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Need a Response to ‘His Cheating Had Nothing to Do with the Kids’

Dear Chump Lady,

I was wondering if you or a member of the Chump Nation eloquently or not, could explain to my best friend why the following comment infuriates me to frustration: “His cheating had nothing to do with the kids. He’s still a good dad.”



Dear Eleanor,

This whole set up is a no-win. And you need to question the best friend credentials of someone who puts you in this space. Let me explain.

1.) She’s defending a person who has grievously harmed you. He may have done X (hired hookers, given you an STD, wasted 14 years of your life), but he’s still Y (a fine baritone, a crackerjack plumber, an entertaining dinner guest.) You should not be put in the position of defending your abuser at any level, on any subject. Including your children. It’s a no fly zone.

I get the popular narrative, that she’s trying to save you from being a bitter harridan who will poison the children against their father, because of your petty grudge that he cheated. It is an effective threat. Why can’t we be friends For The Children?

Your job is to be the sane parent, follow the court orders, and love your kids. THAT IS ENOUGH. The kids’ relationship with their parents is THEIR job to figure out. You don’t need to prop your ex up, or be his PR agency anymore. “Dad may have cheated, but he still loves you! I respect him as a parent!” Not your job. The kids will determine if he shows up, or Disneys, or ghosts them for Schmoopie. That is THEIR complicated legacy. Their feelings about it are their business.

Your job is to recover, build a new life, and be the show up parent. Modeling mightiness goes a lot farther than platitudes. Your friend’s job is to STFU.

2.) She’s scolding you. Apparently, you have the wrong idea about this guy you were married to, and whose abuse you experienced firsthand. She knows better. She can tell you for a FACT that he’s still a “good dad.” Based on? Her opinion? Her personal experience of him as her father? (Not) Her values around parenthood? Define “good father.” This is totally subjective. You could say Joseph Stalin was a good dad. He gave his children dachas!

She has an OPINION that he’s a good father. She has a WISH that he’ll be a good father. She feels compelled to bludgeon you with this opinion during a very vulnerable time in your life.

3.) Having to convince others is not a good look. That whole defensive crouch, having to convince someone that no, being cheated on really was awful! is a no win. Please pass this cup of pain.

4.) She’s lecturing you on something she knows absolutely nothing about. Is she intimately aware of the details of his affairs, more than you are? Time spent away from the family? Monies diverted elsewhere? Does she believe that your children never saw you suffer? Does she think there is some separate parent compartment in a man’s life that has nothing to do with how he treats the mother of his children? Does she think those children aren’t watching?

Eleanor, she is completely out of her depth.

I’ll open the floor up to CN on how else you can respond, or not at all. CN, you got some betters ways to say STFU?

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.
  • Name one kid with a good dad who would rather that their dad spends time and money on an affair partner than on the kid.

    Those hotel rooms can pay for a whole lotta trips to the zoo or a weekend for the whole family to play in the hotel pool.

    Those secret dates caused him to miss out on time with kids.

  • I could also file this one under bitch cookie. So he cheated, but at least he pays child support! Bitch cookie. He gets credit for doing something of basic decency. Just shows the power imbalance.

    • I struggle with this one. Ex has always been generous with the child support. I know that is not typically the case so he chooses to be less of an asshole than he could have been. Can I acknowledge that he is good about the monetary child support while still thinking he is an asshole for leaving usfor Schmoopie and otherwise putting her before the kids whenever those priorities conflict? When the kids and Schmoopie are not getting along he takes her side every time. He doesn’t give the kids nearly enough of his time in general but he pays child support on time every time and more than enough. I would rather he put his kids first in other ways instead. I could manage without the child support.

      • Paying financial support is often the bare court ordered minimum. If he pays a bit more, slightly above minimum is still not much.

        Parenting is time, work, and putting the needs of your kids first. Many healthy single parents who date will be clear with their dates that their kids come first, and that is as it should be. Always siding with another adult and leaving your kids without emotional support is indeed shitty parenting, making kids feel like his love is conditional and that he won’t have their backs is shitty parenting. Not to say the kids are always right in all scenarios, far from it, but they should still feel loved, prioritized and cared for.

        • This ???????????????????????????????? X pays 1/90th of his monthly income in support. Yes, you read that correctly— one- ninetieth— he makes $90k per month and pays $1100. Never once offered to pay a penny above the minimum. I had to beg and remind him to reimburse for extra court-ordered expenses. I got a higher paid job and don’t even ask any longer. It’s not worth having to transact with that monster.

      • To answer your question: Yes, you can. So he’s overly generous with money? Call it guilt, call it blood money, call it compensatory damages. But given the way he prioritizes Schmoopie over his kids, don’t call it “being a good father.”

      • Beware of bad people who depend on worse people in order to look good in comparison. Assholes like this owe thanks to all the deadbeats in the world for making assholes look like upstanding citizens.

      • If you put out a contract on your spouse and pay the hitman as agreed, does this mean you are a good partner, a good parent, a good person?

        Affair = putting out a contract on your partner

        AP = hitman/hitwoman/hitperson

        If I betrayed my partner with whom I have a child, I am teaching my child that behavior is OK, my child would not be able to trust me, therefore she will feel unsafe. I would damage my relationship with her, and I would be putting her into a godawful situation to reconcile.

        Maintaining my trustworthiness with my child is the reason I stay on the high road when dealing with Traitor Ex. It’s critical that she has one trustworthy parent now more than ever.

        Cheaters, those who cheat with them, and lots of bystanders, completely fail to grasp these interconnections and implications. To do so would ruin their rationalizations and justifications for the illicit relationship, which they claim is about “love”.

        Love + cheating = oxymoronic

        A healthy person capable of love puts their sincere efforts into the relationship they are in, and exits if necessary before getting involved with someone else. That’s what I was taught in counseling and I agree. Being a good parent requires me to walk that talk.

        • “Affair = putting out a contract on your partner

          AP = hitman/hitwoman/hitperson”

          I like this comparison. I get sick of the “don’t blame the AP” schtick I see all the time. And actually, I think sometimes it’s the other way around – in the case of mate-poachers, it’s the AP who puts out the contract, and the FW who pulls the trigger. In either case, they are both equally guilty.

          • If I have to explain to someone why screwing around with someone who is in a committed relationship is wrong, and makes them responsible
            for doing harm, there is most likely nothing I can say that will change their mind.

            But the contract/hitman/hitwoman so far has left those idiots without an argument defending cheating accomplices.

            • I’ll quote again the Argentine comeback for exactly that situation: “No odies a la chancha sino al que la engordó” or “Don’t hate the pig but the one who fattened it.”

              You’re basically diplomatically agreeing not to blame the side piece and agreeing that it’s the adulterer who’s most at fault while, oops, still calling the side dish a pig. If the other person protests, you can always say you like pigs or “geez, it’s just a saying. Relax.”

            • If I have to explain to someone why screwing around with someone who is in a committed relationship is wrong…they are NOT my friend!
              No one needs a “friend” who is that clueless!!!

            • I’d then have to point out that feeding a pig is not the same as two humans conspiring to create a secret illicit relationship. But I think that would go over the heads of people who think AP’s are passive helpless innocent bystanders.

        • Velvet Hammer, I totally agree with your comment. “If I betrayed my partner with whom I have a child, I am teaching my child that behavior is OK, my child would not be able to trust me, therefore she will feel unsafe. I would damage my relationship with her, and I would be putting her into a godawful situation to reconcile.”
          Well, I am the one who left because while I had his back, he did not reciprocate. I am glad I did, especially since he replaced me within days of divorce finalized ????. My kids are tweens, and see me as the one who left, aka the marriage betrayer. I am the reliable parent that shows up, I know they only parrot what they hear at dad’s, but their comments are still hurtful. Keeping the high road is a lonely endeavour. I know that one day they’ll understand, but it still make for a lonely ten years before that. #shitsandwich

      • FW always tries to throw money at things so people don’t notice how awful he is. I still notice, but I’m afraid my kids haven’t figured it out yet. It’s just another manipulation tactic.

        • Yes, my ex mother in law used money and gifts to control people and make them obliged to her. It was nothing about generosity or being a good person.

        • Yes. He’s not rich but he can come up with a few thousand bucks here and there to pay the kids or take OW on a trip. Or buy car #13 that just sits in the yard.

      • Your ex is “throwing money” towards the kids as a way to appease his guilt for casting them aside for the OW, making her the priority and look like a devoted Dad. He still sucks if he continues to take OW’s side against his own kids. He still sucks for not spending time with his kids. His loss, as the kids, especially when they reach their 30’s will more than likely cast him aside.

      • He isn’t “generous” in financially supporting his children. That’s what parents are SUPPOSED to do. That many other parents get away with cheating their children doesn’t make your ex “generous”. It is literally the definition of a bitch cookie.

      • Be sure to put “less of an asshole than he could have been” on his Father’s Day card!

        Ug, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Why is the bar SO LOW for men?

        As a single working mom I feel like I am held to an impossible standard everyday, and I work my ass off to strive to meet it. I take care of all the things. I cook. I clean. I do the planning, the finances, the gifting. I do more work on the evenings and weekends to try to make up for the fact I’m a single income household. And on top of this, I try to dress nice, keep my own body healthy and clean, be social, and spackle some make-up over my wrinkles once in a while.

        But heck, a cheater throws some ducats in the gutter after his abandoned wife and kids, or makes the slightest effort to be in his kids lives, and we have to acknowledge that he is *good* at *something*

      • Most definitely you can acknowledge that. The definition of a good father is not “pays court ordered child support after he blew up his family and irreparably harmed his children.” So what. He’s not transformed to a good father bc he complies with a court order that wouldn’t even exist if he weren’t a bad father in the first place by blowing up his family!

      • FW took his adult kids/gf side too. The adults who couldn’t make it and he opened the front door to them. A big huge fight about our house, he took their side. Proving that “home” wasn’t gonna be mine to make. Another way he didn’t participate in “marriage”. But he did the “mirage” most definitely.

      • Well, then, if the financial support he gives you isn’t necessary, then I’d say the value if his paying it has dropped in value. So that leaves breaking up the family, not as much time with the kids, having kids as secondary in importance to the OW, showing disrespect to their mother through deception and emotional abuse. All this leaves marks on the children. I’m wondering what the Good Dad factor is. He doesn’t beat them? Just tell your friend this is too personal to discuss with her. She won’t hear you if you try to explain. She may just be misguided in trying to minimize a situation- or possibly she’s just f*cking stupid. Keep strong on the thoughts that he’s an asshole because he is. Some of the nastiest people in history were nice to some living thing. Doesn’t give them a get out of jail card.

  • Recommended reading for any chump with kids is “Parents Who Cheat: How Children and Adults are Affected When Their Parents are Unfaithful” by Ana Nogales PhD and Laura Golden Belolotti. My copy has highlights on nearly every page. Sorry I can’t write more now; I have a multitude of tasks this morning.

    • Do you have other comments about this book?
      From Amazon reviews:
      “ There is SOME good information in this book…….but. I am deeply offended by the author’s insistence that children of infidelity should “consider the REASON” for the infidelity. That, once the children are adults, they try to view their parents’ marriages iwith “adult” eyes, and that, in the process of trying to forgive, they try to learn the “reason” for the infidelity.”
      “ one of the items the author lists that the child must do is to try and understand the reason for adultery.

      Let me be clear. There may be reasons for divorce, BUT THERE IS NEVER A GOOD “REASON” FOR ADULTERY!!! There just isn’t. There is no acceptable justification for cheating!!! If you’re not happy in your marriage, work it out or get out, but infidelity is inexcusable!!! And telling children, of any age, that there might be a good reason for the cheating, also tells them that cheating may be acceptable!!!!”

      • ???????????????? I am the child of a cheater/chump couple. I purchased this book after someone mentioned it. I wouldn’t recommend it for the aforementioned reasons. Plus the author sees only two outcomes for us children-growing up to abuse or be abused. Not a hopeful or helpful message.

