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Can I Leave for an Emotional Affair?

Stay or go?

Dear Chump Lady,

I’m not sure if I belong among your chump ranks. My husband of 11 years developed an ongoing emotional affair with a woman at work. I could tell something was in the works with him and approached him with tears in my eyes, asking him to set boundaries with her and not to become too emotionally attached.

Instead of doing this, he went underground — texting with her using encrypted messaging that automatically deleted after a few hours. Being the tech-savvy person that I am, I was able to discover what he said on these texts about two months after he started sending them. He was told her that he was in love with her and using the descriptive words of Crayola crayons to tell her how much he adored her eyes. I could only read what he wrote, so I have no idea what she said or the context of these daily musings.

This discovery, and discovering a stash of “never sent” love poems for her on his computer, broke me into pieces. Now four months later, after lots of therapy and three new medications for anxiety and depression, I’m ready to leave him over this. At the same time, I’m wondering if that’s the right thing to do. He’s pointed out to me that he never got physical with her and told me that the one-sided pieces of his text conversation I was able to read were him and her trying to work through their feelings to get over them.

I feel like he is changing his story after the fact. He was initially angry with me for asking him to end his relationship with her, never apologized for saying those things (He thinks he did nothing wrong), and blamed me for snooping into his private messages. Now he is telling me that things were never very serious with her. They only held hands and hugged, because those were the boundaries they set together. I asked him to leave his job and cut her out of his life completely, but he is unwilling to so that and still wants to be her friend.

What is going on? Am I, as he says, being overly controlling with his friendships? Do I belong here if my spouse had an emotional but not a physical affair? 

Chump Poser


Dear Authentic Chump,

Blameshifting? Check. Gaslighting? Check. Minimizing? Check. Really schlocky Schmoopie poetry? (Waves for waiter…) CHECK!

You’re a chump. Welcome to the club.

Is your husband an entitled, emotionally abusive creep? Absolutely. But that alone doesn’t get you admission to our ubiquitous club — it’s doubting whether you can have dealbreakers that makes you a chump. Hi! Let me fold my needs into tiny origami pieces and stuff them into deep recesses of my soul. Wait, would you like to see this paper swan? No? It offends you? That’s fine. I’ll burn it.THAT makes you a chump.

Your husband is professing his love to another woman, repeatedly, in sent and unsent messages, and you’re wondering if you’re “being overly controlling with his friendships“? (Plural?!)

No. You’re not controlling. If you are, gosh, you really suck at it because you haven’t been able to do jack shit about his secret poetry stash, messaging, and work situation. Concentrate harder on those superpowers, woman!

Cheating is an abusive power dynamic. Look, you could ask him to not run up secret debts on the charge cards. If he then took his accounts underground and ran up bigger debts — would you doubt the validity of how untenable this is? He’s doing the whole You’re Not The Boss of Me cha cha. Behaving unilaterally and bridling at having his entitlement questioned.

Can you have a relationship with that? It depends on how you define relationship. Sure, if you want to be used and devalued. Sure, if you want a Potemkin partner to watch Netflix with. (Assuming he’s not busy that night with his jumbo Crayola box.) How much origami can you fold?

It doesn’t matter if he got his dick wet (he probably did, adults have sex eventually) — it matters that he treats you like you’re an annoying afterthought. That he believes you’re stupid enough to buy that professing his love to his co-worker isn’t “serious.” (Why not try that line over at HR?)

Either he’s lying or he toys with people’s emotions for shits and giggles –nothing is serious and no one matters. Neither quality makes for healthy partnership.

They only held hands and hugged, because those were the boundaries they set together.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve read this on my blog…

Yeah. A guy who shows zero restraint and recycles cutesy folk songs (“Crayola Doesn’t Make a Color for Your Eyes”) is a guy with boundaries. Of course they couldn’t fuck, because they just respect you so much.

Please leave. He can work through his feelings with his box of crayons alone. What’s the color of jerk? Sky Douche? Burnt Schmoopie?

Be free. Unfold the swans.


This one ran before — and because it is TUESDAY, I wanted to let you know that Chump Poser wrote to me with an update:

Ultimately I did divorce the FW. I’m pretty sure he continued to pine after his ho-worker, but she was never going to leave her husband.

It’s been 3 and a half year since D-day, and I’m coming up on 3 years post-divorce. (I filed shortly after this ran, and he didn’t fight the divorce in any way.)

I’m much happier now, am in a new career, and have purchased my own home. I’m at meh, and life is good!

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Thank goodness, this gives me hope! I am currently divorcing my FW, why does the court system take so long!!! I want a future to look forward to, FW free!
    Thanks for the update Chump Poser, your story is exactly mine.

    • I could have wrote this myself. I can’t submit my story to Chump Lady. I appreciate this website.

    • In my state it was a few months to get an appointment at court, and then 120 days after court for the divorce to be official. This is with a pre-nup and using collaborative family law, since we didn’t have kids or anything to really disagree about in the divorce process. I think we were ready to go in February, and the divorce wasn’t final until September. Hang in there, it’ll be much better once it’s over.

    • I filed for divorce in Feb. 2016 it took 4 years to finalize he rubbed his affair partner into my face the entire tire, very Narcissitic I was done! 21 years of marriage down the drain!????

  • Leave him. The first time I caught my husband cheating, it was never physical. Only through texts. But they were planning on meeting up, I just caught them before they could. We did therapy, he promised he’d never do it again, blah blah blah. There was a second D-day and a third in addition to finding out other things he did. He won’t change. It’ll be heart wrenching at first but eventually you’ll realize you’re no longer depressed or anxious and that life is so much better without him. You deserve better! Good luck. ❤️

    • Even if they never got to that “physical” stage (which I doubt) it’s ALWAYS the intention. I wish I had left after the first affair ten years ago. And when I think back on it, he was likely cheating the whole 20 year relationship. I just never thought he was because I never would, and his being an alcoholic covered a lot of the cheating behaviours that people would find suspicious. It never occurred to me that my husband would be unfaithful. I thought he and I shared morals and values and and a plan for our family/future. Turned out he was just mirroring me and is a pathological liar.
      There is no honor in these people. They’re not not fucking because they have boundaries, they just haven’t been able to book the hotel/meet in the car/fuck in the marital bed while wife is out of town, yet.

  • So glad Chump Poser left and 3 years later she’s happy and at meh. I hope anyone who is on the fence will read this. The moral of the story is: if she didn’t leave him, she’d still be unhappy, confused, and treated like garbage…. only 3 more years would have been wasted.

  • “We hugged and held hands,” they set boundaries out of respect for their spouses. They wouldn’t dare play find the salami.

    Cheater said something similar, “we didn’t mess around until I moved out.”
    We aren’t the run of the mill everyday cheaters, we made a promise to stop at holding hands. I’m a man of integrity, remember?

    Hard to believe adults say these things and expect people to believe them…

    • Yeah, I won’t say emotional affairs don’t exist, but I have a feeling if they hadn’t already slept together, it was going that direction. Ethical people who love their spouses don’t form romantic/emotional bonds with people behind their spouse’s back, so why would they stop with hugs and handholding?

      • My Ex said this, that he never did anything physical with the OW. That he just started visiting her instead of me, that he just started talking through his problems and day with her and not me, that he decided she was his best friend and soul mate and not me. And he did this slowly over years while dating me and making me feel crazy when he would blow me off to spend time with her.

        I felt the emotional cheating and gaslighting was almost more painful then if it was just a one night stand. He always prioritized someone else and told me he wasn’t. It made me feel so worthless that this person I loved wouldn’t even make plans to go to the movies with me but would show up on social media helping her move or getting her dog to the vet while I was left on Read. I got the “She’s just a friend who needs me, she’s actually annoying sometimes.” Line until they went on a camping trip together and he finally dumped me.

        Never again will I prioritize someone who doesn’t return the effort! To me it almost doesn’t matter if he slept with her or not. That he gaslit me and made me feel worthless is enough.

        • Thank you Braken for articulating my feelings! I left for the very reasons you eloquently describe. A schmoopie conveniently appeared within the week of official divorce, so I have hindsight suspicions (if that’s grammatically correct?). But I left at first bruise, and I am so happy I did! I guess I am not fully affiliated to ChumpNation. Lucky me, I guess ????

        • My feelings and my experience exactly. Down to “She’s actually annoying sometimes”. As if any couple aren’t annoying for each other sometimes! If I were to believe him, he never had sex with her. Just for the sake of the argument let’s say that’s true (please excuse me while I go laugh in a corner). Simply the lying and the blameshifting is enough. I never had a D-day per se and only have his word to go by. So I go by his actions.

