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Is She Cheating Because She’s Bipolar?

chasing unicornDear Chump Lady,

My wife started hooking up with other men in 2018. After a brief trip back to her home in Asia she came clean and confessed all. She was clean for two years but by October 2020 she was back on Ashley Madison and seeing multiple men.

She got a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. That gave me hope that somehow it was not her decision to cheat and she would find the right medicine and get better. She seemed to cycle between mania and depression.

Finally by October 2021 she had landed her dream job as a fitness instructor and was the happiest I had ever seen her in the 20 years I had known her. We had six amazing months. She told me the desires to cheat were gone.

Then in April 2022 she had another affair with a member from her fitness classes. This one hurt bad because I felt like we had finally worked through the mental health issues and we were flourishing. I don’t know where to go from here.

Andrew

****

Dear Andrew,

I suggest you point yourself towards a lawyer’s office. I know, not the advice you were hoping for.

You’re performing a common chump coping mechanism — untangling the skein. You’re wondering why she’s like this instead of asking yourself if this relationship is acceptable to you.

In a way, it’s a stalling technique. You know being cheated on is not acceptable to you. But if you throw your energies at fixing her instead, and unraveling the skein, you don’t have to face a wall of pain — that you don’t matter to her (not enough) and that you need to end things to save yourself.

You’re okay with the current wall of pain because it seems to have a purpose — saving her from herself. Saving your marriage. It seems noble. There’s an entire industry predicated on reconciliation that will sell you a shit-ton of false hope that you can single-handedly fix your marriage.

But you asked me. The Leave-A-Cheater-Gain-A-Life Lady.

I think you should save yourself. I don’t think a bipolar diagnosis is the reason she cheats. But who knows? Maybe it is. It doesn’t change the basic proposition that you matter. You’re being harmed. And you deserve a relationship where you feel safe and respected.

Many a chump has gone down the rabbit hole of “Maybe he has a brain tumor?” or “Maybe she’s Borderline?” Because, gosh, if it has a medical diagnosis, then there is a CURE. And what kind of person leaves their mate when they’re suffering from an illness they cannot control?

Fuckwittery isn’t cancer. And many people suffer from mental illness and don’t abuse their partners. She’s making choices. She had enough executive functioning to land her dream job. But apparently not enough executive functioning to not fuck the clients?

Makes no sense. Unless you realize that you’re being manipulated. And you “helping” her, understanding, living in eternal forbearance of her “illness”, keeps her in cake. You and her double life. Yum.

She was clean for two years but by October 2020 she was back on Ashley Madison and seeing multiple men.

First off, Andrew, monogamy is not a 12-step program. You’re a faithful man, and that’s a stock that trades high. There are a gazillion people on this planet who would cherish you and not hook up with randos on the Interwebz. Know your worth.

Second, hooking up with randos on the interwebz is all kinds of dangerous as a woman. Put aside the fact that it’s harmful to you (you didn’t consent to the STD exposure and the emotional horror), it’s nuts of her. Her desire to be desired is so great, so narcissistically delusional, that she would take these risks. This is NOT a person to trust a shared life with, IMO. Just like I wouldn’t want a partner who bungee jumps, or does Evil Knievel stunt riding.

But, but bipolar!

YOU MATTER, Andrew. It doesn’t hurt her to hurt you. Whether it’s her neurotransmitters who make her devoid of empathy, or shitty character, the end result is a woman who hurts you. You are allowed to save yourself.

Ask yourself what she’s doing to understand you. Where’s her forbearance? Her sacrifice? Oh, she went 24 months without screwing strangers? Bitch cookie.

I don’t know where to go from here.

To a lawyer for a divorce. To the bank to separate your finances. To a therapist for you to help you shore up your boundaries. To the CN communities to give you peer support.

Lots of places to go that aren’t her. Please get out. ((Hugs))

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.
  • Andrew, working on the assumption that she *is* bipolar, she’s a grown woman and it’s her responsibility to handle her illness. To give an example from my own life, I have chronic anxiety, and while my husband is sympathetic to how tough it is for me and how it affects my outlook on life,he knows he can trust me to be taking my medication and attending therapy, especially now that we have a kid. Your wife has not shown herself worthy of that trust.

  • Dude! Lawyer! Now!

    If I had found Chumplady BEFORE I found out the truth of my skank ex-ho’s cheating, I would have handled much differently.

    Discreetly document EVERYTHING. Gather ALL EVIDENCE of her disgusting cheating. Do NOT act any differently to draw any suspicion.

    When all of your ducks are in a row (finances, lawyers, etc) that’s when you make your move (please consult your attorney how to handle this).

    If I knew then what I know now, I would have gathered all evidence and have had her removed from our home.

    I am sorry for your pain….it hurts…..A LOT…..but, you cannot fix her and it’s not your job.

    You probably cannot see this now but CL Nation is a gift……..you will be so far ahead of a lot of us here who were chumped, double-chumped, dry-chumped, narci-chumped……(insert chump term here)

    Please protect yourself now!!!!

  • Andrew,

    I’m sorry for what you’re going through. But I will say that this is all too familiar. My 25 year relationship and 20 year marriage blew up in 2018 because of her cheating. Bipolar was thrown around. I made the decision at that time that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering who she was texting and leaving the house to go meet. This is all the more affirmation that I made the right choice for me. End it and get out. I lost everything in the divorce except for the kids, and it makes me bitter but I know in my heart I did the right thing.

    P.S. mine went on to another marriage that she cheated her way through and is now twice divorced in 4 years.

    • Something to consider.
      If your spouse regularly tried to poison your breakfast cereal would you continue to sample it every morning because the act might be because of mental illness and not murderous intention? The intention does not really matter to the lethality. If your spouse is cheating on you they are murdering your soul.

      • I love this answer regarding lethality.
        For too long I was stuck on the “in sickness and in health” part of my marriage vows.
        I forgot that the very basic, and first, responsibility of each person is to keep themself safe: physical safety, financial safety, and emotional safety.
        So if my spouse is bringing STI into my life, I am obligated to keep my body safe and that means not having sexual relations with him.
        If my spouse is financially irresponsible, I am obligated to continue to care for myself & our children, and that means using the legal system to separate and stop financial ruin.
        If my spouse is emotionally abusing me by breaking promises, manipulating me, and hiding important information, then I can and should protect myself in the ways that I can. Unfortunately, the ways in which I protect myself are not compatible with the generally accepted definition of marriage.

        All of the above situations happened to me and I divorced him. To ensure safety for myself.
        Andrew, protect yourself!
        It is not YOUR failure if you need to end the marriage.

        • “…the ways in which I protect myself are not compatible with the generally accepted definition of marriage.” Yep. I like this sentence. Or, the way I’ve been saying it to myself, the ways in which I protect myself do not lend themselves to the sort of marriage I want and know is possible.

  • “YOU MATTER, Andrew. It doesn’t hurt her to hurt you. Whether it’s her neurotransmitters who make her devoid of empathy, or shitty character, the end result is a woman who hurts you. You are allowed to save yourself.” Heed these words, Andrew. Use them as a mantra. Repeat them over and over. I know for me, they could have saved me so much additional grief and in the end, wasted time. Hugs to you.