        • I don’t seek to understand bullies and sociopaths who harm others. If I know who I’m dealing with, I don’t inform them or try to show them the error of their ways. I’ll do a slow fade, distance myself or drop them like the hot rock they are.

      • Up and Out,

        I got this book a long time ago and I liked it. I don’t know that I have ever agreed with every single sentence or idea of anyone (I even change my own mind as time goes on!) The ratio is what I look for, and I did find the balance of what’s in this book helpful.

        The reasons for his cheating, given to my daughter, are as follows, and have nothing to do with me or the marriage

        1) His lack of integrity
        2) His lack of character
        3) entitlement
        4) His deep issues
        5) His emotional immaturity

        Traitor Ex has lied to our daughter too, and in cheating he has saddled her with serious emotional baggage that could have a devastating impact on her life, so it’s been very important to be honest, direct, clear, and make sure she knows cheating is all on him, no different than robbing a bank or buying his way into Stanford would be.

        I have found that how cheaters treat someone is how they treat everyone, another reason I think the Cheater As Good Parent trope is complete horseshit.

        • I like your reasons above.
          I don’t think those fall to mind first for most people. It took me years to fully understand that someone who can lead a secret life is not normal.

          • Me too. Like most of us, my initial response was to assume lion’s share responsibility and do some Pick Me dancing.

            (Like empathetic people do)

            The cheating accomplices accept that same display of blameshifting, never thinking that blame will be shifted in their direction too…..and the cheater fails to see that their Sole Mate ALSO misunderstands the correct placement of responsibility…..


          • My ex similarly lived a double life. I go off the rails when people suggest he could have done this AND still been a good parent. They don’t know the anxieties and self-doubt my daughter suffered, and continues to suffer. Her entire childhood revolved around dealing with what we now understand was a massive deception on his part. Just because a man is charming and has a great sense of humor, doesn’t make him a good parent, or even a minimally adequate parent.

            • So true!
              The one time I drunk texted Manchild was after a conversation with my adult daughter who told me she was proud of herself that she had finally gone the entire day without crying- this was 5 months after D-day
              Fuck these entitled bastards who think only of themselves

      • The Amazon comment seems to imply that the authors want the child to forgive the cheating parent. I don’t think that’s an accurate representation. My recollection is that they are very concerned that children of cheaters will become cheaters themselves, and why it’s important to help them understand what happened so they can avoid it, not excuse it. They explain why cheating is profoundly damaging to children of ANY and every age. They explain how and why the same cheater actions/interactions have different impacts on children of different ages and developmental stages.

        I planned to use the book to bolster my case for custody, but the Parental Responsibility Evaluator saw through Fraudster and really listened to tween, who told him what Fraudster had done to him and why he was terrified by any contact. The report was damning, and detailed. Fraudster read the report and emailed me and his own attorney that night that he was devastated by what he read and was dropping the case and no longer requesting custody or even parenting time. Of course, it took months of court hearings with him a no-show until the Magistrate had enough and said she’d get a hearing on his mental competency if he didn’t show up or sign off.

        I’m sorry this is such a packed day, or I’d get my copy and give some of the great lines from it.

        Another good book was “Cheating in a Nutshell: What Infidelity Does to The Victim (Asked, Answered and Explained” by Wayne and Tamara Mitchell.

        In a sense, I’ve arrived at Tuesday. I don’t remember the books clearly because I haven’t needed them for more than a year. I don’t remember key anniversary dates like D-Day. Unfortunately, (now)Teen is still damaged by what was done to him, and how Fraudster tried to draw him into a relationship with his a woman he had dated less than a week and introduced as then-Tween’s “new mom.”

        There’s a big difference between a divorce and a divorce due to cheating, and both these books make that clear.

    • Goodfriend, I’m almost 61 and still dealing with the ramifications of my father’s infidelity. I’ve never married, partly because I was afraid I’m marry an unfaithful alcoholic.

      Looking back, I’m not sure I’ve ever really trusted any man I dated.

      • My reason for living with my current partner. We are quite content and happy, but I don’t want to make it ‘official’ by legally marrying him. Gun shy.

  • Parenting is a 100% of the time job. Time a cheater spends “getting off” elsewhere is time not spent on family.
    Setting the example of lying and putting down a spouse does not help a family. They aren’t a good parent because they acted knowing what they were doing is wrong, would set an awful example, and would hurt the children. Period!
    They may be a good sugar daddy to their OW, but they aren’t a good dad to their kids.

    • Tell your friend that they may be a good person, but they are not a good friend. Being good at one part of your life does not excuse everything else you do. Cheaters might put on a show and seem like good parents, but that doesn’t mean it’s true and doesn’t excuse the damage they cause.

  • No response is a response and a VERY powerful one!!!!!! Fuck your friend….she isn’t your friend at all!

    If she asks why you ghosted her in the future just ignore her until you absolutely have to respond (like at a birthday party and she puts you on the spot in front of friends) then say “you aren’t a safe person”. If she looks bewildered say “you will figure it out when someone blows up your life”. And, walk away! Don’t waste any time, effort or energy on her. Trust she sucks just as much as your cheater.

    • I think if the ”friend” has till now been a very good friend – only OP knows whether this is true or not, or the context of the conversation etcetera – then one quite brief explanation as to why this friend is A/ wrong and B/ completely wrong and C/ entirely incorrect in their assertions. Explain very briefly that that kind of attitude is a dealbreaker and here’s a book to read (the ”when parents cheat” eg given in an earlier comment would be a good one). It is fine to acknowledge that the cheater may well support his children financially, do whatever it is that people who’ve chosen to have children are meant to do more or less, and that that is a good thing, but really, you aren’t in a position to defend any aspect of his character and nor will you ever be, and why would your supposedly very close friend feel so disposed?

    • My thoughts are similar–she is definitely not a friend. Friends are supportive, etc., and in this situation my first thought was the friend is judging the letter writer as friend seems to think LW is not giving the shitty one enough credit. The $ support is important to most people but nothing makes up for shitty treatment of their spouse and children. He did not have the children’s best interest, etc. in mind when he was screwing the OW and blowing up the family. He had his own wants in mind. Nothing makes up for his bad behavior. Why does LW’s friend want to defend a FW?

  • The thing is, all of our years of spackling means that even on the outside, we made him and are family unit look good. Normal. Decent. Functional. Only from the inside do we know how desperate to attribute good behaviors to a suspect mate. Because facing this all down is hard. So damn hard. The kids take what they get. But as they get older, many will love their dad DESPITE what they are instead of WHO they are.

  • A good father does everything in his children’s best interest. Destroying their mother and family by cheating isn’t being a good father. Setting a God awful example to daughters on how men should treat their wives isn’t being a good father. Showing their sons that cheating on their wives is okay isn’t being a good father. Your friend is an idiot. Get new friends.

  • My ex keeps saying I cheated on you not the kids. Well actually when you swore on your sons life you harmed him, when you lied to your children where you were you harmed them, when you slept with another woman and then their mother and risked her health after n operation then you harmed them, when you gaslight them for weeks saying your ‘just friends’ of someone you never mentioned before then you harmed them, when you called their mother ‘a safe place and crap in bed, look at her, who wants to be with that’ after 27 years and months of yo yo emails and texts etc about loving her, then you harmed them, when you scream at her when shes a mess that shes not listening to you or your feelings in front of them, then you harm them, when you lie about websites and dating apps and treat them too like they are stupid saying you was just ‘curious’, then you harm them, when you hide where you are and risk their family home, then you harm them, when you lie and tell others that they knew you were both unhappy after spending the 27 years together acting like your a honest happily married man, then you harm them.
    This is just a few examples of how cheaters and my FW harmed my adult but very traumatised kids. This is what he doesn’t acknowledge and tells them to move on. Why cause its all about him, what he feels and lost due to kids actions.
    They are truly nasty people and not good parents. I keep reminding myself that they look at me and see honesty, caring and truth. I will always have them look at me the same. I choose to be faithful even when at times i felt like I lived with a baby wanting attention and tried to always be there for him. He took that and ruined OUR family. He destroyed them in the process. That’s on him and I cant fix that. My kids have said to me they are sorry they cant fix him to be the dad and husband they and me thought he was. My reply, I don’t want an illusion or to prop a insecure mess anymore. I just wish they didn’t have to go through that. He clearly doesn’t care.

    • My kids used to adore their dad. Now they squirm away from hugs. At first FW tried to spin it that I had influenced them but he soon found out they have eyes, ears, minds, memories and judgments of their own. He has to walk on eggshells around them now because they call him out like barristers on every instance of hypocrisy, intellectual and emotional dishonesty and the like. I listen to the retelling of these exchanges and have a tact of steering these conversations into philosophical and political discussions about betrayal, selfishness, hypocrisy, sexual control, etc. It’s nothing new. This is how we’ve always talked about things and the kids naturally apply their perspectives and passions to wider events and problems in the world. It’s a way to let them express themselves and turn disaster into wisdom without encouraging them to sharpen their teeth on their dad or develop rudeness as a habitual trait. But I can’t honestly correct the kids’ views because they’re spot on and I think their discernment is going to serve them well as adults. I wish I had been as sharp as a kid as they are. It’s kind of impressive. I just loathe the price it came at. They’re smart enough to have learned about this stuff from books instead of living it.

      His relationship with the children is tenuous at best and he’ll never get back what he lost. I only care about what the kids lost but I find their attitude is similar to mine: you can’t lose what was never there. As if it wasn’t enough to see their dad be cruel during the affair or to figure out through basic math that their dad had forgone thousands of hours he could have spent with them in preference for “Beefy the Greedy Danger Pig” (one of their many nicknames for the AP), they’ll never forgive him for denying and deferring expensive specialized medical treatment for our middle kid because dad preferred to blow the money on a drunken affair and hide assets.

      • Hell of a Chump, deferring medical treatment for a child to spend the money on an affair…this is one of the worst things I’ve read on this site.

        I’m so, so sorry you went through this.

        • Thank you for the consensus. It’s still shocking. What’s worse is that the treatment– though it had been performed safely for decades for closely related conditions and is now becoming standard for my son’s condition– was considered “controversial” in some corners. I worked with medical lawyers at the time and knew that, in custody disputes, accusations of “subjecting” minors to “experimental” treatment could too easily be weaponized. I also knew that dependency courts don’t operate under the standard rule of law and can sometimes be medically illiterate so it’s playing with fire to raise the debate in the first place.

          Shortly after telling me we didn’t have the money for this protocol, FW began engaging in a DARVO campaign to paint me as an “unfit parent.” His accusations in this regard were totally fabricated but only because he hadn’t found anything real to nail me with. Considering the legal climate in that period, even if I’d somehow scrounged up the money on my own, spearheading those treatments for my son risked handing FW potential grounds to take full custody.

          In retrospect it’s pretty clear that impugning my capacity as a good parent was just meant to terrorize me and get me back in my cage. It seems unlikely FW would have wanted the children full time because this would have disrupted his party lifestyle. But back then I had no clue what he was up to and simply took the implied threats as genuine intent. I started having recurring nightmares about it, stopped sleeping and lost so much weight I was banned from giving blood. I instinctively knew FW would drop the ball on our son’s health if I wasn’t around so my own health crisis drove me to finally reach out to a lawyer friend and start getting ducks in a row.

          My daughter didn’t cry when I kicked FW out. But for a year she would periodically burst into tears remembering how dad hid and squandered money while her brother and the family went without.

