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Chumped with a Cheating Friend

mindfuckDear Chump Lady,

I am four years out from D-day and three years out from divorce, and I am finally at the point where my walls — and my sweet children — SING. After having our lives completely destroyed by infidelity, we have picked up the pieces, dug deep, and found happiness. I am financially stable and rocking my day job. I even fixed my picker and have an incredible, truthful, thoughtful, attractive, and kind partner! But that’s a story for another day. I’m writing regarding a completely different matter.

I credit so much of my healing to my incredible village. So many friends stepped up to help after D-day — to renovate my new home, paint, watch children, cook meals, and move appliances and furniture. And one friend in particular was especially helpful, offering a quiet, steady, and unconditional support.

…or so I thought. I have since learned that this particularly supportive friend, who helped me throughout affair discovery and divorce, is a cheater herself! And has been a cheater for the last 7 years — long before my ex’s affair. Despite the wreckage she witnessed during my own divorce, she has continued to cheat. Her chumpy husband KNOWS about the affair but has not left her. I suspect neither of them consider themselves capable of financially surviving a divorce — and I also think her husband loves her too much to leave her, even with the cheating. If the husband knows and refuses to leave, does that still make him a chump? Or a willing chump?

I know I can ghost this friend, and plan to. But it’s complicated. I live in a small community where I run into this person often. I want to be supportive to the chump husband. And our kids play together frequently in our small neighborhood. I could use your sage advice as I move forward with this new discovery rocking my boat.

Thanks for your insight,

Chumped with a cheating friend

***

Dear Chumped,

I’m really curious how you learned this. Did she confide in you, knowing your history? Did you hear it from the husband? A mutual friend?

For advice going forward, it’s an important nugget to leave out. Because it’s another level of offense if she thought you’d be happy for her or understand. But, as she tried to keep it on the down-low, it may be more of a WTF, I thought I knew you? kind of problem.

As this is coming as a surprise now, I’m guessing that for the last three-to-four years you’ve been going through your D-day and divorce, she was quiet about it. So now you’re probably wondering about her motivations.

A couple things could be going on.

Best case scenario — she doesn’t connect these things in her mind at all. Infidelity in your case was unjust, your ex is a jerk, and she’s helping out a friend in need. She doesn’t see chumping someone as abuse. Why draw parallels? Your ex is a loathsome horndog, while she’s an unconventional adventuress in a complicated situation.

Despite the wreckage she witnessed during my own divorce, she has continued to cheat.

Yes, but it’s your wreckage. Your mess. In her world, she has no mess, just a long-suffering husband.

She’s exceptional. You’re ordinary. The laws of gravity don’t apply.

Worst case scenario — your “friend” gets a contact high off your grief.

It’s part of the high-wire act, passing for something she’s not. Your drama may be exciting, as well as your pain. She can feel superior knowing that your world is crashing down, but hers is not. Schadenfreudalicious kibbles.

Eww, Tracy. Stop untangling that skein.

Emotional vampires are out there. Eat more garlic.

You could ask her. “Did you not think I would find it disturbing that you were helping me through infidelity trauma, while inflicting it on your husband?”

My advice? Don’t. This woman is capable of a 7-year double life. You have know way of knowing what she says is true. (Assuming your intelligence on her affair is correct.)

And it doesn’t matter, because the real issue is what’s acceptable to you. Is this someone you want in your intimate circle?

I know I can ghost this friend, and plan to. But it’s complicated. I live in a small community where I run into this person often.

Nod, smile, be noncommittal. Oh hey, late for Tyler’s flugelhorn lessons! Gotta motor.

You’re polite, but busy. Very busy.

I want to be supportive to the chump husband.

From what you write, he’s aware he’s being chumped? So that work is done. You could always share this site with him. But I don’t know how you blow off her and be supportive of him. If he’s chasing unicorns, he may be in that morass for awhile. He knows where to find you.

I could use your sage advice as I move forward with this new discovery rocking my boat.

Don’t let it rock your boat. Some people are deeply disappointing. Focus instead on all you’ve accomplished! You have walls that sing, happy kids, a new partner. Your life is authentically terrific.

Key word authentic. Lose this person not just because you disapprove of her cheating. Lose her because you don’t have anything in common. You’re real and she’s a furtive fuck.

Get back to your better life.

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.
  • “Key word authentic. Lose this person not just because you disapprove of her cheating. Lose her because you don’t have anything in common. You’re real and she’s a furtive fuck.

    Get back to your better life.”

    So beautifully stated and it also means you are not being roped into the role of Switzerland friend. Nope. Now you know, you can’t un-know it and you don’t want to be part of the supporting cast.

    Maybe her husband does know about this site. If not, you can always put out a sign in the yard recommending it.

    Best wishes on putting a stake through that relationship – keep that Renfield away from you!

    • It would be tempting to slip this guy a copy of CL’s book.

      Then again, such an act could backfire. As they say, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

      You really can’t save this guy. Keep saving yourself and your family!! Let those walls sing!!!

      As for the woman/friend, I’d do what CL recommends. “Gotta go. My hair won’t wash itself. Busy busy busy🐝.”

  • I’m the letter writer. One question was how I found out about the cheating. I actually found out from my daughter and her friend. This is not a rumor — they were sharing legit info. It’s a little more complicated than that because they’ve known for quite some time (and, as I told them, WHY DID YOU WAIT UNTIL NOW TO TELL ME) but kids sometimes have their own reasons especially if they are protecting their own friendships too.

    • Oh that makes me SO SAD. Those poor kids.

      I’m in a small town also. I’m not going to go into all of my particular entanglements, but I want to say: I know it feels unthinkable to have to split with this woman, someone you thought of as a real ally. I’m here to tell you: as it was for the best, despite the pain, to have your cheater out of your life … same. (Ask me how I know). You’ll find yourself looking back one day and realising that, as you needed her, she was muddying the waters.

      Congratulations on fixing your picker … but sometimes it takes a while to take off the rose-coloured glasses on “trusted” friends. Then, all of a sudden, you see them for who they really are.

      Deal-breaker for me now: if we don’t share values, there’s nothing there to base a relationship on.

      • MamaMeh, what you’re saying resonates with me. Leaving a cheating partner feels more cut and dried to me, like OF COURSE you would leave. (Even though it took years before I left the Lying Cheating Loser.) Friends who turn out to be cheaters? It’s like there’s no protocol for that.
        I had a friend with really shitty morals. She was an OW after her first divorce, then cheated on both her second husband and her current live-in partner. I stayed friends with her because she was funny, helpful, generous with her time, and we were both expats from the same country, sharing culture and language of origin.
        For a long time, I tolerated the cognitive dissonance of knowing she’s a shitty human but still considering her a friend. Until I didn’t. Until she was shitty TO ME one too many times. (My boundaries were crap back then – I was still with the LCL.)
        I cut contact with her completely, despite the fact that we have mutual expat friends. It’s been 6 years, and I don’t miss her. Never did.
        Since then, I’ve culled my small herd of friends even harder. Nothing to do with infidelity, morals, or wrongdoing of any kind. Just – there has to be reciprocity. Availability. Investment. A shared foundation of interest, lifestyle, and – as you say – values.
        My energy is finite. So is my time. I’ve gotten really selective about whom I spend it on, and my life is better for it.

      • Thanks for this, MamaMeh. Small town(ish) here as well. I’ve lost many friends, but one in particular (not a cheater, but a mutual friend of mine and the AP) has really stung. I thought of her as a true ally. I know she too was pained by all that happened. She supported me in many ways for about two years but has ultimately shut me out (going on a year now). Especially difficult as our children are still close friends. As you write, it feels unthinkable to have to split from someone I thought was initially an ally. Last summer, when I realized she was starting to ice me out, the pain of losing her too tipped me into suicidal ideation. It’s been almost as painful as finding out the husband I loved/supported was dicking around.

    • I feel badly for your kid & her friend. As you say, their relationships with one another are separate and apart from their parents. Even you. So maybe you have a one-way door policy? Your door is open to the cheater’s kid(s) but you prefer to limit your daughter’s time spent in their home. Definitely stake out your boundaries. You don’t have to embrace a newly uncovered liar now and forever just because they haven’t harmed you yet.

      I don’t know if that’s workable but at least you can spell out why the new policy to your kid. Yes? No?

      Best of luck to you all, with the exception of the cheater.

      • I do not allow sleepovers at their place. And most of the time, their child plays at my house. So hopefully I can maintain the one-way door.

        • Snacks, tasty meals that they learn to prepare for themselves (eventually) and SANITY now and later will make it more likely that they’ll want to be at your house anyway!

    • Okay, here’s the thing. When I was a teenager, I caught my dad talking on the phone to some woman. I was beside myself until my mom informed me that she knew and they had an open marriage. It icked me out but I was no longer angry with my dad. So I’d want to make sure the kids are right. Maybe you need to talk to your friend.

        • Thanks Spinach. You’re a doll. 🙂

          I believe the open marriage thing started because my mom had an incredibly clichéd, brazen affair with our mailman. They compromised instead of breaking up. Later, my father was seeing another woman for about 15 years. My mom had various boyfriends over the years, some of whom she told me about while I was still in my teens. The whole thing was gross and weird and I moved away from home ASAP to get away from it.
          It certainly made me it crystal clear to me how cheating affects kids. I couldn’t ever do that to my kids even if I had wanted to. I guess those experiences are part of why I hate cheaters as much as I do.

          • I don’t get “Open Marriages”, especially when you have kids. What are you teaching your children? That it is OK to use people for your own gratification, while having a spouse appliance at home? FW’s mom moved her 2 teenaged sons directly into her AP’s house when her husband kicked her out for cheating. Sadly, she was the SANE parent in FW’s life. So, yeah, infidelity was modeled for him, as well as all the secrecy and mind-games.
            Not my skein, though, and not my problem.

            • “FW’s mom moved her 2 teenaged sons directly into her AP’s house when her husband kicked her out for cheating. Sadly, she was the SANE parent in FW’s life.”

              Yikes! Your FW probably thinks that history excuses his own shitty behavior.

