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Any Regrets Leaving a Cheater?

leave a cheaterOn Wednesday, I was on this HuffPo Twitter Space panel about toxic relationships. The question was posed to my co-panelist, therapist Virginia Gilbert about whether or not toxic people can change.

She made a distinction between abusive people and toxic people. Abusive people? Don’t bother, get professional help to escape. She said that with toxic people, if both people in the relationship are committed to behavioral change, it can work.

It was the end of the segment, and there was much I wanted to unpack. Like, the whole attachment style thing… how “anxious” people chase “avoidant” people.

Okay, how about normal people BOND. And when the people they bond with act sketchy, it’s pretty predictable that the person who cares will become anxious.

But I’m quibbling. My bigger issue is WHY BOTHER with whatever flavor of fucked up a toxic person is? You have one precious life. Why waste it on someone who treats you terribly? Unicorn sightings are rare.

Also, as a few bazillion of us can attest to — a lot of disordered partners feign interest in therapy as the price of avoiding consequences. You think you’ve got a unicorn, until you don’t. Or maybe you do, (color me skeptical) but the damage is done and you need to move on.

(If you want a deeper dive on this, you can read my whole diatribe on reconciliation and entitlement. I think a lot of what we deem toxic is driven by the power dynamics of maintaining one’s entitlement. Healthy relationships, by contrast, aren’t competitions or predatory. They’re reciprocal and respectful.)

So, in summary, I made the claim that in running this blog for 10 years, and the millions of unique visitors and comments, no one has ever regretted leaving a cheater.

I mean, we’re one hell of a data sample.

You could argue, this place is self selecting. Says LEAVE right there on the tag line. But I would counter that the vast majority of chumps tried reconciliation first. And even if they didn’t leave, and were left, they probably spent a lot of time trying to get their partner to be more fully invested. Chumps are all in.

But what I hear again and again and again is — I wish I left sooner. I wish I had that time back.

Also, where is the site with millions of people who are with reformed toxic people and their life is better for it? The reconciliation boards I know are full of twitchy, hypervigiliant folks with trust issues.

Oh, they’re just all happy, quietly living in their new and improved marriages, Tracy.

Uh huh. Okay. The unicorns have invisibility cloaks too.

So, anywho… my Friday Challenge question to you is — any regrets about leaving a cheater? (Or being left by one.)

You might regret the wake of their fuckupendess. The financial toll. The scary life rebuilding. But the person themselves and how they treated you? Do you miss it?

I think to anyone on the fence, this might be a useful read.

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.
  • Zero regrets.
    Only wish I had known the truth years before so I could have dumped him instead of him using me up and then dumping me.
    I don’t see any difference between toxic and abusive…both are best left behind in your dust.

  • Are you KIDDING ME? 😅

    Not only am I happier, healthier, smarter, and better off financially – I am also now absolutely committed to singlehood.

    Not ‘being alone’ – being with many others.

    Not ‘not in a relationship’ – in many good and different relationships on lots of levels.

    Everything is better. In fact, I think the friendship detox was almost more important than the cheater detox.

    • I would love to hear more of your thoughts on the friendship detox being almost more important than the cheater detox, if/when you have some time.

      • I cut SO MANY people out of my life who I thought were my friends. They all sided with cheater ex, embraced OW, completely dropped me, and many believed FW’s lies about me in spite of having known me for over a decade. Not ONE of them ever checked on me to see if I was okay. Not ONE of them asked my side of the story. Not ONE of them expressed sympathy. Several of them stalked me and spied on my social media, taking screenshots and sending them to my abuser. Once I found out about that, I cleaned house, removing EVERY mutual friend from every social media platform (in fact, I stopped using social media at all for about a year). My life is the better for it. We were involved in the local arts scene and most of those “friends” were actors, writers, and musicians, who thought that FW could help them in their careers, and so naturally they would do whatever to stay in his good graces; I was irrelevant once I was out of favor with him. They were just using him and he couldn’t see it. But he was using them too. They were transactional relationships, not friendships. When he was going through depression and then when he killed himself, none of those people were anywhere to be found (though they showed up in droves to his funeral). At least one of them knew he had made previous attempts, and didn’t tell me or anyone who might have helped. I don’t want anything to do with people like that.

        I had one good friend, who was not a mutual friend of FW (he couldn’t stand her), who stuck by me through all of it. She’s still my best friend. And oddly, FW’s sister has been a really good friend. I would rather have a small group of real friends, good people, honest people, than scads of fair weather friends. It is very eye opening to go through a discard/divorce. You definitely find out who your real friends are. It hurts, but I’m glad I know. I am much more discerning about who I associate with now.

        • I think, because they need so much external validation, FWs often seek many “friends” but can’t distinguish between friends and acquaintances. My STBX had zillions of acquaintances but very few true friends, and none that he saw more than once or twice a year.

          • FooledAgain,
            You are the first one who has posted this similar experience. When my ex left me, I asked him if he was worried his old high school friends would think less of him. He replied, “If they do, I have other friends everywhere.” His other friends, however, were work colleagues he’d see at conferences. They were not people he shared his thoughts with or seeked their advice. They were drinking colleagues at conferences. He never had a lot of “friends”. Even his high school buddies he saw maybe once ever other year. My FW was also unable to distinguish between friendship and acquaintances.

          • A lot of my ex’s friends weren’t even in person relationships. So many comments on his obituary were things like “I never had the pleasure of meeting him in real life, but we were friends online and had many conversations”. It was much easier for my ex to come across as a “good guy” from a distance.

        • “those “friends” were actors, writers, and musicians”

          Unfortunately, a good number of people that gravitate to the entertainment industry are phony superficial twits. Small loss.

        • your story is my story- exhole was in theatre, I’m a visual artist. Very different sort of exposures and relationships- but he benfited from mine. I didnt benefit at all from his so-called friends. You nailed it right here: “We were involved in the local arts scene and most of those “friends” were actors, writers, and musicians, who thought that FW could help them in their careers, and so naturally they would do whatever to stay in his good graces; I was irrelevant once I was out of favor with him. They were just using him and he couldn’t see it. But he was using them too. They were transactional relationships, not friendships”. 10 years of those theatre friends and events and parties- not one of them contacted me about what happened. Perhaps because theatre is a mask- for screwing each other during those “intense” production schedules. So much fake togetherness… Lucky for me I had a few great friends some now for 40 years

        • I had a similar experience, nobody even asked me if I was ok. If someone I work with whom I don’t like is going through a divorce I even ask them if they’re ok and how they’re holding up. Friends of 20 years, including family and a kid I raised in my home for six years of his childhood wouldn’t even treat me as well as I treat a coworker I dislike. There’s a kick in the bits. No clue what he said about me to people but it worked so well they didn’t even care to ask me what happened.

          I completely agree with you that it hurts but I’m glad I know. I’m also much pickier about my friends now. I see it as a hard but valuable lesson.

          • A child we took care of for over 4 years, FWs nephew, who FW left with me when he left, told me off one day – said no one likes me and is tired of hearing about what FW did to you. I said call your uncle and pack your things. Best thing I ever did.

      • Thank you, Jupiter! I think if you read the other responses here, you’ll see what I mean.

        Sometimes the friendship detox takes place by accident as a result of leaving the cheater. You find out who your real friends are.

        But there can be a subsequent process as you gain a life. As you get your mojo back and heal from abuse, it’s quite common to discover that a lot of your ‘friendships’ were what Chump Lady once called ‘bargain bin’.

        They were not reciprocal. They were based on convenience rather than active choice. You weren’t valued for who you were.

        And that’s because your whole life had been marred by this sort of bargain-bin relationship, starting with your family of origin.

        So it’s a really healthy and helpful process. I am wordy/nerdy and pretty introverted in real life, and I don’t make friends easily. But I now use this to help me screen out the superficial people.

        As you regain your life after the terrible hurts you’ve lived through, you may find that you’re also more discerning about who you spend your precious time with.

    • I am going through friendship detox now – it sucks and it’s painful but I’m sure I will end up better and healthier on the other side. For me it was realizing that just like in my marriage, my friendships were almost never reciprocal.

      I always reached out to them. If they ever called it was because they needed a favor, or wanted me to use my professional skills for them for free. This came into particular focus when I had an illness during my divorce and no one checked in on me or asked how I was doing.

      So I stopped calling and texting and guess what – crickets. I am trying to learn that they suck, that it has nothing to do with me or my worth. Just like I KNOW I was a good wife, I was a good friend too.

      I am completely isolated now, but I have hope it won’t always be this way.

      • Oh it won’t always be this way. As you’ve gotten rid of the sycophants, you’ll slowly open your eyes to seeing people for who they are – warts and all. At least that was my experience. I was able to see through a lot of the self boasting, the flattering, the meaningless of people who are all concerned about themselves (not others). They’re concerned with how others see them, rather than worrying about being the best persons that they can be. I decided that I’d rather have nobody in my life than have to go through the nonsense of being with liars and cheaters again. Once I learned to love myself, warts and all, I was able to see others – warts and all. And the good ones popped out. I’m happy and someday you will be too.

      • It’s so hard to make friends later in life. I wish there was some way the members of Chump Nation could connect IRL.

      • It’s the righteous path, even if it’s tough. I always think about things my Grandma used to say me to me, “you only really need one good friend” and also “it’s ok to be a lone wolf.” Because I ditched non-reciprocal friendships (or I should say, they ditched themselves when I stopped making the effort) and friendships with people who repeatedly make painful life choices (I no longer wanted front row seats to dysfunction), I found my friend list to be quite short. And, most of them are scattered all over the U.S. But, it’s forced me to be more proactive and concerted with my remaining close friendships, which is really great, and it’s given me more time for the relationships that I actually cherish.

        All this to say, it’s far better having one real friend then ten fake ones…even if that friend lives hundreds of miles away.

      • Sure understand and relate to the need to drop certain people from one’s life. Having moved to a different state I miss old friends and feel isolated do to the remoteness. Someone mentioned wishing us Chumps had a way to meet one another. I don’t mind being a loner but it’s nice to make new friends as well.

    • So true. Trauma can be like a sewage processing plant for filtering out crappy or toxic friends. If traumatic experience doesn’t turn people into something as bad as what was done to them, it can either make people mushily grovel for safety by morphing their views to fit whatever context they’re in or it can forge “rugged individualists” and realists who won’t/can’t squeeze themselves into acceptable shapes.

      I’m not quite there yet because it still unsettles me to feel at odds in some social contexts. At this point I actually wish I could fake fitting in a little more often just to reduce friction and I try to pick my battles. If I get involved in advocacy, I tend to keep it contained to that arena, otherwise I’m over trying to change hearts and minds in random social situations. But I think those not-so-mainstream attitudes leak out in other ways, like not smiling and nodding heartily when, say, some dork at a garden party starts regurgitating some repulsive little victim-blamey concept they heard on a TED Talk or whatever.

      It doesn’t matter which victims are being unfairly blamed or which perpetrators are being given a pass, it bothers me to hear views like that and it probably shows. I’m sensitive to making people uncomfortable but I can’t help thinking what I think anymore and knowing what I know. One good friend still laughs about a quip I made a while back about how the “wrong sort” takes one look at the books in my bookcase and runs screaming. The upside is that you can end up surrounded mostly with like-minded people who turn out to be far more reliable when shit hits the fan as it periodically will in life. That’s gold. I don’t “thank” trauma for that upside nor the crappy people who serve up negative experiences. I just thank the existence of seasoned people who make the process less unbearable.

  • I have no regrets. The cost financially in my 60’s is pretty big. The emotional toll was enormous but I got through it (Thanks Tracy). Living in a hyper vigilant state for years and not being aware until it was over is an eye opener. You don’t know how bad it was until you’re out and healing.

    • Agreed, Spoonriver. I’m almost 70 years old and these past two years have taken a toll on both my mental health, but physical as well. Never, ever again will I set myself on fire to keep another person warm. Especially a TOXIC ABUSER. My spiritual guide, Great Universal Spirit (GUS), takes the burden from me when I’m overwhelmed or sad or discouraged. Giving in to the reality of being deceived has come in fits and starts. A never ending process of discarding ideas of what I’m NOT, keeps pointing me in the direction of what I CAN see that I already AM, which is a human born with worthiness and intuitive wisdom that can be trusted. All my emotional scars are transforming into invisible tattoos of self confidence and a thicker skin amongst the deranged. Slowly.
      My parents expected their children to act like adults from birth. Constant shame, ( Should Have Already Mastered Everything), can kill hope and joy and confidence. It is truly a miracle children survive at all in this dysfunction. Gold metals to us all for navigating the FW agility course and hurdles of abuse. No regret in saving myself. None.

      ,

    • So true, Spoonriver. I was 53. Financially tough. But now, 4 yrs divorced, I’m still regularly surprised by how peaceful my life is. He was SO defensive that I couldn’t even say “how was your day” without running the risk of him telling me to shut up.
      Now days, I have my adult daughters around and my two sons and life is simply lovely.

  • Oh God no!
    By the time our marriage ended she didn’t resemble the woman I married so much as Medusa.
    For a while I did miss the dream I had about what our marriage could be, but that dried up and blew away. Dust in the wind.
    My life is so much h better now.

    • Good for you! Even 5+ years out, I still miss the dream of being with the father of my child till the end of days. I mean, I DO NOT want to be with my ex, but I really bought into the whole “one love one life” concept that everyone likes to pretend is realistic en masse. I still grieve that loss, a little. But, it is what it is and we can’t all get everything in life and it’s ok to live a life that not everyone understands. It’s disappointing tho that after all these years, I’m still not totally deprogrammed from that concept.

  • No! After 3 wreckconciliations instigated by EX over a year did I file when he quit his 6 figure job and moved in with the whore. THEN I finally found LACGAL. Ohmyohmy……my eyes were open to what I was dealing with and finally answers and clarity! I wasted many years and money not understanding what was happening…..38 year marriage. So sorry I did not find ChumpLady earlier in my process….saved my sanity. I give the book to strangers when they share their similar stories. 💕💕💕 to Tracy

  • No regrets about leaving, nor the timing. My only regret is that I didn’t trust myself. He really was as bad as I thought…even more so in the end. I would have used my time and resources in the marriage differently and been better prepared to leave without being financially dependent on him and ultimately financially abused. But absolutely no regrets about leaving; i have a wonderful life now. 😊

    • Mighty Mite , when one is caught up in a mind grinder it is difficult to be prepared until much damage has occurred . We want to believe we want to hope but it never comes to fruition. I knew from before We were married their were red flags, I knew after we were married there was constant flirting, lies, stealing, lies by omission . What I never understood was how manipulating, clever, calculating, and haunting my Ex and 100% Narcissistic sociopath abuser serial cheater was until the very end . Stood by this man 20T years. There were mile stone together and laughs , actual fun times but so much was a lie. I think so many of us here fight for what we want to believe in a person and it can be hard to let go of that hope. But now looking back, my gut told me run from the very beginning and I should have but no, I love our Son .

  • My FW cleaned me out financially with the divorce. Sometimes I wish I could have stayed long enough to get a post nup and catch her again. But I could barely stand to even look at her after D-Day, I was just too angry to pull that off.

    • That is the shitty thing about being the bread winner and a chump. They cheat and get paid or it. It is tough to get past that double penalty.

      • That happened to me too. My lawyer, her lawyer, court fees, and my worthless ex wife turned the whole thing into a cash grab from me. It’s not like I was really well off to begin with, but the leeches found something to latch onto. I really would like to see some sort of divorce reform so future chumps don’t have to experience what we went through.

        • Totally agree, all. I was lucky to be in a fault state where adultery impacts settlement and to have rock solid evidence. But things like this shouldn’t depend on luck and I have a legislative wish list.

          — That coercive control laws become more universal and that many of the rankly abusive behaviors typically involved in cheating were recognized as forms of it.

          –If found guilty of coercive control, the culpable party would be automatically penalized in divorce. Bring back fault divorce in other words, at least in terms of abuse. If you cheat, you’ll end up financially screwed and the victim will either retain or acquire the lion’s share of assets if not all.

          — That enforcement of coercive control laws (where they exist) could be improved and tightened up so that these policies could not be wrongly used by abusers to punish victims who are trying to protect themselves (i.e., that someone who’s been demonstrably controlled and abused checking an abuser’s phone for proof of abuse is not the same as stalking, etc.).

          — If a chump gets an STD from a partner’s cheating that the cheater would be legally compelled to pay for costs and hardship as well as name any parties involved who would in turn be compelled by law to get checked for STDs and, if positive for antibodies or active infection, to compensate the victim. Compensation x 2.

          — This last one might not be legislatable for reasons I’m not yet informed about but I’d like to see schmoopies made civilly liable for any marital assets they accept in the form of gifts or amenities under the same laws related to receiving stolen property– meaning that the receiver can’t use the defense that they “didn’t “know property was stolen.” At the very least they’re going to have to pay it back anyway so it would behoove anyone starting a relationship to figure out whether the partner was married or not.

          One can dream.

        • The flip side is many chumps are not the breadwinners. The FW feels more entitled – “I’m the breadwinner; I deserve all the kibbles!” – and the chump is powerless to walk away immediately without a lot of scrimping pennies just to get an attorney consult. I think I would rather be the breadwinner and hand over half of everything just to get out quickly than the non-breadwinner chump who is stuck longer – often years – trying to rub two nickels together to get out. Breadwinner FWs are notoriously good at hiding assets, too.

          I agree, though. Cheaters shouldn’t prosper. I wish the system was more fair. But given the choice, I would rather be in the position to give up money than to lose time being tethered to a FW.

          • The income of men reportedly goes up significantly on average after divorce. That might not always be the case for chumped men in general if you factor the obvious aggression of she-cheaters, their clearly established capacity to lie to get what they want, maybe the tendency to have been bilking assets all along. She-cheaters might be trickier opponents in divorce than average women in other words. Otherwise the incomes of women tend to plummet after divorce. A study from Germany notes that German culture still favors men in the workforce and stay-at-home mothers so the results might be seen to be affected by the economic impact of divorce on non-bread-winning women. In any case, while health and social effects of divorce are about the same for both genders, many women risk permanent economic hardship or poverty following divorce. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5992251/

          • Disagree 100% about wishing to be bread winner and to give half to FW just to get her out. I worked my ass off while she was cheating. I continued to work while going through Chemo for lymphoma and she was cheating while I was at The chemo appointments!

        • That recently happened to me as well. There really needs to be a reform in states that are no-fault. But in the end you can’t put a price on happiness.

      • Yes, happened to me too. It’s like the state punished you for bettering yourself. I’m medical also, FNP in ED. The thing is: we did it to benefit our family.

        • A dear friend who’s a full time mom in a no fault state came very close to getting nothing from her wealthy XFW. By the skin of her teeth she got some support but only until her child is 18. I was appalled. Furthermore I asked her how having solid evidence that this guy regularly went to hookers, stole assets, was exposed for lying about assets in court and appeared constantly drunk and drugged in front of their child didn’t stop him from getting 50% custody. She just wearily told the story of a friend who spent a quarter million to keep her ex– who’d been busted for dv and terrorist threat– from taking custody. Then the child developed a disability and the ex wanted nothing to do with the child. She said, “It’s Chinatown, Jake.”

