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It’s Different. He’s Been to Therapy.

not a unicornDear Chump Lady,

Let me tell you my story because I find it quite impressive. And also because there are some things about it I can’t make peace with. So it’s been a year since D-day, when I found out that my husband (then we were married one year, together for 6) was cheating on me basically our entire relationship.

Mostly with random women, one or two night stands he met on business trips, planes, bars, etc. But the last 2 years he was having an affair with our mutual friend, the wife of one of his friends (not best friends, but they’ve been friends for almost 20 years and we hung out with the same group of people).

So this friend found out about the affair and came to tell me what was going on with my husband and his wife. I had no clue, I was completely blindsided. He then told me about some other women as well, because apparently my husband confided in this OW and told her about his “disease” (as in sex addiction) and found that very comforting (because although I was his everything, he couldn’t tell me for obvious reasons), so they developed some sort of emotional relationship as well.

The previous OW were just for sex. I also found out that he serially cheated on every woman in his previous relationships as well. He always told me he never cheated, he cherishes trust, monogamy and the whole shabang. But ok, not the point. I was shattered. We have a 3-year-old daughter, we were just planning to have a second baby and we only got married one year prior to D-day, where he was in this wedding bliss for a long time after, telling me he couldn’t be any happier that he married me.

It all seemed perfect. So you can imagine how D-day felt. My world collapsed and I didn’t know what to do. Yelled, screamed, wanted to know everything and why and so on. He was shattered as well. As if he didn’t know what he was doing and what the consequences would be. He said he never wanted to leave me, but has this problem/sex addiction and he is ashamed of it. He was already in therapy prior to that and wanted to somehow solve it. Unsuccessfully I guess. (I thought he was in therapy because he had a burnout a few years back and was working through other stuff).

Anyway… the next 6 months he begged me to stay, he did everything for me or instead of me, took care of our daughter, cooked, cleaned, basically treated me like a princess and told me he loved me, he would do anything for me, he would change, etc. He showed me everything in his phone, came clean about a lot of things, started sharing his location with me, etc. to ensure me he would be 100% transparent and honest.

He made us go to couples therapy and he upped his own therapy to twice a week. So it did look like maybe he was a unicorn. I always told him I have to get through it, deal with the pain and the reality and after things calm down I will make a decision on whether to give him another chance or not.

But after 6 or 7 months I was just kind of numb, locked my feelings away and we were basically living as roommates, with him trying to make me love him/take him back in between. Then I told him to move out so I can have space and distance to see if I still have any feelings for him and see if we could move on or not. And so he rented an apartment and moved out. He didn’t like the idea, but he did it. And after that he changed. We were both under stress because of our daughter’s suffering and drama due to shared custody, visitations, etc. And we fought a lot about that. So after a few months I told him I would give him another chance. And he didn’t want to take it. He said he didn’t believe me, because I was pushing him away for so long and because we were fighting a lot — why give him a chance now?

I couldn’t understand what happened. He was waiting patiently, treating me like I was the last woman on the planet, but then all of a sudden didn’t want to be with me anymore. And then I went into the pick me dance. Although he assured me he didn’t have anyone else, just that he didn’t see that we could work anymore. That he maybe never loved me and that he could maybe be in an open relationship with me if I would agree.

I was going nuts for months, trying to convince him to save our family and so on. And he just devalued me. How I put weight on after having a baby, how he realized that he can’t really be monogamous and so on, that he’d rather be alone than in a bad relationship. He was spiraling and I didn’t even know who he was anymore. So after a few months of that shit, I decided to not be a chump anymore and just called a lawyer to see how and when we can finally end this.

And you know what happened? After a week of me cutting ties, he called me and apologized for everything, that he was just so frustrated (because he couldn’t fuck around anymore — that was his stress relief prior — his sickness and all), that his aggression went out to me in all the wrong ways, that it was just a coping mechanism. That he knows it was wrong, he knows he was a piece of shit and how he knows he’s a narcissist and will do everything and anything to change, otherwise he’ll be a miserable FW forever and never be able to sustain a healthy relationship in his life.

So my question here is — do you think there is a chance that he could change? I know it sounds bad and it is bad, but maybe what makes him a bit different from most FW is the fact that he’s been in therapy for years and knows and acknowledges all of his problems, the fact that he’s a narcissist and all of the mistakes he made and also knows that he is in fact fucked up in many ways and seriously needs to change in order to have a normal life (with me or not).

I am reading your book and although you are not “pro reconciliation” in most cases, he does tick most of the boxes of a unicorn — remorse, humility, he didn’t sleep or try to be with anyone in a year (even since we’ve been separated), has been transparent about everything, says he cannot and won’t lie anymore and will tell me any bad thoughts he might have in advance. He wants to work on himself and on our relationship. And I believe him.

However, I am not sure if I am ready to give someone with so many problems and a history of cheating and lying (to me and every other woman) another chance. If we didn’t have a daughter, I would have dumped him a year ago. But this picture of our family future is stopping me from that. And the fact that he is a good father to her and he is willing to do the work. It is also really hard with sharing time with our daughter, she’s always missing one of us and is having a hard time about it.

Please let me know what you think, so I can get some clarity.

Confused AF


Dear Confused AF,

You’re in the cycle of abuse. And no, he’s not a unicorn. He’s the ass with a carrot taped to his forehead in the cartoon.

How do I know? ALL THE BULLSHIT, AF. All the bullshit. Where to begin? I’m just going to throw a dart at your letter.

he called me and apologized for everything, that he was just so frustrated (because he couldn’t fuck around anymore — that was his stress relief prior — his sickness and all)

Devaluing you is stress relief for him? Really? And those STDs he’s been exposing you to? Like a long, hot bath, huh? What are you? A lavender pillow?

This gif is what I want to do to the Sex Addiction As Stress Relief excuse. Think about it, AF! His “stress” is more important than respecting you. His discomfort matters more than your health, finances, or intact family. We ALL get stressed. You know what’s really stressful? Being chumped with a preschooler. Who are you abusing? Oh right. That would be NOBODY.

that his aggression went out to me in all the wrong ways, that it was just a coping mechanism.

So, he needs to hurt you to “cope”? Better tip-toe on those eggshells. You realize this is a veiled threat, right? Dance pretty, never upset or stress him, and he won’t harm you.

Oh sure, the threat is wrapped up in therapy mindfuckery — He Needs Better Coping Mechanisms. But let me guess, he could reoffend! These things take time! He could lapse and fuck a rando! Can’t be mad, tut-tut, he has a disease.

He does not, AF. “Sex addiction” is not recognized in the DSM used by accredited therapists.

What he has is an entitlement problem. He abuses because he gives himself permission to. Because the power trip and all the perks WORK for him.

You want to understand him? Check out the work of Dr. Minwalla — The Secret Sexual Basement.

Also, Lundy Bancroft, “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.

Time to fling another dart…

I also found out that he serially cheated on every woman in his previous relationships as well.

Sweetheart, it will not be different with you.

Nope, not even because you have a child together, or that he took a vow he had no intention of keeping. He does this to ALL WOMEN. No one is special. Only he is special. That works for him.

We were both under stress because of our daughter’s suffering and drama due to shared custody, visitations, etc. And we fought a lot about that.

That’s not remorse. He created this clusterfuck. He doesn’t get to FIGHT with you about the shared custody schedule. You know what remorse looks like? RESPONSIBLE ADULTING. I’m not seeing it.

Also, your daughter will take her cue from you. She’s three. Be the sane parent here. Consider a different custody schedule where you’re the primary parent and he has supervised visitation. (Time to get that sex addiction diagnosis out there in front of a judge! I’m sure he’d like to discuss how he’s working on his I-fuck-randos-and-I-can’t-control-it impulses in court.)

So many darts, so little time…

Although he assured me he didn’t have anyone else, just that he didn’t see that we could work anymore. That he maybe never loved me and that he could maybe be in an open relationship with me if I would agree.

You’re already in an open relationship, you just never got the memo.

AF, this push-me/pull-you crap is what freaks do. Especially when you’re deeply invested in an outcome — like saving your marriage. The hot/cold confusion — is a power trip. Ethical people COMMUNICATE CLEARLY. They don’t dangle you on a string and bat you around. Their words align with their actions. Your husband is just goading you in the pick me dance — a humiliating contest you can never win. Because the point is your humiliation.

You think the point is your marriage. If he cared about your marriage, he would never behave this way. People who respect you don’t treat you like shit.

It’s so simple when I write it, but it’s a VERY hard life lesson to learn — mixed signals are one signal — RUN. More reading for you — The Power of Maybe. He’s got you hooked on his potential. Unhook, please.

(I thought he was in therapy because he had a burnout a few years back and was working through other stuff).

So, he kept you in the dark about his therapy, and let you invest deeper in him, and defrauded you.

That he knows it was wrong, he knows he was a piece of shit and how he knows he’s a narcissist and will do everything and anything to change, otherwise he’ll be a miserable FW forever and never be able to sustain a healthy relationship in his life.

He knows it’s wrong. He doesn’t care. That’s what his behavior says. He knows he’s a narcissist? He doesn’t want to change. That’s bullshit he’s telling you to avoid consequences. You are projecting “he’ll be a miserable FW forever.” No, he’ll find another chump. He feels nothing very deeply because he’s not that deep.

the next 6 months he begged me to stay, he did everything for me or instead of me, took care of our daughter, cooked, cleaned, basically treated me like a princess and told me he loved me,

So, like, he behaved, for an entire 6 months! like a normal, invested, loving partner.

You realize these things are the BASELINE, right? It’s his fucking job to take care of his daughter and adult. #bitchcookie

So my question here is — do you think there is a chance that he could change?

Wrong question.

The correct question is — is this relationship acceptable to me? 

As it is NOW. With all of his long history of deceptive behavior. With zero foundation of trust or respect.

Fuck his potential.

he didn’t sleep or try to be with anyone in a year (even since we’ve been separated)

He’s a lying liar who lies. You have no idea if that’s true.

says he cannot and won’t lie anymore

He’s a lying liar who lies. You have no idea if that’s true.

He showed me everything in his phone,

He’s a lying liar who lies. You have no idea if that’s true. They get burner phones.

came clean about a lot of things,

He’s a lying liar who lies. You have no idea if that’s true.

started sharing his location with me, etc. to ensure me he would be 100% transparent and honest.

He’s a lying liar who lies. You have no idea if that’s true.


He snowed you throughout your entire relationship. You have no idea — and never will — if he’s being honest with you. That’s your hopium speaking. Don’t you have better things to do than GPS his dick?

If we didn’t have a daughter, I would have dumped him a year ago.

Dump him because you have a daughter. And you’ll be goddamned if you let her grow up thinking this is how men treat women. Don’t model this bullshit to her. Be strong.

Please let me know what you think, so I can get some clarity.

AF, you know what I think. You wrote the “Leave a Cheater” lady. I think I know what you think too, deep down. You want the validation to leave him, because he’s got your head in a blender.

Here’s your clarity — leave him. He can get better on his own time. Meanwhile, he can demonstrate his sorry with a generous settlement and responsible co-parenting.

My guess is he will be enraged at consequences, and will not behave fairly. There’s your “remorse.”

Lawyer up. Better days ahead.


Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • This letter is a perfect example of why it’s good to articulate your thoughts in writing. I bet that if the LW takes 5 days distance and reads her own letter again, she will understand how there’s only one way out of this shitturd her completely disordered FW engendered. No contact, shark lawyer, divorce

    • Chumpedlindyhopper,

      I’m going to have to respectfully disagree w/you. At least from my experience, those first 6 months to possibly up to two years after D-day? I don’t think I would have been able to see clearly the problems in my relationship w/my FW XW even given a ten, fifty or hundred day break.

      Sad to say, if I had written a letter like Confused AF, I still doubt I would have had the critical/analytical mindset to examine it properly and see the flaws in my thinking until much further down the road.

      Why? Because I was still in love w/the FW XW. Or at least, in love w/who I thought the FW XW was. I alternated between being really angry at her for what she had done to me and our family in exit-affairing me w/her boss, and still desperately missing the person I imagined I had had in her, and trying to win her back. I was still at least half the time smoking the hopium pipe, doing the Pick-Me!-dance and believing in the mirage that had been our marriage.

      It took at least eighteen months to two years to really start understanding what had happened, who she really was, and accept what she had done for what it was: a gift. Not intentionally from the FW XW. Oh, no no no. But a gift nonetheless. And that was w/CL and CN’s help!

      I realized that I was just a point in a line/string of guys in her life that she betrayed when things in her relationships weren’t going the way she wanted. I learned that she’s probably not capable of true love. That relationships are probably transactional to her, and she’s just not willing or able to invest in them like I and many other chumps do with real love.

      I began to understand that her FOO had modeled this behavior to her in the form of her older brothers and sisters doing similar shit w/their partners/spouses (she was the youngest of seven). Yes, there was a reason that only one child out of her six siblings seems to have had an intact marriage (and that sibling never had children. Very interesting). The reason was her entire family was fucked up. Including her parents. It’s possibly genetic too, I now realize, in addition to being learned behavior.

      Now that I’ve gone off on this tangent (sorry!????), the point is, at least some of us chumps are just so truly in love and invested in the mirage of a relationship, and have spackled for so long (I.e., blinded by love), that it takes a long time for us to pull our heads out of the toxic sand that is our personal mindfuck.