            • ivyleaguechump,

              Great comment. Here’s my two cents: I don’t think teaching their kids ever enters a fuckwit’s mind, especially if the fuckwit believes in “open marriages,” or polyamory. Except to teach their kids the wrong things, like that those things work and don’t tend to lead to major relationship problems probably every time.

              We’re all immature in different ways, but these people have chosen to be immature in ways that society in general abhors and objects to. And for good reason.

              The breaking of trust, the betrayal of a loved one or at least one who loved the betrayer is an awful, terrible act to commit. It is abuse. Triple abuse in the case of adultery.

              My FW XW would occasionally let out some statement that she felt polyamory was realistic to her, that she could be in love with more than one person. I dismissed it as her being silly, I think, because the alternative to me was too horrible to contemplate.

              I had to spackle. I wasn’t able to wrap my head around the fact that she, like too many others CN has detailed, was spectacularly, awfully immature in starting, maintaining, and ending a loving, monogamous relationship.

              I’m waiting for my kids (after they’re all over 25 years old and their brains have fully developed) to ask about what happened between their mother and me. It’s got to be them wanting to know. I won’t say shit until they ask me and I’m sure they really want or need to know. And I’ll talk to them about how while I have many failings in life, as a person, former husband, and father, I never tried to consciously betray anyone the way their mother did to me or our family.

              I hope the subject doesn’t come up sooner, because of their mother doing some new horrible thing, or worse, them imitating her in some awful way.

              You’re right though. It’s their skein, not ours, and definitely not our problem. Unless it affects our kids. Which might still not be our problem, but hurts nonetheless.

              Wishing you love and peace, and the rest of us in CN, too.

            • Open marriages are very very different than cheating. They shouldn’t be talked about the se way. Consent is very important.

      • I find these open marriages are really about one partner wanting to fuck around & the other caving. I hope it was mutual for your mom’s sake though.

        • I agree, it’s most often about a chump trying to save a marriage by giving in. Not sure exactly how mutual it was with my parents but they did stay together until the end. I do believe they loved each other in their own weird way but the relationship was not healthy.

        • I agree wholeheartedly with you and personally don’t get Open Marriages. Months after discovery, I found a text my FW wrote to his AP asking if she would be okay with an Open Relationship; ironically she wasn’t up for it…”that’s not a relationship but merely dating” – her words, I kid you not. Didn’t bother to include me (the legal, moral, religious partner) about this option though. I guess he already knew what my answer would be. Yeah…I don’t understand the concept of Open Marriages.

          • I think I understand why they do it. They want to have the financial and social benefits of being married but they don’t want to be monogamous.
            To me this is a childish gimme gimme type of attitude and I must admit it does make me think a bit less of a person if I find out they are into that lifestyle. I believe that being in a relationship without sacrificing one’s trivial wants for the good of the other and for the relationship is not real love, because love is not selfish.
            There’s no way that it isn’t playing with fire to have sex with other people, even if you say it’s just for sex. The risk of becoming infatuated and then breaking up the primary relationship to be with the new person is always going to be there. Anybody who thinks they are immune to this is living in fantasyland and not somebody I would want in my life.
            I couldn’t choose my parents, but I can choose not to have friends who court disaster.

            • Man, you said it OHFFS! I just had this conversation with my current partner (who is also a former chump). “Open relationships” require so many rules and boundaries that they are doomed to failure from the start IMO. Especially when kids are involved. Who in the hell can keep up all those rules and other relationships when you’re trying to raise kids?! I hardly have time to clip my nails. And, let’s face it, open relationships are largely about sex. Sex is important, but it’s not the MOST important thing. Yet, these types of relationships place it on the absolute forefront. And, I don’t think that’s a good life lesson to teach kids.

        • In the case of my childhood’s friend’s parents’ open marriage (that started when they were late teens and got pregnant), I think the dad made it clear from the get-go that he wasn’t going to be faithful but then it turned out the mom had an even bigger appetite for it than he did. It made him look like a near-chump, though that was deceiving. They oozed cool most of the time but I learned about the knock-down fights, the mom’s near overdose, the acrimonious breakup, the mom having a nervous breakdown when she aged out of the meat market, the dad eventually perving on his daughter’s friends. Consequently I didn’t aspire to that model of relationship.

          I’ve had some poly couple friends here and there because one or both were bisexual and wanted children. I knew a trouple where the wife was bisexual, the husband straight and the girlfriend gay. Interestingly the latter were all nerdy super-Mensa candidates. Though none were autistic in any way, I imagine they couldn’t find much parity among people outside their weirdly high IQ ranges and were generally the most benign, pastoral people I’ve ever met. And in general I’m not sure how else it would be workable for nonbinaries who want long-term relationships and/or kids. So who am I to judge? Sex is only bad when people get hurt in the name of it. But I’ve also seen a lot of iffy arrangements that are sold on the surface as groovy but there’s a lot of victimization within. Nope.

          • Bisexual =/= polyamorous. I’m a bisexual woman (actually I’m pansexual, but let’s not quibble) who was married to a man. Bi just means you’re open to partners of either (any) gender, not that you won’t be monogamous once you’ve chosen a partner. The same way a straight person decides not to have other sexual partners once they marry/enter a relationship. It’s not like we die if we don’t get our gay on (or straight or whatever, depending). No more than a straight person would from only having one sexual partner for the rest of their lives.

            I think there’s lot of misunderstanding about bisexuality. (No judgement for people who choose to be poly, it’s just not the same. Personally, I couldn’t juggle that many feelings. One partner was more than enough.)

            Right now I’m celibate (by choice), but if I were to start dating again I’d be open to a person of any gender. But I am fiercely monogamous in my relationships, and would expect the same of any partner I choose to spend my life with.

            [As an aside – I’m autistic, and I’m not sure what autism has to do with polyamory or why it was mentioned here. There are a lot of us autistics. Just be careful dropping it as something negative, like we don’t know how to have “normal” relationships. I see autism sometimes mentioned here as contributing to cheating or to a cheater’s cruelty, and I don’t think that it is at all connected. Autistic people tend to be very empathetic (though we may show it differently than neurotypicals) and very, very honest.]

          • I think you make a lot of sense here. And the key is whether anyone in the relationship is getting hurt or ground done or is compromising their values. I made the point above that having insight at the “kid” level, i.e., learning about an affair from one of the children, is getting a child’s eye and perhaps incomplete view of what is going on. In this case, the seeming “chumped” husband may be a victim or he may have something going on that the kids don’t know about. There may be other kinds of dysfunction, like drugs or alcohol or mental illness. There is no way to know without intruding into this mess.

    • Hi Chumped:
      I would say that the friend was also assuaging her guilt by helping you, while at the same time obtaining a contact high as CL says. SO GROSS.
      CL did not suggest a confrontation, but I would not silently ghost. I would say, “I am aware you’re a cheater. I am no longer your friend as this goes against all of my values.” Then proceed with no more contact and no further explanation, just the smile and nod and busy. I would also say to the husband “I’m aware you’re a chump, aka, you’re being cheated on. Here is a website.” And then just get back to your life. Small communities will call you judgmental, bitter, etc….but if people don’t take a stand, what will ever change? I am not suggesting sharing this news with the community. When nosy neighbors inquire, say, “She doesn’t share my values.” And leave it there. What a disgusting person. Good for you for posing this question to CL.

      • “Small communities will call you judgmental, bitter, etc….but if people don’t take a stand, what will ever change?” EXACTLY!

    • Poor kids. I hope you’re doing everything you can to extract your children from this issue. This is an adult issue that small kids, young enough to still require parental supervision during play dates, should not have to be burdened with. The responsibility is not on your kids to tattle on their friends’ mom. It’s a shame that they even know this to begin with.

    • The great upside of being sensitized to this stuff is eventually weeding out all the remaining duds and creating a shark-free tank that attracts dolphins who in turn ward off future sharks. Wonderful people in groups are not only nurturing but can be intimidating and protective.

    • For what it’s worth, remember that your daughter may not have the whole story. It may not just be your friend having an affair; the husband may have something going on too. And if your kids are friends with their kids, I’d say the most important thing would be to make sure your kids know that lying and cheating are wrong. And the second most important thing might be for you to be a good role model without bringing up their problems at home. As someone who grew up in a dysfunctional home, I would have been grateful for an adult who KNEW what I was experiencing but who didn’t intrude into the situation–just to be there and be kind.

      I’m not saying you should remain friends with the cheater. But I might consider, for the sake of all of the kids, just staying out of that mess, being polite to the couple, and kind to the kids.

      And if Cheater asks why you are not as available, I might say, “I didn’t realize you were having an affair. That brings back feelings about what happened to me” and let it go at that.

  • This was a hard lesson for me in my journey.

    Breaking off relationships is a hard thing to do, but it’s so important to the heart when that time comes.

    Once I realized this, I grew significantly. It’s become a superpower to understand just how much control I really have in my world.

  • Oh boy I’m going through something similar. My best friend of 15 years, who with her husband were like a brother and sister to me and my cheating ex. She was with me the night I found out and witnessed the fallout, the tears, the weight loss and inability to function. Then after a couple of years I find out she’s cheating on her husband. She confronted me about avoiding her after she told me many lies about their breakup, and I told her I knew what she had done. And that I don’t know how to be friends with her. I told her she didn’t do it to me, but it felt like it and I dont understand how someone could see such pain and choose to do that to someone.

    It’s been incredibly tough but I’ve decided to no longer be friends with her. Not sure what holidays etc will look like since we always spent them together but I’d rather have a small circle than be surrounded with inauthentic people.

    • Megan, I’m so sorry. Losing a friend with so much history, connection and initial support is no small thing. I feel for you.

    • A longtime friend was having an affair with her married boss. I couldn’t believe what she was telling me “he and his wife have an ‘understanding’, FW and his wife are just staying together until the kids leave home, he doesn’t love his wife, he had never done this before but ‘friend’ was special…” I too had to distance myself from my friend as I just couldn’t listen to that bullshit, couldn’t understand how she believed his bullshit and saw her in an entirely different light that ruined everything. How she could be so stupid and selfish, how she could knowingly be ‘a shmoopie’, would allow herself to do something so hurtful to a wife and family, changed everything for me.

