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He Says He’s a Sex Addict. Should I Keep Dating Him?

sex addict brainDear Chump Lady,

I’ve read through all your archives and can’t quite find a situation like mine, and I don’t know what to do.

I started dating my partner about a year ago. He has an ex whom he had dated for about 2 years, and they had broken up about 2 years before we started dating but they continued hooking up until our relationship began. He told me a couple months into our relationship that he had slept with his ex after our first date, but we weren’t yet exclusive at that point, so although I didn’t like it, it wasn’t difficult to move on from that because it wasn’t necessarily breaking any established boundaries.

At some point a few months into exclusively dating, I asked him if he had any nudes from his ex still, and I clarified that I would be uncomfortable with that if he did. He denied it and we moved on.

Fast forward to a year of dating and moving in together — he tells me that a few days ago, he sexted with his ex. He said that he reached out to her and they exchanged explicit pictures and messages. He also said that he had found some naked photos of his ex on a flash drive and had looked at them several times while we’ve been dating (supposedly after the conversation we had about this).

He clearly feels really bad about this, and he has blocked her on every account that they were connected on. He says he has a sex addition, and that’s why this happened. (It seems like his turn on for that situation is that he wasn’t supposed to be doing it). I appreciate him telling me about what he did, but I don’t know if I should forgive, and if I should, how to start trusting him again?

Thanks in advance for any advice you might be able to provide.

Sad Chump

****

Dear Sad Chump,

A man just told you he’s “addicted” to doing things he’s not supposed to be doing… and you want to know if you should trust him?

A guy whose turn on is deceit.

So, you have no idea if he’s sorry, if he blocked her, or if his mother’s name is really Marion.

Or if you’re “exclusive.”

Fast forward to a year of dating and moving in together — he tells me that a few days ago, he sexted with his ex.

He tells you. You assume it’s a confession. That he values the relationship, so he’s leveling with you. That’s you projecting humanity onto a fuckwit.

More likely — his turn on is duping you further. Because he enjoys getting away with things. And your sadness is a hit of kibble centrality, and your hurt makes him feel powerful. And the longer you stick around, investing in him, the steadier his chump supply.

Why on earth would you stick around for that? Out of a squillion people on the planet, why would you put all your chips down on this one? You! You’re my future!

Do you enjoy abnormal pap smears? Hypervigiliance? Competing with his ex’s sexts?

If you think I’m being harsh, consider that you’re at the beginning of this chump journey. You get to CHOOSE. There’s no mortgage, kids, marriage bait and switch. This guy’s douche factor is on flamboyant display, all the dysfunction arrayed like peacock feathers.

And… you choose HIM?

You get a choice. He devalued you, and you don’t have to reward that. Because more of you is a GIFT. Internalize that. Your trust, your time, your love, your body. All a gift. And he shat on your gift.

Too bad he’s an idiot, but his idiocy doesn’t devalue YOU unless you let it. What are your dealbreakers?

I don’t know if I should forgive, and if I should, how to start trusting him again?

I gave you a Faberge egg. You smashed it with a sledgehammer. Should I forgive you? I’m hesitant to give you the Meissen porcelain, but maybe I should?

Do you see the idiocy of this? NO! Stop giving treasures to fuckwits!

Could they learn to appreciate gifts? Oh maybe. Start them off small, with gold fish crackers and slowly work your way up toward more valuable trinkets — but who has time for that?

The guy doesn’t have the basic skills for a relationship. It’s not your job to teach him remedial decency.

Oh, and that “addiction” label doesn’t give him a pass either — it means The Guy Doesn’t Have the Basic Skills for a Relationship. The addiction is his relationship.

Move on, Sad, before you get smashed.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Kick his ass out or move out (depending on who has rights to the abode). He is a liar. He will keep on doing this. Give him his freedom and let him get back with the ex. You don’t need this. Move on and work on those boundaries. Obviously, you allowed him to crush your boundaries. Show him that you have boundaries and get the hell away and block him. You really don’t need to live like this. You are worth more than having to stick it out with a cheater. Ask any of us here on CN how we know.

  • “Stop giving treasures to fuckwits.” And YOU are the biggest treasure of all. Value yourself and leave.

    He told you about the sexting because 1) he wants to know what you’ll tolerate, and 2) he gets off on making you miserable, and 3) he wants to establish a relationship dynamic in which he is in control and you are always in reaction mode.

    • This was my first reaction, since he told you unprompted. He’s testing what you’ll tolerate and how you’ll react, to see what he can get away with in the future. Oh, sexting, that’s not so bad right? Probably he’s already gone beyond that, or has plans to, and is testing you or priming you so it’s just one more little thing when you catch him and not a big surprise. Don’t stick around to find out what he’s planning to test out next.

    • 👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻This. He may also be minimizing. Claiming he sexted when it was a full-on physical affair.

    • I know, I know, if you’re a garden-variety decent human being, Adelante’s list may sound dramatic or just bitter/crazy. But it is 100% accurate. Is it hard to believe that some folks’ operating systems are so effed up? Yes. But getting clear about the effed-upedness and how those operating systems really work, truly, that clarity can sage your life.

    • >he wants to know what you’ll tolerate

      Pickup artists call these “shit tests.” You don’t want to be the woman who passes.

  • Wow, this is certainly depressing. What the heck is going on out there? I can’t even listen to NPR anymore with all the gut-wrenching news, and now this type of behavior is even questionable in the dating world??? Going to pull the covers over my head and hide for a long, long while.

  • Hey Sad Chump, I am so sorry this happened to you. Some people suck, primarily these entitled FWs. You can trust us because we have been where you are now. It sucks, but I promise the sucky feelings will fade over time, and you will live an abundant life afterward. Take care of yourself, and you can keep that FW on your prayer list, but kick him right on out of the bed. Big hugs! You can do it!

  • RUN! Run fast, run far. I married someone who didn’t divulge his “addiction” until five years into our marriage, I tried to help him, he claimed he wanted help, therapists, psychologists, sex addict self help groups. None of it worked because these people don’t want to change. They enjoy it, they get off on it and now that he’s told you he’s an “addict” he will use it as his get out of jail free card every time you discover the next transgression. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “I told you I have an addiction, what did you expect”, I would be rich.

    I endured another ten years of what can only be described as torture. He continued to cheat, got better and better at hiding it. Why would you continue with someone who is already telling you he is broken, love is hard enough without trying to fight the tide on something like this. Get out while you still can, do t waste your life on this (and I can assure you it is a waste). Run like he’s trying to kill you.

    • I so lovingly helped my husband discover his “sex addiction” that he would be forever grateful to me (PhD therapist’s words). He was hooking up with prostitutes, neighbors on Adult Friend Finder and keeping in touch with ex girlfriends. But with my love and support he could be relieved of this burden and our marriage could be better than ever as long as I didn’t tell any of my loved ones what was going on. Well I stuck my head in the CSAT (certified sex addiction therapist) blender for a year and almost accepted that our marriage would need to involve regular polygraph tests, policing him and tolerating slip ups. Until I asked myself if I would want this type of relationship for my children. I took a step back and really saw my husband without the glow of being in newly married and without relating everything to his “addiction”. I saw that he was a compulsive liar. I found out he had been charged with a workplace incident and suspended for a week. I realized the subtle ways he was gaslighting me, how often he told me my feelings were wrong and how angry he would become when I didn’t “trust” him and some story he was telling me.

      I feel for you Sad. I agree with a previous poster that he’s trying to see how much you’ll tolerate. I doubt this behavior is just limited to his ex-girlfriend. Many professionals don’t even believe in sex addiction. Sexually compulsive behavior is often just the tip of the iceberg and part of a greater personality disorder. As CL said, you have nothing legal tying you to this man. Please free yourself and find a healthy person. And whatever you do, don’t go down the CSAT route with him. IMO they are they most dangerous branch of the RIC and I’m still recovering from my time with them.

      • Geode: Glad you got out! I do not believe in sex addiction. I think it is an excuse for someone to do what they want, when they want without any regard to anyone else. It is an excuse to move the boundaries to the “addict”. We are all responsible (or should be) for our own actions. People have no reason being in a committed relationship if they are going to fool around with others, stay in contact with X’s. etc. They should be honest, say who they are and get out of the relationship instead of making excuses for their behavior, etc. We should believe them when they tell us who they are whether they are explicit about it or just making excuses.

        • Mine wanted me to stay and hold his hand through sex addict therapy, was shocked when I refused. He cheated through the honeymoon period of our relationship, the new relationship energy and fun times. I was a great friend, partner, wife, and person but I can’t “make up” for all of the other “first kisses” he had to “give up” on “my behalf”.

          He was selfish and lazy in our relationship, took way more than I ever got in return. I was planning to leave before I learned about the Craigslist hookups.

          You want to spend your free time chasing strange, go do it. You want to learn to be a decent human, go do the hard work on your own. I’m done with you.

      • Same.

        Lots of retraumatizing the already traumatized.

        CSAT was the single most damaging thing I dealt with.

        To the point where I’m now grateful that I have nerve damage and don’t want sex anymore. I’m 39 and used to absolutely love sex.

        Not after all of the cheating and sex addiction bullshit.

      • Amen! Geode, “sex addiction” is just a small branch on the trunk of a tree full of narcissism with all the arrogance, manipulation, and entitlement. These people seek out sex in order to fill their empty souls.

    • Absolutely to the YES on this, Surfer Girl. I ended up with a cheater who used “sex addict” as his sorry ass excuse and then never tried to help himself (except to more addictive behaviors.) They don’t get better. They get much, much worse. Cut the infected flesh out NOW. Please believe us. We’ve lived this horror.

    • I thought I could stay and provide support. Several months in and all I got in return was superficial “remorse”. But now, with my eyes now wide open, I witnessed more entitled behavior, disrespect, and basically all things pointing to me signing on to endure the same hell his own mother had locked herself into with his narc father. He had the nerve to tell our young daughter that he did some bad things but that I chose to not stay and help him…like it was still on me that things ended — because mom just didn’t have the fortitude, or some such bullshit. Not my job when his “disease” was not only clearly hurting him but killing me. Oh and I did have a dream that he was killing me…in front of our then infant daughter. Listen to your gut and get out.

    • ‘If I had a dollar for every time I heard “I told you I have an addiction, what did you expect”, I would be rich.’

      Same here, and also, “It’s not like you don’t know who I am.” The thing is – he wasn’t wrong! And yet I kept “fighting for the relationship” until he impregnated one of his side pieces.

      Don’t be like me, run before you waste more years of your life with him only to end up utterly heartbroken.

    • And run from those ‘addicted’ to exes in particular. You know only a fraction of the truth and you will be used until you have been drained dry.

    • I also endured 10 years after this sex addiction bullshit came up. And once the RIC had me, boy was that my spackle. He can’t control himself; it’s an addiction!

      Klootzak made zero attempt to do any work on himself after D-day number one when the counselor said it was a sex addiction. I read books, highlighted stuff for him… he ignored it all. After D-day number two when I was pregnant, he decided to go to an anonymous group for meetings. Then the location was too inconvenient for him so he said he would join online meetings. Know what he did at those? Picked up female sex addicts! He would fly out of town for “work” to hump them and if they could kindly share photos of their teen daughters so he had something to work with, all the better! He would buy gifts overseas for one AP and her kids. I had the pleasure of finding a box of such gifts. He didn’t spend one minute of his time shopping for Christmas presents for our son but some AP and her kids were getting all kinds of time and money spent on them. When I confronted him, he said she was just a friend from his group. Uh huh. And there were others.

      At the point of D-day number two, I stopped loving him. There is a special place in hell for a man who cheats on his pregnant wife. It just gets worse and worse until one day, you ask yourself which date on the calendar would be a good one to file for divorce.

      That is the point I reached yesterday. I have been lining up ducks and the timing is less than ideal but I will likely be calling an attorney and starting the process soon. I have reached my breaking point.

      OP, you are in a great position to avoid years of misery. Sex addiction is an excuse people with zero integrity like to use. They think it’s a get out of jail free card and allows them to hurt you repeatedly and then shrug. This FW will never respect your boundaries. You will be an emotional mess and there will be a significant impact on your physical health. I am one of many here with major regrets that I didn’t run screaming when I should have. I hope the hell I have been through saves at least one other person from making the same mistake. Your current Sad is a fraction of what you will experience if you stay. Run away and go no contact. A better life is meant for you.

  • What you know about is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Not my x husband, but I guy I was serious enough to move in with.
    Found out he was sexting an x as I was moving my furniture into the house.
    5 months later I was in living hell and he ramped up the abuse to physical abuse. I moved out one weekend while he was out of town.

    Within one week he was “in a relationship” with her on FB.

    Fix your picker. Get some therapy to find out why you allow a partner to treat you like this ( my Dad was a narc and I grew up playing the pick me game as a scapegoat ). Once you are aware of this pattern of picking and tolerating cheating, abusive men -you will start to see the red flags.

    Can’t fix him. He’s happy with the power imbalance. Run and go fix yourself. You are worth so much more ❤️

  • “Could they learn to appreciate gifts? Oh maybe. Start them off small, with gold fish crackers and slowly work your way up toward more valuable trinkets — but who has time for that?” Exactly. Someone asked on the FB page yesterday if cheaters could change. Yes, I think some can. But that sort of transformative work takes years of intention. Who has time for that?? For the sake of humanity, I hope some of these cheaters make the time. But it isn’t fair or appropriate making intimate partners – us chumps – wait around for the (only potential) transformation. Too much at stake.

    • Klootzak said to me once that he heard that maybe the addiction dies down as the “addict” gets older, less testosterone and whatnot. All I could think was, “Oh great. If only I waste another 20 years of my life, he may manage to be faithful when he can’t get an erection anymore. I get a faithful spouse in time to change his adult diapers and push his wheelchair. Oh, joy!” He spent enough years lying and cheating on me; he can stick his transformation where the sun don’t shine IF it ever happens. I don’t believe in unicorns.

      • My FW is now 73. He’s been “addicted” to porn for at least 18 years that I know of. I caught him in 2004 and got all the BS about changing etc. Guess what? Caught him again 3 years ago. They can’t help themselves. He had prostate surgery 3 years ago and was having “erectile” problems and probably still is hopefully. Doesn’t stop them being a creep either. Please Sad Chump protect yourself and RUN. I trusted him and stayed for 40+ years. They don’t change. Don’t waste your precious life waiting for him to change. You deserve a whole lot better like all at CN. Take care of YOU and let us know how you are.

  • What’s in this for you?

    Seriously. What is in this relationship for you?

    Because right now you seem to be letting him determine the quality of the relationship, and what you’re allowed to get out of it.

    You get ambivalence, constant suspicion, regular STI tests, and the job of being Florence Nightingale to a sex addict.

    Since when is this better than (a) being single; and (b) being free to meet someone who has relationship skills?

    Don’t be that woman who’s trying so hard to be The Cool Girlfriend that she ends up living in permanent, uneasy, ambivalence. Few people thrive there.

    • Right on, Lola. Heartache, misery, etc. are in it for Sad if she does not get out. Sad: Read CL’s reply and the comments today over and over. Ask us how we know. Your FW has already given you the excuses he will use in the future and he will say I told you….There is no happiness in this for you. If you stay you will continue to learn new info, as someone said this is just the tip of the iceburg. Best to you.

  • After my telling the Predatory Opportunistic Parasite to “(straighten up and) BE A MAN!!” , his response was to whine “teach me how”. This happened at least twice.
    Not my job, dude. Get the fuck out.

    • I failed to include this was from a 54 yr old man w 2 adult kids-who will have nothing to do w him. At the time, his son was a Marine helping w tsunami clean up in Japan. Apparently being a man came easy to HIM.

