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He Claims He Just Sexts and Never Meets

Dear Chump Lady,

I just listened to your book, I have to say it empowered me, however my situation is a bit different and it has left me puzzled. My husband claims he has not had any physical contact with these people he is talking to. He went so far as to swear on our children’s lives.

However, he will not share the messages with me, etc. Which now after hearing your book, I no longer wish to see them. But I feel like I need clarification on this: What if he has not physically cheated?

He says he hasn’t because of his inner turmoil. He is generally a nice man and has always treated me well. Opened doors for me for our entire marriage (8 years), always been there for me, supported any and every crazy decision I have ever made.

He says I alienated him, pushed him away – it’s possible, I did have a bad spell after my mother passed away last year. I can see where I was not a perfect wife for sure, and how he might have felt that way.

Should I even try? He says he is willing to do counseling and that he can change. However, he admitted he was planning to meet up with someone for a fuck on a trip he had planned back to his hometown, supposedly to visit family and talk this through with loved ones. A reset so to speak. But says that instead he asked his sisters to join him at the beach house to prevent him from doing anything stupid – and I know he did invite his sisters (they are quite pissed at him right now and think he is an idiot).

I told him if he takes this trip, it is clear that he has no interest of trying to save our marriage. How could I trust that he did not find a fuckbuddy down there. He has many, many exs in that area. What if he takes the trip anyway? I just need to be done… I know – but what if he doesn’t take the trip? Do you think it’s worth trying to save, taking into consideration that he (says) hasn’t yet had any physical affairs?

I’m just confused, and lost. Please help.



Dear Nichole,

It’s been a few weeks since your letter arrived in my inbox, but I wouldn’t rest your marriage on whether or not he took the trip. You know enough, and none of it is good.

1.) He’s goading you into the pick me dance, telling you he’s going to fuck other women.

2.) That’s after you’ve discovered he’s messaging “people,” as in plural. As in many. As in this is a full-time hobby.

In the Stay In This Marriage column, we have “opens doors.”

Nichole, cats can do that.

Okay, okay, we also have “supports any and every crazy decision I have ever made.” But, that could just be spackle for “totally checked out.”

Loving partners tend to be all up in your business. You’re wearing that? No, we do not need another pinecone elf. I think you should see someone about that hacking cough. Etc.

Nichole, is this relationship acceptable to you?

He says I alienated him, pushed him away – it’s possible, I did have a bad spell after my mother passed away last year. I can see where I was not a perfect wife for sure, and how he might have felt that way.

Perfection is NOT the standard. He is trolling online for hookups — did it spur you to do the same? Funny how only one of you needs to be perfect.

He is blaming you for his wandering dick. Oh right, that he keeps tethered at home. He just leaves to “talk things through” with his loved ones. Not you. Ouch.

Also, is “talk things through” the new euphemism for screwing randos?

Tracy, you’re so cynical. He swore on his children’s lives!

A show of hands, CN, if your cheater swore on their children’s lives, their parents’ graves, the bible of their sainted grandmother, their 10th grade letterman jacket….

Nothing is sacred to fuckwits, Nichole.  He’ll say anything to preserve his entitlement.

Cheaters lie. He’ll lie under that oath, and he’ll lie about whether it was physical.

Besides, it doesn’t matter if he meets them, (he does), it’s his egregious disrespect of you.

Eight-year relationship, children, and his go-to move when things get hard is hook ups with exes, or randos. Or God knows who/what else. And he BLAMES you for it. You can’t work with that.

Do you think it’s worth trying to save,

I think you are worth trying to save. He can go tie his dick to a post.


Ask Chump Lady

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  • Nichole: Read CL’s response over and over and over. Your husband has no respect for you. The fact that he is sexting a lot and thinking things over (I take this to mean he is on the way out the door), etc. is not a way to treat a partner that you are considering staying with. He tells you he is thinking over what ever and sexting etc., want to talk this over with his family. (not you). He is not just sexting. This is physical and you are in danger physically if you are still having sex with him or did after he started being physical with randos. When a partner needs to talk over their doubt about their relationship with someone other than the partner they are lying to the partner. He is not trying to talk things over with you. He could be buying time and getting his ducks in a row, whatever. Counseling will not help him as he wants to “sext” randos and disrespect you. He has no respect for boundaries. Get your ducks in a row. If he wanted to get his head straight he would be in individual counseling. Trust me this is physical but it is to the point that it really does not matter. Take care of you and your kids. Good luck to you.

  • Cheaters will often only cop to what they think you already know. You already know about the texts, so that’s all he’s going to own up to. I promise you he absolutely HAS met up for fucks in person, but you’re unsure of that so he thinks he can “swear on his kid’s lives” and you’ll believe it.

    He’s a liar, he’s cheating, and his disrespect is in your face. No it’s not worth saving this.

    • It doesn’t matter if he is actually having sex with these people. In my lengthy experience, this is going to escalate, not get better. It’s like a drug – they need more extreme behavior over time for the same high. If he’s not having random hookups now, he will. And he probably already is now. And oh, by the way, what is it he is thinking over? Whether to cheat on you or not? You have something to say about that decision, and if he thinks it is his decision alone, that he needs to go consider, you are done here.

      • Yes, yes, yes! This FW hasn’t had any consequences, so why change? In my bitter experience, he will keep testing your boundaries, pushing and pushing to see what he can get away with, all the while swearing he hasn’t done anything. Oh, except sexting.
        HE IS A LIAR.
        Do you want to live with this? Do you think this is a guy who can be faithful for the long haul when he is doing this only 8 years in?

      • It’s not just the cheating is physical or not. He is taking the best part of the relationship energy – the sexual energy, the banter, the inside jokes, the fantasy – and giving it to someone(s) else. When people in dead bed forums talk about living like room mates, I think of this dynamic. You’ve got one person stuck with snotty noses and child rearing, with bills, with laundry, and there are none of the perks of being in a loving relationship. The grass is greenest where you water it, buddy.

        That’s not acceptable to me. I deserve better. You deserve better.

        • “The grass is greenest where you water it, buddy.”

          Exactly. What kills me, too, is that they justify their affairs by complaining about a lack of sexual energy or spark in the marriage, a deficit that they themselves caused by watering another piece of ass (I mean, grass).

          These cheaters make me so ????.

          • That’s because their justification isn’t the truth. It’s from the cheater handbook’s list of ways to make it the spouses fault.

        • “It’s not just the cheating is physical or not. He is taking the best part of the relationship energy – the sexual energy, the banter, the inside jokes, the fantasy – and giving it to someone(s) else.”

          Your spouse is supposed to be your sexual, emotional, financial, and social partner. This guy is giving away 3 out of 4 of those–and probably lying about the financial impact of the “sexting,” because it costs money to meet people in real life (which no doubt he has done in some cases).

        • “He is taking the best part of the relationship energy – the sexual energy, the banter, the inside jokes, the fantasy – and giving it to someone(s) else.” This.

    • “Cheaters will often only cop to what they think you already know.”
      So true! When I confronted ex FW about his cheating his first response to me was “what do you know?” It’s like he wanted to find out what I knew first so he could deny and gaslight me. Thankfully I didn’t answer that question (that was before I knew about CL and CN) and kept insisting he answer me first.

  • You have to ask, about your life! Because of his gaslighting, and lies. This is like the guy that beats his wife, then brings her flowers. It messes with your senses. He is not apologizing or curbing his behavior. He is telling you to dance faster. None of that thinking of yourself stuff, like morning your mother. Your job is to dance for him. Once you get away from it, you will start to see more behaviors, times. Events that were signs he was cheating.

  • Nichole,
    The former spouse lied about the financial infidelity which goes hand in hand with sexual infidelity. Lied to me about who he was texting when I’d walk in a room, lied when I ask if he was cheating, lied when the adult children ask if he was cheating. Lied about work conferences and why he couldn’t be reached.
    He was incredulous when asked by daughter, “I would never cheat on mom”, as he paced around running his hands through his hair.
    What I will tell you, the truth is often much worse than you know. Once you’re out of situation you began to see the how your standards were incrementally altered.

    • As Dr. Phil said, “For every rat you see, there are 50 you don’t.” Nicole knows about the sexting (Rat #1). There are 49 or more rats that Nicole hasn’t seen yet.

        • I’m not a Dr. Phil fan, but he said something on his show years ago that resonated with me. I couldn’t figure out why I always put everyone else first in my life before myself and then resented it. I was flipping channels one day and saw his show and just happened to hear him say that in general, people do things because it’s beneficial to them. It then hit me that I acted the way I did because it was how I built my self esteem. It made me feel good about myself so that’s why I did it. I never got around to translating that into realizing what was wrong with my marriage, but it was nevertheless the absolute truth and very helpful. He also said once, “You plant a tater, you get a tater.” Also true. He’s a bit simplistic sometimes, but he’s also right sometimes. Plus that last one made me laugh. ????

    • My FW let an adult daughter catch him “weeping” and said that I was angry at him for something he hadn’t done, making the daughter indignant with ME while I was struggling with the STD my doctor had diagnosed. Do not underestimate the depths to which these scumballs will sink.

    • They don’t have to fake discovery. I think the emotions are real (agitatedly running hands in hair and pacing and all like behaviors) because they realize that the jig is probably up!

      • x had picked his skin to the point of bleeding in the hours leading up to his big confession. No doubt he was genuinely agitated and scared (or whatever the hell a cheater feels when he’s about to announce to his wife that he’s been screwing another woman for years and wants to marry her), but I also think he thought I might be more sympathetic to a man with a blood-soaked bandage on his arm.

        I wasn’t.

  • I’ve been there… married husband (now ex-husband) texting with other women, on tinder “to see how many likes he gets.” Cheaters only fess up to exactly what they were caught doing. My ex said I was on tinder to see how many he’d get, then when I looked at his phone he had multiple conversations occurring. This was not the marriage I signed up for but unfortunately the one I allowed. I had years of proof but never the smoking gun evidence. Once you get this far every line in the sand gets washed away. Nobody deserves this! Run don’t walk, from my experience it will only get worse. Not only will you spackle him up at a certain point you’ll start taking presenting yourself as the problem, when the problem is he’s just not a person of character. Please don’t waste years on this liar, invest in yourself.

  • CL, You are the best. (Cats can do that, LOL!)

    Does it matter if the person has actually touched their genitals to a person who isn’t their partner? I have two answers.

    It does matter in the sense that it’s even meaner than all the rest of the cheaty and mean behaviors the cheater is exhibiting. So, it matters like a volume knob matters: Terrible music is terrible, loud terrible music is extra terrible.

