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Do Cheaters Disguise Themselves As Addicts?

Serial cheaterDear Chump Lady,

I’m a chump with a 7-year relationship full of deceit and cheating under my belt. It just ended last week and I’m trying to stay strong. His whole thing has been that he’s a “sexual addict” to try to convince me over and over that he’s gonna be better and I should stay.

Not gonna lie, it’s obviously worked in the past. He is extremely convincing and I do love him, to my utmost chagrin.

So my question is — do you have sections or articles that talk about cheaters that try to disguise themselves as addicts in order to gain the sympathy from the chumps? I need to read more on this to give myself the power to keep seeing through the BS.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.



Dear Erin,

I don’t think it matters what cheaters disguise themselves as, the fuckwittery is pretty much in plain sight.

Let’s swap out “sex addict” for “clown problem.”

Erin, I’m very sorry I spent the rent on clown shoes again. You know I have a secret penchant for circus attire. I’ve tried to stop, but the minute your back is turned, I put on a red rubber nose and walk the streets as Squiffles.  I can’t help it. 

You’d ask — do you want to date Squiffles? Is balloon sculpture a turn-on? Was this guy open about his clown fetish when you met him?

No. Because that’d be a dealbreaker. So, he lied, and now he wants to you embrace his rainbow-ruffled deceit, even though this is not what you signed up for. Worse, he’s unclear if he really wants to denounce clowns, he just demands patience for his clown condition. Forget you know about Squiffles and don’t expect the rent money.

Now do “sex addiction.”

Would you ever have dated this guy if you knew he was a sex addict? (Assuming that’s a real condition. The DSM says it is not.) Are you okay with him risking your health? Do you really want to wait around while he figures out his fucks-around-and-lies-about-it problem?

Isn’t it curious how he diverted the attention and sympathy from you — a person hard-done by his deceit — to himself — a poor man bedeviled by addiction? I’m not feeling the sorry. I am, however, feeling the entitlement. Why does he presume more of your love and understanding, time and resources?

He has an “addiction”?

Well then, he’s not available for a relationship. So either way you slice it — a fuckwit with agency or an addict without agency — he’s NOT AVAILABLE FOR A RELATIONSHIP. He’s a creep and a user, or he’s a poor sausage who needs to do a lot of work on himself. Same conclusion — he can’t be in your life.

As for articles, check out Dr. Minwala’s Secret Sexual Basement.

Stay strong on the no contact!


Ask Chump Lady

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  • That’s it, right there. That’s the crux of the issue. He knew it would be a dealbreaker so he lied and did it anyway. All of our pain and heartbreak can be boiled down to that. 😆🤦‍♀️😣

    • It does all come down to that. It is both comforting and maddening that it is really that simple.

  • Since I am past meh and Tuesday and tossed out the rose colored glasses… this just brought to mind the comment my ex said “I’m a twin and its known that twins have a higher than normal sex drive and that’s why I’m bisexual also. I can’t help it”. What more can be said

    • So, these people are animals and don’t have a choice. How very sad that is…

      Meanwhile, most of humanity (but not all) go through life, controlling themselves in ways that are best for those close to them. What a concept!

    • That’s honestly the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard. Did you put that in “Stupid shit cheaters say?”

    • I do love the presumption that bisexuals are allowed to cheat. It’s just if you’re gay or straight you have to commit to one person, but as long as you’re claiming to be bi, it doesn’t count as cheating. It’s only cheating if you’re sleeping with someone whose gender matches the gender you promised fidelity to.

      It’s like they all use the same instruction manual.

      • This is such an unfortunately pervasive stereotype of bisexuals. Many of my bisexual friends are completely monogamous and faithful but have had to deal with the gross assumption that bisexuality is synonymous with polyamory or that bisexuals are sexually aggressive and have no boundaries. A lot of them have been harassed for being part of a threesome just because of their bisexuality. One of my friends has stopped going on dating apps entirely because of the number of propositions to be part of some dude’s threesome fantasy.

        It’s really gross.

  • I researched the porn/sex addiction theory, a long time ago. My conclusion was that I do believe exposure to and increasing use of porn can have harmful side effects to the brain and actions of the viewer. I believe the mythology of sex addiction is one of the side effects. As CL pointed out, it side-steps taking responsibility. When human bodies are treated as replaceable and interchangeable objects to be USED for sexual gratification, the brain is damaged. Sex with a real, human partner who has needs and desires of their own is no longer attractive. The USERS become concerned only with their well-being, and do not want to be bothered with the messy, pesky, tasks involved in being a sane human PARTNER!

    My advice is don’t waste your time trying to save him. Save yourself. If he is addicted to something, or has mental illness of some type, he will only seek true help when the pain of the true addiction or psychological source of the problem becomes more painful than the temporary “fix”. I argue that I had to fix myself, to save myself and my children from being a chump. I did not want to be merely useful to someone or burdened with the care and feeding of another adult. As hard as it is to do everything by yourself, it is easier than having a “partner” who doesn’t share the burden. In fact, the “partner” causes more work and wastes your assets. I had to put away the dream I had of what married life could be and accept the fact I was already acting like a single mother with children, and an adult man baby who was special needs level for required care. Once divorced, he had to seek other sources to care for and feed him.

    YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE for him. YOU DID NOT CAUSE HIS PROBLEMS. Your overwhelming need to care for others is only good if it helps them to grow into independent, self-sufficient units who will function well on their own. The need you have may have been caused by some type of a trauma bond you experienced while living with your FOO. You were strong enough to survive the trauma(s). Now you can concentrate on learning to thrive without dragging around the human baggage that is your spouse. Also, you should know if you read chump nation stories, sooner or later he will find someone else to care for him and leave you devasted. Take the first step on your time. Save yourself, and your children. Determine your priorities and set your boundaries. You will feel much better soon after you take that first step.

    • Beautifully said, Portia. Your post was my life for 36 plus years.
      Erin, it NEVER gets better. And trust me, he wasn’t the least bit sorry when you didn’t know.
      And CL, thank you once again for referencing Dr. Minwalla’s work. I owe you both a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.

      • I would love for the CL and Dr. Minwalla to combine their resources for a take down of infidelity apologists. Especially those who claim infidelity isn’t abuse. IT IS.

        • “I would love for the CL and Dr. Minwalla to combine their resources for a take down of infidelity apologists.”

          Oh, that would be glorious. Especially if the Esther Perel cow was forced to participate.🤣😆

      • I have read this article and have found it interesting. I don’t want to diminish the white paper but as heavily referenced here as this paper is, I would like to make a couple of observations. White papers are self-published often as informational tools but also as promotional material. They are often used by government or other agencies to disseminate information or a position. Dr. Minwella is not a government agency.

        White papers are NOT peer-reviewed by researchers in the field and do not pass through an editing process. The implication is that if the research is good, it WOULD be published in a respectable peer-reviewed journal appropriate to the field. That it has not been implies that the research is not publishable for any number of reasons, none of them good, because research careers are predicated on publishing ideas and withstanding public scrutiny of those ideas and defending your research. While white papers can be informative, if there is no journal article I would be skeptical of the validity of the research and the findings. There are many tiers of publications and one can usually find an outlet for any reasonable results unless there are fundamental problems with doing so.

        Just playing devil’s advocate because we should all be informed consumers of information. I just happen to be educated and involved in the process professionally.

    • ” I argue that I had to fix myself, to save myself and my children from being a chump. I did not want to be merely useful to someone or burdened with the care and feeding of another adult. As hard as it is to do everything by yourself, it is easier than having a “partner” who doesn’t share the burden. In fact, the “partner” causes more work and wastes your assets. I had to put away the dream I had of what married life could be and accept the fact I was already acting like a single mother with children, and an adult man baby who was special needs level for required care. Once divorced, he had to seek other sources to care for and feed him.”


      • My ex died last fall so I am now truly a single mom. And my life really didn’t change. Except there’s a whole lot less stress for me and my son, without the constant fight over everything and frequent back and forth between houses. I have more money, more time, more energy than I ever had married.

        • I have this clear memory of about 2 months after he died where me and the kids had a problem and I was sitting in the bedroom contemplating the problem and I realized that that was the time when I expected him to storm into the room, scream at me and tell me it was my fault that this problem existed in the first place (hint: ALL problems were my fault).

          I suddenly realized that all I had to do was solve the problem and no longer needed to deal with his abuse on top of it.

          I find it truly tragic for him that he was such an ineffective adult/partner that life was easier without him.

          • I am sorry for you and all of us that we we’re burdened with the care and feeding and abuse of these ineffective humans!

        • My ex died about 7 weeks after the divorce was final and I also have more money, more time, more energy and more peace than I had while married.

      • Amen sister! It takes way too much time & worry wondering if he’ll do what he said he will do & the stakes get higher as the kids get older. What a relief to not have to depend on an unreliable person!