      • I once knew a woman who was openly involved with a married man who told her these same things. They vacationed together, went to dinner, etc. He said he would leave his wife when his kiddo went to college and went so far as to tell her the DAY he would move out. And of course that day came and nothing happened.

  • My ex wife was helping one of her best friends whose now long ex husband was having multiple affairs and knocked up 3 different women WHILE my ex wife was having an affair herself. She saw how much pain her friend was in because her ex husband got multiple women pregnant. Didn’t matter to my ex wife that she was pregnant from her affair partner. She didn’t care that she was doing to me what her friends ex did to her friend. It is so messed up! I still can’t wrap my head around it many years later after DDay.

    • It is so messed up. I also can’t understand it. As Tracy describes it, It’s part of the high-wire act, passing for something she’s not. But it may also be a way for her to believe that she’s better than other people. If she sees their actions as despicable, and hers are justified (however she wants to spin it), then she’s better than those ugly people that cause so much pain. I think they have to do it else they’d have to confront the ugly person in the mirror. They do not want to do that. It’s obviously entitlement, but in the long run, I believe they’re just very shallow people. It’s vanity – An inordinate occupation with what other people think. I think that was the issue with my ex (not that I’m still untangling that skein.) He was ‘wonderful’! Everyone told me that he was! He wanted to be so wonderful in everyone’s eyes. He excelled at studies, at work (winning lots of awards), as a teacher (post military career), etc. Again, everyone told me how wonderful he was and how lucky I was to be married to him. And yet he fucked around on me for 15 years of my 30-year marriage. I can see that it was ‘okay’ because it was with his ‘twu luv’ (who also cheated on her husband of 35 years.) He didn’t equate his actions with other men who were serial cheaters. Oh no he couldn’t because then that would make him just as ugly as them and then he wouldn’t be ‘wonderful’!

      • I agree AC. Every cheater thinks he/she/they are different from other cheaters and that it’s a an exceptional case involving soooper doooper speshul people.🙄 From the stories here we know that every cheater is, in reality, just like every other cheater. If they couldn’t delude themselves about their exceptionalism they would implode from the cognitive dissonance. So they don’t see themselves as hypocrite even if they disapprove of others cheating. Others aren’t speshul.

        • It’s like anti-abortion people who are against abortion until someone in their family needs one. Then it’s not “an abortion like other women get” but “necessary.”

          • So true Adelante. I know somebody who was the intake nurse at an abortion clinic. She told me some of the people who had previously been out front protesting brought their teenage daughters in for an abortion. Smh.

        • And that is how OW could sit at my table and rant about what a scumbag her ex was for moving another woman into her home only a couple months after she left him, while at the same time fucking my husband behind my back. She saw no contradiction there. Her husband was cheating trash. She and FW had twu wuv. They were speshul. They shouldn’t have to worry about technical issues like a marriage certificate. Just a piece of paper. /vomit/

          I called her out on it (back before I went no contact) and called her a hypocrite. I wasted my breath, because her only response was “I’m sorry you feel that way”. Like, NO, I don’t *feel that way*, it’s a FACT.

          She got what she deserved anyway (Karma’s a bitch), and I’m free, so it all worked out in the end.

          • My ex husband did the same. His dad forgot to pick him up from school a few times, because he was busy with the OW. After i found out, I asked my ex husband how he could do the same as his dad did to him. He was “that” kid, he knew how it felt to be bottom priority. It wasn’t the same. His dad was just shagging on the side , my ex husband was in looooove. Not the same. Okay, got it.

      • “He was ‘wonderful’! Everyone told me that he was! He wanted to be so wonderful in everyone’s eyes. He excelled at studies, at work (winning lots of awards), as a teacher, etc. Everyone told me how wonderful he was and how lucky I was to be married to him.” AmazonChump, you cut and pasted this out of my journal, right?? One of my STBX’s former employers called him a “superstar”. One of our ministers, upon first meeting my STBX – in front of me – said to him “you look like a movie star!!!”

        And my STBX has made it clear that he’s not a gross “sex addict”. Nvm the fact he looked at porn for years, then started using our friend as a masturbation vessel in the back of his Honda Civic for almost two. Oh that’s right…it was “love” 🙄

      • Klootzak is Mr. Wonderful, too. Spoiled rotten by his grandmother and mother, he is a manipulator of people. Image management is all he is about. (Another former military, too!) They get a high off of moving through the crowd, being the predator all while being told how great they are.

        Klootzak thought he had it all figured out until he made a major mistake in his career that destroyed his chance at ever having a command. He was cheating before then out of pure entitlement. After his career sunk, he was relegated to desk work the rest of his military career. But, oh, he still got to travel like mad for meetings, training, and conferences. And the cheating was so much easier with so much opportunity to parade around in his uniform and lie to the next bar fly he picked up about his work. He pretended to be very powerful and told the APs that he lived in Europe to explain coming to town from time to time.

        Mr. Wonderfuls like being the puppeteers until the chump learns the truth. Then they hope for more kibbles and pick me dancing. But the reason they try to devalue the chump is because they know the ugly we see is real. They know that they have been lucky to be with us, not the other way around. They would never admit it, though. They have no morals so i instead of doing a self-assessment, they try to devalue you. It’s the only weapon in their arsenal.

        I’m quite proud klootzak called me a bitch a few days ago. That’s what happens when you put up boundaries and stop putting up with their madness. They throw things and call names. Full narcissistic meltdown.

        • “Mr. Wonderfuls like being the puppeteers until the chump learns the truth. Then they hope for more kibbles and pick me dancing. But the reason they try to devalue the chump is because they know the ugly we see is real. They know that they have been lucky to be with us, not the other way around. They would never admit it, though. They have no morals so i instead of doing a self-assessment, they try to devalue you. It’s the only weapon in their arsenal.”

          ^^^^^^
          This!

      • Sounds like a covert narcissist. That’s what they do. Looks like you and I were married to the same man. Outside the door he was always doing good deeds. The nice guy everyone can count on. If I had a dollar for every time I was told how lucky I was. They didn’t see who the man was from the door in. He mentally and emotionally abused me and my daughters for years.

    • So messed up!!

      FWs are capable of incredible mental gymnastics. These full twists allow them to justify their actions and preserve their dignity.

      My own FW is a doctor who had an affair with a much younger married nurse.

      Years earlier, his sister’s husband, also a doctor, cheated on her with a much younger married nurse. x consoled her during this period.

      When I pointed out to him that he had done exactly what his former brother-in-law had done, he seemed shocked. I asked, “How does it feel to be a cliché? I mean, it’s such a cliché for an older doc to have an affair with a younger nurse.”

      He couldn’t see it.

      His response: “I’m not at all like [insert sister’s ex’s name here].”

      They only see unicorns in their fun mirrors.

      • “I asked, “How does it feel to be a cliché?”
        😄

        “His response: “I’m not at all like [insert sister’s ex’s name here].”

        Now that really pisses me off. He was implying his sister didn’t deserve to be cheated on but you did. Bastard!

        • Good point. No dignity, except in their own minds, but even that is shaky.

          Perhaps x was really feeling unsure of his worth or merely fishing for praise or kibbles via some interaction–any interaction!–when he asked me if I thought he was “white trash.” I didn’t respond. There’s so much power in silence.

          He then upped the ante. “Do you think I don’t deserve to live?”

          In the early days of discovery, chumpy Spinach couldn’t help but respond to that second question. Of course, he knew I would. I wrote, “You deserve to live.”

          *sigh*

      • Spinach, exactly! My sister divorced her cheating ex husband. She found out when she happened to open his STD test results that came in the mail, so it was pretty dramatic. None of the family liked ex-BiL (he lived in the house she owned, didn’t help her with anything, obnoxious, etc) but tolerated him for my sister’s sake. After he cheated no one held back.

        When FW had to tell the family why he was moving out, I told him, how cool you’re going to look now that you’ve put yourself in a category with garbage ex-BiL. He was downright astounded. He had forgotten why Sister finally divorced. Really?? FW had gone to Sister’s house to be with her while ex-BiL moved out. It’s not like he didn’t know the situation or what everybody thought of ex-BiL. Yet he was just… astounded. It never occurred to him that the family would compare him to others based on his actions. Certainly he was above that. Everyone knew, he was wonderful!

      • Same cliche Spinach – my X was older doc having an affair with younger nurse. They just don’t see it. His response to most of my direct labels, such as “cliche” or “abusive” was “I just don’t see myself that way.”

      • My idiot ex FW was the same Spinach

        When we first met, he waxed lyrical about his best friend who had lived a double life and how despicable he was

        Then, guess what, FW goes on to do just that

        Turns out he cheated on his first wife too

        Oh the irony

        Deluded souls indeed

      • It is pretty fascinating to me how it is sooo very common a theme that these FW’s are unable to see how they are just a common scummy cheater just like all the other low lifes that surround them.
        They won’t see it. They cannot be common! They are completely incapable of seeing the similarities to other adulterers.
        Same deal happened with mine. Three years before my D day, our very close friends went through the similar nightmare of horrific betrayal and abandonment.
        The FW was at the top of his career, admired by countless ppl and had a resume that wouldn’t even look real, but it def was! He was getting ready to retire, ran off with the way the hell younger long term mistress and caused tremendous hurt to his wife and their children. A complete crash and burn from a guy who had everything and then nothing at all. It was a disaster!
        Then 3 years later, as I comforted my friend through her grief, here comes my lovely FW, top of his game, heard from ppl he worked with he was seen as a “ legend” in the company, similar age to the other cheater ( both were long time serial cheaters unknown to both wives) also retiring and then very unexpectedly to most everyone who knew him, ran off with the long term way the hell too young mistress and decimated HIS family.
        When I would say to him he was just like FW #1, he would get soo disturbed by that and say he was nothing at all like him!
        They could have been identical twins, but he was unable to see how it was the same damn situation!
        They will not allow themselves to see the similarities because they can see the destruction someone else causes their families, but they have to be completely separate from that. They don’t believe they are doing the same thing. They can’t allow themselves to see it.
        It’s almost like looking in the mirror and not being able to see your own reflection, it’s that dramatic an anomaly, so bizarre.
        Their own made up version needs to be whole heartedly believed by them, at their peril. It’s life or death and complete blockage and denial is essential to survival. And the only person that truly matters is them.
        Impossible to comprehend, and always will be, but I know deeply it could not be more true.
        We always wish they would just be able to “ get it”. That day is never coming. I do believe they could not and would not survive facing reality.
        Fantasy land is all they have left to them. They fiercely protect it and come to believe it’s even true too.
        They are not reachable anymore, they are not the person we knew them to be. It’s basically like a death without a funeral.