    • I agree with every bit of this. My kids were adults dd1 and my son was living at home then. My adult son picked me off the floor. He was in his own home 2 yrs later when I went to see him to say we had dd2 and that I was divorcing his father. His response was he’s an asshole and you should have got rid of him years ago. Our daughter tried to have some kind of relationship with him so her sons could have him in their lives. He gaslighted her and just plain lied about so much that she stopped talking to him. He harassed her and her husband, called names, stalked her made fun of me to her and then turn around and text hey we need to talk or when can I come see the boys. Her godmother gave her a hard time because she didn’t invite him to the babies baptism, saying he loves you and would move mountains for you and your brother. She tried to say I know your mom is hurting but this is between your parents not you. He’s a good father. BOOM!! My daughter told her that she didn’t know him as a father , she wasn’t in the house growing up with his drinking and mood swings and walking on eggshells. Treating our mother like crap and cheating on her and now he’s playing poor pitiful dad. Our lives were hard with him and mom did everything she could to make a life with him. So no I do not feel bad about not inviting him. Out of the mouths of babes. 32 yrs almost 33 in the next few days, divorce pending just waiting on a judge to sign. Son in law asked him to please stop harassing his wife. His response was GFYS. Not I just want to talk to my daughter. One of the last text he sent her said My life sucked with your mom and you and your brother were a big part of that…… Father of the year goes to…… Yeah what a great dad…..

      • What a monster. Tell her to save that text to show any of the naysayers … or a judge if he continues his harassment (or God forbid if she lives in a state that goes after adult children for filial support unless you can prove abuse/estrangement).

    • Change 27 years to 37 years and no children, but the secret life and lies and hurt reverberated throughout my extended family just the same. He conned EVERYBODY. One of my best friends was completely devastated, my sister as well. Betrayal spreads pain much further than immediate family. To be vulnerable and trust another human is NORMAL. To be incapacitated by the pain of 37 years of lies and infidelity is NORMAL. Keeping secrets from your wife for half a lifetime is NOT normal. I’m the lucky one here for getting myself out within 2 weeks of discovery. Yet the pain is relentless, not as potent, but no question this has changed me in ways I feel challenged by every day. This past year I have sold my home of 30 years, left a beautiful garden, and am looking for work. At 68. I have integrity and morals and the ability to adapt to change. I am the lucky one here. No question.

  • I actually THOUGHT my Cheater Narc Ex would be a decent dad, at least. I thought he loved his kids.

    I knew I’d do the heavy lifting as a parent; I always had. I knew I’d be the one making sure they had a home and stability; I always had. But I thought that, especially with less responsibility for the kids and without me there annoying him because I was ‘interfering’ in his parenting and his relationship w/them, he might actually enjoy his time with the kids, have fun with them. My standards were low by that point, a Disney dad would have been GREAT!

    I already knew he wouldn’t step up his parenting game; in our jurisdiction, 50% parenting time for each parent is absolutely the default and the norm, but he never even asked for that. By the time of Affair #2, the kids were 11 and 12, old enough that they had some say in the custody split. We suggested to him that he have them every second weekend plus about three hours, 2 evenings a week (when I was working). He immediately suggested the weekend not start until Saturday morning, which because of the kids’ sports, meant not until Saturday lunch time. So he would have the kids 15% of the time.

    Of course he frequently let me know last minute that he ‘couldn’t’ take the kids on his weekends, and didn’t protest when I didn’t always give up my next weekend to him. He took his only vacation time of the year and went away w/Schmoops.

    Within about 8 months, he ‘had’ to temporarily be away for work (to Schmoopieville, what a coincidence!). So now he took the kids every second weekend, for about 36 hs. That ‘temporarily’ stretched out until it became clear it was permanent.

    The thing that still truly amazes me is that he was ASTOUNDED that the kids became less and less interested in spending time with him, often mad at him, and harder for him to deal with. Then, as he became angrier at this situation he had created, they started refusing to see him.

    I hadn’t realized how much I’d been propping him up. How much of his ‘love’ for the kids was because I made it easy. How much of the kids impressions of him were do to my spackling for him.

    Selfish entitled people often have affairs. Selfish entitled people are not good parents. There’s a common denominator here.

    • KarenE, same here. I believed that FW would be a good dad. Why wouldn’t he be? I didn’t realize that I was the one doing everything and he just had the appearance of being a good dad. FW had no real obligations as a parent during our marriage so it was all an illusion. He has no idea what to do (nor did he want to) when he had to actually take care of his son (at 9+ years old) without me.

      My DDay happened quickly and was the day FW also walked out and moved in with AP… so I didn’t have a chance to catch up to who FW was without the mask. I had to learn in real time just how selfish FW was. That he was obsessed with being with AP ….so his son and I were just in the way of their twu luv. It didn’t take long for FW to become abusive and angry towards son. He started treating him like trash. He was verbally abusive and then became physical — shoving, hitting and holding him down.

      Eleanor, you can handle this friend any way you like but I point blank told anyone who said that FW was “still a great dad” or that FW “only left YOU (me)” — I was clear and drew the line in the sand. I said “I thought he was a good dad too. He isn’t. He’s selfish and abusive to his son and unfortunately I’ve had to go back to lawyers to protect our son. I haven’t done anything to take away time from FW. But my son should not have to endure name calling, physical abuse, and having the police called on him (at the ages of 11 and 12! By the idiot AP and FW). But if you don’t believe me, please feel free to talk to the many witnesses including my book club group who didn’t believe me either until the police called me in the middle of a book club meeting at Starbucks. Or the teachers who pulled me aside upset by the treatment they’ve witnessed when FW would drop son off at school — son would be filthy and upset.”

      That shuts up ignorant pie holes quickly. Of course FWs affect the kids too. Even when the abuse isn’t as clear as in my case. And it’s not our jobs to fix it or sugar coat it.

      • “I believed that FW would be a good dad. Why wouldn’t he be? I didn’t realize that I was the one doing everything, and he just had the appearance of being a good dad. FW had no real obligations as a parent during our marriage, so it was all an illusion. He has no idea what to do (nor did he want to) when he had to actually take care of his son”

        This! I realized after a while that FW didn’t know how to just BE with our son. He jammed their time together full of activities (park, skateboarding, arcade, movies, restaurants, etc.). Or worst of all “play dates” with OW’s kids. There was never time for our poor kid to just chill out. He invariably came back to me an absolute mess emotionally – angry, sullen, tired, defiant. Half my time with my son was spent helping him defrag from the chaos and constant activities of his dad’s house.

        FW also didn’t do any parenting unless he could show it off. He either did things publicly, or he photographed and/or wrote about EVERYTHING he did with our kid so all his friends could ooh and ahh and tell him what a wonderful father he was. He thought I never did anything with our kid because I didn’t put anything on social media. I don’t know, I preferred to actually spend time with my son rather than be a journalist the whole time. Meanwhile, I did ALL the heavy lifting parts of parenting (school stuff, doctors, making sure he had clothes and shoes, etc.). FW even sent back all the clothes dirty in bags, when I was careful to only send clean, folded clothes.

        FW died a year ago, and now I am a single mom for real. Absolutely NOTHING has changed as far as my parenting workload. I just don’t have to drive my (crying, miserable) child back and forth twice a week. I don’t have to fight over every decision. And I get to hug my son good night and good morning every day.

    • This????????????????????????

      XH fought for 50% even though he hadn’t seen our youngest (11) in over a year (too busy with the whores). After the divorce, there were years when he choose to see her an hour every few months. We live 5 miles apart. She’s our youngest. I propped him up for the entirety of our 25 year marriage. I thought he was a great dad…. Nope! It was all me. After Dday his true sociopath self was evident in his choices. Heartbreaking. Our kids are grown now and he continues to hurt them with his actions. The latest outrage is when he whipped out a bong and smoked pot in the house with our newborn grandson there — XH is a 55 year old lawyer—-when our son confronted him in fury, XH laughed and gaslit/minimized. Son left immediately and said that he will never allow XH to be around our grandson. Son told his sisters and they are outraged also. I’m so upset I feel sick to my stomach. XH is truly evil.

      • Sounds like your ex is, pathetically, trying to be younger than his years. What a loser.

    • “I actually THOUGHT my Cheater Narc Ex would be a decent dad, at least. I thought he loved his kids.”

      Yep. Pretty much everything you said, KarenE.

      I was totally shocked when I filed for divorce and he was too busy running around with the other woman to even see the children. At that point our three oldest kids (girls) were all nearly adults, but the two younger boys were still early teens. I thought he at least liked the boys.

      There was an overnight event that he had done with the boys for several years. He bailed at the last minute. They were so hurt. I think that was the moment that they started emotionally shutting him out. It’s been over 10 years now. Four of the kids have absolutely nothing to do with him.

      During the marriage I spent a tremendous amount of time spackling for him. I told the kids he loved them. I told MYSELF he loved them.

      I was wrong.

    • KarenE, everything you said, same. Now I realize that I was pretty much a parenting coach for him. He just mimicked what I did. Without me, he just floated off to outer space. He has no clue what parents do.

      • “Now I realize that I was pretty much a parenting coach for him. He just mimicked what I did.”

        This. It was true not just in parenting but in any social situation. I was his “social seeing eye dog”.

        They also ride on our social coattails. People thought “BTL is fun and friendly and has a good heart. FW must be the same.” All he had to do was stand in the background with his mouth shut. ????????

  • There’s no end of advice, comments, from people who don’t understand the situation, the children’s intense pain etc. I regret the time I spent trying to explain it to them. Now wish I’d just said, ‘Fuck Off!’ and walked away.

    • “There’s no end of advice, comments, from people who don’t understand the situation…”

      So true, about so many things.

      • You are right. But there is something about being a female chump that turns you into public property. Men you hardly know suddenly feel that they have the right to turn up unexpectedly at your house in the evening and be let in for a chat, mothers you’ve never previously talked to come up to you in the schoolyard and offer inane advice, etc etc. And as others have pointed out here the women who have the most insulting questions have often flirted heavily with, or slept with your husband.

    • K-Robin – Your comment about the children’s intense pain makes me think of a reply I sent to a former friend recently. She is a highly adored children’s pastor at the church where our family has attended for 15 years. She was a guest at my wedding 25 years ago, sent baby gifts for our kids, etc. About six months after my marriage imploded (STBX had an affair with a friend of mine – we all went to church together, kids are friends, etc), I’d heard my pastor friend was meeting regularly with ex-friend AP. I questioned my pastor friend about it. She said to me “yes we’ve been friends a long time” but that she was now feeling “called” to “minister” to the AP. Then pastor friend disappeared from my life. It’s been one of many shocking losses. Pastor friend also never once checked in on my young daughter – part of the children’s ministry – who still attends the church (I do not) and crosses paths w the AP every single Sunday. After a couple years of dead silence, the children’s pastor texted me this past spring asking if we would be attending a children’s event at church (where the AP would also be present). My reply to her: “I guess I should thank you for reaching out? But I haven’t heard from you in two years. There is no way to verbalize how hurtful your silence has been. This text feels less like genuine care for our family, and more like reconnaissance. There has been zero guidance from you or anyone else in church leadership on how to navigate a very painful, very complicated situation. It’s clear who the church has rallied around, and it’s not my family. I wish you could bear witness to all the times Daughter has wept and asked why.”

      I really wish all the “Christians” who’ve gone MIA could be forced to observe tender-hearted Daughter w tears streaming down her face, or passionate Son punching a hole in the wall bc of his frustrations over his dad’s cheating, or resolute Daughter asking why our friends don’t invite us over anymore. I wish all these “Christians” could see how their silence in the aftermath of our family trauma has made everything worse.

  • Interesting that this is the topic today after I shared with a male coworker yesterday that “my ex was a lousy husband but a good dad” to which my coworker replied “no, he was a lousy dad too because he didn’t show them how to treat their mother well or how to have a loving marriage”. Ooff. This coming from a guy. Time to change my narrative! Time to set your friend straight too.

  • The easy visible tasks of parenting don’t make you a good Dad. Real parenting involves being around when it is boring and inconvenient.