    It doesn’t matter in the sense that cheaty and mean behaviors are terrible no matter how bad they are. Like how making the terrible music quieter doesn’t make it un-terrible.

    When my divorce time came, my brother had just died. The cowardly liar was very performative through all the big post-death family times, appearing to be very supportive while the kibbles were flowing as people announced his greatness. Then when we got home, he “needed to move out to think about some things on his own” and “felt neglected”. I actually told him at the time that “I am grieving, and broken, and needing to focus on what has happened here, and I can’t switch my attention to you right now”. I was THAT aware of how much he needs to always be the center of every universe.

    Of course when your mother dies the guy is going to have to put milk on his own Cheerios for a while, Friend. That’s not even showing up for YOU. It’s minimal effort. Minimal self management. Not being able to focus on a partner 1000% of the time, even when navigating extreme storms, isn’t a thing that makes a person a “bad partner”. It’s a thing that makes a person a human being.

    The bad partner is the one who can’t take a piss by themselves and feels neglected when they don’t get a standing ovation for breathing. The one who can’t even sustain themselves long enough to let you process grieving the person whose body you lived in for almost a year before you even became a human being, who brought you into this world so you could be here being a partner.

    Where were his genitals, actually, and where might they be later? Who cares? He’s terrible. At every volume. Best solution is to switch that shit off, says me.

  • Nichole,

    You should be quite clear that your husband does not care how much damage he does to you, how much damage he does to your children and how much damage he does to his relationship with his sisters; the only thing that matters to him is getting what he wants …. and he has the audacity to try and pin the blame for it on you. His behaviour is in no way normal and, as Cheaters do, he will continue to do everything he can to throw you off the scent and to destabilise you in order to achieve just one thing; consequence avoidance.

    Fundamentally, he gives you nothing to work with; in your shoes I would concentrate on saving yourself and saving your children.


  • Any time one of these people says it was “only” X, Y, or Z, you can pretty much guarantee it wasn’t.

    My ex swore it was an “emotional affair” (actually, he denied even that at first, but then admitted to it, complete with tears). He was having sex with his coworker almost from the beginning of their 4-year affair.

    You caught him sexting, so he will admit to sexting. But won’t let you see the messages. Because they are probably things like “I can’t wait to see you again”, “thanks for last night”, “I loved ****ing your *****”, etc.

    Regardless of the technicalities of what he’s doing – clearly this is NOT okay with you. And that’s what is important.

    He will NOT change. He will only learn to hide it better. Ask yourself very honestly if you are okay staying married to this guy AS HE IS RIGHT NOW. Not some magically reformed version of him, because you won’t get that. If the answer is no, then start planning your exit. Don’t be like me and waste your time on someone who clearly has no respect or love for you.

    • I will also add that now, 5 years out from D-day, the ONLY thing I regret is that I didn’t leave earlier. I wasted almost 4 years trying to “make it work”.

      Do you want to spend the rest of your life cock-blocking him? Because that’s essentially what he’s telling you he will need (inviting his sisters to “make sure” he doesn’t cheat). That’s no way to live.

      He’s a man-baby. He’s absolutely not worth your time, effort, love, care, or anything else.

      If he hasn’t physically cheated (yet), great! You get out with no STDs. But leave anyway. Leave now. He’s shown you he’s fully capable of cheating, has thought about it, arranged it, and is going to use that threat to keep you in line. That’s already abuse.

  • Any sexual activity that does not include you is betrayal. I’ll play devil’s advocate here. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, he has not dipped his wick elsewhere just yet. (Though I don’t believe that for a minute.)
    What he has done, that you know of, is share sexual thoughts, desires, and intimacy with people who are not you while he is married to you. Frankly, that is emotionally and relationally abusive to you in every aspect. In my experience, reading the sexting and messages back and forth between my cheating bastard ex that was every bit as painful and heartbreaking as knowing he was carrying it out in person.

    If you stay, he’ll just get better at hiding it. Go further underground and continue to make you feel responsible. Which you are not.
    When you speak about having a hard time when your mother died, that hit home for me. That is the time he should have been ramping up his support and care for you! (Phone records revealed my ex was sexting and scheduling hookups while I was at the funeral home planning her service.) It is sickening to me to me to hear he used a horrible time in your life as an excuse to act out!

    I’ll end with my mantra, if he wasn’t sorry when you didn’t know, he isn’t now.

    • Here’s what he’s done: He’s used the implicit threat of infidelity to manipulate his wife into feeling guilty/responsible.

  • So this marriage is all on you to save then? What happened to the partner bit of the wedding vows? If this was a business what would you do with a partner whose flaking out on responsibilities & consorting with the competition? Would you go to counselling or would you see a lawyer to protect your interests? I highly doubt you’d do the first one. There’s a time for heart & a time for brains. Since you’re here, you probably know which one you should be using.

  • You are in the fog. The ptsd maybe it’s me and if it’s me I can fix things fog. That’s trauma. This was not your fault even a tiny bit.

    That’s gaslighting love and believing it will hurt you.

    Only your actions are things you can control. If he was unhappy therewere many alternatives to sexring or threatening to your wife to “fuck” other woman a person with integrity would have chosen.

    You say he SAYS He wants to work on it. But you know he’s lied at least once so ypu can’t take his words as support.

    Actions? He won’t let you see any of these texts, threatens to cheat if you don’t “make him happy” and blames you for his heinous choices. I mean how DARE you let grief distract you from making him feel good. How dare you be human! He deserves a sex robot who thinks he’s perfect always.

    His actions make clear you are not important to him, he doesnt care about protecting you or your feelings, he doesn’t respect you. So no, it’s unequivocal that no, he does NOT want to work on it.

    That’s the one thing you can know for sure.

  • Thing is, it doesn’t matter whether he consummated the affair(s). I went through this – my ex-FW demonstrated for me the invisible barrier around her that no one was allowed to violate. She swore that she’d never rounded “third base” (her words) with the guy. She swore she wasn’t in touch with him. Meanwhile, I had court-worthy proof she was lying. But it didn’t matter for me, and doesn’t for anyone, IMO. Because the willingness and readiness to have affairs is there. You can never, ever trust that it won’t happen or didn’t happen. The details are just details.

    And another massive danger sign: blaming you. No, no, and no. You didn’t text somebody and decide to meet up with them – he did.

    It’s okay to believe that you are right and he is wrong, and not give him the gift of your time and effort. Just like you didn’t cause his bad behavior, you can’t cause his reformation.

    • So true. There are some things you just can’t unsee. Once you know someone is capable of having an affair, or even capable of taking major steps toward one…can you ever trust again? And even if you can, would you respect yourself in the long run for staying with someone who would disregard you, they’re wife, like that?

      In criminal law there’s a line where planning a murder becomes the crime of actual attempted murder. Your husband was planning a physical affair, if he hasn’t already had one, he was lining up partners and covering his tracks. That’s alot of effort. Sounds like he crossed a line.

  • Nichole, please wake up and stop sugar coating his LIES to you. I’ve been there and we don’t want to admit the truth because it’s too painful. Please see a lawyer and rid yourself of this selfish narcissistic man/child.

  • Do not believe him! I got the same line after finding emails where he asked where “they” were. FW said he was talking but had never followed through. He had! Seven years of following through-with hookers.
    He will trickle truth as long as you let him. Tell you only enough shit to calm you down and see how much you will take. The fact that he is even thinking about it means his heart and mind are not in the right place. He won’t even show the messages-probably proof he’s lying.
    Get STD panels and expect lots of lies.

  • What about being there for you when you mum died..?
    Always the same with cheaters they expect 24/7, 5 star attention and o focus on you!

  • Nichole, You DO NOT have a Unicorn. Of course he is going to be sorry now but he is only sorry he got caught and does not want any consequences. No amount of counseling is going to give him character. The simple fact is that he was planning a hook up. Whether he went through with fucking strange really doesn’t matter. He intended to do it. He also wants you to pick me dance for him because he thinks he is a real prize. Uh, no. Unless you think you want to live like this for the rest of your life, get rid of him. Why stay with someone who is going to continue to abuse you? It is not worth it.
    You did not make him cheat. If he wants to fuck strange then he can go ahead and do that when he is divorced. Once he is single, he can use whatever money he has to purchase the endless buffet of pussy. You are better off without him. Trust that he sucks and you don’t.

  • AMEN! Dick to the post and save yourself!!!!!! My ex would go radio silent when I asked if he cheated on me multiple times throughout our marriage (classic redflag of a cheater)….finally when I had enough and started looking for a lawyer he swore on his grandparents grave, to God, and on his deceased sisters grave that he never cheated. ALL LIES!!!! His last sidepiece was the next door neighbor whom he engaged 6 months after our divorce and married 6months after that.

  • If you are writing to Chumplady you already have your answer. Don’t doubt your gut. Don’t allow emotion to cloud your judgement. Don’t let fear stop you from saving your dignity.

  • Yep he swore on his kids lives there was no one else. He lied. Trust that he sucks bc he does. Run!

    • Yeah. He’ll swear on his children’s lives but won’t share the texts. Don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do/don’t do.

    • Chumpy,

      Ex-Mrs LFTT swore on the father’s grave that she wasn’t cheating with her AP, even though the evidence that our children found left no margin for any doubt whatsoever. The real irony is that her father was a cheater too!

      Even my MIL says that Ex-Mrs LFTT’s apple did not fall far from her father’s tree.


  • He’s not disclosing infidelity, working on the marriage, in therapy, or asking for you to work with him because he loves you. He’s hiding his business, has a foot out the door, isn’t looking for professional help, and has no respect or regard for you. There is nothing to work with here except getting yourself, children and future rebuilt without him.

    Do you want to always second guess what he’s doing when he’s out? Wonder who he’s on the phone with? Police the finances monthly to assure yourself of safety? Bury your feelings because he’s not interested in how you feel? Worry about being needed as kin to other family because he can’t handle being the center of attention? Pretzel yourself in all you do just to keep him on even keel? Guard a possible inheritance knowing he’s capable of stealing it? Be called away only to fret constantly about his unsupervised actions because you know his potential? Leave your children in his care knowing he’ll be distracted by childish needs of his own – not theirs? Risk your health knowing STD’s are next?

    If he’s showing you who he is at this early stage, please don’t gamble on growing old with him. You’ll lose.

    There’s no reciprocal love here. We get it, have all been there, and want you to have a better life. Start today!