    • I honestly think that most of them really do think they are the exception.

      My ex’s whore actually told my daughter in law that whore told her that she believed that God sent her to fw just when fw needed her. Daughter in law set her straight; but that is these fw’s mentality. Well in MY case it was justified because yada yada yada.

      My daughter in law was horrified that first she would say that about God, and also she has known me and fw for years and she know how he is and how I am. She told whore that her God does not send women to steal other women’s husband and that Susie was a wonderful woman and fw knows it.

      Of course she used their names, the fw and whore are to preserve their delicate identities.

      I told my daughter in law, I must have missed that part in the ten commandments where God directed; no adultery, unless he really needs it.

      To me her statement was blasphemy. But, just my opinion; I don’t speak for God.

      • “My ex’s whore actually told my daughter in law that whore told her that she believed that God sent her to fw just when fw needed her.”

        Sure, because God wants people to cheat and lie and sends them affair partners.
        I’m not even a God believer and I feel what she said is insulting to God. Smh.

      • The God directed cheaters are the worst!
        I led divorce recovery groups in churches for seven years and I have seen a lot of magical thinking propped up by self-serving theology. Religion gives delusional people a framework to support their machinations.

  • Once a Chump has been to hell and back with a Cheater, your eyes are wide open and you can never unsee all that has been exposed. These exposures along with your growth process that lead you up, out and away from dysfunction are priceless! They are the lessons that place you on solid ground forward. However, that’s not to say that many more people, places, temptations and experiences aren’t going to present front-and-center as you walk forward in life. To remain free of the influence of disordered people in our lives, we must always draw the line by rejecting them, rather than keeping them close through association or justification.

    • Really good comment L69!
      Establishing and maintaining boundaries is one of the most important lessons I have learned through post divorce self-discovery.

  • Chumped, if her husband knows, how can you be sure it’s not an agreement they have? Maybe he has a cuck fetish. Maybe he sees other people too and they keep it in the down low to avoid social disapproval. I suggest you find out for sure before dumping what may be a good friend. Have you spoken to her about it?
    I think you need to find out the facts. The problem is that if she is a cheater, she will lie. If you ask her husband, you risk humiliating him with the reality that others know about the affair. It’s a tough spot to be in. Is your source reliable? If this person knows for a fact that it’s cheating rather than (ugh) “polyamory” as people call it, I would probably tell your friend why you are no longer comfortable in her company- you don’t share the same values. Be civil from then on, but with no warmth. The kids can still hang out without the moms being together.

    Or perhaps you’ll decide it’s best to just avoid the whole mess because even if they do have an agreement, that sort of thing is triggering. I know it would be for me. Think about it.

    • It is def not an “agreement” or polyamory etc. He is just a chump hoping that she will come around eventually. Also impression management in a small town is a powerful thing. It is safe for me to end this friendship.

  • “What’s acceptable to you.”
    This notion was the most difficult for me to grasp, understand, and implement during the healing process.

    I think when you are beaten down emotionally, relationally, and mentally for so many years, it’s not easy to shift your thinking back to putting yourself first. But it is paramount. And there will be folks in your inner circle that don’t belong there even if they helped or supported at one time.

    Discovering someone you once valued as a friend is carrying on the same kind of secret life that brought pain and misery to your own is an awful discovery. Much like your ex, this woman is not the person you thought she was, and that realization isn’t always easy to come to grips with. But trust that she sucks, every bit as much as your ex did. There is no difference between the two.

    I presume you have acknowledged her kindness to you during a difficult period in your life. And I’m certain your were grateful. Just be keenly aware every kind act is just the wrapping paper and pretty bow concealing a box full of shit. They thrive on the rush they get from acts that disguise and help to perpetuate their public persona, making what they do in secret even more thrilling because they can get away with it.

    I’m thankful you see this for what it is. CL’s suggestion of gray rocking this person is spot on.

  • Yeah, this one falls into the “I can’t be a part of what you’re doing with your life” department.

    When you are part of any kind of small, insular community — a small town, church, club, etc. — you end up having to have some amount of contact with at least one person whose ways are bad for anyone who gets close to them. Could be any number of dysfunctions — drinking until dangerous, driving after drinking, stealing, bullying people, being bad tempered, and, yes, participating cheating, they all count. When you voluntarily interact with the person while the person engages in such well-known bad behaviors, you’re participating by proxy. You’re implicated.

    If you knew a person was well known for stealing from the cash box, you wouldn’t count the cash with them, right?

    If you knew a person was well known for driving after drinking, you wouldn’t climb in a car with that person sitting behind the wheel, right?

    We don’t have to be overtly mean or make overt statements to make it clear we can’t participate in a bad behavior. All we have to do is put space between ourselves and the behav-er.

    I don’t have to solve all the world’s problems all the time. If you’re a cheater, I don’t owe you an explanation for why I won’t be around you or interact with you. I don’t owe you an explanation for why I don’t like you, or why I don’t like your cheating. And should I choose to give you one, it doesn’t have to be lengthy or detailed. It can be as simple as “I don’t agree with how you’re living your life and I don’t want to be involved, or perceived as involved, even peripherally. You do you, fine, but you’re going to have to do it without me.”

    This may or may not fit for others — we’re all individuals with unique experiences and circumstances — this is just what works for me. (And in fact, I find I even have to use it on this very site!!!)

    • I once cut loose an old friend who relapsed into drug abuse. Not my values at all. Well, she couldn’t accept that consequence and approached klootzak to get him to intercede with me on her behalf. And his response to her was that it was no use, that I am just the kind of person who doesn’t forgive people. He went on andon painting me as the person with the “problem.” It never occurred to either of them that I had a right to enforce my boundaries. Drugs, cheating… not acceptable to me.

      It was one of only two times that I have ever made the decision to end a friendship because of big boundary crossing. The other was a college friend who had become very controlling and strange and I finally said enough! In my half century on this earth, I have only cut off two friends but klootzak acted as though it was my modus operandi. Because to him, I am not allowed to have and enforce boundaries. To him, I don’t get to call the shot of whether the marriage continues or ends. He treats me like a person with no agency, and when I push back, enforce boundaries, and refuse to follow his rules, he believes I should be punished and more tightly controlled.

      “Is this relationship acceptable to me?” is a question I had not clearly asked myself before LACGAL. I didn’t realize I could. It was only just starting to sink in that I get a vote. It applies to every relationship and you – and ONLY you – get to judge what is or is not acceptable. (And I am saying this to myself here, not trying to yell at you. Lol) I have a right to choose.

  • There are some people who surreptitiously thrive on other people’s life crisis. They like to sidle up and have a front row sheet to the show, all with their invisible bowl of popcorn. They enjoy other’s pain, they find it entertaining, and it makes them feel like a superior person. When the person in crisis starts recovering, typically the invisible popcorn eaters take a step back, and sometimes fade away.

    I do think they lack the self awareness to connect their own behavior (cheating) to another’s pain.

    My two cents.

    • Regret: That’s an excellent point! Many folks aren’t content without drama, chaos and disorder in their lives. We all have enough in our own lives to keep us growing, learning and becoming our best selves. Sometimes it’s easier to be smack in the middle of other people’s messes than face our own demons to deal with.

      • The summer of 2009 my life went to hell. My dad died suddenly, I got laid off, I broke my foot seriously and was disabled for an extended period of time. The guy I was dating turned out to be horrid. Then I couldn’t get another stable full time job until 2013. My life was hell; I went through most of my assets (I was a renter). My private landlord did me a huge favor and didn’t raise my rent the entire time.

        And there were the friends. They checked in, they took me to lunch, they were oh so supportive and I was grateful. They listened. Then when the big job offer came, a great job with a truly premium corporation–they disappeared. Poof. Crickets. Some disparaging remarks on the way out: “The job sounds boring.” “A new job won’t make you happy–you need to fix what’s on the inside.” (News flash–income at a living wage and purpose made me happy. That was all I needed).

        That was when I figured out I was their personal charity and soap opera. It was revolting, dishonest, intrusive, and an emotionally costly experience. That’s why I call them Invisible Popcorn Eaters.

  • Open marriages are more common than people think. It may be cheating, it may not be cheating. Unless you ask her directly I wouldn’t assume anything.

  • I’ve had two long-term girlfriends that I came to see as “furtive as fuck” like Chumped’s duplicitous friend. I ditched one outright (she came to “help” me by staying with me after d-day but turns out she really was using it as an excuse to screw a married man a few blocks over). The other is 2 doors down (they’re just everywhere aren’t they?!) & I am grey-rocking her. It’s not easy because she senses I’m trying to ditch her & she’s pursuing me even harder! 🤦🏼‍♀️ I’m sure if I stay the course, she’ll eventually lose interest! 🤞

  • Keeping a friend who you know is a cheater requires the same mental gymnastics used by the cheating accomplice….They Wouldn’t Do That To Me, So It’s Okay!

    Would you invite a bank robber to your country home for the shooting party?

    Trust and safety are the necessary elements of all worthwhile relationships, not just the romantic ones. If someone is a cheater, you’ve just gotten the evaluation report on their integrity. Proceed at your own peril.