      I applaud anyone who gets out of the mindfuck quicker than I did. But it’s not so easy for some of us. Chumps like me think there’s something wrong w/us before we fully accept that while there may be some things wrong w/us (and there are. As I frequently say, I’m not anywhere close to perfect), that that doesn’t excuse the fuckwit’s dive off the moral and good character cliff.

      There are certain lines you DO NOT cross in life. Adultery/infidelity to a partner is one of the biggest. But these fuckwits do. And according to CL’s accounting, there’s many millions of them out there doing it on a regular basis. God, that’s awful.

      All we chumps can do is strive to learn to accept reality as it is, not how we imagine it to be in a relationship, and in general. We want so very much to love and be loved. But we need to learn to recognize when we’re dealing w/a barbed wire monkey who has ultimately nothing to give to us in a relationship. It just can be a very, very painful and hard lesson to learn.

      Lots of love to Confused AF. You’ll figure it out if you pay attention to what we’re trying to tell you (get out! the grass will grow back greener w/out the fuckwit!), and give yourself the love and respect you deserve. And your daughter will also benefit from that increased love and respect of yourself.

      To Chumpedlindyhopper, and all of CN, sending you lots of love, peace and happiness, as always. We survived the fuckwits and thrived. That’s definitely something to be proud of.????

      • Longrun, I agree. It took me ever so long. There’s a stitch trend on TikTok where a woman asks “What killed your feelings for someone you were once madly in love with?”

        For me it was his behavior during the divorce. When I was at the end of my RIC rope and finally gasped out that I was done and it was time for divorce, THEN the FW started the whole dramatic “remorse” show, and made grand promises like “I’ll never let you suffer, This is all my fault, I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to make this up to you from afar, etc etc ????.

        What really happened was that his mask came completely off, and he was the absolute worst version of himself. Sarcastic, vindictive, petty, controlling, obstinate – basically what Bill Eddy describes in his “High Conflict” books.

        If the emotional and psychological abuse was heart-wrenching during the cheating and the wreckonciliation, it was absolute torment during divorce. I think it took that process for me to see the depth of his evil and finally see things clearly.

      • ITLR–

        I think it’s hard for everyone unless they had some kind of intense previous experience extracting themselves from those dynamics and learned the hard way– if they emotionally survived the lesson that is. Many do not.

        Because these dynamics are so pervasive, it means few people have a genuine overview of the dynamics due to being part of it, whether as a victim or perpetrator, either a little or a lot. When I worked as an advocate for DV survivors, I started feeling a sense of irony over public stereotypes of “weak victims who keep going back” because of the way people bond with bad bosses and CEOs, the meanest politicker of the neighborhood association or PTO, it goes on and on. Bystanders displace that contempt onto DV victims but we’re all at risk. Humans, like our ape ancestors, seem to be hardwired to go into boxer’s clinches with the most dangerous monkey in the room and it takes serious intellectual, philosophical and social armature to resist it. But our education system and culture don’t support building that armature, so when a chump tries to extract themselves from that dynamic within an interpersonal relationship, they’re usually barraged with bad feedback, double-edged support and often shaming or “split blame” philosophies. It’s probably not ill intended a lot of the time but like the blind trying to help the blind. Unfortunately this kind of lousy support can make “out” seem worse than “in” and dampens survivors’ resolve to break free until “in” becomes so psychologically or physically dangerous that they’re able to successfully flee or die trying.

        Some people just internalize the dynamics and become abusers like our ex-FWs. To me, that’s the definition of “didn’t survive” while still breathing. Just in response to your wondering aloud whether those personality traits might have genetic components, from experience and reading over the course of twenty years or so, the leading researchers on intimate abuse don’t support this and argue instead that there’s enough behavioral evidence to conclude that abusers are “made,” not born. This is aside from the fact that the “born criminal/psychopath” as a concept has some dodgy history (Third Reich anyone?) and is supported by shoddy science. Someone might be born with, say, particularly sensitive hearing that makes exposure to family violence and discord especially traumatic in childhood. I suppose it could argued that this puts a child at greater risk to develop compounded PTSD or even to internalize abuse. In other words, a benign genetic or congenital trait can increase susceptibility but this doesn’t make the outcome “genetic.” So if this was ever a concern to you in your family, I don’t think children inherit personality disorders. I think it’s clear children be infected within abusive environments but this is exactly why seeing the sane parent stand up against abuse and dysfucntion can be a powerful influence. That way the child knows that one of the hardest things in life to do– which they’re not going to see clearly modeled very often in the captor-bonded world at large– is not completely impossible.

        • I know that I have, historically, worked hard to keep my enemy close to me because it was safer, I believed. I learnt this in childhood. My mother was my enemy for whatever reason – jealousy, disappointment, undiagnosed mental ill health – and I had to do everything possible to keep her happy. My father was completely passive, and my siblings are younger. I was the parent in the family, the glue that made it limo along. My siblings have coped in different, equally damaging, ways. When I married a man very like my mother, I tried to make it play out differently. It was exactly the same dynamic. I burnt myself out trying to make a man who did not care, and did not know what love was, love me. I married a man whose narcissistic traits and whose alcohol dependency were very strong and who extreme love bombed me at a time when I needed that. The relationship was doomed from the day I met him. I don’t blame myself because my tactics served me as a child. I survived well. By the time I met the ex, the behaviour was so ingrained that I needed therapy to be able to see clearly. I am a work in progress. At 62 I have a lot to relearn.

        • Hellofachump,

          Thanks for weighing in. Yes, it’s looking at the FW XW’s family w/hindsight now that made me wonder about the genetic possibility. Your comment about there being the chance of susceptibility towards bad behavior is about the minimum I can believe when it comes to those fuckwits now. If that doesn’t make it truly genetic, I can at least accept that.

          I also know that as a pharmacist and scientist (I worked in R&D for years), science is imperfect (like everything else in this world) and doesn’t have definitive answers. Or rather, it can seem to until we reach a greater level of understanding. So who knows what we’ll discover in the future. But if that’s what you’re saying is our understanding right now, I can accept that. Susceptibility can definitely lead to real world problems.

          It’s scary to realize that for years I excused the history of bad behavior by the FW XW’s siblings as a separate world, one that I and the FW XW didn’t belong to. I thought she was different from her siblings (I knew I was, at least for fidelity). Nope. She wasn’t and isn’t, and probably learned what she thought was acceptable actions for her from them, and probably from her parents, too.

          The one caveat to that was she expressed on D-day that her parents both being dead made her feel more at ease in fucking me over w/the exit-affair. Saying they might have cautioned her to try to work things out. Whether before or after she committed adultery, I don’t know for sure, but my instinct tells me AFTER.

          Because she rarely confided in anybody, it became plain, about what her ultimate plans were regarding our relationship (certainly not me!). For example, this was a woman who had a hard time telling me she’d gotten a speeding ticket or swiped the side of one of our cars maneuvering in a parking garage.

          Not because she had anything to fear from me, because I didn’t get upset or recriminatory w/her enough to warrant that. The closest she got to that w/me was on D-day. And I still managed not to shout at her. I was more hurt than angry (though there was plenty of both).

          I spent the ensuing night up w/my younger daughter, crying my eyes out. Neither of us got any sleep that night. Thank God my daughter was there, and yet that was not something an eighteen (almost nineteen) year old should have to deal with, watching their father in such pain, and all due to her mother’s
          cold-blooded, treacherous and selfish actions.

          No, I think the FW XW simply hated admitting to herself or anyone that she could do something wrong and be called on it. I think she liked to imagine she could do little to no wrong, because she knew she was beautiful, highly intelligent, and also had a woeful sense of entitlement.

          I meant to finish this yesterday, but I failed. HellofaChump, thanks again, and I wish you peace and all the best for you and your loved ones. Take care.

          • I’ve read a lot of Karl Popper and always bear the “black swan” in mind when it comes to science. not everything is actually knowable. But it’s certainly interesting. Since you work in science, the following might interest you. It’s about what is arguably learned thinking processes and the authors go out on a limb to suggest this could be an alternative explanation for sociopathic behavior– in other words, that lack of empathy might be learned.

            Ever notice what lousy memories abusive people have for the things they themselves do but how keen their memories are for everything you ever did or said that could be misconstrued and turned into a cause for blame?

            If your xFW is anything like mine she didn’t admit to tickets and swiping the car because faults, flaws and mistakes are ammo and she was keeping all the ammo on her side. I don’t think it’s shame, I think it’s accounting. People like that seem to keep a little blame bag handy and everything you do that they could possibly (or impossibly) transform into cause for resentment is tossed in the bag like a token. The bag gets heavier and heavier until they’ve saved up enough blame chips to dehumanize you. Then they feel justified in doing anything at your expense. It works retroactively– not feeling so bad about past ill deeds– and proactively to pave the way for future ill deeds. They self-spellbind to believe things are true which are not and forget everything else that could contradict these things.

            In the study on rationalization above, this would probably fall under the category of “denying the victim.” It looks like your ex waited until a few potential “condemners” were dead (“condemning the condemners”) to let the cat out of the bag. It may be that, even though her parents were likely as awful as her, that wouldn’t have stopped them from hypocritically condemning her on whatever grounds they could. They probably kept careful accounts on everyone around them. The guiltier someone is, the heavier their blame bags.

            It’s all pretty familiar to me. My in-laws were terrible. I pieced together some of the back stories along with the strange behavior I witnessed and guessed all that toxicity probably stemmed from some terrible secrets buried in some past generation. It really wasn’t that big a mystery what the secret might be. Whenever she was handed a baby, my cultured former mother in law had a habit of singing some medieval “lullaby” from the old country about gang rape. If you covered your ears, the scene would look normal, might even be touching. No one in the extended family would bat an eye but those of us who were far flung relatives or outsiders would be bug-eyed with disbelief.

            If you have the bad fortune of hanging around with people like that long enough, they start dropping clues about how they ended up normalizing horror. But don’t ask them to recognize this or analyze it or tell any story illustrating it directly. Those bits are selectively “neutralized.” If you accidentally bring up any topic related to the buried secrets or their own offenses, watch the fidgeting begin and a shadow of hysterical wrath rise up behind their eyes.

      • I so agree with this. It took me 2 years of trying to work it out and a good month of no contact to really start breaking that bond and I still don’t think I could be safe around FW after 6 months of being separated. I would definitely never go back or get back together with him, of that I’m sure. I don’t even have a desire to be in a relationship, I love the freedom of being single far too much, but could I be fooled into thinking he could still be a decent human? Maybe, because I so desperately want to believe that he was at one point.

        I want to believe that the 15 years we spent together that were relatively happy before his affair were real and that he just lost his fucking mind and turned into a garbage human being, but regardless it’s who he is now that matters. Whether that was always in him and I overlooked it, or it’s just who he is now, it’s still who he is now. I can’t ever expect he’ll be the person I thought he was. That person is dead.

        I stay far away from him for my own safety. The thought of even having a conversation with him gives me so much anxiety I can barely breathe so I know a night in his presence is a no go, let alone getting back together. I wouldn’t even think about it. However, when you don’t see someone for a long time you start to wonder if you’re just building a monster in your mind, then you remember they were actually a bigger monster in reality then they ever were in your mind. As with all FWs, no contact is the best kind of contact.

        • “However, when you don’t see someone for a long time you start to wonder if you’re just building a monster in your mind, then you remember they were actually a bigger monster in reality then they ever were in your mind.”

          I’ve gone through this same thought process — and came to the same realization.

          • This is so true. It’s been a decade and I still have the occasional moment where I wonder if I’m making it worse than it was.

            Then I read a few pages of Don Hennessy’s “How He Gets Into Her Head” and remember, nope, it was much much worse.

      • Agree with longrun. The ex’s father had an affair (at least one) and the mother was more than happy to put up with that in return for the lifestyle she so enjoyed. The ex is the youngest of 3 sons. The eldest met his first wife when she was in a long term cohabiting relationship with another man. She and the ex BIL ‘ran away’ leaving the partner distraught. He spent years hanging on the coat tails in a ménage a trois. Eventually he moved away and escaped. The BIL cheated on the first wife. She threw him out. He now has another wife who my ex MIL described as ‘not very pretty’. Poor second wife! I’ve been there and have got that T-shirt. The middle brother treated his lovely wife dreadfully. He moved in with his ‘landlady’ and never told the wife that he was leaving her. A friend had to do it for him! Karma struck the brother as the landlady died but not before much damage had been caused to my wonderful SIL. He did ok though because the landlady left him her house cutting out her daughters effectively. A cocklodger did very well for himself. The ex behaved just as badly. I won’t go there here. Except to say that the ex really believed that we would continue to be together as roomies, while he continued with his affair long distance and no doubt others on the side. He was somewhat petulant when he realised that I was not his mother!

      • Longrun,
        I am happy you made it out safe.
        Maybe this was my experience tainted by colored glasses because I was discarded the first time in November 2019 after we returned from our blissful holiday together. I received a letter inviting me to do the pickme dance 2 weeks later. I happily accepted to do the pick-me-dance until February 2020 when D-day came.