        • This, 100%. I caught him cheating with a different woman but he also had a female best friend he was weirdly close too and several other female friends who were forever having problems and calling him up to cry about it.

          It didn’t bother me too much at first. I even saw it as a positive thing, because I also support my friends through tough times so I thought it was evidence of our shared values and his very kind & caring nature. I’ve got friends of the opposite gender and I think that’s normal and healthy. Just hadn’t twigged it was only his female friends he was providing with endless help….

          But when he stopped messaging me and was no longer being affectionate it really stung that he was still doing the most for his “wailing waifs” and I couldn’t even get a text back sometimes. He was picking them up from the airport or spending two hours on the phone with them giving advice but dragging his feet about doing something together saying he just didn’t have the time/ energy for it. And it was so…insiduous? Like I’d ask why he wasn’t putting kisses on the end of his messages any more and he’d either deny he was doing it or say he was in a hurry or act as if it was unreasonable for me to ask that. I’m not stupid, I could see the difference in how he was treating me then vs before.

          But typing that all out I’m just struck by the fruitlessness of it all. It just seems kind of exhausting to hold your partner at arms length and drag your feet and deny there’s a problem, causing more fights and tension when you could just…leave? But then they’re not wired right and they need the victim narrative to justify their choice to cheat. I’m so, so glad I picked up on the weirdness. When I found out he was cheating my first reaction was shock, my second was a small sense of relief because it explained a lot and I wasn’t imagining things. He’d created so much confusion with his plausible deniability that finding out he was cheating cleared the fog. But that was the part where I suffered the most – in that limbo when I was getting lied to and I knew something was wrong but I wasn’t sure what. Leaving hurt a lot, but at least it was a clean pain and it heals eventually.

    • Even if “all” they did was hold hands & wax poetic bs (which if you believe that I have a bridge in Timbuktu for sale) they’re still investing in an intimate relationship that’s not with their spouses….so yeah, it’s cheating!! I don’t know where this must put slap genitals together before calling it cheating comes from??

      • Right. I was reading about “holding hands & hugging” and thought “um, that sounds kinda sorta [read that sarcastically] physical to me”!

        • Totally. Touching = physical relationship.

          Plus it reeks of copping to a smaller truth to hide the bigger lie. I’m sure they did “hold hands and hug” …and then they did more things. When ever you get “bargaining” trickle truths like this they are ALWAYS a lie.

        • Exactly.
          It isn’t the physical act, it’s the emotions that the physical act conveys. Cheaters say “Well we didn’t have sex so it’s not that bad..” But they still are having feelings for another person behind their partner’s back. They are failing to enforce healthy boundaries and redirect to their chosen partner. They are being inappropriately intimate with another person, and often giving the new person their attention, support and “love”. All the stuff that you are supposed to give the person you are bonded too.

          And they don’t have the guts to be honest, to set boundaries with the new person or to end things in an up front way with their current partner. They lie, devalue, sneak around and call you controlling or crazy if you dare to question them. They let you keep fully investing in the relationship while they siphon off to top.

    • They are trying to offset their own shame, the excuses are more of them trying to convince themselves they are an upstanding citizen, a man of integrity and honor. Image is vital. They do know they’re not, but frantically try to cover that up. Maybe if you buy their BS, they possibly can too.

  • This one made me physically sick. Suffice to say that song is very triggering for me. I’m glad the OP got herself free.

  • Go now. I too was told multiple times that my cheater “never did anything”, it was all only “talk”. It’s bullshit and CL is right, they are getting physical whether he cops to it or not. It took my cheater dying and me finally having access to ALL his well kept secrets that he had been hooking up with these women and a lot. The work OW – they were doing at work, in closets, behind closed doors, in his car in the parking lot. I was traumatized during my marriage and then traumatized again after he died finally learning the whole ugly truth. Liars lie. Get out while you still have your life ahead of you.

    • “I too was told multiple times that my cheater “never did anything”, it was all only “talk””

      Yep. Fucktard told me his texts boasting about fucking the rat faced whore were “just lad’s banter”, and “nothing happened”. ????????

      As someone else said, ’emotional affairs’ *are* cheating. They are taking away emotion and energy that should be invested in the relationship/marriage they already have, if they’re not doing that, they’re cheating. They don’t have to fuck to cheat, although I would bet 99.99 % of them do, whether at the time, or further on.

      I’m so glad Chump Poser got out, and is rocking her new life. ????????

    • I also was told it was never physical! When a cheaters face hole moves, its a lie, manipulation, exaggeration, or concealment. These people are not human, and the story of the scorpion and the frog always applies! At least with a scorpion, you would not be surprised.

  • I wish I had left after I discovered the so-called emotional affair. I still have my doubts as to whether or not it was “just” an emotional affair, but it was a betrayal of our marriage vows all the same. His words included faux apologies, promises that he would make this up to me, assurances that he valued our family, etc., blah blah blah, but his actions just became more and more deceptive, leading to his exit affair. I could have saved myself years of emotional abuse and trauma bonding if I had left sooner.

    • Same. I stayed for six or seven years after my ex had an emotional affair with a ho
      Worker. I just wasn’t ready to leave him. I believed him.
      He said he had made a mistake and that he was sorry
      I had no familial support Two kids in high school and tuition to pay.

      Here is what happened
      he never reattached to me or to our marriage.
      I believe he Harbored an attachment for this woman and a fantasy about life without me that never went away
      It was like something in him broke and that was it
      He developed an online addiction to sexting. And eventually descended into actual physical affairs

      So I was forced to divorce him almost 6 years to the day from the discovery of the emotional affair and then our divorce took 2 years. So I wasted eight years I greatly regret

      but people can only do what they can do. And I could not process that he was actually going to break the marriage. I think he thought I would tolerate it or raging narcissistic is he was actually fooling me with a gaslighting

      eventually he would’ve left me I think.
      I do have the satisfaction at least of being the one to file.
      I believe an emotional affair shows the same level of disrespect
      And I feel like I wasted my time as well and it’s very painful

      • Raging narcissist that he is he thought he could fill me with his gaslighting should read

  • If I’d have realized how great divorce could be I would have done it years earlier. 😀 Life on the other side is great.

  • I now believe firmly that a chump should never try to sift through the rubbish to figure out What Really Happened. That’s just how a cheater keeps us busy–all the diversion, re-shaping, convoluted explanations… The short story is this: if you can’t trust your spouse to be honest with you, then you don’t really have a marriage worth saving. If you have to scheme sly ways to get new clues, then it’s time to move on.
    I laughed when I read the part about a spouse claiming to stop charging up the credit cards and then taking it deeper underground, because my lovely Cheater did exactly that as well. Gotta have money for those whores! And when I discovered it, he tearfully claimed it was because of the bad economy, and he just couldn’t pay the bills with our income, and he was just trying to protect me by not telling me how bad things were for us… Funny thing, ever since I left him, I’ve paid the bills on time every month on less than half the income we had jointly while married. Cheaters cheat in everything they do. Now when I hear someone say their spouse is cheating, I immediately advise them to look at their finances and other aspects of life. There’s probably more.

    • Yeah, I was surprised about how much extra money I had after FW left. He makes twice what I make.

    • Mine blew through God-only knows how much doing what he called “data – collecting”. In other words, trying to prove to himself that, at age 50+ he was still attractive by purchasing women, who, BTW, refused to do the same sex acts he was demanding of me.

    • “if you can’t trust your spouse to be honest with you, then you don’t really have a marriage worth saving”

      Spot on. ????????????????

  • He said their text conversations were “him and her trying to work through their feelings to get over them.” People who are ending a relationship don’t do so via protracted declarations of love and love poems. They decide to end things and end them, and work on their feelings alone or with a therapist.
    My ex met “woman” online in June, and by September was planning to get an apartment together, pay for her college, buy her a hair salon and have a baby–al without ever seeing her or speaking, except a very short phone call when he couldn’t understand a word “she said, and “she” sounded like a man. It didn’t matter that he never saw her or had sex; he intended to, he was unfaithful and cheated on our marriage, and gave her tens of thousands of marital funds. I discovered his online affair and pointed out it was a catfishing romance scam; he didn’t have to be physical, although he intended to. I filed for divorce, and while we were separated, he met another under-30 woman online, and during the WEEK he love-bombed her in person, he introduced our child to her by phone, said she would be his new mom, and that they would throw me out of the house and ever see me again. She dumped him right after her birthday; he probably was too cheap to come up with any of the two-carat diamond engagement rings she had on Instagram. It took me three years to finalize the divorce, but I got the child (sole custody), the house, and freedom from a partner who had already distanced himself more than COVID could.
    The fact that OP’s husband hid the relationship including encrypting texts shows that he knew he was cheating. I’m so glad OP is happier and at meh. For any new readers wondering, yes, an emotional affair is cheating. If your partner has one, you are being cheated out of the focus and attention you deserve.

