat broader sense than it has nowadays. I want to believe that what you meant by it was non-fuckwit people. Anyway, I am neither a native English speaker nor a neuroscientist so I apologize in advance for any misunderstanding.
      Please, don’t get me wrong, I am not picking a fight with you over words, we are fellow chumps here and I can relate through personal experience to what you’re feeling by having your daughter introduced to certain companies of your fuckwit (I hope XW). It sucks and tells a lot about them that they can’t neither wait just a little nor put the children’s interests first. We are on the same page here. What I object is to ascribing such actions to neurodivergence.
      I am a father of an autistic (ergo, not neurotypical) boy that, though “wired differently”, as you say, just never, ever showed any sign of cruelty (anger, yes; cruelty, no). He has empathy, I can swear by it, he just have difficulty expressing it, in words or otherwise, but he is learning how to do it properly by emulation of others. He is doing good so far. I could say the same about his older brother, but he has not been diagnosed as an autistic kid (but I think he is). I suspect myself to be an undiagnosed autistic adult and there is not a single sentient being I have premeditately put through pain my whole life. The three of us, though, have been put through very much real pain by their very neurotypical fuckwit mother…
      I am not saying neurodivergent people cannot suck, some of us do.
      My father is a fuckwit (suspected autistic) and my adult brother (undiagnosed autistic) is a very difficult person, to say the least.
      I, for one (if I am really autistic; not seeking confirmation at this point of my life), suck epically in many areas, communication being one of them, but not by being callous or unempathetic. I do have a weird way to express my sympathy, which sometimes comes across as somewhat lacking or artificial, and sometimes looks excessive (it depends a lot on what I had experienced myself previously, if I can relate to a situation).
      To sum up, I do believe you did not mean to put neurodivergent people down, but I just wanted to say a few words on our behalf, hope you do not mind me doing so.
      I wish the best for you and your daughter.

  • You know what sucks too? When you hear word that the cheater would like to apologize to you & its years later. When an apology no longer counts or matters anymore. When you needed some scrap of an apology or scrap of kindness when you were drowning in pain that might have shown you mattered…it was not there. Where was it then when I really needed that apology? Oh yeah it was 6 inches up the OW at the time. He can now stick it up where the sun don’t shine for all I care. I’m not a fool any longer: this apology would be for him, not me. Best wishes on getting over your cheater & finding a more honest & authentic life, Fish Doctor.

  • I wish I only paid for AP’s drinks at wedding. FW had AP put Koi pond in back yard. I paid 10k to have AP at my house putting in and “servicing pond”. It was perfect excuse for her to have him over. Screwed up thing is pond was put in 2016. Had no idea they were an item. I figured it out in the last 6 months along with other guys after phone records and texts.
    By all accounts and phone records, emails and texts going back to 2008 show no men. FW was perfect partner until 2015. Church maintenance guy (koi Pond guy) and her started flirting/affair on church/school property where son was going to school. That was in 2015. 2016 she then got on FB and connected with band guys from NY. We owned an apartment in NYC as second home. It was right before she turned 49.
    Now maybe she always had it in her but I had know her for 8 years before our marriage. She worked with me as OR nurse and saw each other everyday. Knew her ex husband well and I knew he left her to live single lifestyle. He didn’t want kids. No cheating on either end. I Started dating her 3 years after her divorce when she asked me out. I know I was the first boyfriend after her divorce. No red flags other than occasionally her being needy. She did have a tragic childhood and maybe it just took her to be placed in a drama free stable loving environment for her serial cheating ways to manifest themselves, self Sabotage. So crazy and painful.

    • DrChump: I still catch myself untangling the skein too. But I’m only doing it because I want to feel like FW really loved me (or maybe that he still does). That, somehow, this was all a big mistake, and what we had was real.

      It wasn’t real, it wasn’t a mistake, and it didn’t happen because of childhood trauma. It happened because the FW chose to do it. Despite the lying, the pain it would cause you, and the inevitable failure of your marriage. They chose that. Deliberately. Intentionally. Chose. It.

      Cut her no slack. She didn’t cut you any.