    • Same. Oh, lord, how I wish I hadn’t fallen for that fake weakness! One huge problem was that I considered myself a “fixer”. That I had to change. It’s a trap.

    • Hesatthecurb, this really resonates with me. I was older than the Lying Cheating Loser, and coupled with his parasitic nature and my codependency and control issues, it was the perfect setup for me to take on the role of mommy/mentor/fixer. The LCL and I talked a lot about the importance of asking for what you need in a relationship. He had zero problems asking. But when I pressed him on why he didn’t do the things I needed – and had specifically asked for, such as dates, random cheap flowers, small gifts on special occasions like my birthday – his response was “I didn’t know how!”
      Fucking selfish loser.

  • If he thought there was something about his behaviors that should change, he would be personally, intrinsically, proactively motivated to avail himself of the many, many, many resources that are easily available in the world that help us grow and change. His admissions would be closely accompanied by obvious, consistent actions.

    CL is right. Solid, honest, trustworthy, truly kind love is a gift worth more than anything. We squander that when we give it to people who don’t reciprocate it and who don’t treat ours like the most precious thing in their lives.

    If you stay with a person who treats you like your heart doesn’t matter, that person will be fine, and you won’t. If you move on and embrace a life that doesn’t allow people who don’t value your heart in it, that person will be still the same kind of fine, and you’ll be 100x better than fine. Simple math. ❤️

  • Such a sad situation because the Sad Chump does not understand her worth!

    Whatever it takes for her to learn that she is deserving and worthy of a healthy relationship is what she should do immediately after untangling herself form this “boyfriend”. He isn’t deserving of that title or anything close.

    Move out/kick him out IMMEDIATELY. Even if she has to couch surf. This will only go from bad to much worse.

    Two important things to remember and repeat:
    1. When someone shows you who they are believe them!
    2. Fix your picker.

    A year may not be enough time for Sad Chump before putting all her faith into another person. She doesn’t state her age or personal situation so that may be a factor. Young? Rebound? Inexperienced?

    I hope Sad Chump can get some individual therapy to fully understand her values, her boundaries and red flags.

    Probably not what she wants to hear but it is what she needs to hear before wasting years of her life in a situation guaranteed to only get worse.

    Hate being the voice of bad news but isn’t that why she asked?

  • Sad Chump,
    I am sorry that you have gone through this. Seems like classic slow boiling of a frog. Even if you are unfamiliar with the simile…. you are the unfortunate frog and….leave the pot. Now!
    Find a friend, colleague, someone you trust. Sit down with them and explain your situation and dollars to donuts they will tell you it is time to protect yourself and find someone who will care for you.
    (side note: going to have to turn that phrase around….. donuts cost too much!!)

  • Surely the writer of this letter is trolling! This can’t be real.

    Do you want to be with a sex addict? Yes? Then stay. Do you not want to be with a sex addict? Leave! Good lord.

    • Plenty of us accepted worse from our partners/spouses, so I doubt this is a troll.

    • “Do you want to be with a sex addict? Yes? Then stay. Do you not want to be with a sex addict? Leave! Good lord”

      I would agree with you if the fucker had told Sad Chump this on the first date, but he didn’t. He waited until she had invested in the relationship, and they were living together.

      Sad Chump is in the bargaining stage, and we’ve all been there, most of us with many more years, and heavy sunk costs. It’s very difficult to believe/accept we’ve wasted so many years on a piece of shit.

      Sad Chump is luckier(although of course she can’t feel that right now), much lower sunk costs, and easier to leave. I hope she does.

    • There are million dollar industries dedicated to getting women to stay with these men and ensure their abuse. Therapists and doctors participate in it. I was asked point blank: “Would you leave if he had cancer too!? He’s sick!”

      If you don’t know this hell, don’t judge.

  • I’m so tired of, “I’m a sex addict”. Don’t believe in it. It’s become a catch-all phrase to rampantly f@*k everywhere. The only issue is lack of character and integrity. There are real addictions out there where the body does become dependent on chemicals and the mind follows. Sex addiction is a cowardly way to escape consequences for lack of self control and respect. Nope. Don’t buy into that excuse, he apparently can’t control his “addiction” anyway and you do not want to set yourself up to suffer with him for years to come.

  • I’ve been reading here daily since 2018 and I’ve read countless stories like yours here. Keep reading.

    Maybe you didn’t see it because you don’t want to believe it? That’s also a very common phenomenon among us.

    In the unlikely event there really isn’t a story like yours here, allow me to be the first.

    When X and I had been together two years, living together for one year, he had a female study partner in a junior college class. My gut was telling me something fishy and inappropriate was going on. He was telling me he was not attracted to her; they were just study partners. I didn’t catch them In The Act of actual physical contact. It was just a gut feeling. I didn’t know what to do. So I stayed. Not too long after that he admitted that yes, he had been attracted to her.

    So there was the first lie involving other women that I can recall.

    For my twentieth wedding anniversary, twenty-five years, one co-founded business, and one child later, I got a DDay and discarded. I found out that my gut had been right all along. That he had most likely never been faithful and exclusive.

    He moved in with a woman he met on Craigslist. He cheats on her and continues to lie to everyone. I call her the Craigslist cockroach because when you find one cockroach, it means there are 40,000 in the walls that you can’t see.

    If I could go back to 1992, I’d tell myself to pack my stuff and run.

    The moment you find out they are untrustworthy is the moment to leave, IMHO. You got confirmation, from him, that your suspicions were correct, that he lied to you, that he is OK lying to you, that you can’t trust him.

    Stay at your own peril, IMHO.

    • Oh how I wish I would have left the Lying Cheating Loser the moment I knew he was untrustworthy. If I’m being honest, he showed me who he was before we even defined the relationship. I was just too attached to my cherished outcomes, and too sure I could build an entire relationship out of spackle. I wasted 4 years on that sociopath, but I damn sure learned my lesson.

      • Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Don’t we all feel that way?

        I didn’t notice untrustworthiness early on, but I sure as hell noticed some moody, passive-agressive and just plain mean behavior.

        Shortly after our honeymoon, we went for a hike, and, without explanation or warning, he stormed ahead. I yelled for him to come back, but he didn’t. I found him miles later at the car. Of course I got angry with him. He stayed calm and probably enjoyed (yes, enjoyed) my meltdown. And then I think I just directed the anger at myself. I say this because I can remember wanting to jump out of the car as it was moving at 65 mph.

        That was my “oh-shit moment.” What had I done? Who had I married? I was only 24. Presents were still unopened. We’d yet to send all the thank-you notes. I think I felt stuck already. I just couldn’t admit that I’d made such a colossal mistake. Looking back, I think it’s clear that he wanted me to walk on the eggshells he threw in my path, to anticipate and cater to his moods, to read his mind–all to avoid getting abandoned on a proverbial hike.

        It worked.

        And I stayed…for 35 years, smoking hopium and spackling much of the time. So great was my self-deception over the years, that, when D-Day arrived (Oct 2019), I actually thought we had a pretty good marriage.🤦🏻‍♀️

        When breadcrumbs are enough, people like me stay the course. I’m sure fear and embarrassment also kept me stuck.

        p.s. I got 3 great kids out of that relationship!! So for that I’m grateful!

        p.s.s. I’m at least glad that he’s 100% out of my life now. And I finally know that, in my post-D-day delusional state, I was absolutely wrong in thinking that he will change for the OW. If I can’t change who I am–and I can’t in any meaningful way–he certainly can’t either. He’s still a pathologically quiet, mean, moody AF, covert/vulnerable narc who enjoys deception. Add to that the constant rage and self-pity that must consume him because his kids are NC.

        I now get why CL says that those two being together IS karma. I don’t really care but sometimes suspect that he’ll do the equivalent of running ahead of the wifetress on a hike. That’s who he is. If I were religious, I’d thank God for the 2 x 4 that knocked me out of my mirage. I’ve got a second chance at a good life.🙏

        Let our stories serve as cautionary tales for the OP.

        • “Shortly after our honeymoon, we went for a hike, and, without explanation or warning, he stormed ahead.”

          I experienced something similar, Spinach. We’d been living together for a few months, and were getting married shortly.

          We were walking up Ben Nevis. He’d charged on ahead(like he so often did), I called to him I was tired, needed to rest, and wanted to take a picture. He turned around with such a look of rage and contempt, I was shaken.

          Like you, I madly spackled.

          I so wish I’d listened to my gut, then. Sigh. 😳😞

          • Wow! That’s crazy. I’m sorry it happened to you, too.

            I don’t understand why these men married us if they felt rage and contempt.

            By the way, he would pull this walking-far-ahead crap even when we had kids and were on vacation in a foreign city. He once almost got clocked by a car in Barcelona because he angrily started stomping away from us FOR NO REASON at a busy intersection. My x’s girlfriend, who was vacationing with us at the time, said to him, ” Dr. x, you’ve go to stop doing that.” The rest of us were shocked that she said it so plainly. We even nervously laughed. I think we were so used to the crappy behavior that we kind of shrugged when it happened. It took an outsider to call out the BS. On another vacation, my niece’s husband said to me, “What’s wrong with him?” I shrugged.

            One last thing: people remember. And there are sometimes (not always, I concede) consequences for acting like a jerk. Because he had a way of alienating people and acting like an entitled toddler (sorry toddlers), most of our joint friends have dropped him and have hopped on my “side.”

            x complained at mediation that “Spinach is sitting pretty.” Why yes I am. Character matters. I treat people with respect and don’t walk angrily ahead, leaving them in the dust.

          • Found this blog in 2016, read all of Tracy’s posts since it’s inception AND all the comments. Every day. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a common tactic by the disordered. I had a stylist that I just didn’t like-too pushy and intrusive. I found another. Who do I see in my neighborhood, charging ahead of her husband on the sidewalk ? Mrs. Obnoxious.

        • TYPO!!

          Looking back, I think it’s clear that he wanted me to AVOID walking on the eggshells he threw in my path, to anticipate and cater to his moods, to read his mind…

          BTW, In this way he gained control over me. I felt large and in charge because I was the more extroverted one, which I think tricked me into believing I was at least an equal partner. This is part of the confusion of being with a covert narc. They’re shy. Their control is more subtle and oddly insidious. I have trouble explaining it. Those of you who’ve been with a covert nard know what I’m talking about.

          • My X said he wanted me learn how to take care of stuff when he wasn’t around. We lived very remote and he traveled a lot. This made sense to me and I willingly learned these things. For example, I couldn’t just call a repair man to fix the boiler. I had to learn how to unblock a frozen line, change a fuel filter, bleed and pressurize the system, etc. Instead of him being all proud of my newly learned skills, which he demanded I learn, the more capable and independent I became, the more pissed off he was at me. (Covertly) Because what he really wanted was me to fail and wail for his help that he could then withhold (for many and varied reasons – you know the kind of narc that goes out of his way to help his neighbors and even strangers, but refuses to fix anything in his own house.) and to feel superior to me. “Poor Skunkcabbage, she can’t figure out how to do/fix this problem. I have to work so hard to clean up her mistakes and fix it for her.”

            Yes, insidious. He really wanted me to be dependent upon him. But what ended up happening was I realized that I could do these things, and do them well and I really didn’t need him at all. He couldn’t handle that and used my new found confidence as an excuse to ramp up his disrespectful behavior and his cheating.

            When I finally walked, he told me “I’d never be able to take care of myself.” I laughed in his face. I’ve got a great job and I’ve applied for a new position with the company where I’ll make more $ than I’ve ever had in my life with great benefits, my son just graduated with honors and is heading off to college this fall with most of it paid for with scholarships, and I’m healthier and happier than I ever have been in my whole life. X can go suck rotten eggs.

    • Thank you, Velvet.
      I should have left in 2010. His behavior was fishy; something was wrong. I don’t think he was cheating and I’ll never know, but something low-level was going on. A crush, sexting, porn addiction, who knows. Instead of leaving then I waited until we had two kids and I caught him cheating with someone else’s wife. Don’t be me.

    • “The moment you find out they are untrustworthy is the moment to leave>”

      Sad Chump doesn’t understand that the only person she has to trust is herself and her own judgment. That’s where the work is, to be able to trust herself to walk away from situations that are dangerous or damaging.

      Trusting another person should only come when that person has demonstrated their capacity for honesty, reliability, and commitment. People have to earn trust and work to keep it.

  • Factual equation:

    I trust you > I love you

    Trust is the one and only foundation for a relationship. Chump Lady’s Faberge egg analogy is perfect and the foundation has been smashed to smithereens.

  • My immediate thought after I read the headline was: noooope. Your letter boils down to this, your partner did stuff behind your back that makes you feel uncomfortable and you ask if you should forgive him and how do you trust him again. The answer is you don’t! You’re not okay with his behavior. That’s more than enough reason to dump him. Think of it this way, it’s still early enough in the relationship that this guy is still courting you. He is on his best behavior. Him looking at nudes and sexting (and maybe more??) with exes behind your back after you asked him not to is the BEST you will get from this guy.

    • “him looking at nudes and sexting (and maybe more??) with exes behind your back is the best you will get after you asked him not to is the best you will get from this guy”.
      SC: I doubt there has ever been a more true statement. He does not want to break away from the ex. They are buddies who continued to sleep together after they broke up. Someone who has not detached from an ex is a huge RED FLAG. That someone is in a relationship (if you can call it that) with someone who has asked him not to be in communication (at least to some extent) with the ex and he has not honored that request. Exes are exes for reasons; beware anyone who has an EX that they have not severed ties with when such ties do not involve children or a business. Sad Chump: Please learn to value yourself enough that you require that your boundaries be respected. Good luck.

  • Sad, this is not going to get better, only worse. And consider that he is probably only telling you just enough to test your reaction, to see what he can get away with.

    You are worth more than this.

    • This was my experience. The confession seemed like a big gesture on his part, but it was really just the litmus test. His behavior continued, and he attempted to take it further underground.

    • Agree! He is “only telling you just enough”!
      He’s not telling you EVERYTHING he’s done, he’s just telling you enough for now to later claim plausible deniability.
      Later, when you inevitably find out more, he will then claim that he told you everything already.
      He’ll gaslight you into thinking that maybe you didn’t understand what he previously told you. You’ll go over everything discussed in the past and wrack your brain trying to resolve the cognitive dissonance between what you remember and what he’s telling you now.
      These cheaters play awful mind games with us.
      The only way to “win” is to take your ball and leave the game.

  • This may not be the most popular opinion here, but I would certainly hesitate before commiting to ANY partner who has any serious “addiction” in thier past. It would not be a deal breaker, but I would have to reserach and think long and hard about partnering up.
    I say this from years of expereince with family and friends as well as co workers. Addiction recovery is no joke.
    You have to value yourself, and your future – and take into consideration all the people you allow into your life.

    I can’t even imagine allowing this clown (OP) a second chance. He enjoys the repeated “confession/pain/spin” cycle he has this poster in. Completely unaware (or apparently so) that the duping IS an addiction, too. It gives him great relief to unload on her. It will never stop.

    • Agree with you Nancy. My ex cheater was an alcoholic. I helped him get sober. Only to see years down the track that he just transferred his addiction from alcohol to addiction to gambling! And I believe possibly porn too because I saw him texting porn stars and sexting other people. So yeah addiction is a slippery slope. It’s often tied to personality disorders. I believe my ex cheater has narcissistic personality disorder after learning about this disorder when I caught him cheating and so many other lies came out. Narcs and other toxic people don’t know how to deal with life so they turn to alcohol and other addictions to self medicate. And they never change. In my 8 years being with him he got sober, but that was the only “change”….he actually got worse and was addicted to other things. I’ll never again be with anyone who has addiction in their past. I know people get sober and change etc but it takes A LOT of hard work and consistent effort, and when it comes to relationships, I just think it’s a slippery slope, one that I’m not prepared to ride on again.