    • Exactly, Looby-Lou. It’s disheartening the amount of Chumps here who don’t seem to get this either.

  • However a man treats the mother of his kids shows what kind of parent they are. It also works the opposite way also.

  • When you go through a divorce, you discover not just how much you spackled for him! But how you made excuses, spackled for friends and family. They, like your ex didn’t just become soulless people. You just noticed the lack of character. Time for a complete spring cleaning of all the trash in your life

    • It’s the spackle the public sees, not what’s underneath. We do such a good job of spackling the public cannot comprehend when we voice the truth.

    • This.

      Seeing the cheater with clear eyes was just the beginning. Once I took off the rose-colored glasses, I realized for the first time in my life that I was surrounded by garbage people. I cut off a TON of people in the span of months and never looked back.

  • I remember being told by my mom when I was young and single was that the best gift I could give my children is to love their mother and treat her good. Cheating doesn’t do that, it harms the children…

    • Too bad your ex wasn’t raised with the same values. Kids recognize those relationship dynamics even if it takes them a lifetime to realize it. I’ve seen adults tormenting themselves aloud over why they’re avoiding visiting a particular elderly parent as the parent dwindles away in a facility or goes into decline. Then the stories come out. The failure to bond with kids was originally on the part of the parent in question. It can come down to “always seemed bored to spend time with me as a child” or “never really approved of me unless I was the star of something,” or “treated my other parent badly.” They may try to increase their attention to the ailing parent as an exercise of character but it is what it is. I think the real tragedy is when adult children have internalized an abusive parent’s contempt for the victim parent but the other scenario– an adult child of a narcissist realizing they’re not that moved by the narcissist’s decline or death– is more biblical irony than biblical tragedy. Any tragedy in it was what the adult child suffered at the hands of a narcissist as a child.

  • Any sperm donor can father a child, but it takes a man of character, conscience and courage to raise one up through adulthood.

    A dad whose heart beats for his children has a mind set upon them. He will recognize that once he has that child(ren), he has become second. His selfishness will become unselfish; his wants will align with their needs; his time will include them; his desire will take a backseat to their formative childhood years in need of his guidance. A committed father will love and support the child’s mother in ways that build strength as a unit and among individuals in that unit.

    If a sperm donor later chooses to trade fatherhood and parenting for selfishness and desire that breaks up his family – you can bet it has everything to do with the kids – and he is not a good dad. He wasted and destroyed valuable opportunity and life purpose.

  • Pick one:
    “John Edwards’ having a secret child out of wedlock while his wife was dying of cancer had nothing to do with the kids. He’s still a good dad.”
    “Bernie Madoff’s leadership of a $64 billion Ponzi scheme had nothing to do with his foundational work on lymphoma research. He was still a good philanthropist.”
    “John Wayne Gacy’s raping and torturing of 33 young men had nothing to do with his commitment to fundraising community projects. He was still a good party clown.”

    • Bernie’s two sons are dead, one from cancer, the other suicide. His sister and her husband dead from murder and suicide. Cheating of any kind is a killer.
      John Edwards was handsome so he got away with cheating on his wife and his children. That mistress……I am often embarrassed to be a woman when I see the absolute disregard other have for the wife.
      Switching sexes. My ex s-in-law left and never paid a penny, never tried to have a relationship while they were growing up. Their successes are because of their dad’s love and care. Period.

  • I’ve heard “you can tell he really loves you” and very similar “he pays bills, right?” Yes. He cooks dinner (when he’s home) too- is that supposed to keep me here?

    Cheating. Lying
    It has everything to do with being a dad. It does hurt the kids and everyone involved. Thanks ignorant best friend kicking me while I’m down.
    I recently had a conversation just like this with my step daughter and “husband”. They were defending a cheating dad. How “nice” he is and how he looks sad sitting at all their games. I felt more like I didn’t belong here than EVER. What am I doing? What has happened

    • By “husband,” in scare quotes, do you mean that you are still married and attempting to stay together?
      What kind of help do you need, Shann?

    • Shann, if your step-daughter and husband do not share your values, it’s okay to leave.

  • I sincerely hope my ex is a good father, because my daughter deserves it. He’s good at the public impression management portion, but bad at the complexities and difficulties of parenthood. I think he loves her as much as he’s capable of loving someone not himself. Hopefully it’s just good enough.

  • “I hadn’t realized how much I’d been propping him up. How much of his ‘love’ for the kids was because I made it easy. How much of the kids impressions of him were do to my spackling for him.”
    KarenE-so this!!☝️
    I was always trying to readjust the picture of him for my kids. I wanted them to have a great dad who loved them unconditionally as I did.
    He didn’t mean to pick up that kitchen chair up and smash it to the floor in pieces kids! He’s really stressed with his very difficult job. He’s upset his dad has MS. He’s scared of aging.He’s exhausted from all the traveling he does. He’s unable to control his temper. He came from a culture that yells and screams so much but they all still love one another. He’s just very intense. He’s an artist, they are like that.
    He loves you all, he just can’t control his emotions at times. He erupts with anger just like his father did to him. He’s trying to be better. He feels bad for losing his temper.
    On and on and on I would spackle away. I would tell them every good thing I knew about their dad and underline it with emphasis and tell them how fortunate we all were to have him in our lives. I was trying to convince myself probably more than them. I wanted him to be a good person.
    When he left me for Schmoopie, he told me over and over he had a good relationship with his kids, basically saying he didn’t need me to intercede on his behalf.
    I knew that was not true and I was right. My youngest son is the only one of the three that is trying to maintain some kind of quasi connection. But he realizes how f’ed up his dad is too and sees that his actions don’t line up with his words.
    He’s in the state I was at, desperately trying to turn him into the dad you so wish he was in your mind, instead of the actual one he is. He can’t disguise his lack of caring anymore behind a ruse of stress, health issues or mental turmoil.
    Everyone has choices how to show up in this world. He chose as a dick to his family and as a superhero to the rest of the world. Those two worlds have collided and the outcome has not been pretty.
    A good dad does not save whales during the week and drown babies on the weekend. You are either a good person or you are not, excuses for your rotten behavior can’t change you into someone else. At the end of the day, you are still a bad husband, bad father, bad human, broken man. It’s who he is. It can’t be fixed no matter how many stars we wish on.

  • I got scolded like this so much when I desperately needed support. I found out later some of those people were screwing him too. Life improved when I cut out everybody who wanted to lecture me rather than support me when I was going through hell.

  • I think people that minimize this sort of thing do so because the the truth is so devastating. It’s not an excuse, just an observation. Four years later my oldest son now 23 will still not speak to his mother. He tells it’s not because we’re divorced, but because of the way it ended. He said it was difficult watching me be devalued in the way that I was. “She cheated on me too,” were his words.

    • Yeah, they minimize because the “truth is devastating.” Looking in the mirror might be tough if cheaters acknowledged the full extent of the damage they’ve caused. Better to minimize, which, of course, fucks with the family even more because it’s 100% invalidating.

      Reminds me of…

      The Narcissist’s Prayer

      That didn’t happen.

      And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.

      And if it was, that’s not a big deal.

      And if it is, that’s not my fault.

      And if it was, I didn’t mean it.

      And if I did, you deserved it.

  • Time to find better friends. This one is Switzerland at best, a spy at worst.

  • My ex loves his kids or so he claims. He had no issue taking them to his smoochie house for thanksgiving before our divorce to play nice. He had no issue FaceTiming with her in my house while my son was listening or calling her while at target with my daughter. How I know? They told me. If we think for a second this behavior was not recording and imprinted on their memory, we are mistaken.
    Good parents protect their kids of questionable actions. Till this day, four years after, my daughter who is now 8, still asks me for things. The fact is, she loves her dad, but she also love me.
    Cheating affects everyone. Their life was turned upside down. They are the ones having to schlep their belongings every 4 days, from house to house to not fault or their own.
    Whoever told me that cheating was an act of aggression and abuse ONLY towards me, is not seeing the complete picture.

    • The kids have every right to resent the schlepping. If I had my time again I would insist on an arrangement that minimised that

  • This is no “best friend” by my definition. She’s delusional and a bitch. She’s getting off on hurting you at your most vulnerable. No different than if she kicked you in the back if you fell down in front of her. None. If it were me, I’d stop talking to her. Put her in the “not a friend” zone. After Dday I discovered there were a lot of people in my life who simply weren’t my people and had to go. The ones who stood by me and didn’t further abuse me with comments like the one this bitch made were few but precious. As for a retort, why bother. If I have to tell someone how to treat me, I’m wasting my breath. Block her and protect yourself. We are here for you. We get it.

    • I think that sometimes people are just ignorant. RIC and the patriarchy have done a good job of normalizing infidelity in society. It is pervasive. So, comments like these may be a great teaching moment for the chump to get someone to question social mores and think for themselves. Unfortunately a chump in the middle of trauma will not have the bandwidth to deal with an insensitive and tone-deaf ‘best friend’. Best saved for those already at meh. Truly sometimes this can’t be understood until you walk thru the fire yourself— and THAT I would wish on no one, ever.

  • A corollary to this is what my x said to our kids: “This is between your mom and me.”

    FW was stunned when he ran that up the flagpole and no one saluted. Our adult son said, “That’s so effed up.”

    An affair isn’t a precision air strike. Lots of people suffer collateral damage. Selfish FWs simply don’t see it that way (or don’t want to see it that way).

    When cheaters realize that post-affair life isn’t what they expected, that too many people (including their own kids) want nothing to do with them, that colleagues treat them (ahem) differently, they become enraged and self-pitying. And they blame everyone but themselves.

    • Asshat’s response to my asking him what about the kids and if they’re going to be ok, “Kids bounce.”

      Yeah–right on their heads. And shrapnel from the air strike pierced their hearts.

    • My ex said it was between “just us” too, but our offspring were in college at the time and saw it all go down because they were commuter students. When he abandoned the marriage, he abandoned the family. Both of them separately said that they felt like the divorce was their break from their dad too.

  • Best response to this horse doody? Some transparently idiotic excuse for ringing off–“Sorry, gotta run, late for my mani-pedi!” Then just ghost them. Poof. They no longer exist.

  • If I really want to bother getting into it with someone who believes you can lie and conduct a secret sexual double life and be a good parent, I ask THEM to explain themselves to ME. I’ll listen patiently, maybe asking more questions, and I will not assist them in extricating their foot from their mouth.

    If a child was a houseplant, I suppose you could make this argument. But if being a good parent includes modeling boundaries, character, integrity, ethics, morals, communication skills, and relationship skills, I don’t see how you can. And being a good parent means recognizing my shortcomings and character defects, and working on them, not being perfect but a positive work in progress IMHO.

    I was a psych major. Children learn by modeling. To me, being a good parent has always meant monitoring my behavior to make sure it’s worth copying, top of the list is AM I TRUSTWORTHY? Trust and safety are the foundation of any healthy relationship, and if I am not trustworthy, not a safe person, NONE of my relationships are “good”. I don’t believe you can have affairs and claim good parenthood. I believe you can end a relationship ethically and claim good parenthood, if your conduct was ethical during the partnership.

    If you’ve demonstrated you are untrustworthy, your child cannot trust you. Where is the “good parent” in that?

    In general, I am not going to debate anyone who thinks affair partners are blameless, or that parents who have secret sexual double lives are good parents. I don’t think Bernie Madoff was a good parent any more than any other liar cheater thief.

    Good is as good does.

    • “Trust and safety are the foundation of any healthy relationship, and if I am not trustworthy, not a safe person, NONE of my relationships are ‘good’.”

      Yes!!! That’s it. 1000 times yes.

      …which is why I’m in shock that x’s best friend…the guy who claimed that x betrayed him, too–still remains buddy buddy with the guy. I don’t get it. And I know for a fact that x tried to get this guy to cheat on his wife, probably because dragging others into your mud makes you feel less dirty by comparison.