  • My regrets relate to the following:

    Firstly, I regret not finding a way out much sooner; before the kids discovered her infidelity her behaviour was already what I now know to be abusive … if I could have figured out a way for the kids and I to leave – rather than waiting for her to leave us – then I would have.

    Secondly, I regret not seeking mental health support for myself and my kids much earlier than I did. Male Chumps, in particular, need to confront the stigmas associated with mental health and get the support they and their kids need before issues become crises.

    Thirdly, I regret not separating our finances earlier. In fact, scratch that; the mistake was joining our finances in the first place, as I now know that she was steal from me at least a decade before her infidelity came to light …. and I should also have made sure that I was the trustee on our childrens’ savings accounts rather than her, as she emptied those too.

    But do I regret that she’s gone to live her happy sparkly life with her AP? Hell no; neither I nor our kids have missed her for a millisecond.

    LFTT

  • Wish I had left after Dday ONE. Stayed for 15 more years till the spackle fell off. I DID get an extra kid out of it, but I wish I had left the day after conception of that one (which would have saved me 14 years of abuse and my kids from the whole nightmare). what a waste. Had a reconciliation therapist and fell for the party line. Never again. Agree that abuse and toxic behavior are BOTH things I want to get the hell away from and glad I finally did! Just existing in my house without him is a pleasure.

  • My would-be 40th wedding anniversary is in two days. On our 35th anniversary I said to myself, “This is the last one.” By the 36th one, I was living on my own, and only months away from the divorce being final.

    So: four years since I left.

    Here’s what I find astounding: Despite being married to my ex for 35 years (and adding in the half dozen or so years we were involved before we married), I don’t miss one thing about him.

    Furthermore, despite the drama/trauma, which felt to me as if it had been etched into me with acid, my marriage feels like distant history, or as if I read it in a book instead of having actually lived it. Yet throughout those decades the drama and trauma of life with my ex felt as if had been etched into me with acid. I find this so astounding, in fact, that I have occasionally wondered whether there is something wrong with my brain and I have dementia!

    • “Furthermore, despite the drama/trauma, which felt to me as if it had been etched into me with acid, my marriage feels like distant history, or as if I read it in a book instead of having actually lived it. Yet throughout those decades the drama and trauma of life with my ex felt as if had been etched into me with acid. I find this so astounding, in fact, that I have occasionally wondered whether there is something wrong with my brain and I have dementia!“

      Adelante, same here. I was just telling this to someone the other day. It feels like that part of my life never happened.

      That’s why I say I didn’t have a marriage, I had a MIRAGE.

      • “Mirage” is the perfect way to describe both the marriage and the feeling afterwards. It wasn’t real while we were living it, although we thought it was, and now that it’s over, it has that shimmery transparent “is/was that real” feeling of a mirage.

        • I agree with you and Velvet Hammer. It’s an odd feeling. I know I lived with him for 35 years. And yet…and yet…I can hardly remember those decades. 🧐 A mirage, indeed!

          And as for missing him? No. Not at all. Not one bit. One would think there would be one good thing about him that I might long for, even something as simple as a dish he made or some way he made me laugh. But I just can’t think of anything at all.

          It’s not to say I have amnesia. I do remember certain things, and, of course, my kids figure prominently in these memories. Starring roles for those three!!! If x pops into a scene from the past, he makes only a cameo appearance.

          Maybe my conscious brain is protecting me. I don’t know.

          Adelante, I’ve ruled out dementia.😳

          • Memory is highly connected to emotion. (Which is why a song or smell can bring a whole bunch of memories swooping back.) So once we’re well and truly out and living a peaceful life, after a few years it becomes difficult to connect to the grinding, miserable emotions the cheaters so often created. Many cheaters are classic narcs; critical, demanding, self-centered, never satisfied. Not fun to be around even when they aren’t cheating! Not experiencing those emotions anymore makes the situations and people connected to the emotions feel more distant, harder to remember clearly.

            Also, we revise our memories a bit every time we recall them, so our new focus on, for example, the fun we had w/our kids on a certain family outing will gradually push out how unpleasant cheater was on that occasion. We can remember that if we stop to think, but it’s not intense and clear anymore.

            Not dementia! But it DOES feel very odd! Like we have some kind of ‘theoretical’ recollection, but it was in another life …. This person was at the centre of our world for so many years, and now …. a footnote.

    • Don’t miss one thing … I totally get this! I, too, spent almost 4 decades with Cheating Bastard Ex. Outside of my comments here – written with the hope that if it helps just one person to find the strength to leave it is necessary to be said – he so rarely enters my thoughts that I’ve too wondered how it is that happened so quickly.

      Do you suppose that maybe, just maybe, having a clear picture of how awful ALL of it it truly was helps keep our minds from revisiting it? I’m only a little over a year out, yet when I just now tried to conjure up a mental picture of what he looked like, it is foggy at best. And that suits me just fine.

      • My mental image became uglier and uglier as I unpacked the baggage over 3 years. I knew I was doing it and thought I had made his image uglier than him. But, when I ran into him this spring, he was uglier than my image! The thought then was that all the sh*t he spewed for years was finally showing up in his face.

      • It has crossed my mind that perhaps I’ve erected a mental barrier in order to protect myself. The hurt I felt in the early days was tremendous. But it’s also possible that having feeling all that hurt was part of processing the experience, and I no longer need to do it. I’m certainly grateful not to feel that tremendous pain any longer, even while I marvel that it all now seems so far away, or like a dream, or a story I once read, or, as VH says, “a mirage.”

    • “Furthermore, despite the drama/trauma, which felt to me as if it had been etched into me with acid, my marriage feels like distant history, or as if I read it in a book instead of having actually lived it. Yet throughout those decades the drama and trauma of life with my ex felt as if had been etched into me with acid. I find this so astounding, in fact, that I have occasionally wondered whether there is something wrong with my brain and I have dementia!”
      Reading this – wow- it’s life-changing to read it. I’m 10 years out of a 20 year ordeal, and yet I’ve felt the loss of that relationship as a loss, because I can’t remember anything (except some of the really bad times). Like, why did I stay if there were no good times. I know there were good times, but I can’t remember any. But the way you’ve described it here is sooo liberating! My marriage IS distant history, and I NO LONGER HAVE TO FEEL IT INSCRIBED IN MY BODY. A distant memory is a Good Thing! Maybe I’m not describing this properly. But the wounds scored into my body have healed, and you’ve put it into words, Adelante. Love Chump Nation!!! Right here is the ease and comfort and support mentioned at the beginning of the twitter cast.

      • “The Body Keeps the Score” is worth the read, and I think you’re right: we no longer have to feel it inscribed in our bodies. Perhaps once the trauma lifts, the emotional content of the memories can disperse or float away. I certainly prefer that explanation to the onset of dementia and the idea that events can no longer be meaningful enough for me to form memories of them!

      • Yes, this. I am also 10 years out from an over 20 yr ordeal and my brain is purging the “good” memories because I finally admitted to myself that every single good moment was lived knowing that the next insult, harsh critique or rage was right around the next corner.

        He had an amazingly clever wit and could be SO funny. I went through a time of missing that but I eventually admitted to myself that he weaponized it against me. He responded to almost everything with this carefully crafted tone of voice which was indecipherable as to whether he was serious or joking. When there was a good outcome, he claimed his response was serious and the good outcome was his win. If there was a bad outcome, he claimed that his reaction was sarcastic and I should have known better thus the bad outcome was my fault. Also, and mean-ass insult he leveled against me was “just a joke…you dont have a very good sense of humor”.

        I wish it all felt more distant. I likely ruminate on all of it too much.

        • I realized that almost every Good Time we had, was one that I worked my ass off to choreograph, to work against his sulky mood, his desire for a perfect moment with him at the centre. And I pulled it off many times and felt that this was “success”- I had made him happy and provided a Family Moment (at my expense of course). There would have been very few good times if it hadn’t been for the energy and creativity that I put into it. And I learned this through CL- to cast back and look at those good times and what was the process that lead to those events.
          Adelante- my ex-dixkhead was also very funny, very often at the expense of others. He also sat on the fence about everything. It was weird- you’d think after a long conversation about something, politics, or events, or people, that you’d arrived at a sort of consensus. Then he’d switch so as not to give any satisfaction on the point or whatever even casual thing we were talking about.. And ALWAYS he would be on the ‘right side of the fence’ because he didn’t commit himself except to the “winning” side (for the moment). But I no longer have to gnash my teeth about this stuff, or lose my own story (which he had started to tell for me “you think this, you said that, you’re funny that way”… I hated the feeling that he was going to define me and tell me my own history, change the pattern of what I beleived so that others saw me as he saw me….). sorry I am now ranting (I guess I am not QUITE free! ha!)

          • Yes, as I get further away… I realize the “good” we had in the marriage came from me and my efforts as well.

        • Unicornnomore,
          I had a similar experience with my ex. He’d call it “teasing”. But, sometimes it was hurtful and other times I let it slide. If I let it slide, it was a sarcastic joke at my expense. If it was hurtful, I was too sensitive and he didn’t mean it that way. I wonder if this is another characteristic of covert narcissists. My ex always believed he was smarter and far superior to my sensitive and caring nature. In retrospect, he never had a caring bone in his body and I wish I left him in my thirties. I could have done so much and gone so far on my own. I’m fortunate to be rid of him now. His new wife?… not so much. I let him strip away the essense of who I was one sliver at a time. I gave up my dreams for his. I temporarily lost who I was but I’m trying to find that person again – and love her – for all her blessings and her faults.

          I, too, likely ruminate on all of it too much. I’m four years out from divorce. Four and a half years out from D-day.

        • Unicornnomore – oh my! That second paragraph. How many times I have heard by STBX say “I was just JOKING.” Grrrrrr!!! I likely ruminate too much as well. Thanks for sharing. It’s validating to read.

    • Wow. That is definitely something I would not have expected. I remember my years in high school feeling like they were going on forever and now I can’t remember most of my teachers’ names. I suppose it’s like that. The memories of some of the mortifying stuff fades and it becomes more compartmentalism’s compared to today. This gives this baby chump hope. I have long said I don’t want to spend the rest of my life defined by this awful marriage.

    • Yes, same here after 30 year marriage. Going no contact, pushing away bad memories and doubting any good memories leaves almost nothing.

    • Adelante, my time line is about that same as yours for marriage – 36 years, but divorced 1 full year.
      I too have been in awe that I don’t miss him. I guess he just didn’t bring anything positive to our marriage. I saw this void begin to happen around year 25, just when we could have been reconnecting in the shared accomplishment of our children launching & having more free time without little kids. I’m guessing that from year 25 to 35, I tried so hard with RIC and he tried so hard to cover up his secret life, that he truly became an adversary.
      Why would I miss that?

  • My pos cheater left in the middle of the night on our 10th wedding anniversary. He helpfully TEXTED me that he was moving into his girlfriend’s house and wanted a divorce. He still wanted to spend time with all three kids (16, 14 and 8 at the time) and that he would tell me the schedule he wanted later.
    A fun time? Not at all. But I was SO beat down and exhausted from his emotional and financial abuse and basic lack of adulting skills that I now see him leaving as an amazing gift from the universe. I regret it so much that I didn’t leave. But I couldn’t, was too busy crying and pick me dancing. Either way his absence has given me the gift of peace and healing. And it gave my children the chance to see me as I am. Definitely flawed, but not abused and manipulated by a sorry waste of a carbon footprint.
    I don’t know ANYONE who wishes they are back with their cheater, no matter the circumstances of the breakup.

    • I don’t know anyone, either, who wishes they are back. I do have a couple of friends who have HUGE regrets about staying.

      • I have a couple of friends, otherwise independent women with successful professional careers, who stayed whose actions are either a continual pick-me dance or defensive rationalizations–continue spackling. In both cases, their decision to stay has damped them down. It’s sad to see, especially as neither of them, now in their 70s, will ever leave.

  • Life is much more peaceful and pleasant now, but I have to admit that part of me misses the good part of the life we had. There was plenty of bad everyday life, but there were also many fun and exciting adventures. Years later, I still have to remind myself that not everything was rosy and that it was he who broke the promises he made on the altar in front of our family and friends. My volatile anger was a direct result of his behavior and not the cause of the initial injury to the relationship.

    • I think this is an important point. Many of us chumps did have good parts of the relationship with our ex’s. I loved my 20s (ex was college boyfriend and we married after graduation), partly because I loved my ex and partly because I loved our adventures as young marrieds. I loved his family, too. Those good times were part of what made the betrayal and collapse of the marriage so hard.

      • I wonder if I can get past that. The remembering and the unanswerable trying to know when it all turned to shit.

      • 20thCC – I remember one of the regular posters here saying something like, whatever magic was in your marriage was brought by you. And for me, that was not 100% true, certainly not at first, but for the last several years it sure was. For a few years it was really good and he did contribute, but he got more entitled, dissatisfied, and nasty over time. By the end I was doing everything and it was never enough.

  • After the first year of our relationship, I found my then boyfriend “s dating profiles and Craigslist solicitations. I dumped him but he came crawling back, begging me to give him a chance by going to couples therapy to work things out because he loved me. He even wanted to pay for it, and being one of the cheapest people I had ever known, I took that as a sign of true sincerity. CL, you know how the story goes, I took him back, wasted another 6 years with him only to experience his distain, distance and discard. He was back at it again and probably never stopped, just went deeper underground. I wish I left when I first found out. Thank you Chump Lady for your public service helping so many people navigate out of infidelity hellholes. You are a shining beacon of hope and make all of our lives better every day (particularly Monday through Friday when we can start our day with your blog!) thank you!

  • For a long time after deciding to file lots of second thoughts haunted me. But that’s different than regret. As an abused partner of a narcissist I was used to doubting all of my decisions because I was constantly criticized. But each day, week, month, year was a confirmation that while it was unbelievably painful and difficult, it was the right decision. Was he toxic? Of course he was. Narc behavior is toxic. Disrespect and selfishness and entitlement are OBVIOUSLY toxic. I never saw any change, except for “showtime” in the therapist’s office or for his bosses. Last night I was throwing out old journals where I recorded him saying “I’m tired of being ‘on’ with you and just want to act out my hatred,” after confronting him on a number of harms. I regret wasting time in therapy. I regret wasting money on him. I regret how much and how often I blamed myself for his shitty sociopathic behaviors. I regret covering for him and making excuses for him to myself and others.

    Regret dumping his toxic/abusive/lying ass? Not an iota.

  • I didn’t leave he did, so I don’t have to regret it.

    However, thought it took me about three or four months; I came to a point where I realized, his leaving opened up my life in ways I could have never imagined.

    Of course the experts say anxious folks chase after avoidant fw’s, because how else can you circle back to blaming the chump for the abuse of the fw. No mention of the “avoidant” fw lying and wearing a mask to hide who they really are in order to latch on to someone they know will be loyal.

    • Yeah, my ex tells all who will listen that my anxiety drove him into schmoopie’s arms. The funny thing is that now, as a single woman in my 50’s with a full time job, a solo parent to two teens who have not had the easiest adolescent behavior, two houses to maintain and too many pets, I’m no longer anxious at all…..when in doubt, blame the chump. It makes it so much easier for others to look away that way…..

      • Gettingthereslowly,
        Yes, my ex hated my anxiety and the sometimes compulsive behaviors associated. I went on medication at his request. But, ultimately, I think my anxiety drove him into schmoopie’s arms. Now that he is gone, I have so much less anxiety and so fewer compulsions. I can’t help but think he and my anxiety are related. When married, I had to worry about the day-to-day because he worried about none of it. The body does keep score, and your mind and body do know when things are wrong long before you accept it. I am also in my 50’s.

    • Good point Suzie. They do know we’ll be loyal. So much easier for the person who doesn’t have it together or plan to anytime soon. The responsible ones at home. The good parent. The “constant”. Then when we dont agree or want to accept the behavior it’s our fault. So many things I question.
      Who are you?!? And if you’re so good now where were you before?!?
      Why am I the “crazy”(that term makes me CRINGE) irrational unforgiving grouchy wife/step mom, now?oh, and I can’t take jokes(I can when they’re funny)

  • The thing I regret most is not realizing what a cluster it would have been trying to divorce him. I would have prepared myself and the kids more but there was really no way to predict what would have happened. My ex is entitled to the max and just plain evil. Throw in his evil family with seemingly unlimited money and it was a nuclear bomb of disorder.

    10 years later, the kids are grown and know dad is a FW; I have remarried to another former chump, and we are living the good life. The house he tried to take from me is paid for, we have minimal debt, I have a better job with better hours, I have a sweet ride (a BMW) and we take our RV camping numerous times a year. We are at the point where we can happily sail toward retirement. I run 5ks regularly (was waaay overweight married to FW) and play music in a band.

    Meanwhile, ex is stuck with wifetress, who is much older than him, and an absolute looney hypochondriac. They are eyeballs in debt and their business is in the toilet simply because of their jackhole attitude. My husbands ex is a barely functional alcoholic, living the party lifestyle and trying to find a sugar daddy. She needs to be more concerned about retirement, diabetes, heart disease, liver damage…etc.

    The main point is that it is absolute hell trying to get rid of these FWs, but Tuesday is so much better life.

    • Woohoo! You got to see Karma. Me? No. But oh well. My karma is I’m a much happier person. The FW is still who he was when he was married to me. What a sad sausage, but he’s not my sad sausage. He still has to live with himself until he dies. His Karma – He has to live with his skank. He’s nearing 70 and he can’t let his kids and grandkids know that he’s such a loser, so he’ll continue to put on a happy face. It’s a never-ending facade that he puts on everyday. And yet, I hear little snippets here and there about his poor choices that he continues to make to this day. So maybe I do get to see Karma.

  • I knew I would be grateful he left long before I felt it.

    I entertained wreckonciliation for two months (and he faked it, because leaving at Thanksgiving would have really made him look like the jerk he actually is). I entertained the idea because when in astronomical pain I can entertain ridiculous ideas to alleviate it.

    In my conversation with Higher Power this morning, I actually said how grateful I was that he left, and said, “You were right when you said I would be grateful.”

    I am NOT grateful for being betrayed and abused and lied to and cheated on and I want my time back. But at the end of the day, I did not want to be married to someone who could do to me what he did, and the main OW, like flipping on the light switch in my kitchen at midnight and spying a cockroach, revealed that my home was not the pest-free zone I believed it to be.

    She is the DNA evidence that proves he is a jerk. And her choice of boyfriends proves what a loser she is too.

    • “But at the end of the day, I did not want to be married to someone who could do to me what he did…” SAME.

    • “…at the end of the day, I did not want to be married to someone who could do to me what he did…”

      This is my truth, too. When I realized that my husband was only too willing to live a secret life and keep me in the dark about himself for the rest of my life, I knew he not only didn’t love me, but didn’t care about me at all. I knew I could never respect myself if I stayed with someone who thought so little of me. Wife appliance, indeed. It was an act of self-respect to leave.