  • What a treat to read this column and in particular the follow up! Very inspirational for all the newer chumps and even this old chump. Way to go Chump Poser ????

  • If your spouse is chatting up someone else or screwing someone else….they don’t value you. If you have to stand on your head while juggling with your feet to impress them….they don’t value you. People who don’t value you, ultimately don’t care what happens to you, nor do they care what they do to you. There are also people who never value anything so don’t go getting a new career as a miner & trying to dig dip for “elusive” characteristics of integrity, loyalty, faithfulness, etc. They’re either there on the surface or the cost of trying to find them is a bad return on investment.

    • It’s easy to say that & do it given the benefit of hindsight. But while a chump is involved with a Cheater, the Cheater is successfully hiding information. Until they slip, or the Chump starts to look.
      And the worst is that the Cheater can alternate between being loving/respectful/thoughtful and NOT being that way. Just like a person who physically abuses someone else – the changeable behavior is there & life becomes confusing.
      I strongly believe that constantly feeling confused is a warning sign in a relationship.

  • Thunderous applause, Chump Poser! You un-chumped yourself beautifully and your ex got the miserable life he was trying to get you to accept-pining away for a fuckwit who was never going to be anything but a fuckwit. He deserves that and you deserve your meh.

  • i agree with Kathleen K; it’s great to hear the follow-up to the disaster. often i find reading the newbie posts difficult to bear, as is the whole experience, so to hear what happens next is reassuring. i need some reassurance these days–it’s early days for me.

    i hope CP’s walls are washed with colour.

    • Hang in there Damnit. Early days are so hard. Follow CL’s advice about getting your ducks in a row quietly until you are ready then leave. These FWs cheat in more ways than sex. Many of them hide money, wipe out retirement accounts etc. and cry all the way through. Keep coming here and asking questions and getting help through this. Good luck! I am sorry and glad you are here! Hugs!!

    • Also..take good care of yourself! Good nutrition, exercise. Counselor and best confidential friend. Get your support system activated! Hugs!

      • thanks for your kind words! i’m doing all the things. separation agreement finally complete after 1 year of negotiations. whew!

        i’m 1 1/2 years out and about to move into my own place after putting the house on the market. the kids and i live together in the family home–my X left just over a year ago, thank god.

        it’s the meh feeling that i need to hear more about, you know? i’m closer but still no cigar.

  • Congratulations, CP!! Anybody who deliberately hides correspondences to/from a “friend”, is doing something they know you wouldn’t like. They KNOW that….and yet choose to do it anyway. Having secrets is fun, I guess. Transparency? Not so much.

    I’m so glad you freed yourself from that bucket of entitlement. You deserve so much more.

  • Good job, Chump Poser!
    A few proven pearls of wisdom come to mind reading your story:
    1. When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
    2. They don’t cheat with someone better than you; they cheat with someone worse than themselves.
    3. Chumps are good at overestimating others. We do this based on our own values. Don’t overestimate others.
    4. If it wasn’t us they cheated on, it would surely be another. We’re just not “that special” to them and never were.
    5. If you’re anxious and depressed around your mate, the alarm bells and whistles are doing their job.

    • The OW is not necessarily “worse” than me, but she has absolutely no backbone. Other than screwing married men, she’s a nice person who had NO boundaries.

      That was why he hooked up with her. The crap she put up with is so much more than he would have ever gotten away with from me.

  • I’m interested in whether or not she was able to get off the meds that she was taking for anxiety and depression. (My guess is yes)

    Cheaters create so many health problems in their victims.

    • Yes, I was able to get off those meds! During everything I lost 30 lbs from all the stress, and my psychiatrist told me I needed to get out of there for the sake of my physical health. I now have the typical job stresses (I became a teacher.), but it’s much better than FW stress.

    • I was ready to go get a diagnosis for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Turns out my problem was just my ex, not my colon.

  • 12 years ago I discovered the FW was having an ’emotional affair’. It was with a much younger woman. She was younger than our oldest child so upon reflection God only knows what support she was offering him as this was his excuse at the time. I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and endured a year of the most gruelling treatment… hugs to anyone out there who is currently going through that❤️. Fast forward a year and I discover he has sent a bouquet of flowers to a work colleague (again a woman more than half his age…. seems to be his MO). Again it’s nothing, just friends, she’d had a tough time and he was just being kind. I pointed out to him that being kind to me was more important and that being secretive about flowers was suspicious. I stayed ????????‍♀️. Fast forward to 2020 where the final DDay happens (July). He referred to his howorker as a distraction, never admitted to infidelity. He was a complete wanker to me during the discard. I want all detective on him, found out who she was, confronted him with that and told him I was done. I acted mighty but I didn’t feel it not for a long time and still wobble now. I’ve divorced the fucker now (finalised last month) and got 72% of all we owned. I have nothing to do with him or his family (although some of his aunts and cousins send Christmas cards, I don’t reciprocate and will move eventually without sharing my address with them). I will never share my space with him and this includes any family event and my children are aware of this (3 adult children, 4 grandchildren, one of whom FW refused to meet!!) . His behaviour towards my children have ensured there will never be an event that he will invited to… So I’m lucky in this respect. My settlement included the house, cash and a substantial pension. It was a tough journey, the FW wanted to make it difficult and drag it out, my solicitor had to threaten court in the end, that shook the dickhead up.

    If I could go back I would tell myself on the eve of meeting him to run for the fucking hills and have nothing to do with him and sadly I wasted 34 years on him (31 married). But I am happy now ❤️

    Anyone reading this who is on the fence about an emotional affair, take my advice… GET OUT. I wish I had 12 years ago. They only up their dating game.

    Hugs to you all ❤️

  • Trckle truth. More always comes out and it is worse and more involved (physical). FWs are just liars! May they all get what is deserved. Thanks for the positive story have a great day everybody.

  • Ah, the “emotional affair”! My ex was the master of those! He had so many, including some one-sided, unreciprocated crushes.

    They started early on in our marriage, when he became enmeshed with (entangled with?) a couple on a summer seminar, and once left me waiting hours for him to pick me up while he was “conducting a tour” for them of the Cornell Plantations. Later, he claimed they wanted a threesome but he didn’t oblige. Whether he did or didn’t (and I tend to think he did), they occupied all his waking thoughts–and probably some of his dreaming ones, too–for that entire summer. It was an early lesson I failed to heed.

    After that, it was women students and younger women faculty at the university where we both taught (he was lazy that way–and in many others). Over and over and over, hiding behind his position as “mentor” to a student or a young female professor. He kept it confined mostly to campus (meaning he didn’t see them off campus).

    Over thirty years of this behavior. I never had proof of anything physical, and there may not have been any, but I surely was given to understand that I was playing not just second chair in the first violin section, but last chair among the second violins.

    By the time I left, and one reason I was finally able to call it quits, is that he was openly rubbing my nose in his infatuations, and had started seeing one long-time groupie off campus. (This was the one who had started a “Prof. X fan club” for him on Facebook, and was “helping him explore” his newly expressed gender identity (which is what he called his fetish crossdressing).

    For years I didn’t have a marriage, just a “Potemkin partner to watch Netflix with.” That I convinced myself this was enough is testament to the damage all those emotional affairs wreaked on my self-image.

  • Ugh – all these stories are so sickeningly similar… and familiar.
    We sense something is off, we find something suspicious, we inquire.
    We receive:
    you can’t tell me who to be friends with!
    You never liked any of my friends!
    We are JUST friends
    You’re controlling!
    Why are you so insecure?
    Why are you ruining our relationship by constantly talking about it?
    I wasted 8 additional years trying to add everything up and come up with a different outcome.
    I wish I had divorced him after discovering his first “friend.”
    The only difference possibly in my situation is I really believe my former husband was not primarily after sexual relationships – he wanted and needed constant validation, and he would give women all sorts of inappropriate compliments and share way too much, so that they would respond in kind. “Oh you’re SO great!”
    “No!!!! YOU’RE so great!!!”
    It was actually creepy when I did dissect it. Needy beyond belief.
    Of course all done in secret, for me to discover on what can only be described as the day the world collapsed underneath me.
    But- I got out and I almost feel normal again. Trust issues aide.