    • I wouldn’t date an addict either – not unless they’d been in recovery for many years, and even then, I’d think twice. I grew up with an addict and saw how destructive addiction is. I wouldn’t willingly live with it again.

      That said, “sex addiction” is a bullshit myth and an excuse for cheaters.

  • Addicts are not available for relationships. Period. That’s true whether the addiction is drugs, gambling, sex—whatever. Though I tend to think sex addiction is a bullshit excuse to do what he wants to do, and assholes are not available for relationships, either.

    • “Though I tend to think sex addiction is a bullshit excuse to do what he wants to do, ”

      Yeah, maybe I am wrong; but I think “sex addiction is overused, much like sugar addiction”.

      My love of sugar is not an insurmountable addiction, I can control it, same for sex. I don’t make excuses when I od on sugar; I take my hit and don’t blame DQ or Ben and Jerry.

    • Nomar,

      I’m with you on this. An addict’s primary relationship is with whatever it is that they are addicted to; their relationship with anyone and anything else comes a very very poor second and will inevitably take the hit (regardless of whether the addict cares enough to acknowledge it) when the addict needs their fix.

      LFTT

    • I should clarify that I meant active addicts. It’s my understanding that addicts in recovery who have sustained that recovery for a substantial time (at least a year) may be available for new romantic relationships.

    • Well said, Nomar. Addicts aren’t present in a relationship; they’re just there. If anyone tells you they are an addict, you merely become an accessory in their life. An object, muse, means-to-an-end, appliance, useful tool, and a mood-regulator by way of how you’re used to maintain their image.

  • “The Guy Doesn’t Have the Basic Skills for a Relationship. ”

    Sooooo true, and honestly from folks I have known, my own experience etc, it is true of most of these cheaters. They never had it in them, they just were able to put on a performance for a season.

    • Susie: I think this cheater like many others never had it in them. Confess a little to make SO think gee, he is so honest…..
      Liars, like those still hooked on an EX, just do not have it in them at all. Next, please.

    • “…able to put on a performance for a season.” Yes. Seems it would be exhausting. I don’t know how the cheaters do it.

      • It would be exhausting for a normal decent person, who wouldn’t do such a thing anyway.

        Cheaters enjoy the deceit, the thrill of “I know something you don’t know”.

        Duper’s delight

  • The longer you delay getting out, the harder it will be. You’re in the process of trauma bonding. That in itself is an addiction. Run, goddammit

  • Sad, block this malignant sick fucker on every channel. Spend some time healing, building your life. Get very curious about what thoughts lead you to consider staying for one second longer now that you know. It’s probably scarcity mentality, which has zero upside. Get busy noticing those thoughts and catching yourself and thinking an intentional thought that actually serves you. I suggest something like, “I am learning to be my own best friend” or “someday I will be grateful I left the cheater.”

  • He’s not a sex addict. He’s textbook Compulsive Abusive Sexual Relational Disorder. Google that and the Secret Sexual Basement.

    You couldn’t find a situation like yours in the archives, Sad? He uses porn, sets with other women, and lies. He plays sad sausage and claims it’s an addiction in order to excuse it.
    What situation on CL *isn’t* like that? Take it for granted there is much more going on than he will ever admit to. There always is with these perverts.

    Should you forgive him? Hey, if you want to, go ahead. How to trust him again? DON’T. He is not trustworthy. Regardless of whether or not you forgive him the misdeeds you know about, you need to dump him immediately.
    He’s an abuser. He told you *a few things* (by no means all) about himself to test what you would tolerate. That means he intends to ramp up the abuse over time, pushing your boundaries further and further, seeking complete control. Expect to eventually be told you have to participate in degrading sexual acts to keep him from cheating. Expect that he’ll cheat anyway. The descent into depravity once you are groomed to accept it happens in every single case with these “sex addict” FWs. Your case is no different. It really isn’t. I’m sorry.

    Think about it. He claims to be an addict. So what’s he doing about this alleged addiction? Nothing.
    Sad, I can guarantee that this guy has more skeletons in his closet than a med school anatomy lab, and that he likes being the way he is just fine. He does not feel bad about it. He is manipulating and grooming you. Please accept this reality and find somebody worthy of you. Don’t stay like we did, puffing on hopium that things would improve while we were traumatized, eventually to the point of being suicidal in many cases. I’m not exaggerating. The “sex addict” FW is the most destructive kind by far. These are the ones who are always serial cheaters, who are sexually depraved, who obsessively use porn. They go to strip clubs and massage parlors and they buy prostitutes. They sexually abuse their partners.
    Run, Sad. Run like the hounds of hell are nipping at your heels.

  • Oh good gravy! We talk about the FW playbook, but there must be a Chump playbook around somewhere too?! Maybe a Chump fairy brings it around when you’re sleeping? 🤷🏻‍♀️ I dunno but I must of read it too! So did one of my friends who married a confessed sex addict. Then when they were in financial trouble, he was a confessed gambling addict. Then when he did nothing with his kids, he was a confessed gaming addict. Then when… you get the idea. He had no addiction problem. He had an immature, entitled, FW problem & finally, finally, hallelujah she finally kicked him to the curb!!!

  • He probably never broke up with the ex.

    My hunch is he typically keeps 3-5 women in play at all times. They have roles such as The Primary, The Wallet, The Booty Call, etc. Telling you he is a sex addict is a way to normalize his lifestyle of competing women.

    What does he do for a living? This type is typically either chronically unemployed or has a job where they enjoy enormous freedom & flexibility.

    • Or a job that made them king and encouraged them to think they rule the world (mine was this one, which made him a respectable, successful young man on the outside and boy, did he bank on it).

    • @Regret: Thank you for stating this so well. You just described my first serious boyfriend and Cheater #1. They love having partners compete for them almost as much as they love the deceit. I wish you had written this out for me many, many years ago when I was 19.

  • listen to your intuition and end this relationship.

    for one thing, it’s hard to love someone with an active addiction. i don’t know what other addictions your BF is harbouring, but i bet there are more. ask me how i know.

    i married a guy with an alcoholic dad, and, before we married, i told him i wasn’t interested in marrying an alcoholic. i was young. i didn’t see my X’s drinking as concerning, but i was wrong. my X was born an alcoholic, and his addictions shifted around a bit. shopping, overeating, under eating, exercising, working, and, the steady one, alcohol.

    but i want to talk about his addiction to crushes. when i look back, i see a pattern of crushes with subordinates at the office. it started with his first secretary, A, a single mom, who adored my X and ended up marrying a guy who looks exactly like my X. weird, huh? this was followed by M, another secretary, who he developed “feelings” for when we had been married 3 years, i think? we had a big talk about this situation and he swore he wouldn’t act on them, that he would work through his feelings. this did happen. my X remained friends with M for years. she later got an MBA and levelled up with my X which probably killed his crush–he has a thing for subordination, as well as a saviour complex.

    this pattern repeated and continues to this day, when my X recently indicated that he could get his latest associate/secretary, K, to leave her live-in boyfriend if he wanted to, that he had the ability to persuade her. the look on his face when he told me this was completely weird. i think he was turned on. i told him to mind his own business. FYI she’s 30 years old and he’s 59. for context, our daughter is 26 years old.

    D-day was 1 1/2 years ago and evolved/devolved out big discussions around alcoholism, his anger about being confronted by his alcoholism, and resultant acting out with, you guessed it, a subordinate at his office. my X is now a VP and he became involved with a direct hire, his manager. i caught him having dinner with her and, when confronted, he told me he had shared his “feelings” for her over the dinner table, and then they’d talked it all through and decided not to have dinner alone ever again. i now think this is likely a lie, as my X has done a lot of lying over the past year, why would this be an exception?

    please note, my X then promoted this same manager to a director position, and was shifted out his job to a parallel position. i don’t yet know what that means but it doesn’t bode well. workplace harassment? corporate sidelining? or the corporation actually restructuring the executives so that one of them can fuck their director? it’s all bad news and it’s shady as fuck.

    anyway, do you see the repetition of “feelings” over the years? it’s a pattern.

    so, listen. i’m now 57 and have learned a lot of things through therapy, but i know that my intuition was shouting, on and off, over a 30 year marriage. i should have listened to it and left my X at year 3, i should have. but then i wouldn’t have 2 great kids who i love so much, so i ignore the “call of the should have” and move on.

    i just rented a house to move into this summer and those walls will fucking sing. fuck that guy.

    • “i just rented a house to move into this summer and those walls will fucking sing.”

      We expect regular updates! I’m so glad you’re almost free!

    • My FW has that savior complex. He gets off on “saving” lonely women. He seduces, he love bombs. He’s addicted to getting women to fall in love with him. He wants to play the hero. Thinks that sex with him will save them. I see now that what I thought was love was love-bombing. He will never be satisfied, even though he pretends to be. He has moved on to his next victim. He moved in with her within 2 months of knowing her, while still trying to get back with me, admitting to me that he didn’t love her “yet”. He’s now engaged to her, and I’m sure he will get “restless”. But whatever happens, it doesn’t make a difference in my life, because I took my path far away from his. (Yes, I blocked him.)

  • Run like the wind, OP, and never look back. This kind of addiction never gets better in my experience. I spackled 10 years ago after D-Day #1, 7 months into our relationship, where I found an entire file on his computer full of nudes from his exes that he’d been saving for years (there were 45 pictures in that file, from 6 different exes of his) and time tags showing he’d accessed them multiple times within the last month. I was 23 then and came from a very codependent upbringing, so when he told me it was because “My parents/FOO didn’t love me but these women did, so I held onto them” I gave him another chance if he promised to delete them and only look at regular porn and not people he actually knows. 2 months later he cheated on me with one of his high school friends, which I didn’t find out about until 9 years later because, surprise! He showed me who he was with his actions and I wanted to believe his promises more than what I was seeing with my own eyes. I wish I’d left after that 1st d-day. It got way worse over the years. D-Day #2 came 9.5 years after D-Day #1, followed by several others. Shortly after our daughter was born, I found out he’d registered for a little over a dozen dating apps (he says he never met up with anyone, but I don’t believe him), saved sex workers’ phone numbers to his contacts (he says he never solicited them but I don’t believe him), had been carrying on two simultaneous EAs with two different old coworkers, was playing one hentai game with a “young girl accolade” and three others with incest themes, had the aforementioned ONS with his friend from high school, and had saved tons of pictures of people he knew personally (his coworkers/female friends) to his spank bank. The pictures he saved were normal selfies/pictures they’d taken in their bikinis on vacation or in a cute but sort of revealing outfit during a night out, and what struck me about them was that didn’t look like they were taken for him. I asked him where he got them and he said he was skimming people’s instagram/ facebook/dating app profiles for pictures of people he knew IRL that he thought were sexy. He had pictures of a programmer he used to work with, this woman he worked with at his old job (he had a EA with this woman as well), countless pictures of his friends he’d met on various online forums over the years and (most painfully) one of my best friend that I remember her taking/sending to our friend group chat 7 years ago after I gave her some of my old clothes (she did her hair to kind of look like mine and sent the picture with a joke that she went all out on the “mowmowface” look after getting my clothes. It was definitely not intended for him to use as “material”) The very millisecond I told him I had no desire to reconcile he was back on dating apps and now has a girlfriend in Thailand that he says he admires because “they value family in their culture.” (pretty rich, considering he didn’t seem to value the family he made with me.) I repeat OP, run for your life. Don’t be me. He is already showing you with his actions that he values attention and validation from other women more than he values you. It’s still early, there’s time for you to move on and find someone who doesn’t do stuff that makes you feel twitchy and insecure.

  • My FW claimed “sex addiction” because the RIC told him so that was his excuse. He’s not addicted to sex, his turn on was deceiving me. He got off on the thrill of the secret. He cheated way down, so much so that he dumped her when I dumped him, he didn’t want to get stuck with her. He liked her because he could seduce her and deceive me. That will always be the thing I hate most. That was worse than the HPV.

    We didn’t have kids and he was living in my house so it was easy to kick him out. I knew I would never waste another minute of my time on a person that could devalue me when he claimed he loved me.

    For every admission, there is a deeper darker truth that will hurt you more. There is nothing to trust about this man. The life you gain when he is gone is worth the pain now.

    • “For every admission, there is a deeper darker truth that will hurt you more”! Truth truth truth!

  • Oh dear, he’s only escalating. You will never be one step ahead of this.

    Get out now, as much as it hurts and inconveniences you, it doesn’t compare to what’s coming.

  • Ugh, another sex addict with the same lines. He is manipulating you. He is telling you in his way “this will happen again and again.” Actions are what matter not words. I know it hurts but leave now knowing that you deserve better than this. It will save you from even more hurt. You have CN support through this pain and bravery.

  • It pains me to see people bury their head in the sand, especially when they don’t have that much invested.

    This guy has told you he’s a piece of shit and yet you refuse to believe him.

    I can only hope this part of the grieving process and you’re in the denial stage that you will ultimately come out of. It’s a process we’ve all gone through.

    You should’ve been gone the second he sniffed in his ex’s direction, but we’ve all made that mistake. But now you are moving from victim to willing participant.

  • Sad Chump are you dating my ex’s clone because he did the same thing down to the 2 years broken up and lying to me about his relationship with the ex while telling me we were exclusive? He also continued to meet her in secret after ironically having a serious conversation with me earlier where I told him I am not willing to accept any relationship with exes besides friendly acquaintances you say hi to while running into them on the street. He was meanwhile telling me how we should get married soon. But he accidentally admitted in one of our last fights that she broke things off with him first when she discovered he wasn’t single as she had assumed because he was lying to her too. I ended things with him after I finally got a few truths out of him like this.

    I am much more peaceful and have dated much kinder people down the line after losing the FW and several months of therapy. Even assuming he’s really an addict, would you date a drug addict or alcoholic in the throes of his addiction? I wouldn’t and expect the addict would be clean for a while before he’s worthy of a relationship with healthy me. They exist out there.

  • This man lacks discipline and self-control which are already a big NO for two grown people dating. The fact that he sucks with these things in the area of sex, exes, etc. is a HELL NO. You deserve so much better.

  • Sad,
    1) get an STI test ASAP
    2) what he told you is a lie – to cover up more lies. If you think sexting is all he did, that must be all he left traces of
    3) get OUT! “The calls are coming from inside the home”. HE is the danger. You have freedom to leave – PLEASE, for the sake of all you hold holy, LEAVE.
    4) every chump here can tell you sad tales of trying, but trusting again is impossible. I know. I tried. Our friend group helped him gaslight me the first time (31 years ago!!) and told me “trusting is a choice”. It was. I made the wrong choice. He went deeper underground & kept raising the stakes – cheat with someone who works for him, bring her around, flirt with her in front of me. Do you want THAT?
    Run! The relationship is on fire!

  • Chump lady nailed it! I was married to a “sex addict.” He “confessed” to me randomly about cheating on me. I thought it must mean he was sorry. NOPE. They get off on hurting us. It’s part of the thrill. He needed you to know he was betraying you to get off on his betrayal.

    I’ve been in multiple groups for the partners of sex addicts. Do you know where they all go sad chump? They all go to pedophilia eventually. That’s the natural progression. They need to get more and more “taboo” to keep getting off. Right now he’s getting off on hurting you emotionally, he’ll go to violence and rape towards women. Maybe not doing it himself but watching porn where women get beaten and raped.The women will get younger and younger. Then it’ll be teens and eventually it’s children. They all eventually get there. Some take longer than others but they all get there because eventually there’s nowhere else left to chase that “high.”