  • Im relatively certain that my Cheater did have a clinical depressive order and some of his cheating may well have been to spark his dopamine pumps. That said, in my work in healthcare, I have interfaces with many people with mental illness and it it fascinating how (even when people have rather serious issues) they often still understand boundaries. I remember a woman who had a psychiatrically caused delusional pregnancy. She absolutely knew that we could not reveal private medical details to her family…she KNEW there was a boundary.

    I now see my dead-husbands depression as a challenge he faced in life. In that challenge, he managed to be civil and considerate to a lot of people but I wasn’t one of them. He knew how to behave and he could but where I was concerned, he didnt bother. He chose to apply his strengths elsewhere.

    He also feigned psychiatric decompensation and amnesia when he was caught. He also did so when he raged. Odd that he never suffered form psychiatric decompensation or amnesia on the golf course.

    CL is right. She may very well have a challenge. She is also playing you.

    • Almost everyone KNOWS boundaries; many just do not respect them. Many of us have challenges; hopefully most of us do not use the challenges as an excuse to cheat.

    • My FW played me like a fiddle saying she was “depressed. ” Her mom killed herself from bipolar and man was I worried about her doing the same. Then I put my clinical hat on and realized that rarely do depressed people leave the house dressed up, go to get there hair done, always put on make up….ect. Was she in a manic state? Possible but I don’t think so because she would have had to have been manic for the last 7+ years. either way it doesn’t make the adultery ok.
      ,

  • Yeah, I’ve been down that rabbit hole before: “Maybe he keeps cheating on me and is cruel about it because he’s a diagnosed/undiagnosed [insert condition here].” I tried to offload the responsibility for his affairs onto conditions he probably had. (If only he didn’t have a raging personality disorder then I’m sure he’d stop looking for other beds to crawl into and stay with me.) Eventually this trickled into other areas where I frantically tried to assign the blame for his affairs: (1) I think he’s cheating because he’s going through an early mid-life crisis and (2) I think he’s cheating because, like he told me, I’m not a good enough wife.

    Took me a long time but I did eventually realize that he doesn’t cheat because he has a personality disorder, is going through a midlife crisis, or because I did or didn’t give him all the attention he told me he deserved. It’s like CL said: they cheat because they choose to cheat. It’s a hard pill to swallow but it’s true.

    We all know that mental conditions and past trauma can, for example, explain why a murderer becomes a murderer; it helps us make sense of why the crime occurred in the first place. It provides context. Those conditions, however, do not and never the place of the murderer’s personal agency; the murderer made a choice. Context is not the driver that drives their brain.

    Cheaters may have reasons that seemingly explain “why they are like that” but those contexts are not excuses that take the place of their agency. They are still the ones making the choices. Offloading responsibility onto the shoulder’s of a mental condition or midlife crisis is no different than assigning blame onto a nebulous state of “well, I have to cheat because you are not a very good partner.” It just doesn’t make sense. They are the ones making the choices.

    It’s never a fun thing to realize but, yes, it’s lawyer time.

    • Oh Fourleaf (big sigh) I was down the Midlife Crisis Rabbit Hole for 7 years, no shit.

      He had lied SO WELL that I really thought that Susan of Seattle was his first affair. I would have sworn on my childrens lives it was his first (I later learned it was his worst but not first).

      Since he was early 40s and had just made a HUGE career transition, it looked like a MLC and when I asked, he said it was. (Brilliant of him… much easier to fess up to than a life of fucking around). It was masterful in distracting me and adding to my hopium stash.

      After I went through those horrible 7 years and when he died, I grieved yet felt triumphant… I had succeeded in staying married and keeping my family together until the unexpected end, yea me…..and then I started to find things in his personal effects which indicated most of what he had told me during those 7 years (and long before) was bull shit… and here I am processing all the abuse. No longer the Unicorn I thought I was.

      • I’m convinced there’s a huge wing of the RIC built on the false premise of MLC. Search online for Mid Life Crisis and all sorts of legit looking information pops up. Promulgating the idea that MLC is a typical life transition most people experience. Not true! To my knowledge, there’s no verifiable empirical data confirming MLC is a true condition. Just the opposite. By midlife personality tends to be fixed. Grasping onto the pop psychology of MLC is handy narrative for chumps desperate for hopium. Provides useful narrative for the cheater as well. And assures a steady source of $$$ for the RIC.

      • Yes this! I ended up the “grieving widow” just like you. He never did come completely clean, took most of his secrets to the grave for me to find after the fact. Dick. I went back to my maiden name 1.5 years after he died…which raised a lot of eyebrows since we appeared to be the GOLDEN COUPLE married 29 years. If they wanted to know why I ditched his name…I let the truth rip on out…

        • It feels so weird to have loved him when he died then stopped during a time when I didn’t interact with him. Now, I got nuthin’… I try to hide my ambivalence from my daughter but I’m likely doing a bad job.

          Not long ago, I had my new married name put on the deed to the house Cheater bought. I kept Cheaters name for kids and money but I relish not being his last name.

    • MLC was my FW mantra and I am embarrassed to admit I started it. I couldn’t wrap my mind around being unloved and discarded by my husband of 30 yrs. I untangled that skein until I had a a pile of yarn that filled my house. Even 5 yrs later my ego makes excuses for what happened when it pops up. My journey is letting my ego know that it is ok to be unloved and discarded-it has nothing to do with me except that I chose poorly. 30 yrs ago I was a different person-invincible, could save him and me from a life that we came from. I succeeded for me and my sons but not for him…so far. He became his father-liar, cheater, abandon with a chip on his shoulder – or probably always was I was just too busy too notice. Or I didn’t want to notice. My sons are good men and for that I am truly grateful. There is a whole in my heart where love and desire for a partner lived. I don’t know if it will ever be filled again or just patched over. It’s ragged and torn but not bleeding anymore. Hugs!

      • I’m there with many of you: I attributed his behaviour to that mythic state of “being in an early mid-life crisis.” I was really stretching it because, for my H at the time, it was more of a quarter-life crisis. But I was doing “all the research” and, I thought (feeling vindicated!) that he “hit all the marks of being in a midlife crisis!”:

        Change of job? Check. Going to the gym now? Check. Buying a stupid, sporty car when we had two new babies and a sports car is not a practical family car? Check. Trading in the old, used-up wife for a newer, younger, more exciting model? Check.

        I felt almost relieved! Here it was all explained! He was going through a midlife crisis! Once he’s out of it he’ll return back to the man I used to know… he’ll (shudder) “come out of the fog.”

        What a load of bull I was sold. What a load of bull I swallowed. I desperately wanted this condition called “midlife crisis” to be real and to apply to him because then that would at least explain things (I thought). Going through an MLC seemed, to me (an abandoned spouse with two babies and no income who was completely devasted and absolutely vulnerable), to be almost like a medical condition. Like he was diagnosed with it. “He has MLC.” Like it was something that could be cured. I desperately wanted it to be this magical state of “MLC” because MLC sounded so…. temporary. Like it was a phase he would outgrow.

        He never outgrew it. The first affair that I know about (now) was well over a decade ago. First D Day was shortly after that. The final D Day (GF#2/now Wifetress) was a few years after that. He acts the same way now that he acted when he decided, over a decade ago, that I had outlived my usefulness. There is no MLC; he is who he has always been. He just turned on the charm and I put on the blinders during the tenure of our relationship. But he’s always been this person; there’s no MLC to blame.