        After D-day, I kept journaling in my diary. I read self-help books and one of my duties was to write every day in that diary 3 things I liked about myself and 1 way why FW was wrong for me or why the relationship was not filling my needs.
        The first entries took so much time to write. I remember struggling so much to write those first 3 nice things about myself, because the FW had devalued me systematically for years.
        But having that paper trail is important. In the next year, as covid struck and I was isolating on my own away from my family while FW was isolating with OW, I often was overcome with such a strong doubt about “all the wrong things I did to end our partnership” and “if I had responded differently, he would still be with me”. But reading those journal entries was a solid proof in my brain that I could not discard.
        Also the letter that he wrote me to invite me to do pick-me-dance is so full of bullshit. it’s all about him. I have considered many times sending it to the UBT.

        Having these physical proofs can help us when our defenses are low.
        But yes you are 100% correct, 5 days distance may be too overoptimistic

  • save yourself and your daughter, get a divorce

    guys like this don’t change

    as Chump Lady says, this is just another cycle and you and your daughter will always come out on the wrong side of this while he messes with your head and keeps doing the same thing

    so sorry you are going through this

    • So very right about saving the daughter. That said, saving a kid can be a very, very long and hard road. Because if you’ve got a truly screwed-up “co-parent,” you’ve got to be prepared for them to use even your kid as part of the long-term revenge fantasy. It may take years for the kid(s) to see you as in the right, thanks to that malign influence. Still — it’s far, far better than subjecting them to being raised in a household where everyone pretends the FW’s actions are normal and okay to emulate.

      I am really sorry AF is going through this, too. It’s a hard road. These people leave horrible destruction in their wake, all for the sake of some sex. Fortunately, there are lots of us who seek out helping and supporting others who walk this path they never chose. Good luck. Even if it’s way down the road, you can see more clearly how right it is to remove such cancerous souls from your life and your kids’ lives.

  • “… so he rented an apartment and moved out. He didn’t like the idea, but he did it. And after that he changed… all of a sudden didn’t want to be with me anymore.”

    Well, he re-started his “sex addiction” in that apartment. A guy who screws randos from a plane ride, plus his friend’s wife, and leads a double life for SIX years — that guy isn’t hanging in his own apartment alone reading library books.

    He. Is. Still. Lying.

    • This. Hire a private eye to follow him, I think this will be the best way to get the clarity you need.

      When you see him bringing people home to that apartment perhaps it will be the fuel you need to quietly and quickly get your ducks in a row and file for divorce.

      • Yes, a private investigator is a way to see what he is right now, not after another year of snorting hopium.

  • “maybe never loved me and that he could maybe be in an open relationship”

    There was so much horrible bullshit that I missed this on my first reading of what he said.

    He married you, took vows, lived in a home with you, had a child and this is what he says to explain his horrible betrayal.

    I was one who was addicted to the idea of the person who I believed my cheater could be. We must make our decisions based on the behavior he exhibits, not on some delusional virtuous behavior we think he might be able to muster in the future.

    You have NOTHING to work with. Im so sorry. CL is right. Protect yourself

    • We must make our decisions based on the behavior he exhibits, not on some delusional virtuous behavior we think he might be able to muster in the future.

      Love this, saving to my quotes notes . Fits many applications

    • That really is breathtaking stuff — I don’t love you, and never loved you. But hey, maybe I’ll be up for having you as one of many fuckbuddies. Cool?

    • “I was the one who was addicted to the idea of the person who I believed my cheater could be. We must make our decisions based on the behavior he exhibits, not on some delusional virtuous behavior we think he might be able to muster in the future.” – Unicornnomore


      He showed you who he IS. Believe him. You need a partner, not a project.

    • Pay attention to what they actually DO, not what they SAY. Remember, lying liars lie.

  • “My guess is he will be enraged at consequences, and will not behave fairly. There’s your ‘remorse.’”

    That’s it. Right there. The response to consequences for cheating. That’s such a tell. My guess is that CL will prove entirely prescient here if you do yourself the favor and leave.

    It’s anecdotal, sure, but I hear so many consistent stories (including my own) that go the same way. You tell the cheater no. No, I won’t sweep it under the rug and act like everything is fine. No, I won’t “just trust you.” In my case, she demanded I trust her immediately or else — the same day she was sending nudes to her AP. When I repeatedly refused to live with the lie, the angrier she got. She’s STILL angry. She raged for the lawyers, for the therapist, even for the judge. Her cheating was my fault.

    And every time she rages, it’s awful, and it’s a reminder: this was what was buried in there all along, hidden away because she was getting away with cheating. As soon as I refused to play, it erupted. And I am happier and happier to have left.

    Your guy said he would be nice enough to take you back in an open relationship. And that’s what he’s really after — the release from consequences. Before, he had you and the others on the side, and you didn’t know it. So now the Hail Mary version is screw the secrecy, let me openly have you and whoever else I want.

    • “In my case, she demanded I trust her immediately or else — the same day she was sending nudes to her AP”

      Ugh, me too. When I had taken my cheating husband back, he demanded total and complete trust in him “otherwise this marriage is not going to work out.” He held that over me like an axe while he was romancing GF#3 and moving his suitcases into her house.

    • My ex did the same – when I wouldn’t just ignore him STILL seeing the OW, he told me our reconciliation wasn’t working and he needed me to leave. I’d been back “home” for about two weeks. I refused, because I didn’t want to put our 5 year old through me leaving again. I stuck it out for 2 1/2 more months, during which time my husband became more and more abusive.

      During our second separation, when I was STILL trying to get him back, he finally became physically abusive.

      This also stood out to me “he didn’t sleep or try to be with anyone in a year (even since we’ve been separated)”. On whose authority do you say that? HIS???? He’s been lying and cheating your ENTIRE relationship, and you’re going to take his word that he isn’t still doing that?

      “Although he assured me he didn’t have anyone else, just that he didn’t see that we could work anymore.” I got this same exact same thing – and IT WAS A LIE. OW was in my bed THE NEXT DAY (after I left). He absolutely had someone lined up. Had had for months. Once he was (mostly) sure of her, he kicked me out.

      And this tells you all you need to know: “We were both under stress because of our daughter’s suffering and drama due to shared custody, visitations, etc. And we fought a lot about that. So after a few months I told him I would give him another chance. And he didn’t want to take it. He said he didn’t believe me, because I was pushing him away for so long and because we were fighting a lot — why give him a chance now?” HE caused a horrible, unfair (to you and your daughter) situation, but talks about it as if you bear equal responsibility. My husband would say “WE had a fight” but the truth was HE fought and I was there. Blaming you for the shared custody is ridiculous. He could have avoided that by not fucking around on his family. Easy peasy.

      JUST LEAVE. This will get worse and worse. He hasn’t changed, he won’t change. He just doesn’t like the consequences of his own choices. You don’t deserve to live like this. Walk away. I PROMISE, life will be so much better, for you and your daughter. Get a kick ass lawyer, go as no-contact as you can, and gain a LIFE.

      • “He absolutely had someone lined up. Had had for months. Once he was (mostly) sure of her, he kicked me out.”

        Yup. This has been my experience with reconciliation or “taking him back.” It’s never because the FW wants to work on their marriage and keep their family together; it’s because they need an easy mark (a spouse who loves them and wants the family to stay together) and a soft place, like the family home, to fall while they line up their ducks and feather their nests elsewhere. Once they feel sure that the grass is greener with the AP, they’ll drop the spouse again. It’s a cycle.

        Run, don’t walk, away from this cycle. It sucks being in it. Reconciliation is hell.

        • What’s even worse is that I know consider the “wreckonciliation” to have been mostly a test to see if OW was loyal enough. He wanted to see if she’d stick around through anything. She passed that test with flying colors and so he kicked me out. I found OW’s letters she wrote him while we were supposedly working on our marriage. (That and to placate me so I’d go quietly, because he could say he tried.)

          It was never real. He never intended it to work. If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have moved home for anything. Putting my son through that AGAIN was cruel.

      • “Although he assured me he didn’t have anyone else, just that he didn’t see that we could work anymore.”
        Yeah, exactly this too!????????
        I think it’s on page 53 in the narcissist “How to snowball your spouse into believing your bullshit” anniversary edition. (You could probably get an autographed copy of his manual if you asked for it.)
        “It’s not about another women, there’s no one else.”( there is NEVER not someone else!)
        “We’ve just grown apart and can’t communicate anymore”, what’s wrong with ME that I don’t see that he wonders?!
        “It’s been a long time since either one of us have been happy”, why can’t I see that!?! ( after we renewed our wedding vows year 30, just a few short months before he decided we both just weren’t happy for sooo long.) We weren’t?! ( WTF?!)
        It’s all a confusing mindfuck fest and it’s suppose to be. And they are ALL the same!
        AF, that is not a unicorn in your possession. The carrot should have already fallen off and you’ll find it in a manure pile in the stable. Trust that he sucks and please leave him.
        He is 100% a “lying liar who lies” as CL drove home in her post so very well.
        Unless you’d like to ask Santa for a magnifying glass and a Sherlock Holmes hat that you will wear for the REST OF YOUR LIFE, trying to figure him out and follow after his bullshit and lies forever.
        I join the unanimous responses you will receive here today( unless Esther Perel was posting her two cents and that’s worth negative 10 cents) that will all tell you he is so not worth your time or effort.
        Leave this cheater and gain yourself a life. That second option you think you have, would be massively deleterious to you and your daughter’s lives.
        He’s shown you in his actions who he is and he isn’t changing for anyone else either. His mask is off and can’t be replaced.
        He hasn’t seen the light and is finally aware of how much he stands to lose and miraculously resetting himself on the straight and narrow monogamous path forever more. ( remember? he’s the lying liar who lies!)
        He’s been cheating for six years, he’s already decided whose life matters, and that has always been the case and always will be.
        Don’t come back here in 36 years and post to CL when she’s in her 80’s or 90’s (and I’m 103, lol!) that you sooo believed he would change, that he really really meant it, you trusted him, you believed in him, but he never ever did, he cheated for DECADES! ( those ppl do exist, I had one!!)
        Leave that cheater, AF, go get yourself an amazing life, free of someone intent on fucking it up for you and your daughter.
        Hang out with Chump lady and her Chumpettes, we totally get it and we’ve got your back. ( just don’t hang here for 36 years!) ????

        • They say what they need to say to get by and 1. Pretend to be the confused good guy. 2. Reverse victim blame when they caused all the mess in the first place. 3. Are actually cowards with no moral integrity. 4. Think they are smarter than the women they dupe. 5. Have no idea of consequences and wonder later why their kids dont see them or respect them. 6. Have no emotional intelligence, their weak dicks rule their behaviour. 7. Get angry when you don’t play the ‘game’ according to their foggy & unexplained rules. (That are in a mysterious rule book we’ve never been shown. (Or would want to play by.))

      • I remember looking at the ex when I did not know about the affair with his exgf. He had denied having any affairs: ‘NO NEVER’. Chumpy trusting me said ‘I accept 50% of the responsibility for your decision to leave me’. I was being my usual reasonable, fair self. Seeing the other point of view, reflecting on my contribution and being oh so ready to accept blame. I waited for him to accept his share of the responsibility. He stared at me and said nothing. Even in extremis, he could not bring himself to take any responsibility of any sort. And he knew he was having an affair! I was projecting my world view on to him and he did not share my world view. Cheaters do not believe that they have done anything wrong – look at King Charles III and Camilla. They cannot accept even a minuscule amount of responsibility. Not even 0.001% of responsibility. That’s just one reason why there is nothing to work with. These people are sophisticated manipulators, even if that manipulation is unconscious. It is who they are and hoping for better is a dangerous mistake.

    • Except it won’t be *openly.* Disordered fuckwits like this only deploy the “open relationship” gambit to claim the King’s X in the even that they’re caught cheating in the future.
      They will do their damnedest to violate (in secret) every agreed-upon open relationship boundary, because their true payoff is not the fucking around, it’s the deceit.
      Ask me how I know.

      • Yep, I went down that road. Every. Single. Rule. He got off on breaking them. The abuse is the fun part, not the sex. The sex isn’t much fun for them if no one is being abused with it.

    • Yes, they try to dictate the terms of reconciliation/return. My FW actually used the words “sweep it under the rug.” I nearly fell over at that one. And he also told me I had to forgive him straight away and be “nice to him.” WTF!?!?!?

        • I was given a timeline of 2 days to get over it. When he saw me crying 2 days after D-Day, he told me to “get the f*** over it” and that was enough to slap me off the hopium as prior to that I was thinking whether we should go to marriage counselling to try to save the marriage.

  • They are so skilled at lying and manipulating everyone around them, you start to doubt reality. The love bombing is exactly what everyone wants in a partner. Trying to understand, untangle what’s happening, works for them. You have to look at ALL their actions. Not current ones or future promises. Do you want a liar, cheater, manipulating partner, who will dump you like a used paper coffee cup? He made choices, now you know. You have choices, too

  • “So, he needs to hurt you to “cope”? Better tip-toe on those eggshells. You realize this is a veiled threat, right? Dance pretty, never upset or stress him, and he won’t harm you.”

    This. This. This.

    My FW went through three girlfriends (he married the last one; good luck to her!) and one one-night stand that I know of. He also cheated on his high school girlfriend, he told me in a moment of vulnerable shame. I thought I would be different because (1) he *truly* loved me and (2) we had babies together. So, after the hell and trauma that was GF#1 and #2, I took him back for a reconciliation.

    He was an angel for a few months. And then it was hell on earth. Absolute agony. Eggshells were everywhere and if I dared to voice my feelings or want to talk about the past or his current behavior (he had started seeing GF#3 by this point), he would, reliably, bark that I didn’t want this marriage to work out after all. I did want it to work, so I shut up about everything and danced on eggshells, hoping that would please him and he’d stop seeing GF#3 and see my value instead. I had to go on antidepressants living with this man.