    • “The human baggage that is your spouse”. 😆. I needed that laugh today, perfect description.

    • Excellent explanation, Portia. I think my EH developed a way of coping when he was a kid or teenager. It got worse when he became a business man in an industry known for nightlife & he had an expense account. It then got worse with the arrival of the internet.
      But it all boils down to: he never told me about the many encounters, and types of encounters, prior to marriage. And when he could not control himself, he never sought help. When I found out, I had to request that he seek help. He never told me the full extent of his activities (thank God!) I got to a point where I knew enough to decide that I would not put up with it.

      It’s the lying, or omission of truth, and the immaturity that is the same in every case.

  • Whether it’s real or not, FWs do often use “sexual addiction” as an excuse that is impossible to argue as a Chump (not in my case —- FW was a sexual withholder and a dud in bed with me).

    Sexual addiction is certainly the perfect foil… they can keep cheating but “they can’t help it” and you’re left dealing with it and unable to do anything because poor FW is addicted and needs your support. Basically if you stay with them, you not only get a Cheater, but you have to support them too? WTF

    Agree with everything CL said. But have to add that between “Squiffles” and “now he wants you to embrace his rainbow-ruffled deceit,” I nearly spit out my cereal laughing this morning (it nearly went up my nose). You have such a way with words, dear Tracy lol

    • “Whether it’s real or not, FWs do often use “sexual addiction” as an excuse that is impossible to argue as a Chump (not in my case —- FW was a sexual withholder and a dud in bed with me).” This sounds like my x. In the last years of our relationship. Mine was suffering from” Dead dick “. Wacking off on a daily bases to porn, he trained himself to only get it up for porn. He got so rough on himself that he sometimes had scabes. It was deeply disturbing, and he would not talk about it. Left me feeling abandoned, sick, and tossed aside. My mantra to myself right now is ” Trust they SUCK!”

  • Chump Lady is on the money with this. I think the sex addict excuse is exactly that, an excuse to keep the chump with a FW who will continue to fuck strange because he/she can’t control their urges. Don’t fall for the addict line. These types will not change. Is he doing anything about his addiction now? Probably not. He just wants an appliance and will seek out the sex buffet as often and as much as he can. Is this acceptable to you?
    Don’t buy into a future that will just bring you more hurt. Cut the strings, go no contact and find a relationship where both you and the partner are avaiulable and honest.

  • When Howorker revealed herself to me in front of FW when we were entering airport, she did not reveal the drug component of their cheating. I thought all the lies and missing $$$ were based on the affair. It took me searching his backpack to find the pills. At that point 36 year marriage.

    As I learned in NarAnon, I didn’t CAUSE, can’t CURE & can’t CONTROL his addiction, real or imagined. Unfortunately, we can contribute which I did by believing his lies.

    Finding LACGAL got me motivated to file even though I wanted to believe the addiction was the reason for the cheating. All Entitlement. The financial component of cheating is bad, combined with any “addiction” is devastating.

  • Even assuming sex addiction is a thing (I personally lump it in with porn, gambling, and gaming addictions – there’s no foreign substance being ingested but the dopamine chase is very real), it’s how the person manages it that lets you know if they are good partner material despite the problem.

    Unlike the others, sex addiction involves betrayal right from the start. The person has to start out by doing something they know is wrong, not just unhealthy. Did he confide in you how he was struggling, tempted to seek sex elsewhere and had a problem? Did he know before the relationship began that he was going to have trouble staying faithful but said nothing?

    The problem isn’t his sex addiction. The problem is that he’s deceptive, untrustworthy and selfish. DTMA

  • Excellent response, CL! I can’t add much beyond this:

    Addicts are in a relationship with the addiction. They’re unavailable partners. You might make a decent accessory to their life, but you won’t be a partner, and you will get burned.

  • I would argue that trying to make a relationship with an addict work – regardless of the nature of their addition – is going to be problematic, for the fundamental reason that they will always put their addiction ahead of any other relationship in their life. The addict will also frequently – at least when they admit their addiction – portray themselves as the victim and refuse to accept responsibility for the consequences of their decisions/actions.

    Sadly, it gets even more complex when you are dealing with an addict who refuses to accept that they are an addict ….. 🙁


    • I think that is true.

      My H’s ex wife had huge alcohol problems. It caused a lot of issues in their marriage. Aside from money issues, H would find himself out looking for her in the early hours and usually found her at a local bar. It was of course humiliating for him and since she wanted her freedom to drink frustrating to her.

      But he adored her, and I have no doubt he would have spent the rest of his life trying to help her. She came to him one day and simply said “I don’t want to be married anymore”. He tried everything he could to get her to change her mind and to seek help together, but to no avail. She died a few years later, he shed tears of real heartbreak. It had nothing to do with me, this was a woman (mother of his children) that he had loved and tried so hard to help.

      She left him for her “true love” (alcohol), and my fw left me for his “true love” (town whore). Neither of us could do anything about it. So many folks are dealing with the same situation. Didn’t cause it, can’t control it, can’t cure it.

      We had both married young, which was pretty common back then. So faulty picker didn’t have anything to do with it. Twenty nine years him, and twenty one years me.

      • SL,

        I don’t think that it’s any coincidence that Ex-Mrs LFTT’s AP (an ex-boyfriend of hers before she met me, although I recently found out that he was actually married during this phase of their relationship) also has a huge drink problem . They can now lie to each other about not being alcoholics, rather than her lying to the kids and I that she’s not an alcoholic, despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary.

        They deserve each other.


    • Oh, I firmly believe my xFW was/is a sex addict who has NO desire to address it. He spent hours and hours watching/jerking off to porn, had a main AP, and several other “sides”, plus regularly hired hookers. Oh, and ME, at least 3x per week for several hours because of his delayed ejaculation problems (probably due to his style of jerking off). He was either engaged in sex or actively looking for it. ALL THE TIME. Every woman he met was measured by whether or not he was sexually interested.
      I am amazed he got anything done, but now understand why it was so little.
      The lives he destroyed are really nothing to him. THAT was the bitterest pill to swallow.

      • Ivyleaguechump,

        I just had a lightbulb moment. And the lightbulb was VERY bright, so to speak. Thank you, now I can put 2 and 2 together.

        “I am amazed he got anything done, but now understand why it was so little.”

        And MichelleShocked:

        “FW was a sexual withholder and a dud in bed with me”

        FW was a withholder and dud in bed with me too. He blamed me for not being able to get it up/ keep it up. There were many reasons, all my fault.

        Second piece of the puzzle: He’d stay up until 3 or 4 am and complain about being tired. I told him to go to bed earlier. He got grumpy. He said he needed his alone time because he is an introvert.

        Note: I never had a D-day. I left him because of abuse. So I never thought he cheated.

        BUT: It is so clear to me now! I suspected he wasn’t just watching TV about Ancient Aliens all night, but I sure didn’t think he was looking at porn. I thought he wasn’t motivated by sex.

        Occasionally I’d sneak up on him and look over his shoulder to see his phone, and it was never porn.

        But, of course he could hear me coming down the stairs from bed and thus had plenty of time to hide what he was doing.

        Being bad in bed and withholding + staying up all night alone = porn habit. Duh.

        At one point he was diagnosed with low testosterone. I thought this would explain it. But even after taking testosterone, there was no change in bed or desire from him.

        Two things that are somewhat related: after I left, I found a porn DVD inside the case of my favorite movie. This struck me as odd because he had ample opportunity to check the DVD’s before he handed them over. And I had NEVER seen porn in our house or his apartment from before we were married.

        Did he put it there on purpose in order to make some kind of statement?
        Maybe it was in retaliation for the time I ordered an expensive vibe from his Amazon account (That was hilarious and awesome but am willing to admit also a bit passive-aggressive).

        Here’s the second puzzler: I found a secret credit card with nothing but fast-food lunches on it. Why would he hide that? A domestic violence counselor told me she’s known guys to trade a meal for sexual favors. Hamburger for a hand job? Who knows?

        If it is true, my heart breaks for the women who have to resort to that in order to eat. But that’s another post.

        Anyway, what are your thoughts, CN? Am I missing something/overthinking or something else?

  • More and more I feel strongly that if a person (as an adult) chooses to avoid admitting, addressing, and remediating anything they do that they know is hurtful to others who are close to them, then that person is also choosing not to have the gift of me in their daily life.

    I share my inner circle with the few and lovely people who show all the way up and bring their adult, self-managed selves. A person can be utterly heartbroken and still be an adult who treats their self and others like humans matter a lot. People who can’t muster that are too dysfunctional and not-adult for the inner circle, in my book.

    I’ll work with them, go to school with them, belong to community groups with them, attend social gatherings with them, and as long as they’re behaving OK I’ll chat with them — but no inner circle for you unless you’re fully formed as truly kind and respectful and honest and considerate and self-managed.