  • Two things:
    1) When you wrote “He went so far as to swear on our children’s lives” I said out loud: Divorce him now. Anyone who makes that kind of over the top declaration is not to be trusted.
    2) It is my experience that when a spouse reacts by pouting about the loss of your attention and the loss of their centrality when you are preoccupied with grief or tragedy tells you everything you need to know about their character, and it ain’t good.

    • “when a spouse reacts by pouting about the loss of your attention and the loss of their centrality when you are preoccupied with grief or tragedy tells you everything you need to know about their character, and it ain’t good.”


      • 100%! The same week as my D Day, my father was admitted to the hospital for major health issues. As I packed to go see him, my now-ex stood there and complained that I was not being kind enough to him. As if I should be all fawning over him! Ridiculous. You can’t make these things up.

        Now that I’ve been divorced 18 months, my major worry with the ex is if I have a duty to warn the new girl, who appears to be a naive, younger me…

    • And a man who doesn’t understand that it takes years to grieve the loss of a parent is stupid. And not a “good man.”

  • Is planning to cheat physically a reason to leave? Absolutely. It was for me. Fraudster found his “sole mate” on a hook-up site and within weeks was sending her money and credit cards. Within about two months he found an apartment and asked her to move in with him, all without meeting her, video chatting or even talking on the phone except once, very briefly, and “she sounded like a man.” During separation I discovered his many, many frauds and financial abuse. I now suspect he cheated physically in the past, but I don’t know and I don’t care. What matters is that after almost 40 years of marriage, he told me he had calculated that the damage to me, and the tween we’d taken in, was worth it for his happiness. When I discovered his online affair and exposed his AP as a catfisher, he was miserable and wanted ME to console him for losing “the love of his life.” Wouldn’t confirm anything he’d done unless I had proof. He’d run up over $40 K of gifts to “her” in two months that I found, and there was probably more. This self-professed pacifist got violent with me and tween after finding more physical evidence of financial abuse. I got him out of the house, and discovered decades of theft from us and my family. All kinds of financial cheating and fraud.

    Nicole, he may think (or want you to think) it’s not cheating because he told you, but if he tells you he’s going to rob you blind and burn your house, does that excuse him? Is it OK to physically assault you if he tells you first?

    He doesn’t need to go to family to talk things out; he can phone or video chat or test. You said his sisters are “quite pissed at him right now and think he is an idiot.” Have you asked his sisters what he told them? It might be quite different. And have they agreed to go to the beach house, or did he just ask them to go? If he wants to reset his marriage, why does he need his sisters to chaperone? Why doesn’t he take you?

    Nicole, you may think your situation is different because you don’t have confirmation that he physically cheated. It’s not different, it’s the same. He told you he planned to cheat. He told you that without his sisters’ 24/7 supervision at the beach house, he would cheat. Believe him, and act accordingly. Whether or not he takes that trip, you should get going on getting a divorce, before he runs through the rest of the cheaters’ playbook and does more damage. You deserve better.

  • I didn’t have a marriage. I had a MIRAGE.

    I am sorry to say, dear Nichole, that your situation is not different. It’s typical, classic, predictable cheater MO. Every single thing in your letter that he has done and said has been done and said by every single cheater since the dawn of time. Almost no one thinks that until they start comparing notes with others in our shoes. Another good read is The Script by Elizabeth Landers. Written about men who cheat, what she writes applies to cheaters of any gender. The traitor I was “miraged” to did every single thing in that book.

    I decided my “mirage” was over the moment he CONTEMPLATED whether or not he to betray me. The moment he chose to LIE me, about anything. The moment chose to hide a single dollar from me. The moment he chose to disrespect me. The moment he chose to neglect me. The moment he mulled over whether to be dishonest or disloyal to me. The actual physical cheating was moot.

    He has also betrayed, lied to, hurt, disrespected, fucked over our daughter.

    He has also betrayed, lied to, disrespected, cheated on the side piece. And she chose to fuck over me and my daughter.

    I need to STAY AWAY from people who are OK fucking over me and my child.

    I wondered at one point whether I should divorce him, but during The Mirage I never wondered whether I should fuck him over or not.

    • IMHO, the house has already burned to the ground at the point someone is merely musing about whether or not to betray their partner.

      I don’t want to be married or otherwise partnered with someone who is even just in the stage of thinking it over.

      “Do I want to live in a burned out shell of a house with the arsonist that burned it down, knowing my child and I were inside?” is a more accurate way of looking at this.


        • I just sent this to MasterClass:

          “There is no saner voice on the subject of infidelity than Tracy Schorn, author of Leave A Cheater, Gain A Life and creator of the infidelity help and support blog,

          This brilliant and experienced lady’s work literally saved my life and the lives of countless others who have found themselves blindsided and their lives blown up by the trauma of infidelity. There is a lot of narrative about cheating that needs changing and she is at the forefront leading the charge. Hers is a voice of sanity, clarity, and sense, a lighthouse in the sea of fog where the astronomical pain of being cheated on leaves victims vulnerable to legions of charlatans profiting from their pain and hope.

          Her work is the real MasterClass in how to respond when one finds one’s life turned upside down by infidelity, and I would love to see her voice of reason and sense available to the millions around the world who suffer unimaginable pain from this common violation as old as time.”

          It is infuriating to me that Esther Repel and her complete and utter horseshit is being given a MasterClass.

  • “A show of hands, CN, if your cheater swore on their children’s lives”: ????????????, all three of them.
    Nichole, cheaters are cheaters at everything, especially about things they think they can get away with. And chumps are the easiest targets of all to cheat on, because of all the reasons CL raises so many times here.

    Get rid of this creature who is not worth an ounce of your good faith and efforts. Instead of letting your children be an instrument for fuckwittery, give a good example to them

    • A correction: thankfully, I did not have three cheaters, just one. Sparkledick swore on the lives of all three children that he was not a cheater. He actually said in court that I could trust him. So I asked him how one went about trusting a cheater. Snickers in the room. He had the gall to protest that he was not a cheater! So I asked if (flatterfuck’s name and surname) was a mirage. Laughter in the courtroom and his young lawyer looks down into her lap in shame.

  • This a-hole refuses to show her the texts – total liar that he never physically cheated. If he had any worth, he’d be fully transparent.

  • He wasn’t going home to talk to his family. He was going back to fuck some girl. If he hadn’t initiated and confirmed it with the girl, the trip wouldn’t have happened.

    Please leave this loser.

  • One of my FW’s had a “friend” who was an aging titty streamer on Twitch.

    Obviously I won’t disclose her Twitch name but it’d be a kindness if I did. She averages about 15 viewers so the bolt-on plastic knockers with a gap like the grand canyon were apparently a poor investment. Ahem.

    She was 8,000 miles away from us and never came over so I know for a fact that they never ‘made it physical’.

    What I DO know is that he would spend hours upon hours with her every day on video games.
    They were sat in private Discord servers without me and them being together was an open ‘joke’ in their respective ‘communities’. These communities knew of my existence and any jokes about me were apparently all well and good and I just needed to stop looking (LOL).
    His real life friends even joked about it then collectively gaslit me when I raised concerns.
    It got to a point where he’d abuse me as an excuse to march off and spend time with her. “I have a flesh and blood woman here but I’d rather go fighting monsters with an elf in her underwear!”

    My point is that far too much importance is placed on the physicality. Sex obviously adds an extra layer of immediate danger but even if you escape that, this is a person who says that they love you YET they’re prepared to betray you. They’re prepared to humiliate you, his sisters and hometown know about it and though his sisters seem to want him to do the right thing, his harem of exes are probably prepared to get in on the gaslighting fun.

    This is not an acceptable condition. Not even close.

    I have a feeling that anything you did was nowhere near as bad as he’s making out. That’s a part of the playbook too; taking a shred of truth and blowing it up to make you look like a monster and feel as though you deserve it. Sadly, I wasn’t surprised to read that your mother had passed; a lot of abuse steps up during times of crisis. I am sorry for your loss.

    This man is disgusting.

    “Do you think it’s worth trying to save, taking into consideration that he (says) hasn’t yet had any physical affairs?”
    No, absolutely not. Not a chance.

    1) This man is comfortable lying to you. So he probably has had a physical affair.
    2) Even if by some chance he’s telling the truth, all of the above.

    He’s weak, he’s a liar, he has no scruples. He is a treacherous pissflap. You will never feel safe and loved while with this person and I think you deserve that. People do not abuse those who they are not prepared to lose. He IS prepared to lose you over this otherwise he’d never dream of mistreating you and dangling threats over your head. He’d rather NOT lose you, true, but that’s because you’re convenient to him.

    Stop being convenient. Be his consequence.

    • “People do not abuse those who they are not prepared to lose.”

      Truth. And one I wished I’d known and taken to heart many, many years ago, and many times over since then. I could have saved myself 35 years with someone who made it clear I wasn’t someone he wanted to keep.

      • Same. I think I was peripherally aware of it but you get told by everyone that ‘no one is perfect and you’ve probably got faults too’ and then life gets in the way and then…

        I hope you know now though.

    • You are spot-on that abuse ramps up in times of crisis.
      A few weeks after I discovered that x had a long-term girlfriend, my father died.
      We flew out for the funeral and the night before the service he went to a party(!) with my sister’s then-husband.
      Her ex was a drug dealer and whoremonger, they stayed out until the early morning, and x was still drunk during the funeral. He threw up out of the window of the car on the way to the chapel. My mother was in the car. Fucking humiliating.
      So much for him offering support. I had to nurse that sickening man-baby through yet another epic hangover while trying to console my siblings and elderly mother.
      I should have divorced him solely for that.

      • … Forget divorcing him, you should have asked the employees at the graveyard to dig another hole. I’d have strangled the fcker for that.

        Absolutely horrible. I’m so sorry.

  • Oh how I wish I had left five years in when I first discovered all was not what it seemed. My DH cried, swore nothing physical happened, swore he loved me and only me, it was just momentary madness. I SHOULD HAVE WALKED THAT SECOND. But I wanted to believe him, I ignored that part of me that knew, if even only what he said it was wad true, it was a huge disrespect to me and our marriage. But I stayed and endured an ongoing mind fuck of gaslighting, emotional abuse for another decade that was peppered with just enough crying and “I’m sorries” to keep me going because I didn’t want to be alone and every year the sunk costs got bigger and bigger.
    When I finally left he killed himself a few months later and once I had access to his precious phone I discovered the full true extent of his double life and that he had been cheating (yes physically) from DAY ONE. It has taken me years to try and deal with the repercussions of that on my mental state.
    Whatever you “think” you know , extrapolate the awfulness by 1,000 and you might be close to knowing what he’s really been doing. Run fast, run far, run NOW!