    Thank god he decided to leave me again. He packed his bags (slowly, hoping I wouldn’t notice) and moved into GF#3’s house. Years later he married her.

    For me, it was like a cancer packed up and left. After the agony of him leaving again (and it was agony; I was in love with that jerk), I began to feel better. It was like the sun was coming out again.

    What I learned was this:
    1) I love being single. I’m free, can make my own decisions, and, look, no eggshells in my house anymore!
    2) I love being a single parent. I went out, years ago, and got full custody, as well as giving my children my last name instead of his. The kids still see him and their step family every weekend or so, but FW was more than happy to let me be the legal parent just so he could be Disneyland Dad. And you know what? I thought I’d hate it but I don’t; being a single mom is hard, yes, but it also rocks.
    3) Reconciliation with a FW cheater is one of Dante’s circles of Hell and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I was never more unhappy, unhealthy, and devalued by he whom I loved than when I was in reconciliation.

    Good luck, AF. I think, deep down, you know it’s over, just like when my FW showed up on my doorstep sobbing that he wanted to give “us” another chance I knew that this probably was just a rude.. but I wanted it to be real. But it wasn’t.

    • “Thank god he decided to leave me again. …For me, it was like a cancer packed up and left. After the agony of him leaving again (and it was agony; I was in love with that jerk), I began to feel better. It was like the sun was coming out again.

      What I learned was this:
      1) I love being single. I’m free, can make my own decisions, and, look, no eggshells in my house anymore!
      2) I love being a single parent. I went out, years ago, and got full custody,” (In my case, I got full custody because FW died, but it’s SO MUCH easier being a single parent.)


      I wanted FW’s remorse to be real, I wanted it to work. It hurt SO BADLY when he left me for someone else. But it was the best gift he ever gave me.

      • Yes, I agree. I wanted it to work, but his version wasn’t going to work. He was delusional about what the future would have been like if we had gotten back together. No one but him and his enabling family believed that cr*p. Ultimately, his abandonment of marriage and family was a gift. Our kids were in college when we split, but I loved finally being the mom I always wanted to be. I was a much better parent alone and set them free in ways that he never would have.

        Both are high-achieving professionals now with healthy interests and relationships. When our lives intersect, it is lovely being together. We recently went on a vacation, and my oldest commented on how enjoyable and drama-free it was. Our last vacation with their father was not that way and involved a fictional narrative that he used for gaslighting us and impressing his family as to how awful we are. We were there, we knew what happened, period.

  • “Dump him because you have a daughter.” BECAUSE you have a daughter!! CL is right. “…you’ll be goddamned if you let her grow up thinking this is how men treat women. Don’t model this bullshit to her. Be strong.”

    AF, we all want to think we have a unicorn on our hands. I’ve been reading this site for over two years now, and there’s not been one unicorn sighting.

    Abuse and gaslighting cloud our vision. We can’t see a damn thing clearly. If you squint your eyes in just the right way and the lighting is favorable, a cheater may resemble a unicorn, and a piece of shit a slice of chocolate cake. (Sorry for the breakfast eaters out there.)

    Please leave this FW. Follow CL’s advice on getting a lawyer, documenting, etc…

    You deserve to be treated well. Remember that.

    • I agree with this. My mom stayed in very abusive relationship with my father until he died when I was in my 30s. The abuse was so bad, there was no way I would have ever been able to identify the things my ex husband was doing as abuse until I was out of the relationship and read Lundy Bancroft’s book. Yeah, he would drag me from the couch back into the bedroom if I didn’t want to sleep in the bed with him, yeah he would block doorways, yeah he would tower over me and intimidate me physically being a foot taller than me and outweighing me by 100 pounds but abuse? One of my first memories is of my father attempting to drown my mother in the kitchen sink while she was washing dishes and three of his friends pulling him off of her. So no, I didn’t see it as abuse. I thought I was lucky my husband never hit me or threatened to murder me… until he threatened to murder me.

      My biggest regret is staying because my son saw that as normal. It was better than the normal I grew up with but still very, very wrong. That’s a hard thing to live with. Anyone thinking about staying for the kids, you’re teaching them to get treated like this or worse, to treat their partner and family like this. You don’t want to live with that. Don’t stay for the kids, leave for them.

  • He is abusing you, big time. If this were Vegas, I would bet everything I have that he will not change. And why we want someone we want to change, instead of someone who is fundamentally already what we want is a problem as well. That is the problem we have power over, and IMHO the more important problem.

    I was in therapy with X our entire relationship. It was my request after he agreed to date me exclusively because we both came from seriously screwed up families and I did not want to repeat the relationships that were modeled to either one of us. Relationships are a SKILL and I wanted to learn and wanted someone willing to learn as well. He agreed to go. At the time of the big DDay, therapy had been a regular part of our lives.



    After DDay, we were asked by our daughter’s therapist to go to co-parenting therapy. I said NO. What did X do? Nag me to go.



    So I finally caved in and went. I went for a year and a half. Guess what I got for a year and a half, and 15,000.00? Lies lies lies lies lies. He did not do one thing he was asked to do. I did get validation that he sucks. Every single session was the Velvet Hammer Validation Hour.

    I ended that insanity last February. Oh, he lies to our daughter too. STILL. And anyone and everyone around him. To this day.

    This man has shown you, over and over and over and over and over and over WHO HE IS. That person you want him to change into? If you order a steak in a restaurant, and they bring you fish, would you sit there trying to change the fish into a steak? You want a steak. You have a fish.

    Going to therapy to change someone into who you want them to be, instead of accepting them as they are is like sitting in a restaurant wishing for the fish to turn into a steak.

    Throw the fish back. It will never be a steak. If someone can’t do the very first rule of therapy, of healthy relationships, which is HONESTY, they cannot do anything else. This man lies lies lies lies lies lies lies. You cannot make him tell the truth. You CAN accept that he has proven, time and again, that he is incapable of being honest with you and LEAVE. Or you can sit at the table trying to turn the fish into a steak.

    Without truth, you have no relationship.
    This situation is serious abuse, and I would definitely encourage YOU to get a great therapist, and go. ALONE.

      • Yes, throw the fish back. Be thankful you are getting out relatively early. I too was married to a “sex addicted” ???? lying cheater who lies. But I spackled and stuck my head in the sand for 29 years of marriage.

        Get yourself free now and make a happy life for you and your daughter. Be thankful you found Chumplady. We are here for you.

    • And of course, after the big DDay I realized he had most likely been screwing around the entire twenty seven years. While married and stating a business with me and a family with me and going to therapy with me. And not saying one fucking word about that Big Laundry List of my faults according to him and his grievances that he pulled out of his ass after the big DDay to justify his cheating and blameshift.

      When words and actions conflict, LEAVE. When they lie, LEAVE.

      Affairs are just one symptom of fundamental dishonesty. He IS a liar. You have a relationship with a lie. A lie who is A-OK hurting you and his own daughter.

      That time period where he was cooking and cleaning is called HEARTS AND FLOWERS in domestic violence parlance. It’s just a very big fish hook.

        • I love The Script by Elizabeth Landers. Traitor X did every single thing in the book.

          Written about men who cheat, it applies to all cheaters regardless of gender. Just read with the appropriate pronouns in mind.

          They all think they are original and they all do and say the exact same shit.

      • The Laundry List! I too got a Laundry List of my faults AFTER D-Day. Not a thing said about them beforehand. Interesting how the List was generated AFTER D-Day. Like the cheater decided to retcon their side of the marriage.
        I’d be interested in a study of how many of us get the List, and how many of us got the List AFTER D-Day.

        • Yes I too got a laundry list that I never even knew about in the 8 years I was with him. The funniest was that I didn’t read the newspaper often enough so he never had anything to talk about with me. ????????????????????????????
          I laugh about it now but at the time I was devastated at how much he hated me. D-Day was two years ago. Divorced 1 year. Doing so well with my life. Occasionally I laugh about what an idiot he is and sometimes I cringe about what an embarrassment he is and why was I even with him.

        • I, too, got the list. It went back to when we were first married. I never knew he had so many pent up resentments about me until he found another woman to put up with him. I asked why he didn’t tell me these things at the time – that I could have left him to be happy on his own – and I could have found someone that loved me. His reply? Crickets…..

    • Therapy only served to CONFUSE me, obfuscate reality, and keep me in the relationship way beyond the exit ramp. It was a MASK that kept me from seeing he was NOT the easy-going sober Nice Guy in recovery he presented himself to be. In reality, he had a secret sexual double life the entire “relationship”. I did not have a marriage. I had a MIRAGE. I did not have a husband. I was legally bound to an abusive CON ARTIST. Going to therapy AFTER DDay is like calling the fire department after the house has been burned to the ground, and your partner is the arsonist. Even more shattering for me was that he went to therapy (physically in the room) on a regular basis the entire twenty seven year duration of the “relationship”. I thought we were in therapy to maintain the Ferrari…..he was going to disguise the reality of a crap car chassis with a counterfeit plastic fake Ferrari body bolted on.

      LYING PREVENTS INTIMACY. With YOU and with anyone else they lie to.

      No trust + no safety = no relationship

  • 39.9 years of potential.
    Divorced now. Happy balloon.

    Turns out, I’m the one with potential.

    So. much. better. without. a. fuckwit.

    Darling, stop buying the bullshit.
    Get on with your badass self.

  • Cut and run if for no other reason than to raise your daughter in an environment that is healthy and whole. This is my biggest regret … that my two daughters never got to witness a father treating their mother with the most basic kindness and decency every human being walking the face of this earth deserves.
    AF, it is an awful, gutwrenching experience when an adult daughter confesses to how difficult it was to watch their mother being emotionally abused by their father the entirety of their life. How that affected them in ways that will haunt them the rest of their lives.
    This is the end result of staying with someone who damages everything and everyone in their path with the hope that change is possible and you can keep the family intact and whole if you just give it another chance.
    He won’t change. It will not get better. And you are not the only person he will irreparably harm in the process. Look into your daughter’s beautiful and trusting eyes. The weight of her future is on your shoulders and that is a heavy and unfair burden to bear when you are injured and hurting. But you are all that she has, as she will never be able to depend on him. He’ll choose himself first and always. But you … you cam make the difference in her life now by charting a new map. Take the high road that aligns with your values, not his.

  • Confused AF: I hung onto hope for so long because I thought my now ex FW was a good father. Bad husband but good father.

    Here is what took me 20 years to realize: Good fathers do not lie to, cheat and manipulate their wives. This “good father” image is part of his image management.

    • Yes, good fathers do not blow their families to smithereens. What should be family time is instead spent on one-night stands and the neighbor’s wife. That’s not father material.

    • Yes, post-divorce with grown kids, I realize that my ex was a good father when they were little, but not when they got older and needed to have their own voices and space. That was also when his addictions made interacting with him difficult, to say the least.

      It’s often said that a foundation of good parenting begins with a good marriage. Our kids have told me that they knew at 12 or 13 that something was very wrong with their father and our marriage. They withdrew from us at times, trying to process that. They talked a lot with each other when we weren’t around. I was aware of that and didn’t interfere.

      During the divorce process, my oldest (a college student at the time) once commented that he was better off with just one parent because the other parent had gone “off the rails” and was “unsafe.” Gosh, that hit me, but it showed a great deal of insight.

      • “Yes, post-divorce with grown kids, I realize that my ex was a good father when they were little, but not when they got older and needed to have their own voices and space. That was also when his addictions made interacting with him difficult, to say the least.”

        This was my biggest fear. And as horrible as it is to say it, I’m relieved FW is dead and my son will never have to have his father abuse him for whatever perceived “betrayal” he did as a teen (to FW, anyone who disagreed with him or dared have different interests, or voiced an different opinion was betraying him – I just can’t imagine my ex with a teenage son). FW died when our son was 9. I could already see FW trying to get our kid to me a mini version of himself, putting down and criticizing my son’s interests if they were different from his (my poor kid – later he told me he didn’t like Star Wars or the Marvel movies, but he “knew they were important to daddy” to he pretended he did).

    • ONE HUNDRED PERCENT THIS. There is no such thing as a bad partner and a good parent, for the reasons stated by Spedie. They cannot coexist in the same person. It is simply not possible.

  • I tell everyone you will never know the whole truth. My XW only admitted to one affair because DNA doesn’t lie. The rest was “I had many emotional affairs” and “I made many mistakes”. You have to decide whether you can live with never knowing the whole truth. I love how CL put it “He is a lying liar who lies”. Believe what she says.

    I wish there was a book about angry and controlling women. I was married to one. Seems like there are a lot of books about men but not about women. ????????????

    • “I made many mistakes.”

      When x copped to making “mistakes,” I detected a shit-eating grin–“I’m both confessing AND bragging.” I’ll never forget that look. So effing disturbing. Can’t unsee. It was coupled with a coy look, and “I am so naive.”

      Naive doesn’t arrange to meet at hotels.
      Naive doesn’t take advantage of a wife’s absence from home by having a sleepover with the AP. #maritalbedsexsofun #didnotwashsheets ????
      Naive doesn’t lie.

      I think he got his words confused. Must have meant “knave” not “naive.” Fixed it!