    • You just described 30+ years (25 married) of my life with XW. I also am just starting to find myself again after so many years of cleaning up messes created by her insatiable desire for attention. XW continues to stalk and “hoover”, as if she is an actress in a movie……..really weird. Borderline-Histrionic (my guess, but who cares what flavor of fucked up) is not easy to get clear of. Not that any cheater is easy!

  • Chump poser, hello! Thank you for giving us an update. You are MIGHTY! Made my day!

    For all of the newly gutted folks on the site who cannot fathom life after Dday (without the abusive fucker in your life), take a cue from CP and all of us who went no contact, divorced, and build new lives— Meh is wonderful! If it’s early days and the pain is excruciating, don’t stop there- don’t go back for round two, three, four of abuse- call the lawyer, put the retainer on your credit card, gather all the documents, block your STBX on all channels, hang on…. You will be happy again. Happier than you ever were with your X. I didn’t believe it (26 years, 4 kids, huge life, deep love (from me)) but 7.5 years later, I’m that person at Meh also.

  • You’re singing my song, you need to leave.

    Mine had his first emotional relationship at work after a year of being together. It ended when he left that job but the mindset never disappeared and when it wasn’t her, it was somebody else. He was constantly chasing cheap attention and I was always a monster no matter my sacrifices or contributions.

    And yes, I got the “you’re too controlling” shit too. It’s part of the cheater’s handbook to gaslight you that your boundaries impede his rights.

    The fact he is unwilling to cut her out of his life gives you his answer. He is unrepentant and he values her presence in his life over your mental wellbeing. THIS ALONE IS SUFFICIENT REASON TO LEAVE.

    “He pointed out that he never got physical with her” Immaterial. He doesn’t get to decide what is acceptable to you.

    Your anxiety and your depression are your red flags. You’re on medication to dampen a healthy response to a threat. Re-read that, take it in. Lose the dirtbag and the meds will follow.

    And I’m sorry, but the part about the Crayola Crayons made my uterus dry up and fall out. Bloody hell, is he and this woman 5 years old. Send him to flirt with me just so I can laugh in his face and tell him what a complete twat he is.

    • Sally, love your comments. So right on. Crayons and falling out uterus. Laughing so hard.

  • “I didn’t do anything wrong because our genitals never touched.” Yeah, that was Cheater #2’s famous line. Until the Town Bicycle’s then-husband shared the downloaded texts with me. (insert eye roll here) I actually suspected that was a lie as they had several opportunities to have sex on overnight bike trips. Another quote from C#2, “But we’re always with other bike friends! Nothing could happen.” Yeah, buddy, I’m not as dumb as I look. Might by why you and the Town Bicycle are: 1) no longer married to your respective spouses; and, 2) no longer even friends, since C#2 got dropped by the bike friend group. Sucks to be you, I guess.

  • Chump Poser, BRAVA!!! You are SO MIGHTY to have left and rebuilt as soon as you did!!!

    As CL often writes, “Adults fuck.” Whenever this Secret Schmoopie HOE-etry & sweet nothings bullshit is detected… RUN! It’s FAR worse than just the tip of the “emotional affair” iceberg.

  • I think, as CL says, it really distills down to “is this acceptable to you?” I’m glad the OP moved on. It’s painful to see people playing the marriage police and wanting to save their relationship when clearly their partner doesn’t value them the same way. They are stuck and getting unstuck requires a reality check AND an insane amount of fortitude, time, energy, money and resilience. I was one of those STUCK people, but no longer. My xH chipped and chipped away at what I would tolerate little by little until I had no standards left. When I finally said ‘no more’ my standards improved 1000%.

    For those in a marriage in an at-fault state where a beneficial outcome of settlement needs proof of adultery; I say hire a PI (it’s really not that expensive compared to divorce in general), get the minimum needed to file and get out. This is not untangling the skein but part of getting your ducks in a row. If you/your kids are in danger, nothing is worth your life; get out. Three years post divorce my xH is still having me followed, and I don’t feel safe, so I had to take measures to deal with this. I believe he doesn’t want to pay alimony and wishes to catch me cohabitating; he hasn’t seen the kids in months. His waste of $$ as I haven’t yet been on a date; I’ve been focused on the kids.

  • I found out when he left his email open – it wasn’t just evidence that he was unfaithful, he said to schmoopie: “I think she knows something is up. We need to keep it low key for a while.”

    I was so distraught about the cheating, I missed the nuance of how he was going about it. He was fully aware of what he was doing, he anticipated how I would react and was consciously manipulating the situation to get away with it. And (aside from leaving his laptop open that day) he was getting really good at lying.

    I wish I had focused more on the premeditatedness of his activities. His character was so clearly on display in that email, (and dozens of other clues, looking back now). But it was so beyond my experience to betray people like that, there must be some other explanation (cue the gaslighting and DARVO). It took me 12 years to really understand and accept what kind of person he actually is. And I have a degree in psychology.

    As CL says, “Trust that they suck” – because they really, truly do.

    • Yes! And they suck for the next person, too. I mean, don’t fall into the trap (that I fell into) of thinking that they transform themselves into REALLY GOOD PEOPLE for a new partner. No .They can’t, just as most of us can’t suddenly become cheaters. It’s not in our nature.

  • Will never forget showing my XH the texts I found. Things like ‘good morning my love’ or ‘can’t wait to hear your voice’ or ‘can’t stop thinking about you’ bla bla bla to schmoopie…and he became unhinged, screaming ‘but I never stuck my dick in her!’.
    OKAY, whatever you say. I kicked him out Oct. 2016, divorced by April 2017. It was hard but it was the best decision of my life. A little update on Mr. Keeps Dick In Pants, he is in jail for his 8th DWI. Good riddance! Happy Tuesday CN.

    • Whoa, El Chuco, 8 DUIs in most states carry really high penalties, jail sentences, and a ratchet up to felony status. He must like jail food. Thank all the gods you got out of there. You are not held liable anymore for the havoc and damage he could create with his drunkeness.

  • My ex met a Thai woman on line and in 4 weeks have me the ILYBNILWY speech and asked divorce before he had ever met her. Don’t underestimate the power of emotional affairs destroy marriages. Even without sex involved they already have left you in the dark past.

    • This is the crux of the emotional affair matter. If they are having an emotional affair they are already gone. My lawyer told me “just know he is 6 months ahead of you in this process”. Those were salient words. He was already gone emotionally.

      • ” “just know he is 6 months ahead of you in this process”. ”

        Yep, in my case it was about three years, (maybe more). He still needed me to attain his captains bars, so they kept it underground until he got those. Pretty much the day after I pinned his bars on him, he turned on me. The discard began…

        • Sorry! That must have sucked. As far as I knew the affair was 6 months old…could have been longer.

    • When you consider all the men and women that have been scammed by fake online romances such as Nigerians posing as gorgeous women or extremely successful men that always seem to have ties to the CIA, yeah the emotional or really delusional affairs are powerful.

  • I never had proof that my ex physically cheated. What i had was inappropriate messages to his ex gf going back our entire relationship and I was never mentioned. Not once.

    I also had him lying, gaslighting, changing his story, raging when I wouldn’t drop it, and generally being a nasty prick about it. Went to counseling where he changed his story again and participated minimally, then blew off my birthday to show me who was the boss. That’s how a passive aggressive asshole says fuck you.

    I decided I didn’t need further proof because he was not only a liar, he was a nasty passive aggressive liar.

    So I filed for divorce, which he didn’t want. But he sure had no problem threatening it when he thought I wasn’t going anywhere

    He later admitted in a rare moment of candor thar his first thought upon being confronted was “omg what does she know”. So I’m sure there’s a ton I don’t know but since he’s gone I don’t care.

    Once someone demonstrates a lack of integrity they’re a lost cause. Doesn’t matter whether anything was physical.

    I’m much happier without him.

    • “ So I filed for divorce, which he didn’t want. But he sure had no problem threatening it when he thought I wasn’t going anywhere.”

      Amazing, isn’t it? They abuse you with threats and then panic when you are done with their shit. They make no sense at all.

    • “What i had was inappropriate messages to his ex gf going back our entire relationship and I was never mentioned. Not once.“

      Kim, reading this helped me so much. I was in the same boat. Emails and texts with an old ex where I was never mentioned, and he was pretending to be the single dad of the year.