    • I have a similar story. And I agree. I should have walked when he admitted an emotional affair, particularly when he refused to cut ties with the woman in question.

      My ex killed himself too. Only difference is I haven’t ventured into his phone or computer. I’d rather not. I read all of OW’s letters to him. I know enough.

      • I’m so sorry you had to go thru this. We are certainly a special subset of Chumps aren’t we.

        Oh how I wish I didn’t know what I now know. I had the unpleasant task of handling his estate because his parents simply couldn’t deal. I started going thru his phone for account numbers, contacts etc and how I wish I had stopped there. But once I went down the rabbit hole it just sucked me in, to be starved of information about my own life for so long it felt like I was finally getting answers, in retrospect I knew enough which is why I left, the extra I learned after his death was just more on top of more. I knew he was an awful person, once you pass that marker it’s all just scale of awfulness that wasn’t needed. I’m six years on and just now starting to feel myself again.

        I hope you are healing from the special trauma of it all. Hugs.

    • “Whatever you “think” you know , extrapolate the awfulness by 1,000 and you might be close to knowing what he’s really been doing.”

      Truth. None of us will ever know the full extent of how we were bamboozled and betrayed. We don’t need to, because the toxicity of a pattern of deceit and betrayal is not dose dependent. It’s always poisonous to the relationship and to the chump.

  • Nichole, Nichole, Nichole.

    First – BIG HUG. This sucks. Your life is not what you thought it was. The earth shifts under our feet and is never the same again. Sorry you are here, but you ARE here – welcome to the club none of us wanted to belong to. No action of our own lands us here, but our decisions from today forward get us OUT of the shitshow “mirage” ( thx Velvet Hammer!) we found ourselves in.

    Second – get STD/STI testing immediately! Repeat 6 months & a year from now. Cheaters can’t lie to a test tube.

    Third – your letter could have been my own, five years ago. My EX-FW did the cheater thing – was vague, only admitting to what he thought I knew, sad sausage performance, lied, lied, lied. “She’s like a sister to me.” Yeah, a sister he bought thongs and a jackrabbit vibrator for (skank thanks:”It made me a better person.”). Wtaf? I bought his “wreckonciliation” bs early in our marriage when he first cheated bc I didn’t know my worth. Save your self 26+ years of hopium and eggshell walking, Nichole! Don’t be a ChumpDiva.

    Fourth – re-read CL’s response and CN comments – DAILY. I did and it saved my life. Literally. We are people who care about you because we intimately know your pain, we empathize and want to help you save your sanity, time, and life. We care more than that POS who turns his back on you when YOU need support the most.

    Fifth – trust that he sucks

    Sixth – Another BIG HUG! You can do this! It appears overwhelming at first, but step by step you can have a whole new life – and walls that SING!
    And space for someone who can give you the love you deserve. You are worth it.

  • Even if everything you think you know is 100% true, however unlikely, do you really want to be with a guy who uses your grieving process after losing a parent as an excuse to break his vows?! Even without physicality, what he’s done is cheating.

    At best, he’s an incredibly selfish person with major impulse control and communication problems. You have one life to live. You deserve to be cherished and loved. This guy’s a crappy partner and is dragging you down. You’re looking to your role in this because you’re a good person. He’s looking for new ass. Feels a little imbalanced, no?

    If he wants to go on some quest to figure things out, and get counseling and change his behavior, well, great! He can do it as your ex husband and try to win your heart back once he’s all fixed. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  • I don’t know if your husband has or will cheat. But obviously you are young and lovely and have a lot going for you. Your marriage has changed course at this point in time. What you expected or dreamed of future wise is now altered by doubt. The back and forth of did he or didn’t he could go on for years before things change and he topples everything again. But the marriage you’ve been happy in before you found the sexting – it’s gone. That innocent level of trust is no more. So my advise, based on hard learned wisdom, is to quietly get your financial affairs in order, go back to work if you aren’t, visualise a happy life with you and the sweet children. Rarely can you fix this type thing. He is lost in his own immoral morass. You are young, beautiful and good. There is a better man out there for you if you do choose. Invest in you and your sunny future. His beach house is made up of thunderstorms, fog and crashing waves. Let him go before he ties up good years with his thinking things over. Go. Be free. Smile again. Keep the upper hand in this decision. It’s yours, not his. Go.

  • The game of What If is deadly, for you. What if he just thought about it? What if he changes? What if I was as beautiful as “celebrity name”? Would he be faithful then? Do you read the headlines? Do you watch TV? Cheaters cheat. It is not the same as if you are daydreaming about being a character’s girlfriend in a movie, or book. That is fantasy, and you know it will be over when the book is done, or the movie is done. Only one human is involved. By going to the trouble of going online, and chatting, or pretending he is not married when he meets someone interesting, he has already cheated. Not just you, but the other humans he is talking to.

    The consistent wish I have heard from chump nation, and I’ve been here a long time, is I wish I had not wasted my precious time. Please read this blog. You are getting word of mouth truth here from people who have the experience and know. We gain nothing from telling you the truth.

    Get a good lawyer, protect yourself and your children, and get started on your new life. Without a cheater.

  • Nicholle, I *still* don’t know if FW ever, at any time physically cheated. If he didn’t, it means he didn’t expose me (and baby) to dangerous STDs while I was pregnant—let’s give him a medal. But all the other ways he harmed my mind, body, and spirit were still in place, whether or not it got physical.

    -he was unable/unwilling to have a commitment to me and our family
    -he had no morals or character, but had *pretended* to me that he did. Liars lie
    -he has zero healthy coping skills and needs to keep a secret compartment in his life for his self-soothing rituals
    -he was hiding a pretty serious porn addiction (i know some people use porn consensually with a partner or in their relationships—this was very different—he would use it to numb out, and if he had to be conscious or transparent about it it wouldn’t work for him). He also was hiding a lot of non-sexual addictive rituals. The point wasn’t sex, it was secrecy—hiding and hoarding secret compartments helped him feel in control
    -when his secret compartment was threatened with exposure, everything I thought he felt about me turned out to be a lie and he stonewalled me, gaslit me and blameshifted everything
    -he’s not interested in working on himself to integrate—he just wants to gratify himself.

    Please google “Minwalla” and read about the Minwalla Model, Integrity Abuse Disorder, and the Secret Sexual Basement. His behavior is ABUSIVE.

  • While I was with the Lying Cheating Loser, I assigned all kinds of good qualities and noble motives to him that he did not in fact possess.
    He made a point of always holding my hand in public. That was because I had shared with him my heartbreak over my ex husband’s refusal to hold my hand or even walk next to me.
    Handholding to the LCL was minimal effort, maximal kibble yield.
    Anything requiring effort (grocery shopping, cooking dinner) or sacrifice (buying gifts, paying for entertainment), he would do his damnedest to weasel out of. And if he couldn’t, he would make sure to ruin the experience – cook a meal he knew I didn’t like, buy the most hideous gift he knew I’d never keep.
    Thing is, I didn’t see these patterns clearly until long after I had left him. When your head is in the mindfuck blender, you really believe your cheater has good qualities.
    Nichole, I’ve been reading here for years. I can’t recall one chump saying they wish they would have stayed longer, tried harder to save the marriage, given the cheater more chances.
    We all, to a man and a woman, have the same singular regret: Not leaving sooner.
    The good news is, when we did leave, our lives got so much better.
    Yours will too.
    You will also realize, as I did, that your cheater isn’t the good guy you spackled him up to be.

  • He’s lying. He won’t show you the texts because then you’ll know he’s already been physical with them.

    Leave him.

    • If there was nothing to hide, he wouldn’t be hiding the messages. My Cheater gave conflicting admissions on the issue of having been physical (he admitted for literally 1 second then recanted then stuck to his denial literally for the rest of his life (7 years).

      It seems that one of his rationalizations was that we had an “agreement” (we didnt) and that I also cheated (I didnt) and he tried and tried to goad me into admitting it…especially about one specific day when I was late coming home from work…I was literally at work). During one discussion, I told him “If you had an affair because you thought I was doing likewise then you made a terrible mistake”.

      2 years after his death, a reliable source said “the first affair he had were about sex, the last one is where he thought h was in love”.

      Once I knew the was very likely that the source was right, I started looking back with different eyes and even if that person recanted his story today, I now firmly believe that he cheated regularly.

      The OPs spouse is playing all the games we see here and lived. He is a lying cheater who lies and cheats.

  • beach house #1

    it’s not my phone, i tell you
    it’s these questions lighting up
    the living room like incendiary

    i hate them
    i hate them as, if i’m being honest, i
    hate you. your mouth is searching, searching
    for answers
    you’re burning me, you’re burning
    me to bits, here on this couch. can’t you
    see? there is little to be gained
    by these messages on my phone.

    i must go to the beach house, where
    the worrying of the waves, and gentle hands,
    soothe my wounds. i deserve better than
    these questions.

  • “swearing on your kid’s lives” means exactly what? That they will die if he is physically cheating? It doesn’t work like that and you know it.

    He will only admit to what he thinks you know.

    That he was preparing to meet up to have sex tells you enough. And he won’t let you see the messages? How many red flags do you need? Do you want to play marriage police for the rest of your life?

    You weren’t a “perfect” wife when you were grieving? How DARE you? Did he support you? Or did he sext women and blame you?

    It’s easy for me to say these things because I’m on the other side – I left the cheater. It’s hard to leave. It’s hard to have your whole life changed. But you are married to an imposter. It benefits him for you to stay, and he will say anything to get you to stay.

    • The Gift of Fear has a whole discussion of the ‘promise’ being a tell that the person is lying – because the liar knows they are lying and their story doesn’t sound credible in their own head. So they heap on details and unasked-for reassurances (“I promise”, “I swear”) that they think will make it sound believable. Because it isn’t.

      • When I confronted cheater about my suspicions, my plan was to watch for a twitch…a tell eight when he would have been most shocked and stressed by the confrontation….he didnt flinch. What I realized later is that I was COMPLETELY WRONG about his lying history. I thought I could read him “Like a book” and I was absolutely wrong. He lied so much that he was really good at it. He didnt, unusually, seem to enjoy it as much as others I see described here. I think he lied boldly but he seemed to try to limit it. During the whole reveal, he never said “This has never happened before” .