    More and more I am making this true, and more and more my life is less chaotic and more beautiful as a result.

    People with addictions — and other dysfunctions and disorders they call addictions — can have my concern and compassion, and my support for their needs to grow and heal and become more self-managed as adults — and even love from me, as humans — but they don’t get a regular seat at my dinner table. Home is my sanctuary. It needs to be safe for me.

    • Self-managed. Thank you. I just added this to my Things I Am Looking for in a Life Partner list.

  • Chump Lady: Great response. We need to remember when someone shows or tells you who they are, BELIEVE THEM. There is no acceptable excuse for betrayal.

  • My friend’s ex husband lurched from one “addiction” to another: alcohol, non-stop pot smoking, gambling, video games, porn, sex… When she finally got fed up enough & realized the guy didn’t have an addiction as much as an “adulting” problem, as she called it, she filed for divorce. We remark occasionally how miraculously his “addictions” aka adulting problem cleared up when he was forced to be solo. Now most will leech onto someone else right away, but he actually stayed solo & built a business afterwards & has done financially well. She appreciates that their kids are better for it, even if it stings a bit that he could never “adult” when with her. He eventually had a 2.5/3 year relationship afterwards & his “addictions” flared up again. My friend said, “his girlfriend was smarter than me, put up with way less & got the hell out of dodge faster”. And that’s the point, these types can never be anyone’s adult for very long. They will revert to “checking out” of the relationship eventually & take on some form of addiction to distract & excuse themselves. Hopefully, Erin, you’ll be like the two women above who both “got the hell out of dodge”!

    • Very well said. Yes, an adulting problem.
      So many good comments here, in addition to Chump Lady’s clear analysis.

  • My experience has been that few people are really sympathetic to someone who says “I had an affair because I wanted to, and I saw an opportunity”, so adulterers need to come up with some kind of more socially acceptable justification (to us, to themselves and to the world). There’s a limited list to choose from (“my spouse is abusive” is the #1, I think; but “my spouse is mentally ill” is another; my impression is that “my spouse is frigid/neglectful” was pretty common in the past but is waning). I get the feeling that the addiction excuse is trending lately – particularly sexual addiction – because the general social narrative around addiction has tilted from condemning to sympathizing with the addict over the last few decades.

    Basically, it’s an explanation that deflects blame and that goes over pretty smoothly nowadays. Whether it’s “true” or not is (like many things) totally beside the point.

    • “My experience has been that few people are really sympathetic to someone who says “I had an affair because I wanted to, and I saw an opportunity”, so adulterers need to come up with some kind of more socially acceptable justification (to us, to themselves and to the world).”

      Spot on. The “we just fell in love” excuse is getting a bit threadbare as well. I think a lot of people are realising, “no, actually you have to go out looking for it”.

  • Infidelity is abuse, and you can’t be “addicted” to abusing abusing people. Otherwise there would be a wife beating addiction or a child neglect addiction.

    People who abuse other people do have deep issues, but it’s not addiction. They may be psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists, or have other cluster B issues, but they aren’t addicts.

    True addictions are also something a person can overcome, but people with cluster b disorders rarely change because they simply don’t see anything wrong with their behavior. Unlike an addict, their behavior is not out of their control, they simply feel entitled to do what they want.

  • In the end, it’s a choice. Either you go along, or you end it. That is fraught with all kinds of mental games and shared history. I get it. A male therapist friend of mine also believes that there are a host of issues underneath so-called “sexual addiction” that need attention first in these situations. In his experience, the offenders of course don’t stick with therapy though.

    I read Dr. Gottman’s material on trust including his book “What Makes Love Last?” during my own machinations, and that nailed it for me. I had no more trust in my husband, so I refused reconciliation. He claimed that the divorce would be easy and quick, and I knew that was a complete lie and began looking into attorneys who were a good match for his $700/hour bulldog. I nailed that decision and got a good settlement despite the crazy divorce process that even my older attorney called “memorable and unprecedented.”

    Yes, no trust left.

  • Dear Erin,

    I am an addict and an alcoholic. I have been in recovery and continuously clean and sober for 36 years.

    I never cheated.

    The issue is CHEATING. And TRUST. And SAFETY. And ABUSE.

    And as far as addiction/alcoholism is concerned, I wouldn’t date someone unless they had years of recovery and continuous sobriety under their belt. J

    I found out my own ex husband, claiming to be in recovery as well, lied for 27 years, and we went to therapy THE WHOLE 27 YEARS of our relationship.
    Cheating, lying, hiding money from me, probably also drinking and using, probably the entire time.

    If there is a next time, I am bailing on the FIRST lie and cutting ties.

    I would never ever partner with anyone claiming sex addiction.

    If you are a loyal, up front, monogamous person, hold out for someone else who is loyal, up front, and monogamous. There are plenty of people cool with cheating and lying and deceiving for him to screw around with. Don’t try to turn a cheater into a monogamist. It doesn’t work.

    Question. What is there to love about someone who has treated you so terribly? I’ve always had a good therapist
    Find one. And Al Anon? ❤️

    If you want a fixer-upper, buy a house. He has show you who he IS. Believe him. Personally, I would RUN.


    • Women Who Love Too Much, by Robin Norwood, was the book that launched me into seeking help. I am back into it, all these years later, as part of the post-mortem work on my marriage. Check it out.

      We never have guarantees when we get into relationships. Our power is in what we do with the incoming information when we get it. Expert liars can hide their secret double lives. We all have blind spots which may hinder our perceptions for a time.

      There is no shame in not seeing, and no shame in wanting to make it work. Once I was hooked in, it took support to see clearly, to figure out what I wanted, to value myself (still working on that!), to detach.

      I’m watching Who the %#@& Did I Marry on Investigation Discovery. The stories are mind-blowing. The Green River Killer was married. He was responsible for the murder of 48 women.

      I think it’s just good policy to bail at the first lie.

      Putting the focus on LYING sidesteps the whole debate about sex addiction.
      There is also sadly too much debate about what abuse is. Putting the focus on LYING also sidesteps that debate. Cheaters are LIARS, and if someone is lying, there is no intimacy possible with them. There is no healthy relationship possible with them.

      • I agree. I’ve had asks from guys that were hiding things, including one in particular who had a boatful of lies and a habit of blaming others. It’s not AA, but he was actually booted from my twelve-step group for lying because he was in a leadership role. His own son and daughter-in-law had already closed the door on him.

        I’m better off alone, truly.

      • “If there is a next time, I am bailing on the FIRST lie and cutting ties.”

        Ditto. I’ve wasted too much of my life on a liar 🤥

      • “There is also sadly too much debate about what abuse is. Putting the focus on LYING also sidesteps that debate. Cheaters are LIARS, and if someone is lying, there is no intimacy possible with them. There is no healthy relationship possible with them”.

        In a nutshell.👏👏

  • My mother called my sister a “sex addict”. I told her you can’t get addicted to the act of sex. She said “true, but you can get addicted to the dopamine hit”. Which I do agree with. My sister dealt with her 1st husband cheating and our fathers narcissistic behavior by becoming a cheater, “whore” and alcoholic herself. You can’t help anyone unless they want help themselves. According to her boyfriend and herself she has stopped drinking and hopefully stopped her cheating. I keep her at arms length though. Don’t trust her.

    • Yes, you get a dopamine hit from sex. But the choice of who/what to have sex with has nothing to do with dopamine. That’s on you.

  • Before I knew the depth of my (now) ex’s issues, that is, when I thought it was “just” 20-30 hours a week on internet gaming and porn, I begged him to understand addiction because in my chumpy mind, full of hope and logic, if he did so, he would get help and who would live like that if they didn’t have to? He refused, lied, covered up, screamed that I was not allowed to use the word “addict” because he wasn’t “some troll who lived under a bridge” (his words, not mine), he was a well-liked member of our community, etc. He refused to seek treatment, said his “therapist” told him he could manage his behavior with meditation, and I was just mean for “wanting” him to be an addict. That was a very confusing time for me, but it did lead me into understanding more about what addiction is and is not, and what true recovery could look like, and the power of detaching from another person’s choices about their behavior. It still took me 10 more years and his increasingly risky and outrageous behavior before I realized that he was not the least bit interested in having a different life… the one he had suited him just fine. He progressed to daily pot and alcohol misuse, along with at least one affair and on again/off again porn (mostly on) until I filed for divorce and tried to find the missing money. Then, in an on-going attempt to keep control of our daughter, he suddenly embraced the addiction framework and wanted all kinds of accommodations and understanding because suddenly NOW he saw the light of addiction. And he’s treating it with… meditation. Same “therapist.” And he recently told our daughter about spending days with a new game… but he didn’t use the word relapse, just declared that all he had to do to deal with this new part of his cycle is…. exercise and meditate! All this is to say, whether or not someone agrees that shitty behavior is part of addiction or not doesn’t really matter, it’s still shitty behavior and chumps MUST decide if they can live with someone using up all the resources of a marriage on clown noses, or pot, or APs, or sex workers, or porn, or whatever it is that cheaters hold with so much more regard than their faithful spouses, whatever the reason(s) that they do that. I now put the addiction question for my ex squarely in HIS skein of fuck-upedness, and I stay far away from it. I didn’t fuck up his skein, I can’t get him untangled, I have my OWN work to do.