      It hurt that he kept it secret, it hurt reading her professing her undying love for him, but what hurt the most was the erasure of my existence.

      After two decades of being lied to about any and everything, I have no tolerance for it. You lie, I’m done with you. I’m not chasing after anyone for friendship or companionship who won’t treat me with basic respect.

  • So good to read this! The boundaries were set and OP asked herself if this was acceptable to her. Absolutely the right decision! I am currently in the middle of the process with the FW. He loves dragging things through court but he is realizing now that he is in a fault state, that he uploaded video of he and Schmoopie doing the deed to our son’s shared photo account and that the judge ruled that his latest court shenanigans were wasting the court’s time (read: he has to pay Chumps legal fees).
    The end is in sight at last. It is worth every penny and every day to get rid of an abuser. The abusive relationship was not acceptable to me.

  • I do love the arbitrary rules they make up as they go along, for “Why This Doesn’t Count As Cheating”. It reminds me of the scene in “Pretty Woman” where two young and adorable prostitutes agree that they’re not really turning tricks as long as they don’t kiss their clients on the mouth.

    Like, whatever excuse you make up is just fine and dandy.

    My FW wallowed in virtue because he and his fuckbuddy both agreed that their primary relationships should come first!

    My FW wallowed in virtue because he never LOVED anyone but me!

    So it’s so lovely that this guy wasn’t really cheating because there were BOUNDARIES. As if he made some great sacrifice for his wife!

    • You might want to change your comment to “I love happy outcomes”. “Happy endings” has a negative connotation for many of us whose FWs frequented massage parlors!

  • I would love know how to recover deleted messages I whatsapp…it would help tremendously in my quest…

    • It depends on how long back-ups are saved on the server, it is changeable in your profile. But it can go back a month if you do not change the setting, I think. First you delete the app, then you re-install it, and you might get some deleted massages back.
      I still remember the look on the face of my ex, when I did that, after she confidently gave her Phone to check it…

  • Love the update too. Good for you Chump poser, so are mighty mighty!
    CL’s post to you was a great one. Yeah, there was zero doubt in our chump minds you were also a chump, I understand wanting the validation though.
    The jumbo crayola box and origami references were hilarious, haha! “Would you like to see this paper swan?” ????
    It’s hard to extract yourself from the loop of wanting SO desperately to believe their BS, as we become weaker and weaker and are ever so slowly boiled then painfully discarded. You left before the full torture was carried out. Nice for you! ????
    I, unfortunately, hung around for the whole damn circus, all 38 years of it. ( the trapeze artists needed step stools to get on the wire by then!)
    I remember once standing on my deck with binoculars, embarrassingly enough to admit, seeing if I could see who he was deeply immersed texting on his phone on the couch! ( WTF?!) ????
    How did I EVER think that was a sustainable situation?! My God, hopium is a really serious drug!
    Meh hasn’t showed up quite yet for me, but I’m def more at peace and feel a whole lot safer with him gone, so at least I know I’m walking a much better path.
    Happy to know good endings are out there though, love knowing that really.

    • I understand your binocular spying. I’m sure many of us have done amazing and clever things to try to get that crumb of reality and proof we so desperately needed. But like Dorothy in the WOO, we had the power within us all along — our instincts. I knew before any proofs showed their shitty little heads.

    • C45 … I used to stand on the bed frame in the guest bedroom 2nd floor, peering out the window to the downstairs deck, to try and see what he was texting. What awful times.
      I would quietly, stealth like come down the stairs and burst out the doors to the deck… and by then he had switched over to Angry Birds.
      Those were horribly sad days.
      I sometimes can’t believe the depths I sank to. And for what?
      A lying cheating loser.

  • My FW was “I did not have sex with that woman” cuz blow jobs and sexting is not sex. He admitted the affair later and he seemed proud of it cuz he felt so virile in his old age. He was pursued by a poverty stricken 40 yo Single Mom looking for a sugar Daddy. Dumped him for her next target when she learned I made all the money and the homes were in my name cuz he had shitty credit. She chose poorly and set me free. Hohum. Glad our gal was also set free. Happy Tuesday!

    • Love that she dumped him. Perfect.

      In my situation he married the poverty stricken single mom, and within five years he had gambled them into bankruptcy. He drug her out of a trailer court, and when he passed, he left her in debt, and back in a trailer court.

      She was his direct report, that he had been fucking for several years and someone dropped a dime. I think his balls were so wound around the workplace auger that he had no way out. He finally got mixed up with someone as conniving and crooked as he was.

      Please note: I have nothing against mobile home living, in fact my very successful dad and wife lived for years in a mobile home after retirement; just trying to get the picture of the events clear.

      Sometimes some of us get to see the “Karma”. Though I don’t really subscribe to Karma. I do subscribe to “play stupid games win stupid prizes”.

      So glad you were set free. I was too but unfortunately my son and his family had to put up with some real shit from them before he passed.

      • So glad you were set free as well. I have nothing against and feel quite empathetic for single poverty stricken Parents. I was poor too when I was a young adult but luckily without a child to raise alone. That has to be miserable. I don’t blame her-I blame him! And Yes my FW was very hurt! Waaaaah! I had the pleasure of sending him a text telling him I was glad the Karma bus hit him in the butt. a Small pleasure in the middle of the divorce tornado. Be well! Hugs!

  • same story “emotional” cheating. When I found out (2005) I threw him out of the house and contacted a lawyer who told me there would be no alimony. I had a 10-month-old infant and had quit my not-so-great job to be a stay-at-home mom. NOT ONE “friend” told me to leave. Everyone blameshifted and made excuses FOR HIM. My friends, HIS family- it was unbelievable as I look back on it now. I lost too much weight, my breastmilk dried up, I worked with both of the APs, and had to endure one of them ‘befriending” me. I stayed for 14 more years (had a second child- silver lining), but it was awful. Finally, in 2018 HE asked me for a divorce (for AP number ???) otherwise it would have been more cake and chumpdom forever. Thank goodness for chumplady. Probably saved my life.

    • When you have a little one to raise and no financial means, it’s hard. Exactly the reason I hung on after the last D-day. I have been working hard getting everything established and putting away retainer money so I can finally cut the FW loose. He is also on the verge of changing jobs and leaving the area, so I won’t have to battle for the house. That will be a huge win. My son can grow with stability and not leave the only home he has ever known with all his friends. Moms do amazing things to try to support their kids well. I just know that leaving klootzak will be to kiddo’s benefit, too.

  • I have heard so much irrational BS from men growing up in my FOO culture, that I have developed a defense warning system to rival the armed forces. Jealousy and fear seem to be the basis of most of it, and control is the most important element of it. They can do whatever they want, and you shouldn’t even ask questions, just keep up with the household tasks he assigned to you!!!

    Anyway, glad to hear she left and has moved on and is now happy. That seems to be the only rational solution to dealing with a FW.

  • My ex swore it was “only” emotional. He swore for YEARS that she was “just a friend”.

    Yeah. It was physical almost from the beginning.

    I wish I’d filed for divorce the moment he admitted having feelings for her (even though he said it was in the past). Instead I pick-me-danced for several years and it nearly killed me.

    The other side of divorce is so much better.

  • Happier ending– nice to read. I was thinking the moment a chump who hadn’t been medicated all along has to get a prescription for anything to stay with cheater– no matter how unicorny they act– that’s all the proof of rank abuse that’s needed.

  • So glad to hear her great update!

    Leaving for an emotional affair can seem hard to “justify” because it “didn’t get physical”.
    Just like leaving for emotional/financial abuse is harder to “justify” because it “didn’t get physical”.

    The thing is that we DON’T have to justify it. Abuse is abuse. Devaluing, disrespect, sharing intimate emotions, none of those belong in a committed loving relationship.

  • Love the update! So glad she divorced the creep. If Mr. Creep and OW didn’t have sex it was because the OW was just getting off on the attention from Mr. Creep but had no intention of going any further. Had nothing to do with being loyal to her husband or having morals, Mr. Creep was just someone that gave her an ego boost. When a guy she is attracted to comes along she’ll leave her husband in a heartbeat.

  • I’d bet that 95% of the affairs initially represented as non-physical we’re actually physical. Adults fuck. That was the case with my ex wife andnonenofnher AP’s, who lived 2,500 miles away and (she swore) she only knew from online. In fact they hooked up in our state, and his state, and also in Vegas—that I know of.

    Cheaters. Are. Liars. Never forget it, and never presume they’re telling the truth.

  • Great update.