      • Exactly my thoughts. I hope to be free next year. The practicalities of it all scare me sometimes (baby and two elementary school children, work, and doing it all by myself), but i do believe staying married is not an option, not with someone who can treat me like shit when noone is looking, even though he seemed always a gentleman around me: holding doors, cooking me dinners, lovely little notes. But all along he visited prostitutes every two weeks or so. My brain needed time to accept this truth, as in daily life he acted like I meant the world to him. In retrospect I can see something was off, but he was a master manipulator. I hope to get to the other side in one piece. Thanks for the stories of no regrets, fellow chumps!

        • Stay on the path. Always have your self respect. By having self respect, you are more likely to demand respect from others. And if they don’t give you respect, shake the dust from your shoes and be done with them. It’s tough right now, but it’s a short time in your life. And you are being a great example to your children.

        • You can do it. The beginning will be hardest. I have one elementary school child and I have those fears, too. But I am about to rip off the bandage. The cheating is bad but the lies and disrespect are too much. When I call him out on his disordered, controlling behavior, he doesn’t step back and self-examine. He calls me a bitch and feels proud of himself like a pigeon that craps on your chess game. Nothing to work with here. Not only would a FW never genuinely seek help, they hate you for seeing through their gaslighting and lies. What they have isn’t really fixable. Getting the kids away from such a person, at least part of the time, is important.

      • Adelante, this is my truth too. We had incredible times together, but there was always the dark side that no one else knew about or saw — only me and the kids (and the kids didn’t know more than “just” the infidelities). I could have kept lying to myself about who he really is and his hidden life, but my self-respect finally won the day. I knew I would lose most everything in my material life, but I could no longer live with myself and the energy it took to support his lies and false self. I was conditioned to denial and to make the best of things, so it’s all been quite difficult…but I will never regret my decision to try to live by my values – decency, compassion, integrity, respect. Seems essential to do so in this upside down world of ours.

  • I still work within the family business we built together and I’ve had to learn boundaries and distance. Have succeeded with both. After 36 years of criticism and 27 years of a fake mirage Thank you VH!); my biggest regret is my loss of opportunity. I regret ever marrying him (how the hell did I do that?!). I don’t miss him at all. At 59; I had to rebuild a life and from the ashes I rose! I’ve increased my assets, building a new business and a further career past that. I’m now 65; I’m in the midst of a demanding heritage significant building renovation and I’m rocking it. I could not have done any of my achievements with him still my life partner. In fact; I was serving a life sentence until I walked out. Him; now 66 is an immature old man all on his own.
    NO REGRET! WHY DIDN’T I LEAVE SOONER!

  • He dumped me. I would have kept trying forever. It wasn’t until I was out that I realized all my attempts at communication just taught him how to manipulate me better.

    I regret all the time wasted. Not just with him but with the false “friends” and “family.” I regret that every major life decision I made over a 20 year period was based on lies. That one really burns me. One of his friends asked me what the harm was and I told her that and her eyes got big and she gulped out a “well…” and got real quiet. Yeah, b-word, think about that while you act like he did nothing wrong. Every decision I made was, of course, heavily impacted by our marriage and our family. And the marriage was fake. I made decisions based on us and there was no us, he got to make decisions based on the truth that would benefit him. That’s why I went for alimony and screw all of them for insulting me for it. He used my labor for 20 years until he felt financially stable and then he wanted me to go lie down behind a dumpster and die. He can eat dirt.

    So, yeah, as you can see, there is regret. Regret about staying, not about going through with the divorce.

    • “all my attempts at communication just taught him how to manipulate me better.”

      Hell yes to everything you said

    • I say this all the time. I would have kept trying. I would have stayed.
      On the day he abandoned our 32 year marriage I wanted to tell him through my sobs that I’ll be here waiting if you figure out all you’re running away from – but I didn’t my pride kept me from saying it and as I watched him drive away, I knew we would not recover. He said he would take care of us and we could find a mediator.
      And yes “every decision I made over the years was based on lies”
      Frightened and stunned I filed for divorce 3 months later. He was furious that I didn’t tell him first. He was also furious I wanted the house in addition to half of all his retirement not just the one I was “entitled” too.
      He tried coming back twice, put divorce on hold without telling me and promised to spend the rest of his life making it up to me. My wobbly heart thought I spotted a unicorn but my brain had already met CL, CN and Runaway Husbands and finally made me trust my gut that he sucks.
      The divorce was finalized three months ago. Still stunned I’m here but there are no regrets.

      • CONGRATULATIONS Abovethe Lie!!!!! I think I was in s hock for two years, but I didn’t have CL… keep on because you never have to live his lies again, and that is a beautiful comfort

      • You done good. With time, you’ll be ever more solid in knowing that you did the right thing. I’m glad CL, CN, and Runaway Husbands were there for you. I don’t regret the past with the FW because who knows what could have happened. For all I know, there might have been an even more abusive FW and I would have been destroyed. It’s futile to think about what could have been. It is what it is. The most important thing is to move forward, love yourself, and be the best person you can be. And before you know it, you’ll be at Meh. Tuesday really is just around the corner.

      • You’re doing awesome. I felt like I was in shock for over a year. I’m two years out and I still have my moments where my mind reels. It will keep getting better though.

    • ☝️I regret all the time wasted.
      I made every major life decisions based on us,
      but there was no us 💥💥💥

  • I don’t regret leaving my cheater or miss how he treated me. However, I don’t regret trying to reconcile as for me, for my sake, I needed to know that I tried. Also, those were really hard, but eye opening months as I gradually saw who he really was. They were however, months, not years. I definitely feel for those for tried to reconcile for years. Going through that for months was hard enough.

    • I did the same and have just concluded I will never trust or respect him anymore. He seems like a therapy machine saying the right things, but there is zero empathy. He scares me, seems like a stranger now. Our shared (sex addiction) therapist agrees we should split to stop the pain.

  • No regrets what so ever for leaving my abuser. Financially I suffered big losses and my mental health is not good. Most probably I would be much better off right now if I had ended things years ago. Nothing will ever fix the damages what he did to me. I still blame myself for staying and I don’t know how or if I can ever forgive myself for allowing him abuse and mistreat me for years. Leave if it doesn’t feel right!

  • The only thing that I regret is using a mediator instead of hiring my own attorney. It’s been two years plus of fighting to get everything how it should have been from the beginning, and it has cost substantially more than it would have otherwise. It is just so very hard to trust that they suck despite all the evidence.

    Now, I fully trust that he sucks. I can see him much more clearly, and it makes me nauseated to think that I was once so bonded to him that I would have given anything to make him love and value me and keep our family together.

    Anyone who is still trying to decide whether to leave or not needs to, at minimum, demand a favorable, ironclad postnup. If they won’t agree, that is a sure sign that you aren’t married to a unicorn.

    • 👆👆👆

      Or if your state offers legal separation, take that route. You will still be married but will be financially and legally protected. It’s really the LEAST a truly repentant cheater could do. Sure, it may hurt them, but not nearly as much as they hurt you.

      But what they should really do is quickly and amicably divorce you. Unicorns can always get remarried.

    • This is what I’m grappling with right now. FW and I used an online legal service. We haven’t filed yet, but I’m worried that I should have an actual human lawyer look at it and make sure it’s ironclad. I don’t want to file only to find that he can screw me down the road. He claims to be a unicorn and wants to give me everything I’m asking for (really he wants to stay married but I’m not doing that) but I worry. If this man was capable of lying and cheating for 30 years he’s certainly capable of screwing me in a divorce.

      • Get an actual attorney. A longtime friend is struggling with this -/ his step dads parasitic ex came back for more money 20 years after the divorce. Turns out the loose ends were not properly tied and the ex took him to the cleaners again , causing problems that ended the second marriage. Friends mom was left impoverished because her husbands ex got so many assets.

        Friend is now having to financially support the mom, who was a housewife most of her life. It’s a mess.

        All because some legal paperwork wasn’t properly completed in 1992.

      • Yes, he’s capable of screwing you in the divorce and to keep screwing you for years after. If he cared about you he wouldn’t have lied and cheated for 30 years. He wants you to believe he’s behaving honorably now so you don’t see him cheat you in the divorce. TRUST HE SUCKS and protect yourself with your own attorney who’s only job is to look out for you. When people show you who they are, believe them.

  • I don’t miss him at all. I did all the work already, so no change there. But I’m also glad that I did try the reconciliation thing for some period too. I am completely at peace, knowing that I tried everything I could, and he was never really interested in change or committed to me or our family. I could have tried to enforce boundaries earlier and seen who he was earlier. That’s the one thing I regret- waiting until it was my health and mental well-being or him- one needed to go. I remember my counselor saying (I had one of the good ones) that if I proceeded to divorce I would see his true colors. And boy, did I.

  • No regrets. Feel like I dodged a bullet. At 71, I am aware of and surrounded by couples and singles making sense of the last 10 to 15 yrs of our lives. Several of the couples have a spouse in mental decline and are essentially babysitting even changing diapers. I look at that scenario and am thankful I am not with FW. I am an all-in Chump and if he had stayed with me and reconciled, I am quite sure I would one day be spending all my savings on his health care and resenting him for it. On the other hand if I’d gotten sick, he would not have cared for me and would have made a mess of finances etc. I truly am living my best life right now..retired, golfing, hiking, book club, caring for grandkids enough to enjoy them but not so much I resent the imposition, and now I started traveling again. I’m healthy and have financial resources to do what I want. And FW..he is working 6 days a week pounding nails-literally, to pay bills. He is living with an alcoholic (The OW dumped him for another mark), has shitty relationship with his sons and grandkids which makes me sad for my sons. Get this- my married friends are envious of my life. I am so happy to have grown up through womens lib movement. Those of us at this age still cling to our independence. My moms generation was handcuffed by the patriarchal mentality which seems to be rearing it’s ugly head again. I’m sad that my kids and grandkids might have to fight the same fights my generation did. Freedom from tyranny is a treasure not to be squandered! Life fed me a lemon, I made sweet lemonade. Hugs! 💪

    • “I am an all-in Chump and if he had stayed with me and reconciled, I am quite sure I would one day be spending all my savings on his health care and resenting him for it. On the other hand if I’d gotten sick, he would not have cared for me and would have made a mess of finances etc.”

      Yes, THIS!!!! He didn’t care for me when I was so sick I could have died. I spent so much energy taking care of him when he was sick. His health wasn’t good and I would have spent my life dealing with that. And he was terrible with money. I was not unhappy to hand the job of nursemaid and bank over to OW.

      I truly am living my best life right now (and traveling again, too!).

    • Thank you for this. I will be 69 in a couple of months. I am now caring for my aging mother, who is in hospice, and, god forgive me, I am looking forward to the release her death will bring. The life you describe yourself living is an inspiration to me–it’s what I want for myself, post-divorce, post-retirement, and post-caring for Mom.

    • Amen! This is the main reason I don’t want to remarry or live with anyone again. I will have an empty nest soon and started saving aggressively for my own retirement after he left. It’s amazing how much money I could save without him spending it.

      I am also committed to not being saddled with my parents care because I am the only daughter, my brothers are going to have to figure that out when the time comes. My parents neglected to plan for their own old age, which isn’t my financial burden to bear. They spent every dime they had on trips and meals and that was their choice.

      “Freedom from tyranny is a treasure not to be squandered!”

      You are an inspiration. ❤️

  • Maybe add. No regrets to being divorced from a cheater. He left me. But i regret not leaving first.

    My life is easier. I get more breaks. My son is happier. He’s accountable for putting more money in towards our son so I can save.

    When he was leaving he actually said “you have nothing to lose. It’s not like you have had my affection” he meant it as an insult for me I guess. But really it was insult about him and his contribution to our family.

  • I have been asked this by other people. I do not regret one bit leaving my abusive, cheating, lying, butt ugly poor excuse of an ex wife. When the massive and only DDay happened I filed for divorce 2 1/2 weeks later when she acted entitled and when the lawyer did a Colorado State background check on her and her whole double life came out.

  • Divorced a little over 6 years after 21 years of marriage to a serial cheater. I miss NOTHING about him as a person. I do miss being 1/2 of a couple. I miss a lot of the activities we did together. Lots of traveling, lots of motorcycle riding, friday night tv on the couch together. Those types of things. But these are things I can do again with Mr. Right instead of “Mr. Im going to be in the bathroom for 15 minutes texting my girlfriend”

    • It has been so many years since klootzak has acted like we are a couple, I hardly remember those activities. I am used to watching TV alone now. Maybe someday I’ll miss those things but right now it feels like I adjusted to single life.

    • My ex would take his iPad into the bathroom for a half hour to message his girlfriend. Maybe he was also sharing di*k pics with her, who knows… I asked him if he was having trouble with a bowel movement and needed to see the doctor. He said, “No.” I asked, “Are you chatting with your girlfriend?” He said, “I don’t have a girlfriend.” Uh-huh…

  • 100% no regrets. When the bombshell double life was thrown at me, my only regret was that I let him see me cry. I did not attempt wreckconciliation and filed for divorce in record time. The only thing I could think of is I don’t want to waste anymore of my life. The gaslighting, mental abuse, silent treatment, loneliness, abandonment that I felt during our marriage is like a bad memory. I don’t miss anything. I do wish he would disappear so I didn’t have to deal with child custody issues. But my son will be an adult in 10 years and it will get easier.

  • No regrets whatsoever. I don’t even regret marrying the SOB. I know what a great wife I was, it was his loss, not mine. Not that he’s capable of recognizing that fact. That experience “fixed my picker” for life! If a man has even ONE similar characteristic, I’m out!

    • I got a beautiful child out of my marriage, and my son is the love of my life. I’d do it all again for him. But if I had to do it again, I’d leave when he was a baby and not wait five more years.

  • He left me. It hurt SO badly and left me an emotional wreck for several years. In time I was glad that he did. I would have stayed and kept trying, probably forever, and been miserable. I would have continued to endure his abuse and continued to blame myself for my “failings”. I thought I loved him. And he had beaten me down so much that I thought I couldn’t live without him. (But look at me, living and shit. Doing just fine.)

    Time and distance opened my eyes to what a nightmare my life had been. How small. How empty.

    My life now is full. Full of good things. Full of genuine people. Full of peace. Full of happiness. Full of potential. Full of freedom. For the first time since I started dating him, I am financially stable (what a drain he was, in every respect).

    I no longer have to try to make myself small to accommodate a disordered person. I no longer have to “perform” in the hopes that he would show me some basic human decency.

    I am so happy being single. I’m not lonely. Not even a little. I was terribly lonely in my marriage, especially the last few years.

    I regret that I didn’t file for divorce the moment he admitted to having had (he said past tense) “feelings” for OW. I kept trying for three and a half years to “fix” something that was broken beyond repair. To “save” something that never existed. I regret that I begged and pleaded for him to take me back. I regret that I did things in an effort to “keep” him that were completely out of character for me. I regret losing my dignity. But I don’t regret “losing” him. I got to the point where I realized I didn’t envy OW. That I wouldn’t have traded places with her for the world. I knew what her life was like and what it was going to be. And I was so grateful to be out of it.

    He died about a year ago, so I am truly free from his abuse now. All of that mess feels like it happened to someone else. I worried at one point that I was becoming an angry, bitter person, but I just needed time to process everything that had happened to me (once I was safe enough to do so). I am no longer angry. I am indifferent. Those things happened to me, but they don’t control my life or occupy my thoughts any more.

    I leave in a few weeks to go on the first vacation I’ve had in 15 years, a solo trip I am looking forward to so much. I paid for it in full (on a whim!) and didn’t even feel it. That would have been unimaginable a few years ago. These days I can think about the future with hope and happiness, rather than steeling myself to endure it. No regrets.

    • Congratulations! Have a lot of fun on your vacation. I bought myself a tiny pop-up trailer when I divorced the FW. It was scary at first, but after a while, I was rocking it! If there is advice that I could give somebody coming out of marriage to a FW, go out immediately and start doing the things that you wanted to do but didn’t because the FW disapproved. Don’t wait until you’re stronger. Force yourself to live immediately. I think that helped me get to Meh faster. When I got out and started doing things on my own, I saw that I was ‘free’ and actually quite capable. I finally got to see that the only person that I needed to make me happy was ‘ME’.

  • One who knows the details of my story could argue that I maybe might have a unicorn, but the damage has been done and I need to move on. I’m not willing to invest more time or energy into a man who had sex with my friend for two years, lied about it every single second of those two years, lied about viewing porn for almost the entirety of our 20-year marriage, and partnered in blowing up two families (along with our circle of friends). I’m not on the fence. He moved out three weeks ago. I felt relieved. But…still sad, and wondering when relief will arrive in a more exponential fashion. Maybe I need more than three weeks?

    • A unicorn 🦄 would not have spent 2 years deceiving you and would have had the common sense to pick a mistress from outside his social circle.

      • Seriously! Pick someone outside our social circle!! Apparently he doesn’t have as much common sense as I initially thought 😉

        I meant a unicorn during the recovery process. But I get your point.

    • Oh hell yes, you need a lot more time. It will improve but it’s not necessarily linear. You’ll probably have many setbacks that make it seem like you’re starting from scratch. Expect that and don’t let it melt your resolve. Just stay steady on your course and keep going.

    • Three weeks is nothing. Be kind to yourself. 20 years is a lot of time for someone to have fucked with your whole self esteem. Give yourself a break and recognize that you’re very early in the healing process. Take your time and get to know who you are – warts and all. Then see that you’re a wonderful person and that if someone else doesn’t recognize it, then the problem is that person. Not you. I mentioned on another’s comment — Go force yourself to do some of the things that you’ve always wanted to do but your FW’s disapproval just kept preventing you. Do it now. Each time you do something for yourself, you’ll feel a little better about yourself. It’s therapy even though you won’t recognize it till months later. You got this!!

    • I also wondered when the pain would ease after a 30 year marriage. Everyone’s healing experience is unique, though I’ve heard a year for every 5 of the relationship. What is true for me is that it hurts just half as much with each passing year. Almost four years out, it is close to “meh”. And the alternative (staying) would have probably killed me.

  • I regret not ending the relationship much sooner (than she ended it). Unfortunately, I saw the signs and doubled my investment to make us work, only to have her leave me a year later. Wasted time, emotions – and money!