      • Ugh, I remember the shit eating grin….I said what do you think others would think of you and howorker? – 33 years younger. “Idk, that I’m some sort of stud ?”
        Nope, they would think she’s your home health

    • My divorce attorney (69 y.o. at the time) commented several times that what I knew likely was only the bare tip of an iceberg. Late in the process, my ex’s attorney began blabbing more than he should have to mine, and I had to tell my attorney to log what was being said in case we went to trial but not to give me details. The details were messing with my emotions again. Indeed, the iceberg.

      I helped with a divorce group through my attorney’s office for over a year, and there was a guy there whose ex twice beat him up so badly that he called 9-1-1. He often commented on how few resources there were for guys with angry and controlling wives (his exact words). In his case, it spilled over into violence.

  • I’m sorry that you are going through this, but as soon as I started reading, I said to myself “the cycle of abuse.” He’s manipulating and playing games to get what he wants, and then when you aren’t into it, he behaves badly.

    My ex threatened divorce for fifteen years. It was his way of getting me to admit fault when it wasn’t my fault. He also gaslighted me, even trying to convince me that I was crazy. I was vulnerable because I was mostly a SAHM.

    When we finally separated for the second time, he took off for the beach. Yes, I had a rough time getting my head together but it was the very best thing he could have ever done for me.

    When I finally took reconciliation off the table, he tried and tried to convince me, using yet more games and manipulation. However, by then I knew what that all was and that it was just more of the cycle of abuse. Sooner or later, he’d behave badly again. I had become so sure that I knew that I wouldn’t last more than a few days around him.

    So we divorced. He promised “quick and easy” and gave me disordered and long. Thankfully, I hired a giant in the legal community. My ex gave me a draft agreement that my attorney called “the work of a terrorist,” so my attorney wrote a decent agreement. He hired a $700/hour attorney who promised him the moon.

    The way that my ex acted during the divorce spoke volumes. Bottom line is that our well-being meant little if anything to him. He wanted to burn every possible bridge on the way out, and his attorney enabled him. I didn’t share details with our college kids, but they saw the economic struggles, knew how many trips I made to the attorney, and overheard a few phone calls when I was talking with a relative or a friend. He barely communicated with them after he left, and they cut him off. Now he thinks he has a right to a relationship with them. Not going to happen…

    This guy (and my ex) are not unicorns. He’s just ramping up for yet more power and control.

    • sounds like stbx. almost exactly. He told our kids I’m going to do the right thing and take care of your mom. Yeah well he thought after 32 yrs that 400 a month and half his tsp was it. I couldn’t afford to keep the house on that and he knew it. He makes 4 times a month what I do and he was crying poverty. He ran to NJ every weekend after I got him to move out, to visit his garden tool 7 hrs away. He got caught in so many lies and has drug this divorce out forever. Its been 15 months since I filed and waiting on the papers to be signed any day. The kids want nothing to do with him because he has lied and threatened them so much. He stalks and then claims we are stalking him. AF you have only a couple yrs of your life invested in this pos run please. I ignored red flags forever and now I’ve lost my youth on a loser that I thought I could fix and was willing to stay with forever with all his flaws until he cheated twice and I was done. I am healing and it is taking time, but I know that I am better off without him.

  • It’s amazing how easy it is to see the abuse being heaped on other people and be so incredibly mad about it and desperate to have the abused person leave their abusers and yet it is so hard for us to recognize when it is happening to us and act accordingly. We just don’t want to believe that they suck. “If I just give him the love and support he needs, he will get better and be grateful and we’ll live happily ever after because love conquers all”. No. It doesn’t. Save yourself because he is too far gone.

    • I thought the same thing and hung on for so long thinking that one day we would turn that corner and the drinking and anger would stop. It never stopped it got worse and then throw in there the infidelity two affairs that I know of I’m sure there are more now that I’m away from it. Instead of fixing himself he expected me to forgive and trust. They don’t change.

  • Phew. It all sounds so exhausting. AF, for the sake of the Universe, start loving yourself first, scoop up your baby girl and move on. I actually pity your ex. He’s set himself up for a lifetime of a miserable cycle. He knows he’s fucked up. He tried to escape, thinking you were his unicorn, who would save him from himself. But he is never going to be loyal, one mate material. He’s lost to choices made long ago and he can’t change. It’s hard when we love critters like this. But you gotta save yourself and run. He’s broken and can’t be fixed. Give your child a break from the drama and enough with her weekly traumas. Run. Go live again. Hugs. Go

    • Do not pity this man. That instinct is what keeps you hooked into the cycle.

      He’s bad, he’s dangerous and without remorse. Some people are irredeemable.

  • Chumplady, thank you for posting the link to Dr. Minwalla’s article. I had to download it and save it for a quieter moment in my day — there’s so much in there that’s the story of my life.

    “If we didn’t have a daughter, I would have dumped him a year ago.”

    I speak from experience here: there comes a day when your daughter finds out what you endured. The last thing on earth she wants to hear is how you made this big ugly sacrifice just for her. It’s a debt she never asked to incur, and it’s so crippling that she’ll believe just about anything to walk away from it.

    My daughter was absolutely furious with me for sticking it out with the FW. She blamed him, yes, but in a child’s mind they’re at least entitled to ONE honest parent, ONE functional parent, ONE adult in the room.

    I struggled with having two babies to mother, except one of them was an adult man. That deprived my daughter of having a mother available for her. This marriage isn’t going to change, and whether or not you catch him cheating again, the marriage you’re in right now is the one you’re going to be in for the rest of your life.

  • 12 years before the divorce this could’ve been me. I wasted those 12 years being the marriage police in hot pursuit of a unicorn.

    Don’t be me. Get out now.

    Don’t waste anymore time on a loser. You are worth so much more. Read your letter back to yourself….imagine your best friend/sister/daughter wrote this. What advice would you offer.

    Be kind to you x

  • “If we didn’t have a daughter, I would have dumped him a year ago.” Confused AF, I think this sentence is telling. And I think most of Chump Nation understands the notion of attempting reconciliation for the sake of your child. “The picture of your family future” as you put it, is morphing into something you never wanted, and it’s a lot to absorb. Remove the qualifier of “If we didn’t have a daughter” (and one day, metaphorically speaking, you won’t – she’ll be out of the house and on her own) and you’re left with “I would have dumped him a year ago.” In the first few months after my d-day, I said this repeatedly about my STBX: if we didn’t have kids, I’d be long gone. I tried to reconcile our marriage for three years, mostly for the sake of my children. So I get it. I really do. Then last summer I took a road trip with my STBX, sans kids, and when we’d sit together eating dinner in the quiet, I felt sick. I considered that those sick-feeling moments were what my future would feel like, if I stayed married to him. If you stay with him, one day it will be only you staring across the table at a man who broke your heart over and over and over. Sit with that awhile. Does that sound like a life you want?

    • This. I looked into the future and saw nothing but further devaluation and degradation. This wasn’t a man that would walk with me into our Golden Years together hand in hand. Nope, it would be me sitting in loneliness while still desperately trying to be and give everything XAss wanted, while denying myself anything I needed. I may very well be walking my Golden Years alone, but it SAF beats the alternative.

      • I finally realized I was done with him when one day, several years into our separation, when I was on the phone with him (because he wanted to “talk” and I hadn’t yet gone no contact) and he seemed to be trying to hoover/apologize/whatever. It was the strangest thing. I got the clearest mental image of a forked road in the woods (two roads diverged in a yellow wood…), one branch was getting back with him, the other was striking off on my own. And I thought about going back to my marriage, to the constant criticism, to needing to emotionally regulate him and placate him and deal with his mood swings, to needing to subvert all my wants, needs, and desires to his, to needing to “perform” for his approval. And it sounded SO EXHAUSTING. Even if the OW disappeared and he never cheated again, I just didn’t want to live like that. And the other road, alone, that had seemed so scary to me, suddenly looked full of freedom and possibility. And instead of jumping at the opening he gave and begging him to take me back, I just…didn’t. And he ended the conversation and said we could continue talking later. He never called me back.

        Forging a new path, taking the “road less traveled” can seem scary. We gravitate toward familiarity, even if that means pain. But the new road is SO MUCH BETTER. I’ve never been happier.

      • “I may very well be walking my Golden Years alone, but it SAF beats the alternative.”

        Skunkcabbage, this is golden material. Thank you for expressing things so succinctly. If you don’t mind, I may make a T-shirt out of it. Or something close to it. And if you say ok and I do, I’ll freely tell anyone who really wants to know why I wear it. Maybe it can counter the RIC and cheater apologist bullshit out there to a small extent.

        Lots of love, freedom and peace to you and all of CN.

  • Confused AF: Please take the advice of CL and CN. We all know how much it hurts and how much we would like to have a unicorn. It will not happen. All you have is a lying cheater. He sucks, you don’t. Don’t model abuse for your daughter. Or as many other chumps have asked here before “if this were your daughter, what would you tell her to do?”
    You don’t deserve the abuse and devaluation. Once you lawyer up and have him out of the house with as little contact as you can have, it will get better. Just think of not having to dance and walk on eggshells. Won’t that be great? I know when I got away from FW and wasn’t on eggshells anymore, life got a whole lot better.
    We all know your pain and are sorry you have to go through this but the pain will not last forever. Value yourself and don’t let him continue to abuse you. You deserve more.

  • “His discomfort matters more than your health, finances, or intact family.”

    this really sticks out for me today and i’m thankful i read it. it’s clear to me now that entitlement is the root of a lot of bad behaviours. with time and distance, there are so many examples of how my X’s discomfort with
    anything ruled the roost. gah.

    there’s so much to learn, isn’t there? and it’s a painful process. it’s funny. i thought i had a level of understanding about behaviour, i really did. and now i realize i knew little of my own slow erosion by a narcissist. recently i looked over my old passports and tracked the physical/emotional changes of my married life on my face. i started out so happy and carefree then the tension slowly crept in. weight was gained and lost and gained again, but it’s my eyes that show the strain.

  • A lying liar. My x, who continued a relationship with a literal prostitute, emailed that he missed his family. The decades younger mistress (or goddess as she likes to call herself) is on a break with him at the moment and he’s lonely. He abandonded our family, sent a weekly, short text to each of our sons, and spent a small fortune on his karmic connection. He’ll never change. I building my own life–very different from the life I had before and scary as hell. But at least I don’t have to be the marriage police, worried that he’d have a “relapse” of his sex addiction.

    Please don’t waste your life on a man like this. You, and your daughter, deserve more. Best of luck.

  • Let’s switch this around just a little bit. Let’s say he was an alcoholic, or a drug addict, or a gambling addict. So he moves out and all of a sudden doesn’t want to come right back because he’s found some guys who like to party and drink all day every day just like he does and he’s not real sure yet that he needs to move back home. Or, he’s found a new dealer who will give him a discount on some drugs so he better stick around that apartment until at some point in the future. Or, he’s got a tip on a horse and even though he’s $30,000 in debt it’s a sure thing. One thing your husband has in common with the above is that he is an addict. One thing he is not is dependable and that makes the difference.

    • Addiction is addiction, period. I’m on the leadership team of a local 12-step group, and I’ve learned how the patterns of chemical and sexual addiction are indeed almost the same. Unless they truly dig deep, they are going to be what AA calls a “dry drunk,” someone who is sober but keeps all the attitudes.

      • What is also true, is that when people do get into recovery, sincerely and genuinely, they change so radically that the pre-recovery marriage often ends. My therapist taught me this in my early recovery (Al Anon, ACA, and AA) which was back in the mid-80’s, and I agree.

      • Elsie,

        Thanks for sharing this. It just gave me some insight into my next older brother (by three years), an alcoholic who stopped cold-turkey (supposedly), but never changed significantly (still a major narcissist, as well).

        He, alone out of all my family, stopped talking to me in 2004, blaming me for getting the FW XW pregnant w/our youngest. Never wanted to hear my side of the story. Still doesn’t. Never mind the fact that the FW XW initiated the sex and basically jumped me and controlled the encounter to a significant degree. Nope. He’s judge and jury on me and everybody else.

        This is also the man who espouses zero-population growth to prevent overpopulation of the planet, but got his current long-term partner pregnant because he just wanted sex and didn’t think about asking her if that’s all she wanted, so no birth control was used (what? Him have to think about birth control?!).

        Then he yelled at her for not using birth control, and demanded she get an abortion. She refused, and they now have my 24 year old nephew, a few months younger than my second daughter, who is my middle child. My nephew unfortunately has his own set of major issues.

        My brother and his partner never married, but have been together at least since ‘98 (when my nephew was born), are constantly fighting w/each other (so I’m continually told), which is probably exacerbated since she’s a functioning alcoholic.

        She’s also the FW XW’s closest older sister. Yeah, that was unexpected. My brother and the FW XW’s sister got together. Ugh. His partner, the FW XW’s older sister had already been married and divorced in a probably mutually abusive relationship at that point, and was having affairs, at least one w/a sometimes boss of hers (a lawyer). I think she may still be having affairs, possibly w/the same lawyer, but don’t know for sure. It may seem surprising, but I don’t believe my brother fools around on her. However, I could be wrong! He is a flaming narcissist.

        Anyway, it seems if my brother makes any mistakes in life, we in the family and friends groups are to understand and forgive him. But if anyone else makes a mistake, real or simply perceived (especially family), we are subject to his judgment and sentencing.

        I don’t think he is capable of “digging deep,” as you say. Much like the FW XW. And much like the FW XW, the NC he pretty much imposed on me has been beneficial. To me, at least!???? To be clear, I imposed hard grey rock on the FW XW, not the other way around.