    You (anyone) can leave for anything that isn’t OK with you. There is no requirement of sex to leave. Or anything. Is it OK? No? Go. This is your life.

    Life isn’t an “abuse olympics” – someone’s abuse wasn’t horrible enough to leave. If it isn’t OK with you, it isn’t OK. No permission needed.

  • A coworker recently stopped by my office for a bit of catch-up and amidst, “yeah, tons of work, this and that with the kids,” she was like, “oh and ha ha I’m having what I guess you’d call an emotional affair.”

    I did my best neutral raised eyebrow face. She was like, “oh yeah, well he’s just someone that I talk to … it’s amazingly intense and we get into these really intimate conversations and go for long walks … John doesn’t know. I guess I just need a release,” she said.

    I managed to get through that with only saying hmm. What seemed clear was that her husband not knowing, and it being “outside” bounds made it somehow a freedom thing to her, a get-away, vacay from her responsibilities.

    It really is an adjustment for me to gauge the risk here. This person is generally “nice,” I can feel how easy it would be to just say to myself, oh , she’s just a little silly/immature/stressed. (But this was the kind of thing my last bf would tell me about, I didn’t see it as a huge character red flag, and that friendship went up in flames when I really needed support.)

    I’m pretty disappointed in people lately, frankly.

    • Wow, that’s incredible how she brazenly blurted it out like it’s no big deal, and as if you’re supposed to give a shit about her cheap and sleazy life. I guess she was looking for a “You go girl!” validation in order to help her rationalize what she’s doing. How arrogant and ill mannered of her to assume she would get that from you. She will get it from somebody else, though.

      Lots of fuckwits are “nice” if you’re not in a relationship with them, so that means nothing. I’d avoid that creature as much as I could. If she tries to confide in you again about it I suggest you tell her you’re uncomfortable with it and don’t want to hear any more.

      • I’m going to be cool/bummer/wow about her stories because she has the office right next to mine. The way her confiding landed with me was, like, of course she wouldn’t have told me if it was a “real” affair, but walks with a guy are no big deal, and her husband happening not to know is not something she’s in a hurry to change because she gets a little thrill out of it, and the very act of telling me is “proof” (to herself, maybe?) that it’s all no big deal, and she’s just being dramatic by calling it an EA.

        I know I’m sitting here on Chump Lady saying this, but I can’t picture office-neighbor-woman physically cheating. Maybe that’s my chumpiness. It doesn’t change how disappointed I am that she has turned out to be so shallow, i.e. that she’s not actually distressed about her own morals/character/marriage to find she is drawn to start intense convos with another guy, and/or that she’d tell me like ha ha rather than tell me with concern about her wobbling. Some married people stress inside about even noticing people of the opposite sex! I don’t think she has any intention of leaving her partner. Given what she’s shared with me over the years, I could totally see her saying “I haven’t been happy for a long time.”

        I had another friend many years ago whose husband was quite a high-profile international NGO guy and had a fab professional image. Husband didn’t treat her super well. She went out and had an affair and one day bragged/confessed/spilled the tea to me. I was shocked, but this is before I knew what boundaries were. She opined that she was “so in love with” the AP and she’d never felt that way, etc. I don’t remember saying much. I remember all her descriptions of his physical attractiveness and what it had felt like to be with the AP. Then one day she was done with all that; she was in the high-profile marriage. Years … like five, six years … later, something in our conversation (I think we were talking about relationship issues) made me say, “yes, but you’ve had an affair before and …” and I didn’t even get to finish my sentence. She glared at me, got up and walked away. And when she came back, she didn’t touch the subject.

        I think cheaters really do surround themselves with people who reflect back to them that what they are doing is no problem. With my ex-bff and this old friend, it wasn’t that I didn’t think their behaviour was bad, I just had been raised to stick by/not challenge people whose behaviour was bad. I got used by people who bounced their shit off me and took my no-protest as validation that their actions were no big deal.

      • Screw that shit! I’m sorry, I guess I’m still in the thick of it with my FW just moving out last weekend and taking the kids for their first week with him and I’m stripped raw but I don’t care how ‘nice’ she may be. This just showed how much of a FW she is and a horrible, lying, POS…that’s her real character. Not only would I cut all ties with her, report her to HR if the other FW works there too, but somehow do everything in my power to alert her chump. My FW gaslit me for so long about this so call ex ho-worker EA “nothing happened” narrative but my gut has always disbelieved it while my heart WANTED to believe it. It still is incredibly painful. I think I’ve become one of those people that I better not find out you’re having an affair because I will go out of my way to let everyone know, especially your chump, what a POS they are. Having been on the other end, I can’t stand the thought of someone being abused like that.

    • I get the disappointment. I just think that when you are in the situation you start to see the signs in many places. It’s the” if you are a hammer everything is a nail “ scenario. Which is good cuz it helps your avoid those people. It can be hard to keep the faith but is was my faith that kept me moving forward. There are wonderful people everywhere-there are more wonderful people than not. You are just in a shitty place right now. Hugs! Take care of yourself-be the person you want to be.

  • I am so grateful for the update from Chump Poser as well as I am still in the divorce process from a fuckwit that traded me in for the ho-worker

  • “Gaslighting? Check. Blameshifting? Check. It’s doubting whether you can have dealbreakers that makes you a chump. Cheating is an abusive power dynamic.”????‍♀️ Exactly.

    I never really knew if I belonged, either. The caveat of did he or didn’t he consummate it left me hanging. It’s been 20 years since DDay and I’m 99.9% they did not. I think it would have happened had the EA continued but does it matter? They had “rules” or boundaries they made, but those were only excuses to have a secret together. They met to make those rules. They put those in place so they could continue their relationship.

    I don’t know what “would have happened,” I only know what he has told me and he’s been consistent. I know that it didn’t take the consummation of the relationship to destroy my world, my reality, and our past. It took blameshifting, gaslighting, and minimizing along with false equivalencies, lies through omission, lies of commission, and living through the sheer hell of not recognizing it as abuse. Because it is a gray area if there wasn’t sex. But is it?

    Please take it from a source that knows the damage of an affair without sex. It is abuse. Dealbreakers aren’t only about sexual infidelity. Dealbreakers are about selfish people who will do anything, hurt anyone, say anything to keep doing what they know is wrong. He knew it was wrong. That’s why he kept it a secret.

    • One More Day: It is still cheating and lying even if they did not have sex. Someone who is supposed to have your back, did not. When someone does things and keeps them secret that they know will hurt the person they have promised to love, etc., they have BETRAYED and are not honest about it. Keeping it a secret is a unilateal decision on the betrayer’s part. The secret keeps the betrayed from making decisions regarding what is acceptable or not to them.

  • Glad that Chump Poser has a great life now! My experience taught me that emotional affairs are just affairs that you catch before they get physical or are already physical and are being minimized. I had both situations. Either way, Chump Lady hits the nail on the head- “It doesn’t matter if he got his dick wet-it matters that he treats you as an annoying afterthought.”

  • we should create a board game based on snakes and ladders, retitled chumps and ladders. you win when you reach TUESDAY.

    gotta focus on chumps not X’s.

  • ” and he didn’t fight the divorce in any way”.

    It is hard to overstate the cruel and cowardly evil of trickle truth and gaslighting. It requires overcoming another person’s love for you so that they (the chump) will act and you (the lying cheater) can refrain from taking responsibility. It is only successful when the victim completes their own torturous process of self doubt and accepts the lesser pain of tearing away from a relationship they cherish.

    The fact that the cheaters so often take this route rather than delaying gratification or examining their own behavior is evidence of their lack of character.

    • I look back and (painfully and shamefully) recognize that Cheater tried to stop our wedding (giving me a stupid excuse that I didnt love him) then he intermittently 1) worked to destroy it but also 2) enjoyed all the benefits of it for the subsequent 26 years.

      He really wanted out but was not strong enough to go about it with decency or integrity. I, however, had steely determination to stay married and refused to see what was right in front of me the whole time.

      Much of the smoke and mirrors of his behavior was hidden because he definitely wanted kids and required someone to do the deed, so he went along with family-faking until I produced the minimum number he wanted.

      • My cheater was acting so distant and cold in the lead up to D-day that I asked him outright a few times if he was still happy with me and wanted to be together? He reassured me he still loved me and told me he was depressed, it was work stress etc.

        Eventually I grew suspicious, which led to me snooping through his phone and finding sexts to another woman. But up until then I believed him when he said he was just having a difficult time. It was a plausible reason and when my partner says “I’m depressed and worried about work” my first instinct was to support him.