  • As the child of two cheater narcissist alcoholics I was abused for expressing feelings and gaslit and blamed constantly. No wonder I partnered with abusive men. It’s hard to believe I even survived the numerous traumatic events I suffered (sexual abuse by several perps starting at age 3, rape, domestic violence, violent death of my father, physical neglect and assault by my mother, pregnant at 14, homeless as 16, motherhood at 19, cheater husband and dV abuser #1, and covert sociopath cheater alcoholic and drug addict husband #2 (25 year marriage). It’s hard for me to discern my own thoughts about my XH. But, 8 years after Dday 1 and 18 weeks of false wreconciliation and Ddays 2-???, finding CL and going low/no contact, getting divorced, stabilizing my finances, building my career, raising my kids….. I’m glad I’m not in the throes of the shock, terror, discard, blameshifting, gaslighting phases. I’m glad I’m not getting STDs from him. I’m glad I’m not hyper vigilant about his whereabouts, his stories that don’t add up, his sketchy phone use, his moodiness, his physical and emotional abuse. I haven’t had any contact with him for 2 months despite the birth of our first grandchild. I still feel his dark shadow lurking. Regret leaving that hellish end?Never. Miss the life I thought I had with him for 25 years? Yes, very much at times. But, it was all built on his lies. One big con job. 😭

  • Put me in the “Wish I had left sooner” category.

    I would have avoided a whole world in which marriage is THE THING held in highest regard, not my safety or health.

    Glad to be out of it now.

  • “the vast majority of chumps tried reconciliation first. And even if they didn’t leave, and were left, they probably spent a lot of time trying to get their partner to be more fully invested. Chumps are all in”

    If there ever was an All-In Chump, it was me.

    All of my ideas of regret are deeply influenced by the fact that I had ABSOLUTELY no idea what life I was actually living.

    I REALLY thought that I was married to a sweet and devoted man who had struggles which kept him off balance and if he could just understand how great life could be if he saw me in a more fair and charitable manner (he blamed me for everything, all day, without exceptions) that we could have a loving reciprocal marriage.

    I had no idea that our relationship was likely based on lies and subterfuge from the first moment we met.

    For the 18 years we were married before Dday, I swear to you that I really believed (that despite his crankiness)that we had a faithful, monogamous union. I kept trying to fix stuff but I never knew what the problem was. It was SOOOO not fixable….but I didnt know that. The 3 years we dated were all future-faking. (I wonder why men who DONT want to be monogamous seem to find endless delight in telling women that they are in love and want to get married…WTF is that?)

    The world kept telling me that people give up too easily and if you find the secret sauce of how you treat them, it will all be good. I regret that the universe didn’t tell me the truth. I deeply resent the “you teach people how to treat you” BS…I didnt teach people to lie, deceive and abuse me.

    I have entertained (and dismissed) regrets that I didnt kick him out on Dday but I was still hopeful and he would have used that to manipulate me. It would have changed the order of things but not the outcome.

    The putrid underbelly of my truth is that I was raised by narcs and even though I had a good soul, I was likely raised to be selfish and demanding because that is what I saw. The young woman who married him was interiorly unrefined and life with him was like smelting to burn off the useless ore. If I had been given a kind husband, I might have become a bratty, entitled brat of a woman. The person I am today is better and I appreciate life and love better than I might otherwise have been.

    So regret is a really complicated topic for me. I surely dont regret that the marriage is over.

    • Yes, I was raised by a narc too. On the outside, I grew up in the perfect family. I didn’t know that healthy conflict resolution meant no stonewalling, no contempt, and no power-over. Once I came to, I was in so thick with two teens that I couldn’t figure out what to do and just chose to bury my feelings and stay in denial.

      My attorney said that if I had married someone kind-hearted, truly committed, and able to handle conflicts with respect, the story would have been different. He had been married for forty years and assured me that those had always been his values. His wife was his business partner and practice manager.

      Ironically, a mutual friend of ours had actually warned me off of my ex after we got engaged. He completely nailed the attitude that was the root of our problems. Of course, I ignored that.

    • “The world kept telling me that people give up too easily and if you find the secret sauce of how you treat them, it will all be good. I regret that the universe didn’t tell me the truth. I deeply resent the “you teach people how to treat you” BS…I didnt teach people to lie, deceive and abuse me.” deserves repeating, memorizing, and teaching

      • I read the books and tied myself in knots. Better meals and more sex. Don’t complain about his porn habit. In his eyes, I was a loser, and he told me so.

        Once I got that he was justifying himself and that such comments were not at all a reflection on me, I was free.

        I talk all the time with my adult kids about safe people and unsafe people. The only thing to do with an unsafe person is to run when you can. Don’t let them close to you while you get ready to go.

  • Omigosh thats a big no regerts from me too. Through fear, anxiety, the emotional dislocation of acrimonious divorce, abuse recovery, PTSD recovery, the painful onion peeling of therapy, bouts of deep paralysing depression, seemingly bottomless wells of FOI to process … one thing never changed – the sheer relief of not living with him any more. The festering boil is lanced, the truth is told, I have no friends left from that time, no contact with ex, my kids have weathered things with resilience and maturity. I’m financially secure and retired at 61. No, no regrets.

    “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

  • Absolutely no regrets about leaving!

    I do regret doing the pick me dance for 4 years after D-day…. I only wish that I had trusted intuition and l left 20+ years earlier (married for 24 years!). The roller coaster of discard and devaluation often left me feeling depressed and anxious – I never understood it. Now, with time and distance I see that he was just a really shitty partner on top of being a lying cheater.

    4.5 years out from my divorce and life if good. 🙂

  • No Regrets! I went through hell getting out of that marriage but I live a drama free authentic life now. Sometimes I miss the lie. I miss who I thought he was, financial security, the big beautiful marital home. But everything I have now is mine. Staying with a cheater is unsustainable and I’m glad I got out.

  • No regrets! Lots of good came out losing a 36 year marriage to the collateral damage of discovery and divorce.
    I try to keep it in perspective. While it was devastating on the front-end, it yielded great benefits on the other side:

    1. Rose colored glasses only work for a time. They must come off to live with eyes-wide-open.
    2. The world is full of grifters. Many are using marriage as cover for image management – not love.
    3. Men and women must be self-supportive regardless of another’s promise to provide for home and children.
    4. Trust your gut. Intuition is a built-in warning system for your survival.
    5. Society is unraveling and civilization is degrading. Watch your back at all times.
    6. Don’t commingle your finances with another. Period.
    7. Children learn through modeling in the home. Model high ideals; don’t stick it out with a disordered partner.
    8. This experience doesn’t define us. It’s a learning experience full of growth potential and opportunity!
    9. Single life is ripe for discovery and fulfillment. Accessorize it your way to find your peace.
    10. Be grateful your character, conscience and courage are intact. They are your greatest assets. You dodged a bullet.
    11. Remain open to quality people and relationships. They’re out there. Patience and time win the prize.
    12. CL and Chump Nation are valuable friends and resources! There is wisdom and inspiration here!

    What’s to regret?! Sometimes losing all is the path to real gain. Embrace it; there are blessings on the other side!

  • I’m only glad I didn’t leave the first time I found out because we had another baby as part of the Great Reconciliation Pt. 1, and he wouldn’t be here if I’d gone. When he was 7 months old, FW couldn’t wait any longer and moved in with the newest and evidently greatest Schmoopie. It was hell and a half but I don’t regret that at all. I have my 2 amazing kids and a new healthy life.

  • I have no regrets about leaving. My life is so much better now. Biggest regret is not pulling the pin sooner. I DO regret how badly ex-FW treated my (his) children! Not only did he replace me, but her kids replaced his. I left him when I was pregnant with my first, but he pulled me back in. Part of me wished I had just stayed away, but then I wouldn’t have kid #2 (and grandchildren!)

  • No Regrets at ALL! And that’s with only 1 year out from D-Day. Divorce final 4 months ago. I really wanted kids with him. Our only fight was after IVF didn’t take and he didn’t want to go to an adoption meeting (he didn’t want kids “that bad”). I regretted not having kids with him until…the divorce. Now I’m so THANKFUL I don’t have kids with that FW. I never have to deal with him ever again. All in all, I didn’t realize what a roadblock he was in our relationship until god pushed him away to make way for my blessings. FW took his demons with him to deal with on his own (and with the AP). That is her problem now too. 🙂

  • My only regret is not leaving sooner. To all those who are reading this and feeling stuck, take baby steps forward and you will get there. Detoxing is hell but you can get through it to a better life on the other side!

    • I didn’t know the shit he was pulling mostly after he left.

      However, I knew something was off the year of discard. I just kept trying to fix it. By the last three month, I was in the fetal position (metaphorically) waiting for the blows.

      If I had it to do over, the day it hit me that he was pulling away, I would do my financial investigation and then spent that year working on me, hiding a bit of money and asking my brother to pay for a legal consult. He would have known if I paid for it myself, I am sure he kept a close eye on the checks I wrote. I didn’t watch his account because at the time I was not suspicious of financial fraud. Note: we had two accounts but we were owners on both.

      Thank God I didn’t put my check into the main account, otherwise the whore would have got most of that too.

      But, I can’t be too hard on myself, as I did pretty darn good considering I didn’t know what the hell was going on or what I was involved in.

  • “I think a lot of what we deem toxic is driven by the power dynamics of maintaining one’s entitlement. Healthy relationships, by contrast, aren’t competitions or predatory. They’re reciprocal and respectful.”

    Exactly, and whether one prefers to call these people toxic or abusive, the effect they have is the same. They hurt and damage their partners. So to me there is no such distinction. If you repeatedly, deliberately do things which harm people, you are both toxic and abusive.

    I do believe people can change their ways if they want to. The trouble is that toxic/abusive people don’t want to. This explains why I have no regrets. The FW clearly did not want to change. He made only an outward show of it by occupying a seat with a therapist for 2-4 hours a month, then doing none of the work on himself that was part of the therapy. The work is done by the patient and mostly outside the therapist’s office, based on suggestions the therapist makes. FW did none of that. He would put therapy out of his mind immediately after the session ended and he gleaned no insights at all. He briefly tried CBT but was too lazy to fill out a simple worksheet that was part of it. He was only required to do two of those a month, but couldn’t be bothered.
    Apparently he is seeing a better qualified therapist now, so hopefully he will get the boot from her if he refuses to do anything but sit there and pretend to listen. But even if by some miracle he now wants to change and is trying, it’s far too late. I have no love or respect left for him.
    When people do want to change, the effort they put into it is noticeable. Where there is low to no effort you have somebody who prefers to maintain their sense of entitlement to be abusive.

    I’ve read enough from people on the RIC forums and blogs to know that they are miserable, far more than we are. Common feelings the allegedly successfully reconciled unicorns post about include feeling dead inside, numb, hopeless and paralyzed.
    People at CN might be sad but thankfully, we are not usually those things, or at least, not for long, because we get rid of the creature that is the cause of those feelings. We gather up the guts to face the terrible truth about our so-called life partners, then act in our own best interest to salvage our mental and physical health. Some get here faster than others, but we all get here. Everlasting thanks to CL for giving us a place to help each other get where we need to be.

  • Though I was a chump of Olympic proportions, I have zero regrets today about serial cheater FW dumping and divorcing me after 40 years; in hindsight, being liberated (admittedly, it was initially against my will) is literally the best gift he ever gave me.

    It’s been 7 years since a judge put his stamp of approval on our decree. That’s 84 months of zero contact. That’s 2,555 days of healing, gratitude, peace and prosperity. The Land of Meh is a beautiful place to live.

    In case you’re curious, I still can’t stand to be in the same room as FW and Married Howorker; they both exude so much toxic energy, being around them is akin to visiting a nuclear waste dump without the proper PPE. Better yet, it’s like when you go into a nursing home and you’re suddenly hit in the face with that musty “old person smell”… it hangs in the air and there’s no escaping it!

    BTW, for those who are interested, that unique odor is technically called “nonenal odor”. No matter how diligently you clean your home, wash your laundry or take daily baths, that greasy stink is ever present. The old person is completely unaware of their own smell, but visitors and caretakers often have to hold their breath just to get close to them.

      • Me too! This is really a thing.
        During my first pregnancy I had to pass through an office staffed by elderly volunteers. The nonenol made me gag & when I smell it now, I still gag.
        It’s caused by a normal age related decline in antioxidant production and the skin can’t keep up with oxidizing normal fatty acids from the skin. Soap can’t get rid of it.
        Fun facts!

  • I was abandoned quickly and didn’t have time to pick me dance. Didn’t see it coming. There’s been no communication since despite 13 (lol) happy shared years together. And …

    I have no regrets. The experience itself was awful but my life is more joyful, more stable (financially and otherwise), and teeming with reciprocal relationships. Would not go back to the time I thought I was “happy.”

    • Me too, Stella. Married 14 years and I suddenly figured out he was cheating with his coworker — he walked out that day never to return. Never got a chance to pick me dance. Didn’t see it coming. Horrific and traumatizing at the time, but 7 years later — I’m so relieved.

  • Along the same lines – I saw an interview with Glen Close regarding the re-make of Fatal Attraction – she said it’s important to see the (bunny burner OW) in a more empathetic light – to explore what made her obsessive etc… to understand the OW’s perspective…. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh….. so now we are going to explore the OW…..and feel sorry for her just like the courts repeatedly give drunk drivers back their keys….. ( ie: the drunken Houston nurse who killed 6 innocent people in Calif had a long history of arrests) yes – let’s all shed a crocodile tear for fkwits and OW’s. Those poor narcissists. We need a movie about strong Chumps, sane single mothers, women who were handed a shit sandwich but moved on to a better life- instead of all these movies that shine an empathetic light on disordered home wreckers and self-entitled cheaters. Oh, Chump Lady you’re going to walk down that red carpet and get that Oscar you so deserve – do it for us. Xo

    • ☝️Not to detract from or disagree with anything you wrote:
      Glenn Close has a mentally ill sibling. She’s an advocate
      to reduce stigma, increase knowledge & encourage treatment.

      • Yeah, wasn’t her character supposed to have borderline personality disorder in that movie? I watched something about it where in the original ending, she killed herself and framed Michael Douglas for it. But it didn’t test well so they scrapped it. It’s more accurate for BPD though.

    • Jo, I think her point is to watch that movie with a more critical eye. The bad guy in that movie is really Michael Douglas. He’s the idiot cheating on his beautiful wife and child. He let the crazy in.

  • Absolutely no regrets from me.

    I do find it interesting on a Facebook group I belong to for men who have been cheated on how many of them are (at least they say so) committed to the idea of reconciliation, most often (again, they SAY) because they’re determined to prove the societal prevailing ‘wisdom’ about men and cheating wrong: that men are NOT dogs, men do NOT want to fuck every piece of ass that walks by, men are NOT slaves to evolutionary impulses in order to propagate the species, etc.

    I spout Chump Lady’s wisdom at every opportunity, and typically get likes and positive reaction emojis, but I’ve been there myself. I know what it’s like to think that way. But at some point, withstanding the manipulative words and behavior of someone who didn’t respect me (after 20 years together) had to win out. Thank god it did.

  • I only regret that I didn’t leave sooner — like before I married the creep!!

    Trash is trash. I don’t see how a toxic person can be repurposed into a wonderful, loving partner. It’s all goes in the garbage and to a landfill far away from me.

  • I think this question shouldn’t be limited only to previous spouses/partners. One of the side affects of going through my hell is that I examined every relationship in my life. Many, many of the people in my life were toxic and had me feeling like shit about myself for years. I don’t regret cutting any of them off, including several close family members. They are all tumors.

    • It’s quite possible that many of those toxic people caused you to be susceptible to your FW. Now you’re free. Good for you!

  • No regrets. I’m glad to be alive, and I am still processing what happened, now 6 years post divorce and having ended a 27-year relationship.

    I think the difference between toxicity and abusiveness is the velocity of harm. Abusiveness is acutely dangerous—like a hammer to the head (perhaps literally). Toxicity is subtle—a slow harm by gradual torture. No single droplet of the Chinese water torture can be accused of doing any real harm. (Such a trifle! What are you so upset about? You’re overreacting. Maybe you’re the problem.) And that’s how 27 years’ worth of droplets can drive a normal, healthy person into suicidal ideation. Go ahead, ask me how I know.

    I found Ms. Gilbert to be very glib. Why would a toxic person ever come to the therapy table?… They are not feeling any pain over poor relationship quality. It’s a mutually exclusive condition… Anyone who feels enough pain to self-motivate and undertake meaningful change over poor relationship quality isn’t toxic, almost by definition. That toxic person has no inner motivation. And furthermore, it’s not easy to recognize toxicity. Even monsters have their final points and charms. It can take the naïve as many as 27 years to finally see beyond those finer points and charms and spot the toxicity for what it is.

    • “Anyone who feels enough pain to self-motivate and undertake meaningful change over poor relationship quality isn’t toxic, almost by definition. That toxic person has no inner motivation. And furthermore, it’s not easy to recognize toxicity. ” These are great points

    • I dislike the word “toxic.” It strikes me as a meaningless buzzword of the day, something totally subjective. Who determines what is toxic? Its vagueness allows anyone to project whatever meaning they want onto it. It reminds me of the word “crazy.” Both are simply pejoratives.

      Therapists should be dealing in diagnoses and absolutes. Abuse is abuse. I would question any therapist who suggests trying to work it out with an abuser.

    • ” the difference between toxicity and abusiveness is the velocity of harm.”

      …”the velocity of harm.”

      That is brilliant, and poetic, and now embedded in my brain.

      Thank you!

  • No regrets other than wishing I walked away after DD#1 rather than wasting another 6 years of my one precious life loving someone who is so disordered he is incapable of loving anyone, including himself.

  • I agree that you need to run from both toxic and abusive. I have two friends who are therapists and have had informal discussions about what the line is there. I’m pretty sure that they would say that toxic people are abusive and that abusive people are toxic. My marriage was certainly both, all mixed up in a hot mess. Religion played a role.

    I might have run years before, but I was happily being mostly a SAHM and was taking hopium every day. On the outside, we looked like a great family, and I chose to believe that picture. I was in big-time denial, partly because of religious hopium. At times I thought about leaving, but I knew there would be a big custody battle. And just maybe things would get better? When both kids were in high school, they begged me to leave with them and not be found. I refused.

    When we finally separated, he took off for another state. Both kids were in college. I should have gotten an attorney some months in after the youngest turned eighteen. Thankfully he never pursued visitation with her, but I consulted an attorney who said that it would be unlikely that a judge would approve that anyway given that she was nearly 18 and that my ex was still living in hotels. She assured me that we could stall if needed.

    It was over a year more before the divorce process took off because I just wasn’t there and was struggling financially. I picked a heavy hitter that an acquaintance called “grandpa with an iron rod” because my ex picked one of the most expensive ones in the area, a thrice-married pit bull known for skirting the law and ethics. It was a mess because my ex took it as an opportunity to show me who was boss. The attorneys (both in their 60’s) got sick of it and got it settled without going to court.

    I’ve apologized to my kids for being so deep and clueless, and we’ve made things right between us. They are thriving professionals, and we love hanging out when schedules coincide. They have nothing to do with their dad.

    • Wow, I wonder what I would’ve done if my kids had asked for us all to run from him. I wasn’t a SAHM was part-time and had lots of time being mom. I knew if I left I would have to work full time and raise the kids alone and I was too scared to pull the trigger.

      • My guess is that if we had run, he would have found us. As I found out during the divorce, he knew what an aggressive, no-holds-barred attorney was and how to cry the blues to anyone who would listen.

        Thankfully, his attorney greatly respected mine and ultimately cut off the crazy stuff and got it settled.