        • Deep sigh. Been there Fourleaf. Mine was experiencing a “late life crisis” LOL.

          Of all the snake oils promoted by the RIC, MLC is one of the most insidious and persistent. And if I may say so, HARMFUL. Because it seems so logical, so reasonable. And the parameters of what the term “mid life” measures are so open to interpretation – just about any adult between the ages of 20 – 65 could qualify!

          False hope in the temporary nature of the MLC prolonged the abuse of legions of chumps during the last 6 decades. One of the main dangers of buying into the MLC narrative is the temptation to wait it out – because a crisis is a temporary thing. A crisis will pass. MLC is a phase they’ll outgrow.
          While chumps wait for FWs to pass through this so-called standard phase of life, FWs could be squirreling away funds. Spreading STD cooties. Eating more and more cake while their chumps patiently support them through their crisis. Barf.

          If MLC were a real thing, wouldn’t most people experience it? If MLC were a REAL “transition” wouldn’t there be more responsible research to support this so called life transition? We all get old. But chumps like us aren’t chasing decades younger schmoopies, abandoning our kids, or buying red Corvettes to cope with the passing of youth. MLC isn’t to blame, cheaters are who they are. No matter how old they are, or aren’t. MLC is not a syndrome. And calling it MLC gives FWs an easy out.

          • My apologies if I’m paraphrasing something ChumpLady or CN said in prior posts. Another’s well turned phrase has a way of seeping into my consciousness.

      • I hear you, Thrive. I have a wood chip pile where my heart was ripped out. I hope you gain strength every day

  • Andrew, I have a sister who has had more men than I can count. After a divorce, she chased a married man 22 yrs older. She wanted his money. Then she proceeded to cheat on him regularly for 26 years. He knew but had lost his job and the respect of his grown children, for the affair. His sunk cost , contributed to his staying. They pretended to be a moral happy couple to his death. I can’t believe he was happy knowing she screwed strange weekly, at will. The choice to cheat is hers, now the ball is in your court.

  • I thought for years that if my ex would accept his diagnosis of bipolar disorder and try treatment that things would change. He never did and I realize now that me focusing on the disease and the possibility of improvement was just a huge distraction from the fact that he was an awful person (with a severe work allergy) that actually enjoyed hurting me and my children. My counselor finally told me that it didn’t really matter if he was bipolar or not, what mattered was that he treated me terribly. Please get out for your own sake. If your wife wants help she will get it. But you matter and this abuse is unacceptable.

    • I spent many hours researching and learning about aspergers. I decided he was undiagnosed aspergers and grew up in a time when no one would have recognized that and taught him the life skills he needed to cope. He needed me! I even went to counseling sessions 2 hours away from my home with an aspergers specialist so I could better understand how I could help him and be a great wife. (Now that I have chumpnation in my pocket, notice that I went to counseling on his issue? Wow – I was such a chump!)

      All the while, he was just sitting back and watching the show! On D-Day, he clearly stated he was not aspergers or any of those things. First time he had ever responded to my discussions and ponderings on the topic. Ever. In several years. I chattered. He stared back at me with silence and no expression, over and over and over. What a dick.

      Yea, a distraction. And cheaters sure do love it when we throw ourselves into these “helpy helperton” distraction projects. Kibbles. More free time to meet up with schmoopie. ………..Great idea, dear wife appliance. Care if I watch my tv show while you prattle on again about what you’ve learned that could save our relationship?

      • I can understand the urge to spackle (guilty!) but the fact that you spackled with ASD in particular might be due to the intense degree of media and junk science spin on the subject. I read a very compelling paper by a researcher with asperger’s who observed that the trend in latently diagnosing adults with asperger’s was being heavily peddled and was pretty loaded with agendas. Statistically very few of those diagnosed as adults turned out to have had the childhood history required for the dx. Secondly, many had prescription drug use/abuse histories that would easily explain why symptoms overlapping autism had not existed in these patients’ childhoods but instead began in teens and adulthood– because social isolation, compulsive behavior, tics, tantrums, stereotypies, loss of empathy and flattened affect are also the known side effects of several classes of medication, especially psychiatric meds.

        The researcher proposed that the reason some psychiatrists were willing to falsely diagnose some adults with ASD was as a concerted coverup of medication side effects and to bat off potential malpractice suits. The researcher wrote that this was part of the general corrupt trend in polypharmacy– creating a plausible diagnosis for and drugging the side effects of the previously prescribed drugs and on and on. The patient themselves might be motivated to deny the role of the medications in their behavioral issues because they’ve formed dependency on the medication and don’t wish to discontinue. Another patient motive might be to get off the hook for having committed a crime or abused a partner or children (“I couldn’t help it, I’m an autie!”). The drug companies don’t mind the latent diagnostic trend because there are drugs– particularly anti-epilepsy agents (depakote) and chemo drugs (vincristine) but also SSRI antidepressants– that are suspected of causing or increasing the risk of autism following prenatal exposure. By the same token, chemical, pesticide and herbicide makers and coal producers don’t mind the trend in latent diagnosing because all have been– individually or in tandem– implicated in contributing to the rise in autism among children in peer reviewed research due to overlapping effects of certain agents and chemical compounds on cellular pathways. In any case, rates among children have undeniably risen whether this is due to pollution, pesticides, meds, metals, adulterated food supply or all the above, so several interested parties may have a motive to diagnose more adults to obscure the statistical childhood spike in the disorder and these parties all happen to be major sponsors of teaching hospitals, medical research and science publications and in public-private partnerships with government regulators. There was even reportedly a hushed-up scandal when a team of psychiatrists went through the Cook County prison system and began diagnosing inmates willy nilly with ASD.

        The researcher easily took apart the pop-science alternative explanations for the spike in diagnoses among children like “assortive mating” (aka, the “feminism causes autism!” theory) and “better recognition” using institutional census data going back 150 years. She noted that she believed her own condition was genetic but pointed out that the wonders of modern chemistry were now capable of creating effects that indistinguishably mimic conditions down to a cellular level that were once solely genetic in origin like landau-kleffner syndrome (which can also be caused by antipsychotics). She wrote that “there’s no such thing as a genetic epidemic” and quoted Temple Grandin who noted that autism among children was becoming far more severe with increasing numbers of low functioning and nonverbal cases which suggested the role of environmental factors.

        Another self-advocate and researcher pointed out the damaging effects of misdiagnosing adults: that the public was more and more prone to associating negative personality traits (being an asshole, violence, lacking empathy, criminality, etc.) with autism, a shift in attitude that’s endangering children and adults who actually have the condition because the public is less likely to rally against institutional mistreatment of the disabled.

        Anyway, there was some gazillion dollar PR and bundled agendas urging and supporting your particular mode of spackling– probably even more than the “sex addict” or “MLC” spin which I initially fell for (d’oh). When I worked as an editor for an environmental health publication (not a copy editor so please don’t judge my errant spelling and neurotic punctuation), I started to understand why democratizing science is so important. In an age when laws and policies are based on representations of cellular science– not to mention life-changing personal decisions– being sufficiently literate in science to sleuth beneath the headlines and questionable commercial claims is the only way for the public to keep from being disenfranchised or led to hell in a hand basket.