      Some might read this and speculate that the friend maintains relations because the friend is also a cheater. But I know this friend is not a cheater. I’m confident of this (says the chump who didn’t know for years that her own husband was cheating on her in her own effing bed) ????????‍♀️.

      • It’s because their friendship is shallow, Spinach, S.H.A.L.L.O.W. If it were deep and honest, there’d have to be a reckoning. And you don’t want that! So you keep it about fishing and ‘how ’bout the Bruins,’ then everything is just peachy. Yup, just smooth sailing and no worries.

    • Cheater Haiku

      If you lie cheat steal
      You are not a good parent
      Teaching to do wrong

      What I do matters
      Children copy what we do
      I’m responsible

      Doing the wrong thing
      Is handicapping my child
      They learn by watching

      A good parent models
      Showing their child the right tools
      Success will be theirs

      I know what right is
      I must not steer my child wrong
      I am their model

      • TYPO…

        Line 1 of #4 is off….it should read:

        Good parents model
        Showing their child the right tools
        Success will be theirs

        My daughter trusts me
        My child knows I’m not perfect
        She knows I don’t lie

        • You think nothing’s wrong
          Teaching kids to lie and cheat
          In what universe

    • Wow.

      The parents learned that they did not raise a saint!

      I didn’t know the requirements for sainthood were so low! That the only requirement for sainthood is that I not screw around with men in committed relationships! Or not cheat on my partner!

      I have been wondering why people cheat forever! Well, if you have to be saint to be honest and up front with your romantic partner, no wonder everyone fails!

      Yay! I have always wanted to be a saint!

      I now anoint myself St. Velvet Hammer!


  • That by your husband’s actions your children are now in the position of having this “complicated legacy” is a huge indicator that he is not, in fact, a good father. A good father wants to spare his children from unnecessary burdens; a cheating father imposes a huge one.

  • “You could say Joseph Stalin was a good dad. He gave his children dachas!”

    I decided to look it up purely out of curiosity, and…

    “Yakov Iosifovich Dzhugashvili[a] (31 March [O.S. 18 March] 1907 – 14 April 1943) was the eldest child of Joseph Stalin, the son of Stalin’s first wife, Kato Svanidze, who died nine months after his birth. His father, then a young revolutionary in his mid-20s, left the child to be raised by his late wife’s family. In 1921, when Dzhugashvili had reached the age of fourteen, he was brought to Moscow, where his father had become a leading figure in the Bolshevik government, eventually becoming head of the Soviet Union. Disregarded by Stalin, Dzhugashvili was a shy, quiet child who appeared unhappy and tried to commit suicide several times as a youth. Married twice, Dzhugashvili had three children, two of whom reached adulthood.

    Dzhugashvili studied to become an engineer, then – on his father’s insistence – he enrolled in training to be an artillery officer. He finished his studies weeks before Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. Sent to the front, he was imprisoned by the Germans and died at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1943 after his father refused to make a deal to secure his release.”


  • With friends like that, who needs enemies? That type of remark is just so typical almost like the cheater’s handbook. I guess the best thing is to just walk away and block this “friend”. No one seems to think of the impacts of cheating. It took time, effort, lies, money and more for him/her to have an affair. He/she basically took that time, effort, money and more to cheat (yes, it can be any pronoun here).
    I am not sure why people bother to think that something that insensitive is trying to put a positive light on the cheater. It doesn’t. The bottom line is the cheater blew up and robbed a family. That is not an example of a good parent. Block the friend, she may be a cheater too.

  • Dear Eleanor,

    Maybe it will help provide perspective that in California, Connecticut and Hawaii, your ex’s behavior could potentially have led courts to grant you an order of protection if he engaged in what is called “coercive control,” an act or pattern of acts that may not include physical assault but may involve threats, humiliation, subjugation and intimidation or other abuse (including financial) used to harm, control, punish, or frighten a victim. In Hawaii and California, this pattern of behavior can lead courts to grant victims full custody of children. In Scotland, the pattern of behavior can land an offender up to fourteen years in prison and in the UK, this could get an offender five years in prison. You can read about it here:

    Your friend is living in the dark ages. In my experience as a former advocate for dv survivors, cheating is virtually never “just cheating” but typically involves other forms of serious abuse and is categorically on the spectrum of intimate partner violence. Also in my experience, bystanders who make apologias for abusers or minimize abuse are almost invariably backstabbers. The attitude is not a minor quirk but more of a sweeping statement on character. In other words, take care that this friend isn’t reporting to your ex behind your back or is playing a part in getting information to him that could compromise your well being or safety or that of your children. It’s shocking when people close to a victim do this but extremely common. I could go into a whole explanation of why this happens but suffice it to say that some people are primed in childhood to go into an automatic boxer’s clinch with the most dangerous person in their midst even if this would seem to be against their stated value system or against their own best interests. I’ve seen it happen over and over. It’s like they can’t control themselves.

    Here’s a book I always recommend: “Coercive Control” by forensic social worker and veteran advocate and researcher Evan Stark. Stark has been on the front lines of the domestic violence shelter movement since the 1970s and is currently behind the movement for coercive control laws to be added to domestic violence statutes so that victims and their children can get protection before an abusive relationship escalates to violence. Stark says that, in his long experience, most victims report that it’s the psychological and emotional abuse and control within domestic abuse that’s the most paralyzing and damaging. In Connecticut, Stark helped lobby for Jennifer’s Law which was name for two domestic homicide victims: Jennifer Dulos whose controlling, cheating ex– who had not reportedly been previously violent– killed her, possibly with the help of his mistress ( )during child custody proceedings and Jennifer Magnano (, whose ex killed her during divorce and custody proceedings. In the latter case, the killer had reportedly been violent to his wife and sexually abusive to his step-daughter but authorities dragged heels in charging him for these things.

    If you want to boost your perspective and resolve by being around the people who set the standard of fighting against victim-blaming and abuser-coddling, the political push for coercive control protections can always use more advocates. The bonus is gaining permanent emotional immunity to apologists.

    • Standing next to Hell of a Chump here!

      This is where I got help.
      This is where I got educated.
      They believe that cheating is domestic violence/abuse.
      They believe both men and women can be violent.

      I do not believe a person can be a perpetrator of violence and be a good parent. If you are a cheater or an AP, you are a perpetrator. Period. And you are harming the involved children. Period. To keep denying that and rubbing it in your children’s faces and defending your actions keeps the re-traumatizing train rolling. You need to go back to Love School because you failed.

      In my experience, it has been crucial to stay in daily contact with all the people and resources to keep the brain fog from rolling in and clouding the truth about what cheating is and how it affects everyone around the cheaters. Trusted friends, therapist, this site, my books, my 12 step meetings, and calling the Center For Domestic Peace hotline toll-free
      number and talking with the phone counselor all help to keep my thinking in the right place and the weeds out.

      • Tell it like it is. Frankly I feel it’s a disservice to survivors to pretend cheating isn’t on the continuum of DV/intimate partner violence if only because all the truly salvational theories, insights, resources and advocacy approaches– ones that actually have the power to restore survivors’ perspectives and cut through captor bonding– originate in DV research and advocacy.

  • Why people try to make these things look good escapes me still. I still have people like that in the outskirts of my life, and my ex’s family still insists that he is a wonderful father. A friend of mine pointed out one time that some people prefer la-la land where everyone is good and decent because they can’t face that there are evil, cruel people out there. I think that’s particularly common in conservative churches where it’s assumed that if you claim to be a Christian, you are good (and right).

    Maybe a decent father decides he doesn’t want to be married anymore at some point, but if he does, he handles that openly and with dignity. After all, the kids are watching how he treats their mother for clues as to what kind of father he really is. My adult kids have commented that after watching how my ex handled the mess, they were done with him. That’s normal. Living in la-la land and insisting that their dad is A-OK is not normal.

    • “…some people prefer la-la land where everyone is good and decent because they can’t face that there are evil, cruel people out there. I think that’s particularly common in conservative churches where it’s assumed that if you claim to be a Christian, you are good (and right).” Yes, this.

  • If I have to answer at all I say ” A good father protects his wife and children from harm. Unfortunately he led a double life of cheating and abuse. In doing so failed in his duty of care as a husband and father”

  • Try “Why are you choosing to defend him to me?” and watch her sputter.

    The person you thought of as a best friend is allying herself with your FW and against you. Maybe it’s because she also slept with him (or wanted to). Maybe she’s a cheater in her own relationship. Maybe she’s afraid of her partner cheating and is indulging in blaming the victim. Who knows? The end result is the same – she has planted her flag, and it’s on FW Island. Time to fade this friendship.

      • Spinach, I noticed that prosecuting attorneys and detectives ask questions.

        When dealing with a liar or otherwise disordered individual, there is more power in the question than in making declarative statements.

        When I first got into therapy, I noticed she asked me questions. The denial broke and the growth happened from answering her questions, not from
        her diagnosing me and Telling Me All
        About Me.

        I’m a big fan of asking questions.


        • Same.
          In my own interactions, I’m trying to pause, reflect, and pose more questions, especially when someone says something that I disagree with. It’s especially effective if done in a non-emotional way. Takes practice (at least for me).

    • I really wish I had done this just to watch the reactions. I don’t think it would have changed anything for me in the end but it might have made me feel better at the time to watch them either panic and backpedal or come up with lame reasons, because the reasons could only be lame.

  • My sons are adults and were and are deeply hurt by his cheating and our divorce. I see them try to have a relationship with FW. And hear some of the results of that effort. For one son, he remains very hurt and distant from his dad primarily cuz FW is a shitty granddad. For the other, he has developed a relationship. Now he has a baby so we will see how that goes. As a grandparent, our relationship with our children is directly related to our presence, usefulness and kindness. I remember how difficult and chaotic life was raising my sons. My parents were lived far away and so my relationship was about keeping them informed. I want to be a better parent and grandparent. So I have a “babysitting” day and sleep-overs with my grandkids. I try to give them “relief” and support without intruding on their privacy. FW is absent except for twice a year – Christmas and Father’s Day..both times when he gets attention. I wanted to be a grandparent with my husband and take grands on camping trips and vacations. So I still take the family on an annual vacation and create other family activities, I am just without a partner and, honestly, I get lonely and tired cuz it can be hard work and expensive. But we are building memories of family fun and collaboration. Life is short…health is unpredictable. I am the mother and grandmother I always wanted. I’ve watched Frozen and Frozen in a lot and what I learned is “show yourself”. Truly.

  • I actually had a court ordered “Reunification Therapist” tell me that just because he abused me, doesn’t mean he cannot be a good father. My response was, “he never was…so what makes you think he will now.” Her response was people can change… I then told her that none of the psych literature indicates that.. I was then written up as being a roadblock to reunification therapy being a success. So…I’m supposed to fix an adult’s relationship which that same adult never had and then blew into smitherines? All of the work…and I mean all of it…always gets relayed back to the chump (at least in the courts).

    • I’m sorry that you went through this.

      Yes, I’ve heard the same locally. It seems like if a judge orders reunification, you need to keep your mouth shut, keep detailed notes, and bide your time. A friend of mine followed that advice for over two years and told me that he hated the reunification therapist like no one that he had ever met, but then his ex had a baby and lost interest in their son. He ended up with full custody.

    • Gosh Mrs Chump I am so sorry. It’s infuriating when the powers that be don’t even get it. And there’s sadly no shortage of cases where the powers that be (police officers, lawyers, judges….) have proven to be ignorant or perpetrators too.

      My own daughter’s therapist, who has children and not been cheated on (as far as she knows) got an earful from me when she told me “cheating isn’t abuse”. She has since changed her mind.