  • No ragrets. I’m two years and two months after the D-Day that ended our 20-year marriage. He played the part of the doting, faithful husband right up until one day I get a call at 2:35 pm saying he’s not coming home. The OW was as old as our relationship — not even old enough to drink. And he also lied about the extent of his porn habit (a recurring theme among FWs, seems). And he had secret debt.
    I was 100% blindsided.
    But the other day I arrived at a job site where I go twice a year, and the client said, “So how’s life treating you?” And to my own surprise, my answer was, “Great! Life is actually pretty darn good.”
    I don’t regret marrying the FW — he was the impetus for our moving from my small hometown to a metro area where my career TOOK OFF — and I don’t regret filing for divorce nearly IMMEDIATELY after D-day. I did make an offer that perhaps we go through intense counseling, which he didn’t respond, and I don’t regret that offer either since my conscience is clear that I did what I could. And I can only do so much.
    I COULD have gone after him more in the settlement, but I’m glad it was done as quickly as possible. After all, he could’ve gone after ME for maintenance, and the way he collects debt like Pokémon, if he goes bust while we’re still legally married, the debt collectors would come after ME. (My state doesn’t care if my name’s not on the debt; married assets and liabilities are for both parties regardless.)
    I don’t regret the timing. Turns out the 105 days between D-Day, divorce, and my move into a house of MY VERY OWN was Providential financial timing (for multiple reasons I’d be typing forever if I went into detail).
    It’s been 26 months since D-day, and therefore 26 months in a row where I’ve not worried about whether or not all the bills are going to be paid this month. During the marriage I’d never have more than two months in a row without scrambling to figure out who’s getting paid and what expenses we can drop or postpone, or asking (!) him to PLEASE bring some of his income home to help (!) me pay the household bills. Now I look back and think, “Jeez, what a fcukin’ scrub he was.”
    It’s been over a year since I last heard from the FW — and apparently he heard of the professional milestone I just achieved, which I’d been working on for over twenty years. He sent me a message congratulating me on it. I left him on read for a couple of days, then blocked him.

    • How wonderful for you! And like you, I am so much more financially sound now that the loser is no longer in my life. Geez! I actually have money now instead of debt!

    • I’ve been waiting for someone to use the “no ragrets” so thank you! 😀 And congrats on your awesome recovery. You are mighty!

  • It has been nine years since the divorce and I am happily remarried. Before any congratulations, I played the pick me dance for three years, ate the smallest kibbles as pure hopium, and let the cheater walk all over me. The only good thing was that when I threw in the towel, I was completely done and felt no remorse at all in regards to my cheater. My advice is to heal from your trauma, focus on protecting you, your children, and finances- that means filing for divorce. Trust me, things won’t get better and when you play with an entitled person, they only feel more entitled. Have an awesome weekend.

  • No regrets. I did my time. Being freed after 40 years of pain and service was scary. My release date was also kept a deep secret from me and sprung on as a surprise attack – so that could explain the fear that overwhelmed me when the shit went down. I’ve often said, that if he would have owned up to his disinterest in the marriage during one of our “discussions” where he played sad sausage over and over and over ad nauseum…..if he would have just said, “Yea, I see your point. Maybe we should consider splitting up”, I likely would have neatly carved out a nice slice of pie of our assets to be sure he was well taken care of. Chumpiness to the max. Instead, he kept a double secret life right up until the day he decided to discard and so it was an ugly mess while I fought to get my half of everything he thought he would walk away with and present to schmoopie.

    My sadness is about wasting 40 f***ing years of my one and only precious life on someone who never gave a crap about me. I was such a good little wife appliance I thought that was all I deserved. That, I regret.

  • I have no regrets on leaving my cheating ex. I regret not having ended our marriage far sooner. For too long I hung on, hoping that things would change. I was scared of what might happen. How would I make ends meet? Who would help me with the kids and the chores? What if I were lonely? Would I ever meet anyone else?

    Things got so painful in the end I didn’t care if I ever met anyone else. I realized that I was lonely even within the confines of a marriage and had been lonely for a long time because my ex was a terrible partner. I also realized that I was doing it all on my own anyway and that it would be easier with him out of the picture because then I’d only be dealing with two kids, and not a third big entitled baby. I also figured out that financially I’d be better off because he wouldn’t be draining my resources.

    Sure, it hurt. It was gut and heart wrenching to end a 15 year marriage that I poured a lot into. I did a version of the pick me dance. I played around in my head with the “maybe we’ll get back together again some day.”

    At this point I am GLAD I’m divorced. I’m grateful for the spectacularly awful and public DDay that I had to endure because there were no take backs after that. I cringe at the times I compared the OW to myself. I’ve gotten over the shame of wanting to want him back in my life. I am a far better and discerning person now that the ex is out of the picture. I like myself now. I’m not exhausted all of the time. I realize that while the cheating wasn’t my fault I should never have been married to the ex in the first place, nor should I have spackled his horrible behavior.

    Is there a happy ending after all of the misery? I’m happier. My life is far less chaotic and drama filled. I don’t have chronic worry or stress. I have more money in the bank than I ever had while married to cheating ex. I did a lot of hard work in therapy and individually on me. My divorce was thankfully final just 10 days before all of the covid court shutdowns in March 2020. It got done just in the nick of time. Two years after the divorce was final I went on my first date with a guy that I have known for a little over a year. The time was right to try again and really, this new guy is awesome. Night and day difference. But if he hadn’t come along I would have been okay anyway.

    So no, I will not ever regret leaving the cheater because I regained my life.

    • Wow, I relate to so much of this, especially “I also realized that I was doing it all on my own anyway and that it would be easier with him out of the picture because then I’d only be dealing with two kids, and not a third big entitled baby. I also figured out that financially I’d be better off because he wouldn’t be draining my resources.” It certainly has. My ex actually died last year and I went from 50/50 custody to full custody (yay!) and…nothing really changed for me, except I didn’t have to ferry my kid back and forth between two houses.

      “I like myself now. I’m not exhausted all of the time. I realize that while the cheating wasn’t my fault I should never have been married to the ex in the first place, nor should I have spackled his horrible behavior.
      Is there a happy ending after all of the misery? I’m happier. My life is far less chaotic and drama filled. I don’t have chronic worry or stress. I have more money in the bank than I ever had while married to cheating ex. ”

      YES. No drama. No chaos. I paid off all my (mostly our) credit card debt in just one year (well over $10,000), my bank account has never looked this good, my credit is improving. I no longer have to check my balance every time a bill is due, or it’s time to pay rent. I even had enough money to book a vacation (first one in over 14 years) to England and I leave in three weeks! I can’t wait. I’m so excited. My legal bills will be paid off by the middle of next year and then I’m going to start saving to buy a piece of land for my own little farm.

      I really love that newly chumped people can come here and read the stories of those of us who have regained our lives, moved past our pain, and found happiness on the other side. I didn’t believe it would ever happen to me. But it did. I hope my story and the stories of others here can give someone hope in the darkness.

    • Good for you on slipping the divorce in before March 2020. COVID and extremely uncooperative spouse prolonged divorce 2.5 years. The bright side is my home increased in value

  • I hugely regret that this whole situation has made me more cynical, mistrusting and really don’t know what ‘love’ actually is. I regret the massive upheaval it has been and will continue to make to my life. I regret that I truly believed he was ‘not the kind of guy’ who did this kind of thing and that he loved me and our family. Most of all I regret the effect it’s had on my daughter having to grow up in a broken family situation, even though we both remain close to her. Its far far from ideal for her and I’ve never wish it on her. Do I miss him? Hell no. He was such a misery really when you look back, so aloof. He could suck the joy out of anything if he chose to. Of course he’ll say that’s all down to me cause he was so lonely and sad (timid forest creature) and frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

    • “He could suck the joy out of anything if he chose to.”

      I had one of those, too. He excelled at spreading misery. Even on family outings that are truly hard to screw up, he would sulk and stomp. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that he got moody and sulky WHILE SLEDDING with his young kids. I remember begging him to go to a therapist. His response? To stomp more. “How dare you tell me that. I’M NOT MOODY. I DON’T YELL.” Maybe not. The silent treatment was worse.

      Later on, if, say, I were visiting one of our adult kids in the city, he would call me when he knew I’d be at a meal or concert and ask where something was in the house.

      him:”I can’t find my green hat” (that I never wear).
      me: “Did you look in the closet on the hat hooks?”

      Every.damn. time.

      UNTIL…it stopped.

      When these calls ended and he started to NOT resent my spending time with friends or my kids, I thought he’d turned a corner and was no longer fearful of abandonment. I actually rejoiced. Turns out, this coincides nicely with when the affair started. What I thought was a good thing was actually a bad thing. He wasn’t somehow evolved, he was fucking another woman in my bed.

      I don’t regret leaving.

      As so many have said here already, I regret that I didn’t leave sooner. I regret no noticing that I had a spackling knife so firmly affixed to my hand that I must have thought it was a natural part of my body. I regret making excuses for him and telling my kids that “he means well.”

      My life is better now. My kids are happier (and no longer kids but with kids of their own!). My high anxiety has decreased to a low, low simmer. Funny that.

      I hear that this man who liked to brag about his net worth is now struggling a bit with $$. Guess who used to handle all of that?

      I like to picture him in a perpetual state of looking for something. But now he can’t call me. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s looking for something intangible, like empathy, goodness, and maybe his soul. They are not on a damn hat hook. And he sure as hell won’t find them in an OW orifice.

  • “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand this, too, was a gift.”

    I miss who I thought he was and what I believed to be real that I always cherished with deep gratitude.
    I’m not sorry I wasn’t the one that got to leave. I have no regrets about giving everything I had to give to that relationship, not fully understanding then it would never and could never be enough.
    I could not have loved the man anymore than I did, I’m very proud of that and what I gave freely and with great love.
    Sure I feel significant losses in my life from the fallout and many of those I will carry with me forever.
    All the hurts will never really go away, it’s part of life’s mosaic now, the deep dark shadows.
    I almost feel some level of relief that after all his decades long serial cheating , he finally decided to take off with one in the long line of Schmoops he juggled, so the decision for change was never mine.
    I would have stayed forever. That would not have been the right choice for me or my kids.
    Now I’m free from the plethora of abuses I never even was able to process that were going on besides the constant infidelities. They are continually revealed to me years later with shocking clarity and incredulity that I was unaware or unwilling to see while happening. It will always be incomprehensible it even was a thing that occurred, but I accept that it most certainly did.
    All those bombardment of abuses and mistreatments kept me small choked out my light and kept it from full brightness. It was like having fires pop up continually around your house that needed your constant attention to extinguish and another starting up immediately to take its place, for way longer than you wanted to fight fires.
    No one in any war zone is sitting around daydreaming, painting, listening to good music or reading the classics, they can never get out of survival mode and being on high alert for the next inevitable attack and how they will possibly survive it.
    That’s not a life to wish on anyone.
    That’s the box full of darkness that turned into a gift. I couldn’t see how essential it was in my life to find peace and contentment again, to extinguish the craziness surrounding me that never wasn’t raging in some way, it was exhausting!
    I don’t regret that happening for me.
    I have great gratitude in very many ways that it did.

  • No. I don’t miss him at all. My only regret is that I put up so many years of abuse and only left once I discovered the cheating—I wish I had gotten my kids and myself away from him years earlier.

  • No regrets with divorce and standing up for myself.

    Regret that I missed the red flags and spent time trying to fix the marriage.

  • No regrets. Since leaving him I’ve finished a master’s degree, married a better man, taken a cool job working for LE, had a sweet third child with Better Husband, gotten a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and started a PhD.

    Part of me wishes I’d left sooner, but the child I was pregnant with when he began messing around on me is now 9 years old and I think he’s pretty swell and I’m glad he exists.

    I’ve been hanging around ChumpNation for almost 8 years now. I’ve seen people leave the community because they decided to wreckoncile. I’ve seen people struggle because their exes prevailed legally and their children were already grown into toxic and abusive adults. I’ve seen people leave the community because they themselves were quite toxic and messed up (remember that chick who ran The Dating Pool Needs Chlorine?).

    But I haven’t seen anyone actually regret leaving.

  • I throw my hat into the “I should have left sooner” ring. When I try to think back of exactly when I should have left, and I think of an incident that should have been the last straw, I can think of an earlier one. And an earlier one. And earlier and earlier. Until I realize I should have stopped seeing him after the first few dates. What was I thinking? I have no earthly idea, except that my self esteem must have been pretty low

    • Same here! I was already hurting and a bit deprived when we started “dating”. But after a year and a half the ex co tasted me that they never stopped ck**ing (gross). I knew just by the way she typed a message just HOW very different we were. And yes should’ve left and not looked back.

  • I do not regret leaving my cheater. At all. Nope. Do I wish I had left sooner just to get that time back? In my case, ‘no’ because I would always have wondered if I had done the right thing. I chose to believe my cheater when he wanted to do a reconciliation. I actively knew that I was choosing to believe a full-blown liar who had dipped his wick and stuck his tongue in another woman’s orifice. And as disgusting as that sounds, I wanted my 26-year marriage investment to work out so, so badly, so much so that I knew, without a doubt, that I was taking another risk on a known liar and cheater. But I knew ‘ME’. Without a doubt, had I not made that choice, I would always have wondered the rest of my life if I threw in the towel way too early.

    However!! Without a doubt, when I was finally done with that liar and cheater, I know without a doubt that I made the best choice. So the answer is two-fold. I do not regret leaving the cheater, nor do I regret giving him a second chance. I truly am at peace in my decision. My decision is my decision. Others were able to come to peace without going through my same struggle.

    Do I believe that cheaters can change? Nope. Not in a million years. Not unless they get an up-close-and-personal meeting with God telling them, ‘Listen, you better change or else.’ And even then, I seriously doubt cheaters change. As they’ve only shown throughout the years, the only times they ‘change’ is if there are repercussions for their actions. And even then, once things start getting back to normal, their wandering genitals and their feelings of entitlement will manifest yet again and “as long as no one is watching”, they’ll go right back to doing their nonsense. They’ll just go underground so they’re less likely to get caught again.

    After I got rid of the cheater and took the chance on a new relationship (after four years of healing), I had a hard time not being hyper vigilant. After what I went through with the lying cheater – forcing myself to trust him even knowing where his mouth had been, I knew it wasn’t fair to my new love. I figured that if I could force myself to trust a lying cheater, the least that I could do was force myself to trust that this new man really is trustworthy. It took time, but it turned out to be the best thing ever. He’s so wonderful to me. And if in 5-10 years he turns out to be another nincompoop like the lying cheater, oh well. My heart will heal yet again. I will say this, I will never leave my financial security in anyone’s hands again, even this wonderful man. I will not risk that ever again.

    I went through hell and back and found myself a better person for it all. As much as I hope that all newly married couples will be committed to each other for the rest of their lives (and being faithful to their vows), I can’t help but notice that’s not the case. Thank you yet again, Tracy, for making this site available to all of the chumps. It helped us untangle our own skeins of cognitive dissonance. If someone finds themselves in our shoes, with your help maybe they’ll make it ‘to the other side’ faster than I did and learn to love themselves just the way they are. God speed!

    • “I will never leave my financial security in anyone’s hands again, even this wonderful man. I will not risk that ever again.” Me either! Lesson learned. One that I’ll be passing on to my children too.

  • No regrets!

    I won’t lie… the process to break free of a Cheater is excruciating (the DDay trauma, finances, children…) but it has an end point! And then you’re free!

    But if I had stayed? It would have been purgatory. I would have been Sisyphus pushing up that boulder for eternity.

    And now I always have the craziest temptation to send thank you cards to the OW —- she broke me out of prison! (Don’t worry — I haven’t…. Yet)

    Zero regrets. So very grateful!

  • When it was happening and in the year after, I regretted so much. I couldn’t believe I had lost 20 years and what I thought was a forever marriage.
    Luckily, I got smarter. I have no regrets….none. I cannot think of a single area of my life that is not vastly improved over what it was (and even beyond what I thought was possible). The world is a beautiful place-I’m so glad I’ve gotten this chance to see it and experience it.

  • Mine was a short and seemingly amazing marriage, until the hit and run.
    I would totally take the life and person back preDday -but obviously it was all a self-serving act. It’s a different kind of mind warp when you were treated well until shortly before Dday.

    I regret the pick me dance. I regret not being able to go gray rock right away. If you’re the one dumped, you really need things that are going to help you feel strong. I think gray rock may have helped a little. In other words not really giving him the time of day and not sharing my feelings with him at all.
    When it’s a one day to the next thing, it still feels like that person is your best friend. I was full on chump.

    If it wasn’t for this site, I may still think I lost a great man and that I screwed up the relationship.

    • Yes, this! ⬆️ Mine was a long and seemingly amazing marriage (over 35 years of thinking that FW was my best friend), “until the hit and run.” You are so right that the person before D-day wasn’t real – it was a decades-long self-serving act that he could no longer sustain. It takes time to come to terms with that. It is a total mind-warp.

      Zip, thank you for writing, “If it wasn’t for this site, I may still think I lost a great man and that I screwed up the relationship.” There are times when I still grieve for what I thought I had, for my old life, for just moving through the world with a partner. But I am not the one who screwed up the relationship, I am not the one who screwed up the many attempts at reconciliation, and I’m not the one who screwed up the divorce process.

      In many cases Chumps do the pick me dance, and we bend ourselves into every humiliating contortion for reconciliation precisely because, as Tracy often says, we are quality people who were bonded for life. Our bent is toward truth, kindness, loyalty, decency. It takes time to learn and absorb that our cheating spouses purposely exploit our good character. All it takes is for a cheater to tell a chump that “grey rock” is abusive and we immediately question ourselves!

      Many of the comments today (mine included) say “I wish I’d left sooner.” It’s a long process for kind people to learn to identify abuse and to set and maintain boundaries, and I’m starting to consider that regretting how long it took me to get there is perhaps being unkind to myself.

      I think I want to revise my statement below, where I wrote “I don’t regret the divorce; I regret how long I stayed.” I think I’d rather say, “I don’t regret the divorce. I also don’t regret how long I stayed because it took as long as it took for me to see clearly enough to leave a cheater and gain a life.”

      • Acta, my heart goes out to you.❤️
        I’ll also add that I regret talking about him so much for so long. I had difficulties packaging my grief. The fact that it was Covid and that I didn’t have a great therapist didn’t help I guess.
        If anyone has advice, I would like to hear how people negotiate regular conversations with their friends without bringing up past memories.
        I no longer bring FW up as a point of sorrow or anger, but often in relating to other peoples stories about their relationship, fun things they’re doing, occasions,… all aspects of family – the past comes up and he’s involved (and I always refer to him as ‘fuckwit’ which makes me sound like I’m still holding onto the situation).

        I work, I have friends and kids. But still, a lot of interesting things happened in the past and I feel like I would have to constantly bite my tongue to not participate or relate to conversations.
        Sometimes I feel that until I am with another partner (if that happens), I will constantly be referring to the past in order to relate to all the things my girlfriends talk about.