      • CQ, yes it is the unending untangling. I just have such a hard time believing what she did. Anyway She Sucks

  • When Traitor X was pretending to reconcile, which thankfully lasted only two months, he said he was going to spend the rest of his life making it up to me.

    A relationship after an affair is like a watermelon after meeting Gallagher.

    I have no desire to be in a relationship with a liar and a cheater. I married him because I thought he was a good man. People who lie and cheat are not sitting in the Good People section of the ballpark.

    Lying and deception disables the essential navigation system for life. Lies will always bring you to the wrong destination. Lies lead you to the wrong people, places, things, and situations. Lying and deception totally and completely skews everything in the wrong direction, like a GPS in the Bermuda Triangle.

    I can say with confidence, because I now know how far back his lying goes, that he was the wrong person for me. Likewise, so is anyone he is in a relationship with as long as lying and deception is how he operates. He left four years ago. He still lies.

    One degree makes a world of difference in navigation (we had a sailboat). Huge. And one lie makes a world of difference, let alone thousands of lies. Because lying is still his MO, he is definitely not aligned with the right people, places, things, and situations. Yes, that includes any romantic partners.

    As Dr. Frank Pittman says in his book, Private Lies:

    “In lying, one is identifying the other as one’s opponent, even one’s enemy. In marriage intimacy is developed through confessions, explanations, and soul searchings. But of course intimacy involves equality, and people who are telling lies are not seeking any aspect of intimacy, especially equality. Liars are hoping for advantage, which will be produced by disorienting and distracting the other person. The liar is stepping outside the relationship. The lie may be a greater betrayal of the relationship than the misdeed being lied about. It takes very little misinformation to disorient and destroy a relationship. I often point out to people that if I gave them detailed instructions on how to go from Atlanta to New York City, and threw in only one left turn that was a lie, they would end up in Oklahoma.”
    -Dr. Frank Pittman
    Private Lies
    (p. 59)

    Doing wrong thing only leads one to the wrong place.

    I’m grateful to have learned this.

    • “Lying and deception disables the essential navigation system for life. ”

      So true and a large part of the pain and loss. I made decisions based on what I thought was a solid marriage, because I believed his lies. I gave up a solid promotion, I signed on to buy several properties that had I known he was a serial cheater; I absolutely would not have. Many other examples.

  • Tracy, happy moving day! There are chickens in your near future!

    This is a great letter that illustrates the danger of projection–figuring that the spouse or partner hold the same values, views, standards and behavior patterns that we have. We PROJECT our own fidelity, decency and sense of guilt onto someone we already know is a liar and a cheater. It’s a kind of failure of imagination–the failure to imagine that not everyone shares our worldview or values.

    Chumps trap themselves with projection and then are bewildered when the cheater’s behavior doesn’t change, when they have no remorse or only the Genuine Imitation Naugahyde variety (all words, no deeds). Chumps wonder why the cheaters who leave don’t see the pain they’ve cause spouse and kids. All of this is the result of projecting decency onto people who have none.

    The second thing that pops out for me are the very common reasons for staying: “…being terrified of being single again in his 50s and not wanting to shatter son’s sense of security and normalcy.” As someone who did most of her adult life as a serial monogamist who was never happy outside of a relationship, I understand “being terrified of being single again’ (regardless of age). But looking back on that now from the bliss of being over 60 and single, I think it’s one thing to be afraid of being single for financial easons, particularly dividing assets and having to live on one income and probably pay child support. There’ s lots to be afraid of there.

    But just as we are challenging the narratives that 1) chumps cause infidelity by not sufficiently pleasing the cheater and 2) that the norm would be saving the marriage (instead of saving the rest of the chump’s life), we should be challenging the idea that being single is aberrant, weird, awful, and somehow the end of our happiness. Being single is actually a way to learn who we are, what we want, how to evaluate the character of others, and establish standards for any people who want to be part of our lives. If we are miserable as single people, we are likely to accept partners who are not going to be healthy additions to our lives.