    Do you want to be at a point where you have kids with him when he decides raping kids is hot?

    Get out now. There is nothing but pain as the partner of a “sex addict.” He will ruin your life. And he’ll jerk off about it. He’s not sorry. He doesn’t care. You’re a sexual prop to him, nothing more. Don’t go down this road. Run like hell.

    • I agree with EVERYTHING you said. My ex “sex addict” did escalate in the exact ways you described. Eventually, he molested our daughter, his own flesh and blood, when she was 12. She told me immediately. That piece of shit is still in prison. After he was convicted, I found out that he molested my sister’s daughter years before whenshelivedwithme. She didn’t tell anyone till he was in prison and she was already an adult.

  • Sad – it is really simple – leave the guy and move on, don’t invest any more of your time, energy, emotions – the longer you invest the more you will have lost when the inevitable happens when you no longer can take his bullshit – count yourself lucky that you found out now and not 20 years into a marriage, mortgage kids …

  • Run like your hair is on fire!! My FW was obsessed with porn and cheated on me more than once with his ex (who he was still seeing when we met, making me the unwitting other woman). He went to counselling to deal with his porn obsession and lying, counsellor told him to stop masturbating to porn as it was no good for our relationship or his erectile dysfunction. I thought it worked, stupid me he just went further underground. D-day again nearly 2 months ago, I’ve been trying to grey rock it but yesterday he came to my house when he knew I wouldn’t be home, and left extremely explicit photos he had of me on my porch for anyone to see! He also still has a collection of secret copies of nudes he kept from customers when he worked in a photography lab 40+ years ago. These FW do not change! It is not a sex addiction, it is shitty character. Don’t be me!

      • I am thinking hard on that. It’s a Criminal Code offense to distribute explicit photos without consent. And I definitely did not consent. My children, Girl Guides, Amazon delivery guy etc. could have seen them.

  • I don’t believe in ‘sex addiction’. It’s a spurious ‘psychological’ euphemism for *entitlement*, aka “I want to fuck whoever I want to fuck, and fuck you if you won’t go along with it”.

    “He told me a couple months into our relationship that he had slept with his ex after our first date…”

    This was him testing out what you would put up with.

    And you gave him what he wanted sweetheart, acquiescence.

    All the shut he’s pulled since then is inevitable escalation, and *it will get worse*.

    Everything CL has told you is spot on. Get out now, and don’t invest any more pearls in that swine. He’s a piece of shit. Hugs. 💕

  • OMG! RUN! Do not wait. “Sex addiction” is B S ! It is just one more tool used to abuse. My stbx has spent 18 months playing the wounded unicorn. Your hubby is setting you up. If you take the bait, you will be dealing with this issue for however long the relationship lasts. Ask yourself, Is this what you want in a relationship? When someone shows you they suck, Trust that they do. There are a plethora of resources out there that I implore you to look at. BTR.org , yourstoryissafehere.com , and others. I also suggest Lundy Bancroft’s Why does hw do that? It is an eye opener. Good luck.

  • He has given you a head’s up that he will continue to engage in inappropriate behavior and cheating because he has a disorder, which by the way is horseshit, and can’t help himself. Just out of curiosity, did he park his ass at your place when you moved in together or did you find a place together? Does he pay his fair share of living costs or do you pay the bulk? I ask because people that engage in this behavior also tend to be blood sucking bums.

  • Yes, entitlement and a belief that he has a right to follow his urges wherever they go are death to a relationship. Animals live that way; monogamous humans do not. They deal with it by focusing elsewhere, exercising, or whatever. They don’t dwell on those thoughts. They keep the greater good of the relationship at the forefront.

    I wish that I didn’t know about these things.

  • Oh boy, Sad, get the hell out. I am just reiterating what many have said already. Where you see a couple of “minor” transgressions, we at CN see a pattern. Because we’ve lived it, suffered and fought like hell to get out. This is slow escalation and grooming for more abuse. This guy is no relationship material, he is addicted to lies, deceit, taking what is not his and he hasn’t earned. He is addicted to power trips, and that is bad news for you if you decide to stay. Lying and cheating on you is about having power over you. Because of what you don’t know, he is taking away your right of making an informed decision about your life. He is showing you who he is, please believe him and walk away now, while you can.

    • And in case you’re thinking “but my boyfriend is different, he told me he would change, that he was sorry!”, my answer is:
      1) consider the source,
      2) pay attention to what he does, not what he says.

      FWs don’t change, this is working for him, why would he?

      • Ah, I wish we all had time machines so we could go back and get out before the real damage was done. Or magical TVs that would show us the future outcomes of any scenario or choice imaginable.

        After repeated betrayals chumps tend to amass a list of red flags for cheaterism, that’s a given. For myself I’ve noticed that each red flag that I come to recognize represents a “D’OH!” moment that I look back on and wish I had been launched into an escape plan. It becomes a bit of an obsession. Red flags double as regrets.

        I’m hoping that doing the work of putting my life back on track and achieving full “meh” will see an end to this compulsive line of thinking. Even as I approach meh-ville, I find myself frequently fantasizing about the moments when red flags appeared in the past– all those peculiar things that might not seem related to cheating but that chumps eventually identify as warnings like, say, future faking home repairs, “accidentally” destroying or losing precious things/heirlooms, merry mood swings, repeatedly ruining special occasions, even scary and insensitive driving, etc.– and replaying the scenarios in my mind but this time LEAVING before the cheating began. In retrospect it would be kind of funny to boggle would-be cheaters and leave them with a sad sausage narrative to tell others forever, like “S/he left me because I accidentally threw out his/her grandmother’s oil painting!” (wail). Or “S/he left me because I tail-gated on the freeway!” (moan). Or “S/he left me because I wouldn’t replace the broken toilet!” (boo hoo).

        Since I wouldn’t give the kids back, my brain tends to focus on things that happened during my last pregnancy, imagining that, in response to something that I now know was a tell-tale warning of things to come, I’d gotten ducks in a row, hired a lawyer out of the blue and booted FW out. Had I done this, it would have been before the twenty year mark of marriage and I wouldn’t have gotten lifetime alimony on top of child support and it certainly would have been difficult to raise three kids alone, but my brain still replays these scenes over and over. I think it’s my brain’s way of saying, duh, that not everything happens for a reason– at least not for any good reason– and the kids and I would have been better off without that shit. I wouldn’t have had as much closure but I could get fourteen years back at least.

        I wish as-yet unwed and child-free chumps would take a page from the vets. Avoid all the fun and regrets and dump that stock before it crashes.

        • I think you would like Dr. Omar Minwalla’s work, he clearly outlines cheating as trauma (so many of us suffer from PTSD, hypervigilance, reliving events, panic, depersonization, etc.) He also has a name for it deceptive sexuality trauma. It was helpful for me (he also has some STRONG ideas about “treatment induced trauma” from the shared blame focused RIC.

          • Minwalla’s work has been the most helpful thing for me other than ChumpLady. If you have a partner whose cheating falls less into the “my marriage was going through a rough time and I got way too close to my hot colleague at work” category and more into the category in this post (the “I am a serial liar and cheater who compartmentalizes my sex life into a ‘secret sexual basement’, where I rummage around for kibbles while you do the dishes, and when you catch me lying and sneaking around, I ‘trickle truth’ and lie more and then gaslight you then lie and cheat again” category), Minwalla is soooo helpful because he calls out this behavior for what it is—ABUSE—lists the red flags that you have this kind of partner, and describes the way that this kind of relationship is traumatizing and hard to leave. One thing that I find especially valuable is his insight that *even if you don’t know you’re being lied to or cheated on*, you still absolutely feel and manifest the effects of it in physical and emotional trauma.

  • Sad- you are sad because the only thing this guy can give is lies and STI’s.
    You don’t state your age or any experience of previous relationships. A good book is “Love Factually” by Duana Welch, that helps people understand how to use some thoughtfulness prior to becoming emotionally attached to someone.
    If you don’t feel you deserve everything you want in a relationship, that’s an indicator to work on yourself until you realize you are fully deserving of reciprocal love. You can choose deal breakers such as “never wants to go camping” or “does not need a 12 step group for a behavior issue.”

    There are quite a few of us whose X spouse admitted to being a sex addict. Check the archives.
    Whether or not sex addiction is really a thing, this guy is still withholding important information from you. He may come across as honest but he will be selective about what he tells you. What he lets you know will be the tip of the ice berg. That was my experience with my XH and from listening to other women in the multiple SAnon support groups I attended for years. We all were sad. Many women blamed themselves or took on responsibility for their partners issues.
    If you don’t leave him, you will begin to spend huge amounts of money & time at treating his addiction. So many organizations have sprung up, like http://www.btr.org, or Omar Minwalla’s group, or SA/SANON, or in my experience, the absolute saddest of all, partners of sex addicts.
    Do you really want to always be confused, wondering if he had a “slip,” or if he’ll pass his lie detector test? Or take it upon yourself to find the next treatment center? Or drag yourself to counseling and a self help group weekly, for a problem you did not create and you are not responsible for? This isn’t a disease he caught unknowingly like Covid. He chose to look at women over & over again, & masturbate, Then it probably escalated to both porn and his ex and her pics. Now he thinks he can’t do without!

    An addiction to a behavioral is really entitlement in disguise. He is using other women, and you, to give himself something – a second income, proof that someone likes him, laundry & cleaning & dinner every night, and his sexual jollies. He doesn’t care that you get little in return, and he definitely doesn’t care that you don’t get monogamy in return. And now that he knows you still accept him after his “confession,” he will continue his behaviors. He will think that since you continue to live with him, you forgave him & accept all his behaviors. Once & done for him, because he’s not really going to keep being concerned with you – that what addicts do.

    • I love ChumpLady’s answer.
      I got sucked into the sex addiction thing because I was already 12 years, 4 kids in to the marriage and he was “such a nice guy”!
      Sad, you can leave! Even if you have to beg a couch for a while, save yourself.

    • Highlighting these terrific lines:

      “…the only thing this guy can give is lies and STI’s.”

      “An addiction to a behavior is really entitlement in disguise.” (I fixed the typo)

    • “ An addiction to a behavioral is really entitlement in disguise.”—-YES, UpandOut. This is so true.
      Also in my very unfortunate experience being with someone who has behavioral addictions, even if he goes white-knuckle “sober” from the worst of the sexual acting out behaviors (not that you will ever know if he’s actually abstaining, since liars lie), he’ll still keep the addictive pattern in other areas of his life, the way they talk about “dry drunks.” He needs to lie, compartmentalize his behavior and keep his secret basement separate from other parts of his life, and get the dopamine hit/release of ego kibbles—-so even if he’s able to cut down on some of the sex stuff, he’s likely to continue to lie and sneak around in order to make himself feel better.

  • Chumplady is 100% right! Dump him, go no contact, and move on. He isn’t going to change; don’t waste any more time on him.

    NEXT!

  • Sad, you say that you can’t find your story in the archives of CN. But, we are all your story. The only difference is that you’re not married and that gives you a huge advantage. Being lied to, cheated on, gaslit and deceived is every story on Chump Nation. You are one of us. I hope that you listen the great advice you’re being given here and RUN RUN RUN away from this cheating POS. He will not get better. He will get worse and then better and better at hiding it and abusing you. No good can come of staying. Who cares if he came clean? Mine did too. Only to later admit to so much worse and DECADES of cheating, lies and abuse. Get out now. Then stay here and read daily the stories of others just like you. You’ll begin to see that your situation is, unfortunately, very common.

  • “For every admission, there is a deeper darker truth that will hurt you more. There is nothing to trust about this man.” 100% true.
    You will never be in a position that you can out-con a con artist, he will ALWAYS have the upper hand in that game. But you can spend a lifetime doubting what you see and always trying to fix him or improve yourself, which will really throw you off the game going on, but that’s why he chose you.
    He will tell you wonderful and amazing things your lives together will contain, more than your wildest imaginings and you will not want to let that go. He will future fake the hell out of you, and it will sound so incomprehensibly incredible, like right out of the most wonderful dream you could dream.
    Then you will back burner the sex addiction issue, the continued connection with the ex, the porn, the questionable countless relationships with other women that will surface continually and you will try again and again to reason it all out of existence. It will be your goal in life to save him.
    Until you are so exhausted, you won’t be even able to fool yourself any longer and the truth of what he actually is becomes so blinding you can’t see anything else.
    That, unfortunately, could be 10-20 years and 3 kids from now or you could be lucky enough to see it right now.
    Please, believe it right now! It could save you an entire lifetime of heartaches.
    This guy is a player, he is grooming you to see what you will tolerate and he is very much enjoying your angst about what his mind games are doing to you, that’s all part of the fun.
    You found your way to this site, good for you! That’s a great start.
    Don’t be distracted by what you want your life to be with this man,the future faking is a big distraction from the truth.
    Listen to what your gut is trying to help you see. This man is untruthful, deceptive, hurtful, selfish,confusing, devaluing and an unacceptable partner.
    You already know that, you are just not fully ready to accept it. It’s not at all easy.
    There’s a Rumi quote that goes, “ There’s a voice that doesn’t use words, listen”.
    These cheaters will reveal “ tells” to you. He has told you what he is, that’s not changing, believe him.
    I agree with CL that “it is not your job to teach him remedial decency”.
    Is the relationship as it stands today acceptable to you? Do you trust this man?
    Someone else mentioned the brilliant work of Dr. Minwalla on the ‘secret sexual basement.’ I would look that up if you haven’t read it, so illuminating and scary.
    His actions will cause you more and more harm that is very hard to see around the love you feel for him, you’ll just sense something is abysmally off, it will rip away more pieces of your soul the longer you stay in the game.
    Get out. Don’t date right away either, give yourself time to heal and fix your radar.
    This guy is not going to change, it will get many degrees worse.
    Some day you will be able to look back on that relationship and know you dodged a missile with coordinates locked directly on you.
    He’s shown you who he is, believe him.

  • My chump story began like this. My ex husband was “sexting” and looking at pictures/videos of ex girlfriends. I discovered this while we were engaged and I choose to ignore those nagging feelings in my gut.

    It got worse from there. Serial cheating with hookers and co-workers, sexting with strangers on the internet. Basically an entire double life. I had 3 D-days, years of therapy (and the bills that go along with it) and lost 10 years of my life – all because I didn’t value myself enough to call it off at the beginning of my chump journey.

    Leave this guy. Leave now. It only gets worse from here. You only see the tip of the iceberg right now. What he is willing to share – trust me, there is much much more. Choose yourself over this fuckwit. Don’t make the same mistake that I did. You are worth so much more than this.

  • I always give the following spiel: imagine if domestic battering was called “punching addiction.” If so, then why don’t batterers typically punch their bosses or armed cops? Why aren’t they holed up in the gym 24/7 swinging at punching bags to the point of collapse? Because not every compulsion is an “addiction.” Unlike people, bottles and pills don’t cry out in pain when consumed so I view sexual betrayal as something a lot darker than “addiction.” Even if many addicts eventually harm those around them in pursuit of substances, sexual betrayers literally have to start out of the gate with diminished empathy just like batterers.

    For a lot of reasons I think the CSAT (certified sex addiction therapist) cert is a cynical money-making scam and its creator, Patrick Carnes, is a psychiatric grifter. What really gave it away for me was how Carnes hijacked the revolutionary and very functional concept of “captor bonding” generated by founding psychotraumatologist Frank Ochberg (who originally consulted on the 1973 Stockholm bank hostage incident for which “Stockholm Syndrome” was coined) and turned the theory into Carnes’ sterilized and arguably harmful “trauma bonding.”