        • I was married for so long, 36 years, and a lot of that history is relevant to current conversations: the kids events of the past, weddings, funerals, vacations, etc. Sometimes I hear myself say “my husband and I….” before relating an anecdote. I then deal with the discrepancy in my head: we’ll, he was my husband then, this event did happen the way I told it, but being divorced now, is it legit to tell?

          Zip, I don’t know how far out you are from DDay or realizing the truth, or how long your marriage was. I had a good 10 years, to gradually realize that I should get out. I think that helped me slowly sort out what was real (me) and what was fake (him) in our marriage.
          So I am totally fine telling my stories, with the truth of past stories being told as “my husband,” and maybe add a “back then.”
          It might be harder if you are young.

        • When klootzak and I had been dating over a year and spending entire weekends together, I would overhear him on the phone with his sister or who ever saying, “I went to see that movie last weekend,” or “I went on vacation to the Bahamas,” and I started getting angry about it. It was as though I wasn’t with him when he did all these things. I now think it was a red flag. He didn’t care to acknowledge my existence in his life.

          Fast forward to now. We are still married (almost 18 years) but I’m making my plans to get out. When I post on social media, I now say that I went to X place on a hike or I went to a soccer game. I take no photos of him. If he came along, I don’t acknowledge his existence. The only time I use “we” is if I talk about doing things with my child or friends.

          I suggest you consider taking back your “I” statements to describe things you have done or experienced. Depending on what you are discussing there may be no need to include that he was part of whatever. You’d be amazed how often you can erase him from your stories. Because you are really talking about YOUR experience when you relate to other people. “I had something like that happen to me once. I got awfully sick while out on a night on the town and the person I was with wouldn’t drive me home, so I….”

          Mentally, I have kind of turned klootzak into an ancient college ex-boyfriend. You don’t need to give centrality in your conversations to anyone but you and your experience. I learned that when klootzak wanted to pretend I wasn’t part of his life so now I use it myself. I haven’t mentioned him on social media in years. I would guess that a few acquaintances may have assumed we are already divorced.

  • 💯 No regrets. In fact, I am one of those who regrets not having done it years earlier instead of sacrificing my career for the advancement of his.

    How many of us also were surprised that our anxiety disappeared after leaving? This is so on point: “ And when the people they bond with act sketchy, it’s pretty predictable that the person who cares will become anxious.”

  • No regrets, whatsoever. A friend who simply got divorced (no infidelity) was talking to me about how hard it was to have a holiday without her child (split custody) and I said I didn’t have the same experience. I missed my kids, sure – but I was so relieved to have FW out of my life, there was literally no pain, no loss, due to the divorce that could compare to the hell he put me through.

  • Regret leaving a cheater? hahahahahahaha. Hell no!

    Even now, he might think he has a happy life with a new woman, and she looks happy like I thought I was. But he’s still got the soul and morals of a demon and he will never be satisfied.

    I am grateful that I got out and found myself and the good life I can give myself. I thought I needed love from someone else, but I just needed to find the love for myself.

  • Like so many others here my only regret is not leaving sooner, after D-Day#1. I was too scared to leave because he was about to retire and told me his pension would only pay me until he died and given his terrible lifestyle I didn’t see him lasting very long. Eventually I did some research on my own and discovered the pension can be split and my half will pay me as long as I live. So now we are in the midst of a bitter divorce – he is determined to keep every last penny.

    I also regret the way he has put our adult children in the middle of this. Our son was married this past weekend and FW’s sister was there from Europe. She hasn’t questioned at all why I would leave a 40 year ‘mirage’ and thinks I am evil incarnate. When our daughter, the kindest, most generous person I know, went over to suggest her aunt say hi to me, Aunt lit into her (I couldn’t hear the words but certainly heard the angry voice) about what a terrible thing I was doing to her poor brother. This is the same aunt that Darling Daughter gave a business class ticket from Italy to Canada to with her points. Needless to say, Daughter was devastated but managed to pull herself together for her brother’s sake.

    When my son and his wife exchanged their vows I burst into tears because I realized I couldn’t remember FW ever telling me he loved me and I see now that he didn’t. I was just part of the formula – get an education, get a job, get a wife and have kids. Keep fucking strange on the side. After all, he’s entitled because he is man. What a sad excuse for a human being.

    On a different note, I want to say that I find it encouraging to hear from all the people here who are ending or have ended decades-long marriages and are thriving! I am so thankful I found LACGAL and the Chump Nation. On a bad day it helps to know that others have lived the same experience and come out the other side stronger.

  • The only problematic people I have ever seen drastically improve had an underlying medical/mental health issue. Once it was treated they were different people in a very good way.

    Still there are no absolutes. A college friend had an eating disorder; once treated she moved on to alcoholism and was still a surreptitiously shitty person.

    • When I heard from my son that his dad was in debt for almost three hundred thousand in gambling debts, I wondered if he turned to gambling due to ED. He had had some serious heart and lung issues and couldn’t walk more than 50ish feet without sitting down to rest.

      As far as I know he didn’t return to drinking, but of course I wouldn’t know for sure as I was long gone by then.

  • I have an acquaintance who had a persistent medical problem with a foot. He’d received an injury that just wouldn’t heal, despite ever-increasing dosages of antibiotics, endless trips to the wound care clinic, etc. His “healing journey” dragged on for years, and instead of recovering, his foot grew worse.

    Infections would begin at the worst times – just as he was leaving for vacation, or the night before a family wedding, or at the holidays. His foot would get red and hot, and within hours his entire leg was an angry, swollen balloon, his body wracked with fever and distress.

    After years of suffering with this intractable appendage, and as gangrene became a looming reality, he decided to undergo amputation. By this time so much tissue was damaged that the doctors had to take most of his leg.

    Recovering involved a lot of physical therapy, getting used to a prosthetic, experiencing phantom pain, dealing with the whole host of psychological and social issues around becoming “handicapped,” but this guy has told me many times that he has no regrets except wishing he’d done it sooner.

    This man’s story has so many parallels to the chump experience. The affair(s) are analogous to the original foot injury. We endure lengthy and unimaginable suffering as we seek to heal and integrate a beloved part of our body that has inexplicably turned malignant. In many cases, it does become a life-or-death situation, either because the FW is actually threatening our life, or because we become suicidal from all the concomitant psychological, relational, and emotional abuse.

    Cutting the cheater from my life was, for me, as drastic and necessary as amputation. I didn’t think I’d be able to stand, but I also knew that it was my only hope for survival. I don’t regret the divorce; I regret how long I stayed.

    Sure, there’s been lots of therapy, and disruption, and a different kind of pain. I’m having to learn to move through the world in a completely different way, and people look at me differently now. But the SUFFERING is over and now there’s actual, measurable, healing.

  • I regret not dumping him before we were married when I noticed oddities about his behavior that didn’t fully make sense to me at the time and which I ignored because everything else about him was so “right”. I regret not leaving after d-day #1 and staying another 10+ years.

    But I don’t regret I finally got out, even after he killed himself shortly after our divorce was finalized. I am happier and healthier than I’ve ever been, I enjoy my quiet little life and I am happily single and don’t care if I ever find another life partner.

    I am damaged in ways I could never have imagined but I am also stronger and more self reliant than I ever thought I could be and that gives me immense pride in myself. The contentment I have with my life is truly a thing of beauty.

  • I tried reconciliation and we all know that path. Chumped again! I fell for the, “I will change” “I can’t live without you”. Really he was just comfortable in the facade family he created. While enjoying all the other women. Of course he wanted me back. He could have it all. A chump and a few other chumps. Finally left and for good. I have no regrets. I don’t miss the relationship. I feel free to be myself and I am not under a constant cloud of stress and feeling like something is off. He had no emotional connection…I was avoidant and he was anxious. So happy to be done with that!! I can focus on myself and healthier relationships!!

  • As usual, I find your observations spot on, CL.

    I have no regrets about divorcing either Ex1 or Ex2, both were liars and cheaters and toxic. I do regret not caring for myself and fixing my picker sooner. But it is what it is.

    I still hurt over the loss of my youngest sister. I am 12 years older; she is almost like my child to me. Her problem is a mix of manic depression and alcoholism. She was extremely rude to me a few months ago and said some abusive and hurtful things. I thought she was having an episode and would apologize when she worked her way out of it. She refuses to apologize or admit she did or said anything wrong and used the “it was not my intention” argument on me. I told her I could not read her mind, and if she thought she had nothing to apologize for, we have nothing to talk about.

    Now me setting this boundary is fairly new, for her. I have let many things slide over the years. But I did work on myself, and fixed my picker, and I changed. I now set boundaries and enforce them. She will not be in my life unless she finds a way to atone. Personally, that is one of the most powerful steps in 12 step programs, in my opinion. No excuses, plenty of regret, taking responsibility. She needs to get off alcohol to save her own life, and make sure she takes the meds she needs. She cannot expect forgiveness due to her illness. She has skated by on good looks, and a fun party girl lifestyle for 57 years. She has people who love her in her family. She eventually alienates any “friends” she might develop along the way. It is never her fault. I have now introduced consequences. The rest of the siblings mostly use avoidance. They are aware of what is going on. If she does not seek help, I fear she will die alone and hurting. So. I want to believe she will change, but I am not seeing any unicorns on the horizon.

    I am a chump, and I have strong emotions and feelings. I have compassion and empathy. But I have learned to avoid those who would stab me in the heart.

    • I too had a sister like yours, Portia. Beautiful, bubbly, amoral, and a charming, apparently functional drunk. She died of alcohol poisoning just before the age of 50, leaving two children and several siblings to deal with the psychological aftermath of decades of her behavior. I am comforted by the thought that we did the best we could to help her, but it was her choice not to seek professional treatment for the roller coaster life she was on.

      My best to you, and I admire your strength. Setting boundaries is good.

    • ☝️I do regret not caring for myself & fixing my picker sooner. 💥💥
      We agree boundaries can be difficult to make & to enforce. Keep yours, of course!
      As a mental illness advocate,
      (in case you haven’t already) please consider it a necessity
      to get boundaries info to your sister afflicted with bipolar disorder aka manic depression.
      I know that you know you CAN’T
      FIX her, but you Can Inform her
      about boundaries in general & yours in particular.
      Forms of boundaries info
      (books, articles, websites, blogs, lectures, workshops) can be selected by you to match her.
      All that said, conclusion is ~
      Consequences can teach like nothing/nobody else can.

      • Thank you all for your kind words. Chump Nation is a source of comfort and wisdom, and of course funny snark. Being a chump is not all bad! We are great at chump consolation!

  • I don’t miss him. And I firmly believe that “a higher power” (in my case…my Mother who is my guardian angel) holds the playbook. They wanted me out of that relationship as he is a terrible man. As for regrets, I wish I would have been bolder & bitchier as soon as he moved out. I held out for hope for a bit too long. You leave your wife for the town two-timer (she has a reputation) while your wife is battling cancer, you are a bad bad man. Or just a dipshit!

  • I listened to the Twitter panel and also noted the whole attachment style argument. I was practically jumping in with responses of “character disordered” and “get your ducks in a row” and “kibbles”. We need a Chump Lady TED Talk!

    I’m still grieving the loss of the marriage I thought I had. But I don’t regret leaving any more than I’d regret leaving a house fire. And I’m grateful to CN for telling me what to grab on the way out.

  • I regret quite a few things. Walking away from my marriage isn’t one of them.

    I wish I’d been in a more powerful mental state when I finally had to navigate divorce. The thing is, the trauma wouldn’t have healed until AFTER I left, but that meant that going through the ordeal of trying to advocate for myself in an adversarial situation, precisely when I was already at my weakest and most damaged.

    I was cheated out of a lot of money, by the judge, because I was such a basket case. He knew exactly what he was doing. And, that effects every day of my life in my old age.

    • Walk, I felt like that too. I was a zombie until just about now-3 years later. It’s hard to go through it all and I go fucked over too. Thing is though- sometimes it’s just the price of freedom from jerks. Hugs- you are free!

  • Very useful! I know I’m a little fish out here but sometimes I think you’re talking to me. This happens with other things I see or read as well. It’s always useful. I appreciate you Mrs CL and CN

  • I got dumped and ghosted by a hobosexual financially predatory scumbag (and in retrospect probably a cheater) when I stopped tolerating his crap and starting setting expectations and standing up for myself. I was in my early 20s at the time, and had five-figure credit card debt due to his financial abuse. It’s now 30 years later and I’ve had two wonderful loving committed relationships, great friends, an eclectic career, financial stability, and an overall interesting life that I never would have had if I kept putting up with his nonsense and the anxiety and distress it caused me. I’m proud and grateful I chose to protect myself at that early age and after only 3 years, but even when I first met him there were some red flags that I recognized and ignored. If I could go back, I would skip getting involved with him in the first place.

  • I haven’t been able to leave yet. I am looking forward to the day that I finally can. I regret not leaving sooner, because now it is very difficult to extricate myself from this nightmare.
    I wish I had left after the first known affair (first known, not first affair). I have given this undeserving person years of my precious life, and every day feels like I’m dying inside a little more, like pieces of me are slowly breaking off and being replaced by nothingness, and that fucking sucks. I would absolutely recommend stealthily leaving ASAP. I have NEVER heard of ANYONE (of the actual real people that I know) being happy they stayed with their cheater. EVERYONE wishes they had left sooner, and if they’re still together for various reasons, they wish they weren’t. I’ve read this blog every single day for years, and it is my saving grace, knowing that there’s a life that will be good outside of this torture.

    • Sweep, I hope you can get out soon. I was in limbo for 3 painful years, trying to figure out how everyone in my family would be ok. Well, not the FW.

      It happened soon after my youngest daughter, newly graduated from college, told me she couldn’t & wouldn’t live in our house anymore. She’d rather live in a friends home. This wasn’t the normal come-home-from-college-and-want-to-be-on-my-own. This was her telling me that our home, and FW, were toxic. She didn’t want to leave me, but she would in order to be healthy.
      It was a coincidence that I had just found a rental home. My daughter telling me outright that she couldn’t bear to be in our home was what I needed to firm up the deal on the rental, and tell the attorney to file.
      I hope you get your peace soon.

      • My daughter doesn’t want to live here either. She barely comes by. We have always been really close. Sandy she’s staying with a cheater boyfriend who’s “really remorseful and has done so much to change”.
        This was the biggest shit sandwich to swallow seeing my own child go through it

  • My only regret is that I stayed with him for so long. It is excruciatingly painful to see how much damage the delay did to my kids.

    My advice: GTFO. NOW.

  • The financial infidelity was discovered by me about 9 months before the sexual infidelity. Then several weeks later his drug addiction to stimulants, Xanax and oxycodone was discovered by me. Wish I had trusted my gut on the financial infidelity. He claimed the money went to human growth hormone for his shoulder injuries.
    I was such a chump. I said financial infidelity & romantic infidelity go hand in hand.
    Of course he said I’d never cheat on you…..
    Nearly a year of me pulling from our savings to cover office & personal expenses because he was allegedly owed thousands from treating VA patients.
    All water under the bridge. This was so out of character, we had paid off home & office early, paid cash for vacation condo in Costa Rica. He used to be a good husband, father and business man. It’s incredibly sad but I’m in much better shape than him. He has blown through his IRA, no relationship with adult children or the grandchildren or his own siblings.
    Filing earlier would have been better for me too, but thank goodness I found LACGAL when I did.

    • Yep, I dealt with financially infidelity years before he had an emotional affair (at least) and left me.

      • Yep when I think of the years my son and I scrimped and did without so fw could have his toys (boats), I could scream. I think there were previous whores to the exit whore; but still the money was spent on his erotic pleasure and likely some gambling thrown in.

  • This post was very timely and motivating! I know I need to leave, but I’ve felt frozen. I’m 56 years old and haven’t worked in 15 years due to health issues as well as being a SAHM. My counselor is clearly having to restrain herself at this point from shouting “Get out of there!” But after reading this post I emailed a lawyer I’ve had trouble reaching by phone. I’ve found it tough to actually leave because 1) he’s so covert that almost no one else can see the emotional abuse, or any problem at all for that matter, 2) he’s been actively love-bombing for months (because he can sense I’m close to ending it), and 3) I’m worried my 22 year old son will end up hating me – he’s reacted to learning there’s a problem in our marriage by going into a “fawn response” toward his dad.

    I appreciate CL and CN so much!

    • It sounds like you have been married long enough that FW will have to split his income with you 50/50, depending on your jurisdiction. The standard advice is to consult the three best lawyers in your area. That way FW can’t hire any of them. You can pick one of the three or hire a less costly lawyer after the consultations. If you are unable to work for health reasons he will be legally obligated to support you. You may get better than 50/50 because of your higher medical costs. That’s what my lawyer told me, but it wasn’t necessary to duke it out in court because FW folded and gave me 65%. He folded because he was afraid I would tell everybody the dirtiest of his dirty secrets.

      Your son is probably going to blame you until he knows about the cheating. You can use a promise of not telling your son about the cheating as leverage to get more money out of FW, then break your promise after you get your settlement. He broke his promises, so you don’t owe him a damn thing.
      It’s probably a good idea to get proof of cheating because he’ll just lie to your son about it. Get into his phone and copy his texts and emails, hire a P.I. to catch him with schmoopie, whatever you have to do.

      The fawning response means your son knows his dad is not invested in his family. He’s trying to keep him around by stroking his ego. He may need therapy to deal with his complicated feelings about his dad and to see him for who he really is.

      Mine is covert too. A covert abuser’s Achilles heel is how important that that nice guy/gal image is to him/her, so you can use the threat of him being exposed for the louse he really is to get away and get the money you need. Remember, you are not dealing with an honest broker, so don’t feel bad about doing what you have to do to get what you deserve. You need to be as ruthless as he is. The overt abuser who is not concerned about image is a tougher nut to crack, so him being covert is actually an advantage for you.

      • Thanks OHFFS! Forgot reason #4 for hesitation – no proof of any physical affair. Plenty of circumstantial evidence over the years, which I swept neatly under the rug – not coming home all night a few times with crazy sounding excuses, finding condoms years after his vasectomy, scratch marks on his back that I didn’t inflict, etc. But all I know about for sure is the secret friendships/emotional affairs, and lap dances on the Vegas trips, which he lied about for most of our marriage. As I think is often the case with the coverts, it’s “complicated” and confusing. But now that my eyes are opened to all the emotional, mental, and verbal abuse, I know I need to get out, with or without proof of physical affairs. The counselor thinks this is at the root of my chronic illness.

        This blog and all of you are giving me courage and clarity.

        • 10 years ago, I would have gone down rabbit holes of discussion with you trying to find proof of a physical affair. Today, I would ask the CL question “Is this relationship acceptable to you?”. My cheater literally denied having sex with OW seven after he admitted “sharing hotel rooms” with her.

          It wasn’t until after he died that I learned that he had had affairs way before her.

          All that stuff does point directly to adultery but some cheaters will deny even if the chump walks in and finds them in bed with an OP.