    I have lived next door to a woman for thirty years and have always had a pleasant relationship with her and her two grown sons. The younger son died recently and I went by a few days ago to see how she was doing. The older son was there, and knowing my situation, told me he is also getting divorced and began the story. Partway in, I realized he has been cheating. All those cheater dog whistles, those things only cheaters say and do, which they think are so unique and here we learn it is the Common Book of Cheating. He just happened to meet the love of his life five days his mean old wife kicked him out! Because his wife has problems (insert laundry list of her problems here, but please don’t consider his drinking problem, which he acknowledged but that didn’t have ANYTHING to do with anything!) He is a people pleaser and did everything her way! He was unhappy for years! The day of their wedding, he ignored his inner voice telling him not to do it! He stayed for the children! He was thinking for years about when to leave because, children! He just wants to be happy! One day, OUT OF THE BLUE, he sat up in bed and realized HE COULD NOT DO THIS ANYMORE! NOT ONE MORE DAY! NOT ONE! Then she kicked him out and, whaddaya know, he just happened to meet The Love of His Life FIVE DAYS AFTER SHE KICKED HIM OUT SO HE DID NOT CHEAT ON HER BECAUSE THEY WERE SEPARATED BECAUSE SHE KICKED HIM OUT. If you asked her, she would say it was because of lies and infidelity! WHAT A COINKIDINK!!!!

    Right.

    And Neighbor Mom is joins in excoriating the wife. She has been saying unkind things about her son!

    Right. Got it. Roger that.

    I will never go over there ever again. I will be a Smiling Waver should they drive by. And on my way out the door, I did tell him I have a great therapist I think he should talk to.

    • Wow!! VH, first of all, the image of you as the Smiling Waver cracks me up.

      Re this cheater and his classic excuses–OMG!!! 🤮

      And people believe this rot!

      Someone I know told me that his brother cheated because his wife was frigid (another classic). Oh sure!

      Oh, and regarding my own situation, this person said, “I assume your ex had an affair because he was unhappy.” AS IF THAT MAKES THE CHEATING OK!” Also, I’m not really sure he was that unhappy. He never told me that. (And, of course, my happiness–or lack thereof–was a non-issue.)

      These cheaters always say they were unhappy. It’s reverse engineering to justify what they’ve done. Sometimes I get the feeling that society gives cheaters the ole thumbs up because, in society’s rom-com-fed collective mind, these cheaters are fixing what’s broken, albeit in a shitty way, but, hey, happiness!! It’s all for the best. Can we just move on?

      Ugh.🤬

      As to your main point, I agree. “If someone is a cheater, you’ve just gotten the evaluation report on their integrity. Proceed at your own peril.” And this is why I’m so confused by anyone who remains friends with x. I mean, they know he’s a liar and can’t be trusted. Oh, but I guess he would never lie to THEM! And they buy his excuses. It was me. All me. Oh, and just ONE LIE (every day for almost 3 years).

      I’m fired up today.😤

      • When I am unhappy with a restaurant, I don’t keep eating there.

        If I am unhappy with a movie, I don’t rent it over and over again.

        Healthy unhappy people speak up, attempt to problem-solve, then leave. Which is how I know cheating has zero to do with “unhappiness.” Are they unhappy? I believe that. But I if you look under the hood of a cheater, you’ll find plenty of evidence which indicates they are the cause of their “unhappiness”. I love what Dr. Frank Pittman used to say to cheaters, “You are the problem with your marriage.”

        That one remains in a committed relationship, intentionally deceiving and inflicting emotional distress on one’s partner and children, neglecting and otherwise behaving destructively,
        belies the whole “unhappy” horseshit.

        Years ago I was suing someone who rear-ended me in a car accident. His lawyers subpoenaed my medical records to try to prove that my injuries were pre-existing. My medical records showed that I always went promptly to the doctor whenever anything was wrong. Which totally torpedoed their theory.

        If someone is “unhappy for years” and doesn’t make it known, pretends everything is cool, and lies and cheats and steals and deceives, they have deep problems that have nothing to do with you, and IMHO that’s a big giant warning sign a wise person would respect.

    • The way they change history to justify their cheating is just bizarre. All of a sudden the narrative is they were miserable and had been abused for years, didn’t listen to their gut not to go through with the marriage, etc. All pure horseshit. Of course most dysfunctional people will throw out BS and all of a sudden it’s the gospel truth…they really end up believing their blatant lies.

      • I’m curious as to when the narrative changed KB. When I was a teenager, women who cheated with married men and the cheaters, were called names and treated with derision

        People always said ‘they’ll never leave for you, you know’ and ‘of course they would say that their spouse never understood them, more fool you if you believed it’

        Now it’s all the heart wants what it wants and it must be the chump’s fault. If Fatal Attraction was made now, Michael Douglas would probably leave for Glen Close and it would all be the horrid, wife’s fault for being so dull and standing in the way of twu wuv

      • I believe it’s possible for it to go down that way….that your gut is telling you not to marry but you go ahead with it for various reasons and end up unhappy. I know that’s what my ex did. We were the right ages, careers established, no other prospects, had love for each other but maybe were not “in love.” I refused to continue living together bc I wanted marriage, so he caved and we got married.

        The difference between FW and me is that I also knew I might have held out for someone else/better, but I thought all this through ahead of time and determined that I could/would be ok with the marriage, it was satisfactory for me, and I was always faithful and never looked for someone who might have been a better fit. I was happy enough. And if one day I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have cheated. FW, on the other hand, chose to let his decision fester and ultimately probably did become unhappy at some point, but instead of dealing with it honorably, he cheated.

    • VH, I think “The Common Book of Cheating” is your book to write. What a voice you have! (not to take anything away from CL) But, you’re right — do these idiots think they’re special? What jokes they are – timid forest creatures to be sure.

  • Life is much better with authentic people in it. The duplicity is delicious for cheaters. Who knows, she might have cheated with your X or may feel entitled to test out your new partner. Yes, exit her from your friend circle. And who is to say her husband really knows the truth? Congratulations on your new cheater free life.

  • “Some people are deeply disappointing.” More truth from Tracy.
    I had a good friend and colleague years ago who casually told me that her diamond necklace was from her AP, that her husband didn’t know, and that she enjoyed/deserved someone in her life who treated her to jewelry. I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say, but that ended the friendship part for me. Soon after, she asked me to give her a client’s proprietary information without asking them if they were willing to share it with her organization. I told her I couldn’t believe she’d ask me to do that and be complicit. I reported to my employers and cut her completely. I didn’t know what to say to her, so I literally said nothing to her again, ever. We were in the same field, so I saw her at professional events. I’d just walk away, silent. Other people did notice, and ask. I said that we had different beliefs and interests, and let it go at that. I always felt upset by encounters with her.

    Chumped with a Cheating Friend, I’m sure this is more than disappointing. Maybe you wonder if she was conning you, much like your ex, and if her support was just a way to polish up her public image as a person of integrity. I can guess how awkward this is for you, especially since the kids know. I’d suggest let the kids have their relationship, and end yours with her. No last words required. Simply be too busy/unavailable/gray rock.

    • You got a double dose of “why I shouldn’t be friends with this woman.” In addition to the cheating, what kind of person thinks “I deserve to have someone in my life who treats me to jewelry” or, for that matter, elevates jewelry to that kind of importance in her life!

      • I did wonder if telling me that she cheated in her marriage was an attempt to open the door to ask me to cheat my company’s client. “See, I cheated! No sweat, you can do it too!”

  • this is something i’m currently facing. my divorce doula recently told me about how she’s got a “lovely” married friend from power tennis and that they chat all the time, before and after class. he started calling her at home on Friday nights after she disclosed a bad breakup with her boyfriend. RED FLAG.

    “it’s not appropriate to be talking to a married man,” I said.

    “it’s complicated,” she said. “things are not so cut and dried.” RED FLAG. uh, yes, they are. you don’t chat with married folks. no exceptions. and i said as much.

    “i don’t cheat, emotionally or physically. that’s not what i do,” she said, and went on to discuss furtively talking at her car after the final tennis lesson. something about “if things were different we could have a friendship. a different time, a different place.” RED FLAG.

    “i suggest you talk to your therapist about boundaries,” i said.

    this woman helped me so much through the trenches of my break-up. so much. i’m disappointed and trying to figure out how to ease out of the friendship, because i have to do so. i mean, come on. so, that’s my task this summer. let it dwindle.

    people are disappointing. my circle is small and i guess i’ll keep it that way.

    • What is a divorce doula? Someone who helps you through a divorce? Or did you mean to say she was a divorced doula?

      • sorry, i just refer to her as my divorce doula, because she was divorced and helped me through. you know how it’s good to have a divorced friend? she was my divorced friend who helped me through–

        we all need a divorce doula.

        • Thanks for explaining. It’s a good concept. The two friends who were the most helpful were both divorced, although it was decades ago and before I knew either one. And incredibly, during their years of help, I don’t think either one referenced her past. They kept the focus on me and my child.

    • You can just let it fizzle, stop reaching out and responding, or you can choose to be more direct and speak your piece once more then let her know that you can’t continue in the relationship because this “red flag” is raised too high for you to ignore. Thank her for her help and tell her you’re, regretfully, finished with the friendship. Sometimes, avoidance is what works best. But other times, it’s a little cathartic (although perhaps not overly kind) to put this kind of behavior on blast.

    • It’s hard when it’s a close friend. I’m thinking of how I would handle it and I think I would just say directly to her, “I can’t watch you do to another woman what was done to me.” And just leave it at that. No explaining, no arguing, just nope, I’m not watching you help a man abuse his wife like I was abused. Sorry, not sorry.

      I agree that people are incredibly disappointing.