  • Good Dads have integrity. Good Dads wouldn’t implode their children lives. Good Dad’s know the importance of a solid family foundation. Good Dad’s are busy thinking about things to do with their family not thinking of having a good time with their secretary. Good Dad’s wouldn’t risk only seeing their children half the time and not sleeping under the same roof. They also wouldn’t risk missing time with their children on birthday’s and holidays. Good Dad’s know that kids aren’t resilient in divorce. Good Dad’s know that destroying their family will have lasting consequences on their children lives and would do what ever it takes not to harm their children. Good Dad’s put their families needs ahead of their own. Good Dad’s honor their marital vows and respect their wives.

  • My friends have been awesome but I have heard a few stupid platitudes. I give them a pass for the first time they utter an ignorant comment, as they haven’t lived through this, are trying to make me feel better with their platitude, and “get it” when I correct them. Friend: “Kids are resilient.” Me: “Sure, but they shouldn’t have to be.” Friend: “You’re absolutely right. It’s not fair and I can’t believe he was so selfish.”

  • Asshat ran off to be with HoWorker/Wife the minute we returned from my son’s HS senior year spring break after my daughter was involuntariliy hauled away to the psych ward at her college under suicide watch. I went to see her, Asshat went to reassure Soulmate Schmoopie that she was the priority and he would be leaving me. When she did return back home, she wanted to live with dad because “you and I don’t see eye to eye, mom”. Of course, planning a big white wedding is difficult for a 52 year old, so the million dollar farm was “too dirty” for her to live in and they sent her to live in our empty former marital home that was being sold. Sad thing is, DD25 has gone all in with her father and now step-mother, even asking me at some point why I was being “mean” to HoWorker/Wife. I never spoke or contacted her, but I stopped calling her Whore after that and in fact, never mention her. She doesn’t exist to me.

    They suck.

  • Honestly, I would tell the friend to fuck off and get out. I would use those words exactly.

    At this stage of my life, I no longer have the spoons to explain common sense and basic human decency to other adults – and coming up with a clever retort is too much energy.

    If you’re not contributing to my life, then by definition you’re a burden. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

    • Also, dear letter writer, you’re rightly infuriated because cheating is abuse. Her statement is just as stupid, callous, and untrue as saying: “His beating/raping/threatening to kill you has nothing to do with the kids. He’s still a good father.”

  • I thought my ex is a good dad to our (now his because he refused to share) cats. But he just really threw money in various forms at them. Every so often he’d give them attention. And when he did I’d praise him for being a good dad.
    But they both preferred me. I could call them and they’d come, I could get one to speak on command, I taught them tricks. Ex would complain and I’d offer to show him how to connect with them more. But he didn’t want to put in the work.
    Much like our relationship after I first found out and began holding him accountable and requiring really difficult things like unlocking his phone, showing me empathy, being open, etc.
    He’d rather start over with someone who he could easily bamboozle.

    My point is, as others have said, only those who are closest to them see the truest person they are, and it’s ugly. People make judgments based on limited facts. It’s why everyone is surprised when something happens. Because it doesn’t match with their classification from their limited knowledge.

  • My ex-husband, father of my three children, treated me like shit for almost the entirety of our 18-year marriage. It was active, intentional emotional abuse and cruelty. Silent treatment, contempt, devaluing… you get it.
    The kids, he treated with effusive affection. Showered them with gifts as much as we were financially able, and spent almost all his free time enriching their lives with fun experiences like dirtbiking and trips to soccer tournaments (I was along for the soccer, not the dirtbiking – my choice.) Before I knew better, I used to claim he was a great dad, and that I was a great mom.
    Now I know we both shortchanged our kids and set a shitty example for them. They witnessed their dad being cold and dismissive and their mom being depressed and withdrawn. Due to my ex-husband’s demeanor, BOTH of our parenting efforts suffered.
    And this was our dynamic for years upon years before I discovered his affair!
    If I were the LW, I would say something along the lines of, “I used to believe that too, before I knew better.”

  • A parent who blows up their kids’ family is NEVER a good parent. They might engage in good parenting *aside from* their horrific act of bad parenting, but no amount of child support or Disney trips can outweigh they harm they caused. A pointless and cruel qualified statement, like the famous, “Other than that, Mrs. Kennedy, how did you enjoy Dallas?”

  • My parents divorced when my sister and I were small. My mother never said a bad word about my father. I learned later that she left him because he was fucking a colleague who also happened to be their landlord. Fast forward ten years, my father remarries, which jump starts my mother to remarry and remained married to the greatest guy ever for forty years. Who became our father. So you think, no harm, no foul. Wrong! For ten years I watched my mother being nearly killed by loneliness and despair. She was a single parent. Every now and then my father would take us out for lunch on the odd Saturday. Did he pay child support on time? Yes. Was he generous? Shrugs. He wasn’t abusive. In the end, he just didn’t care all that much. He was a very high functioning alcoholic and really all he cared about was downing a glass of booze. So technically I guess you could say he was a “great” dad because he did fulfill his financial obligations and we did see him much more when he remarried because his wife was into impression management. That got old, fast, and then we never saw them except for Christmas and birthdays, and they were generous with the presents. But I didn’t think he was so great when I could hear my mother sobbing behind her bedroom door. Or when he didn’t show up at my high school graduation and I was Valedictorian. Or… Or… Or… I was sad when he died because his end was pretty grim. But I didn’t mourn him. My stepfather? I mourn him to this day. You reap what you sow. I wouldn’t say my father was a bad man, but he was a very selfish one. Selfish people don’t make good parents.

  • This reminds me of a line the ex threw at me during devaluation – “I’m leaving you, not the kids!” We have two boys, and the oldest was shown how to shave by me. The ex initially moved to a cottage a few miles away, and was told by his landlady that he must be a good dad for sticking around. 5 years later, he’s 800 miles away.

    • He’s not living with his kids, so he’s left them too. You can’t break the laws of physics. You’re either there, or you’re not.

  • “Wow, apparently you know my husband better than I do. How does that work?”

    Brevity is the soul of wit.

  • When my son is old enough, and if he asks. I will explain that right after the first Dday in our marriage he was 10 months old and I was breastfeeding him. I was so upset I couldn’t eat and lost too much weight and my breastmilk dried up. I did NOT KNOW that I had dried up and continued to “breastfeed”, but noticed that he was eating TONS of baby cereal (which I mixed with formula). Everyone in the family noticed how odd it was that he ate so much cereal, but I didn’t figure it out till much later. I think my son will remember the stories of how “funny” it was that he ate so much cereal, but the truth was his father messed me up and cut off his FOOD SUPPLY. Cheating affects everyone.

  • Cheaters compartmentalize and don’t understand how loyalty operates and the interconnectedness of relationships, so of course they see what they did as having nothing to do with their children.
    I’ve noticed that goes double for the cheating accomplices who don’t have children and/or are not in committed relationships themselves.

    If they did, none of us would be here.

    As my wise beloved trusted therapist used to always say to me, “Why are you surprised?”

    • During a recent ride home from his groovy Greg Brady pad, Traitor Ex was lecturing Little Hammer about being polite. She said nothing.

      When she got home, she got out of the truck and before shutting the truck door said, “It’s not polite to lie to people and cheat on your wife.”

      See how that “good parent” BS does not fly, cheaters?

      Little Hammer is a Grey Rock Jedi master, who has not spoken to him since December of 2019. The very few exceptions have been to call him out.

      Ultimately, she gets to decide if he’s a good parent or not, and so far the answer is NO. Good. Because I do not want her to grow up to be a cheater or a side piece or to tolerate cheating or pick lousy friends. She thinks good parents behave in a way protects and strengthens their relationships and families, are fundamentally honest, model good values, morals, character, emotional maturity, continue to take personal inventory and learn.

      There are two pieces of literature we use in AA that spell it out. Two little cards. One is titled Emotional
      Maturity and the other is titled Moral Inventory, which have been really helpful to me, not just to check my own conduct but to evaluate who I should associate with. Of course, lying complicates the eval for a while, but truth usually will come out.

      If find out they’re hiding who they are, what they really think, how they really feel, what they’re really doing, and who they’re doing it with, that’s the signal to leave.

      I just asked Little Hammer just now (she is almost sixteen) if cheaters can be good parents and she said, “Uh, no!” She said, “it’s because of the values they hold and part of being a good parent is teaching loyalty and good values.”

      • ‘When she got home, she got out of the truck and before shutting the truck door said, “It’s not polite to lie to people and cheat on your wife.”’

        Your daughter is awesome.

      • The willingness to do intentional, deliberate grievous harm, whether emotional, mental, psychological, sexual, spiritual, or physical, means one doesn’t get to sit in the Good Person section of the ballpark, no matter what else “good” you may do.

        Lots of con artists, rapists, and murderers use Good Deeds to hide, mitigate and excuse their wrongdoing.

        The defining factor is not a thousand good deeds but the willingness to harm others, the disregard for harming others.

    • “they see what they did as having nothing to do with their children.”
      I think they know it affects their children, but they need to project their innocence of not wanting to hurt their children and claiming ignorance of injury works well for that.
      They have chosen to not dwell on the damage done and they create a narrative they will attempt to hide behind.
      Their AP also knows they are doing damage to other ppl. But that is secondary to their own desires and needs and always will be.
      They are unique, hard to understand, have different rules to live by and are misunderstood by society being so incredibly special. No one is like them.
      They don’t have to follow the rules of basic decency and respect for others, they are WAY WAY too special to be in the same league with the common folk.
      I think the reason we eventually see so many of them crash and burn is the toll of knowing the harm they’ve done cannot ever be fully escaped from.
      A psychologist with over 30 years in clinical practice made a comment that hit me hard. He said in all the years he’s been practicing psychology, he’s never once seen anyone get away with anything, not even once.
      I do believe that’s a true statement, no matter what the outside picture they paint tries to make the world think otherwise.

      • “I think the reason we eventually see so many of them crash and burn is the toll of knowing the harm they’ve done cannot ever be fully escaped from.”

        Yes, the old reap what you sow thing. It isn’t Karma, it is simply the results of your actions. And many of them (mine did) keep chasing the feel goods and eventually it tightens around them like a Boa.

  • That’s as insulting as friends telling us “what happened between the two of you should remain between the two of you.” NOTHING happened between the two of us, I never got a vote, I never had a voice, I never even knew it was happening. Infidelity is something one spouse does TO the other spouse. Not with, not between the two of us. The only thing I can think of that he could have done worse to me was shoot my dog. So if he’d shot my dog, would people be saying what a good father he is? Or that it was something between just the two of us? I don’t think so.

    • Great point! If he shot your dog, no one would say, “But but but…he’s a great dad.” No one.

      By the way, only thing “between x and me” was the AP. I never consented to that threesome.

      In the end, the lack of consent and being kept in the dark are what upset me the most. Oh, and the lies. All the lies. I hate that I was so fucking vulnerable and clueless while those two were…well…fucking.

      He insists to this day that he was a “great dad.” Not just good, CN, but GREAT. Wonder how he explains to others that his three adult children are NC.

      One of my daughters recently encountered a professional associate who gushed about cheater x and clearly assumed that my daughter and her dad are very close. My daughter smiled and said, “Someone told me he might have moved to [name of state].” A sudden look of understanding crossed that woman’s face.

      Clever on my daughter’s part but sad, too. I know it’s sad. I wish they had a good dad.

    • Yep, the two to tango reference enrages me. The only people who are responsible for the tango are those who consented to the dance.

  • The desire to believe what you want to believe, even if all evidence points in another direction, is one of the strongest driving forces I have ever seen in human interaction.

    I was raised by two people who taught the scientific method of inquiry. They practiced it in their work. They did not ever analyze their own belief systems, or personal life using the scientific method. If they had, then they would have been forced to admit to denial, change their attitudes and actions, and in general evolve to survive. Denial eventually kills you. Sometimes it is a slow death.

    People on the outside looking in at any relationship often have theories and express beliefs common in popular cultural media delivery systems. If characters in soap operas, and the situations they get into, are more believable to you than what happens in your own family or friend circle, you might be in denial. Your analytical skills may be off. When someone tells me another person can change, they may be right in theory. But does the other person want to change? Who knows? No evidence in actions.