    “Trauma bonding” could evoke the idea of two soldiers bonding over the trauma of battle or, when applied to intimate abuse (which cheating arguably is), two drowning people clinging together in a flood and pulling each other down or two equal combatants traumatizing each other. Notably absent in “trauma bonding” is the clear delineation between perpetrator (captor) and victim (captive) that exists in Orchberg’s original concept. Also note how rationalization for the abuser (“trauma,” sadz, etc.) is built right into Carnes’ recoinage– as if any abuser needed help generating excuses when the “disease” of intimate abuse– if it could even be termed a disease– could literally be defined as a complex system of false rationalization at the expense of victims. The term “trauma bonding” also carries default victim blaming in two ways: first because the term “borrows” innocence from the victim in order to remove guilt from the perpetrator by putting the two parties on equal ground (both are “traumatized”); and the second by accusing the victim by default of traumatizing the perpetrator (otherwise, what exactly is traumatizing the perpetrator in this situation?).

    As a former advocate for dv survivors I learned that terms and concepts applied to domestic abuse (which dv expert and Ochberg colleague Evan Stark depicts as largely about coercive control more than violence itself) can have, for better or worse, extreme impact on victims. Words matter and splitting blame between perpetrator and victim is disastrous. For instance, the moldy old concept of “psychological deficiency” that has been traditionally and automatically applied to victims– the assumption that victims had something psychologically wrong with them to begin with that “drew” abusers to them on Voodoo tractor beams or made victims attracted to abusers and gratified by abuse– is not only the reason 90% of women in prison for murder are there for defending themselves against repeat violent abusers and the reason that victims are sometimes robbed of custody of their children “for letting themselves be abused” but the concept has also simply failed to help victims extricate themselves from abuse. I feel the latter is unsurprising to the degree that the blame-splitting echoes abusers’ fundamental mythology and favored form of gaslighting, which is that the victim “made it happen/asked for it.” It creates a sort of Rosemary’s Baby situation where the victim reaches out to get help but finds that the whole apparatus is basically in league with the devil, driving many victims to retreat to the “devil they know.” It practical terms, the split-blame concept ensures that victim resources remain marginal and insufficient because legal and mental health authorities, government and the public quarantine blame for dv to all parties involved. People are less likely to help someone if they believe that person is largely responsible for their own plight. And to the extent that abusers tend to be intensely sensitive to negative public attitudes towards their behavior which leads to image management, collecting “palliative comparisons” (“John Wayne beat his wife in a movie and everyone sees him as a hero!”) and fishing for support within social contexts (triangulation), the split-blame theory arguably encourages abuse.

    Abusers like the split-blame theory. Of course they’d prefer the victim to be blamed entirely but they’re more likely to willingly pay a therapist who at least parses up the blame a bit and are less likely to pay the bill if the therapist heaps all blame on the perpetrator. Furthermore, couples therapists could lose their licenses for attempting to reconcile abusers with victims so casting abuse as “not abuse” is an economic facilitator. In that sense, the term “trauma bonding” is very practical but “captor bonding” is not because once a therapist has acknowledged perpetration is occurring, they can no longer treat the couple for ethical reasons and even potentially legal reasons.

    Now that Evan Stark’s campaign to add “coercive control” to the official definition of domestic battering is making headway so that victims could potentially get orders of protection based on sub-violent forms of abuse, therapists treating couples in which sub-violent forms of abuse are occurring may eventually be under legal obligation to report behaviors like psychological control, financial abuse and perhaps even the gaslighting and physical endangerment involved in cheating and to cease treatment of these couples as couples. That’s a lot of lost fees.

    Because I’ve come to see cheating as little more than a form of abuse (for one, all batterers cheat; for another, cheaters are statistically more likely to eventually become violent to partners) and I can’t help noticing the overlaps between perpetrator mentality, the politics of “helping” professions’ response to both cheating and dv and the way in which victims are entrapped, I think the “trauma bonding” concept coined by Carnes is particularly toxic and has even begun bleeding back into domestic violence theory. At the very least the term “trauma bonding” is like a vandalized road sign pointing travelers in the wrong direction. For example, if a victim searches the term “captor bonding” online, this will lead to more than 50 years of important research and resources on perpetrator tactics, perpetrator mentality, victim response, criminal justice theory and actually helpful therapeutic approaches for treatment of Stockholm syndrome, etc. A search for the latter could even urge victims of intimate betrayal to understand the elements of coercive control in it and start to see the many links between cheating and domestic violence. But when searching the term “trauma bonding,” victims will find themselves mostly in a dead end of pop-psychobabble, CSAT drivel, perp rationale and blame-parsing.

    In recent years many well-meaning advocates have picked up on the term “trauma bonding,” possibly because it’s become viral and recognizable or because they’re simply unaware of the term’s history. Some well-meaning advocates even seem to be inching “trauma bonding” back towards the original concept of captor bonding. But I think it would be simpler to go back to the valid original term and to stop validating Carnes’ corrupt term-hijacking and recoinage because it’s steering unwitting victims and the public into an idiotic rationale for what is, in reality, just plain old abuse and an aspect of coercive control.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents on the whole CSAT debacle. I find it incredibly retrograde and it scares me.

  • My cheater told me while we were dating that he had a “porn problem.” I wish I had examined it really closely, to figure out if that was ok with me. To think in brutal detail, “This guy looks at pictures and videos of other people to get hard and jack off. And he keeps it secret, except when he decides he wants to be ‘honest’ with me. And he’s not taking initiative to go to counseling and take responsibility for this on his own.” If I had thought through all that, perhaps I would not have married him and saved myself a world of hurt and trauma. Instead I was determined to be a supportive person, to call out the best in him. He said he was an addict; who was I to abandon someone with a health problem?

    I wish I had understood then, that 99% of people with a “sex addiction” don’t truly have uncontrollable urges. They can hold down jobs, they have friends, they have hobbies. If it was uncontrollable, they’d be institutionalized. They want the secrecy, the feeling of “I know something you don’t.” You will always wonder, “has he told me everything?” If he’s a little more distant than usual, you’ll think, “is he doing it again?” It’s a terrible thing, living in hypervigilance all the time. You will never know the full truth. And that’s because they will never tell you, because it’s in their best interest not to tell you. They know that if they tell you, you will be horrified by them and you will leave. They intentionally keep you in the dark but feed you “honesty” to make you think they’re being vulnerable with you, to give you the feeling of “oh, he trusted me with the side of himself he’s ashamed of! I’m carrying this tender side of him, just like he carries me!” It fools you into thinking there’s reciprocity, but there actually isn’t, because what is he doing to actually care for the tender side of you? But because he’s fooled you into thinking there is, you won’t leave, because how could you abandon such a tender forest creature?

    You don’t have to prove anything to him. You don’t have to prove you’re a great partner. You don’t have to prove you’ll still love him through it. How has he loved YOU, chosen YOU? You shouldn’t have to earn his love by loving him when he treats you terribly. That’s a race you’ll never win. Do you want to be with someone who ALREADY has shown he can keep secrets for months, pretend for months, fool you for months? Someone who manipulates you with false vulnerability and sincerity? Someone with whom you will never know the full truth?

    Please, think long and hard about those questions. Don’t be me. Don’t be convinced that your love will bear him through and out of “addiction.” Realize that he has choice, he has agency, and he has consistently chosen to betray you. Consistently. Over time.

    Stop thinking about how to be a good partner to him. Start thinking about how you can be a good partner to YOU. I wish I had done so.

    If you’re looking for a cautionary tale, here’s mine: he told me he had a “porn problem.” That he had an “addiction.” But that he only looked at porn twice a week. I told him that as long as he was honest with me, we could get through this. He could get counseling. This didn’t define him, he could get over this. And I married him anyway.

    He didn’t pursue counseling until I insisted. He didn’t get in support groups until I insisted. I had to make the plans for him. And then he griped the entire time that they weren’t “helping,” weren’t “working,” and quit after just a few months. He became increasingly distant over time as I kept telling myself, “No, we’re honest with each other, he would tell me if something was wrong.” Then my entire world came crashing down when he was arrested for voyeurism and child pornography. The horror and disgust cannot be expressed.

    My love didn’t change him. My understanding didn’t change him. My explaining how I felt and how much it hurt me didn’t change him. He was going to do what he did no matter what. Unless he does deep personal work to change (which, I’ll believe it when I see it), he will keep finding ways to harbor his secrets and break the law. He will keep harming others. I don’t have to be one of them anymore.

    He doesn’t have your back, but YOU CAN. He doesn’t care about you, but YOU CAN. He isn’t showing you love, but YOU CAN. Believe me, you will feel so much better when he’s out of your life and you’re no longer having to live in cognitive dissonance and hypervigilance. I have been there. I have walked this path. Learn from my mistakes and take the road less traveled.

  • Not sure it needs to be said;
    If you’re coming here for dating advice, your relationship should end. It’s past due. Done.

    We’re here to support your separation… but if your partner’s actions brought you here? …. Check please

  • Sad, get out please. I wish I was like you and got out when I could-before kids and the whole wasting of 25 years. He’s testing your boundary. It will get worse-I can promise you that. You’re telling him you’ll put up with cheating and he’s like “yes!” I’ll keep going then. He’s not going “okay, I promise I’ll stop”. He’s already telling you he can’t stop – he’s an “addict”. Um, no. I’m sorry but I don’t believe people get addicted to jerking off to naked photos of their ex. That’s called sex, and that was their way of getting turned on and they’re still doing it. For consenting adults that are single that’s great! Now it’s cheating because he’s with you and you’re exclusive. It won’t stop. Take it from the chumps. Get out now and find a man who wants to love you. Yay! You’re so lucky you found out now.

    • Weighing in on this topic. I have a little familiarity with the academic literature on porn usage. There is a growing consensus that jerking off to porn is a deliberately chosen way to get off without the muss and fuss of a partner. It is possible that porn jerkers get addicted to a the rush of neurochemicals set off by jerking off to vids of their favorite fantasies. Addiction or not, this habit is very damaging to their ability to maintain a relationship with an actual human female, and very damaging to a human female who is expected to put up with it. Sorry, boys. It is a form of cheating and as such is abuse.

      Good luck, ladies, finding a male who doesn’t jerk off to porn these days. Whatever puts the lead in their pencils, they can easily find it. We are to understand that lapping up this pervasive excrement is just what men do. Yeah, no. I often think about some poor soul decades ago, laboring out in a field behind a one-mule plow. Suddenly he’s swept up in a tsunami of horniness. He doesn’t dial up Porn-R-Us, I can tell you that.

      Sad, let this guy get on with it. Let him jerk himself into oblivion. Don’t take him on as your problem.

      • Yay, I love to untangle socio-political skeins. Maybe I should change my alias to “Numb Chumpsky” lol.

        One question I have about all these fancy academic neurofeedback theories is whether researchers have tried to identify precisely what the dopamine rush is from. What’s actually being reinforced? The power of having “captive” objects and being in control + sex? Or just low-effort, readily available sex?

        Considering that most commercial porn features clear degradation and an imbalance of power, and considering that many young users would not be completely immune to intangible emotional cues that the people performing in porn lead pretty bleak lives (if they’re even alive at the time of viewing) and are often really suffering during the filming (many have to take painkillers to get through shoots and simu-rape often involves real rape since performers may have had no idea when they showed up on set that they’d be banged by seven), could it be specifically sex without empathy that’s being reinforced?

        Food for thought. Because of the cruelty involved in depictions, in the porn industry, in the lives of performers, I wonder if modern porn as akin to pit bull training. To train a pit bull to fight, trainers will hang a kitten from its hind leg for the puppy pit bull to “practice on.” Or maybe it’s like training child soldiers in the Congo who are brutalized and inculcated until they can thoughtlessly perform heinous acts on command.

        Anyway, sex for our ape ancestors was basically all rape all the time. So does the dopamine spike involved with using porn have something to do with cruelty/coercion/power + sex? Is it the combination of those things which triggers de-evolution in some way, digging up some lizard brain animal instinct thingy that everyone has and can be morbidly gratifying but would probably best be left buried under 40 meters of granite and remain unfed?

        Just because something “comes naturally” doesn’t mean we should seek to liberate its expression. Our ape ancestors were also infanticidal cannibals as it happens. How liberated would it be to promote that?

        • Yes, yes and yes! Have you ever watched film of elephant seals mating? If not, please don’t. If so, please accept my sympathies.

          FWIW, my completely baseless suspicion is that any behavior that results in orgasmic release conditions that behavior. Pure Skinner, with a side of I-don’t-know-what’s-actually-going-on-either. Nonetheless I have a terrible addiction to attempting to untangle psychosociobiological skeins.

          From a distance.

          • Violet

            Yes, best done from a distance. Like a thirty foot barge pole. 😉

            Can’t argue with the idea that release is the reinforcement even if I tend to lean to Chomsky’s view (getting fancier by the minute here) that some things, like the capacity for language, are innate, not merely conditioned. Obviously sex is innate but, unlike language (Japanese children aren’t conceived with a Japanese language preference), there could be a regrettable preference for a type of sex buried in our DNA along with other regrettable latent tendencies (like cannibalism). And that might be the problem with porn and the fact that it’s inevitably exploitative: are the “cruelty cues” in it reactivating “innate” gang-bangy rapey chimp impulses in ways that consensual sex with real human beings doesn’t reliably do?

            Thanks for the Animal Planet warning. I vow from this day forward to avert my eyes from elephant seal porn along with the rest of it. There aren’t enough kitten videos on the planet to act as brain bleach for my stupid visual memory.

      • My ex wasn’t “porn addicted” but when I found his porn I was offended because a) the content was vile and b) I was sad that he wanted that over me – a real woman. In my chumpiness I asked him directly why he waited until I left the house to jerk off rather than wanting me. He was just fantasizing, he said. Guys just do that, etc etc. I wanted him, he wanted porn. Fast forward to my new relationship and when I asked him about porn he said, “It’s fake. Why would I watch porn and jerk off when you and I have such a great connection? I don’t enjoy that, so no thanks!” I was stunned at how normal and healthy that was. It’s amazing to be with someone who actually wants you (I know, low bar!)
        Porn was definitely a big part of my ex’s repertoire and he definitely preferred that to real sex with me. In the end he said I was too vanilla and he’s be right if I was being compared to what he was watching and then with hookers. I can say that it’s sad he needed to up his game to the fake world he believed in-I could never live up to it and he’ll never know real connection.

  • ‘Too bad he’s an idiot, but his idiocy doesn’t devalue YOU unless you let it.’

    Perfect line & excellent advice.

    I briefly just dealt with an idiotic cheater whom I casually dated for about 14 seconds after my divorce. Last summer, he reached out to me while he was dating his serious girlfriend and I blocked him on text and social media but not on my work email. Now, he and his girlfriend have broken up, and he claims I’m the one! You see, the others were all deficient in some way, and seeing his dad’s girlfriend naked when he was young stirred things in him that he’s constantly fighting and …

    …I don’t know the rest because I’ve blocked him everywhere. A fuckwit insisting that you’re the one is a special kind of absurdity.

    • They always want what they feel is being denied them. Entitled baby-men the bloody lot of them.

  • I think he needs to fix whatever is wrong with him before he dates anybody.

    I think Occam’s Razor says something like if you hear hooves don’t think of zebras. If he says he is a sex addict he is one. He is clomping like a horse and quaking like a duck. Most of the time the simplest answer is the right one.

    You need to move on.

  • Usually, the chumps who write in are devastated because of their sunk costs, and years of investing in the dream before they are shattered by discovering who they actually married. You have only been with this guy a short time, and he has been awful. The question for you is why do you want to stay?