    Finally, if kids are living with a parent who lies and cheats, who future-fakes, who prioritizes affair partners over the family, who is emotionally unplugged from the family, then how “secure” and “normal” are their lives? Kids in this situation see a “normal” that is based on the abuse of one parent and the self-indulgence of the other; that “normal” is based on lies and deception. The over-valuation of the “intact” family makes it hard for chumps to see exactly how deeply screwed up it is for kids to be raised in a house built on lies and infidelity.

    The best thing about the betrayal I experienced is that it changed my thinking on all of this, from how being single would (and did) help me clarify my values and get to know myself, to the dangers of projection and the dysfunction of families build on lies and deception.

    • LAJ, well said!!!

      I especially like the part about projection: “We PROJECT our own fidelity, decency and sense of guilt onto someone we already know is a liar and a cheater. It’s a kind of failure of imagination–the failure to imagine that not everyone shares our worldview or values.”

      I remember that during the divorce process, even after I knew of the multiyear affair and fraudulent behavior, I STILL had trouble imagining that he didn’t have my best interest at heart. I really struggled with re-wiring that part of my brain, which is why I always kept in full view a sticky note with, among other things, “He’s the enemy” scrawled prominently on top. I needed that reality check.

    • Very well said! Though forced upon me by a lying, cheating ‘Jackass’, becoming single was the best thing that happened to me. I learned to love myself, and in so doing, I also decided I would rather be single than to ever have another fuckwit in my life. Thanks for putting it so eloquently. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that being discarded by that fuckwit, though the most painful thing ever, turned out to be the best thing that happened to me. I’m a much more emotionally stable person these days and I won’t even allow family members to abuse me anymore.

  • My ex also promised he was going to make it up to me, including going back to work to repay the tens of thousands of dollars he gave to his online AP partner and the AP’s friends. He said it to buy himself time to hide assets and seek out nearly everyone we knew and convince them I was insanely and dangerously jealous because he gave “financial advice” to an “online colleague.” That’s how he explained giving tens of thousands of dollars and a credit card within two months of “meeting” AP at a dating website. Post divorce, he still sends out pseudo apologies and “pity me” messages about his health problems. Every one of them is an attempt to turn me back into a wife appliance.

  • Man, this one hits close to home. My ex-wife also told me, word for word, that she would “spend the rest of our lives making it up to me” when her first 4 affairs came to light. Nevermind she was actually engaging in another affair with her boss when she said that to me and proceeded to continue engaging in it for the next 10 months (2.5 years total) while we were in couples therapy to supposedly try to save our marriage. If that’s “making it up to me”, I can only imagine what the other end of the spectrum would have been… murdering me and burying me in the garden?

    I never cease to be amazed at how similar the stories are, even though I read it every day here at ChumpLady. Truly remarkable.

    • That is rough, Layne. And after you gave her a chance, after she saw your suffering, after learning of her four affairs?! After two “official” ddays and a lot of “trickle truth” and mindblending BS in between, my ex likewise pleaded for me to let him apologize (I had blocked him but caved after months of daily emails) and proceeded to make every promise under the sun and to beg me to let him make it up to me for the next 50 years. That went out the window within 24 hours of my return, and he shamelessly gaslighted to try to bully me into accepting more of his worsening abuse. This play from the cheaters handbook seems to be a thing many new chumps can’t yet fathom: It’s bad enough to cheat, but then to put us through what they do, instead of just leaving? Before you trust they suck, it’s a total mindfuck.

      • Yeah, the first four. I had many suspicions over the 10 years we were together, but in typical cheater fashion, I was always gaslighted into thinking that it was all in my head, I was overreacting, was being controlling… I heard it all. Until I finally started finding more evidence and she came clean. Our daughter was just 3 at the time, so I did the typical chump thing where I tried to “save my family” and went to RIC therapy where I was blamed for the issues that “drove her to cheat” and was routinely ganged up on in therapy by my ex and our therapist about my anxiety and depression (which was being caused by the abuse and gaslighting) being the true driver of my ex’s infidelity. The therapist bought her crap hook, line, and sinker until it came out that my ex was engaging in another affair with her boss the entire time we were in therapy and hiding it from everyone. Once the therapist found out, she kicked us out of therapy, but I never go an apology or anything from the therapist. Just dismissed.