        My other brother and sister refer to him as “our idiot” brother, frequently. They’ll relay stuff he’s up to to me (unasked for, usually). I only ask anyone else in the family about him if I can’t think of anything else to talk about.

        But I no longer have to deal w/having one-sided conversations about what he wants to talk about. Nor do I have to deal w/him hanging up on me w/no warning anymore when what I want to talk about isn’t interesting enough to him.

        Or deal w/him when he’s trying to prove how much more intelligent and talented he is compared to the rest of us (and I mean EVERYBODY). I still hear a lot about how he continues to try to show off at family gatherings. He’s very insecure in that way. This, btw, is a man who has his Ph.D. in a branch of chemistry. Just lacks social/emotional intelligence, I feel.

        Did I mention he’s also the only one in my the family that still cares for the FW XW? I know, shocker. It probably doesn’t hurt that he always harbored a crush on her. And that he’s still partnered w/the FW XW’s sister. Everybody thought they would split-up before me and the FW XW did. Surprise!????

        Anyway, thanks for letting me get this off my chest, Elsie. I really appreciate the insight. I hope you’re doing well, and are making progress towards peace and meh in your life. Lots of love and best wishes to you.

      • Interestingly, those who qualify as addictive people have an 80% probability of being disordered, ie narc, socio, borderline…
        It’s not only addiction.

    • A metaphor that helped me was, “Would his boss be so understanding?”

      Employers don’t give a rat’s ass if you’ve got problems, especially if your “problem” is being an entitled nutjob. If you lie, if you defraud, if you don’t perform at work, if you steal from the company, if you cause drama, you’re fired and your boss won’t lose a wink of sleep over it. Potential means nothing to a boss.

      And if you tried paying your landlord or mortgage lender with “potential”, you’d be homeless.

      AF, he’s not going to change. But even if he could, it’s not the right question to ask. He’s already failed as a husband and father and you need to act on that reality with a divorce, before he does more harm to you and your daughter. Next it’ll be an STD, theft, or domestic violence. Abusers always escalate.

  • “He’s a lying liar who lies. You have no idea if that’s true.”
    My ex was nicknamed “Fraudesco” by a man in my support group, because he basically lied to everyone about everything–being a veteran, having MBAs from two different Ivy League schools, being an MD, being a two-time world champion in his second field (he never won). I think he not only enjoyed the frauds, I think he enjoyed lying for the sake of lying. I printed out 1000 pages (2 reams of paper) of his emails to his online AP, and the documentation (copies of gift cards he emailed her, credit cards he got and paid for her, bank transfers, Western Union, etc.) of $40k he sent to her. He subsequently posted songs on line to the next OW, identifying her as his life partner. He introduced our grandson to yet another woman and identified her as his new mom. Our divorce was contentious and he dragged it out for three years.

    Last week he called and told me he’s been in therapy, and “I had no woman. It was just smoke. It was all in my mind.” I reminded him of the thousands of texts and the proof of the money he sent, and he reiterated there was no other woman.”

    As Tracy wrote, “He’s a lying liar who lies. You have no idea if it’s true.” Except in this case I had written evidence that he lied. A lot.

    Confused, you’re confused because he is deliberately, intentionally confusing you. He’s had decades to practice, while your practice has been to trust him.

    Don’t stay for your daughter. He will only confuse her, too.

  • If this man has that many issues, he needs to be alone for a very long time to deal with them. Will he? Doubtful. But honestly, you need to let him go to let him try.

  • Confused AF, I know why he suddenly did a 180 and apologized after all that abuse. It’s because someone – maybe his lawyer, maybe a friend who doesn’t have a wife for him to chest with – told him “dude, you’re gonna lose custody and have to pay her a ton of money in this divorce, you better make nice.”

    He doesn’t love you. He just figured out his life would be easier (and his wallet fatter) if you think he does.

    • Yes, that and cake. If he loses LW, he won’t have someone to deceive. He won’t have someone to blame. He won’t have someone to triangulate off of. He won’t have the veneer of “good family man.” There are many advantages for him and zero for you, LW.

      (Intact family is not the advantage you think it is, because you entire central nervous system will not let you forget this past year.)

  • Off topic, but what are some quality movies that feature chumps? Crazy, Stupid, Love is one that comes to mind. What would Chump Lady have to say about Steve Carell doing the pick me dance for the whole movie?

    • The very best movie I’ve ever seen about infidelity and FWs (and chumps) is called Happiness. It’s French, made by a woman director named Agnès Varda. It’s chilling.

  • p.s.

    i tried to give a cheater a chance, just don’t

    he leaned into the sexual addiction BS, he was late for every outpatient appointment, insisted i go with him to his appointments even though the therapist said no, absolutely not

    he had a great job with great health insurance including time off for therapy due to company mandate, therapist recommended inpatient which his insurance would FULLY PAY FOR and he couldn’t be fired for taking the 6 weeks off (and inpatient now is like 6 weeks at a spa)

    every single benefit and all that support and still he refused

    showed up to my work one day to beg me to go to a therapy appointment with him, called the therapist who said no because she had told him she would only see him alone for now

    i changed the lease to my name only that day and gave him 30 days notice to move out (required), kept my security system panic button with me at all times, slept behind a locked door

    about 5 days before he had to move out (he hadn’t even started packing) asked me to go to a party to watch a sporting event and that we could still be friends *HEAD DESK*

    freaked out that he had to move even though he knew he had 30 days, roped in one friend to help him, since nothing was packed it was chaos so his friend only helped him move the heavy stuff and then bailed on him

    it is amazing the level of chaos they create for themselves and everyone around them and then blame everyone else for their own choices and behaviors that got them there

    TL;DR dump him now, save yourself and your children and your sanity, it won’t get better, it just gets worse

  • “Don’t you have better things to do than GPS his dick?”????????????????????

    Wow! CL, you’re on fire today! Love it!

    This letter was very reminiscent of where my head was when I found CL 8 years ago. I was raised by narcissist – maybe even a sociopath- parents. The manipulative push me pull me – neglect me- abuse me- love bomb cycle was the only relationships I knew. No wonder I was in the sane relationship with XH for 26 years. Upon Dday he said all the things above – then was caught cheating again and flipped from charm to rage to self pity. Divorce was hell- self pity and rage. No contact saved my sanity. With years of freedom from that abuse cycle I can see it so clearly. There was NEVER any chance that relationship could have been reciprocal, based on integrity, common values and goals, love, respect. Nothing to work with.

  • I’m just gonna trot out an old Dr. Phil-ism here: The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

  • This is abuse. As a former domestic violence prosecutor, I couldn’t see the cycle in my life until many months after I escaped. I read what CL and CN are saying to you, AF, but none of it registered until I went 100% no-contact for six months. The gut-wrenching and painful truth I learned is that my only role as his wife was to shield and mask his “underworld,” his double life. My mind was not able to handle the shock of the cruelty and the deception. I could not understand how abuse could be psychological, a cycle of promises, lies, and gaslighting. I realize now that I needed time to learn – even though I fought against others’ abuse every day – I had absolutely no frame of reference for this kind of person because my mind and values are not disordered. See, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, Dr. George Simon.

    For me, it’s an ongoing process. I see that my mind and body protect me from horrible realizations, that I’m given a little more “reality” when I can handle it. In my opinion, the minute AF said “divorce,” her abuser realized his shield was walking. That’s when they panic — oh, the jail calls I’ve heard — they become their very best selves and will do and say everything and anything to save themselves; they lie with absolutely no conscience. I have seen this over and over and over again with domestic abusers, but again, I could not see it in me or in him. It takes a huge leap of faith to trust our own feeling that the situation is not acceptable and it is not right. Especially difficult when he is telling us our perceptions are wrong and when all we want is our happy family.

    So, I don’t think it’s easy to snap your fingers and say done. I finally did leave for my adult kids because I didn’t have an ounce of self-respect left and at the end of the day, I wanted them to at least respect their mother, even if I couldn’t salvage the family. Writing CL is the first step to admitting the pain and coming to terms with something that is so far from a normal human’s reality. I say surround yourself with loving women and go no-contact for three months. Remove yourself from the confusing cycle of pain and abuse.

  • another thing to realize is that it is easier to be a single parent than have to manage a man-child with a personality disorder who will thwart you at every turn while you try to be a good parent to your child

    also, think about the choices they make, the lies they tell, the chaos they create and try to even imagine doing that to someone else – you can’t, because you are a good human

    once you see just how disordered they are and accept that, everything gets easier

    • “another thing to realize is that it is easier to be a single parent than have to manage a man-child with a personality disorder who will thwart you at every turn while you try to be a good parent to your child”

      God, yes. My ex died, so I am truly a single parent, and I have to say that it is a thousand times easier on my own than trying to deal with him. Being married to him was even worse. It was like having two kids, except one is helpless (and it wasn’t the baby). I had to manage so much. I had almost the entire mental burden of running our life. It was utterly exhausting.

  • Dear AF,
    You are halfway there. You woke up. You know the situation you are in isn’t right and are trying to find your way out. Don’t go close your eyes and hope it will fix itself now.

    Re-read what you wrote and CL’s answer and let it sink in. Writing things down is very helpful with dealing with a FW. Take a good look at everything he told you and take note of his actions. Don’t take it to mean what you wish it means. You will realize every single thing he says is actually a threat. He is telling you he knows what he does is wrong but he has no intention to change and you have to be OK with it or else…


    Bye bye

    • For instance my ex FW used to say ”I am such an asshole” when I would call him out on some of his BS. I used to take it to mean he was sorry. Not so… I realized later that it just meant “I know who I am and so do you, so you can only blame yourself”. It was also a humble-brag.

      It struck me one day that he really was an asshole and I did what I had to do. And he turns out he also was a cheater… I am happily divorced now and I haven’t regretted it a single day.


    “he knows he’s a narcissist”

    Confused AF, this is your signal. It’s time to run as far and as fast as you can. While your child is so young you may not be able to go far because of shared custody, but do all that you can to get sole or at least primary custody. This man is bad news. His chances of really changing are microscopic. He is a lying liar who lies. If somebody this young is admitting to being a narc, he might have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Look into that. See if you think he fits the profile.

    I spent 25 years with a narcissist. He never told me he was a narcissist and it took 20 years of marriage for him to tell me that he didn’t understand the concept of empathy. I can only assume that your husband is worse than my ex since he’s been so open about it. It’s been over 13 years since I separated from my former husband, and I’ve nearly recovered. My adult children are all deeply scarred.

    End it.


  • Of course the moment you moved to divorce and he realized the financial consequences – he tried to hoover you back in.

    Who does this situation benefit? Surely not you or your child. Does he pay child support? Who controls the bank accounts and credit cards? Who makes the money?

    This is where his motivation lies.

    True remorse would be divorcing you with a more than fair financial settlement. It’s the very least you deserve.

  • Run…run … run now and don’t look back. You are lucky your D-day came after 1 year of marriage….albeit 6 years together and a child – but you are still young – run – my D-day came after 30 years of marriage – totally blindsided by the “good guy great husband” with a secret hooker habit. Run while you have time to start over- this is no dress rehearsal- we get one life- take the leap – do it afraid but do it – run don’t walk. Good luck and I’m so very sorry for your pain. I used to think Good women attract the FWits but I have come to realize they seek us out – they find us – they know what they are doing – they do not change. OW’s and Fwits belong together – let them share their sickness instead of inflicting it on us.

  • Your letter resonated with me because of all the similarities. Sex addict, so so sorry, wanted to spend the rest of his life making it up to me, would never ever lie again etc etc etc.
    I was so distressed (it really was a nervous breakdown) – couldn’t function, eat or sleep. Hair falling out, waking up crying. I was not in a place where I was able to make a rational decision.
    We had been in and out of marriage counselling for 20 years. I didn’t want to break up our family (2 children). So I did wreckonciliation for 2 years. (ugh, count them, 2) And the first 6 months? Oh he was perfect; all the cooking, having “honest” conversations with me, everything to show me that he was happy he got caught so he could become the man he always wanted to be. He said it was as is he had been a heroin addict in the basement and I reached a hand down to him to bring him up to a beautiful life of honesty in the fresh air and sunlight. Quite the wordsmith. My therapist kept saying to watch his actions and see if they align with his words. Actions and words must be the same.
    His mask starting to slip and by the end of the year he told me I needed to get over it and that the only reason I asked him about anything was to shame him. He started giving me contemptuous looks and rolling his eyes. He spent a lot of money on the credit cards – capping his teeth and going heliskiing. Finally I had seen everything I needed to see to make a decision and I was emotionally ready. He is a total narcissist and pathological, compulsive and habitual liar. Everything he said was a lie. And, news alert, he did not spend the rest of his life making it up to me. He stole $200K from our credit line, he smeared my reputation, he found a new young chump to marry and I still pay him alimony. People get so outraged that I have to pay him, but to be honest, it’ really the easiest part of the shit I’ve had to endure. Our two children (23,25) don’t speak to him but, master manipulator that he is, he uses that as part of his impression management. “Their bitter mother turned them against me and all I’ve ever done is love them.”
    In his view his is actually hero of his story, not the lying villain. He was misunderstood and unhappy but stayed for the kids (heroic), finally got out of his miserable marriage (wait I thought he was going to spend the rest of his life making it up to me because he loved me so much!), and bravely struck and out built a new life for himself (heroic).
    Please don’t make the mistakes I made AF. They never ever ever change and they never stop lying. (((((Hugs))))

    • It’s amazing that once I stepped away from the pile of shit made by Asshat, I could see how all FWs use the same playbook, “Lying Selfish Manipulative Liars Lie”. Once you realize their goto will always be what’s in their best interest, it’s easy to not take it personally. I’m sure Asshat is treating Howorker/Wife like everyone else in his life–like his personal cash register. While my son has a better boundary with Asshat, my daughter is unfortunately in hook, line & sinker. What’s sad is they have absolutely no idea how foul and deep their father’s pile of shit is.