    • “he was not the least bit interested in having a different life… the one he had suited him just fine. “

      Ouch. I only wish that I had been wise enough to see this.

      He was, however, a master at knowing exactly the number and sort of crumbs to throw at me to keep me where he wanted me.

      • yeah, well, it took me well over a decade, and yes, the crumbs, and my low standards, were part of it… hugs to you.

  • My ex told our daughter after blowing up our family “it’s what the men in my family do” after 37 yrs of crying to me what a crappy person his father was.
    What the hell is wrong with these people?

    • My ex would tell me how angry he was that his father had been an abusive alcoholic and how much he hated his dad for that. And then he became…an abusive alcoholic. He’d even say “I’m just like my dad”. But awareness did nothing to change his behavior. He also hated his mom for having cheated on his dad. But that didn’t stop him cheating on me.

  • x never said he had an addiction, but he did have a massive porn habit that he blamed on ME. It kept me down, feeling shitty and needing to try harder to please.

    After D-Day, he explained that he didn’t need porn with the OW…as if I was supposed to nod and agree that his cheating was actually a good thing because it had relieved him of his porn habit. The means justified the ends.

    Now that he’s married to the AP, dollars to doughnuts he’s resumed his daily porn diet. #desensitized

    • Spinach, I’m so sorry. Partner’s porn use really messed me up too, but he never said to me what yours did. Infuriating!

    • “Now that he’s married to the AP, dollars to doughnuts he’s resumed his daily porn diet.”

      I’ll bet he has, as well.

      He “didn’t need porn with the OW”, because at that point it was all new and sparkly. If, of course, he was telling the truth – he more than likely said that just to make you feel bad and inadequate. Bastard.😡

      But now it’s the whore who has to put up with his grimy little fetishes, so you win !

  • CL nutshells it: Either he has free will and he uses it to make selfish and hurtful decisions, or he has no free will due to his “addiction” and so lacks the ability to love and protect you. Either way, he’s not available for a relationship. Might as well date a fence post or a shark.

  • If it really was an addiction to the brain chemicals produced by sexual pleasure, then why wouldn’t sex with one person, plus masturbation, suffice?
    Somehow this “sex addiction” always seems to require the use of at least one other person to shore up the ego, plus the thrill they get from lying and sneaking around on the primary partner.

    So it isn’t really about sex per se. Sex is just the means of achieving what they really want- power and dominance.
    If they could be said to be “addicted” to anything, it’s abusing and one-upping their partners. These are people for whom human relationships are both competitive and transactional.

    • Thanks for this, OHFFS.
      I’ve heard alcoholics make use of mouthwash. But sex addicts don’t make use of wifey, they go trolling the internet….yeah, it’s not sex addiction.

  • What I see in CL’s pithy response is this —
    It DOESN’T MATTER if he’s an addict or an azzhole. You don’t want either scenario in your life, Erin. It’s a herculean effort to MOVE the focus from him to you, but so worth it. What do YOU want? You can probably have a loving, safe partnership if that’s what you want — but not with this person.

    I’m saying this particularly because you’re only a week out. Chances are good that he will come hoovering back around. Be ready and put together some tools that will keep you from wasting even more of your very precious time. What do YOU want out of life and love? YOU. That’s the focus. YOU and what YOU want.

    • Yes, and putting yourself first isn’t selfish or mean, since you are protecting yourself from harm.

      I really struggled with feeling like I was “abandoning” him. He would tell me I was leaving him alone with nothing. That he always knew I would leave him. That I never loved him.

      At first it worked. I would say, course I love you! I never wanted to leave you, I never wanted any of this to be happening!

      After an embarrassingly long time I realized I was being manipulated. I remember vividly “waking up” in the middle of one of those long talks and being like – wait a minute. How in the world, am I comforting HIM and trying to prove my love for HIM when he is the one actively destroying our marriage? Why isn’t he the one comforting me, giving me the space I need, or making tough concessions?

      It is takes time to pull your head out of the blender and realize when you are being twisted up and manipulated. Thank god for Chumplady or I would probably still be apologizing to him for all of my supposed shortcomings and wondering what I could do to make him treat me like a human being.

  • There’s no acceptable excuse for betrayal.

    Honestly – and I say this from personal experience, guilty as charged – so many of us waste so much time making excuses for addicts and the mentally ill.

    I’ve seen folks say you can give a chance if the person is in treatment. Personally, that’s not enough for me anymore. Addiction and mental illness can take years to treat, and the person may never make headway even if they stick with it. Even if they have good intentions. Even if they’re seeing the best doctors. Why am I the one who has to make concessions? Why do I have to be understanding? I can understand from a distance, sure, but I can’t have a relationship with the person. I’ve cut off blood relatives for less. I’m not a charity. I don’t owe anybody anything.

    Sometimes you’re just not compatible. Sometimes, the other person is simply not available for a relationship. Addiction and severe mental illness certainly qualify.

    It’s taken me a lot of therapy to fully understand that the only question is: “Is this relationship acceptable to me?”

  • I’m wondering about the so-called sex addicts… All of the people I have seen claiming this affliction are attractive – ready, willing, and able to attract lots of ‘takers’. What happens to the unattractive, smelly, etc., sex addicts? Or is it just a malady that goes hand-in-hand with opportunity? Mine was so handsome that strangers in restaurants, on the street, at theme parks, would approach us to tell him he looked like one movie star or another (Superman was most often cited). I vote Not An Illness, just an out of control ego.

    • The “unattractive” ones spend lots of time alone, masturbating to porn and webcam prossies. My observation from attending a couple of SAA/SLAA meetings.

    • Mine apparently looked like a particular swarthy soap actor favored by provincial barflies, repressed church ladies and sad bloaty office doorknobs but whom I find sort of icky. I never understood the slathering and fawning. And considering the types who fawned over him, I couldn’t imagine it going to his head the way it did. But after reading a study on how narcissists typically see themselves as hotter than they actually are, I suppose any ego-fodder and attention, no matter the source, feeds the delusion.

      I thought he was okay looking but it was hardly enough reason to marry him. Without character, he’s no great shakes. No one is.

  • They’re addicted to cheating, is what they are.

    If you’re at all familiar with addictions, you’ll see how they treat cheating as a substance: they shroud the habit in secret, they escalate the behavior, and it has damaging effects on them and others.

    This is the same as any other type of criminal activity – for those trying to normalize cheating.

  • I really like the idea of framing this as fraud. He has an addiction? Okay, well, he failed to inform me about this when he married me, and he even went to great lengths to cover it up so I wouldn’t know. I DIDN’T AGREE TO BABYSIT AN ADDICT. This is a sore point for me because FW used this all the time–telling me that every time he didn’t cheat for even a few weeks was a great victory and I should be rejoicing. I’m not even sure he was telling the truth about those dry spells, and even if he was, I’m pretty sure it was just lack of availability that caused them, not his personal resolve. He seemed very happy as an addict. I think we have to stop framing addiction as something that everyone wants to be free from. Some addicts are perfectly happy being addicted. They have no plan to change. They just resent being told they should deal with their problem. They only get distressed about the lack of money and time to pursue their addictions.

    FW is currently broke again because he blew all his money on gambling and prostitutes. So now of course he is sad. But if someone gave him more money, he’d be right back at the casino, thrilled for another opportunity to do it all again. He loves his addiction; he just hates the consequences.

    • “He loves his addiction”. Period. One of my high school friends loved alcohol so much he drank himself to death. He couldn’t sustain any relationships because he already had a love. Which killed him.
      My xFW had NO PROBLEM with his sex addiction/compulsiveness/hypersexuality, but regretted losing his wife-appliance, primarily because that particular sex hole was gone. Oh, and he actually had to get a JOB.

  • I think FWs who use the sex addiction cop-out are appealing to the “in sickness and in health” vow. I’m definitely not saying it’s valid or should sway any Chump. But they, consciously or unconsciously, know Chumps take their vows seriously.

    The one time I bothered to bring up “forsaking all others” to exFW, he immediately threw back “well YOU said ’til death do us part!'” implying that I also was breaking my vows by not accepting all behavior from him and immediately proceeding to the pick-me-dance. Luckily by then I had stopped caring about The Marriage, and his accusation had no effect except to make me carefully watch the Chris Watts documentary (til death?? Creepy!). But in early days, implying that I was abandoning my vows would have hurt.