        That’s on him. I can now see that the acting weird was a passive-aggressive way of letting me know he didn’t want to be there. I also now know that there are people that will stay in a relationship for literal years acting wrong rather than just leaving and saving everyone a lot of trouble. But I only know this with the benefit of experience because I know how to do healthy conflict resolution/respect people’s feelings and I know how to spot & avoid someone overtly abusive thanks to popular culture – I just wasn’t equipped to deal with this third category of “confusers” who present well but furtively sabotage until I fell foul of one.

        If you were with this guy for 26 years you were probably also young when you married him. I was only 23 and he was 10 years older than me. Give yourself some grace for not knowing everything. The people in their 20s who avoided such partners were just lucky rather than somehow better equipped.

  • I’ve been thinking today about the term “emotional”. When no true communication goes on between two people, there is never a true relationship. I feel that someone who makes a life commitment, but only on the surface, never truly commits. He or she always has one foot out the door. They don’t have “emotional” affairs, because they don’t have the capacity for true emotional relationships. They simply marry because “it’s time” or “my friends are married” or it’s economically feasible, or some surface reason. It is convenient for them, at the moment.

    Have you ever just sat in in a corner and observed the people around you? I have had to travel for business and eat or shop by myself many times in my life. Sometimes I read a book, sometimes I read people. I’ve watched some vain people who are overly concerned with other people’s looks, scanning the crowd and constantly evaluating others for how they are dressed, or what they are eating, or what kind of jewelry others wear, or car they drive. They always decide whether the “other” is better, or worse, or equal to them. But there is no emotional connection. It is just material things, or markers, that they judge. The evaluation shows on their face if they do not know you are watching them.

    When I am alone, I tend to wear clothes that blend in, instead of trying to stand out. It is safer for a woman alone not to draw attention. That is why I can watch other people without drawing attention. because I can blend into the background. Sometimes I see wonderful emotional things — two or more people engaged in deep conversation, or a family dinner full of laughter and engagement. Other times I see two people sitting at a table, not talking, looking at their phones. I wonder why they even bother going somewhere together — they do not have an emotional connection.

    I remember going to parties with my Ex’s. As soon as we hit the door they were off, circulating the room, searching for “fun”, or food, or drink, or sports, or business. They needed stimulation, material stimulation, which they had to get from others, because they had nothing inside themselves. I was an exhausted source by that time. All of my usefulness had been vacuumed out, for them. We may have been a couple, but we were not truly connected. I didn’t notice it at first, because I always knew someone else at the party to visit with, and can even carry on a conversation with a stranger because I listen and have curiosity. But I didn’t choose to talk to others because they appeared to be “cool” or have something I did not have. I can make an emotional connection with others because I believe I have something to offer, and they have something to offer and the exchange is valuable. My Ex’s wanted to be “where the action was” because they had nothing to offer, and they wanted to bask in the glow of the other, without appreciating the other at all. Just trying to obtain a material connection.

    So, I don’t believe these FW’s have “emotional affairs”. They want to be where they are not. They are never happy, or satisfied with who they are, because they are empty vessels. They are constantly seeking meaningful engagement because they think they can put it on and wear it like a coat. But they will never be happy, because everywhere they go, there they are.

    • “They want to be where they are not. They are never happy, or satisfied with who they are, because they are empty vessels. They are constantly seeking meaningful engagement because they think they can put it on and wear it like a coat. But they will never be happy, because everywhere they go, there they are.”
      Agree with your astute observations Portia. They are completely superficial hollow beings.
      They need to have ppl refill them every single day, they can’t fill themselves. They will never find what they are looking for because it doesn’t exist. It’s a pretty sad way to live.

      • You just described a Narcissist perfectly, they need refueling. Read HG Tudor.

    • I love this so hard, portia, I wish I could give this 100 thumbs up. Empty vessels indeed – wanting more, younger, cooler, sparklier, etc. projected onto their empty, hollow selves so they can pretend to be valuable ’cause it’s a marketplace and they’re worthless without the added value of others.

    • A very eloquent piece and so damn true.

      A close friend of mine, upon hearing of the impending divorce, stated to me that FW would never be happy as he was always looking for the next ‘thing’. This friend had never pointed this out before but he was so right, I’d never noticed before. The new ‘thing’ included bikes, cars, trucks, friends that were useful for him, hobbies throughout our marriage that completely engulfed him that he would then stop immediately ???? etc. etc. etc. This friend also said that all FW ever wanted to do was talk about ‘himself’….. this I did see.

      Glad that’s over.

      Hugs to all ❤️

  • “blamed me for snooping” = blameshifting!

    I remember my ex’s ire after learning I’d “snooped.” No, it’s actually NOT snooping if you’re married and already have evidence of infidelity, emotional or physical: you’re doing follow up investigating. Your marriage has been threatened and you deserve to have as much information as you want about what’s been going on.

    Invading their precious “privacy” is a ridiculous notion in the context of a marriage, which is a legal partnership (religious partnership too, for many). Partners don’t get to unilaterally decide what kinds of secrets they get to keep – that’s no partnership at all!

  • You had me at “Sky Douche” as a Crayola crayon color bahahah rofl love you CL! Xo Sweet

  • Thank you all for the support! I can’t reiterate CL’s advice enough to get out ASAP instead of staying and trying to work things out or attempting to untangle the skein.

    I am happy that everything aligned perfectly for getting out. Here is how I got my ducks in a row:

    1. I got legal insurance during open enrollment at my job because I knew where this was going.
    2.I got into a program to become a teacher to have holidays off with my kids. It was also something I had always wanted to do, but FW was unsupportive. I was working 7 days a week for a while, 5 days at my job, two at the school for my teaching certification, plus night classes.
    3. I gathered all the evidence I had of the affair. I emailed it to a trusted friend and immediately deleted the emails. I didn’t want to have the temptation there for me to go over everything and enter into negative thought loops. But I did want to have that evidence as leverage for the divorce. This is ultimately why FW didn’t fight the divorce settlement. Schmoopie had him convinced that her husband was abusive, and ex-FW was afraid I would send this evidence to her husband.
    4. After the divorce I worked on myself. This includes completing my teaching program, getting on Tinder to prove to myself I was attractive and desirable, and setting the goal of buying a better house further away from the FW and his toxic family.

    5. I was able to buy my house using pandemic relief money at a time when interest rates were really low. I’m now making way more money than I was with the ex-FW.

    He’s living with his mom now, and basically the kids go to her during his time because of his work hours. He has stayed at his crappy job to be near the ho-worker, and he never fought the custody arrangement I set out in the divorce. My only sadness is he doesn’t always see them during his time because he makes excuses to be with his ho-worker and stays in his crappy job.

    Meanwhile I’ve been enjoying better working hours, get more time with my kids post-divorce, love my old 2 story house and all its quirks, and taking my kids on yearly vacations, something I could never to with the FW because the funds weren’t there.

    • Good for you! I just took the legal insurance at work as I will be using it soon. The job I am working now pays better than teaching so I am staying put. Klootzak watches every dime I spend and doesn’t question retirement savings contributions. My company is changing its retirement/401k plan and the new plan does not require spousal consent to take a loan on the retirement savings like the old one did. They will let me borrow up to 50% of my account’s value, so I am treating my retirement account as my legal fees savings stash. The interest rate is very low so it will be better than putting legal costs on a credit card.

      A friend of mine likes to say “Fate lends a hand when your cause is just.”

  • So glad that she did leave. It is quite telling that he didnt argue the divorce one bit.

    Now that Im out of my abusive marriage, I look back and I can see that he REALLY DIDNT WANT TO BE MARRIED TO ME but I denied that reality around every turn.

    My Cheater denied physical involvement then admitted then recanted and then gaslit me that he ever admitted it. He stuck to his denial to his literal last breath. Every denial was a lie. He had admitted “sharing a hotel room” with Susan of Seattle but denied sex. What was I even thinking? Gah !!

    • I now know that klootzak is such a compulsive liar that if he said the sun rose in the morning, I would not believe it. I don’t care if he wants or does not want a divorce. He has threatened it and not followed through. He lost his chance to file first. That’s how I look at it. I’m not filing because of what he wants or doesn’t; I’m filing because he is not acceptable to me. He is all blame shifting and DARVO. No soul or substance. I have nothing to work with. The financial loss will be worth the peace and emotional gain.