        • “being sufficiently literate in science to sleuth beneath the headlines and questionable commercial claims is the only way for the public to keep from being disenfranchised or led to hell in a hand basket.”

          Standing and clapping! Being sufficiently media literate (savvy) also helps 🙂

          • And knowing who’s paying whom helps on all counts! That was my specialty– following the $$$ and burrowing like a rat through all the common tricks used to obscure the money and influence trails. I literally cried when the site Muckety ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muckety) was taken down and the Cochrane Collaborative was hijacked by the Gates Foundation because these had formerly been great and genuinely independent sources for checking research integrity and sleuthing the financial “ties that bind” between media, institutions, regulators, “independent” experts and various industries.

            Most people have no clue that many of the credible seeming “sciency” articles they read are just a brand of something called “native advertising”– sponsored advertising/ PR and product defense and promotion posed as editorials and independent reporting. Unfortunately the bs spin has fueled a backlash of woo science and wacky conspiracy theories all the more because the public can collectively and intuitively sense when they’re being fed a load of bull but a common response is to fill the gap with “ghost story” lore in place of the truth they’re being denied. The simple cure would be to report the straight truth, but then the shills use the very existence of the wacky woo lore they fuel with lies to bolster arguments that science should not be democratized, that the plebes are too stupid to grasp it and science should be like forbidden scripture from the tenth century when church cannons banned biblical translation. So in order for democracy to survive, we’ve all got to learn “Latin”– aka, science-speak. At least enough to distinguish junk from legit.

            There’s a great quote from 20th century British humorist GK Chesterton that says it all: “Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.’

            • HOC I would say the majority of papers I read in my field are written by a certain group of physicians with an agenda. It is very unfortunate.

              • It’s reassuring to hear you’re keeping tabs on this. I consulted with an orthopedic surgeon who warned me away from the various surgeries and tech that five previous surgeons had peddled. I asked him why they were pushing such high risk interventions. He shot back, “Yacht payments.” He said the procedure I needed was only in experimental stages and recommended waiting. Consequently he’s the only surgeon I would trust to operate on my knees but he gave me a roll of sports tape and wouldn’t take my money.

                If someone is truly in their calling, they seem to keep the bar high and have a tough love view of their own field. I imagine some of his colleagues resented it but he was the official surgeon for a leading college sports team so I’m not sure he cared.

            • HOC I would say the majority of papers I read in my field are written by a certain group of physicians with an agenda. It is very unfortunate.

  • Andrew, how about: she’s cheating AND she’s bipolar?

    That diagnosis, by the way, does get thrown around a lot. Diagnosis is like everything else: it can be weaponized by a shitty person.

    • Right. Being bi-polar does not have anything to do with cheating. Cheating is a character problem, not a mental health problem. I’m sorry OP I know you want there to be a reason. The reason is she sucks.

      • I gotta agree with Strugglingnomore here. Not to discount that she might truly be living with bipolar disorder, but malignant narcissism could also be at play. And that is something that can’t be medicated away, though there are a shitload of us who at one time wished it could.
        Time to put yourself and your needs first, Andrew. There is peace to be found when you do!

    • Anything can be comorbid with personality disorder without actually explaining the personality disorder.
      Personally I have no doubt that personality disorders, criminality and compulsive betrayal/intimate partner abuse have roots in childhood trauma. While that makes me more committed to supporting measures and research that could protect children from social conditions that may potentially turn them into adult freaks and criminals, as far as the adult perps go, stick a fork in them, they’re likely cooked.

  • I used to think my ex husband was bipolar too. Now I think it was all just a part of the narcissist abuse cycle. Divorce her. It’s so much better being away from the cheater. It’s like being able to finally breathe.

  • This one really hits home with me. The RIC at my church (at the time–my current church wouldn’t do this) told me that he cheated because of his parents’ divorce and his troubled background at home, etc. Well, I grew up in a very abusive home with a mother who had severe mental issues. My grandfather molested kids. I told my church, “I really don’t care about his alleged issues growing up. Not many people have a worse childhood than I did, and yet somehow I keep my pants on. If I can do it, he can do it. Besides, he is fifty years old now. When exactly is he planning to grow up and get over all his FOO issues and be a good husband? If he hasn’t done it by now, I doubt he plans to start.”

    The RIC people looked stunned, like no one ever said that before. I guess they expected me to get all sympathetic with his weaknesses and weep over how he didn’t get enough attention as a child. I’d have loads of sympathy for that if he wasn’t hurting me and the kids, but as it was–well, it’s hard to have sympathy with someone who is actively destroying the family.

  • I have bipolar disorder and have never done anything like this. I was cheated on except the excuse was that it was because of my illness. It really sucks when bipolar has that stigma. It is a debilitating disorder, but at the end of the day if either person can’t deal with it (the sufferer or the partner) and are hurting someone in the partnership because of it then I think they are better off apart. I have been the most well I have been in 12 years now that I have stopped being abused by my partner.

    • Thank you so much for saying this. I started to comment that myself, and decided not to because I am not bipolar, so it isn’t for me to say. But I do have PTSD related to childhood abuse, and you are right–that was a reason he used for cheating on me, and then it also because a reason for my pastor not to believe me, and then for the RIC to tell me I should reconcile (claiming that my PTSD was making it seem like a bigger deal that it really should be, and I was overreacting). Honestly, I wish I had never told any of them about my PTSD, because it just became a reason to beat me down. But in my view, it just makes cheating worse. Cheaters gain the trust of someone who suffers from a psychological problem and then destroy them more? I think that about your ex cheating on you also. I’m sure it didn’t help the bipolar problem to have your partner cheating on you!

  • If this is unacceptable to you, end it.

    When there’s a pattern, you have to think that it’s only going to repeat. Mine had multiple repeating patterns, and I kept hoping that somehow it would stop. It didn’t.

    Mine barely took responsibility when we split. His departure to another state when we separated told me that he really didn’t want to be a husband and father anymore. I denied that at times but knew it deep down.

    Then we divorced, and he behaved very badly. I was so glad that I had given up on the reconciliation that his family had been pushing. I learned just how very little I meant to him.

    Had to be.

  • Hugs to you. I went through the same bargaining stage of grief that you are in and I was stuck there for years. My ex was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and was a serial cheater. I clung to the hope that the BPD diagnosis was the reason for the cheating and hence, there would be a “cure.” The only “cure” is leaving. BPD doesn’t make people cheat. Bipolar doesn’t make people cheat. There are millions of people with mental health diagnoses that do not cheat. She chooses to cheat and the longer you stay, the more pain you will experience from her. It took me 3 years to leave. Don’t make the same mistake I did. I know it feels overwhelming and painful, but you can do it. I didn’t think I could. I didn’t believe I would “gain a life” on the other side. But I did, and you will too. Believe what CL and CN tells you. The pain is finite but only if you choose to stop subjecting yourself to it. Tuesday will come some day and you will gain a life much better than you ever imagined. Stop choosing the pain. Choose happiness. Choose your health. Choose your sanity. You are worth it

    • BPD is such a tough nut to crack that some therapists will limit the number of those patients they will carry at a given time. My mom has BPD which persisted unrelentingly until she finally became demented from her substance abuse. She is now a confused but oddly benevolent demented person who tells me she loves me all the time. It is no more comforting than if a stranger on the street told me she loved me. The only thing that works with BPD is a firm boundary. I used to call before I arrived and say something like “if you speak cruelly to me or about those I love, I will leave immediately” then I did it

  • Bi-polar, schmipolar. She cheats because she wants to, not because her mania or depression “makes” her cheat. My father was both bipolar and a cheater, and as Chump Lady points out, his illness did not prevent him from functioning in other areas of his life, nor from adhering to conventions and boundaries in other contexts and with other people. The fact is, he devalued my mother, and us, his family, and treated us as his possessions to do with as he wanted. My father never accepted that he was bipolar, but if he had, he likely would have folded it right into his entitlement and made it one more reason he was entitled to cheat.