    • “The one time I bothered to bring up “forsaking all others” to exFW, he immediately threw back “well YOU said ’til death do us part!’” implying that I also was breaking my vows by not accepting all behavior from him and immediately proceeding to the pick-me-dance”

      Yep. But the point is of course, that your fuckwit broke his vows *first*, so that makes the contract null and void.

      • Thanks, Chumpnomore. I’ve been in a twist about this in particular since that Alain de Botton bullshit article the other day. “At the command of a certificate…” Please! Y’all volunteered, then defrauded the Chump, then want the Chump to keep up his/her end of the bargain, and feel sorry for you to boot! Sex addiction or not, no thank you.

  • i think a lot of men have problems talking about their thoughts and feelings and, from an early age, fantasize*.

    i’m generalizing, i know. but. stereotypes exist for a reason.

    i think there’s a whole room in their head stuffed full of films they run when they need to escape from discomfort.
    1. feeling bored with regular life? i’ll run the tape of how i’m the boss of everyone, especially that bitch from HR who is hassling me about one of my hires, and my gorgeous secretary lusts after me, blows me in the conference room.

    2. feeling invisible? i’ll run the tape where i’m JAMES BOND running across the rooftops of the spice bazaar in Istanbul–then i’ll drink vespers and dress in outfits like JB wears, and that will make me feel better about myself. because i need to make myself feel better about myself because i’m full of shame.

    it’s simply a retreat into fantasy. there is no real ability for intimacy with someone who retreats into fantasy. it’s an immature way of thinking.

    2 years out from d-day, i still grappling with spending 30 years with a guy who didn’t see me for myself. i mean, i was rattling on about anything and everything that went through my head–i thought we were friends, right?–and he’s nodding and agreeing and patting my hand when i’m torqued up about things. and, the whole time, his head is full of fantasies and thoughts that he never shares.

    what an act!

    what a dope! i’m referring to me.

    *they have fantasies in their heads that i don’t ever want to know about. see secret sexual basement by Minwalla, best read with a sideways glance, because, christ on a bike, it’s fucking weird.

  • I don’t believe in sex addiction– not as an equivalent to substance addiction. I think cheating has a closer relationship to domestic battering which, though it can also involve compulsive behaviors, is leagues darker than addiction. Read criminologist Donald Dutton’s “The Batterer” or Evan Stark’s “Coercive Control” to get an idea of the overlaps between the psychology of cheaters and batterers (including the typical tact of rationalizing the behavior as a result of “addiction”). The similarities are chilling, give or take black eyes and broken bones.

    Imagine if batterers were called “punching addicts.” Then why wouldn’t they be found living in gyms compulsively socking punching bags or sneaking into meat packing plants to hammer sides of beef? It’s as stupid as reducing serial killing to “strangling/stabbing addiction. Battering hinges on demented hostility towards victims, sometimes masked dependency on partners that builds into pathological resentment and a need to betray in order to dilute that infantile dependence. It’s not just the act of physically hammering something that’s the draw. By the same token, psychologist Frank Pittman dismisses the “hypersexed” rationalization for cheating by pointing out that, if this were the sole issue, the hypersexual individual could find an equally sexual partner and end up having more and better sex than any cheater and would furthermore do everything they could to protect this union to keep things steamy.

    Bottles and pills don’t cry out in pain when you consume and use them but human beings do. To be callous enough to do this, the cheater has to already have the “rationalization machine”– one that exculpates themselves no matter what damage they do and negates and dehumanizes victims– polished and operating before the first dry hump in a parking lot with a drunken coworker. That ready-made callousness is the MO of batterers (not to mention serial killers), not addicts. Domestic abuse *requires* severely impaired empathy and a deep set need to control partners out of the gate. Substance addicts may eventually end up effectively lacking empathy and trying to control partners as they repeatedly hurt others and need to reason the damage away to continue pursuing their addictions but don’t necessarily start out that way.

    With substance addiction or even compulsive gambling, the pain and betrayal addicts cause to others start out at least somewhat remote from the activity itself. It’s not the very acts of swallowing the booze or pills or throwing the dice that inflict direct injury, it’s all the erratic behaviors and financial wreckage that *stem* from the behaviors that harm people around the addict. The addict may become abusive over time in order to prevent others from obstructing their addictions. Victims of cheating also get all the peripheral abusive behaviors meant to guard the abuser’s entitlement but the act itself is also directly and undeniably injurious– at the very least, transferring attention and intimacy to outsiders and exposing victims to life-threatening disease.

    The gambler might at least throw the dice with a fantasy of striking it rich and bringing home wads of cash for their family. The functional substance addict might top off while telling themselves they’re trying to be pleasant around their family and friends. The activities– in moderation– are also often things that can be done together with their partners or families (holiday eggnog, church bingo). With cheating– like battering– the damage is immediate, not remote. There’s nothing about cheating that can be normalized as a “family activity.” Families of addicts wouldn’t collapse in immediate grief, shock and horror and a sense of endangerment the first time they saw the individual sip a cocktail or play backgammon. It wouldn’t cause life-long damage. It’s only over time when families experience the costs of those behaviors and how the addict’s personality will change that they develop dread and terror. Cheating, like battering, does all that and more on first sight.

    There’s also the issue that virtually all batterers cheat and that individuals who cheat are statistically more likely to eventually become violent to partners. It’s not commonly discussed in the field of DV research. Because of the risk that negative bystanders and lousy helping professionals will misuse any mention of cheating within battering to discredit domestic violence victims on the grounds that victims “fabricated abuse out of jealousy,” DV survivors are discouraged from discussing that aspect of battering. But there’s increasing recognition of the role of infidelity in domestic abuse and coercive control.

    • “Bottles and pills don’t cry out in pain when you consume and use them but human beings do. To be callous enough to do this, the cheater has to already have the “rationalization machine”– one that exculpates themselves no matter what damage they do and negates and dehumanizes victims–”

      I love this. 👏👏👏👏

      • Minimizing abuse and rewriting it as “not abuse” is now a niche industry. Abusers won’t pay therapists who call a spade a spade– who call cheating, gaslighting and other forms of coercive control “intimate partner violence.” Therapists could also lose licenses for trying to reconcile victims with abusers. So, abracadabra, abuse becomes a “couole dynamic, victims become “not victims” and abusers become sad sausages.

        Even language and terminology have to be unnaturally mutated to fit the warped view. I cringe every time I hear someone use the term “trauma bonding” because it was coined by CSAT-founder and sex addiction guru Patrick Carnes to replace the far more accurate and to the point “captor bonding.” But Carnes’ version expediently removes the latter term’s clear reference to abuser (captor) and victim (captive). It scares me how Carnes’ bastardization has soaked so far into the culture that even victims have adopted his rotten coinage.

        It’s actually a pretty stupid thing to debate but the minimizing, “split blame” view of abuse is so widespread that we’re stuck having to make ornate arguments to combat ornate bs spouted by acredited soin doctors. By rights the minimizations and victim blaming/abuser coddling should easily be written off as crap and nonsense.

        • I remember Cheater once flying into a verbally and emotionally violent rage (while driving which means he was driving dangerously so I was being abused in more than one way at the same time). It was the only time I ever heard his rationalization out loud…as he started to emerge from his frenzy, I heard him tell himself “it wasn’t so bad”.

          Oddly, I normally have a keen memory for things people say but my mind purged the verbal violence of most of his rages…I dont remember what he said …but I know it was very bad and always ended the same “….marrying you was the worst mistake of my life”.

          • It might be interesting to realize that he could have gone to jail for up to 14 years for that kind of behavior even if he never laid a finger on you if all of this was happening in Scotland at the present moment.

            I remember dangerous driving or “tantrums while driving” was on the list of abusers’ paralyzing terror tactics when I was training to advocate for DV survivors. It’s definitely a batterer thing. If you were purging memories, that’s a sign of captor bonding/Stockholm syndrome. Captor bonding is a sign of being a captive. That means that there was an underlying threat of violence no matter how covertly or “accidentally” expressed.

            The thing I hate about pop-psych is that a lot of practitioners pretend that Stockholm syndrome isn’t a hardwired, universal and even successful response to impending threat. The bonding goes both ways. The victim shows loyalty to the abuser and abusers are moved by the seeming loyalty to show small vestiges of mercy (like not steering into an oncoming truck) that can, in some cases, make the difference between life and death. Since abusive personalities have an almost supernatural sensitivity to signs of rebellion and resistance in victims, the only truly safe strategy for a victim is to cease to even think rebellious or resistant thoughts in order to make the ruse of loyalty seamless. That includes erasing memories that might fuel rebellious impulses. It’s a way of playing possum or going into a “boxer’s clinch” for safety and, what’s more, it works. The mechanism only outwears its welcome when the victim has a chance to escape but doesn’t because of being conditioned by terror.