    I wanted to believe my husband wanted to be a good father and would provide for his children. He wanted to believe that, too. But he didn’t want it bad enough to actually do it. I should have seen over 20 years of marriage he would always make the selfish choice and do what entertained him instead of doing what was responsible. I paid dearly for that denial of reality. My children did, too. They still do not want to believe that. He is dead now, so there is no more future endangerment for them from him. He did not evolve. He did not survive.

    I want to believe my sons will figure it out and act very differently if they ever choose to be fathers. I can only hope and believe at this point. Only time will tell me if my beliefs are unfounded. The evidence will be in their actions.

  • Good people don’t model abuse and neglect to their children or to other people’s children. I agree with turning it back onto the (hopefully soon to be ex) friend about why she’s defending him and then cutting her loose.

    Neither Fuckwit nor I have children, but OW/Batshit does and it was evident that she routinely neglected them for her fuck buddies and substance abuse. She texted Fuckwit that her children were the “nightmare of my life” and “having kids screwed up my life in so many ways”. Even more disturbing, she sent FW a photo of her adolescent daughter posed on a table. When Fuckwit hooked up with OW for a few days, he became irritated with her then six year old son, which resulted in OW dumping her child on another relative for the duration of FW’s stay.

    Abuse doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

  • Thanks for writing to CL, Eleanor. CL’s response and all the comments are truthful and helpful.

    I read the following quote from the book “Missoula”, by Jon Krakauer. It’s about the football team rape culture that goes ignored or dismissed by much of the community. I believe the following is also relevant to cheating:

    It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering . . . In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it on herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail.
    – Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery

    • I was sexually abused by my father, and finding Judith Herman’s book was the catalyst for my recovery.

  • “His cheating had nothing to do with the kids. He’s still a good dad.”

    So, Friend, you know he’s a good dad how? Is he your dad? No? Then you know nothing at all.

  • The irony just hit me. Both your XH and your best friend are doing and/or saying things that infuriate you. You got rid of one. Now get rid of the other.

  • When I was 16, my father left my mother to be with his AP. I was well aware of this because (1) I’m not an idiot and (2) it’s impossible to hide things like that. I cut him off totally and never regretted it for a second. I was flabbergasted that my father actually thought that I’d want to spend time with him and this woman who had hurt my mother so much. He on the other hand seemed remorseful and even crashed my high school graduation party a year later. I coldly informed him that since he had blown up my life to be with his AP, he should go home to her and leave me alone. A couple of uncles (mom’s brothers) followed him to the door and made sure he left. I didn’t see him or have any communication with him for more than five years.

    Anyone who hurts my mother like that has no place in my life — it’s actually that simple. It’s less ~taking sides~ in the divorce and more refusing to condone bad behavior. His decisions ended our home life, our stability, my trust in not only him but in men in general…

    My father’s relationship with his twu wuv didn’t last, as those things rarely do. He had to grovel for years before I would give him the time of day. Now I just pity him — he missed so much of my and my sisters’ lives because he was so incredibly selfish and self-obsessed.

    • LaurShel, what you said makes complete sense to me. I appreciate you sharing this.

      What I haven’t seen mentioned today is how kids who feel like you are invalidated by the cheaters and people who support them. I agree that it’s that simple.

      When you have children, you are cheating on EVERYONE IN THE FAMILY. The only way it doesn’t involve/hurt the kids IS IF THERE AREN’T ANY. But like has been said, cheaters are famous for declaring how what they did is justified/OK/acceptable/about love and they aren’t hurting anybody! Except maybe their partner who was in the dark! A little! Maybe! But they deserved it!

      Guess what? Before I got into recovery, when I used cocaine, I was alone in my house, confident that I wasn’t hurting anybody. Like every other addict since the dawn of time. When I got into recovery, it was because I realized how I was hurting EVERYBODY. As a buyer of cocaine, I was responsible for little kids having to pick coca leaves in Bolivia. My status as a customer enabled and caused and aided and abetted the harm to the toddler who was my drug dealer’s son. (Yes, AP’s. YOU ARE HURTING THE CHILDREN when you fuck around with a child’s parent behind the other parent’s back, despite that parent’s invitation to do so). If you don’t want to be on the hook, don’t jump on.

      My daughter wants nothing to do with her dad, and that makes sense. One main reason I despised my mother was because she was a cheater (who blamed me for the family fractures, not her untreated alcoholism, cheating, etc).

      I have the most sympathy for children that get dragged into this nightmare. You certainly have my sympathy. ????

      I suppose this is so emotionally charged for me is because this “I didn’t hurt the children” is complete bullshit, stunningly self-centered and invalidates the feelings and experiences of the children involved.

      Traitor Ex has unsuccessfully tried selling this BS to Little Hammer, also claiming he was hurt too, and it has just strengthened her decision to have nothing to do with him and solidified her opinion of him as unintelligent.

      (She asked me recently if I was “still attracted to Dad”. I laughed and said no. She said she was glad because she was worried that I was a “moronsexual”…..someone who is attracted to morons.

  • “Don’t change the subject. He cheated on me. That was shitty, and he’s shitty for doing so.”

    • Yep. When fw told our son the “it takes two” shit, son cut him off with “no, dad; you did mom wrong, it takes two to make a marriage; but only one to destroy it”. And he was only 20 years old and this was in 1990. The reason I know he said it is son came home on leave to see me, and after he saw his dad he made sure I knew what he had said.

      Last year we talked a lot about those days, and he said that after he and his dad had that conversation; his dad never tried that angle again. Of course fw went on to cheat on wifewhore more than once, so… adultery does take two though, it takes the adulterer and the adultery partner.

      His dad did however blow up his relationship with our son many years later. FW and Whore just couldn’t treat folks decent, they just couldn’t.

  • In a cheating/divorce situation, unanticipated collateral damage is the devastating loss of friendships. Your life is already upside down and backwards, and then to be further hurt by one’s so-called friends is just another betrayal.

    My litmus test for friends is to share Dr Minwalla’s white paper. How they respond tells you everything you need to know about the veracity of the friend’s commitment to you.

    By the way, as much as I love and rely upon Chump Lady, both LACGAL and this blog, I am extremely careful about recommending it. In the early days I may have given access to abusive people who to this day, could possibly be monitoring this space. We all need to be very careful to keep this a safe place for chumps only.

  • Because cheating didn’t affect their lives at all. Broken up family, betrayal, money has changed, weird people in their lives, devastated parent, awkward family gatherings. Yeah. That’s good parenting.

  • My adult children helped their dad hire an attorney to fight me on the divorce terms. This fact caused me to go to the deepest darkest places and I nearly didn’t recover from the day I learned this fact.

    More recently, my daughter invited me to a session with her counselor. The counselor said, “I would advise anyone to get an attorney.” So this is the reasoning, also amplified by my son-in-law earlier in this process.

    The question that lingers for me is…….if their own child was kidnapped or killed or raped……would they be very concerned that the abuser was provided with good legal advice? Somehow, I don’t think this would be their thought process.

    But, since it happened to me and since it is clear their dad is a wonderful guy who just had no other choice but to have sex in the closets with a married co-worker, of course he needs their care and support through this time when he is losing half of his life’s earnings and assets. Boo-hoo, poor dad. Mom forced him to lose everything.

    My whole family came to the defense of his erections deserving appropriate attention. I did not realize this was the main goal of my marriage, life and family. But, in the end, everyone jumped to support his preverted vision of the sex he is entitled to – quick, abrupt and completely disconnected from anyone’s body but his own. My family and friends were very vocal that I was the person who was in the wrong when I no longer laid down immediately on command.

    “What did you expect would happen?” – that was my adult children’s main question to me…… I protest sometimes with suggestions of maybe he could have talked about why I shut down, what things would be helpful, showing love or concern for me in daily life, showing that I was important to him for anything except quick masterbations using my body to get himself off on as quickly as possible.

    Oh, I hurt today. I get better. But, then I drop back down into pain. I was completely disposable. For 40 f***** years. I wasted a lifetime on people who wouldn’t walk across the street to put me out if I was on fire.

    Thank you, CN. I know I would not be here if not for all of you.

    • I’m sorry you are hurting today. Sending virtual ????. Please do something nice for yourself today. Take care of you. Maybe pick some flowers, a nice cup of tea, a warm bath, a nap. Whatever makes you feel cared for and taken care of. ????

    • October has quite a few trauma anniversaries for me. I have to really watch over myself. I need to focus on caring for myself and scheduling some fun/enjoyable activities. You are officially invited to jump on my wagon, Tallgrass. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling and I am truly sorry. ❤️

    • Why do they always talk about the cheater losing half of everything? The person abused also loses half of everything and it wasn’t their doing.
      I’m so sick of the whining that the person who actually breaks up the marriage does.

    • I’m sorry you were married to a user and abuser. And even sorrier that your children are so callous.

      But I’m very glad you’re still here.

    • That’s heartbreaking. ????
      I had to endure some family members taking the FW’s side, but not to the extent of helping him fight me in court! That is unforgivable. Your children, unfortunately, sound disordered and toxic themselves.
      I had to back away from one of my children because of her toxic behavior. We haven’t spoken in years. I’m actually relieved that I no longer have to keep giving and getting nothing in return. The relationship was doing a lot for her and almost nothing for me. So what if we share DNA? We don’t share the same values.

      My most profound sympathies are with you, tallgrass. It’s amazing to me how often strangers can be kinder to us than our supposed nearest and dearest. Well, the loss is theirs. Please know that you do not have to participate in any more shit-show therapy sessions with your selfish, disloyal daughter.

    • I’m lifting you up today Tallgrass. You didn’t deserve a day of those 40 years, and you didn’t deserve for your kids to take those hurtful actions. I’ll never understand why a man’s moments of pleasure are of tantamount importance, and a woman’s pain is invisible to the world.

      You are not invisible here.

      Maybe you can find solace in the same place I do. For everything I’ve endured, I know that today, I am safe. No one is around to speak harsh words or do harsh things. It is more than a little lonely at times, but I’ve come to relish the joy of my body being my own for the first time since I was nine.

    • I’m so sorry. I don’t know if it will help you feel any better but I did give in to sex a lot with my ex. I let him hurt me, I had sex I didn’t want to have. In addition, I dealt with his erectile disfunction for over a decade.

      And I still got treated like some sort of frigid prude and had people ask me what I expected him to do. They still made up this narrative that I was the one who wouldn’t or couldn’t have sex and he was suffering. Even though it was the opposite. So, I’m just trying to say, it wouldn’t have made any difference if you had given in to every demand he had. He still would have done this to you. They do this. My ex had to take so much viagra to cheat on me I’m shocked he hasn’t dropped dead. And he was doing it at times when I was lonely at home and would have loved intimacy.

      I’m sorry people in your life don’t get it. But if you ever wonder in a dark moment, “well, maybe if I had let him do x…” I’m just here to tell you that no, he still would have cheated. It’s their character. They would do it to anyone.

    • He’s a liar and a degenerate who convinced your children of a false narrative.
      The narrative has something in it for them. They too may be degenerates.

      “My daughter invited me to a session with her counselor.”
      Perhaps she has some lingering guilt that the counselor helps rationalize away.

      Perhaps your daughters husband is also a liar and a cheater. Children have also been gaslit.

      The most important thing here is you and your recovery from the effects of a 40 year marriage to a degenerate and a liar. It’s work. And you are worth the work.

      Read this today and I want to share it with you:
      “Don’t ignore natural feelings of self-love and self-worth

      Rebuild my relationship with myself

      Pay attention to my own behavior, thoughts and feelings

      I deserve this attention and I need it

      Work a program of recovery”

      I offer you the hope that truth and a re-established relationship with your own true and unique spirit is a journey worth taking.
      Sending the strength for you to continue to move in this direction.