    Do you feel you do not deserve a good relationship? Are you compelled to be the “cool girlfriend” who understands and tolerates all his quirks? Are you monogamous? What kind of life do you want?

    At this point, you are not invested. Cut your losses and spend some time working on your own self-worth. You probably don’t need to date until you value yourself enough not to tolerate any of this abuse. It will only get worse if you stay. Study the subject. It is horrifying, but well documented. Read the archives on this site. Don’t invest in a property that is riddled with red flags and black holes of despair. Invest in yourself. YOU are worth it. He is not.

    • Just to veer away from the idea that people are victimized due to “low self esteem,” one question I think everyone should ask themselves is whether they might suffer from “low esteem” for humanity in general– meaning are they losing hope that there are any genuinely decent people out there to partner with? Another question is whether the risk of “ending up alone” (unpartnered) seems like a fate worse than all others?

      I can remember being very young and completely confused about what measures it was acceptable to go to to “vet” other people. If I suspect strangers of this or that, am I being paranoid, jaded, dysfunctional, bad, UNLOVABLE? Especially for women, there’s pressure to maintain a certain “innocence” (naivete, chumpiness, idiocy) towards others lest we be accused of being old battle axes with baggage, therefore unlovable and beneath contempt. But it’s stupid pressure because the quandary of human nature has plagued writers and poets and philosophers forever. Does anyone accuse Kant or Shakespeare of being jaded and unlovable?

      One of the best books I’ve found covering the subject of cynicism vs. idealism is Chris Hedges’ “When Atheism Becomes Religion.” The main topic is about the rise of a commercial front group/cult that call themselves “Organized Atheists” but one of the sub-themes is the battle between realism and idealism. The book is a candy store of quotes and citations of every novelist, philosopher, social scientist, etc., in history who ever grappled with the question of “what God hath wrought in man.”

      Anyway, I question whether it’s always or even mostly low self esteem that drives everyone to endure abuse. I think it can involve confusion about what constitutes “cynicism” vs. realism and struggles with what human nature really is and whether it’s acceptable to be leery and self-protective.

      As for the question of whether holding the bar “too high” in trying to find an ethical partner could risk spending life alone, I call bullshit. The real risk of ending our lives alone is enduring decades of abuse and ending up allergic to intimacy and unable to trust. Otherwise, statistically those who wish to be partnered can find partners. And remaining single isn’t equivalent to being alone. There’s been a statistically significant trend in young women around the world vowing to remain single rather than putting up with abuse (including cheating) and still leading rich lives filled with friends, accomplishments, learning and adventures. It impresses me because my generation (end of gen X) wasn’t even entertaining thoughts like that.

      • I don’t know what I would name the conditions chumps have that causes them to accept the unacceptable, to spackle, to not believe their own eyes and ears, to rationalize. I would not have thought I had esteem problems as a young woman. I was a good student, active, maybe even an overachiever in some ways. I had confidence in many things. But I also had some bad FOO history, and definitely did not feel loved by my Dad, or understood by my Mother. I picked cheaters, did not see red flags until I was well invested. As Chumplady says, I had to fix my picker. That took a lot of work, and some re-evaluation of my accepting unacceptable behavior, and trying to “fix” things I was not responsible for.

        Maybe low self esteem is not the right term, but I had to learn to love myself more, and trust myself more, and that I could live, quite well, without a spouse. That took effort and perseverance. I just would like this young lady to invest time and effort into herself.

        • I totally agree. I tell my daughter that her twenties will be the time to build a career and her sense of self.

          As a former victims’ advocate I learned both from research and from real people that the only individuals involved in abuse with predictable backgrounds and psychology are the abusers. Statistically victims come from all backgrounds, states of mind, etc. DV expert Lenore Walker even remarked that victims seemed to skew towards higher than average pre-abuse self esteem which suggests that abusers may lean towards “big game” (confident, strong targets).

          Clearly this doesn’t mean that some victims didn’t have challenging backgrounds but just suggests that it may have very little to do with why they were victimized in the first place. Forensic psychologist and DV expert Evan Stark even cautions advocates and therapists not to assume that victims’ backgrounds can reliably account for why victims become entrapped. Stark and other researchers emphasize that abusers’ tactics are the real key to answering this question.

          As for fixing pickers, look at some of the leaders we elect. Look at all the people who think Army Hammer is a dreamy romantic male lead (with a cannibal fetish who allegedly abused many women). The entire human race needs help with this. I’ve known people in faithful marriages who befriend rapists. It’s partly a cultural problem. Fixing our pickers is a worthy life project. Some of us get the memo in more brutal ways than others but it’s something everyone should do: question what seems familiar or trustworthy, look behind masks in all things, etc.

          I would never argue against the idea that feeling unloved and unsupported in childhood could complicate things– exactly why we shouldn’t wish this on any child. Personally all the early blows to my security came from outside my family and mostly happened to me as an adult. But it’s all the same because anything that makes someone less hopeful and optimistic– including economic crashes, the pay gap, illness and political events– can make an abuser’s job easier.

          • I would argue the problem is much simpler than this, although as always, your posts are interesting and informative.

            I am not a Christian, I don’t espouse any religion, but I utterly believe in right or wrong, good and evil.

            I think since the 50’s and 60’s, there has been a lot of pernicious and masturbatory crap talked about right and wrong, good and evil, all with the specious implication, sometimes downright declaration, that if we don’t agree with ‘nuanced’ explanations of right and wrong, that evil is ‘relative’, there’s something wrong with *us*, not the pontificator’s lack of a moral compass.

            Cheating , like everything else evil, comes down in the end to the conviction that other people don’t matter, ‘it’s what I want that matters and fuck everyone else’.

            I really don’t think at bottom it’s any more complicated than that.

            • CNM6–
              I recognize that a great depth of understanding and experience has gone into your ability to boil things down to brass tacks. So– like Chump Lady with her brevity and wit (and degree from the London School of Economics)– y’all can’t fool me. 😉 You have the faculty of simplifying and making things comprehensible.

              I know because it’s a skill set I’ve been working on for ages. My job for 12 years or so was to analyze, boil down and debunk an endless flood of boggling bullshit, tobacco science, weaponized sociology, victim blaming and corporate defenses spewed out by eco culprits and then chop it up into bite-sized bits in order to inoculate “undecideds” against spin before they got fatally infected.

              I can’t say I always succeeded but I did a lot of background work for people who were better at boiling down the morass. What I was good at was making it a shade more comprehenible to people who didn’t have time to slog through the bilge but could take it to the next stage of simplification for publishing but without being reductionist. The latter can be a trap because chemical industry trolls bite back, defame in the major publications they control, sue and go after licenses. But if you really nail their crap they go silent to avoid bringing attention to critics or just resort to whining and ad hominum. Then you can mock the trolls personally because they opened the door. Fun.

              So degree of boiling things down can kind of depend on what your purpose is. I was a background geek. Or maybe a schnauzer hunting and gutting rats and then diagramming their innards for the sake of people who were at risk of being bamboozled into thinking rats were fluffy kitties. The “choir” knew rats from kittens but that wasn’t the target audience.

              My unstated mission went beyond the undecideds and was more about bringing down the suicide and stress-death rate among direct victims and grieving families of victims of toxic industrial disasters who were often personally targeted and falsely discredited by industry trolls and ghost-writers. Some survivors were seriously in despair over the flood of bs because they sensed it would successfully confound the public who would then never support victim claims which in turn reduced chances of ever seeing the kind of ground swell that can bring about justice.

              Anyway, some embattled survivors seemed to appreciate point-by-point debunking using citations with valid arguments by valid authority and THEN the gallows humor boil-down and summary. It’s like they needed to see the “bs wasp” killed five different ways, not just swatted at. It was exactly the same when I’d previously done advocacy for dv survivors which mostly involved ripping apart the prevalent victim blaming theories favored by asshole therapists and toxic bystanders. DARVO is DARVO regardless of the source but it’s really diabolical when it gets “sciency”.

              Anyway, brevity and simplicity are no small feats. Once I was initiated to chumpville, I recognized a lot of the same themes at work, the same DARVO, and maybe even similar corporate agendas (the monster streaming porn hydra for one). And out came my inner schnauzer. Maybe one day I’ll get better at making brass tacks (and avoiding typos).🤓

  • Look, here is the hard truth. There is nothing wrong with you or him. You are simply different beasts. He is a scorpion and you are a golden retriever. Is a scorpion unhealthy, mentally ill, or have poor social skills, if it stings its prey? No, it’s a scorpion, this is what scorpions do.

    Your boyfriend is a sociopath. He doesn’t have the same conscience or feelings as you or me. In times of yore, he might have sailed across seas, raped and plundered a village, maybe brought back some spoils to the tribe, regaled them with feats of his bravery (50% exaggerations, 25% out and out lies), and then, as a reward, added a 12-year-old to his existing harem. He probably would have even had songs written about him.

    The point is this – in our current cultural context, we love to label unpopular behavior as illness and as something that can be fixed. Once you understand that your boyfriend can not be fixed because there is NOTHING wrong with him, you have only one choice – Do you want to be with a sociopath or not?

    They can be really fun and attractive at the victory banquet.

      • LOL.

        I’m not against the postmodern exercise of imagining that gratuitous aggression, greed and general heinousness are just a matter of neurodiversity even if, personally speaking, I think there’s something deeply wrong with criminals and abusers and this actually is a qualitative issue, not an apples vs. orange debate. It’s an interesting way to look at things. S/he’s him/her and you’re you and the twain might not meet. Live and let live!

        But as entertaining as that exercise is, I think criminals should be prosecuted and active sociopaths should be avoided and shunned. Right and wrong exist. Cruelty is bad. I’m not even religious but I think evil sucks and is counter-productive to literally every human aspiration or venture imaginable, even business (hello Enron). Plus I’ve never met a shithead who had a normal childhood.

    • “Look, here is the hard truth. There is nothing wrong with you or him.”

      Strongly disagree. There is *plenty* wrong with being a sociopath/psychopath.

      Your analogy with a scorpion doesn’t hold water. A scorpion is what it is, granted.

      Sociopaths are human beings with a brain and *choices* – they aren’t genetically imprinted to sting, they treat others like shit because they *choose* to do so.

      “The point is this – in our current cultural context, we love to label unpopular behavior as illness and as something that can be fixed. Once you understand that your boyfriend can not be fixed because there is NOTHING wrong with him, you have only one choice – Do you want to be with a sociopath or not… ”

      Sociopathy/psychopathy is ‘unpopular behaviour’? That’s some euphemism you’ve got going there.

      I don’t think Chris Watts’ family, if they’d survived, would have described his actions as ‘unpopular’, I think most people would describe them as *evil*, not ‘illness’.

      “… your boyfriend can not be fixed because there is NOTHING wrong with him…”

      There are degrees of sociopathy/psychopathy, because human beings differ, and there is a wide swathe between someone like Chris Watts and Sad Chump’s piece of shit, but at heart the attitude is the same, entitlement, other people don’t matter because what matters is *them*.

      If you truly believe there is “Nothing wrong” with that, then you have no moral compass.

      • “But, but, but bonobos!”

        I love it when sex pozzies use the bonobo excuse for cheating. As per my usual spiel, I have nothing against ethical nonmonogamy if it actually is that but I’ve noticed many pozzies also pipe in on discussions about cheating (pardon, “exuberant defiance”).

        But the problem is that our closest ape cousins– regular chimps, not bonobos according to carbon dating and plain old common sense after one glance at human history– are indiscriminately sexual too, just not with members of other troops unless it’s females being kidnapped and raped. So it’s not as “palliative” a rationale to argue that chimps are highly sexed and nonmonogamous. I was just reading how regular chimps– like humans– are vastly more violent to each other than most mammals on the planet. (https://www.nature.com/articles/nature19758) Meerkats are #1 (??); tigers lag behind chimps and human in terms of murdering their own; humans are #6. There were points in history where 10-15% of human deaths were due to murder. So if the argument is that cheating is more “natural” to our species due to ancestral behavior, so are murder, infanticide, rape and cannibalism– all the things that bonobos never do but which chimps regularly engage in. Doesn’t sound quite as groovy as claiming that cheating is bonobo-like which Perel likes to argue, does it?

        Some differences between humans and apes is free will and social planning. Accordingly, human murder statistics have apparently fluctuated wildly through history. The argument is that socioeconomics, politics, cultural values, etc., etc., can make a huge difference even if, in general, we remain the sixth most murderous species. Another difference may be that we evolved as more monogamous than chimps. Primatologist Richard Wrangham traces the development of human language to the utility of gossip for keeping tabs on mates. Apparently we required a big blast of intense and passionate motivation to make the difficult leap from grunts to words and sexual possessiveness would have fit the bill since, for our ape line, the main reason for murderous violence had always been sexual dominance– our species’ greatest “passion.”

        Maybe monogamy was something that our early male ancestors expected from females but were often not following the same credo so you could say that we evolved with an expectation of monogamy even if it was unfairly applied. But as thinking beings, what’s good for the goose… As a species we have a choice in being more fair about it. As it stands, it seems few chumps had the experience of their cheaters offering open arrangements out of the gate. “Exuberant defiance” of equality and honesty are simply anti-social behaviors and very chimp-like, not groovy rebellion against norms and certainly not “bonobo-like.”

        • Oops, humans arrn’t the sixth most murderous mammals but six *times* more murderous than the mean average “murderousness” of all other mammals.

    • Excuse me, there’s PLENTY wrong with this guy, and it’s more than fair to call the spade a spade. Chumps get gaslit enough before they even find Chump Nation without getting more of it from us.

  • There are no such thing as a “sex addict”. There is only an asshole who lacks self control and/or character. Telling you about their alleged “mistake” is simply an attempt to goad you into dancing.

  • Hi everyone,

    CL, thank you so much for the advice and the time.

    Thanks also to all the commenters who shared their stories and opinions.

    I wanted to answer a few questions that came up in the comments:

    – I believe I misphrased my first comment about not reading anything the same as my situation – I meant with the specifics of my experience – I do understand that the general components/patterns to my experience are the same as what many of you have experienced.

    – A few people asked about my age/experience: I’m in my late 20s and have had a few >1 year relationships, with one being 2.5 years. Certainly not the same as those of you who have been married for decades, but it’s also not like this is my first relationship.

    – I got myself into individual counseling right away, and I’m continuing that for the foreseeable future.

    I did have a question for the commenters (if that’s allowed). All of you have urged me to leave him, and I don’t think you’re wrong.

    What I’m having a hard time with now is reconciling how he could do something so bad when I think he’s amazing in every other way. Truly, he’s kind, affectionate, smart, does thoughtful things for me. We live together very easily, and everything feels perfect except for this one thing. He does his share of chores, he pays his share of rent/expenses. I’ve never once felt as though he was flirting with a girl near me or looking at other women when I’m around. He seems horrified by what he did – he made clear to me that if we continue dating, that I have full access to his phone, computer, and anything else. He put an explicit content blocker on his phone that only I have the password for. He also told me (which of course I am taking with a grain of salt) that his addiction/fetish/whatever-it-is is limited to him looking at explicit pictures on his phone (specifically ones where he’s not supposed to look at them). I also think I believe him (which maybe makes me a fool, but this is where I’m at currently) that he has not been having physical interactions with his ex or other people since we started exclusively dating – I know I could be wrong about this, but I do feel pretty confidence that he has not done anything outside of the virtual stuff (note that his ex no longer lives in the same city as us).

    I will also add that my mother is a therapist (LMFT), and I’ve explained the situation to her and she knows him. Her advice was that we can work through it because of how shameful and sorry he is about this as well as him confessing to what he did. She says that the blame is completely on him, but that I should give him another chance to prove himself to me. (Note that she also expressed her support for me in the case where I leave him).