  • She told you the truth, you just have to see it. She said she had stopped cheating for that whole two years because she no longer desired to cheat. She told you flat out that she did it because she wanted to and that if she ever wants to cheat again, she’ll do it. If you stay, you are at the whim of her desires. What if she brings home hep C? I watched my MIL die of that, it’s a bad death. What if she brings home HIV? I watched a whole family die of that as a kid, the 3 year old was the worst. Today there are drugs but I know a man who pays the equivalent of his rent for his HIV meds each month. Without them, he’ll die a terrible death. He can’t afford it but he has no choice. And that’s WITH health insurance.

    The betrayal is terrible, the emotional pain is terrible, the lies are terrible. But there’s so much more than that. You can’t risk your health like this. I don’t know if you have children, if you do, they need you. If you don’t have them and are considering having them, she could infect them at birth with something horrible. And if you have no kids and never want them, you still matter. Your health matters. You can’t build anything real with someone who will just destroy you because she had a desire.

    Plus, what if one of her fuck buddies decides to come after you? She’s a serial cheater, they do fucked up things. You may be friends with some of her fuck buddies and have no idea. I was friends with tons of them. There’s a show on hulu called Candy, you should watch it. It’s a true story about a woman who was brutally murdered by her husband’s fuck buddy and how nobody really cared because *shrug* cheating just isn’t that big of a deal. Just some discrete fun between some friends and an axe, that’s all.

    It doesn’t matter why she’s abusive, the abuse will still harm you. Get away from her and any friends who support her or make excuses for what she’s done. You’ll heal. It’s going to hurt but you will begin to heal once you cut the cancer out.

  • Andrew, you’re the only one working on the so called relationship. You’ve forgiven and believed. Serial cheaters depend on that pattern of tolerance to keep you hooked and to avoid consequences. The wall of pain grows relative to the continued investment. The only way out is to go through the pain with no contact.

  • My ex wife was diagnosed with BPD and possibly a narcissist. She went to therapy 3 times and said they told there was nothing wrong with her. 🙄🙄🙄

    I know that my ex wife was abused and has mental health issues. None of that excuses her bad behavior. Bi Polar is horrible but I have a friend whose husband divorced her for cheating even though she has Bi-Polar. She isn’t going to stop…

  • My ex was diagnosed bipolar and it was hell because he was still drinking heavily while medicating (that is, if he took it). I guess Lithium only works if you don’t wash it down with a litre of whiskey, right? I put up with his violence for over 20 years because I kept thinking I had to try to “help” him, but after he cheated I realized he has to want to help himself first. I couldn’t take the treatment for him. Him screwing the bar room slag just made it easier for me to file. Oh and if you do file, I think I’d be prepared for the “oh I’m ill, how could he do this to me”????? Please get out before she gives you something incurable!

  • Andrew, the football player who was arrested for murdering a friend had terrible brain damage that was only going to get worse. The thinking is he killed two men because they got on his nerves. The man he was convicted for was his running buddy. Brain damage had taken away his boundaries. He had a girlfriend and a baby. They were in danger of his out of control rage. Who knows what he could do.
    Your wife is also damaged. That means she gets to do what she wants to? Do you really want to spend the rest of your life on pins and needles? She needs to be single. You need to be free.

  • Not a doctor here, but hypersexuality is truly one symptom of bipolar disorder. My husband’s best friend had been undiagnosed for years; his condition was masked by his alcoholism (a common occurrence, alcoholism and BPD have very similar symptoms). His risk-taking was also a red flag — gambling on the stock market, which worked until it didn’t. His wife eventually divorced him, and he later committed suicide, but not before I’d been the unwilling recipient of several facetime calls from his waving erection. So yes, bipolar disorder is part of the equation, but as always, put on your own oxygen mask first.

    • Impulsive behavior, including engaging in risky sexual encounters indeed falls on the list of symptoms of people with BPD. We don’t need to debate whether or not it’s in play here; it’s ultimately irrelevant. As CL asked, is this relationship acceptable to you? People with BPD can also blow their life savings during a manic episode. It’s an exhausting way to live for everyone and can be very difficult to treat because manic episodes tend not to feel awful for the person experiencing them.

  • “YOU MATTER, Andrew. It doesn’t hurt her to hurt you. Whether it’s her neurotransmitters who make her devoid of empathy, or shitty character, the end result is a woman who hurts you. You are allowed to save yourself.”

    Please heed these words, Andrew. You’ll feel better when you’ve extricated yourself from this woman who has no problem cheating on you.

    For the sake of argument, let’s say that bipolar disorder *does* cause someone to cheat (it doesn’t). You still aren’t required to endure that abuse.

    I’m quite sure my own x has some serious Cluster B personality shit going on, but he was able to act well when he wanted to. He had agency. He had the wherewithal to order Viagra and make hotel reservations. He unzipped his own pants (or maybe she helped on occasion 🤮) and held his shit together enough to do his job and lie without batting an eye.

    Did his personality disorder contribute to his desire/need for an affair? Probably, but I don’t think causality matters here. The end result is abusive behavior and that isn’t acceptable. Period.

    I also wonder if she treats you badly in other areas. I mean, in my own case, I realized after D-Day that I’d been putting up with a lot of crappy treatment. I was so busy spackling and jacked up on hopium that I didn’t realize how bad it was. I was truly abused, which pains me to admit.

    Infidelity is abuse, Andrew. You matter, Andrew. Lawyer up!

    Good luck.

  • The thing about being bipolar is that there is no “cure“; there is only managing this disease. There is also a delusional component to being bipolar, so in some ways you and she are living in separate realities. The question you need to ask yourself is can you continue to live this way?

  • Thanks all. I keep hearing the lyric from Fast Car “You gotta make a decision Leave tonight or live and die this way”. But it’s easier to not make any decisions

    • That’s only because you don’t value yourself as much as you value her, or other people in your life.

      This gets said on here a lot, but it’s really true and helpful: Imagine a dear friend of yours came to you with the story you’re telling us right now–what advice would you give them? Your heart would break for that friend; you would beg them to leave because you love them and esteem them.

      Please extend yourself *at least* as much love and esteem as you would a friend. If you can’t do that right now (which a lot of us empathize with–we couldn’t either), please get yourself into individual therapy ASAP so that you can. You’re a precious, irreplaceable, infinitely valuable person, and you need to treat yourself as such.

    • As my father was fond of saying, “Nobody gets out of this world alive.” Imagine yourself years from now looking back on your life, will you consider it a life well lived? All of our days are precious and few, you are making a decision every day to continue on this path.