        Cheater was a broken Catholic but a Catholic none the less and would have seen actual (going to Hell) power if he swore on the lives of his children…not that they would drop dead if he lied but that their souls would be in jeopardy if he swore a lie on them, so he didnt.

        I now look back on our entire marriage as a giant black cloud with lies tainting every molecule.

    • IAE swearing on the kids lives means “I am aware that she cares about the kids so I shall impersonate a human and pretend I also care by making a dramatic offer to sacrifice my life in their honour”.
      Aka weaponizing the kids.
      It must actually suck to be a psychopath or whatever impairment these clowns are afflicted with. Imagine not being able to love your own family.

  • Nicole, let’s take anything he claims or swears to out of the equation. Assume almost everything is a lie because that is what cheaters do.
    He insists he has not had physical contact, yet won’t prove it by letting you see the messages? So that means the messages prove he’s lying. You have a right to see what he’s been up to with other women, including conversations. He won’t give you what you have the right to, including a faithful husband. Refusing to be transparent at a time like this is all the proof you need that this guy is going to be playing You’re Not the Boss Of Me for the rest of your marriage. If he hasn’t been physical (which I doubt), he will. He will want to increase the thrill by going further. They always do.

    Swearing on his children’s lives is disrespectful to his children as well as manipulative. Blaming your grief about your mother for his dick pleasuring antics is cruel and despicable.
    I’m sorry Nicole, but this guy is trash. He can open doors for you until he gets calluses on his door-opening hand and he’ll still be trash.
    His disrespect for you and lack of concern for your feelings is the same as it is with all cheaters. Does it even matter if he’s dipped his wick yet when he treats you like you don’t matter?

    So he says he can change? Let him prove it by showing you the messages, telling the whole truth of everything he has done and taking full responsibility for his actions instead of blaming you. If he won’t, you have your answer, which is that whether or not he *can* change is irrelevant because he doesn’t *want* to change.

  • He’s absolutely testing your boundaries. You are in the “get your ducks in a row” stage. Quietly put your team (lawyer, therapist, etc.) together. Do not discuss your plans with him. Think about where you need you and your children to be physically and financially. It is unlikely your cheater is going to prioritize your family’s needs.

  • Nichole, I know how you feel. I know how desperately you want this “out”. You want to be able to say “But he never PHYSICALLY did anything, so how can I leave him?” It gives you a reason to stay. A reason not to upend your entire life and start new, which is terrifying. I know this because I was you. Once you started your letter with “my situation is different” I knew exactly what was coming. We all want to think our situation is different. We’re not. Nichole, your husband is lying to you. My husband said the exact same thing “I’ve never had sex with anyone but you!” because all I knew about was his infatuation with my gorgeous cousin who spurned him. Turns out, it was actually 30 YEARS of dry fucking strippers in back rooms, chasing women from coast to coast, and then a brief affair with a married lesbian co-worker. And even after learning all of that, he STILL claims that he never *actually* had sex with any of them. As if that matters. What matters is the lies. What matters is the deceit. What matters is the utter disrespect. I can’t and won’t be with a person like that. Tracy’s go-to question “Is this acceptable to you?” is all you need. Don’t do what I did. Don’t waste decades waiting for the other shoe to drop. If he’s doing this now, it’ll only get worse.

    • That reminds me of leaving an abusive marriage, where the abuse was emotional and financial but not physical. “But he didn’t hit me”. No, but abuse comes in many forms. Our spouse should be our safest person, not the one we hide from.

      • “Our spouse should be our safest person, not the one we hide from.”
        God, do I connect with that line!

    • Perfectly stated, Molly! Oh, how we all wished at one time or another our situation was unique and fixable … then we stay hoping like hell we were right. With the best of intentions, we inadvertently add more years of abuse. In my case, decades I’ll never get back.

  • The most important line in this article: is this relationship acceptable to you? I’d add is this relationship acceptable for your family? Because even if you spackle and paint over everything your kids will eventually figure things out and then what do you say? My fuckwit ex wife just abandoned her kids to be with her boyfriend. Try explaining to a 16 year old daughter the choices her mother makes. The 18 year old son told his grandmother he accepts the fact the he no longer has a mother.

  • He opens doors? My perfect FW would visit when I worked late, bringing boxes of pastries and sandwiches for the entire crew. In hindsight, I think he was checking to make sure I was going to be there for a couple of hours that he could spend with his various OW. He’d unexpectedly have roses delivered; in hindsight, I wonder if those flowers marked a new conquest. He gave me extravagant gifts; tens of thousands of our income were mysteriously spent. Remember, if a thing seems to be too good to be true, it just might be.

  • Nichole,

    You said: “He says I alienated him, pushed him away – it’s possible, I did have a bad spell after my mother passed away last year.”

    I’m sorry — what?? Are you apologizing for grieving after your mother passed away?

    That’s straight out of the Cheater handbook. FW told me that he started to feel unhappy in our marriage when my father passed away.

    Talk about zero empathy! Grieving is inconvenient to these narcissistic cheaters. Can you imagine telling a friend “your grieving is not good for me. Get back to being happy and doing shit for me”?

    Seriously, you can see how selfish and childlike FWs are by how they handle someone dying that YOU care about.

    • My fuckwit said he was alone in our marriage after we had babies. It’s not the same as grief, but the blame shifting feels similar. I always wonder who he thought would take care of the babies? Fairies? Elves?

  • The first time I found anything it was an online “relationship” with a woman who was stationed in another country. So they weren’t meeting. They literally couldn’t. It still hurt terribly but I value marriage and family and I couldn’t leave over that. I couldn’t break up my son’s family over emails.

    The thing is, he had already been cheating on me since before we were even married. I just didn’t know. But if a man feels entitled to talk to other woman about screwing them behind his wife’s back, he also feels completely entitled to actually screw them behind his wife’s back. The line has already been crossed. That entitlement is your real issue here. There’s no hope of anything with a partner who feels entitled to do these things to you.

    And maybe realizing that is enough for you and you can get out. But if you’re like me, you’re going to need more so the guilt doesn’t eat you alive for the rest of your life. Some people don’t understand that. If you need the proof, get it it any way you can as fast as you can so you can get away from this entitled liar. Hire a PI, hire a forensic accountant, go through his computer and email and social media accounts. Whatever you need to do and cut any “friends” who screech “How dare you!” out of your life permanently. You’re going to find it because I’m sure it’s there just based on what you wrote here. He’s already cheating. Get the proof you personally need so you can confirm it to yourself and get out of this sham marriage and move on with your life. Good luck.

    • As usual, KatiePig is spot on. Hire a PI, do all the clandestine snooping you need, get your answers. He lost his right to privacy when he started lying to your face everyday.

      When you find your proof, and have copies of all finances and documents, consult a lawyer and leave like a ghost in the night. If you confront him he will only blame you for HIS actions.

    • Sorry, I can’t help responding multiple times on this thread. It is hitting all the core issues for me. Here’s how you get proof that you should leave: you get a counselor who is good, which means he or she will help you write out your non-negotiables and require that he agree to them before you will entertain either joint counseling or not filing immediately. You work with your counselor to put on there things like, he must take a polygraph; you must see all texts and have passwords to all devices and accounts, he can have no separate bank accounts and will go through his credit report with you. Whatever you think in your heart of hearts will be stepping stones to restoring trust. Maybe he needs to go to bed with you every night so you don’t worry what he’s up to. Present it to him: YOUR NEEDS. And he needs to agree. He won’t. And then you won’t feel bad. You tried and he didn’t agree to trying to work on it. In the end, he had no interest in working on it. No guilt.

      • I went to counseling on a regular basis with Traitor X for our entire 27 year relationship. He lied and probably cheated the whole time while presenting himself as nice, easygoing Family Man who wanted to keep our marriage tuned up and running smoothly. 27 years of time and money spent on therapy, essentially flushed down the toilet.

        Better to keep that time and money for oneself or spend it on a great lawyer.


  • I’m sorry to say, your situation isn’t different. You’re just at an earlier stage of discovery.

    I discovered The Entitled One answering Craigslist sex ads and soliciting hookers while I was pregnant with both our children. Both times he swore up and down that it was only fantasy and flirtation, and by the way it was my fault for not being emotionally supportive enough and not meeting his needs. Anytime I questioned his behavior with other women over the next 10 years, it was always “fantasy and flirtation” and my fault. Until I discovered he’d gone on a date with a woman the night before one Mother’s Day, and I no longer believed his denials and kicked him out.

    I told his family, my family and all our friends that he was cheating. He told everyone I was crazy and making stuff up to make myself feel better.

    Two years later, after the divorce was final, I bullshitted him into admitting he had, in fact, cheated. I did it by pretending to know more than I actually did because, as someone said earlier in the responses, cheaters will cop to what they think you know.

    He had spent well over a decade looking me directly in the eyes, looking at his mother directly in her eyes, and lying his ass off.

    In hindsight, the cheating was almost irrelevant. I should have left him because he was a lousy, emotionally abusive partner. And I would have had that decade of my life back.

    “Is this acceptable to you?” is the most important question you can ask yourself.

    • I also tricked my ex into admitting his second affair (that I knew of). I pretended that I had received an anonymous call ratting him out and he believed me. I never told him that I made it up, so I imagine he spent a lot of time wondering who that imaginary person was. It was a little bit of payback on my part for all the times he lied to me when he was cheating.

  • Mine didn’t cross the line to physical either…until it did. Even if he hasn’t, it’s only “yet”. The line gets mighty blurry when you’re already deep into playing with the fire.

  • Nichole,

    Out of everybody’s comments I’ve read so far, ISawTheLight and Poet expressed the closest to what I’ve been thinking. It’s what I’m used to seeing from CL, but I’m guessing she didn’t want to keep writing the same thing every time someone writes in w/a similar problem.

    What I was waiting to read was “Is this relationship acceptable to you? Are your so-called husband’s actions acceptable to you?”

    I don’t think the answer to either question should be yes, but I’m not you. Only you can decide.

    Looking back, like many others here, if I could have viewed my FW XW’s actions towards me objectively in real time, things might have been more in my favor come D-day (but that’s hard to do when you’re blindly in love w/the person you thought you had, not this strange facsimile you have trouble understanding).

    Especially if I could have had clear sight about how I was being discarded in the last few years of our mirage (a usage we must give thanks to VH for ????), and w/the knowledge I have now.

    I would have been able to see that the FW XW’s actions (and not a few of her words, or even the glaring lack of some of them, like, “I love you, too.”) made it clear that our relationship was not acceptable to me. That she was not behaving acceptably towards me. That if there had ever been any true love on her part towards me (questionable), it was disappearing down the drain of her envy, greed, selfishness and general lack of good character.