      I feel we should find where they clone FWs and destroy the machine. Places like CN & CL are a great start to change the narrative.

  • First things first CN , my baby boy arrived on Thursday at 11:00 a.m and he is fine despite having a nuchal cord ×2 round his neck. So cheers to that! Moving on…..
    It’s incredible the lengths FW’s go to in order to blameshift and instill fear in a chump’s heart while dangling the reconciliation carrot. I can understand that optimistic voice AF speaks with. That was me post D-day. Believing he had only kissed her once, to we had protected sex once while I was drunk(he never used to drink until he met AP)to please forgive me she is 5 months pregnant. Then came the remorse which I believed until I realised he was still sleeping with her, using family money on her stupid whims in the name of pregnancy which she made sure to rub in my face qas a son.And I did believe him when the remorse seemed genuine. That’s how I ended up pregnant again. But behold soon as I moved out who did he run to for sex while pretending to continually want to work through issues as I was pregnant and wanted to keep his family together. Believe him the first time, he has shown you who he is. Trust that. Do not waver in trusting that he sucks. And always come back here when in doubt. We will hold your hand , always

  • Confused AF, I was thinking “OK, it’s POSSIBLE that he quit screwing around after DDay…” and then you said he didn’t want to move back in together. That’s the nail in the coffin of his supposed truth-telling. Whatever or whomever he was doing at that time was really fun, and if you came home, fun-time would be limited. So he did whatever he had to (called you fat? Wtf) to keep fun-time going. Then his shiny toy got boring, or had to return to her gig at the strip club, whatever… then he’s all apologies. This behavior has nothing to do with you or his feelings for you. You are of use, and he treats you accordingly to get you to do what he wants. The same way he uses all those other women with no care for anyone but himself.

    Oh, and my ex husband did the same thing. Treated me like shit so he could sideline me and focus on AP, then when she dumped him he love bombed me. I had no idea at the time he was even cheating. After DDay he went down the checklists in all the infidelity books, then was pushy AF in marriage therapy because he did all the things and wasn’t automatically forgiven. These assholes are all the same…

  • “Although he assured me he didn’t have anyone else, just that he didn’t see that we could work anymore. That he maybe never loved me and that he could maybe be in an open relationship with me if I would agree.”

    Oh, sweetheart. He totally was with other women. Hence the open marriage offer.

    “he called me and apologized for everything, that he was just so frustrated (because he couldn’t fuck around anymore — that was his stress relief prior — his sickness and all)”

    He apologized because divorce is costly. Do you want to be with somebody who is unspeakably cruel to you just because he can’t fuck around, even though he is still fucking around? Because he is. Hire a P.I. and you’ll see. But my sense is that you don’t want to see it.

    “he does tick most of the boxes of a unicorn — remorse, humility”

    As shown by calling you fat and blaming everything he’s done on you?

    “he didn’t sleep or try to be with anyone in a year”

    Yes he did, but even if he hadn’t, that’s a bitch cookie. You mean he maybe, possibly didn’t callously endanger your health while humiliating you among your mutual friends for whole year? Wow! What a prince.
    Forgive my sarcasm, but come on. That’s ridiculous and you know it. You just don’t want to face it.

    “But this picture of our family future is stopping me from that.”

    You mean this fantasy of your family future, because that’s all it is.

    “And the fact that he is a good father to her”

    Sorry, I’m calling bullshit on that. Good fathers don’t abuse their child’s mother. They wouldn’t dream of forcing their child to watch them batter mom emotionally and deal with her resulting depression. Everybody knows how damaging that is to kids.

    “and he is willing to do the work.”

    The work of pretending he has an “illness” and uselessly occupying a therapist’s couch to have somebody to whine to in his snowflakey self pity. Gee, that’s big of him. “Doctor, it’s just so hard on me, her expecting that I keep my marriage vows. It’s brutal! What can I do? I’m a helpless victim of my penis. It controls my mind. Wherever it points, I am FORCED to follow!” -Cue operatic sobbing-

    Like CL said, sex addiction is mostly a scam. True sex addiction is extremely rare, and those people are so extreme that they will have sex with anyone at any time. The gender of the partner doesn’t usually matter, nor age, nor physical appearance. Therefore they can’t hide their activities like he did and they don’t pick and choose partners, they just fuck anything that moves. They live in constant desperation and can’t function in a relationship or at work.
    Being a slut who uses sex for ego gratification is not sex addiction. Neither is being an abusive asshole, and your husband is a prime example of both.

    “It is also really hard with sharing time with our daughter, she’s always missing one of us and is having a hard time about it.”

    She’ll have a harder time if you die from HIV, or get cancer from HPV, or are just miserable the rest of your life. The misery is a certainty if you take him back. STDs are a high probability.

    Look, it gets easier if you are low contact and stop listening to his bullshit. Your daughter will adjust to the situation and so will you. Do you want her to adjust to that, or to a beaten down wreck for a mother? Do you want to model accepting abuse for her? She will think it is normal and accept abuse herself. Doing right by her means getting away from this creep and showing her that she doesn’t have to tolerate mistreatment. Please get out of this terrible cycle, for her sake as well as your own. Keep coming here for support. You can do it. You must do it.

    • “Sorry, I’m calling bullshit on that. Good fathers don’t abuse their child’s mother. They wouldn’t dream of forcing their child to watch them batter mom emotionally and deal with her resulting depression. Everybody knows how damaging that is to kids.”

      It took me a REALLY long time to accept this. But I now firmly believe it.

      • I didn’t take my daughter long to figure out after Dday, as he continued to be horrible to me and she had to watch me suffer. As far as she’s concerned she has no father. She won’t even refer to him as her father and uses an insulting name instead.

        It’s good thar you accept that now, ISTL. It’s sad, but sad truths need to be faced in order to be free. I hope the letter writer will think about it and eventually come to accept it as well.

  • My XH went to therapy too. And a 12 step group for sex addicts. And spiritual direction with priests. And couples counseling. And a marriage retreat for hurting marriages. He was always so, so remorseful when he got caught and would make grand promises and plans to change. I went through that fucking cycle of abuse for over 18 years before i finally figured out that the only way i could keep him from cheating on me was to leave the relationship. By that time, we had 8 children and i had been a SAHM for 17 years. I went back to school and finished my degree in the middle of our divorce. It was HARD and its still hard. I wish i had not given him so many years and so many chances. He is a good talker and always had a reason why this time would be different, or he really understood what his problem was this time. He just liked fucking around and didnt really care that it hurt me.

    Dont wait 18 years like i did. Run now.

  • CL, thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been needing someone to articulately slam and tear apart the Sex Addiction As Stress Relief bullshit. My FW uses this as his only excuse for thirty years of lies, deceit and cheating. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “I understand why I did it now. I had ‘wrong sized reactions’ to stress (the verbiage they come up with in these meetings to avoid saying what they actually did is olympic level gymnastics!). I loved you all along! It was never about you! It was just how I relieved stress.” I would be a very rich woman. They claim that they can compartmentalize due to their “disease” and not even think about their wife and family while having a stripper’s tits in their face to relieve their “stress”. This is a fucking joke, my FW had the cushiest, least stressful dream job imaginable. But he was oh so stressed and needed to dry fuck strange in order to relieve the stress of his dream job while living in his dream city. But be careful! Because he could stop his “right sized thinking” at any point and “act out” again. These meetings are just giving him the words to use to couch his CHEATING, LIES, BETRAYAL and DECEIT in blameless, innocuous phrases that mean exactly nothing. It minimizes the behavior. And they all sit around patting each other on the back about how awesome they are now. It literally brings bile up in my throat to think about it. Confused AF, RUN! Run now. I put up with this bullshit for 30 years. My two children are grown and nearly grown now. I should have left him when I first learned about his lies when my oldest was 3 and I was pregnant with my youngest. Run. They don’t change. You don’t have a unicorn. Unicorns are called that for a reason. They don’t fucking exist.

  • Hey thats my line! Hes a lying liar who lies thats what he does! Wow, are you married to my FW? He is no unicorn. Said the same exact things to me. Promised to be transparent, tell me if he had thoughts or feelings towards other women, ect. Guess what? He lied. Did not tell me about other women, again, and was not transparent. They lie. It is who they are. Sex addiction is a lie, they have a choice to be an addict. People choose to be sex addicts. Their sex addiction is more important than you or their kids. 15 years is a long time till your kid turns 18. If you only had a few more left, maybe you could suck up 3 years, then move on. But 15? He probably separated then started banging assorted p@@@y, with his whole woe as me schtick, and is now like, hey Im living my best life, banging strange. Cut him loose, move on!

  • I love Dr. Frank Pittman. My first therapist studied with him. Private Lies and Grow Up! are two of his books with lots of helpful gems. They are oldies but goodies.

    “Wonderful people don’t screw around with married people, and wonderful married people don’t screw around.”

    (adjust the adjective with one that accurately describes your allegedly exclusive relationship).

    To the cheater, “YOU are what is wrong with your marriage.”

    “In lying, one is identifying the other as one’s opponent, even one’s enemy. In marriage intimacy is developed through confessions, explanations, and soul searchings. But of course intimacy involves equality, and people who are telling lies are not seeking any aspect of intimacy, especially equality. Liars are hoping for advantage, which will be produced by disorienting and distracting the other person. The liar is stepping outside the relationship. The lie may be a greater betrayal of the relationship than the misdeed being lied about. It takes very little misinformation to disorient and destroy a relationship. I often point out to people that if I gave them detailed instructions on how to go from Atlanta to New York City, and threw in only one left turn that was a lie, they would end up in Oklahoma.”

  • If the OP follows through and breaks ties, it seems likely things will get worse for a time. If he’s typical he may play games with money (financial abuse), he may threaten self harm (beware: aggression turned inward can turn outward on a dime) or threaten to paint her as a bad mother and take the child (social blackmail). As if that wouldn’t be bad enough, it could get worse. She should set up security cameras around the home and check on recording consent laws to see if it’s legal to tape him without his knowledge in order to gather admissible proof of his abuse. A lot of what victims call “fights” are really verbal assaults or unbearably tension-building behaviors by an abuser that the victim responds in fear to. She should also check if her region has “coercive control” laws that can protect her from psychological abuse, controlling behavior, threats and using children as leverage. In the UK and Scotland, those behaviors alone could land him in jail. In Hawaii and California, those behaviors alone could make him lose custody or visitation. In Connecticut, those behaviors alone could enable her to get an order of protection against him. Unfortunately not all regions have this standard but a good sharky lawyer should know whether the OP’s region does.

    To me the situation reads as potentially dangerous. It’s not the victim’s injuries or broken bones that define a batterer but the fact that only consequences move them to temporarily change. Not empathy for the damaging effects on victims, not the suffering of children in the mix, just the specter of stiff consequences to themselves.The FW in this story has defined himself by the fact he can control himself as he demonstrated when he apologized when presented with the specter of divorce. It shows that “losing control” is a choice and a tactic, aka “bully tantrum,” shock and awe campaign. They “lose control” to take control. It places him on the battering spectrum as far as behavior and personality disorder. That’s not mental illness, more of a criminal disorder. Mentally ill people don’t have the wherewithal to put on a nice face for the corner cop or their boss and only show their abusive side behind closed doors– only criminals do that. Acting “crazy” is merely a tactic to abusers. If a neighbor hears a screaming fight and calls police, watch how quickly an abuser can compose themselves, appear calm as a cucumber and attempt to claim they were merely trying to calm the “hysterical” victim.

    Only time will tell if the OP’s husband “makes progress” on that abusive continuum because he’s clearly not making progress in ceasing to abuse. The damage he’s doing is already profound but it always can get darker. To me, attacking a woman’s weight gain after pregnancy is definitive. It’s abuse, full stop. Sexual devaluing is sexual abuse.

    As far as sex being a genuine addiction, bottles and pills don’t threaten economic abuse, don’t scream in your face and threaten self harm or to take children or ruin your reputation. Abusive people do that. Another thing that defines a batterer is cheating. Virtually all do it. Personally I think that the entire MO of battering is a type of protracted rape: “Sexual freedom for me and none for you.” Abusers beat victims down, either psychologically or physically, until the abuser is assured the victim is too broken to run away and move on to future happiness and new relationships. That’s the only way the abuser can “enjoy” their freedom to be sexually impulsive. And it’s specifically the existence of a victim that makes this enjoyable because if there’s any component of “addiction” in cheating/abuse it’s an addiction to betrayal. Velvet Hammer calls affairs “three legged stools” that collapse once the “victim leg” is removed. Abusers require human sacrifice to enjoy sex.