    • Andrew, it’s not easier. Humans can become accustomed to and adapt to seriously adverse situations as a survival coping mechanism.

      It’s like when the dentist tells you not to eat until the Novocain wears off because you can’t feel yourself chewing on your cheek.

      The easier softer way is actually to leave a hazardous relationship than to live with someone who is abusing you.

      Scary? F yeah. But there is fear designed to prevent harm to you, and fear generated by heading into unknown territory. Leaving a cheater is the second variety. It’s been my experience that I can always find a LOT of support and assistance and company in unknown territory.

    • Andrew it seems hard to make the decision now, but that’s because you are still living with the source of your trauma and your heart has not caught up to your head. In circumstances like this you need to let your head overrule your heart. Cheaters will tell you it’s important to follow the heart, and they’re full of shit. They only follow the ego to begin with, and it’s always important for human beings to let reason guide them. Your wife is getting a ton of ego chow from the men she’s cheating on you with and from you sticking around for more abuse. Andrew, forget about her mental health for a while and focus on your own. She is destroying your peace of mind and self worth for a reason- it keeps you stuck catering to her. Abusers know about trauma bonds, though they usually don’t know that name or fully understand it as a concept. They just know what works to keep their victims under their thumbs and they make use of those techniques to get what they want. What she wants is a caretaker/ daddy at home and lovers on the side. This is typical of cheaters. They definitely want you to be their stability, yet they punish you for it by deciding being a stable adult makes you boring, therefore they deserve their “exciting” schmoopies. You cannot possibly win with these people.

      Ultimately it does not matter if her mental illness is a contributing factor in her cheating, because she has no intention of stopping. She (allegedly) stops when she feels like it and starts up again when she feels like it. You and your pain don’t even factor into her decisions. That’s a bitter pill to swallow, but you have to face it. CN can guarantee you’ll feel better away from her, once you have taken the time to grieve and have been NC for a while. CN can also guarantee you continued pain and risk to your physical and mental health if you stay.

      It’s really a no-brainer. If they won’t change, and they almost always won’t no matter what they say, then you must. You must change into a person who won’t tolerate their abuse anymore. We all did it and you can too.

  • I work a lot with mentally ill people & those with substance misuse issues. I noticed early on the ones that initially did best with treatment have stronger characters e.g. morals, ethics, boundaries. The ones that do not have weaker characters. We try to build up their foundations. However, when they continue in a toxic relationship/situation this will unravel all this good work. You may actually be an obstacle to your partner getting better. I’ve had couples decide to separate so the other could concentrate on treatment & then they were able to resume their marriage. This was several years later though so please continue on with your own life in the meantime if you choose this route. Good luck.

  • Been there. Get out now! My life was fine. Then one day I woke up with herpes and a transgender prostitute extorting my ex husband. She threatened to post pictures and videos of their time together. She messaged all my friends and family. I had to have my teenage children delete social media.
    Bipolar diagnosis was the excuse.

    I kicked him out that day and never looked back.
    Thank god for chumplady!

    Run now!

  • Yeah, I remember trying to make a list of the possible things that
    could be wrong with my spouse too.
    What could I do to help him?! I would do anything to try!
    Was he like this because his dad was controlling and mean( not in public) and took no interest in his kids growing up, but when he was old and an invalid, demanded they give all their time to him?
    Was he bipolar? ( Good chance of that.) Would rage at the most random inconsequential BS and was solid in real emergencies. Manic energy in projects that nothing was of greater importance.
    Was he a covert misogynist?( treated his mom so amazing and so horribly)
    A sex addict? ( serial cheater, women obsessed him)
    High stress in corporate job too much to cope with?( take out on the one you love most, should I be stronger for him? I can fix this!)
    Did he have a brain tumor?
    Head injury from sports played as kid?
    Two cervical back surgeries that may have caused decreased circulation to his brain?
    Last few years after he stroked (from intense anger and losing the control over me) of course his bizarre actions MUST all be because of that, he would NEVER leave his family if his brain was intact! It’s not his fault I would always try to imagine.
    I do know now he does have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but that wasn’t til after the final crash and burn that was unveiled.
    I even kept a running list of possible causes why he would be blowing up his life.
    In retrospect, NONE of any of this really mattered, it was the hopium pipe keeping me in the game. I didn’t want to lose him, he was everything to me.
    But, he was ultimately not good for me or to me for decades really, and I just should not have given him the stage to abuse me on.
    I’m so happy for you for finding CL, take in her sage wisdom, she is steering you on a solid course.
    We are not looking to turn ppl into chumps, just looking to help the ones that show up. Your abusive wife is not going to morph into this amazing woman who loves only you, as much as that fantasy is awesome.
    Just look really hard at what she is showing you of her character, not what you wish her to be. She actually IS that scary person!
    A user, taker, liar, deceitful,cruel, entitled and unscrupulous manipulator.
    She will keep you playing the game with her until there is nothing left of you and you are withered up like King Triton from the Little Mermaid deep at the bottom of the ocean. ( too graphic there!)
    They will take and take until you don’t even know who the hell you are anymore, it’s completely surreal.
    She will always only care about herself and what’s in it for her, and that cannot be changed by any therapy session.
    She can and will destroy you.
    Please don’t do the save your marriage bs programs either, the only one that gains from that is her. She’ll learn how to be the best damn cheater on the planet!
    I’m really sorry you got chumped, it sucks ass, a completely soul crushing experience.
    But of the two of you, you are light years better positioned for a good life, she’ll never escape herself, that’s her misery.
    Can a person truly be happy when they hurt others over and over again?
    I don’t believe so, no matter how amazing superficially they make you, themselves and others believe otherwise.
    Zero depth,there is no Prince Charming riding around on his white horse to fix that for her, but she will ride countless of them in search of that next better option, always shopping around, never satisfied.
    Lawyer up and get your life back on a track that doesn’t have your train heading for the cliff.
    She sucks, she chooses to suck, and that sucks. Character does matter.
    Bipolar disorder diversion will only buy her more time to suck even longer.
    Get free and healthy, you so have this! No “ let’s be friends” either, no contact.
    She is not your friend! She sucks!!!!
    Don’t ever forget that. 😊👍

  • My brother in law is bipolar and has never cheated on my sister.

    She’s using it as an excuse because she knows you’ll buy it.

    Bipolar didn’t make her cheat.

  • Bipolar and abuse are two different things. In high school, I dated a boy who was diagnose manic depressive (now called bipolar). He had serious issues with boundaries, possessiveness, and other emotionally exploitative behavior that I can now identify as emotional abuse.

    One Sunday morning my dad stayed home from church while my mom and I went. Boyfriend called the house 5 times that morning, and really pissed my dad off. I had to tell boyfriend that he could NOT call our house that much, and actually set limits on how much he was allowed to call our house. Boyfriend sulked and pouted constantly about not being able to call as much and whenever he felt like it. It had everything to do with being selfish, entitled and possessive, and nothing at all to do with bipolar.

    After I ended the relationship and went off to college (far away), he continued to hang up call the house and my parents suspected he was still driving by several years later (I had swapped cars with my mom but he didn’t know that). Years later when Classmates.com was created I joined and he found me in 3 days. I promptly left the platform. When I joined Facebook it took him 3 weeks to find me. We don’t have mutual friends, haven’t had any since high school. He’s out there looking for me.