    In addition to being blindly in love, I was also mired down by a serious depression those last few years. It doesn’t seem like you are (I certainly hope you aren’t, for your sake). It sounds like you’re just hoping that your husband will mend his ways and come back to you as the man you’ve always imagined him to be. Because he might not have physically fucked around on you yet.

    If I were in your shoes Nichole, the very least I’d be doing is getting my ducks all in a row. Preparing for the very real possibility of divorce. Because you need to start thinking of your welfare. Your husband doesn’t seem to be thinking much of yours.

    I hope CL’s and CN’s thoughts on your situation help you decide how to act. But, of course, it’s all up to you. You have to decide. And that’s a hard thing to do when you’re the loving, chumpy partner. I wish you clarity of mind, and the ability to remove any rose-colored glasses about your husband and your relationship. And the determination to do what’s right for you.

    When it’s all over Nichole, I wish you peace and happiness. I’d wish it for you now, but you’re in the thick of it, and it’s not as likely (take them where you can find them, though). But if you do what’s best for you, not as an awful, selfish person, but as a person who realizes they have their own worth and respects that, peace and happiness will come to you. And we’re all here for you if you need us.

    • Ok, I just came back today and see I somehow missed that CL did say, is this relationship acceptable to you. I’m feeling very stupid right now.????

  • My cheater:
    -started by paying for video calls with live women online (he said he felt neglected by all my parenting of our children and working hard to pay for everything while he chronically under earned.)
    – when my mom got sick, he felt so neglected, he said he felt like going out and finding a prostitute. (My therapist commended him for being honest instead of acting on his urges. She totally normalized it and thought I should be grateful.)
    -when I had to travel for work (to make enough money to support us) he told me he was going to give me 6 more months to prove to him that I still loved him (by having enough sex with him to satisfy his needs). I offered to quit my job and make myself more available and attractive to him, and he grudgingly let me try.
    -found out 3 weeks later he had been sleeping with someone else for the last 4 months.
    -He begged me to let him keep her. Said the last 3 weeks had been perfect for him, getting enough sex finally, by having 2 women playing the pick-me-dance.
    -I wish I could report that I threw him out then, but alas, I chumpled my way through 3 more years of wreckonciliation and monogamy (at least I thought it was, before he blew it all up again.
    -He told me he needed to explore BDSM with strangers as a condition of staying in our marriage. I would, he said, earn the honorific title of “primary” and get to sleep with other men.
    -That finally convinced me that I had nothing to work with and I made him leave.

    Think of Fuckwittery as an elevator. You choose what floor to get off on. Don’t go to the basement like I did.

    • “Think of Fuckwittery as an elevator. You choose what floor to get off on.”

      This is brilliant. Yes!

  • Cheaters are willing to lie, um “swear” on just about anything. Your children’s lives to his old copy of Mad Magazine.

  • I think the answer to the question of whether someone has offended before and will offend again lies in whether they have polished justifications, particularly justifications at their victim’s expense. The fact the OP’s partner managed to turn her understandable period of grief over the loss of a parent into an excuse to abuse and betray her is a perfect example of this. What could be more dehumanizing than robbing the victim of the consolation of their actual innocence in the crime committed against them, moreover using the victim’s grief as a means to do this? That mental trick could only be committed by someone very practiced in rationalizing harm. They’ve shown they have the excuse machine well-oiled and functioning. And all they need is the machine to be capable of doing anything imaginable. The accusation itself– that the OP was a bad or quasi-abusive spouse during grief– is so vile, extreme and absurd that it suggests the FW must have already done something as vile and extreme as the accusation.

    I would suggest digging around to get evidence of physical cheating and do some forensic accounting because this can help the settlement process in the case (highly likely) this cheater spent marital assets on affairs. Like everyone else, I would also suggest a full STD panel.

    Regular readers know my pet theory– that cheaters like this are sort of “batterer lite.” The scary thing is that covert abuse and punishment like maintaining a secret double life and endangering victims while playing the “good egg” on the surface can eventually progress to even more extreme and endangering forms of abuse and punishment. For instance, serial cheater Chris Watts was reportedly never violent until he killed his family. When caught, Watts was like a bag filled with rationalizations that exploded on police when they pricked it.

    At first Watts claimed no knowledge of Shanann’s whereabouts and no responsibility in her disappearance. Then he falsely claimed he killed her because she’d killed their children. Then he claimed he killed his family out of love/loyalty to his affair partner and seems to have stuck with that alibi even in prison. Implied by the latter excuse is that his wife “failed” in some way as a partner. And all through the process, even in police interviews, Watts was able to maintain an almost bovine appearance of calm. Maybe because when women disappear the first suspect is usually the partner, one neighbor who stood by while Watts was being interviewed by police on video seems to have picked up on some expressions and gestures by Watts that conveyed guilt. But if you watch the video, these “shifty” expressions and gestures are really micro. If anything, Watts appears far too calm. You can easily see how Watts managed to fool his wife, her family and everyone else for so long. What enabled that appearance of calm?

    So here’s my usual spiel (with a few updates): I think what makes a cheater– or batterer or serial killer/rapist– is a well-greased excuse machine, the core of which is altering the identity of the victim so that the victim deserves whatever the offender dishes out. As the abuse and betrayal become progressively more extreme and harmful, the offender’s need to vilify their victims progresses as well and paves the way for progressively more extreme abuse. This is part of what criminal psychologists call “neutralization,” a kind of guilt reduction strategy. It’s an ornate process of rationalizations by which serial offenders justify committing various offenses. It works retroactively to reduce guilt over past offenses and proactively to enable the offender to commit future offenses because the past offenses don’t cause the discomfort that normal people would experience in the wake of an offense and because the offender appears innocent to others and gives away none of the furtiveness or shiftiness people associate with criminality. The latter would arguably enable the offender to lure in future victims and continue to evade detection by others.

    In other words, serial offense depends on appearing innocent. Appearing innocent depends on *feeling* innocent. But feeling innocent when one is not requires elaborate mental gymnastics. Neutralization/guilt reduction theoretically involves 1) denial of responsibility; 2) denial of injury; 3) denial of the victim; 4) appeal to higher loyalties; 5) condemnation of condemners.

    Denial of responsibility: the offender either denies the offense or describes themselves reacting to forces beyond their control.

    Denial of injury: the offenders actions did not cause real harm. The harm was imagined by victims or victims harmed themselves.

    Denial of the victim: there was no victim because true victims are innocent but the offender frames the victim as either lying or bad and deserving the offense.

    Appeal to higher loyalties: the offender claims they acted for the greater good or were driven by “love” or were only doing what everyone secretly does or that harming the victim was warranted to protect others or society or to serve God.

    Condemning the condemners: accusers are all hypocrites or deranged or serving a twisted agenda or on a witch hunt.

    Researchers argue that some offenders become so skilled at this that the thinking eventually doesn’t require any effort and is automatic. The mental process is reportedly observed in a range of serial offender from college exam cheaters to serial killers. I think the operative term there is “serial.” One-time offenders would lack the well-oiled rationalization machine. Researchers also argue that this puts into question whether sociopathy necessarily exists in the way we typically think of it– that some people simply lack empathy. Instead they argue that neutralization itself explains how offenders manage to snuff empathy and shame through a learned system of rationalizations in order to dehumanize their victims and/or deny the harm they do to the point that they’re functionally sociopathic and guilt-free.

    For another clue about how some people manage to appear to even the people closest to them to be “good eggs” and solid citizens for years at a time while harboring a secret, heinous self and double life, I recently read some articles debating the existence of multiple identities in psychopaths. Some of the theories were similar to what I read about batterers as a former advocate for victims of domestic violence– that batterers tend to have multiple “partitioned” or “compartmentalized” personae. It’s how they lure victims in by presenting themselves as safe and nurturing and then, as they begin to abuse their victims, fool bystanders into thinking the abusers are incapable of hurting a fly– or to convince victims that the offender can change for the better. As the thinking goes, this compartmentalized personality effect isn’t to the same degree as someone with dissociative personality disorder where each separate personality is unaware the others exist, as if the “partitions” are floor-to-ceiling walls. It’s more as if the different personae are separated by short office cubicle partitions. It’s similar to what serial killer Dennis Rader dubbed “cubing.”

    Imagine a doll with a cube-shaped head and four separate faces on each. If you’re looking directly at one face, the others are invisible to the eye. Rader indicated that when he entered one persona– say, family man, church or boy scout leader– it wasn’t simply that onlookers only saw the face being presented but that Rader himself could lose– apparently to a significant degree– his awareness of the others. He could almost fully invest and almost nearly believe that he was the face he showed and forget the other faces.

    In prison interviews with a psychologist, Rader admitted his violent fantasies began in childhood. To keep his inner life secret and undetectable to others, he also developed the ability to present different faces to others. Some psychopaths are only abusive to those closest to them while others direct their aggression only to people outside their communities and families and apparently Rader fell into the second category. He was reportedly very successful at this and neighbors, friends and even his own children swore they never saw any hints of what Rader was capable of. As an adult Rader described developing fluidity in shifting from one role to the next. Only his eventual victims would see the sadistic killer face. He also described secretly enjoying the memories of his crimes while in the middle of playing the role of solid citizen so it’s clear he had awareness that he was presenting different faces and personae to others.

    But what I found interesting is the depth to which Rader could invest– almost on a cellular or metabolic level– in the various personalities that he presented to others while simultaneously being aware he was doing it. It sounds like he could alter his own metabolic functions by investing so deeply in a role so that the “solid citizen” cube face would give away none of the furtiveness or shiftiness or say discordant things that might tip off onlookers that Rader wasn’t such a great guy. The psychologist who interviewed Rader in prison compared it to method acting except that individuals like this could keep up the “solid citizen” role for years. The same seamless, extended performances were seen in Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy.

    The quasi-split personality abuser can be spellbinding to victims because of the degree to which the abuser quasi-believes in their own rationalizations. While a cheater is in the midst of cheating, they almost believe in their own “cube face” presentation. When the cheater is between cheating sprees or extramarital “crushes,” they may fully believe that they’re loyal and devoted partners… until some trigger shifts them to the other face. The betrayer cube-face may then believe the marriage was always bad and the victim was always dysfunctional and deserving of retaliation. Each “cube” seems to have different memories, ideas, perceptions, beliefs. But unlike someone who’s genuinely mentally ill and has no awareness of these facets or shifts and may be generally paranoid and delusional about the intentions or actions of others, what marks criminal mentality is sufficient awareness to conceal and cover up offenses and to reserve their vilification only to victims or those who might obstruct the offender’s offenses.