      • I agree that it is best to not care what they want. I was, however, very late on the uptake to recognize that my Cheater was such a good liar…for YEARS, I boastfully prided myself that I “could read him like a book” but I was terribly wrong, he had many layers that I never uncovered during his life.

  • I wish I had read this post and response so many years ago. It would have saved me a D-day or three. Sad sign you are a chump when you feel you need “permission” to leave. I have spent my life following rules and being the good girl. Divorcing because my spouse made me anxious? Because he “only” had an emotional affair and accused me of not letting him have any “friends?” No… I was not allowed to end a marriage on such a basis!

    Thank goodness CL is here saying yes you can. Because those symptoms are your gut telling you FW is a cheater. Were you never anxious before but now you are on meds? Check! Do you go to parties with FW and the minute you walk in, they take off and act like they aren’t there with you? Check! Call you stupid or tell you to “use your brain” when you ask a simple question? Check! And you spackle and put up with it or push back and are told you are crazy but you don’t wake up and realize that the fact that THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE is justification to file. You don’t need to explain it to anyone. But we chumps are pleasers! We want a good marriage and, boy, when the RIC tells you to fix yourself to save your marriage, you take it on with gusto! We may even think our desire for sanity and peace is selfish. When you are married to someone who is gaslighting and playing to take advantage of you, it doesn’t matter where his dick has been. It’s OK to file. I wish I had known early on that I, too, had power and choices. I was not only someone to be chosen or not chosen. I could be the chooser and needed to be choosier!

    Don’t get me wrong. A marriage is a big thing to end. I am standing on the precipice of filing, just waiting for the last ducks to be lined up, and it’s daunting. Not life without him but the process of removing him and still being OK when I have a child to raise. But it’s OK to recognize that my boundaries have been crossed and the point of no return is here. It’s OK because I say it is. I don’t need permission.

    • Yes he would accuse me of being jealous and not wanting him to have friends. I pointed out that he has alot of other female friends over the years that I actually liked and became friends with also. So obviously it is something with her since Im fine with all the others. Then Id point out that there is something wrong with him if he is unable to have any male friends. And I was thinking today before I read this, that they all do the same thing where they say, you are going to throw away a perfectly good marriage over this? Its confusing at the time they are doing unacceptable s***, but want to eat cake so want to stay married, we are ending it. Then they tell the kids and everyone, mommy wanted to get a divorce, mommy wants to break up they family. F them.

      • I had almost the exact same conversation with my ex. He accused me of not wanting him to have friends because I didn’t like the vibe I was getting from this woman. He said I was jealous and paranoid. I asked him if I had ever been jealous of any of his female friends or expressed any concern about them over the whole of our relationship (and there had been quite a few over 15+ years). He had to admit that I had not. This one was different. I’d actually given her a fair chance and tried to be friends with her too, but seeing them together set my gut screaming.

        And I was 100% right. She wasn’t “just a friend” and never had been. They’d been an “item” almost since they met.

        • Sorry that happened to you, ISTL. What you said is absolute truth!
          Sometimes we just “feel” that things aren’t right with some people. Call it intuition, but the truth will reveal itself with time (even if they deny wrongdoing).

          I had an ex-boyfriend years ago who had sex with two female friends of his, one of whom was hateful to me whenever she was around me.

          Now with my husband, one of his “friends”/coworkers is a thorn in my side. Although he knew her way before we met, she has no respect for our marriage.
          I told him that all of this calling and texting needs to stop between them. If it’s not about work, it needs to stop.
          She seems to always be in the middle of some crisis that needs his attention.

          Like one minute it’s that she has a flat tire, or her car broke down, or her daughter attempted suicide, or her grandmother is in the hospital, or her house needs new plumbing, etc.
          I have told him that it’s not his problem…he can be kind to her, but she is using him as an emotional tampon.
          He needs to focus on us and leave this woman to sort herself out, or better yet…find a man of her own!
          I suspect that this is partly why all his exes bailed in the past, because they realized he is somewhat dishonest and that this coworker “friend” (or some other woman) is present in his life.

          Ain’t nobody got time for that!

  • Yup me too, except mine got drunk and slept with a different coworker 3 yrs before the emotional affair one. The drunk one he was too friendly with there was an event they got drunk and screwed, never went anywhere, but obviously looking back they were too chummy. I believed it was a mistake and forgave. Hey we all make mistakes. Never truly got over it. Then he was grooming a different one, emotionally. I disrupted it 3-4 months in it never got to saying I love you but it seems was heading there, but we all know where it would’ve gone, him screwing her eventually. He also has a female friend for many years, I never liked the friendship, it caused problems with us. He got mad when I would bring up. After he slept with the coworker he pulled back from his divorced female friend a lot, so that was good. He is still working with the two women. Those are the only ones that I know about, you realize after awhile it’s a pattern. This is who they are. They maybe can reign it in for awhile but they don’t stop because they like the attention, they don’t care that they hurt you. Low or no empathy. Sometimes, you need to stay in the situation because of kids, or a business, etc. but you are putting off the inevitable. Eventually there are enough Ddays and situations that you have had enough. All these cheaters are disordered people. They are not normal, they don’t have good character. So how many emotional affairs? And from post she said they hugged and held hands. So that is physical, it leads to sex eventually. Emotional affairs are worse because then they have sex and feel love. The one night stand eh I got over.

    • I agree, Chumpolicious! I believe that men and women can be platonic friends but for some people, it’s a recipe for disaster.

      In my husband’s case, he thinks I am jealous or insecure about him having a female friend.
      “That is not the issue” I told him, “the issue is that you’ve caused me to lose trust in you. The issue is that even after I shared my feelings, you continue to gaslight me and you continue to communicate with this woman outside of anything professional”.
      Not to mention his distant, weird behavior at times and the silent treatment!

      Oh, and then there’s the constant statement: “I love you, never forget that”.
      Which by itself sounds perfectly innocent, right? But there are now so many red flags.
      The “I love you’s” are sounding more like admissions of guilt now.
      That might sound crazy, but from experience with cheaters I’ve known, they are either cruel or they act extremely nice (out of guilt or to hide what they’re doing).

  • Yeah it’s the reaction too isn’t it. In addition to the basic abuse of gas-lighting etc., which we may question in hind-sight, the reaction of anger instead of over the top remorse, “I will do anything” and then acting on it, shows us all we need to know to move forward with divorce.

  • the sad thing is you never ever know the truth, and i think fw really enjoy that. nobody wants to be a chump, somebodys actions has put that on you.

  • They only held hands and hugged, because those were the boundaries they set together.

    This is the part that makes me want to harm him.

    Oh, you and Schmoopie agreed? Did you forget about this other agreement called WEDDING VOWS? Nothing these entitled a-holes say makes sense

    Well I’m glad Chump Poser saw right through it and is happy and free today!

  • It’s so great when chumps write in to update us on what they did and how they gained a life. So glad Chump Poser left this dimwit.

  • Yeah, Dupers delight right? Its a chemical rush. Dopamine, adrenaline. They have a rush of chemical excitement, it is addicting. They have poor impulse control issues, if it feels good they do it. They get a rush chumping us, or they just dont give a s*** about us. Hard to reconcile that right?

  • My ex wife told me about her emotional affair with a rock star living overseas (obvious catfishing scam but she refused to see it) and I did the pick me dance for almost a year. She then told me she wanted to keep her marriage to me and keep pursuing the emotional affair. How useful I was to her! I filed last December and have been FW free since February. It’s great! She just texted me today about how “she loves me so much” blah blah blah, and is so anxious about her future, more blah blah blah. I had no emotional reaction to it. It was like reading a boring news piece. Meh. Whatever. I remember at the end before it hit the fan she told me that she never had sex with him. “I didn’t commit adultery!” she said. Then I asked her if she would have had sex with him if he asked her to which she replied YES. These people are truly sick. Loving my new life without the FW! Grateful for CL and CN!

  • My FW had online sex (paid for by this chumps savings) for over a year.he’s an addict. We separated and now he’s creating a narrative for our friends that he’s Been unhappy for years, ergo shifting responsibility onto me and our unhappy marriage which BTW was NEVER discussed with me and has yet to be discussed 6 months after Dday. I’m glad you left and congrats on the divorce. Mine can’t come soon enough but he’s being a FW about that too. He thinks he can just move on wo consequences.

  • “LEAVE” yes an emotional affair I too had that with his first affair, then triangulation in our family home, two kids living in this home and finally he had sex in our marital bed with a second women from a dating app!????

  • We’re just friends I’d the biggest lie told.
    You are a chump only if you allow it.

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