    I think I know what you all are going to say, but I do want to know what people think about the case when everything seems perfect except for this thing that he admitted to? Is it just an act and that will become more clear with time? Or is it possible that he did make a mistake and won’t make the same mistake again?

    • If I were your mother, I would’ve gone all Mama Grizzly on his ass and his “sex addiction” would be packed and living on an air mattress across town. But that’s me.

      As for his transparency — burner phone. Other apps. It’s worthless. The guy had sex with his ex while you were dating, and has continued a sexting relationship with her (and whoever else is on his phone). That doesn’t sound like a safe relationship to me.

      • We are telling you from lived experience what this is.

        He’s sorry? That cuts it for your mother? That’s his help for his “sex addiction”? The feels?

        It’s not perfect. He’s not perfect except for…

        The except for is… he thrills to deceit. Nothing to work with IMO.

    • Your mother doesn’t sound like she has a firm grasp on personality disorders or narcissistic abuse. If somebody were to hurt my child like this, I would be tempted to punch them in the throat NOT encourage my child to feel sorry for the offender and focus on the abuser’s “shame”. What about you ?!

      • Ps Send your mother Hell of a Chump’s comment up thread “I always give the following spiel…”

    • Sad, some bullet points:

      1) Dr Omar Minwalla and the ‘secret sexual basement’. Google it. Read about it. Give this stuff to your mother to read as well – it will help her practice.

      2) Real character change takes at least two years of consistent, persistent hard work on his part. Most people like him don’t make it.

      3) He’s already shown you that he minimizes, drip-feeds you information, lies, and acts out sexually in secret. Men like this, after ‘confession’, usually just find ways to go deeper underground. Burner phones that you never see, for example. Hidden or innocuous looking apps. Hidden secure folders.

      4) Trust your gut. He’s NOT perfect except for this one little thing. You’re on ChumpLady asking for advice. You already know that you’re uneasy and unhappy.

      5) There are no unicorns. You are not the exceptional special case here.

      6) Is this relationship acceptable to you? I’d say you’ve already told us that it isn’t.

    • Sorry is as sorry does. Anybody who knowingly and willfully violates clearly stated boundaries is not relationship material.

    • There’s nothing to “work through.” You’ve only been with him for a year and this happens? Can you imagine what he’s capable of later? Why are you willing to accept this “project”?

      I’m not saying this to make you feel worse, but I’m 56 years old. And as I tell my own kid, I am always, always right. I get to say this because I have lived this. When I look back on every ridiculous relationship I’ve had, NOT ONE TIME has it turned out fine after they fucked me over. I either forgave them, giving them multiple opportunities to fuck me over again, or I left and it stopped. Those are your options.

      If he loved you as much as you think he does, he wouldn’t have done that. And I promise you, he’s done a fuck lot more than he’s copped too.

      *Also, my life with my ex seemed perfect too until it wasn’t. Don’t waste your time on a proven asshole.

    • Sad, the only thing you have to ask yourself is whether this relationship is acceptable to you. If you think it is, the by all means stay with your unicorn. He will devalue you, break down all boundaries and you will end up with a lot of investment in a doomed relationship. We are just saying that you will waste you time with a FW who will only get worse with his addiction excuse. He is love bombing you and most of us experienced this with Mr. Wonderful who later turns out to be a lying, cheating monster. There are other men who will value you and not cheat on you. Dump this guy who is crossing your boundaries and find someone worthwhile who will not cheat, sext or engage with other women.

    • “What I’m having a hard time with now is reconciling how he could do something so bad when I think he’s amazing in every other way. Truly, he’s kind, affectionate, smart, does thoughtful things for me.”

      I’ll have to take your word that he’s amazing, kind, affectionate, smart and thoughtful when he’s not being a dick. But listen, you don’t need to reconcile anything. Just accept that he has a charming side and a shit side. Very few of us experienced vets hooked up with men who were unremitting shits. Alas, the shit side always wins out with this type. Get out while the getting’s good.

    • He’ s not amazing. It’s all fake. My ex husband is a fantastic guy! People love him! He’s so great with kids!

      It’s all fake. He lied about things as mundane as what kind of cookies and coffee he liked for 20 damn years with me. Your boyfriend is a sociopath just like every other “sex addict” and he constructed a fake persona for you to love. Oh he’s sorry… So was mine. That’s fake too. They do that too.

      I hope you see the mask slip and get safe before he does serious damage to you. It’s an act. But if he’s a smart one and good at the act, he can hide it until he’s strangling you to death and stuffing you in a barrel because you found his child porn stash. Or just because he got sick of you and felt like it. Mine was telling friends and family how much he loved me and was lucky to have me while planning to murder me.

      Don’t take this gamble. It’s not worth it.

    • Hi Sad,
      My ex hubby, when we were in the first month or two of dating, was sexting many other women. I found them and he was so apologetic, was so sorry, said because he was an alcoholic he only did it to “see if he still had it because of his low self esteem”. He got sober, I forgave him, and we got married. 8 years later I caught him cheating. Then years of his lies came out. He overcame his alcohol addiction all right. But his addiction transferred elsewhere. He has a gambling addiction, and I believe porn addiction too. And like your boyfie, my ex was also affectionate, kind, EVERYONE LOVES HIM. He is a real pillar in the community because of his charity work and his “triumphant” story of overcoming addiction. But guess what? He is a covert narc, I learned later. Turns out covert narcs are exactly like that – covert. They really do fool everyone and come across as kind and compassionate. Hell, I was fooled for years, and even his sons (from a previous marriage) love him. But no one saw the years of gaslighting and emotional manipulation and cheating he inflicted on me. It all came out when I busted him having an affair. Then he got nasty. Gone was the kind, compassionate husband and in its place was this cheating a-hole that I knew nothing about. My whole family were shocked because they loved him.
      With all due respect to your mother, many therapists are unaware of narcissistic abuse. You literally are a frog in water being slowly boiled. That’s what happened to me. Nobody saw it, I didn’t see it. No one sees it because nobody ever understands narcissistic abuse until they’ve been in one, often when it’s too late, after years of gaslighting, emotional and psychological manipulation. My ex was never physically abusive, his abuse was very insidious and undetected even by me. But I always felt “unsure” and “suspicious” around him but could never figureo out why. I truly was a boiled frog, totally unaware. I know your boyfie is “perfect” except for this “one thing” of sex addiction. I say that’s enough to GTFO! Like everyone said, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. hugs to you and good luck.

    • I also want to add, he’s encouraging you to look at his phone and all his accounts because making you play the “mean mommy” is part of the sexual thrill. The perverts talk about this on their little forums. It’ll make duping you even more orgasmic for him. And he’ll gloat about how he’s so much smarter than you.

      They literally discuss abusing their partners this way. It’s part of the fun for them.

    • Thanks for responding back!

      Sad, you do have to make this decision yourself and it’s probably going to be the hardest decision you’ll ever make. You have your mother’s support either way, which is great.

      I’m coming down on the “leave him” side.
      You only know what he’s telling you. There’s no way to know what he is not telling you.
      My XH appeared to be the kindest, most generous person, for the first 3 years. But, I found out later that he lied about how many women he had had sex with before we started dating, who he had sex with while we were dating, and that he liked to masturbate in his car. Ten months after our first baby, he was arrested for indecent exposure. He told me some story about adjusting his pants, and I believed him! And I was too embarrassed to tell that to any friends or my parents, or my brothers.

      His kind and generous behavior diminished slowly after the first child, and the laziness got worse after the second was born. My “spackling” was that this change was due to stress at work or tiredness, or being a new dad. And if my parents came in to town, he returned to being a great guy again. Our sex life was getting worse. He wasn’t that interested & couldn’t get it up easily, and also there was no meaning or fun to it anymore. I felt like I was a blow up doll. It was very confusing to me.
      He did not tell me that he started going to strip clubs. He began staying later & later at work. I suspect now that that’s when he could get on the computer (we didn’t have one at home yet, this was the 90’s) or he could drive into the city for some action.
      I never suspected him of any extramarital sexual behavior! He spoke up against pornography & kept the kids from any stuff on TV!
      It was just not in my mind that this nice guy, my best friend, could do any of those things.

      Later I found out that he just did not tell me about most of his sexual activity. When our 4th baby was 4 months old, he came home from a business trip & said, “I am so sorry, I had sex with a woman I met in a bar.” Nothing else, he led me to believe. “Just the once, never before & he wouldn’t ever again.” But 8 years later he confessed “I had unprotected sex & I have an infection.” He chose to go to a counselor, was told he probably just let his defenses down when he drank. He stopped drinking. He was remorseful. He went to AA consistently. He happily told everyone he was done drinking. Six years later, I found credit card evidence of websites and phone sex lines. He finally told me he thought he was a sex addict and that’s when bits & pieces came out about the actual sexual behavior that I know now. I will never know all the details. I don’t want to.
      He lied by omission, he kept facts from me that I never would have found out on my own. He perfected the portrayal of himself as recovered alcoholic who was kind & generous again, and it gave me more reasons to excuse confusing behavior. That was how he fooled me.

      See, you’ll only ever know what he chooses to tell you. You have no real way of fact checking your guy. And you have no idea now how he’ll respond when life gets harder and he’s called to sacrifice his time away from the addiction. Being an addict means he’ll hide the addiction. Even the CSAT’s say if it’s not actively being treated, it’s actively getting worse.
      You’ll hear stories of marriages that are better after the sex addiction, or after the affair, but that’s only until they happen to find out that it happened again.

    • Sad, let me add:

      EVERYONE here understands sunk costs. You’ve invested in this man emotionally and financially. And he’s so nice when he’s not sexting his ex or looking at naked pictures of her and masturbating while fantasising about her.

      We’ve all been there. It’s scary being single, at first. It’s scary starting again.

      The warm water in this pot is very warm. And very familiar and comforting. Until you find that you’re several years down the track, with even more time and money invested, you’re cooked.

      And if your mom hasn’t run to your rescue, I’d start looking at my family of origin issues with a GOOD therapist. You may well have a family history of being told to minimise or mistrust your own feelings and wellbeing so that others can thrive at your expense.

      • “You may well have a family history of being told to minimise or mistrust your own feelings and wellbeing so that others can thrive at your expense”

        ^^^^^^^^^. !!!!

    • Dear Sad, I already said my piece, so I’ll keep it short. You call yourself Sad and you found this site, so I think you already know. You just have to trust your own gut. The problem is that you’re being taught not to and you have to unlearn it. What you are describing is called love bombing. It is the phase before devaluation or it alternates with devaluation. Why does he do that by Lundy Bancroft was already recommended earlier, I also recommend reading Cheating in a nutshell, and of course LACGAL. You will recognize a lot of what he does, and a lot of how you feel. Good luck!

    • “Kind, pays rent, does his share of chores” is the bare minimum requirement of any functioning adult. It’s not impressive.

      And he’s not kind, because he’s cheating, lying, and disrespecting you. So really, he’s operating from a deficit.

      I know you’re sad and in shock but seriously, let’s keep this in perspective: You didn’t even know this guy a year ago. He’s still essentially a stranger, one who TOLD YOU UPFRONT who he was – a guy still fucking his ex, which could’ve meant a number of things including overlapping relationships, poor boundaries, who knows, but none of them good. Definitely not someone emotionally available and ready to be dating.

      Don’t get addicted to the fantasy of a person who doesn’t exist.

      >I do want to know what people think about the case when everything seems perfect except for this thing that he admitted to?

      I’m sorry, hon, nothing you’ve described here is perfect. He was sleeping with his ex after you started dating, he kept her nudes to jerk off to (what a creep!), and he’s having an emotional affair. And that’s only what he’s ADMITTED to. What hasn’t he told you yet?

      Seriously, you’re only a year in. Cut your losses and get away from this freak before he ruins your life.

    • “What I’m having a hard time with now is reconciling how he could do something so bad when I think he’s amazing in every other way.”

      Sad Chump, you’re bargaining. We all get it, most of us have been there. So instead of determinedly keeping on the blinkers, and making excuses for this scummy piece of shit, listen and absorb what all the experienced chumps here, including CL, are telling you.

      Paying his share of the rent? Doing chores around the house? Bitch cookie.

      Why did you write to Chump Lady? Because, no matter how you twist and turn and try to rationalise this, no matter how much you try to believe the sparkly turd is actually a delicious cupcake, you *know*, deep inside yourself, this is deeply offensive and unacceptable.

      I don’t know what this counsellor is telling you, advising you, but if it’s the same disengenuous crap advice your *mother* is giving you, I suggest you save your money and go with your gut.

      Ultimately only you can make your choice of what to do. All we can do is give you our accumulated experience and advice. Please listen now, when you have relatively sunk costs. Don’t wait until you have invested more years, money, in a piece of shit who isn’t worthy of you.

      *You deserve better than this*.

    • Sad, ultimately you have to do what you feel is right for you. I forgave my husband many times thinking he was sad and remorseful. He wasn’t, he just knew how to keep me on the line. Your comments about how he is wonderful in other ways alarms those of us that have been thru this because we know. My husband was movie star good looking, everyone thought he was amazing, he could turn on the charm on a dime, guess what else he was: an abusive liar that did whatever had to do to get what he wanted, he cared for no one but himself. Period. Whatever good qualities you assign him are not real, they are done to keep getting what he wants. YOUR MOTHER IS WRONG. Sorry but she is. I wish I had gotten out the first time, I believed in my vows and believed him when he would cry and sob and tell me how much he loved me, it was all an act. He killed himself after being caught for the last time and what I discovered after that was more horrify than you can imagine, the double life he led for years, my whole life was a lie. I wasted 16 years on this, 16 years where I could have started other healthy relationships but I wasted my life on trying to “fix” him. I’m 5 years on still trying to recover. Please we are all begging you to hear us, we’ve walked this road, we want to save you before you become us.

    • Sad, I want to reiterate Rumblekitty’s comment that there’s nothing to “work through” here. You’re not married, you haven’t made that commitment. Dating is for VETTING. This guy is supposed to be courting you and proving his worth to you as a potential husband. He failed right out the gate and continues to fail every day by running your standards into the dirt and then rubbing your nose in it.

      Your mother’s picker is off. It’s never your job to give a 2nd chance, let alone endless chances, to anyone – let alone a boyfriend who’s stabbing you in the back.

      I’m glad you’re in therapy. I don’t say this as a judgment, just a statement of fact, but you have terrible self-esteem. For whatever reason, your boundaries and standards are nonexistent.

      No shame there. I was in a similar place after leaving multiple bad relationships (yes, plural): a dysfunctional family of origin, a cult, a string of abusive boyfriends who cheated. Add to that growing up in a world that hates women to begin with and works hard to minimize our needs even when we’re little girls, and it’s no surprise we grew up with no standards or boundaries. Like you, I constantly questioned whether I was “allowed” to be upset about horrific disrespect from people who claimed to love me yet treated me like shit.

      Your boyfriend is poison. You’ll never get an honest answer or closure from him, so don’t go looking for it. He’s behaving this way because he sucks, NOT BECAUSE OF ANYTHING YOU DID. I can’t stress this enough, his cheating and lies aren’t a reflection of your worth, they’re a reflection of himself. He’s a shit person.

      Focus on cutting him out of your life and prioritizing rebuilding your self-esteem. That’s where you’ll find your closure.

      P.S.

      I say all this from lived experience. I literally got tangled up with a guy just like your boyfriend a few years ago, as I was getting into therapy. Like you, I wasted months insisting he was a good guy even though he told me upfront all the ways he was a terrible person. Like you, I willfully ignored red flags, projected my own values onto him, and created a fantasy partner who didn’t exist. The real guy was a pathological liar and an abusive shit. I couldn’t see it at the time (because my self-esteem sucked), but everyone around me did.