            His ending the every terrorizing tirade with “marrying you was the worst mistake of my life” was just to remind you of what he was going to tell other people if you dared to rebel. He was also programming how you filed the trauma in your traumatic memory (as “your fault/him as victim”)– as a threat to status and social existence. Another bit of human hardwiring is that threats of social alienation– pushing someone out of the protective tribal fold– spelled certain death back in our caveman days. Part of our lizard brain still responds to threats of blackballing as though our lives were at risk. Even if the conscious mind understands that’s unlikely to happen, the immediate reaction is a surge of lizard brain adrenaline and terror that wipe you out for a couple days, weeks or months– enough time for the perp to double down on the Skinner box shock treatment to keep you paralyzed.

            • The “tantrums while driving” were terrifying. I didn’t know that was a thing other chumps also experienced.

              In addition to this, FW loved to push and push and push ‘til I finally exploded. He had me stuck in a small space while goading me and for some reason, I was the unbalanced one.

              Sometimes I’d get out and start to walk home, no matter how far away we were. He’d always follow me though, and I always got back in the car sheepishly.


            • “I remember dangerous driving or “tantrums while driving” was on the list of abusers’ paralyzing terror tactics when I was training to advocate for DV survivors. It’s definitely a batterer thing. ”

              My ex used this all the time. I hated driving with him. And it was always my fault for being a “terrible backseat driver”, or for being “critical” of him. I wasn’t allowed to show fear (closing my eyes, or gripping the door handle because I couldn’t stay in my seat otherwise) when he drove in that terrifying way, because I was insulting him if I did. He’d speed, stop and accelerate rapidly (particularly if we were stuck in traffic – slamming the brakes and then flooring it when there was space in front of us), and swerving between lanes. He also used the “captive audience” (me in a car) as an opportunity to launch horrific verbal assaults on me, screaming at me, calling me derogatory names, making threats. One time it was so bad I actually opened the car door while it was moving because he refused to pull over and let me out. I wasn’t planning on jumping (I still had my seatbelt on), but I was trying to show him, I suppose, the effect his behavior was having on me. Our 3 year old child was in the car, and even THAT wasn’t enough to stop him verbally abusing me. And of course he turned this situation completely around and got angry at ME for “trying to commit suicide in front of our kid”. He kept telling that story for years and years, including to the courts. I explained what really happened in our divorce paperwork and to the custody evaluator.

              Another time he screamed at me so loudly that it caused physical pain, and when I told him he didn’t have to scream because I was right there, and that it was hurting my ears (I have nerve damage from a medication I had been on), he said “I can scream if I want to”. Again, it was MY fault and he told me he didn’t want me to drive him home from his appointment, so I left (and found out later he called AP to get him, saying “we” had a fight – but “we” didn’t, it was all him – and of course she dropped everything and came).

              After that experience I swore I’d never get in a car with him again, and I didn’t. Over the course of our marriage (and after) he got in so many “minor” car accidents (never his fault, OBVIOUSLY), racked up so many speeding tickets and fines (once getting his license suspended due to the number of points and requiring over $1,000 and a lawyer to clean that up), that our car insurance more than doubled. It was ridiculous. I begged him to slow down and be careful and he never did. He would lie and would hide his tickets, only telling me weeks or months after it happened. We were hard up financially, and did NOT have the money to spare for this stuff. Once he took a trip to NYC with AP (“just a friend”, you know) for his birthday and I ended up having to pay the nearly $500 speeding ticket he got on that trip. /vomit/

              Once we were separated, I had to get a new car at one point and I took the opportunity to separate our insurance. I haven’t had a traffic ticket (other than a repair order for a broken headlight) in over ten years. His insurance company dropped him a few months later because of his record (I know because we had the same broker who called me because he couldn’t reach my ex), and I have no idea what exhorbitant rate he had to pay for whatever shady company would take him. When he died, he had thousands of dollars of unpaid tickets and about $1,500 in motor vehicle administrative flag fees. I also found out he’d been driving with expired tags for four months because he couldn’t pay the fees that would have let him renew them. I sold the car (jointly owned), turned in the plates, and left all that behind.


    • This is a great link. Thanks so much for both the thought-provoking post and the link.

      • HOAC’s posts are always so thought provoking. I love how her posts motivate me to follow her links, and find out so much information and points of view I didn’t know existed.

        • It’s very comforting to know that people with multiple degrees in social sciences see fit to study these things and, after long consideration of the facts, come out on the side of survivors. It makes up for all the shitheads with multiple degrees in social sciences who, after long consideration of profits and sponsorship opportunities and their own personal failings, defend abuse and abusers.

  • Seems the chump here is looking for a reason to stay with this “ non additive addict.” It’s an excuse on his part of having it both ways. There’s nothing to work with here plus she’s wasting her time with this loser. Years go by quickly.. they add up and in my case 35 years were wasted except I’m blessed for my son.
    She should run away from this obvious cheater. 😈

    • It’s so easy to fall prey to an abuser and so hard to get out. Some survivors are looking for excuses to stay but many are looking for reasons to leave to counter all the messaging that they shouldn’t. It probably depends on how much social and cultural pressure someone is enduring to stay in a doomed relationship and, probably more importantly, how much an abusive partner might have spellbound the victim into believing that A) the whole world will condemn and reject the victim for “cruelly abandoning” the abuser; B) the victim is so horrible that no one else will ever want them and they’ll spend their remaining years living shunned, friendless and alone in a cardboard box. Or C) the abuser will go postal and take out a city block.

      I think every survivor should write out the full narrative of any abusive relationship to spark memories of all the social pressures they were under to stay and to remember all the intricate ways abusers tend to frog-boil and relentlessly wear victims down over the years with negative messaging until victims are conned into thinking there’s no life beyond the abuser. Every cheater on earth is Louis the XV declaring “Apres moi, le deluge!” (“after me, the flood”). I swear even the abusers who do the Houdini act and ghost their chumps out of the blue are simply terrified that, if they look back, they’ll see their victims eventually moving on and having better lives. That goes against narc rules! Narcs can only enjoy their “freedom” if they can imagine a victim curled up in the fetal position forever crying their names.

      If anything, I think abuse is intense Pavlovian conditioning. And on top of it are all the social pressures. Even the public’s lack of understanding of abuse dynamics is a form of social pressure since, if the victim escapes, they face a world that won’t easily understand what happened to them or their choices. The thing is that people with integrity love their integrity. If a partner and the culture are screaming at them that leaving an abusive relationship (or ever having been in one to begin with) is a sign of poor character, it’s a severe threat to identity for someone who values character. All that bad conditioning has to be deprogrammed for people to make the difficult break with a clean conscience. Even if the culture shifts into screaming at victims that they’re weaklings and freaks for *not* leaving, I don’t see how that helps counter all the paralyzing and shaming messaging that abusers are known for. Shame as a cure for paralyzing shaming?

      Anyway, I never judge anyone for how long it took them to escape. They deserve the same victory parade whether it’s 7 years or 35.

  • Consider attending some Al-Anon meetings to help understand what being in a relationship with an addict means. Al-Anon is helpful regardless of if you think sex addiction is a thing (I don’t, but I do believe in disordered sexual urges that are mostly driven, IMO, in modern times by porn). Essentially, whatever is wrong with your partner, you didn’t create, you can’t change, and you can’t control. And, it’s ill advised to get into or stay in a romantic partnership with an active addict.

    If your cheater really does have an addiction, then they need to handle it. You can be supportive from afar if that’s what you chose to do. Or, you can leave them to it and decide you’ve been through enough pain already.

    I personally would leave the relationship ASAP, let him know that sex addiction is not a recognized disorder and that you believe he’s using it as a smokescreen for cheating, then go no-contact and file for divorce. If he’s a unicorn and can get help and change, that’ll become apparent over time, but you can extract yourself from that process.

    • I wonder if sex disorders can be driven by a father. My fw told me not long after we were married that his dad told him to get as much (sex) as he could.

      He wasn’t telling me in a way that felt like he was threatening me or anything. In those early years he talked a lot about the effect of his dads alcohol abuse and such.

      Not saying that was his issue, just weird when looking at other info.

  • There were two key authors that changed the course of my healing. One was Chump Lady and the other Dr Minwalla. I don’t believe in sex addiction but I do believe in Minwalla’s views on the terrible impact that those with “compulsive sexual behaviour” leave behind. In my view, compulsive sexual behaviour is the same as entitlement. And I also believe it’s a train wreck that just gets worse over time. My ex FW said he “had” to have a life filled with sexual sadism. According to him he tried using porn, hookers, sex clubs and then he finally found a woman who would not only allow him to do whatever he wanted to her body, but she would allow him to do whatever he wanted, with anyone he wanted. He “offered” me the chance to stay married to him, but the conditions were that I had to allow his sexual sadism with other people in the “scene”. I personally don’t believe these things get “better” unfortunately. I also personally can’t see how open relationships with a known liar will work. Wives and children are just collateral damage. When I said “no” to my ex, he just shrugged and packed his bags. 25 years down the tubes. Erin-you only have 7 years invested. Get out!