    I only dated this guy for 3 months, was never serious about him, and never had sex with him. This is all his about his selfish, entitled, disrespectful, and possessive behavior. Manic depression has nothing to do with it. While your problem is cheating, they are all control behaviors. She’s controlling you with her cheating and manipulating you with her diagnosis.

    My two cents.

  • My 2nd FW got diagnosed as bipolar, too, which then became his go-to excuse for EVERY questionable thing he did. “I can’t help it!” If anything, the diagnosis seemed to give him permission to misbehave even more, because then he would have something to blame it on.
    I get that BP is a serious condition, and that compassion is important. But the individual with it must be responsible with their meds. Mine wasn’t. When he got on them, he started to understand that he didn’t have to live with the highs and lows..and he detested that. One day he looked at me with scorn, and said, “How can you live like this? It’s so blah.” And he went off his meds. This is apparently pretty common in people with BP.
    As the CL says, though, YOU don’t have to live with this. And, in my experience, it won’t get better, especially if your partner likes the life-style of screwing other people and then blaming it on their BP. Never mind STDs.
    Sometimes the best way you can actually help somebody who won’t address their issues is simply by getting out and, in doing so, saving yourself.
    Consequences are a bitch to FWs.

  • At first, it was easier for me to believe he had a brain tumor or other ailment, than to accept that he was willing to deliberately hurt me and his children. The painful truth about cheaters is that they are selfish, entitled, and simply do not care who they hurt in their quest for “fun and adventure.”

    Sometimes I still get stuck down the rabbit hole of trying to figure it all out, but ultimately, it’s essential to heed CL’s “trust that they suck” mantra. You don’t have to und erstand why they are like this to know that they are toxic.

  • I think at times we get sucked into the Skein b/c we are genuinely gobsmacked that another person would behave in this manner. So we argue, negotiate, apply diagnoses etc. CL is right as always: is it acceptable to YOU?
    Maybe she has a problem; maybe she needs help; maybe she can improve….maybe she should learn to get a handle on this behavior before getting into her next committed relationship?!?!

    For what it’s worth, no one is required to be married in USA. Marriage is a choice. She can easily choose to be single and have casual sexual relationships with other consenting adults and without any deception whatsoever – imagine that!

    Walk away, let her go, find someone who can be faithful. Sorry you are enduring this, it is not about you!

  • Andrew,

    Can I offer two thoughts?

    Firstly, you should bear in mind that the first principle of First Aid is not to become a casualty yourself. Your efforts in trying to protect your wife from herself – and to make allowances for her behaviour – is and will continue to come at a cost to you; likely emotional and mental damage for starters. I would suggest that you are at the point (and it’s a difficult point to judge) when you need to say “enough already,” cut your ties and leave her to it. If you don’t, then the likelihood of you being damaged in some way rises exponentially.

    Secondly, you can’t help someone who can’t (or more likely won’t, as your wife has agency in this situation) help themselves. Since she won’t change her behaviour to something that you find acceptable and then stay on the straight and narrow for the long haul, then you can walk away with a clear conscience.

    I say this as someone who stayed in a marriage much longer than he should have because I wanted to help my now ex-wife; but there is only so much that you can do to help a depressed alcoholic who refuses to accept that she had (and still has) a problem and was adamant that if she did need help, that I would be the last person in the world that she would accept it from. That she was also cheating was just the cherry on the cake; it was only when I realised that she expected the me to just “suck it up” and that she gave zero sh*ts about the impact of her behaviour on me or our three kids that I realised that I needed to stop protecting her from herself and start protecting me and the kids. I wish I’d done it sooner.

    The only person whose permission that you need to take the next steps is you.

    LFTT

  • Cheaters use any excuse to eat cake. Blaming their cheating on some outside force is typical. My FW was given the script by the RIC that he had a “brain malfunction” and he had a “sex addiction”. Bullshit. He has a fidelity and entitlement problem.

    Her responsibility is to treat her bipolar, and to be faithful to you.

    Instead she’s blaming her bipolar.

    Also, as a fitness instructor, she has a steady supply of APs. Do you really want to live knowing that? My FW used the gym as hunting ground.

  • Andrew, you can sit back and be grateful for the crumbs she throws you from time to time while she continues to cheat, or you can take charge of your life. While people certainly do suffer from Bipolar Disorder, sometimes the mental health community is too quick to place a label on shitty behavior. Sometimes an asshole is just an asshole. Unfortunately these assholes will use mental health disorders to hide behind and excuse their actions and behavior. Get a lawyer and get out.

  • My ex wasn’t bipolar but he was an addict who cycled in and out of periods of sobriety. I had insane thinking that I could help fix him. I thought that the addiction was his only issue which led to chaos in our life. Turns out he was just a garden variety asshole who was cheating on me throughout our 15 year marriage. Blaming his addiction for his failures to come home at night or for days at a time was just a screen. I only figured out the cheating after we were already separated. Then I started putting all the pieces together. I felt really stupid that I hadn’t figured it out before but I was smoking hopium. I wanted him to be better. I wanted the husband I thought he could be (and not the horrible person that he actually was). The addiction didn’t make him cheat. He was just a selfish jerk to begin with. Finding out about the cheating was the last straw for me and I filed for divorce immediately. I’m so glad that I did. I will never regret filing. I DO regret that I wasted so much time on such an unworthy person. It hurts but it was pain was less than what I was already going through on a daily basis. My life is so much better now.

  • Let’s say she is bipolar. It doesn’t matter. Ignore Julie Fast and her not-so-subtle message that the spouse who is not bipolar has to bear the greater burden of caring for their partner.

    Take and keep notes (preferably under lock and key at work/offsite). Consult attorneys. Find out who they would LEAST like their spouse to hire!

    If she wants to continue to take stupid risks for your life and health, because random strangers are honorable enough to not have or spread STIs or follow her home and rob you blind, she can do it freely once you are no longer in the same dwelling and are actively pursuing a divorce.

    Take a look (while offsite) at how your jurisdiction handles co-parenting during and after a divorce if applicable. Sign up for the “co-parenting with your adversary” classes before consulting attorneys. Attorneys and judges LOVE that! Ditto for getting therapy for yourself/kids if necessary.

    But run. Get away!

    Good luck to you.

  • Ah, the search for a diagnosis! A cure! Alas, reality. A diagnosis is not a cure. I have type 2 diabetes. No cure yet. But I cannot sit around eating bon bons, and expect others to take up my slack, because I have a disease. I can tell you, with certainty, my disease is a lot of extra work for me to try my best to stay healthy. I do the work. I pay the consequences if I don’t.

    I searched for reasons, cures, coping methods. I understood bad FOO habits. I tried to forgive and forget. Ultimately, I left. You cannot cure another person’s illness, particularly a mental illness, just by loving them. Maybe a medical genius will cure terrible illnesses, eventually. You only have so many years to live your life.

    At least you can divorce your wife — you have an excellent motive to do so. I believe in personality disorders and type B problems, but it is way above my pay grade and ability to change someone else. I have mental illness in my family, dementia, bi-polar disorder, and probably a lot of other things. I cannot divorce my family. I have to cope with them and decide how much I can tolerate from exposure. I will not accept abuse. Limiting contact with blood relatives is very hard. Protect yourself.