  • I had a “friend” like that, too. She knew ALL the gory details about the FW’s 7 year affair, didn’t clue me in, and pretended to be my friend. Turns out that the FW knew all the gory details about HER long-term affair with a mutual friend.
    This woman watched while I imploded after DDay and was outraged on my behalf. She took me out for coffee when I was unable to eat and listened while I cried and tried to dance.
    THEN she, in turn, was outraged when she suspected her husband was on dating sites! OMG, how DARE he!!! They split up, and she picked me up several times to go look at houses, but, while we were out, she would stalk her XH.
    THEN she simply admitted that she was in love with a married man, but that she was going to break up with him – because he wouldn’t leave his wife for her, and she deserved ALL of somebody, not just part of them.
    Cheater exceptionalism is right.
    Her AP has since died. No way am I telling his widow, who is a truly lovely person.

    • I agree don’t tell the widow. Let her have some memories. Plus hopefully she will have a decent person in her life going forward.

      My own mother in law told me the day I told her that fw left me for another woman that I would be better off if he had died. Now I know she didn’t want her son to die, I knew what she meant; because her abusive husband had died suddenly when they were both 48. The second part of her life was way better than the first. I know that it devastated her what my fw did; but in the end blood took over; which I anticipated.

      • My father died when I was very young. My mother often said that as hard as that was, she was relieved they hadn’t ended in divorce and she would have to see him out with someone else. I don’t think it ever occurred to her that a FW could be so malignant that you would go to bed at night praying that they would find someone else and leave for good. I have seen plenty of photos he had of himself with various APs. He looks like Satan incarnate. I don’t care if he marries someone else or disappears into the Amazon rain forest. The hell it has been to be married to such a FW makes divorce and the other side where he has moved onto some other poor schmoopie look good.

        Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jo-leeeeene… I’m begging of you please come take my man.

  • Its image management. My ex husband was so nice to people and helpful and told them how I already knew all the stuff he was doing so that when he was done with me, he got all the support and I got nothing. “But you knew what he was doing, why’s it a problem now?!” Because I didn’t know but everyone thought I did. Because they all knew, just like you know about this chump husband and have no idea what he really knows. Maybe he knows of a more minor incident like I knew about my ex’s online “relationship” with a woman in another country and that’s what he’s trying to deal with and work through. When in reality she’s screwing everybody and telling people about it BUT she’s doing that while helping them and cultivating their loyalty and letting them know her husband is really a sucker who is ok with it.

    Yeah… don’t be friends with people who abuse their own families. They aren’t going to care about you more. They’re just going to start abusing you too if that ever becomes beneficial for them. They aren’t friend material.

  • After going through a divorce with a cheater, as us chumps start to fix our picker, we learn we have to let go of friends too (not just the Switzerland ones either). It’s hard. I’ve had to end a 2 decade friendship because I realized I didn’t want to have to “pick me dance” for a friend. I miss the good times we had, but it’s more peaceful & I’m less anxious trying to make a friendship with her work. It turns out, we don’t have the same values anymore & are going in very different directions.

  • I also wanted to add, the first friend I made after losing pretty much everyone in my life turned out to be a cheater. That was devastating. She listened to what I’d been through and then thought nothing of telling me how she was exactly like my ex husband and she was doing those things to her husband. Oh, but she had reasons! Not like my ex! Real reasons! It was so revolting to sit there and watch how their minds work. How they justify doing things they know are wrong. I lost her number.

  • The funny thing about untangling is it is hard to fit all the pieces together in someone else’s situation. You know your side of the story with your SO, and can confirm lies he told you, but . . . everyone else in the equation??? If friend didn’t tell you, how did you find out? How do you know husband knows? So many pieces, and do you want to spend your time sorting them all out? My choice has become to mind my business and try not to know the business of others. I will judge situations, if I know.

    If I have casual friends I play music with, I try not to talk about politics, or religion, or sexuality. I am only interested in the music. If someone interests me and we go further into friendship, I start to learn things about them. To become a true friend, we will have to hold similar values. Otherwise, my boundary is going to hold. I don’t want to tell them how to live their life. I don’t want their opinion on how I live mine. I am content not knowing most information about most people, because once I know I evaluate. That is who I am. It is hard to live this way, you have a small, trusted circle, and that’s it. For me, the vast majority of people I meet do not live with my value system or morals, or ideals. I cannot let that consume me or destroy me. It just is the way it is.

  • I had a lot of people I thought were close friends before Dday. I now know they were acquaintances, not real friends. One in particular I now wonder if she slept with my husband. Trust my gut. I’ll never know the truth and I don’t need to. My gut tells me something about her is unsafe and unstable (lots of other details that suffice for me).

    There are a lot of selfish people in this world and they are masters at justification. Some are manipulative and con artists. That’s reality. There are a lot who aren’t. Those are the ones I want to spend my time with.

    • Before D-Day, I happened to be in FW’s doctor’s office (a satellite office with only one nurse) at the end of the work day. I went there to bring him a latte🤦🏻‍♀️. Any-hoo, one of the nurses was leaving the group for another job. I’d always liked her and stood up to give her a good-bye hug. In that brief moment, I noticed that she and x exchanged glances. I remember wondering what the hell that was all about.

      Now that I think about it, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had an affair with that nurse as well. Why the hell not?! Every damn woman is suspect, even the super friendly ones. Maybe I should say, especially the super friendly ones. #badpeople #trustyourgut

  • Do you know she’s actually cheating or do they have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” agreement? I would question what you’ve heard from children and talk to one of the adults involved before blowing uo friendships.

    • I would definitely talk to both the “cheater”, and “chump”, independently, to get first hand information on both sides of the story, rather than listening to secondhand relays from children, and forming uninformed assumptions. Then you will know what to do…and feel better about it.

  • CL has written about how our relationships change when our friends and family walk through this experience with us. We have a new lense into kindness, empathy and learn a lot about boundaries when we finally draw a line in the sand about what is acceptable and what will not work for us. I’ve learned to not make grand gestures and let people go their own way. I just take care of my business.. I can only control me. I only have time for people who lift me up or I want to support. I am not anyones care taker (children are grown). Surprisingly people do fine without my advice or help. My suggestion is pay attention to your own life-I’m sure it is quite busy. If you don’t want to spend time with her, don’t. You don’t owe her anything. She didn’t have to help you and I am sure you thanked her profusely when she did. She and her husband will figure it out-like we are trying to do. Friends come in and out of our lives-some for a reason, some for a season and some for a lifetime. Teachable moments.

    • Thrive, I agree, especially with this: “Surprisingly people do fine without my advice or help.” I’m getting used to living without drama and it feels great. I’d be the first one to help a chump who wants my help, but I have no interest in getting involved in others’ tales of so-called mystery and intrigue. Yawn. And as far as kindness…in the beginning, the only way I survived was to find one kind person each day. I am drawn to kindness now, and I want to give that same energy to others. It sounds a bit lollipop-ish, but it’s a lot easier and more calm.

  • Being busy is your best line of defense. The busier you are the easier it is to distance yourself and the healthier you will become leaving this friendship

  • I’ve also found this type of situation to be difficult to navigate. I have a distant friend that is part of an extended friends circle who I really enjoy spending time with, as rare as it is. But I’ve recently found out that she was very likely having an affair with a guy that I’ve found generally pleasant/happy/funny. As both these people are acquaintances, there’s no need to cut these people out of my life as they’re rarely in it, but I do see them both at every gathering that’s more than a few people, and they are both prominent in our small little community. It’s just such a frustrating predicament, but it does serve for a reminder when I see people being cordial to my ex-wife and her affair partner.

    • I’m not certain you can just “live and let live” around people like that. I used to try but it never ended well. It can be hard to avoid because those crappy people always make themselves prominent in communities. But as I learned the hard way, you can also judge communities by the crappy people who thrive in them.

      It’s kind of like how child molesters tend to get themselves into positions of trust and power over children then use impression management and vicious covert politicking to thrive, amass more power and prevent exposure. People like this can be deftly socially lethal if thwarted. Eventually the entire social structure around them becomes unsafe as all the potential truth-tellers and ethically normal types are taken down and excluded, usually before the solid citizens even know what’s up.

      I’ve seen it. There was a huge child predator scandal this at my kids’ former school when an alleged child molester on staff was credibly accused by two former victims and half the burb circled the wagons around the accused. Fortunately my closest friend’s family had been in the town for ages and she knew everyone’s secrets. She was able to warn me of the spider web of ties among corrupt shitheads within the school system and community so I didn’t set off any trip wires or trust the wrong people as I navigated trying to protect my children. In the end there was no hope of fixing the system and I pulled all my kids from the school. My friend did the same and moved to another district. She said the whole town was rotten. She had stories of what had happened to the decent, ethical teachers within the school– all schemed against and eventually chased out or fired.

      So it has to be at least suspected that any place you find shitheads lingering for extended periods, there may be worse and worse as you circle towards the center of that network. If the network was solidly safe, it would have spit the creeps out. This seemed to be true from the track records of the people in the school district who aggressively circled the wagons in defense of this alleged molester (before two dozen more previous victims spoke to the press and the accused staff member had to be fired). It looked like alleged child molesters could depend on a web of support and coverup from an assorted range of lesser creeps, from cheaters to embezzlers to harassers and social backstabbers, etc. And if you don’t fit into one or another of these categories, you’ll be put under suspicion until you prove dumb and permissive enough to be useful. If you’re not sufficiently dumb or permissive or useful, you’ll be identified as a threat and taken out.

      My late uncle warned of this within business contexts. He said that people without ethics aren’t content to just leave those with ethics alone but will go out of their ways to sniff out and preemptively target the goody two shoes. First off the goody two shoes may eventually expose corruption. Secondly, corrupt types have elaborate justification systems for their behavior and insist corruption is necessary to succeed in this kill-or-be-killed world so can’t stand to see anyone ethical thrive lest it rob the corrupt of their alibi. They will always try to change every social structure to reflect their own values and character. The only answer was to be a discerning goody two shoes with teeth. My uncle seemed to prove the point. He was less worried about corporate sabotage than internal discord. To guard against this, the company– which has held a large percentage of the world’s market in its niche for more than forty years– did extensive background checks on all prospective employees down to details of interpersonal conduct. That way they didn’t have to micomanage and referee outbreaks of fuckery when the less-than-interpersonally-ethical types predictably went on stealth rampages to take down more ethical colleagues.