          My Cheater was good at keeping his abuse covert too…never sent mean emails, texts or phone messages…he never wanted to leave proof. What you need to remind yourself is that this is all abuse.

          • Unicornomore, Thanks for this! I am clear now that this relationship is absolutely NOT acceptable to me. His love-bombing and fake “change” gives me the creeps and makes my skin crawl. The mask slipped badly, and I can’t unsee. I’m happily living in the guest bedroom for now. In a discussion with my in-laws last week, he slipped and mentioned that he uses What’s App, so that will be my last-ditch effort to find proof. He’s admitted to deleting texts and emails with certain women, but always says he “wasn’t thinking straight” when he did it. So my money is on What’s App as a way to go underground once I started demanding to read texts and emails. Beyond that, I can’t play detective anymore – it sends me straight into fight or flight. Fear of the unknown is the only thing holding me back now, which is why this post was so wonderful.

            • “His love-bombing and fake “change” gives me the creeps and makes my skin crawl. ”
              We went to a marriage retreat for marriages in serious trouble…he did a lot of faking and I left with a feeling of doom. He dove deep into betrayal right on the heels of the retreat. Listen to your gut.

              He “wasn’t thinking straight” when he did it”
              I call straight-up bullshit on this. My Cheater faked some weird mental illness / roll into a ball / nervous breakdown shit. They know EXACTLY what the were doing…what they dont like is consequences.

        • Good for you, Enough! Yes, this blog is a lifesaver. Whenever I feel down about what happened to me I read here and the courage of other chumps picks me up.

          Lots of chumps here have found that chronic health conditions cleared up after leaving the FW. I hope that is true for you. ❤

    • Thanks for sharing. I have a similar person. He’s “trying” hard to keep peace by always attempting to joke around, making lots of dinners, cleaning the house, all the yard work, saying things like “I want to share this with you” (it makes me cringe because he wasn’t like that before) and it’s usually just a stupid joke an old picture etc… not exactly what I meant by being transparent and sharing things haha
      Anyway it has made it more challenging because it seems I’m searching for problems or so hyper vigilant I think somethings going on even when it’s not. But the truth is it already has!
      After the cheating the covering up when she was still texting from strange numbers or just telling stupid little white lies for NO apparent reason.
      But he’s so nice and appears so helpful to family and friends

      • Shann, This sounds so familiar. A book that has really opened my eyes is “The Covert Passive-Aggressive Narcissist: Recognizing the Traits and Finding Healing After Hidden Emotional and Psychological Abuse.” Not sure if it applies for you, but if you read it and it does, I think you’ll find it extremely helpful.

      • This sounds so familiar to me “I want to share this with you”. I got “because I care” and it was not about what I had hoped he would care about.

  • I regret only that I didn’t figure out sooner. The only worse thing would have been to have spent one extra day of my life not knowing what was going on.

  • You’re spot on – the attachment style nonsense is just more psychobabble to blame victims.

    I was one of those chumps who tried for an embarrassingly long stretch to reform a disordered loser because I didn’t want to have regrets, and bc he had such a sad childhood. Yep, still have regrets – that I didn’t kick his ass to the curb the minute I found out about his double life. That year+ I spent hitting the hopium pipe was a huge detour away from healing. A lot of regret. Not to mention I felt like an even bigger chump when I caught him cheating again during wreckonciliation.

  • No regrets that he left. I see now what a selfish, manipulative, dishonest partner he was. My life is so much more peaceful.

    The only thing I regret is the time and $$ I wasted in couple’s counseling. Any time I hear of people having problems and thinking of couple’s counseling, I’m quick to say, “Wait! Spend the time & money on a good therapist for yourself first.” I also wouldn’t have gone to one so young. I think we were just billable hours to her.

    • Yep but I also think there is some dignity in trying hard before you throw in the towel. I didn’t do the therapy thing, but I tried everything I could to make him happy, marriage better etc. It’s what good partners do ❤️. I regret the wasted time too but I can hold my head up high that I tried

      • I tried to forgive and move on after his financial infidelity years before we were in counseling because of my trust issues due to his lying. I paid off his gambling debt. Supported the household after he was fired for forgery and had to go back to school to change careers. That was me “trying hard before throwing in the towel.”
        I thought I was doing “what good partners do.” No, I was enabling an entitled narc from facing the consequences of his actions.
        I stand by the fact that couples counseling was a waste and people thinking of couples counseling should try individual counseling first. It can only help them get more out of couple’s counseling if they’ve done individual work beforehand.

  • NONE!

    I am about to sell my house (that I got in its entirety in the divorce). Gift my 3 adult children a handsome sum of dosh…. To do with whatever the hell they want. Then I’m driving through Europe (live in the UK), taking in all the sights, embracing the different cultures, meeting lots of people. Descending upon South East Asia and embracing their culture. All with one of my daughters her husband and 3 of my grandchildren in tow.

    FUCKING GO ME!!!!!

    This is after 31 yrs of a mirage, 35 yrs with the FW. To any newbies (big big big hugs to you) if I can get through this shit you can. Please believe me, the pain subsides.

    I am living my best life. A life I never imagined. A life only in books. But here I am living it.

    ❤️

  • I think the thing I regret the most about staying with him after D-Day even for those few months, was that he was a bad influence on me. Part of me still wanted to believe that this man I loved so deeply was not really as bad as he was, so I was trying to spackle and excuse his behavior with the OW. But if you do that enough, you start to lose your own moral compass to some extent, and lose the sense of what is owed to a truly respectful and loving relationship. I was lucky he left when he did. It took a while to get myself back; still dealing with PTSD and shaken confidence in my judgement. I just have to keep reminding myself that he is a brilliant man who has devoted his life to getting better at deceiving women to steal what he wants from them. Because I had focused on more worthwhile things with my lifetime, I had few defenses against such a coordinated and energetic plan of deceit. I wish I had thrown him out three months before, as soon as I found out about the OW. I don’t regret not trying to get him back, and when he wrote to me recently to see if I wanted him back, I did not answer; his letter was dripping with the jaded arrogance and revoting entitlement that was always there under the surface.

  • I read through the attachment styles. I was looking to see if I could identify myself and really couldn’t. It looks like something that can’t be grasped with one reading. I feel as though my attachment style changed throughout the relationship.

  • No regrets. Regret that I wasted so much time with him, in the RIC. Regret not believing in myself sooner. But leaving? Nope. Even my worst days without him are better than my best days with him.

  • No regrets.
    I now only see the whole process as a lesson.
    All the distress and money were the costs, I had to pay.
    It’s easy to say ” if only I had realized this earlier “, but those mind games are pointless.
    It might sound like a cliche, but I have become a better person, only thanks to this nightmare.

    The only negative: I don’t trust anyone, I am not sure if I could ever be in a relationship again. I am wondering what this means for old age. Am I going to be a strange loner? I am working on avoiding that.

  • I went BACK to the man who cheated on me in high school and college. Was sure he’d changed. When we talked about the past, I said, “I trust you completely now.” HOW STUPID WAS I to go back to him after my divorce 20 years later? Very, very, very stupid. He destroyed me and left me with an incurable disease. So I don’t just wish I’d bailed sooner, I wish I had never, ever spoken to him again after high school.

  • I think when they are no longer there, you fully relax. Your mind and body can relax. When they are present you feel stress and chaos. With time your body can overcome the trauma. I think trauma as a child has more long term lasting effects because your nervous system is developing. But these FW we can get over. Thats why No contact is good for is. They are forgettable.

    • I’ve wondered about this. In the 1.5 years I have lived separately from FW (divorced 1 year now) I find I don’t think about him at all. But intrusive thoughts about how my mother, father, & brother treated & mistreated me keep invading my mind.
      It’s happening less & less, especially as I can begin to articulate what was missing in my home growing up. There was not much active abuse, but there was the constant drip, drip of derision, & scoffing, from my older brother, and injustice (punching my arm) perpetrated by him that was allowed to persist. Why my parents chose to believe a 12 year boy instead of a 9 year old girl I will never understand.
      It taught me to accept disrespect, to not complain, that I was worth nothing, and that my voice didn’t count, in my family. There must have been some good, and some awareness, as I could see that my older brother was a jerk to everyone so I wasn’t totally crushed. But those early wounds are slower to heal than the ones from the FW. I don’t even know what all the wounds are. But something went wrong – what else would make me so relieved when my mother died? It was the end of trying to love her, feeling no love in return. It was the end of not feeling like a real person when I was around her and the end of feeling like I failed in life. According to one website, I have all the symptoms of emotionally neglectful parents. Sigh.

      I am coming to accept that these early wounds, whatever they are, have marked me for life.
      And that a long term marriage to a person with a secret life has also changed me forever.

      It’s not that I don’t have a good life. It’s that my world view is definitely skewed.

      • I think this is a really important invitation to sort this stuff out properly.

        You won’t regret it. It will bring you peace and contentment and self compassion.

        But the journey might have quite a few twists in it.

  • I’ve been involved with four cheaters (five, counting my father cheating on my mother and six if you count my sister sleeping with my husband . . . two husbands) and I have never regretted leaving/kicking them out and going No Contact. In fact, I wish I had done it sooner and not put up with as much abuse as I did.

    Growing up with a cheater as a parent, I learned that cheating is “no big deal,” “everyone does it,” the chumped ought to “just get over it,” and from my mother, the perpetually chumped, “You made your bed and now you have to lie in it.” Staying married “for the children” is just an excuse not to have to do the hard thing of getting rid of the cheater and building a new life. It certainly did not do “the children” any good in my case. I grew up to be a chump and my sister is a nasty, toxic cheater.

    In the early stages of separation, yes, I missed the cheater/abuser. But as time went on, and not so much time at that, I realized that what I missed was the fantasy of who the cheater/abuser was and the life we could’ve/should’ve/would’ve had together. I didn’t miss the real person one damned bit. I had always viewed the demise of the relationship as a failure on my part, but after finding Chumplady (sadly several months after my third and last divorce) I am realizing that the failure was in choosing those men in the first place. The demise of the relationship was always inevitable given that my picker was seriously flawed and my self-worth nonexistant. (More fall-out from my parents staying married — cheater always devalued his family (except for my sister, who was the Golden Child, and the chump took out her frustrations with my father on ME — because I resembled him in looks and temperment but not, thank the gods, in character.)

    It’s been 50 years since I left my fucked up family of origin, the day after I graduated from high school. It’s been 43 years since I kicked out my first cheating husband, five years since leaving the last one. I can honestly say that I only have two regrets: getting involved with them in the first place and not getting rid of them sooner.

    • You’ve been through a whole hell of a LOT Mrs sparkly pants
      I am SO sorry beginning with your parents. Isn’t it hard and OFD when it’s your own parents? My mom said (about dealing with my dads cheating) oh it took me about a month… a MONTH?!? I’m past year two and I don’t even want a kiss here in my “marriage”. It’s so sad how codependent she was and sort of IS- when it comes to men. Maybe that’s another reason I’m so disgusted. But back to it being hard and odd when it’s a parent- she also told me he really loves you and needs you. She’s ALMOST telling me to get over and on with my marriage in other forms. That being said: I cannot talk to her about this ANY more. We’re different. I’m not the same as I was when I got married. I just wanted that connection so badly. It was 2 years after being cheated on the first time. That’s when I said “i do”.
      A silent joke is that the pastor on the beach that day called me “Sharon” so it technically wasn’t me. Yes that happened

      • Shann: You will never get there with your husband’s cheating being ok. Some people can be over it in a day or two but some of us respect ourselves too much but can not pull the pin. We really do not want someone who would treat us with so much disrespect but we think of the good times and get stuck. Best of everything to you.

    • re “I am realizing that the failure was in choosing those men in the first place. “…. they also chose you! For all the good you could give them- for all the cleaning up after them that they could count on you doing! It’s not all on you. You were a natural resource

  • I regret…
    Marrying him
    Not listening to my gut
    Not getting a better settlement
    Not hiring a PI earlier when I had suspicions
    Moving away from my family overseas for his work
    Loving him
    Trying to make it work
    Putting up with breadcrumbs
    Believing him

    But I don’t regret kicking him to the curb! It was horrible to go through the disentangling and trauma bonding and it took about 3 years of pain. But the pain was realizing that was life was managed carefully by a conman. I was deeply gaslit by the person I thought loved me.
    So regrets? Yes. About getting him the f out? No!

    It’s extraordinarily unsafe to coach people that toxic people might just turn a corner one day. I think maybe they can for a time, but their true nature will come back full force eventually. And by then the damage can be magnified. Run!

    • Agreed, you just get more messed up hoping and working on yourself…someone who was too good for them to begin with! The more crap you put up with, the longer it takes to get over it all.

  • It is a complete nightmare, FW took the kids, court system is terrible, no end in sight.
    Still lightyears better, safer, more stable, more peaceful than being with FW. No regrets, wish I’d done it sooner.

  • After I left my cheating husband, I mourned for years and wondered if I had made the right move. He, on the other hand, quickly moved on to wife #2 (not an AP, but someone he met soon after our divorce, nearly a dozen years younger than me and 18 years younger than my ex). Before he met her, he told me he wasn’t sure he guarantee he wouldn’t stray again, so I felt I had not choice but to go ahead with the divorce, which I initiated. He also said something about wanting to be with someone without baggage (meaning, not someone he made a chump of, resulting in his feeling bad).

    Wife #2 dumped him for someone else, and then he married wife #3, a crazy psychiatrist with issues (at least that marriage resulted in 2 kids, both of whom he loves a lot). He sent me a postcard when they were on their honeymoon in Paris, which left me shaking my head. The funny thing is, when that postcard arrived a) it didn’t wound me in the least, which is how I knew I was finally over him, and b) I knew that his sending it wasn’t malicious–he was truly clueless, I guess thinking after all the years we’d been cordially apart but kept in touch via email, that it wouldn’t bother me. Fortunately, it did not, but it still was a ridiculous thing to do. He and wife #3 are no longer together.

    He did me a real favor by moving on so fast, because I was so vulnerable back then, there’s a good chance if he had asked, I would have tried again. So the answer is that I don’t regret leaving a cheater, but it took me a long time to get there and I wish I had those years back!

    My ex, with whom I still loosely keep in touch via email only, recently expressed his regret in letting me go. I did not take the bait. I said that I don’t think anything is to be gained by looking back. What I didn’t say (because what’s the point?) is that what I do regret was grieving for so many years after we split, though I don’t dwell on that either now. I can’t get those years back, so I try to focus on the present and the future.

    My mother, not long before she died, said something similar to me, along the lines of “I don’t think I appreciated you when you were younger.” Oh man, did she hit the nail on the head. Her criticism and frequent disapproval when I was growing up was a big reason that I internalized that I should expect to be treated poorly by other people. Fortunately, with therapy, I came to understand her flaws and limitations (and appreciate her many good qualities), and we had a decent relationship after my divorce, for which I am grateful.

    But the fact that both my ex and my mother came to see my value decades later does not make up for the way they shaped my life in ways that were not good for me. I feel okay about myself, but the scars remain.

    Tracy is so right. You have one precious life.

    • 20thCenturyChump, your ex sounds rotten to his core. Your comment about him (and your mom) finally acknowledging your value makes me think of CL’s recent Tiffany post. These people are not good judges of value, so it doesn’t matter how they appraise you. Besides, they don’t look at your inherent worth as a human — they only care about your worth to them. My ex turned on the charm and lauded my value when he was Hoovering me, but the appreciation reliably disappeared the instant I took the bait. Besides, even if you appear sparkly, beautiful, kind, capable, loyal and intelligent to the rest of the world, fuckwits can’t see or acknowledge your beauty if you see through their lies or attempt to hold them to their promises and start standing up against the infidelity and abuse. It threatens their control and imagined superiority — they want to do what they want, when they want, without consequences — and it undermines their false narrative that they are cheating with someone who is better/better meets their needs and are justified because something is wrong with you and you can’t make them happy. (And abusive, cheating, lying fuckwits DESERVE to be happy, you know?)

      someone without baggage = someone who isn’t carrying his baggage/someone who hasn’t yet seen the mask slip/someone who hasn’t yet up to his deceptive manipulation/someone who shares his values and poor character and doesn’t mind that he’s a lying cheater/someone who hasn’t “known” and loved him through years of life — the good and the bad

      Cheaters have already moved on when they cheat — long before their “primary” relationships end and they publicly move on. I remember thinking, “Wow… ‘new’ girlfriend just one week after begging me to stay because you’ll always love me?” But he had secret “girlfriends” while we were living together and had been “exclusive” for a decade, so it was not really surprising at all. There were always other women, I just hadn’t known and couldn’t fathom.

      I don’t even think we should call it “moving on.” Fuckwits are in love with themselves, and everyone else orbits them. *We* (chumps) move on. Physically, at first, and then financially and mentally/emotionally. In my case, with frustratingly little to show for fifteen years of my life except what could fit in my car and some serious baggage from FW’s longterm cheating, gaslighting and abuse.

      • Nah, he’s not rotten, but hugely conflict-avoidant and a coward, which is poor relationship material. I believe wife #2 dumped him in part because she saw him as a wimp. Being conflict-avoidant and a coward hurt him professionally, as well.

        And because I was young and inexperienced (he was my first love), I didn’t recognize red flags, and when I realized something was wrong, my upbringing and internalized expectations that I did not deserve to be treated well meant I didn’t recognize that we were not a good fit. But if he had been rotten (some of the stories I’ve read of CN’s experiences with spouses have made my hair stand on end), I wouldn’t have grieved the end of the relationship as long as I did.

        Fortunately, with time and distance, I can now appreciate his positive qualities and the good aspects of our history together, but also see his flaws and feel very glad that I am no longer with him. And I now have a BS meter that is pretty finely calibrated, which is a useful tool in many aspects of life.

    • “My mother, not long before she died, said something similar to me, along the lines of “I don’t think I appreciated you when you were younger.” Oh man, did she hit the nail on the head. Her criticism and frequent disapproval when I was growing up was a big reason that I internalized that I should expect to be treated poorly by other people.”

      This hits home to me. My mother taught me to attend to my father’s feelings, used me to soothe him, and has always made it clear that I am not enough, even though I saved her from my father strangling her when I was a young teen. But of her three children, I am the one who, despite asking less of her over the years than my siblings, has stepped up to care for her (she’s 96). I think at some level I am still saving her, and I am still waiting for her to appreciate that, and me, instead of simply expecting my care.

    • Yeah. Even when we are happy that we’ve moved on and gained a life, there’s a simmering sadness under the surface. All chumps have this, I think.

      In the best case, our new lives crowd out the old, and the grief/sadness appear to shrink. We almost forget what happened, and/or we are too busy to care.

      To me, that’s meh.

  • There are parts of my cheater that I miss – like his love of board games, the way he laughs, the way he used to light up when he saw me. Every time I find myself thinking of those parts, I remind myself that I can’t just pick those out and leave the rest of him behind. I would have to also accept the rest of him – the lying, manipulative, abusive, gaslighting, power-tripping, $-hogging, STI-giving, self-centered waste of space that I don’t want, don’t miss, and never want to be reminded of. And then I realize all those good parts are not worth it. I still grieve them- humans want to hold on to the good and it hurts when you don’t have it anymore. But I still turn away and keep walking, even as tears sting my eyes a bit. The tears are dwindling thankfully.