  • Andrew,
    She has ZERO respect for you and she ENJOYS rubbing your face in dung.
    She is not a life partner.
    She is an abuser.
    Get as far away from her as possible.

  • I have a parent with a similar diagnosis. It’s hard to know if it’s a choice disguised as a lie or part of the illness. You have to gauge if you can bear living with cheating. It doesn’t change.

  • This from Jane Austen (Emma):

    “Vanity working on a weak mind produces all kinds of mischief.”

    If there is a “why”, this explains the “why” of cheating to me.

    But “why” doesn’t erase what happened or alleviate my pain or protect me from being the victim of another cheating hit-and-run committed by that moron and his flavor-of-the-moment moroness.

    I’m not affiliated with any religion, but I do agree with Proverbs 13:20…

    “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

    Cheaters are losers and fools. Cheating is cruel. Cheating is abuse. And bi-polar has nothing to do with being any of those things. As has been said here many times today, an adult woman with the executive functioning to create a secret double life and achieve career dreams is also capable of taking medication and choosing to forsake all others.

  • She has chosen how history will remember her. By staying and supporting her you’re allowing her to choose that for you, too. Hardest pill to swallow is, “they CAN’T be fixed”. Save yourself … literally.

  • Was married to someone with bipolar for 15 years. He cheated the whole time and wasn’t until he died I learned the extent of it. I spent 15 years trying to help him, the best doctors, I supported him financially because he was always too stressed out to work because of his BPD, I literally spent my life propping him up and my reward was: he cheated with anything that moved and disparaged me the whole time doing it. Run fast, run far, you will not fix this and it will be the ruin of you. Get out now and don’t look back.

    • Hi fellow chump. I don’t know how long you’ve been with us but I’ve been using srfrgrl since 2014. Any possibility you’d be okay with changing your username so others don’t confuse us?

  • We have Jesus cheaters, we have bi-polar cheaters, we have sex addicts, we have we have the it’s your fault I had to cheat cheaters, the you’re too vanilla cheaters, etc. I’d be cautious of the diagnosis cheater. She’s just looking for a way to blame anyone but herself. I’ve known plenty of bi-polar and other people and other mental health challenges who didn’t cheat.

    If you’re okay putting up with her cheating then stay. She’ll keep doing it. If you’re hurt and want to move on and find a better life then get your ducks in a row. But sadly she isn’t going to change. Her “bi-polar” narrative will be the forever excuse.

  • I first found this site by cross-searching PTSD + adultery and came across a thread full of military spouses merrily ripping to shred any arguments justifying cheating/abuse due to trauma and cheating/abuse due to TBI. I was hooked. Sure it wrecked my last-ditch spackling attempt to “understand” FW’s betrayal but the truth has a certain ring and is invariably more compelling than BS.

    And the truth is that FW wasn’t the only person in the extended family diagnosed with PTSD from past trauma. My father was a partly disabled combat vet who witnessed and survived one of the goriest battles in modern history. I had escaped more than one attempted assault before getting married and one stranger attack afterwards. My son had been diagnosed with a catastrophic illness as a toddler and I’d slogged through a corrupt medical system to get treatment for him, faced bystander blame for his condition, watched a thousand suns rise after all-night seizure vigils. Yet to my knowledge my dad never cheated and I somehow managed to keep my pants zipped.

    By the time I was scrounging for last ditch spackle, I’d already dispensed with every other possible excuse for FW’s behavior. Was it that he was so “handsome” and received more temptation? Meh. My dad had been so good looking he was mentioned by name in the recent memoir of a famous painter friend from college. The painter joked he knew his wife was “the one” because she had no interest in my father which was apparently a rare occurrence. But could cheating be due to particularly intense sexuality? Meh again. I know from myself that this isn’t a justification. It’s possible to be intensely sexual and intensely loyal. And on and on. I ran down all the spackling excuses imaginable but nothing ever held up. It’s a choice. That’s it.

    Rule #1 of abusers is that they feed on pity and never run out of excuses for the harm they do. It does no good to make up excuses on their behalf because THAT’S THEIR DISEASE if any. You’re just pouring gas on the fire. To give some sobering perspective on whether this particular acquired “disease” and demonstrably learned pattern of thinking is curable, it happens to be one shared by, among other habitual criminals, serial killers. Google “Denying the Darkness: Exploring the Discourses of Neutralization in Bundy, Gacy and Dahmer.”

  • Andrew, bipolar folks who are hypermanic can be hypersexual, but they’re disorganized as fuck when that it happens. it’s opportunistic sex. in other words, they don’t have the ability to enter a profile on Ashley Madison, organize a series of hook-ups, etc. etc. not in that state.

    good luck with the divorce lawyer. you’ll get through this and hopefully meet another person who is capable of a reciprocal relationship.

  • Being chumped is profoundly traumatic. Like other losses with go through stages. Focusing on the cheaters problems seems like bargaining and spackling – maybe if I can fix this…it will all be better. Cheaters are entitled and lack empathy. They have agency and exercise it to cheat. Because they can. To decide if this relationship is acceptable to you? You deserve better. Your choice is how you respond.

    • “Cheaters are entitled and lack empathy. They have agency and exercise it to cheat. Because they can.”

      Onwards, thanks for this succinct explanation of why cheating is abusive.

  • I went down this path Andrew.
    Initially I believed FW was suffering from bipolar. Her mom had it and killed herself. When FW told me she was depressed and was given antidepressants by nurse practitioner I told her she needed to see a psychiatrist because I thought she was bipolar. Antidepressants are the wrong medication for bipolars because They can pushed bipolars into a hypermanic state. Hypermanic people are hypersexual. I was so proud I had made the diagnosis and knew that the right medication would solve the problem. Well, later I found serial reasons why this was not the case such as the affairs we’re going on for 7 years. That is a long time to be in a manic state. Also she had not taken any of the antidepressants. Maybe FW is bipolar but that is not why she cheated.
    Going forward I will stick to making diagnosis in my field of expertise which is not mental health.

    • I covered a psych conference in Bethesda in which the same was reported– antidepressants can have an amphetamine-like effect on some and even trigger bipolarity where it didn’t previously exist.

      One published psychiatrist and advocate for the mentally disabled spoke out against treating violent and abusive behavior as “mental illness” because it tars genuine sufferers– most of whom are far more likeky to be victims than average and far less likely to be perpetrators than average– and hands an alibi to perps. His view was that abuse is abuse and criminality is criminality, not mental illness per se, and “prescribed” calling the cops.

  • BiPolar disorder is certainly a mental health illness of which there are varying degrees.

    And the extremes especially in the mania phase of bipolar illness can manifest as inappropriate behavior.

    That said there are people with personality disorders like BPD who do use the diagnosis of bipolar in order to control and manipulate others. IOW they hide behind a bipolar diagnosis in order to use others.

    It seems like the described pattern and repetition of these cheating behaviors from the OP is quite possibly an indication of a character flaw in his partner rather than a result of bipolar mania.

    Regardless, each person’s life is valuable and precious and theirs to embrace. The answer to “Is this a relationship that is fulfilling to you” is a valid indication of how one may wish to proceed.

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