  • My first thought is – how does friend know or believe so confidently what a “good” dad he is, supposedly better than you? How does she get this knowledge – is she intimate with him??

    I like how CL defines your responsibilities with parenting, and how it does not include covering for him. It is up to the kids to decide how they feel about their relation with him. By that token, it is also not good for you to complain about him or bad-mouth him to them. Trying to turn them against him could backfire and reflect poorly on you. Keep it neutral.

    • “How does she get this knowledge – is she intimate with him??”

      I had the same thought. I’d want to make sure she is not involved with the cheater before deciding what to do.

  • Any person that perpetrates domestic violence against another member of the family is not “good” .

  • Sorry, Eleanor, but if that was me, I’d be looking for another ‘best friend’. How fucking *dare* she. ????

    If you’re still speaking to her, next time she opens her gob about something she knows nothing about, ask her what she’d think of a man who raped her, but pays his child support on time. “yes, he’s a rapist, but he’s still a good dad”. Dear God.

  • How about calling the cheater a less than stellar parent? The cheating parent follows what the court tells them to do — no more, no less.

    This is highlights the truth and doesn’t make the scorned parent look like a whiner.

  • I would add that the bar for what constitutes being a good dad is set way lower than for that of being a good mom.
    Also, we like to compartmentalize parenting, as if it’s done in it’s own separate little tidy box. Unfortunately, how children to see their parents being treated has huge repercussions for the children… sometimes this is only seen later in life when they are in their own relationships.

    I completely understand being infuriated by that comment, although I don’t think everyone who makes it means harm.
    People are just in general ignorant to the abuse that is cheating.
    Also, there is a lot of toxic positivity, and sometimes people say those kinds of things to help us look on the bright side, because it could always be worse – as in your cheater could be a horrible dad in many ways that he hopefully isn’t.
    Having said that, great dads do their best to keep families intact, set a great example for their children, model morality, honesty and doing the right thing, set a good example and treat their spouses with respect.
    The kids are watching.

    • “I would add that the bar for what constitutes being a good dad is set way lower than for that of being a good mom.”

      100%. I’m now a single dad, and you wouldn’t believe all the “Your a great dad!” I get for doing the most basic things with my kids.
      I go grocery shopping with the kids…”You’re a great dad!”
      I sent out Christmas cards last year with a photo of the kids and I…”You’re a great dad!”
      I took my son to a college football game…”You’re a great dad!”

      It’s honestly hilarious.

      • It would be hilarious except for every softball compliment you get, a single mother gets the opposite.

        I live in fear of being found out as a 100% custody single-mother at work, because I know that it will paint me as “distracted” and “less dedicated” than a man with a wife – and in my company I am the only female executive, so I’m already walking the thinnest of lines. I’m working twice as hard as my male counterparts with stay at home wives, for a fraction of the pay.

        Being a mom is a thankless zero-sum game in general, but being a single-mom comes with harsh cultural judgements and real discrimination in the workplace.

    • Zip, you are right. This does sound like an example of toxic positivity.
      She may be too dim to understand that she’s set herself up as an asshole’s apologist. Perhaps she thinks she is just trying to get her friend to “look on the bright side.”
      Well no, we don’t have to look on the bright side, and if we have to delude ourselves in order to do it, it’s not healthy. She is pushing her own agenda on her friend, who gets no benefit from deluding herself that the FW is a good father. I understand why that pisses her off.
      OTOH, there is a possibility she has a nasty ulterior motive like, for example, she is banging the cheater herself, or she wants to. It’s not uncommon for an OW to pose as a friend and carry back info to the cheater, so I would be wary of this person.

      I agree with everything you posted, btw.

  • I hate this argument so much. “Yeah they ruined the family and caused their kids a ton of stress and life long emotional destruction but they’re still a good parent!”

    Right, because good parents ruin their families over sex with other people. Sure. I’ll be sure to remind you of this should your spouse ever have an affair.

    • FYI…

      First anniversary of divorce was on 9/29. I have been a lethargic apathetic depressed slug since last week…..eureka! I finally figured out why. Yes, the body does keep score. More trauma anniversaries are packed into October. Six or seven on deck. I just got out of the shower, having last gotten in the shower on Sunday morning. I feel totally blecch.

      Infidelity feels like a gang (fake husband and cohorts) put me in the ICU. I have to be my own doctor and nurse. I am also suddenly a single parent and have to keep parenting. I have to keep running my home and my affairs. And my attackers can’t be arrested, prosecuted, or jailed. All this while I am figuratively in a hospital bed and so out of it, at my least capable.

      I need to keep it simple, easy does it, first things first, next right thing, just for today. Love and care for myself as best I can. Yes, it would be nice to have help with that, but getting good at doing that for myself is really going to heal and strengthen me. This event has shown me that I have lots of room for improvement when it comes to taking care of myself.

      Thanks for helping me get back on course. I think the topic of basically disrespecting the harm done to our children, and the dismissal of their feelings really did me in today.

      • This one stuck with me and I bookmarked it:

        I moved in to our second home with the kids. I am so hurt. He has not contacted me since I left. He is having party’s at our house with friends and his affair partner.

        “It looks like he does not miss us or noticed that we are gone. He is happy in Lala land and I am over here in so much pain. The kids are confused and wetting the bed and I am taking sleeping pills. He does not care that he hurt me. He prefers to pretend I don’t exist.”

        Anyone who tries to tell me that someone who causes this kind of pain to their family is a good parent is just might get their lights punched out.

        Very often the children remain with the parent who gets cheated on, so we get to see the “good parenting” first hand. The cheating parent either denies, doesn’t notice, or is offended by the childrens’ distress. Remember, this is same person who said ‘you’d be friends!’ with their secret sexual double life partner. ‘ You’d like them!’

        A cheater and their double life dimwit(s) do not give one flying eff about how anyone feels but themselves.

  • How about children deserve a whole family with two parents? Science proves that growing up in a split home causes issues for the children that effect them negatively for their entire lives. So sorry that wetting his willie with a homewrecker does NOT win him the father of the year award. Not your circus anymore but I am so sorry for the pain he’s put you and your children through.

    • I now say it takes two to wreck a home. Together they are called the homewreckers in my world. Their double life dimwit is known singularly as a co-homewrecker.

    • I think the concept that “growing up in a split home causes issues” is a wreckonciliation myth. It’s not the splitting of the home that does the damage, it’s the having of at least one selfish, lying, abusive, jerk for a parent.

      Lord knows there are plenty of us that grew up with TWO entitled assholes for parents (who never divorced) and we aren’t any better off.

      New studies show all kids really need is ONE unconditionally loving and supportive parent-type adult. Just one person who protects them from other abusive adults and helps them avoid the worst outcomes:

  • This is something I really struggled with. My years of A++ industrial-grade spackling made my dbag ex look good to our kids, our friends, and the whole world. “Oh, I’m so sorry that Dad won’t be home on your birthday because he is so busy at work and they really need him in Nebraska/New York/Alaska/wherever he is.” So I had to undo my own spackling for the truth to be clearly seen by others. The thing is, many people prefer the lie. They like spackled walls. They don’t want the hard truth of mold and termites and asbestos and dead bodies behind the smooth veneer.

    Eleanor, forget this so-called best friend. Someone IGNORANT who undermines your pain like that should be removed from your circle. I’ve had to do this and believe me, it hurts but it is necessary for healing. The most important thing is to keep the story straight in your head and to help your kids have the critical skills to see their dbag father for who he is. What my kids’ therapist told them from day one is “to look at actions, not words.” It is very simple advice but it has really helped them. Apart from all their dad’s “I miss you” texts and emails, he really has done nothing for them. Nothing. Not court-ordered weekends. Not Christmas presents. Not visits for their birthdays, prom days, bad days, sick days, COVID days, or any day for that matter. He hasn’t seen them in 16 months. If they paid attention to his flowery emails, they would be so confused and would probably be doing pick-me dances to make him come back. But ignoring all that and looking ONLY at his actions, it is so clear to them that he has checked out in every possible way. That made their healing so much faster.

  • If you have a yellow house and you go on vacation and I burn down your house while you’re gone because I fucking hate yellow, I guarantee you that if I said it’s not about you and I’m still a good friend, you won’t agree.

    Absurd twist of logic, saying someone who cheats on the kids’ other parent is parenting well and the cheating is truly compartmentalized.

  • Awesome response, CL.

    I believe that a man who causes harm to the mother of his children cannot possibly be considered a good father. He destroyed his children’s intact family and forced them to witness their mother’s heartbreak and devastation. He broke his children’s hearts as well. Good parents don’t cut their kids to the core like that.

    I would have to question what exactly this so-called friend has as her criteria for being a good parent. Is it that he supports them financially and maybe takes them to the zoo once in awhile? Well, whoop dee frigging doo. Here’s a big fat bitch cookie for him. ????
    It doesn’t say much for her that her standards for parenting are apparently so low.

    But more importantly, who asked her? She needs to keep her baseless opinions to herself. I would be very wary of anybody whose agenda seems to be about convincing me that any obvious asshole isn’t as big of an asshole as I think he/she/they is, let alone an asshole who treated me with such contempt and disregard.
    What is her motive for being this particular asshole’s PR rep? Is she fucking him too? As we know from stories here at CN, that’s not uncommon. I’d want to know what exactly she’s trying to accomplish with this fuckwit apology tour by proxy, and I’d ask her point blank.

    • ‘ He destroyed his children’s intact family and forced them to witness their mother’s heartbreak and devastation. He broke his children’s hearts as well’
      Yea…… and all the holidays, all the times that should be about the kids ( graduations, weddings etc) without worrying about their mom… Now they’ll have to think about their mom seeing the OW. These crappy cheaters force their kids into a parenting role as they are so worried about their devastated parent. And the loss of family income. This will affect the kids for the rest of their lives.

  • Let me just say that I stayed away from a “good friend” for a number of years because she told me to “get over” the betrayal. So it would be the nuclear option if I had a friend who thought that an affair that broke up a family had “nothing to do with the kids” and the cheater X was a “good father.”

    No, he was a father who preferred f*cking a Schmoopie to living with his kids.

    • New word courtesy of Twitter…


      Finally. Someone names the incurable disease from which poor cheaters suffer.

  • I found this one effective. I took a picture of my feet in my shoes, text it to the people that needed it, and said, “Do you want to borrow my shoes.” Some got the point, others didn’t.

  • Thank you CL and to all the Chumpsters for your thoughtful responses. So many hit home. To answer a repeated question on how my friend would know if he’s a good dad…the answer is because he really played the family man part. He baked cookies for the bus drivers, made and delivered holiday treats to neighbors and friends, he did some community volunteering. I learned the term cognitive dissonance which applies here.. though I guess I was the only one feeling the dissonance. When my son’s teacher told us she was resigning to care for her ill father, my husband (at time) told her, “I totally understand. Family’s first.” He also told my son that when my son missed a family gathering. And do you know what? That is one of the first things my son said to me when he found out his dad was a deceitful cheating whore. “OMG mom. Remember the “family is first” lecture he gave me?” FW told my daughter the day he left the home, you shouldn’t stay mad at me forever, I could be hit by a bus tomorrow. My other son who has special needs was completely distraught by his departure for months. Shrapnel as one here put it. And for me. I feel utterly trivialized for that attitude. Hey it’s just you, who cares? Thank you so much, everyone.

  • I usually just say “oh. I guess that makes it all ok then”. Most people backtrack pretty quickly.

  • He ripped apart his childrens family for sex he’s an unloving selfish parent who didn’t put his kids, or the mother of his kids interests first. The spouse and the kids are family. It hurts kids when their families are ripped apart and please know when I say “ripped apart” I mean the result of cheating. Whether someone leaves or not betrayal destroys the safe, secure family unit. It rips the family apart.

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