    • Seems like it would be impossible to cut everyone out, and I get the feeling there are a lot of secret cheaters I don’t even know about. Nothing/no one shocks me now! My close friends, I trust. And even then, they don’t share my views on cheating, which is actually pretty hard for me.

      As we’ve all observed, not many people understand that cheating is abuse; they romanticize it, excuse it, and more or less buy into the BS narratives around affairs. Worse, I’m beginning to believe that most people cheat. Seems like it’s more rare for a person to be loyal.

      I grew up in a small, close-knit rural community. I remember overhearing hushed gossip about affairs in the parent group. As I grew up, my mom shared more with me. I still thought it was (somewhat) rare and really bad. Now, since going through my own experiences with infidelity, I’ve learned even more. One “mom” even reached out to say she was there to talk if I needed to, and that she’d been through a lot of struggles herself. Wait, make that two! I have a very strong hunch that my dad was (is?) a cheater. I really don’t think the rampant infidelities in this community were exceptional. It’s like this everywhere. Cheating isn’t excusable, but it sure does seem normal.

      • I think what you’re seeing is the early effects of an intense campaign to soften public disapproval of adultery which, according to a Gallup poll, is still sharper than even public disapproval for human cloning. https://news.gallup.com/poll/393515/americans-say-birth-control-divorce-morally-acceptable.aspx

        In fact adultery got the least public acceptance on a list of 19 controversial issues– five times less approval than abortion. Those polled couldn’t have all been fundamentalist puritans because the same group of people reported acceptance and approval of gay relationships. So what’s causing this on-the-ground impression that more people are suddenly applauding adultery? A lot of people cheat but only 9% approve of it. But open approval matters to certain people and industries. Like pedophiles lobbying to reduce age of consent. Like tobacco companies who know they can’t convince people smoking is healthy anymore but would prefer smoking wasn’t banned everywhere.

        Because I worked in media and have also done advocacy for embattled causes through the media, I learned how much the tail wags the dog. Just imagine a giant tail and a microscopic dog. For instance the GMO backlash. As soon as that French scientist published results of his research in which Glyphosate was causing tumors in rats the size of rats, Monsanto flooded the media and medical journals it sponsored with the biggest pile of defensive junk science ever seen. The company also also paid a literal army of online trolls, bloggers and shill journalists writing for struggling publications with reputations for being edgy and groovy to write and present edgy and groovy arguments (for a fee) to convince the public that being against GMOs was, well, elitist and anti-science! An entire astroturf movement was created in support of this and self-professed “rationalist” pro-science crusaders made careers out of it. The main strategy was “debunking” and a lot of ad hominem.

        At the start of this PR blitz, the public was pretty indifferent to GMOs in food. Most didn’t even know what they were or when they were introduced. But if forced to think about it, most Americans would have said “Why fix it if it ain’t broke? Food is food. It does the job. Leave it alone.” It took about 12 years of constant propaganda bombardment for red blooded why-fix-it Americans to start spouting back the nonsense being poured into their brains. The trick was to make people– especially young men who are particularly easy to bait with the old “yer smart if you think this and yer stoopid if you think that” false binary routine– believe that only uncool people thought GMOs were unhealthy!

        I keep remembering a scene from The Devil Wears Prada where the Anna Wintour-ish character played by Meryl Streep objects to the new assistant character’s dismissal of the importance of fashion and explains that the lumpy blue sweater the assistant was wearing is not “blue” but “cerulean,” a color which was chosen by the magazine for a collection several years earlier until it filtered down into fast fashion bargain bins where the assistant fished it out. What struck me about the speech is that the editor in chief isn’t really arguing for the power of fashion but the power of media influence.

        When I was covering the Monsanto fiasco, my thing was finding the money trails and tendrils of influence behind the junk science and PR blitz. I can’t quite figure out what’s fueling the pro-adultery/anti-monogamy blitz but it smells familiar. It smells to me like certain individuals or certain industries feel threatened by unwavering American prohibitions against infidelity– prohibitions that have only gotten sterner while so many former prohibitions have wavered– and we’re being hit with another wag-the-dog campaign to change stubborn thinking. Porn got a far higher approval rating than adultery on the Gallup poll but perhaps someone crunched the numbers and figured porn could rake in enough money to buy Congress and make underage sex trafficking legal by trying to numb a nerve in the same bundle– if only Americans got over their ungroovy intolerance of married people bonking strange.

        I don’t know. Maybe the whole thing is being driven by the Roger Ailes-types in media who simply want to create the world in their own pervy, cheating images. I wouldn’t argue for the existence of a cheater cabal forming bill mills and think tanks. I would just say that that ranks of sexual exploiters don’t need to organize since, like an East German water ballet, their every breath is in unison and every thought and every ounce of energy they expend are about rationalizing their own behavior and grubbing and hijacking approval for it from whatever corner they can.

        Anyway, Esther Perel stinks of dog tail. I don’t believe she came to prominence on her own boring steam but now her brand of bs is starting to filter down to the basement bargain bin and more people are sporting “cerulean” elbow patches if not the whole lumpy sweater just yet.

  • Once upon a time the weather channel announced an extreme early winter cold snap and I was amazed when clusters of ladybugs seemed to invade the house. They were everywhere but especially on the ceiling around the track lighting. I looked it up and apparently there was no need to check the weather since this behavior predicted the coming drop in temp. Ladybugs are beneficial so I left them alone to seek shelter from the storm. Then along came a large, hairy spider which nestled right in the middle of one of the ladybug clusters on the ceiling next a light fixture. It seemed to be saying, “Ooh, never mind me, I’m just a cute little lady bug snuggling up with my pals…”

    I didn’t know how to pry the spider out of the cluster without damaging the ladybugs so I just kept checking to see what the spider would do. For the longest time it did nothing. It just seemed to be using the ladybugs as a shield in the drafty house and the ladybugs weren’t trying to escape. Why were these insects behaving so unusually? Were the ladybugs stunned by the cold and in a kind of powered-down crisis mode? Was the spider?

    The storm passed, it warmed up and suddenly all the bugs were gone again. They weren’t strewn dead on the floor, just gone. Did the ladybugs come out of paralysis first and fly away? Did the spider massacre them? It’s a mystery. The crisis seemed to temporarily distract the ladybugs from the enemy in their midst while the spider masqueraded to get shelter and took a cryosleep nap next to a snack bowl.

    Ladybugs= regular people
    Spider= cheater
    Coming storm (to a spider)= looming threat of social condemnation and exclusion
    Snack= future schmoopie pickings among regular people’s spouses?

      • True story. A few of my friends really clung to that analogy when I shared the tale and refer to it from time to time (“Oh remember so-and-so? Total spider.”)

        It seems to be a major pastime of non-scummy people to figure out what motivates frauds and predators and how to identify them.

    • At one point, schmoopie’s banner picture was a photo of a spider’s web with her/FW’s combine initials in the middle. I had a good laugh at how apt that was. Like, at the time, she had no idea what an accurate representation of their relationship that was. Her identity consumed by FW’s and trapped in the middle of a web…

  • I’ve had several coworkers/“friends” confess their affairs to me AFTER finding out what XH did to me. I’m not sure why they thought I would be sympathetic. Very recently, my ex SIL drunkenly confessed her affair with the married CEO of her high profile company. He has been married 50 years and XSIL feels no remorse. She also confessed this was going on during her marriage despite claiming my brother and her just “grew apart”. I probably reacted rashly but I sent a message to his wife telling her about the affair. XSIL told me her affair partner was planning to blind side his wife with divorce filing. Anyway, wife has been informed and I’m completely done with XSIL.

    • I’ve had people do this to me! It blows my mind! I guess it’s a thing lousy people like to do? Like they hear my story and decide it’s the perfect opportunity to brag about how they abuse people. It’s so weird. I’m kind of glad you shared this so I know it happens to others and not just me.

      • Sometimes I think they do this to try and alleviate some guilt they have…like, if they can get forgiveness or understanding from someone who has been inflicted with this pain, then maybe they’re not a total piece of shit after all. Spoiler alert, they’re still pieces of shit.

        I never let people like this off the hook. I say the same basic thing every time, “that’s terrible, cheating is abuse, you’re making health and family decisions for the chump that you have no right to make, my ex’s affairs nearly destroyed me, morally bankrupt, blah blah blah…hard pass on this conversation.”

        But yea, it’s some weird phenomenon that these cheaters want to bear their souls to us chumps.

    • It’s a hijack. When I was an intern I was repeatedly cornered by the resident “Joan Harrises” (redhead from Madmen) and confessed to about their workplace affairs with married goons. I eventually figured that people like this are always needing to refill the rationalization tank and if they could get someone innocent who just fell off the turnip truck to nod along (mostly because the turnip didn’t want to get fired for alienating someone with seniority who was obviously a clever climber willing to cut throats), it was sort of like bathing in the blood of virgins. They thought they could renew their purity or something. It would make their icky deeds okay. You didn’t even have to nod along. They’d interpret wide-eyed shock as consensus and silence as approval.

      Maybe even better than hijacking accord from a turnip is hijacking approval from a chump. Well the chump didn’t beat me over the head with a brick so I REALLY must be doing right and good! Also they can depend on peers or underlings not waggling fingers in judgment in a corporate environment because no one wants to stir up shit at their place of work. Hijack with a side of emotional blackmail.

  • I think this website and this forum attracts a certain kind of chumps; the ones who might have reached rock-bottom and who want a solution. Sure everyone posts, how helpful Chumplady has been – and it’s the same for me. But there was a period post D-Day, if someone would have pointed me to this website or had given me the book, I would have ignored it.
    The chump in this story is probably not ready yet?
    We might judge him by our own experience, by our own determination never to go through that shit again. But as a divorced chump, a friend of his cheating wife, the real influence you can have is probably very small. The small town scenario is also quite toxic; and if the teenagers know what is going on, it won’t be long for this all to boil over anyway.
    My thoughts are : Be neutral friendly. Once it all explodes, be there to help and pick up the pieces, if there is a situation where this might be helpful. That affair in a small town where everyone involved or not involved seems to know about it, definitely won’t last .