    Another bit of research I read is an argument that psychopaths don’t so much lack empathy as derive such extreme, overpowering hits of dopamine when achieving “rewards” (whatever those might be) that this drowns out all other internal cues, including sympathy, humanity, remorse. But that’s a discussion for another day. Basically the takeaway is that it doesn’t matter whether the individual is capable of empathy or not if they have a means or polished mental trick of drowning it selectively. Like the common conception of a man-eating bear, once someone develops that rationalization system, stick a fork in them. No normal or safe person has that excuse machine.

    • ‘Rationalizing harm”…. This is a briliant analysis, and very scary. It evokes those super scary feelings I had when Dr. Jekyll turned into Mr. Hyde- and then back again. Method acting- yes… he was in the theatre and loved convincing people of one thing while secretly loving tricking them – and me. I know it made him feel powerful. It was a kind of revenge against ‘normal’ people who felt things he could only perform. Ten years on, it still scares me when I think about the total enjoyment he derived from manipulation and his ability to ‘forget’ what he said and did. He often felt manipulated if he was ‘forced’ to laugh at a joke, as if someone had put something over on him… leaves me with such icky feelings as if I’d been tainted. Anyhow- it REALLY IS AS CREEPY as Hell of a Chump describes. Thankyou for being able to put these things into words

      • Being forced to laugh at a joke… as in forced to behave inauthentically? As in the world’s most inauthentic person resenting being made to act inauthentically? That just fried my brain.

      • My ex took great delight in creating fake online personas and getting people to believe they were real. He’d sometimes use one of his fake profiles to deliberately stir up controversy in a group (like a chat group, back when those were a thing) and then sit back and enjoy the chaos he’d created.

        He was a screenwriter/film maker and was a pretty good actor, and loved to be the one controlling the narrative.

        • Duper’s delight seems to be another trait on the psychopathy spectrum. Unapprehended serial killers sometimes goad police with notes and clues.

    • Wow, that’s so solid Hell of a chump! Thanks for sharing.
      It def helps see fleeting glimpses of the minds capable of such deceptions and heinous crimes.
      But I think to see it fully and completely, we would have to be them. No thanks!

      • Thank you for the feedback and insights, all. Even researching this stuff leaves me with an icky feeling as well. I’m not actually a true crime fanatic. Instead of doom-scrolling, my tendency is to avoid grisly news in my feed to the point I feel almost bad about it. But when I read about the political obstacles that the people who’ve written much of this research had to cross in order to advance their work in tiny increments (Anne Flitcraft and Evan Stark’s Women at Risk is a 30 year chronicle of obstacles), it adds to this sense that these things are important to bring to light precisely because there appear to be forces, powers-that-be, etc. in the world trying to keep the lights dim, probably because the personal is political as they say.

    • Thank you HOAC. You write beautifully and powerfully.

      The ex had a close male friend at school who committed suicide. The ex was consistently cagey about what had happened. He avoided the topic, even when his parents would say something like ‘ we saw X’s parents and they asked after you’. He would look away and say nothing. He didn’t say, for example, ‘ that’s kind, I often think about them’, the words that caring, well-balanced, flawed but normal human being would say. I put it down to depth of emotion. A girl in my class at school had committed suicide too. I thought I understood. It was a red flag that I missed, justified, rationalised.

      When my discard began, I was very confused. The discard ramped up, presumably because I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do, I didn’t leave (I discovered the affair only after he had left, he never admitted it, and I started divorce proceedings immediately). It must have been frustrating for him as he wanted me gone to come out into the open with exgfOW. There was one night at about midnight, when I stood on the bridge, alone, and contemplated jumping on to the train tracks below. I stood there for at least 30 minutes, thinking. We had been out to dinner, and he had got drunk as usual. On the mile walk home, he savagely verbally attacked me. The attack came out of nowhere for that evening (there had been other similar attacks over the years). We got home. The attack continued but became physical in that he was shouting in my face, grabbing my upper arms (common during rows although the rows themselves were less common). I was running round the house, desperately seeking a way out not knowing what to do and in a blind panic. And everywhere I ran he followed me, his grinning, shouting twisted face right behind me. I ran out of the front door and to the bridge.

      I was the closest I’ve ever been to suicide that night. There were a couple of later close contenders but he had left by then and I sought help immediately. Even now, sharing here, I look back to 3 years ago and I shudder. And I feel proud of how far I’ve come. And I see that it is just possible that his behaviour during the discard was intended to push me in the direction of death. That would have been a win for him. He loathed and despised me. If I died he would have inherited a large mortgage free home, plus a substantial pension. He would have been set up, with exgfOW. And I wonder what really happened to lead to his friend’s suicide. Had he behaved in the same way towards him? Had he been cruel, said damaging hurtful words, pushing the friend over the edge? I will never know and I appreciate that there are many reasons why a person takes that ultimate step. Whatever happened, I managed an escape from a fate that could have been much worse than divorce.

      I learnt never to underestimate the evil that someone I love can be capable of. My love cannot and will not rehabilitate a toxic character. There is no such person as an innocent cheater. It is a clear indication, shouting in our faces, when we discover that anyone has cheated on us in any way. People of good character lead their lives with integrity. They have their flaws, of course. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. But they are overall decent human beings. These are the people who can be in our tribe when we kick the cheaters to the kerb.

    • This is remarkably well put. I was married to one of those publicly “great guys”. He was only horrible to me, and blamed me for it. It causes a lot of cognitive dissonance when you see your partner being wonderful to everyone else and awful to you that really does make you believe it must be your fault. And he could turn the horrible side on and off like a light switch.

      • That’s a batterer in a nutshell. Seeing what happened in that framework and seeking support in that framework can really help with recovery much more than typical resources on merely “toxic” relationships because most relationship therapy doesn’t view battering as a spectrum or progression. So I would recommend reading Donald Dutton’s “The Batterer.” Dutton, who studied batterers like bugs in prison settings for decades, has published a huge amount of research but The Batterer was written the most accessibly and is a rich introduction. I find that only by understanding the tactics used against us and the MO of abusers is it possible to understand what happened to us and our own reactions.

        When I worked for a DV advocacy service, it was kind of a political act to take the focus off what was supposedly “wrong” with the victim and aim the lens at what was wrong with abusers. But more than that, the devil is really in the details of abuser tactics and motives. One of the worst effects of abuse is that the survivor loses their own narrative, the true story of what happened to them and an understanding of their own reactions within abuse because, within that fog of confusion, rampant cultural victim-blaming can take root and an untrue story of what happened can become internalized. As if fulfilling the abuser’s fondest aim, the victim is robbed of the consolation of their own innocence and is partly or wholly dragged down to the level of their own abuser in a moral sense by believing that anything the victim did could possibly have caused or perpetuated the abuse, including the idea that if victims “stay,” they must necessarily be courting mistreatment. Instilling these false beliefs the modus operandi of every form of abuse. It’s exactly what the Nazis intended with the death camps. The intention is to morally degrade the victims, rob them of their innocence. That this intention may not be conscious doesn’t exonerate the offender, in fact it makes it worse since their fabricated sense of innocence is, again, the driving force for abusers–what enables them the to live with what they’ve done, continue to rope victims back in and prey again.

        I think it’s probably fair to say that internalizing a false narrative is a universal component of every form of severe psychological damage. It’s sort of like the computer term “GIGO” for “garbage in/garbage out.” If your mind is programmed with bad data, what results is emotional chaos and disaster. It effects futures and fates and the bad programming can be passed down through generations. Victim-blaming is bad data. One simple way to dispel it is to look at what the abuser does, what their aims are, what drives them, etc.

  • Once trust is gone from a relationship, it doesn’t come galloping back in to save the day. It’s gone gone.
    You can’t save him, he’s already moved on emotionally if not physically ( I don’t believe for one second his wick has stayed dry and secure, but you’ll discover a whole other WORLD of deceptions, betrayals and lies by him once you are out the door and safe, so don’t get so wrapped up in the did he or didn’t he stick his dick where it didn’t belong mind fuck, you already know enough to leave)
    You are living in a fog that he’s created for you, because the person that wants with every bit of their being to save the relationship, is the person most disadvantaged and stands to get hurt the most. He knows you’ll do practically anything to save the marriage, he’s fully counting on that.
    It’s more than enough to hear what he ‘intended’ to carry out and the proof that it’s all BS is he won’t allow you to see the sexts. He’s hiding plenty more from you.
    These ppl are masters of deception, he will be able to take it further under ground if you stay and do 100% of all the hoop jumping to make your relationship better and question every thing about yourself. That’s some irresistible tasty kibbles for him to munch on for a very long time and he can carry on as usual as you work on your own imagined shortcomings.
    You don’t have the one and only unicorn among millions and millions that just got a little off track, but needed a reminder of how much you truly mean to him.
    Hell no, he’s already Mariana Trench deep into disrespecting, devaluing and abusing you!
    That’s a terminal condition that you didn’t cause and you absolutely don’t deserve for one minute. He does not have your back! You need to save yourself.
    I was told by ex FW when my mom died 17 years into our marriage that I was so depressed over it that he began cheating to have someone to talk to and it actually saved our marriage.
    I had guilt and blamed myself for not being able to know how desperate he felt and I stayed for another 21 years pick me dancing to beat the band!
    But my mom’s death and my reaction to it did not crash and burn our marriage, his serial cheating did that all by itself. Please don’t be me!!
    I should have bailed on the first incident of infidelity, because that was already the ultimate truth that I no longer mattered to him and the abuse could commence in earnest.
    You don’t have a partnership, you have someone who will do anything at all to get his own needs met and make you believe it’s somehow sane and rational besides! Your love will blind you badly to the truth, but your gut knows. Listen to it.
    Get rid of him, before he takes everything you value and leaves you for dead. He’s not who you thought he was and we Chumps have supersonic radar to see it beyond any doubt, we have no agenda other than wishing to keep someone else from falling into the black hole of fuckwittery.
    You? You have your massive loving heart and don’t want to even want to think about losing someone you feel you won’t survive without. I get it.
    You’ll do way better than survive this and you won’t have someone stomping on your heart and soul for the rest of your life and making you feel less than forever more. He can only care about himself, everyone else in his world is expendable.
    These cheaters don’t have a compass to know what has true value in life. They only see their own superficial needs and wants and that will always be what drives their life.
    They are soulless wandering creatures. We all wish we could have changed that and helped them, but it’s not fixable problem.
    Get away from that toxicity. Keep coming back to CL and nation, it is scary that complete strangers care more about you than the person sleeping next to you in bed every night, but it’s incredibly true!!