        I’m glad Chumplady put together the cheater’s playbook for us. This has been the most helpful place since this ordeal started a few years ago. I am happily divorced now.

        Sorry you went through the gaslighting as well. The questioning of your own sanity truly is the most evil part of all of this. To think that all it took for you was 24 hours before it started again. Unreal.

  • I power washed the deck and steps of her new house because poor thing didn’t know how and she was alone…alone with my ex ????
    Happy to join the conga line!

    • Sorry this was supposed to be under the “helpful chumps” further up the comment thread

  • I set up one of my sons as her sons older buddy when she switched her kids to my kids school on purpose. I gave her parenting advice as an older mom. She was screwing my husband and wrecking nine kid’s lives.

  • Using vaginal estrogen is not an indication of cheating, btw. I hope he had other indications of the recent cheating.

  • I invited the rat faced whore for Christmas, I felt sorry for her because she had a horrible family.

    She hadn’t put her foot over the door 5 minutes, before she was suggesting I should “go away to a spa for a few days, and I’ll look after fucktard for you”.

    And still the penny didn’t drop. I was so dumb and trusting. ????????

    • You weren’t dumb, but trusting yes; and he nor my rat faced whoremonger deserved our trust.

  • I have to put this somewhere because I find it hilarious and knew people would understand. I have exactly one mutual acquaintance with my ex, because she gave me my kitten and I felt weird blocking her. She went to a party and posted s as bunch of pictures from it. One of my ex and his girlfriend. He told me I was too fat to wear thong underwear, women my age have no value and no man is attracted to us, etc. He was as cruel as he could possibly be.

    He looks like fucking shit. His face got so fat he’s almost unrecognizable. His adult baby girlfriend our sons age also got fat, is noticeably larger than me, and looks older than I do. I also have an unusual natural hair color and she’s now dying her hair the same color as mine. They had another 300 pounder in the photo with them who appears to be their new girlfriend. Weird how I’m so disgustingly fat to them but women literally double (or more) my weight are hot. Ok.

    I did not expect to see that picture and I didn’t go looking for it. It just popped up while I was scrolling. But I laughed my ass off. They’re falling apart. I’m glad he found someone more on his level, i was always out of his league. But they look well matched to each other and no one can even tell she’s young enough to be his daughter since she looks like a frumpy middle aged woman. lol

    • I’m glad you’re getting to see a bit of Karma. I’m still waiting to see some here, but not likely. My son called me just yesterday to say that he and the fuckwit are taking a trip to Alaska together. Alas, I may never see any of my children see just how much of a dick their dad was to me as he’s so carefully dynamic, charming, and ‘helpful’ to everyone else. I need to be content that I know the whole story. Oh well.

      • Amazon, what I’ve found is that adult children will come to the same parent for what really matters in their every day lives. This takes time and maturity which in my adult children surpassed his level (a teenager) .

      • So sorry to hear. I was a target of parental alienation too, and the pain is near unbearable. Years after the divorce and their dad’s death, my adult kids seem to have come around but I have not. We’re cordial but that’s it. I will never trust them.

        Nice work, ex-hole.

  • Chuckles said after his first affair ‘I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to you”. He kindly even put it in multiple letters alongside apologies for screaming in my face and constantly critiquing me etc.

    Turned out those same letters were useful in divorce court ten years later, when he alleged I’d domestically abused him for 28 years and so he had no choice but to cheat again. Lots of other allegations. The judge believed none of it.

  • Boy, I guess I’m not the only one who got the “I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to you” line. Never ceases to amaze me how cheaters play from the same playbook! I hope Fish Doctor gained his life and left her to her half used tube of vaginal cream.

    • I got it too. “I am going to spend the rest of my life making it up to you.” He did NOT want to get divorced. But then once we were divorced he changed his mantra to “I fell out of love with you years ago.” It’s all lies.

    • I got the “I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to you” line too. And “I will give you the hugs and the kisses I’ve been denying you”. And many other promises, some of which I cannot repeat without blushing. Thank god and CL I am not still waiting for any of that.

  • “It really doesn’t matter if they change or don’t change.”
    Because when you leave them, you are making the change that YOU need.

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