    • Yes good point about compulsive behavior. My FW suffered from OCD, OCPD, NPD. Intrusive thoughts and behaviors. Can be sexual in nature. Could be checking the door locks, or light switches, ect. But true addiction it is not. And even people with OCD they can do cognitive behavior therapy and take SSRI to help. I know if I suffered from OCD and I was about to loose my family due to compulsive sex acts. I would take SSRI and do CBT and do whatever it took not to loose them.

  • Unless you have kids with your FW, the kindest thing you can do for yourself is to go NO CONTACT. You know he’s not good for you, and his “sex addiction,” real or not, means he is not an acceptable partner. Period.

    My ex didn’t claim to be a sex addict (that concept wasn’t a thing back then), but he avoided accepting responsibility for hurting me so he could maintain his image of himself as a “good person.” He was only sorry he got caught. The way I was able to break that terrible limbo of loving someone who wasn’t good for me was to cut off all contact.

    Tell your cheater that you’re cutting off contact for your own mental health (you are), and that by asking you to stay he’s harming your own mental health (he is). You can do this. Time and distance can be great healers. You’ll get great support from Chump Nation to help you in the days ahead.

  • ” I need to read more on this to give myself the power to keep seeing through the BS”

    Read more, by all means, knowledge is never wasted, but keep CL’s mantra in the forefront of your mind, *is this acceptable to me* ?

    Just remember he has consistently *lied* to you, and is now trying to use the bullshit rationalisation of ‘sex addiction’ to trample your boundaries. This fucker wants to eat cake, topped with guilt/pity inducing icing. Tell him the bakery is closed. 💖

    • “This fucker wants to eat cake, topped with guilt/pity inducing icing. Tell him the bakery is closed.”

      Yep. When I read this I remember that my FW oh I would say maybe a year before the day he left, brought up the saying “have your cake and eat it too”. I can’t remember the context, but I do remember him saying “I (meaning him) never understood that saying, of course you want to eat your cake and have it too blah blah blah”. I did explain the saying to him, but didn’t really think about it until quite a while after he left. I am betting the dirt bag was using the conversation to laugh in my face and get a few extra duper tingles out of it.

      I do wish on Dday I had said well this bakery is closed. Guess you now know what CHYCAEIT means. Maybe he wouldn’t have gotten it right away, but a few months later when he was busted, and drop kicked out of the winners circle he would have remembered I said it.

  • 💯 agree with DSM; Sexual depravity is NOT an addiction. It is a thinly veiled excuse for being a Douche.
    Xhole told me he had “an addiction to internet porn” when I discovered his prostitute searches on his computer. There was NO pornography pics. Just prostitute ads with “call me at this #”, etc. Our “Marriage Counsellor” (extortionist of marital monies who clearly gets off on watching a victim get skewered by perpetrator in session) said NOTHING to call the perp out! Looking back, I’m positive she was thinking CA-CHING!$$$

    Yes, Cheaters always use some excuse to play the Victim, but here is the key…
    If the Chump dates to question that addiction excuse… Whoah look out! Here comes a great big serving of PROJECTION and BLAME SHIFTING.
    Duck and cover, Chumps. You are about to be shelled.

  • During our marriage, my ex watched porn. Didn’t bother me then. Found several porn cds in “his office” after DDay. Had to rethink that “porn is ok” attitude of mine. Maybe it did contribute to his wandering..I don’t know! It just doesn’t matter.

    • It really doesn’t matter in the realm of “is this acceptable to me.” But, in terms of bad societal influences, generally, and things to protect our children from…porn is certainly on the list. I think early involvement in graphic porn, which is essentially ALL porn out there these days, can incorrectly wire a young person’s brain toward a certain sexual predilection that may or may not be functional in a health relationship. It’s no excuse for cheating, but it does help to explain why some people end up craving these fetish acts.

      • Considering our common ancestry with the rapey, infanticidal chimpanzee, anything that peels back the fragile layers of civilized and empathic evolution that lie between modern humans and our Clockwork Orange roots should probably be avoided. If violent streaming porn is doing that, it should be rethought. So what if depersonalized, gonzo, gang-bang sex is “natural” and at our evolutionary core. So is cannibalism and no one’s forming groovy movements to bring that shit back.

  • Dear OP, as your instincts are telling you, that these disordered people lie. They tell whatever story they think works for them at the time. When that fails, they tell another lie. They would easily lie about addiction if they saw a benefit to the lie.

    My FW told me every day until the day he blindsided me with a divorce demand that he loved me. Lie, in retrospect. Then he told me he needed to “be alone” because he was suffering a “mental health crisis.” I went into immediate help mode, as anyone would when a loved one was suffering, only to find out that “being alone” and “working on his mental health” meant moving into a college dorm, at the tender age of 34, to date a 19 year old.

    At the end of the day, please take care of yourself and let him sort out his own problems. You will have so much more peace.

    • “…moving into a college dorm, at the tender age of 34, to date a 19 year old.” Even if you were an alien who didn’t understand love and loyalty, that’s just cringe-by-association embarrassing. I wish some techy angel would visit you with digital recordings of all the cracks, jokes and comments that other post-adolescent dorm dwellers made about the creepy old perv in room 68.

    • Ha. FW told me he “needed to be alone” too, to figure things out. I went to stay with my mom for a few days to give him space. He texted me the next day not to come home. I’m pretty sure he had AP in the house that very night, and since she proved amenable, he decided to ditch me.

      He’d also call me during the Covid quarantine period and cry about how he was “all alone” (our son was staying with me, for safety reasons, since I could work from home) and demanding all kinds of things, like thrice-daily calls from our kid (who wasn’t always interested). I discovered later that AP had all but moved into my house during that time and that they’d been doing it since the very beginning of the quarantine.


  • I remember seeing an Oprah interview as a teenager. It was a priest convicted of pedophilia. They disguised his voice and face. He said he couldnt help himself. That he entered a trance like state when arounds kids, that made him do it. That scared me as a kid. That you could not be able to control yourself. As an adult I understand that the trance like state was him being sexually excited. I also understand that as an adult you do have control over what you let yourself give into. It most definitely is a choice. Yes I get horny sometimes and excited and yes it can be trance like. You are in a different state of mind. That being said I choose to express that in a healthy way. Dont believe the BS. We all experience the exact same sort of excited feelings and we are not all sex addicts. We all fall for that BS at some point with our FW. They all use that BS on us. Then we figure out they are full of BS.

  • Someone who has an active addiction is not fit for a relationship. Protect yourself legally, by a separation agreement. Get STD testing.
    If he balks at this, he’s not capable of agreement and commitment to anyone. So it doesn’t matter about the addiction – his lack of action to agree to help you care for your needs would show terrible immaturity.
    I was married to a guy like this for 36 years. Didn’t let me know he had a problem with controlling himself until year 11.
    My thoughts above came about after my divorce. I did all the SANON & cSAT route. He never did the work and yanked me along in the lie that he was “trying.”
    I do feel sorry for him. He ruined his life. Who knows if SA is a behavioral addiction. I’m sure these guys are distressed at times. But it takes way too much out of a spouse to navigate that shit and just when you think life is good, BAM. Your life can be ruined in one moment by his “slip.”

  • I just had to weigh in – been there! I caught him in bed with another guy – wearing women’s underwear. After finding a bunch of personal profiles for anonymous sex – which were just for fantasy – right. I was going to fix this – $35K rehab, years of no working because he had to go to 12 step meetings, couples therapy, individual therapy. And I couldn’t say much about me and how I was feeling because yes as Chumplady says – that would give the timid forest creature toxic shame and he would have to go out and get fucked again. And of course I had to go to his therapist and hear about his “relapse” because that is normal and to be expected. No sex for years after – he only liked anonymous or humiliating sex and he could not do that with me. Then guess what – 6 or 7 years later he didn’t love me and he left! Guess what, he could never have been that deep to do what he did. Entitlement! Tracey is 1000% spot on. Read the book. I stuck with it – I had children, a mortgage and a life. He later made the choice for me. I guess the answer is figure out if this is all ok with you. Not sure how it could be for any reasonable person but I am telling you – yes, I was going to fix it. Be strong. Take care of yourself – it is NOT YOU.