    • You will meet other people who like board games. There’s bazillions of them.

      Some of them also have attractive laughs, and statistically it’s very likely that at least some of them would light up when they saw you.

      You could swing a cat at a board game convention and hit half a dozen men who would be better men than that lying piece of shit who broke your heart.

  • I don’t understand toxic vs abusive. Aren’t all abusive people toxic? Aren’t all toxic people abusive?
    And what is toxic? It was a landmark study done around the turn of the century that showed that over 90% of all households are dysfunctional in some way. You can infer that everybody has some level of dysfunction in them, which makes sense since none of us are perfect. I hope dysfunction is not toxicity!!

  • I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my biggest fear is that it was somehow me and that he will be different with the next woman. I’m ashamed of this because I know logically the chances are slim and it only matters that he cheat, broke vows and treated me like an option that he’d put on the back burner for 17 years. I hate that I still want validation even after no contact for 5 years, I want him to miss me. He reached out 2x several years back, I didn’t reply because I’m using my head, but why do I want him to contact me so bad? Life is good, my career is great, what’s my problem?

    • These are great questions. They’d be a really good conversation starter with a therapist who understands the impact of abuse.

      It sounds as if you are still addicted on some level to this man? That’s not uncommon with hostage situations. And it sounds like you had a very unequal marriage that was more like you were being held hostage.

      We all want validation. There’s nothing wrong with that. You just have to choose better people to affirm you.

      As for whether he will be ‘better’ for someone else: they don’t have character transplants. I don’t think I have ever read one story here in which the cheater goes on to be better for someone else.

      What I HAVE read are a lot of stories about Facebook fakery, Potemkin villages, and image management that usually conceals crippling debt, spiralling addiction, and the alienation of children.

      Your cheater is not the exception.

  • I do not like being single. But it is one thousand times better than being with my toxic (threatened to hit me/I don’t know how many affairs he had) ex.
    He cheated 18 years into the marriage (several one night stands) and promised to never do it again. He was lying, but I believed him. He slept with who knows how many and also started a long term affair. Then 8 years later, he “cheated” on her and started a second affair. Then he came to me and told me how hard his life had become because he just couldn’t choose between the three of us! He so wished he could just continue sleeping with all of us and why oh why wouldn’t I do an open marriage…. (Sad sad sausage.)
    Anyway. He broke up with a mistress #1 and we divorced and he married mistress number 2.
    Do I regret staying after the first one night stand? You bet I do!! In fact, I regret marrying him in the first place. What a waste of a life.

  • 1. No regrets re: leaving cheater, going NC, distancing myself from flying monkeys and Switzerland.
    2. Toxic “vs” abusive is BS! Can’t sneak that by CL/CN collective UBT.
    3. Relieved to read I’m not the only one who dares question attachment theory. It took fifteen years for my “anxious/insecure” attachment style to surface. Funny… coincided precisely with DDay 1 and flared up whenever I discovered more deception and infidelity or was being actively abused.

    • ” It took fifteen years for my “anxious/insecure” ”

      Pretty much the same here. Married at 18 (it was the sixties). Madly in love, had a baby 9 months post wedding day. He was in the military, lots of fun together.

      His enlistment ended, went back home to our home town. He pulled some shit I am pretty sure, but I really didn’t confront. He seem to really mature, we were working together in the community. He wanted to some day be mayor so there was a goal. Then worked in politics together. He really liked the candidate and the old mayor was by almost any measure horrible.

      During all those years we had a very active and fun intimate life, or at least I thought so.

      Anyway que his coveted promotion and he started acting distant almost the next morning after the promotion ceremony. It was a private ceremony in the Captains office, and only me him and a small handful of others. I noticed his direct report (the dog catcher) hovering around the door peeking in. I remember thinking, why didn’t they invite her in. She was not an appealing looking women in general, it never even hit my radar, little did I know…

      But in hindsight I do realize that the year before the year of discard I was not feeling right, I was fighting what I thought was depression, though I didn’t medicate for it. My body was obviously reacting to danger and I just kept fighting it.

      • I meant to add, that fw obviously kept me very busy doing his bidding, while he took care of more important stuff, like his dick.

  • ONLY REGRETS: not leaving sooner & hiding the abuse/making excuses for so long that when I did leave I was completely isolated and it made my life a lot more difficult than it should have been. I surrounded myself with toxic and abusive people – friends, family, church members, bosses, etc. who eagerly and willfully judged, isolated, and purposely hurt me with character assassination campaigns and being a willing flying monkey for my ex.

    THAT SAID: Toxic and abusive go hand in hand….so we as chumps and any newbies need to ask yourself – why was the therapist trying to differentiate between the two? This is toxic in itself and it’s a clear red flag to stay away from any person that has that mindset! I would even go far as to say that if she were my therapist and said that shit, she would be fired as she would fall into the RIC category and not a healthy therapist! Toxic is abusive as abusive is toxic.

    For the newbies, remember this as you start navigating divorce with a FW because this mindset just isn’t with couples therapist but with family and individual therapist as well. And, therapist that have this mindset are not helpful but instead can be VERY hurtful! (I had to report 3 family therapist bc I called them out on their biased toward my abusive and toxic ex. My custody battle took a turn for the worse when they submitted reports saying “I was negative toward my ex” but the evidence I had against him the court got very confused so they deemed my kids to have a guardian ad litem and for us to get psychological tested by a licensed professional therapist who specialized in narcissism. He weeded through the shit and testing to determine who was telling the truth and who wasn’t! I was on the verge of loosing my kids bc of those fucked up therapist!!!!!!!!!!!)

    So, do yourself a favor, if a therapist or friend, family member, boss, etc. even speaks those words…….RUN!!!!

    • Just to be clear, I remained custodial parent of my kids. My ex still has visitation rights but ANYTHING & EVERYTHING as far as decision making is on me and if when he pulls some of his stupid ass narcissistic BS, I whip out that report and show whoever I need to show that he is lying, that I’m custodial parent, and not to take direction from him as it is detrimental to my kids. This determination and the report was a game changer for me and my kids!!! I’ve whipped it out to doctors, the police, other fucked up therapist, school administrators, etc. It’s been a huge tool in my tool belt in dealing with his and his family’s fuckedupness!

    • I looked up toxic and the first three synonyms are:

      deadly
      harmful
      lethal
      noxious
      pernicious

      How are any of those things not abusive to others.

    • “Toxic and abusive go hand in hand….so we as chumps and any newbies need to ask yourself – why was the therapist trying to differentiate between the two? This is toxic in itself and it’s a clear red flag to stay away from any person that has that mindset! I would even go far as to say that if she were my therapist and said that shit, she would be fired as she would fall into the RIC category and not a healthy therapist! Toxic is abusive as abusive is toxic.”

      💯%! She should not encourage people to stay with a toxic partner. Toxic people are always abusive in some way. I suspect she was talking about physical abusers versus emotional abusers and deeming the emotional abusers “merely”(🙄) toxic. As we chumps know, emotional abusers can cause just as much trauma as batterers. If she doesn’t know that she’s a crap therapist.

      • Yep!!! And, anyone that is a social worker or works with abused victims will tell you abuse always escalates! It’s starts as emotional abuse and then escalates to eventually become physical.

  • I was discarded by Jackass but the only regret is that I didn’t stick to it when I originally told him to leave my home; we weren’t living together but I had this moment of clarity that he was manipulating me. That clarity was swallowed up in pick-me dancing, tears and hopium for a while. But holy crow, I’m glad I caught him and I hope to heaven I never see his face again.

    As for XH the Substance Abuser, whose APs were whiskey, wine, beer, and vodka: oh hell no. I should have left years before I did.

    • I was discarded as well. I am pretty certain his first plan was to discard me as soon as my son graduated from HS. I suspect whore was pushing hard by that time. However, by then he had met a candidate for mayor to oust the sitting mayor; who he hated. He needed my to help them win that campaign. The candidate liked my ex and me; and I believe because of the way the mayor handled the situation after fw was exposed that he bought the decent family man image fw was pedaling to everyone.

      Once the campaign was won, he (fw) needed another to two years to hopefully get promoted from Lt, to Captain. (please note I had no idea what was in his mind but with the timeline; I am certain I have it figured out)

      • SL They tend not to include their victims in their cunning plans for fame and fortune. Glad he got his comeuppance. Loser.

  • Only regret…my father and I were just about to walk down the aisle at the church and, before we turned the corner, he looked at me and said, “Are you sure you want to do this?” I said, “Yes.” I wish I had said, “No.” I wish I ran out of that church. I wish I left my fiance standing there. I think my father must have somehow known that my fiance was not the right man for me. I regret that 30 years of my life includes memories of a husband that didn’t really love me.

    • He sounds like a great dad. My dad probably knew FW wasn’t right for me too. Early on in the relationship he expressed the opinion that FW “doesn’t do a hell of a lot.” He was right. FW was lazy, inert and passive. He also hinted that “some men are unsuitable as husbands.” I thought he was making a general statement at the time, but I now believe he was talking about FW.
      Like you, I was with FW 30+ years. He started cheating around the 25 year mark. My dad suspected he was cheating. After Dday FW told me dad had confronted him.
      How he knew I do not know. He was in a nursing home by then and slowly dying of a terrible neuromuscular disease, yet he saw what nobody else did. I was giving my dad care and one day I had dragged FW with me to visit him. Dad waited until I had left his room to get him something and then asked the FW flat out, but apparently a nurse came in and spared the FW from answering. Yesterday was the 6th anniversary of his death. How I wish I had taken his hints.

      I understand about the 30 years of memories that are now sad. It sucks because other people you love are in those memories as well, and the FW ruined it all. I feel ya, Duped.

      • OHFSS – Both sets of our parents as well as my grandmother died during our 30 year marriage. Caring for them was one of the best things we did together, but those memories are tainted by the timeline of his affair. That and knowing I won’t have the “honor” of being anyone’s widow. Regrets are complicated when they’re wrapped in grief.

    • Wow. This exact thing happened to me – June 1982 – just about to walk down the aisle in a lacey white gown, everyone seated in the chapel, Trumpet Voluntary playing, and my father looked me in the eye and said quietly “Are you sure you want to do this?” At the time I was annoyed- I was really nervous, and figured he was just teasing me. But years later I began to wonder if Dad could already tell the idiot ex was a total a-hole and was trying to tell me something he really should have talked to me about before that day. Dear Dad’s long gone now, so I’ll never know.

  • I think to myself a lot that I miss who I thought he was and what I thought we had together. I had to accept that I was wrong and the real mistake was me believing in a person who was lying probably the whole time, everything he ever said he hated about people, he became. We no longer have anything in common, the selfishness, trying to make me out to be the worst person to make himself look better, how he only focused on the negative things and never appreciated the trillions of other things I tried to do for us, I left myself financially and emotionally bankrupt after this marriage, I sacrificed everything to be left with nothing. I deserve nothing less than someone who puts in effort and that actually tries. The divorce won’t be finalized until October and right now that feels like a lifetime. Although I’m not ready to start anything new, I’m certainly not interested in being treated like a doormat that will just always be there incase and/or when all the terrible choices he’s made come crumbling down. Never again in life will I ignore red flags or settle for being an afterthought. I regret that I ever did or that I guess I didn’t see it. It’s time to listen to my brain even through all the pain, it was a comfort thing but that has been completely ripped away so I really just need to start over and be alone.

  • I have not one regret. I think I got myself out of a clear mistake of a marriage to a violent man-child who chose to cheat on me. It was tough, I took my hard knocks like a champ, and built a life that I love. Divorcing a cheater was the best thing I ever did for myself, full stop.

  • I think I miss who he was, or maybe who I thought he was, way back when. It’s possible there was a time he was really that good honest and trustworthy man I thought he was and I miss that. I think he was, it was good for a long time, 15 years, it’s hard to fake it that long. I saw when he started to change and I just thought he was depressed.

    So, I guess I miss a ghost. There was a time he was really good to me, treated me well, and really did love me. Was there some unhealthy dynamics like codependency, people pleasing, and avoiding tough conversations on his part? Sure, but maybe if he’d worked on that he wouldn’t have become the monster he is today.

    So, I don’t regret leaving him because he’s a monster, and the man who I married is dead and gone. It would be really nice to have just an hour with that man. The one who cared, was capable of love, empathy, and wasn’t so selfish. I would tell him I miss him and say goodbye. I would tell him I really did love him and enjoyed the time we spent together. I would tell him I wish it wouldn’t have turned out the way it did. I would tell him I wish he didn’t have to go. But, like I said, that person doesn’t exist anymore so what is there to regret? You can’t regret leaving a person you don’t even know. That’s really what happens, they become a stranger, it just takes you a while to realize it. How can you regret life without a stranger? You never knew them at all.

  • Tried being oh so understanding and empathic and patiently explaining why his toxic behaviour was a problem. Reconciled after the first time he cheated (surprise surprise, he quit couple therapy as soon as the therapist started trying to get him to take some responsiblity, even a little bit), actually felt able to put it all behind me (although now I had a much better idea of who I was actually dealing with). Tried reconciliation after he threatened me physically, very very convincingly (surprise surprise, he quit individual therapy after about 5 sessions, claiming he`d figured things out). True that he never threatened me again. I was still afraid of him, though, and the toxicity continued. Finally told him I was leaving simply because he was too unpleasant to live with. He made it very clear he didn`t want us to separate! shaped up admirably! Toxicity dropped a ton! Kids and I were so much happier! Until, of course, he cheated again, within less than a year. Turns out he was super resentful I made him be nicer.

    So yeah, if I`d realized (and especially if I`d realized he wouldn`t even try to get the 50% custody time the law entitled him to), I`d have left FAR earlier. SOOOOOO much wasted time.

  • Leaving? Hell no. I haven’t one iota of regret in that regard. No the massive regret lays in having been foolish enough to marry and breed with her. I regret not leaving at the first sign of fuckwittery. If I had only known then what I know now

  • “You think you’ve got a unicorn, until you don’t. Or maybe you do, (color me skeptical) but the damage is done and you need to move on.”
    This sentence is haunting me this morning. I’m a first-time commenter (4+ years after D Day), and I believe (do I?) I’m married to a unicorn.
    Yet here I am, still reading your blog faithfully, looking for advice but also terrified I’ll find it: “I wish I left sooner. I wish I had that time back.”
    I know the odds are not good (on this page and in real life), but the question that’s nagging me is this –

    Have you ever seen a unicorn? Do they exist at all or are they only ever the things of (chumped) wishes and hopes?

    • I’m going to say this with love, if you’re still haunted 4 years later then why does it matter if he’s a unicorn or not? It’s been 4 years, Is it going to get better in another 4? I tried for 2 and I made myself sick doing it. I was literally sick. Panic attacks, too much drinking, terrible insomnia and nightmares, stress hives, headaches, back pain, a constant knot in my stomach, and just overall misery.

      Divorcing and letting go wasn’t easy, it still hurts sometimes. I still cry, but it’s so much better than the constant worry, stress, and fear that it’s going to happen again. Once you know your marriage is dead there’s sadness, but relief. It’s like when someone who is terminally ill dies, you’re relieved their suffering is over. End your suffering, it’s not worth it, I promise you.

      I’m only 4 months out from divorce. I was with my ex almost 17 years, married 11. Luckily our divorce was fast and easy, no kids, no lawyers, no court battle. Just joint filing, I got more money and assets and walked away pretty comfortably from the sale of the house. Regardless, this has been simultaneously, the scariest and the most exciting time of my life. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and I’ve ever been through, and I have been through some shit. It’s not easy, but it is worth it, you are worth it.

      I know everyone has to get there in their own time, but listen to your gut, it doesn’t lie. Good luck.

  • I wish I had left decades ago.

    For years I told my story that the OW pulled the trigger because my ex was too cowardly to do it. 6 years later I have come to realize that she pulled the trigger for both my ex and I because I was also too cowardly to do it. This wasn’t the first time he cheated even if he has never owned up to any infidelity including the last one (which he then married). But we know what we know, don’t we? The signs were always there. The behavior changes were so predictable. I knew. He denied. I was scared and believed him even though I knew.

    People only change when they want to or when they have to. I changed and I couldn’t be happier. I only wish I had the ability to change decades before the OW made me.

  • No regrets. I tried reconciliation and wished I hadn’t. I even had an email published here last year when I asked if I had a unicorn because the signs were there. Or so I thought.

    You already know the story. He wasn’t. And CL was a great help getting me to get off the reconciliation train before I wasted too much time, money, tears and health.

    The stress was already killing me. I was sick and suicidal. A shell of myself. I can’t imagine treating him the way he treated me. I was his faithful spouse. I was supposed to be cherished. He did nothing, even when I was slicing myself, putting holes in drywall with violent head-banging, and threatening to shoot myself. Didn’t lift a finger. Didn’t give me a shred of truth.

    The man who I happily married 8 years ago is dead to me. I don’t know what he became or if he was always a rotten sociopath but I regret wasting my valuable 20s with him.

    I only have one life. The idea of wasting it trying and failing to herd my disordered ex’s diseased and wandering penis? Of navigating a minefield of his entitled cum obsession? His ‘woe is me and my sex addiction’ excuses so he can rationalize his desperation for constant cock tickling and whores that’ll do it for him? That’s the stuff of nightmares.

    I am sure he’s enjoying his sex dungeon with the whore he left me for, while being isolated from all the family and friends he used to have. Some men only have one friend and that’s their penis. I hope it provides all the unconditional love and support he ever wanted.

  • Only my heart misses what I thought I had w/the FW XW. My mind and my soul say, No Fucking Way. And I agree about culling people you thought were your friends. Turns out, many of them were just fuckwits of another breed.

  • Well my WW left for the AP and never came back. Saved me from having to make that decision. In the end that likely saved me a lot of grief and heartache in the end.

  • “You might regret the wake of their fuckupendess. The financial toll. The scary life rebuilding”.

    Yes.

    “But the person themselves and how they treated you? Do you miss it?”

    Not at all.

    “I wish I left sooner. I wish I had that time back”.

    100% this.
    I wish I had been wise enough to leave before even being aware of the cheating. The monster’s “attachment style” alone should have granted me that right. That fucker stole 20 years of my life that I am not getting back, all the while crushing my sense of self-worth and desire to live.

    This site saved my life 2 years ago.
    To any newcomer, listen: leave a cheater (ASAP) and gain a life (this will take some time and healing but you’ve got it).

    • Yes. ASAP. It’s so hard but so worth it. You will get onto meh – and it’s great 😊 keep reading chump lady. CN is here for you.

  • Nope. Zero. Absolutely none. Never looked back. Wish I’d gone the first time (wish I’d found chump lady sooner) and not on the third. Why the tag line exists …. Leave. Get your life back 😊

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