      Healing didn’t happen until I cut him off and focused on therapy for another year. Eventually, my self-esteem was strong enough that I could finally understand I was never the problem.

      It’s fruitless to wait for a toxic person to validate us or give us an honest answer, closure, or permission to end the relationship. Just end it. You’ll find your closure by working on yourself without his dead weight dragging you down to hell.

    • Sad, you are being set-up. This is the only red flag you have seen? Honey the whole act is called “love bombing”. Please look it up. Do not let this person snow you. You need someone who has their integrity intake from the get go. Look past the honeymooning. Real life is hard. It requires hard choices and work. This person does not sound like he wants to work. He wants you to drop it and move on. Rug sweeping. He has given you no way to truly hold him accountable. Stay safe and look after yourself. Good luck.

  • Another issue is accepting this is agreeing he’s not in control of his behaviour. Funny how females never get these kind of passes. Nobody cares to hear why they did things men have strong boundaries and would never ever put up with this. I promise you you can’t have an addiction to sex without objectifying people and how exactly do photos of his translate into a sex addiction? Some people don’t control their urges over and over and this is called a sex addiction. I don’t believe in sex addiction – if it’s not an excuse for rape how exactly is it a pass for cheating? A court of law wouldn’t put up with that Bs and neither should you. This guy is scum and he has make entitlement / sexism bad. Anyway, if he is okay with this then why the hell would you turn down a single guy, flirtation or date for someone who’s going to sext another person? Here’s a biggie, being in the relationship is only a matter of you committing to him while he ‘tries his best’. He sexted someone so go out with other men and find a better one – your relationship isn’t monogamous on his behalf.

  • Sad, I think the vast majority of us would have felt like we won the relationship lottery early on.
    I know I sure did. My ex was the most amazing man I had ever known and he treated me like royalty for years and years……….until he didn’t.
    You are getting the crappy treatment out of the gate! That does not bode well at all. You should still be highly infatuated with each other and barely able to stay away, minds completely occupied on each other and how to please one another one year in. Distractions already?!
    Sexting or cheating with his ex is an all points bulletin red flag level event! That is a sign of big, big trouble.
    How I wish I would have left after the first D-day. It gets a WHOLE lot worse after that and if you have kids with him and he is not the center focus of your entire life anymore, he will feel completely entitled to go fully pursue his alternate reality.
    It will be your fault in his mind.
    You don’t have a unicorn there, as much as he seems amazing in almost every category.
    Except the one that counts more than all the rest!!
    You can’t trust him to not cheat irregardless of what he is selling you.
    Other women will always be a distraction for him and a source of great pain for you.
    My relationship was a fairy tale love affair for 15 years until I got my first glimpse at who he was, and I still wouldn’t believe it was true.
    This man doesn’t have a sex addiction, Sad. He has an entitlement addiction.
    I hope you can see your way to leaving, I so strongly feel that is your very best option.

    • Absolutely, same experience. My exFW was such a charmer, the life of the party. He could turn it on and off at will, I saw it… and I didn’t think it was a red flag! What he excelled at: getting on his girlfriends’ moms good sides, he even bragged about it, I am not kidding. He was great to me until he was not, I’d say a week after we got married.

    • Sad: as someone said cheating is not just one thing: Lying, sexting, stories that change when told more than once, having sex with someone else, being in touch with an Ex when the SO has told him that she is not comfortable with such contact or whatever. When I was a few years younger than you I thought I had hit the jackpot, family and friends loved my guy, I did too, so kind and considerate, etc. After marriage I discovered by accident that he had done things knowing they would hurt me if I found out. He was apologetic, etc. and I thought we could work it out, it had only happened the one time (I really believe this still about one time). Fast forward a year or so and an Ex is trying to hoover back (he knew I would not be comfortable with that contact). l did not find out about the hoovering until another ten years or so. I wished that I had known as much as he did because I would have been deciding things based on the truth and not just what I happened to know. With the first indiscretion, I was embarrassed that I had been duped…..Each thing I learned down the road was more upsetting than the last. Still he is a great guy but not for someone who wants a mate to be present and not keep secrets. You are going to make your own decision and I hope things work out for you. One thing I meant to point out earlier today: You can forgive someone without continuing a life with them. It is hard when you have thought forgiving means continuing and then you find out the 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc chances meant more to you than to your SO. Shouldn’t the SO be grateful for your love, etc. I have forgotten how many chumps are on here and we all have similar stories. We are not reading here, etc. because we have nothing else to do. I am surprised that your mom thinks you should automatically give him a second chance. I would think just dating and not living together would be better now until you really get to know him better. If you were my daughter, I would tell you to think long and hard before proceeding with him. Good luck to you. I wished I had held out for a guy who loved me as much as he said he did. That is in a way a common theme here.

  • Dump this lying, cheating, selfish man-baby already! There are millions of better men you haven’t met yet. The “addiction” story is just a dodge. Real addicts can and do work on themselves and straighten out. I do not recommend getting involved with anyone who hasn’t been clean and sober for at least a few years to make sure they can go the distance. Leave any rescuing to the professional counselors; trying to do it yourself is the way to lose your own balance and more. Trust me.

  • >He told me a couple months into our relationship that he had slept with his ex after our first date, but we weren’t yet exclusive at that point, so although I didn’t like it…

    Stop right there and listen to yourself: You didn’t like it, period, and that’s a good enough reason to have ended it! Dating isn’t a court of law. You don’t need to argue your case before a judge before you’re “allowed” to break up.

    (Though for the record, most people would agree with you that it’s a very reasonable boundary to not want to date a guy who’s still fucking his ex.)

    >He clearly feels really bad about this

    No, he doesn’t – otherwise he wouldn’t be doing it.

    >He says he has a sex addition, and that’s why this happened.

    Notice how he denies responsibility. Nothing’s his fault, it’s the addiction. Events just “happened.” Blameshifting, revisionism.

    >I appreciate him telling me about what he did

    Please do not EVER waste your appreciation on someone who lies and disrespects you. He’s not doing you a favor telling you any of this. How do you even know he’s telling you the truth? He’s an admitted liar who’s been lying to you from the start of this relationship and who’s cheating on you with his ex.

    Heck, how do you even know he’s broken up with his ex? How do you know YOU are not the side chick?

    Dating is for vetting, and this guy’s a dud. Don’t waste more of your time on a cheater – and for god’s sake, don’t marry him.

  • I really appreciate this post. With my last ex, I didn’t wait to find out if the many friends that seemed more like emotional affairs, and people he introduced me to as “good friends” (who didn’t seem particularly happy to meet me and yet wanted his attention), were actual physical affairs.

    I didn’t really catch him in huge lies to me; I just watched him lie to people close to him and to strangers, usually to get some small thing like a freebie, or a discount, or to get a favour.

    Early on he told me he had a porn problem and it felt, in part, like this confession let me into his deeply personal world and his turmoil; in part it felt weird in a way that I couldn’t name. But we were going to work through it and were telling each other a story of our physical connection being so good that he was able to let that fall away.

    Then, almost immediately after getting exclusive, he randomly “confessed” that he didn’t tell me that a gig he’d gotten was through a woman friend. He was “scared” to tell me because he “got the feeling I wouldn’t like it.” I felt sick from that moment on, because I knew that any straightforward person wouldn’t have an issue telling me about his business relationships, and I suddenly felt cast as suspicious and “not liking him having women friends.” But I didn’t end it immediately, because we’d just gotten together and I was so excited. I worked hard to explain that I wasn’t suspicious and didn’t he know he could tell me everything and that it was the hiding it that was the problem, not getting work through a woman friend.

    It took a while, but one morning, after trying to explain to him why him turning off my alarm on a workday and me waking up late as a result was a problem, and meant that his carelessness was destabilizing my professional life, we went for a jog and kept discussing. He kept asking me to say exactly what he had done wrong so he could fix it and tell him what should he understand and so was what I was looking for an apology? At one point, something just overcame me and I began running as fast as I could to get away from him. I had to run back to his house, where we were staying, but for a good minute or two I was literally fleeing down a country road from him. (This is not the same as the FWs above who ran/hiked ahead aggressively with no explanation! I did so much crying and explaining before and after the running.)

    So many posts here about their ex’s early indicators seem as “insignificant” as mine, but the indicators clearly were the signals of so much more. It was so hard for me to believe that the guy who was making me feel more seen and heard than anyone in my life ever had could possibly be bullshitting me. This post really helps validate my stomach churning feeling about his friends and casual shadiness … who knows what else I never got to find out about. I’m glad I got out.

    I just have never known what feeling safe is like. The sense of relief, recognition and security I’d found with him was as close as I’d ever gotten to what I thought I was seeking; and of course I wanted to hang on to that. I’m now finally getting that I have to *learn* what emotional safety / peace of mind is, and know safety in my own body/mind/thoughts even when the world outside is unsafe, and learn what it feels like, so that I can stop seeking life rafts in other people AND recognize when shady people either contribute to or detract from my peace of mind.

    Now I notice when I feel bad immediately. I have been rather ruthlessly (and sadly and bravely and hoping-its-the-right-thingly) cutting people off if I find they’ve lied to me. I’m sad that in the past month another female friend, who I’d had lots of good times with, a lot in common, and who shared her own troubles with me at length, and who sat with me and metaphorically held my hand over a betrayal from work friend #1, and validated my ongoing experiences of abuse and gaslighting by friend #1 for over 18 months, decided to go hang out with friend #1 without telling me because she thought there might be some professional advancement in it for her. When I asked about it, at first she cried and said she understood why I might feel upset and asked me to tell her what she could do to repair, and but then her next communication with me was a DARVO text saying I can’t control who she hangs out with, telling me she didn’t like how I brought it up, and that maybe I harmed her by bringing it up. Old Magnolia would have met with her, explained my feelings, and explained that asking her to be accountable isn’t harm, and tried not to be controlling, etc, all while feeling betrayed. Instead I just look at that DARVO text, and think, why answer, I don’t feel safe anymore, and feel the feelings that the relationship is done.

    I’d thought I was pretty safe with her, and am just going through the re-evaluating and thinking about signs I missed, now. They were little things, I thought. Like, she’d hidden other professional relationships from me before, but I just wondered why she would do that. It’s kind of mind-blowing to realize that I have to calibrate my picker to actually take such “little things,” i.e. little lies of omission that don’t even make sense, much more seriously.

    • Magnolia,

      You wrote, “It’s kind of mind-blowing to realize that I have to calibrate my picker to actually take such “little things,” i.e. little lies of omission that don’t even make sense, much more seriously.” I had to do an overhaul of my tendency to not sweat the “small stuff.” For years I had ignored the intent and the *potential* for harm to be done just because I was able to blow off the aggressive or unethical things this or that person did to me because those things didn’t actually hurt. When I was strong and everything in my life was going well, it was like having Lilliputians toss wadded up cocktail napkins at my ankles. Who cares? But over time when those same people pulled the same kinds of shit at moments when I was suffering unrelated tragedies and was really vulnerable, I suddenly understood that the destructive capacity I’d ignored all along could do severe damage. In several cases, I also recognized genuine ill will. If their aggression hadn’t harmed me or my children prior, it hadn’t been for lack of trying.

      Because of this I don’t hesitate to cut certain people off over seemingly “small” offenses now. I’m rather amazed at their shock that I don’t let them hoover back in after endless hoovering attempts. I’ve learned that I’m not invulnerable.

  • “…trust him again?…”?! Why in the world would you have ever trusted him even once. He is a neon sign of “trust me to be a repeat liar and cheater”. Sorry, but you are seriously naive. Please go NO CONTACT on this huge loser immediately and forever.

  • Claiming an addiction is a form of manipulation.

    During my marriage, I made my own needs smaller whenever my husband announced he had some sort of a problem (which often happened after I had expressed how unhappy I was about some form of his behavior). All of our conflict could be boiled down to: he behaved horribly, I complained, he said it wasn’t his fault because of a condition, addiction, past trauma, etc.

    And then it would all become evidence of what a horrible person I was for not being supportive.

    I endured this for far too long.

    After I left, I listened to people who were genuinely suffering from addictions and illnesses that made life difficult. And they all took complete responsibility for their behavior toward others. They were responsible for managing their addiction. They were responsible for finding ways to manage their pain besides lashing out at others. They don’t lead (and conclude) with “I have an addiction.” Instead, they say, “I’m skipping the movie because I learned in therapy that I just get too triggered by those sorts of images,” or “I’m feeling a lot of stress this week, boy, I really need to work on this with my therapist,” or “I just changed my meds, and I’m still evaluating the impact, would you let me know if I seem too snarky at any point this week?” They never say, “I have an addiction, so you have to put up with me.”

    My EX didn’t have an addiction to anything but manipulation. I suspect the same is true of your partner.

  • please let him go. he doesn’t want just you. he doesn’t think you matter or matter enough. wait for the man who loves only you. your SO should bring delight and home to your life, not fear, anxiety, self image issues, insecurities, tears, std’s or other women.
    don’t give him anymore of you bc he doesn’t treasure it. there is someone out there who will.
    i gave 31 years of my life away to two covert narcs and i don’t want that for you sweetie. you matter!!!!!!!

  • This topic is very thought-provoking. Sad: Your SO did not sext his ex because he is an addict. He did it because he wanted to. He reached out to her. Even if she reaches out to him, if I were in this situation what would make me more comfortable would be for my SO to tell Ex firmly that he is in a relationship and to not contact him again. If I were so into a guy that I was living with him, I would want him to respect me enough that this kind of contact with exes did not happen. It is better that he told you because you know and can decide if this is acceptable to you. Sex Addicts or anyone using that as an excuse for their behavior equal giant RED FLAGS. This is the first I have heard or read of anyone being told that their SO is a sex addict and they still think the SO is relationship material. Run.

  • Leave before you’re in too deep. You have no kids & aren’t married. Trust what everyone here is saying!

  • Don’t date any person who is an active addict. Someone who has a history in recovery is another matter. What I’ve got experience with is substance addicts (various drugs and alcohol). If the person is using, as CL says. they’re already in a relationship (with beer or bourbon or wine or cocaine or opioids or meth–whatever). All you can aspire to in that situation in the role of enablee–bringing in the paycheck, cleaning the house, washing the clothes, covering up from drunken mistakes, lying to the kids. And so on.

    I don’t even know if there is such thing a sex addiction, but I’ve read enough books about sexual predators to think that there are people with criminal urges relative to sex acts, so I suppose there could be some other pathology that involves wanting to have sex outside of the supposed committed relationship. But hey–it doesn’t matter whether sex addiction is an “official” diagnosis. Your BF is telling you he’s a guy who can’t control his sexual urges and who violates your trust for thrills. Nothing good can come of this.

    And if I were you, I’d look at why you asked the question about nude photos in the first place. I’ve dated a fair number of men and never even thought to ask that question. I suppose most of the men I’ve known have been occasional porn users, or maybe even had an old nude photo or two, but their sexual behavior never raised any concerns for me so it wasn’t an issue. You knew from the beginning that this guy was sketchy on boundaries. Now you know that this is an IDENTITY he embraces—he’s a “sex addict.” Other people may be baseball fans or Cajun cooks. There’s no fixing a guy like this, and it’s likely that underneath the trickle truths is more stuff that you will find upsetting. Walk away. You aren’t married to this guy and that last thing you want to do is marry him or get pregnant and tie yourself to a sex addict forever.

  • The guy doesn’t have the basic skills for a relationship. I love this. This is my new mantra

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