    • I would probably reserve judgment too. Chances are that the chump neighbor is innocent and boondoggled. But there’s a very slight risk it’s just another cheater who got outzoomed by a bigger cheater.

      After D-day I learned something new and terrifying about FW’s history. Though RIC was otherwise a waste of time, the “full disclosure” thing got pretty interesting. Turned out FW was not only mutually-mate-poaching while he was trying to cheat and eventually successfully cheated (all the targets were either married or engaged). He’d also carefully hidden from me his own extensive history of being cheated on.

      I’d always wondered why several of the women FW had been gaga over before he met me were sort of ugly. I’d wrongly assumed that they must have had other wonderful qualities to recommend them and this was proof of his feminist bent. Nope. The ugly ones were all cheating on other men by being with him and eventually cheated on him. He seemed to require this as a condition of devotion, obviously above any other trait. What’s more he seemed to have been on best behavior with the worst sorts. I can see why he didn’t want me to know any of this. He would have felt like he was handing me the secret manual on how to press his buttons and control him. Set jealousy traps!

      It gave me immediate flashbacks to the parents of a childhood friend who presumably had an open marriage. Even as a kid I notice that the mom seemed to be exercising her freedom more than the dad. She had men moving in and out of the house all the time and periodically treated her husband– who never seemed to have anyone on the side– like crap in front of others. The father of my friend always seemed pretty benign and gormless… until he hit on me the day I turned 18. Oh. Ick. Not an innocent victim, just a captive creep. That friend was kind of unreliable in the long run. No wonder.

      I also realized FW had a pattern of switching back and forth between cheaters and chumps. I don’t know if that’s a thing but it turned out to be for him. After getting burned, FW would balm his wounds by opting for the chumpy opposite extreme. I guess that’s where I came in. Then he found the scammy, scummy OW who dumped a fiance to be with him and was still doing Tinder hookups throughout.

      Because I did advocacy for DV survivors, it’s very touchy territory to discuss anything that smacks of “codependency.” Captor bonding and Stockholm syndrome are different theories entirely which suggest that abusers entrap and foster dependency in victims by feigning good character at the start and then shifting into coercion. The old-timey victim-blaming stereotype (that turned out to be statistically unfounded and very damaging in application) was that all or even most victims “draw” abuse to themselves or are drawn to abusers because of some inherent flaw in victims’ psyches. But in my experience the only people for whom this turns out to be the case are predators being drawn to other predators. It seems Mr. Goodbar has always been looking for a bigger, badder Ms. Goodbar. Chumps might just be pit stops to fix the engine, bondo the dents and clean blood off the upholstery between crashes. We are periodic shelter from the storm for people who chase the storm.

      I would never automatically assume this of someone being chumped or abused. It’s just not a factor for the vast majority. But Alex Jones was battered by his second wife after cheating on and abusing his first. It happens. I wish it didn’t because of the danger that genuine victims might be wrongfully tarred with that brush.

  • I ghosted a friend who continued to return to her cheater boyfriend. The cheater boyfriend had a penchant to cheat with very young women and then tell my ex-friend that he did it because she was no longer young and being with young people “fueled him”..lol, ok loser. He would then convince her that they weren’t exclusive, so it wasn’t technically cheating, another lol for that loser–they were taking shared family vacations together with their kids. My ex-friend dragged her young daughter through all of her mess, because, despite our many talks on the subject, she just couldn’t muster the self esteem to leave him. I had (and still have) a little guilt about this, but I just couldn’t keep a front row seat to the dysfunction.

    I said my piece, specifically about how this impacts her daughter, and just stopped reaching out. Turns out, she was one of those “non reciprocal” relationships that we all talk about on here, so the friendship just fizzled once I stopped trying. She’s still with the creep.

    I have another friend who was an OW and was knowingly having an affair with a married man, albeit during a very emotionally tumultuous time in her life. Nevertheless, I was clear with her that her behavior was immoral and really distanced from who I thought she was and her overall character as a human. I also let her know that her actions triggered me because of my experience and that’s contributing to the destruction of this poor woman’s life and making life choices for this poor woman without her consent. Anyway, later on the friend apologized to me and for her behavior, cut off the relationship, and thanked me for giving her a reality check as she was caught up in self pity and self destructive behaviors. We’re still friends, although I’ve placed some sensible emotional distance between us.

    These are just a couple of case studies on dealing with chump and cheater friends. The outcome is not always as you think it would be, but being true to your moral code is the central piece. My moral code dictates I offer, at least, a general reason why I can’t bear witness to the behavior anymore. But, I think it’s equally ok to just move on with little fanfare, as CL suggests. Small town, big town…it doesn’t matter. You get to construct the life you want. And, your kids can make other friends, or keep playing with her kids in the neighborhood, but you can just remove yourself from the equation. Kids play all the time with limited parental involvement.

    I hope my OW friend stays on the righteous path, but it’s hard to say. I suspect our friendship will eventually fizzle out, because, even if she never does that again, it’s tough to stay friends with a grown ass adult who decides to do such a terrible thing, even during berry difficult times. In fact, it is how we behave in the worst of times that defines us.

    • I’m not that generous. I was groomed by a married colleague while I was a cash-strapped intern right after I was stalked and nearly sexually assaulted and endured the criminal proceedings– speaking of tumultuous. He was rich, semi-famous and charming as hell. He was also one of the funniest people I ever met, plus he taught me some self defense in “sympathy” for my situation. In other words, the DEVIL. I could feel my heart strings being pulled but he never saw any indication of that. He was only acting helpful, not overtly aggressive so I was limited in how I could respond. But when he started complaining about his wife as the next stage of grooming, it provided the perfect response. I just built her up constantly. She was so beautiful, so understatedly glamorous, so talented. Their infant son was so secure and her parenting had to be amazing… He got the message. They eventually divorced when she caught him cheating. Then she soon married someone richer and more famous and had three more children which reportedly drove the former colleague nuts. Everything I said about his wife was actually true but cheaters have warped perceptions. My sympathies were ultimately with the wife. Despite the fact she was always pretty cold and reserved with me (no bloody wonder), I acted the way I hoped any other woman would act if my partner were trying to cheat on me.

      I won’t judge single mothers living below the poverty line who give in to their pervy married bosses to keep their jobs or ward off deportation threats– as long as they secretly hate the whole thing. Barring that, it’s just not that hard to say no. It’s not that hard to see that the whole thing is a farce either.

  • Three years ago exactly, the ex headed off on his ‘headspace week’ because he ‘couldn’t do this anymore’. He was revisiting places that were special to us ‘ON MY OWN’. He denied an affair, looking me straight in the eye. Of course, he was revisiting our special places with exgfOW. I pick-me danced without knowing I was doing so for about 7 weeks before discovering the emails that revealed the affair which had lasted throughout our 26 year relationship and marriage. I was the OW in my own marriage without knowing it. A bit like a certain Princess of Wales but in my case without the fancy frocks. I won’t repeat how I felt because we all know what that looks like. I did block him straight away much to his irritation and I started divorce proceedings very quickly. Allowing for a slow process due to his prevarication, I have been divorced for just under two years now. Life is betterish but there are often very hard times.

    I discovered through copious therapy, which I still attend twice a week even though I can’t afford it, is that many of the people in my life were toxic, unfaithful, unreliable, obnoxious. It wasn’t just my then-husband who was bad for me. Certain family members (my brother is a serial adulterer and alcoholic) and friends were equally poisonous. Once I had cleaned my eyes of scales, it was easier to look at each relationship in my life and ask ‘does it spark joy?’ a la Kondo. Some did at a superficial level, boundaries are in place, and I keep it superficial. Others were a mire of drama and distress, and those I shed, not least because maintaining them meant lying to myself and I don’t do that any more. I understand the ‘small town’ issue. But there will be many people in your small town who feel the same way as you do, Chumped. The thing is that you won’t attract those people into your life while associating with the toxic. Healthy people see the toxicity and they steer clear of it and all its associates.

    Many years ago a friend asked me if I would tell her if my close friend (I am godmother to her daughter) was having a relationship with her partner. I said ‘yes’. I knew that something was going on but not what was going on. The partner was and is a serial cheater and unpleasant human being. When I said ‘yes’, that was a lie because I wouldn’t have told her and I didn’t tell her. Now that friendship group continues, in a different part of the country. The close friend married a lovely honourable man. The friend married the abusive serial cheater and she is deeply unhappy. She knows about his continuous affairs. It was the price she paid for motherhood and I can understand that position. I am on the outside and that suits me because I can see how disordered and unhealthy the relationships really are. I choose to keep a safe distance save that my goddaughter always has my love and loyalty and we have a wonderful completely independent relationship. It is possible but it isn’t easy.

  • Gotta say, I’m coming back to this after having read it. My first reaction was, your friend’s cheating is not personal to you …

    But I kept re-reading the post, and I’m trying to figure out, from this friend’s situation, what’s really going on here? So pure speculation here, but I wonder if this “friendship”, on her part, and all her hard work, dedication, and support, is all part of her own atonement. She might not even be aware of it.

    What’s in her head? In a way, is she subconsciously using you?

  • I sort of had a similar situation. My brothers long time best friend got caught cheating while his wife was on vacation with her family. Something something shared devices. So every dick pick he sent to randoms on Grindr she saw while on a sandy beach overlooking the ocean. Thankfully they had no kids and the divorce was handled quickly.

    My brother was “devastated” and kept trying to place himself into the middle of it example: HE could not wrap HIS head around the fact that HIS best friend could cheat because the wife was such a nice lady. HE demanded HIS friend explain.. Which really wasn’t his place to begin with. Then HE justifies the friends abuse towards the ex wife with a lot of specific details that the general public or even acquaintances do not need to be told about.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s weird having people who think they are being neutral whilst justifying the horrible behaviors of the cheater and also turning someone else’s life into a them problem.

    Switzerland friends are not so much neutral as they would lead you to believe they more like the CERN Hadron Collider located in Switzerland or like Swiss Cheese

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