    Sex addict is just a euphemism for sexual abuser. As a former advocate for DV survivors, I really can’t stand how the sex addiction therapy industry has hijacked terminology and concepts drawn from far more legitimate domestic violence research and therapeutic applications for victims and mutated these things in order to surgically remove the factual label of “abuser” from the perpetrator and invalidly split the status of “victim” between abuser (the abuser becomes a sad sausage “addict,” i.e., victim) and actual victim. The model was created because abusers won’t pay therapists who designate them abusers. It can be helpful to disregard all “sex addiction” drivel and instead read materials on domestic violence because, again, battering isn’t just fists. Donald Dutton’s The Batterer is probably the best resource for understanding that abusers intend the harm they do as a strategy for control and that “playing victim to their victim” is a major tactic for abusers.

  • I can’t remember where I read this but I saved it. Read it with the pronouns adjusted for your situation in mind:

    “I read this on my psychology support groups and I wanted to share it to hurt wife( like me) but I’m a lot more heal now. Because I can see that I’m much more happy, healthy, focus, better financially, more love from my family and his family, more security in life many much more better and better than both of them. (Last night, he came to see me and hand me some of the food I like to eat. I said thank you so much for thinking of me, but my eyes keep looking at his stomach (so big)He looks so old sad and tired. I felt sorry for him. I felt sorry for his poor choices. I want our woman to wait. Karma is coming this way. Just wait for ur turn.
    “The betrayed wife, after discovering an affair, takes such a hit to her self-esteem, and she questions what it was about the other woman that was so attractive to her husband. Was she sexier? Was she better, somehow? Why did the other woman get the best parts, when she was left with the worst of her …wayward husband? The truth is, that is not how this works. She is not better, or more attractive. She does not get the best parts of the husband.
    What’s attractive about this the other woman is that they are the sickest, the weakest, the most injured of the pack. The insecure wayward husband wanting to feel strong and powerful, scans the herd for the easiest to take down. The self assured, the strong, the healthy will not do as those women want nothing to do with a married man. Wayward husbands, needy and looking for someone to boost his ego, must look for someone beneath him, someone who will look up to him, someone who will make him feel superior, if only temporarily. What better way for an insecure person to feel powerful, and admired, than to pick the least of the bunch? The fact is … they always trade down. If she happens to be prettier, or thinner – it’s just pure luck that the wrapping is worth more than the gift inside. What’s inside, is no match for you, the faithful wife. You’re beautiful, and strong and probably the mother of his children. The truth is, the other woman could be anyone, anyone slow enough to be caught and willing to accept what little that wayward husband offers to them.
    She accepts the very worst parts of the wayward husband; the liar, the cheater, the deceiver, the broken man. His behavior is lower than low, but that’s okay with her. She accepts trashy behavior, because she is trash and has no conscience. She has no self-esteem because she knows her value … her value as the weakest, the most injured of the herd. She accepts his cheating ways and lowlife behavior because she knows her place in the pack – and it’s at the end of the row. Bringing up the rear, it’s just a matter of time before someone singles her out, and uses her for his own selfish reasons in his quest to be admired.
    Betrayal hurts, I know. Boy, do I know. But remember, when they find someone weak enough to have an affair with, they always affair down. The other woman had to be broken deep inside in order to crawl in bed with a married man and except your leftovers instead of being strong enough to find an unattached man on her own. She had to be so broken to not care about you, the faithful wife, the children who would be wounded and all the lives destroyed by her actions and participation… and I bet she will not accept any responsibility for those actions. She will hold her hands up in false innocence when the curtain is pulled back to reveal the disgusting acts she committed against your family.
    Betrayed wife, hold your head high. YOU were strong enough to remain faithful and love a man who used your trust for his own selfish desires. He has devastated your life, but you can end the pain you are feeling. Use the strength inside you to pick up the pieces and begin living again. YOU are invincible in your strength and courage. Take a deep breath, dry your tears for the millionth time and carry on, my dear. Because nothing can keep you down for long.”

    • Makes sense. I was reading studies linking “mate poaching” to dark triad personality traits– particularly psychopathy– eating disorders, depression, body dysmorphic disorder and substance addiction. One study proposed that aggressive mating strategies like mate poaching can be a reflection of the individual’s “biological intuition” of their own poor health, diminished fertility and shortened life expectancy that lead to something called “fast life strategy’– i.e., “live fast, die young, leave a lot of kids.” Doesn’t sound that delectable but there’s no accounting for individual tastes.

      • “One study proposed that aggressive mating strategies like mate poaching can be a reflection of the individual’s “biological intuition” of their own poor health, diminished fertility and shortened life expectancy that lead to something called “fast life strategy’– i.e., “live fast, die young, leave a lot of kids.”

        This was totally FW’s AP. She had MS, which was her excuse to get in as much attention from men, emotional abuse of her husband and children, drinking, partying, and mate-poaching as she possibly could. Even the fuckwit, in a rare moment of lucidity, commented that her drinking was bound to speed up her decline from MS. Her response was “YOLO.” Never mind her husband and teenage kids having to deal with her dying horribly in ten or fifteen years. Why care about them? YOLO!

        To me the fact that life is short means you should make an effort to do some good while you’re on this earth. That’s my idea of living well.

        • The AP in my saga has PCOS and has reportedly been alcoholic pothead since age 14. None of those things condemn her. The fact she’s a grifter who bilked kids’ college funds to shorten her lifespan is what defines her.

          Even if PCOS is overrepresented among female inmates incarcerated for violent crimes, elevated testosterone obviously isn’t an acceptable excuse and crime isn’t an unavoidable outcome. The majority of people with the disorder are decent and facing unfair challenges and obstacles. I also have a friend who’s been in recovery from alcohol abuse for half his life. He was never abusive to others and I don’t think he even intended to harm himself. Some people are just in emotional pain and eventually find better ways to manage it. I know people with chronic conditions like epilepsy and Ehlers Danlos for whom cannabis is a Godsend for reducing symptoms.

          So I think it’s just like you say. For whatever reason, some people respond to serious challenges by being generous and making the most of the life they have. The woman I know with Ehlers Danlos was awarded by the ACLU for doing something really brave that could easily have gotten her injured or killed. In the end the difference has to be reflection, principles, self knowledge, etc., all of which are learned thinking patterns. So are denial, blame-shifting, self pity, nihilism and selfishness.

    • “The other woman had to be broken deep inside in order to crawl in bed with a married man and except your leftovers instead of being strong enough to find an unattached man on her own. She had to be so broken to not care about you, the faithful wife, the children who would be wounded and all the lives destroyed by her actions and participation… and I bet she will not accept any responsibility for those actions. She will hold her hands up in false innocence when the curtain is pulled back to reveal the disgusting acts she committed against your family.”

      So true. OW eventually saw FW’s true face (abuser) and consequently left him. She subsequently sent me an apology, which was basically an example of how NOT to apologize. She took no responsibility (“IF I hurt you”, “I was operating under false pretenses most of the time” – EXCUSE ME, if you knew he was married there were no “false pretenses”). I never responded. Now she goes on social media and paints herself as the victim of abuse, with never a single mention of the fact that she got exactly what she deserved because she had no problem abusing me too, that she enjoyed “winning” over me (no self esteem except what she got from feeling superior to someone), that she was a colluder in the whole situation with eyes wide open. She didn’t and doesn’t care what she put me through (in her apology she said “I’m sure you were confused at times”, like, naw, really???) or my son. When she left my ex, she also abandoned my little boy (she’d been in his life for over 4 years – he was 5 when the affair began) and NEVER SAID A WORD TO HIM AGAIN. No apology. No explanation. She didn’t answer his messages. She didn’t sent her sympathy when FW killed himself (and I hold her more than a little responsible for that). Nothing.

      I found my own closure when I realized that I didn’t need apologies from either of them. It wouldn’t change how I feel. They are (were) both disgusting, selfish liars. Any apology wouldn’t be sincere (and wasn’t). FW never apologized. OW’s apology was to salve HER conscience. I wasn’t about to respond so SHE could feel better. And she only apologized because her little fantasy blew up in her face. Had FW been able to keep up the nice guy facade, she would have felt no remorse or need to apologize to me. It’s not sincere if you only realize how fucked up your behavior was when it comes back to bite you in the ass. My closure was realizing I would never understand how they could do what they did, because I am NOTHING like them. OW was never better than me. I am far better than her, because I am a good person. I don’t hurt people to get what I want.

      Anyway, sorry for the rant. This was very good. Thank you VH.

  • Dear AF,

    Here’s my two cents:

    I don’t believe in sex addiction.
    He will lose interest in your daughter once it’s all done so you will have custody and she’ll be doing great with you.
    He doesn’t really value your marriage just the services it provides.
    He’s going to keep reeling you in because he gets off on it.
    When you kick him out he will spend some time trying to control you, then he’ll just get tired of it and leave for good.

    That’s my guess after reading relentlessly for 3 years. You need to leave him because you’re caught in a game you can never win.

    Big hugs and you can do this. Chumps have your back ????

  • How he behaves during the divorce will tell you everything you need to know about his level of remorse, the degree to which he’s changed (or not), and how much he wants the best for you and your daughter vs how much he wants the best for his ????.

  • One of the hard things for many of us to grasp is that when a relationship is so terrible we would leave, were it not for the kids, then it is PAST time to leave because of the kids. Kids deserve to live in families with healthy relationships and behaviors.

    He is not really a good father. He treats women poorly—you and the women he had one night stands with (does he tell them he is married?) You will have to co-parent with him, but get therapy for yourself so you can understand and help your daughter thrive despite his selfishness and manipulations,

  • He did not want you back until you cut contact for a week. You don’t need to know anything else.

  • Sorry to bring Dr. Phil into this, but he’s right about some things. (For the record, I’m not necessarily a fan.) Anyway, I was flipping channels and I heard him say, “The best predictor of future behavior is relevant past behavior.” Obvious, but still true and applicable here.

  • After he cheats on you over and over again, he body shames you.
    There’s so much more…but that’s more than enough.
    He’s abusive. Stay away from him. Sorry.

  • I’m with CL, there’s nothing to save in this relationship. Dump him FOR your daughter and then use his little sex escapades as a reason for why you need primary custody. Your little girls deserves to grow up watching her mom being loved and cherished in a relationship, and this guy is not the one for that. Certainly, at a minimum, your daughter shouldn’t be forced to watch her mom being abjectly abused and disregarded by her father.

    And, this guy’s disgusting. Can you really fathom sleeping with him for the rest of your life? So gross. He will literally, by his own admission, stick his dick almost anywhere. You can do better (understatement).

  • If you found it that he was secretly dipping your toothbrush in the toilet, every day, for years, would you stay?
    Cheating is just another form of fucked up abusive behavior and it’s not your job to be punished by him. Let him fuck up his life on his own. At least you will KNOW FOR SURE that he’s not secretly dipping your toothbrush anymore.

  • While everything you describe in your letter is a signal corps of furiously waving red flags for you personally, please take a moment to consider your daughter’s life in 20 years. If you choose to continue to attach yourself to a lying, cheating a-hole, guess what kind of person your daughter will date and eventually marry. Do you want that life of misery for your daughter?

    By extricating yourself now, you’ll at least give your future adult daughter a fighting chance to attach to someone who won’t abuse her.

    1) Divorce your sick, abusive spouse pronto. 2) Do the work to “fix your picker” so that you might eventually find an acceptable partner. 3) Be a strong model for your daughter as someone who refuses to be a doormat.

  • AF,

    Get away from this psychopath.

    “A psychopath! Surely you exaggerate!”

    Girl, reread your own letter. He’s been fucking strangers your entire relationship.

    He’s cheated on every previous partner before you.

    He says he’s not sure if he ever loved you – his wife, the person he made vows to before friends, family, and God. It’s probably the only true statement he’s ever made.

    This is who he is. He’s been doing it for years. He’s not sorry. He enjoys hurting you.

  • First of all, I would like to thank Chump Lady for posting my story and to everyone who took their time to write a comment to it. It means a lot. However, I am still lost and contemplating all the time, what the right decision for me and my family would be. Which is really tiring and I just feel like I am exhausted from everything. I realise I am still a chump. I know he is a liar and a cheater, but it seems like he really wants to change and is committed to making it work. I just have this fear that if I don’t give my marriage another chance, I might regret it for the rest of my life. I don’t know why, I know I have all the reasons to leave and nobody would blame me or judge me for it. My therapist said that the 6 years of cheating and deceit would be enough for most people to leave. But why is not enough for me to leave? At least not with a sense of calmness. I just can’t let go and it is so frustrating, because I am torn between both options all the time. Of course the relationship as it was, is not acceptable to me. But what if we can build something new and keep our family together in a happy and healthy way? That is what’s haunting me. That if I don’t try I will never know, how it might have been.

    • Oh, and some other things most of you commented.. that he’s not a good father, that I should get primary custody, etc. And I don’t want to defend him but our family life didn’t suffer because of his affairs. He was always there, we did everything together and he was always very present as a father. I understand how somebody who cheats and lies is also ruining his family, but on paper he was a good husband and father. What I’m trying to say is, I don’t think our daughter ever felt that anything was wrong and she loves him a lot. He was also nice to me, helpful and didn’t treat me badly at all. That’s why D-day was such a shock as well and at first I just at laughed at that friend who was telling me what’s been going on. I truly didn’t believe him at first. He was literally living 2 parallel lives and I had no clue that anything was wrong, he was never distant or didn’t want me or anything, no red flags in that sense, I never had an urge to check his phone or anything else, that’s how good he was at separating our life from his shit.

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