    • And Chumpnation strangers are the real door openers.

      Powerful post, Chumpasaurus, thank you. Every word you say resonates with me.

    • “You don’t have a partnership, you have someone who will do anything at all to get his own needs met and make you believe it’s somehow sane and rational besides! Your love will blind you badly to the truth, but your gut knows. Listen to it.”


  • Sorry, my FW was extremely nice, always opened doors, a true gentleman all around, and always supported me. He also swore on the life of his children that he wasn’t cheating.
    He was.
    I understand the mind warp and all around not knowing what to do on your end. What we know for sure is this is not the guy you thought you were with.

  • One things I’ve ready in many of CL’s columns through the year is that a cheater has agency… they are looking for people to f*ck because adults f*ck (not verbatim, but you get the idea).

    Mr. Sparkles fed me that too… I was lonely so I posted personal ads… I responded to craigslist ads because “they’re so weird”… I went to the hotel room but left before the hooker came… I went up to her hotel room from the bar on a business trip but I left before anything happened… you can see where smoking on the hopium pipe gets you.

    Your husband is not interested in anything but gaslighting you and your children. I know that is hard to hear, but it is the truth. You’re here because you’ve heard what CL and CN offers as a point of view… it resonates for you… we are your tribe and we will get you through the future.

    Talk to a therapist (not a cheater apologist one) and a good attorney. Start exploring your options – you have them.

    He won’t change.

  • Even if he isn’t lying, those texts are full of him talking about you to other women, telling them all sorts of things to make them believe he’s really a great guy – it’s his wife who is horrible.

    Though, I bet he’s lying. Men who open doors can also be cheaters. Also, your comment about your “crazy decisions” made me cringe. Toxic people who don’t want to support me or see me succeed have told me that my whole life.

    You deserve better.

    • Yes Kerry, I’ve had the ‘crazy decisions’ thrown at me continually. I’m starting to realise that my ‘crazy decisions’ were decisions that were inconvenient for the ex, the family, employers. They were ‘crazy decisions’ for people who had no respect for my boundaries and were looking for a way to undermine them. My worst decisions were those where I allowed others to influence me, where I was trying hard to keep other people happy instead of doing what I needed to do for me.

  • I love CL’s comment that cats can open a door for you–and so the husband in this case is not exactly special. Juxtapose the he’s “opened doors for me for our entire marriage” with how he blames his cheating on her grief for her mother. Most of us probably hold or open doors for STRANGERS. It’s just good manners. And good manners are “nice” but not the character trait to build a marriage on.

    Someone who has been married for 8 years and has small children should not need to “talk out” his marriage with his sister, etc. He should not need a “time out” from marriage or fatherhood (unless you both agree that a weekend away for EACH of you to recharge and you both are clear about where the boundaries are). Someone who has made a hobby of sexting various women has already devalued you.

  • Early in our relationship, I caught ex FW sexting other women and trying to arrange a meetup with them. He swore up and down and on his beloved kids’ lives (his kids from a previous marriage) that he never met up with any of them and that the arrangements to meet fell through. He was so remorseful and so sorry and I forgave him. Eight years later I caught him cheating on me. Now I look back on our first year of relationship and I see it for what it is now. Just as Chump Lady said, these FWs will swear on their kids lives and basically lie lie lie! My ex was a pathological liar as after D-Day I discovered so many more of his lies.
    I would echo what CL said, believe that he’s lying. And even if he didn’t have sex with any of them, it is hugely disrespectful to you for him to treat you that way. If he’s disrespecting you now, trust that he will keep disrespecting you and eventually it will lead to sex with others down the track.

  • hey, I am so sorry, but he is lying! I found craigslist posting 12 years ago…he said, ” I am sorry, nothing happened, please forgive me, never again” and I believed him…so many years wasted…he was a lying, serial cheating, gaslighting SOB. Swore on his children’s grave, his mom’s, too, “nothing is going on, you are crazy for thinking it is.
    Please leave, I wish I had so many years ago, but now, @ 66 years of age, 38 year marriage, finally I have found the strength to leave and I will never look back.

  • Yes to swearing on children’s lives – it means nothing to them.
    And also….in a long marriage EVERYONE has “spells”- meaning times they can’t prioritize their marriage- deaths or illness or pregnancies or job struggles abound- love is helping and understand and being loyal through thick and thin. Cheaters always find an excuse because it justifies the crime they are committing. I live across from a man who took care of his extremely sick wife for 10 years—10 whole years she couldn’t walk or talk or use the bathroom herself and he was a loyal caring loving devoted husband. He had nothing returned to him because she was ill. That’s real love. So that makes every cheater and their stupid ass miserable excuses about how we aren’t perfect somehow a load of horse shit.

  • Nichole, my BS detector says he’s lying to you and has indeed had physical affairs.

    However, I’m with Chump Lady on this (as usual.) Is this acceptable to you? His behavior wouldn’t be to me.

    Do you really want to go on this way? You’ll be unable to trust him or have peace of mind.

  • Nichole, forget everything else. This person makes you feel that you have to justify yourself because you weren’t ‘a perfect wife’ when your mother died. He ‘opens doors’ for you. Do you mean that he ‘opens doors’ in the sense that he creates opportunities for you to lead your best possible one precious life? If that’s not what you mean, then you are setting the bar very low for assessing the value of a relationship with your husband. I was married to a man with similar traits (he was a rubbish door opener in all respects). You are hopping from one foot to the other, continually on edge, while he puts the flame under your toes. He gets off on watching you dance about trying so hard to please him. It makes him feel powerful. He is playing with you: you’re the mouse and he’s the cat. End it. There’s nothing worth saving here. That’s desperately sad but not as sad as reaching 60 (in my case) having wasted 26 years with someone who behaved like this. Be the mouse that gets away, not the mouse left injured on the path for someone to step on.

  • “Supports every crazy decision I’ve ever made” maybe it’s not support but checked out and discarded. Thanks for the reality check about my past life. I made every. single.decioion. Regarding our family’s home life while he either wasn’t around for input or stared silently giving no verbal opinion. It’s so eye opening for me.
    However, I was judged and blamed if something happened that I did not control. The voiced judgements may be minutes or years later leaving me to figure out what the hell he was referring too. I’ll add that a couple of times he had strong negative opinions about something but it was not open to discussion or alternatives discussed. I went ahead and did those things and paid the price for it because I was alone anyway.
    He wanted the glory for good things image management and destroy me for anything he deemed negative.
    I was driving him someplace realizing he was absolutely pilled/stoned. He was blabbering about what a good life I had and had been able to do anything I wanted then asking me to control and not allow him to spend thousands on a toy he wanted where we were headed. Note: I paid the bills, had fear of food insecurity, zero extra money, and medical debt on the kids. This was another layer in my decision to leave. I was not about to disagree with him in that situation. He did try to sly smile and tell me days later he went back and made the purchase adding a sixth vehicle to his toy box. He was really good at making unilateral decisions.

  • They are all the same. I muttered that out loud reading ISTL’s comment about the sexting lines they use. (So true!) After dday 3 revealed still more of FW’s phony, superficial, over the top OW correspondances and repetitive abusive “games,” I didn’t care about being mean — truthful — anymore. I told him he was a boring fucking weirdo. (Boring-fucking? Boring, fucking? All works 😉 )

    Anyone capable of what the FW of the day is up to is rotten. The first two comments say it all: He’s a liar. And a cheater. He’s shown you who he is, Nichole. By staying with him now, you compromise your values and remain knowingly partnered to a lying cheater. Without him, you can represent the values that matter to you.

    One of the many shit sandwiches of the cycle of abuse is that it often twists victims into accomplices. When I didn’t care about my life enough to leave for my own sake, realizing that I was willfully partnering with a morally corrupt, immature, cruel, lying cheater woke me up. I didn’t expect perfection — not when I met my ex and fell in love, and certainly not 15 years into life together. I did expect basic decency, and I loved him because I thought he was a good man. I was largely blind to the accumulating red flags as the years wore on, but discovering his serial infidelities (etc., etc.) forced me to stop spackling. When I accepted reality, I KNEW that I could not stand behind — never beside, of course — a dirtbag FW as he continued to go through life that way. Not my pig, not my farm.

    This realization helped me stop feeling afraid of closing the door to change, or guilty about “abandoning” him. I loved, supported and fought for my ex unconditionally, for years and at my own expense. I loved him more than myself and was not afraid to sacrifice myself if it meant I could help him. That’s what love was, and maybe still is, to me. I didn’t leave my ex out of selfishness, disloyalty or impatience. I left because he was a con artist and our relationship was a mirage. I could not lead an authentic life I could be proud of with a con artist for a partner.
    Be brave, Nichole. You deserve better.

  • Sorry, but go to the GYN and get tested for STD’s…..tell him before you go and see if he gets nervous. Either way, get tested!

  • Ah, the manscaping…he had some lame excuse, like it felt cooler or something and I accepted it although my gut was screaming at me.
    Chumpnation helped me see it for what it was, even though it was retrospective. I see so much now that I missed at the time, thanks to my chump education. The cheating started waaayyyyy before I found out about it.

  • Oh Nicole. He blames you for his infidelity? Yeah, umm, my mom died and 3 months later my dad was diagnosed with rapid onset dementia. Shit for brains tried to make it my fault he cheated. Not even a slim chance I buy that. I loved my parents and grief at their loss was normal. Expecting a spouse to not be affected by that is abnormal. Thank god for chumplady who helped me realize that cheater bullshit is not truth. Good luck to you.

  • Oh, he met them ( plural)
    Ask me how I know…. I remember everything: I was watching porn, it was not my email, not my pic, not my messages, I haven’t met anyone, I would never…and by the way
    It’s your fault cause you stopped greeting me at the door, ( insert whatever bs you want) and because your body changed and I’m not attracted to you ( after having 4 of his kids )
    He is a liar.
    I’m so sorry, but the mask of a nice/ kind guy is off- he is a cheater( nothing original there)
    My new husband tells me how sexy and gorgeous I am ( age 45/4 kids)- he doesn’t mind my stretch marks and extra lb here and there… he sees that as a part of me, my history.
    For my x – stretch marks were disgusting, my body was disgusting…. And he wasn’t shy to tell me.

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