  • Dear Erin, Seven years of this suffering is enough. He lies, he cheats, he excuses himself. It’s futile to get into discussion here about what you “love” about this who is lying to you and manipulating you, but consider this: You can love someone but leave him because you love yourself more. You can leave him because your self-respect demands that you not be a doormat. You can leave him because he has not and is not living up to his end of the marriage contract or the relationship agreement, where you thought you had agreed to fidelity. You can, if you want, leave him and still “love” him because love, in this sense, means holding someone accountable for their bad, abusive behavior. You can leave him because the best thing for this guy is finding out that you won’t tolerate his abuse any longer.

    I hope everyone who reads today’s blog post pays attention to this statement by CL:
    “He has an ‘addiction’?
    Well then, he’s not available for a relationship. So either way you slice it — a fuckwit with agency or an addict without agency — he’s NOT AVAILABLE FOR A RELATIONSHIP. He’s a creep and a user, or he’s a poor sausage who needs to do a lot of work on himself. Same conclusion — he can’t be in your life.”

    It doesn’t matter if someone is addicted to alcohol, cocaine, heroin, meth, crack, fentanyl, or something like gambling. Someone who is an addict is NOT AVAILABLE FOR A RELATIONSHIP. Their relationship is with their substance (Jack Daniels or cocaine or meth) or their behavior (gambling). If you are dating someone or married to someone with an active addiction–get out. Get out ASAP. You can always go back if the addict gets clean and begins to make amends and changes behaviors. I know many addicts who live a sober lifestyle, so it’s possible. It’s just not possible to be in an intimate relationship if they’re using. Let the addict focus on getting clean and sober for enough time to be habitually sober, so to speak. Then see how it is to be in a relationship with that person if you have any thought of going back.

  • Another helpful take is on Lundy Bancroft’s blog, It’s titled Hiding Behind Sex Addiction. Lundy has come to be a big reason why I decided to kick my exfw to the curb. It’s not narcist ,It just plan entitlement, and a desire to have power over someone else. It is all abuse.

    • Lundy Bancroft was *hugely* helpful to me. I remember reading “Why does he do that”, and gasping, yes, yes – this is fuckwit to a T, and internalising that I was *not* responsible for that arsehole’s behaviour. That was absolutely *seminal* for me.

      In fact, LACGAL, and “Why does he do that”, were books that completely changed my thinking, and consequently my approach to the abuse that was foisted on me. I stopped seeing the abuse as something I’d caused, and realised that I had actually nothing to do with it, that it was all to do with fuckwit’s fucked up view of relationships, and it was *not my fault* !!

      That was so liberating, because all my life I’ve been indocrinated with the idea that I was responsible for every bad thing that happened, that my reactions caused everyone else’s. I’ve been a mug, and I’ve only just realised it.

  • Has anyone here ever invited their current or ex FW to read Dr. Minwala’s “Secret Sexual Basement”? I’m curious as to if they read it and recognized themself, or better yet – apologized for inducing trauma in their spouse’s/partner’s life. I’m considering sending the article to my STBX, but that may give him too many kibbles of delight. Limited contact/grey rock is working for me.

    • They never apologize, JML. They think they did nothing wrong. Do not open that door, for your own sake.

    • JML, I was dumped after 26 years and discovered the long-standing affair with exgfOW (it probably lasted the whole 26 years) a few weeks later. While I was desperately and unknowingly pick me dancing, I provided the ex with material from Resolution, the UK’s relationship guidance charity. He pulled a sad sausage face, said gravely ‘I will read it’, and hugged me. Of course, he didn’t read the material. He never admitted the affair, the furthest he got was ‘I won’t talk about that piece’. I felt humiliated for having given him the material and asking him to read it. I still feel humiliated about that. It gave him another topic of conversation and cause for mockery with OW. It’s so important to accept that they do not care. Sometimes they look as if they care, in order to manipulate the chump to give them what they want in that second. They get what they want and they flip the care switch to off. It takes a particular type of person to cheat, whatever they are cheating at. The behaviour betrays a deep dishonesty which extends to every area of their lives. You could give the FW the article. They might say they will read it and lie that they have done so. You will then proceed on the basis that they are better informed and make decisions grounded on that incorrect belief. Those decisions will hurt you at some point. Focus only on yourself and what you know about yourself. Work on that. I feel for you because it is so hard to let go of hope. Good luck.

      • Thank you for your reply, Mighty Warrior. I’m stuck, thinking I may have an actual unicorn. For the past year, he has been acting with what appears to be real remorse, but I find myself waiting for the next shoe to drop. I refer to him as my STBX because I think ultimately I will divorce him. I can’t “un-know” what has been disclosed so far. We’ve been together 39 years. In his words, he has “discovered God and realizes that the way he was living all those years was outside the will of God.” He says he understands if I need to divorce him, but has offered to be the “husband he should have been to me all along.” It’s infuriating that he so casually destroyed my sense of security and well-being, then flipped a switch and is now choosing to be a decent person.

        I’ve asked God to send a real “storm” into his life to see if he returns to his porn and prostitute “coping mechanisms.”

        Has anyone ever been able to set aside the past and move forward with a new life together, or am I just sniffing unicorn dust?

        I think it would take a more extraordinary person than me to forgive and believe when he claims that “he died to self and is a new creature in Christ.”

        • “but I find myself waiting for the next shoe to drop”

          Sweetie, that’s no way to live. Investing 39 years and then walking away is hard. But please consider putting yourself first. Just because someone “changed” doesn’t erase what they did, and living in a state of hypervigilance is so unhealthy. You aren’t obligated to stay just because he’s decided to [at least pretend to] be a decent person. He could just be explointing religion because he knows you are religious and thinks that’s the most effective way to keep his kibbles. It’s a very effective form of manipulation, because as a religious person you “can’t” really argue with the idea of a changed heart. (I’m not religious now, but I was raised that way and was religious for many years – I get it.) You *can* tell him “God has forgiven you, but I cannot” and move on with YOUR life. You don’t have to waste another 20 or 30 years with someone who “so casually destroyed my sense of security and well-being”.

          Hugs to you. It’s actually lovely on the other side, away from people like this. It’s scary to jump ship, but the swim to your tropical paradise isn’t as difficult or as far as you may think.

  • Yep, active addicts might be even worse than cheaters. I’ve dated both and neither one can offer a healthy relationship. Most of the time cheaters are addicts of some type. They’re usually people with impulse issues and major problems with proper coping skills so it’s not entirely unusual for them to have some addiction issues to add to their glowing resumes of fuckwittery. Either way it’s a fast track to trauma and heartache. Nothing but a trip down nightmare alley with these types.

    My ex FW told me he had a porn addiction (he does), he didn’t blame the cheating on it, but I do think it contributed to some huge problems in our marriage and definitely made the cheating more likely to happen when I look back on it. The minute I heard that, I wanted to cut and run. Crazy as it sounds it made me want to leave more than the affair. I have way too much experience with addicts to know that it rarely ends well with them and often ends incredibly tragically and dramatically. Well, I called it correctly.

    He also has a video game addiction, internet addiction, and developed a pretty heavy drinking habit towards the end that last I know he hasn’t changed. So, he’s not getting better, only worse. That’s usually the case with addicts, and if they’re using their addiction as an excuse or for sympathy, you can forget. Cheaters and addicts are both really good at manipulation and they use it every chance they get.

  • Erin, Google ‘Hiding behind sex addiction Lundy Bancroft’. You’ll see an article on his website I think would be helpful to you.

  • “I don’t think it matters what cheaters disguise themselves as, the fuckwittery is pretty much in plain sight.”

    This made me laugh so much 🤣🤣🤣

  • Because they ARE addicts (my opinion). Not an excuse, but it does explain a lot of the behavior.
    Many cheaters are disordered, damaged people who don’t seek help or take responsibility for their issues.

    One famous example of this was when Halle Berry learned that ex-husband Eric Benet was a serial cheater.
    He reluctantly went to therapy for sex addiction but it was too late. They divorced after more lies and deception on his part. Cheaters can certainly be addicts because they are either wired differently, or there is some unresolved issue they have never dealt with (so they hurt other people).

    In my case, I discovered (way too late!) that my husband had several addictions…compulsive gambling, porn, hookers, cam girls, online gaming, etc.
    Just a shitty and shady “secret” life. And then there were the emails/texts between him and two female coworkers, one of them being a fake-blonde piece of trash who is married with two children.
    I seriously considered emailing her husband to tell him about what they were up to since 2012.

    I wouldn’t say that they disguise themselves as addicts because that is what many of them are.
    They seem to engage in compulsive behavior (often destructive) with no care or thought for what will happen when it comes to light. With addicts of any kind, it’s all about the next hit, the next fix.
    I saw this in my husband (will be “ex” at some point because I’ve fucking had it).

    His Internet history, the one he had secret for years, is filled with porn and nasty sexist things between him and his friends.
    Things about how hookers are better than “normal” women…like wives and moms who work hard to take care of our responsibilities.
    Oh, and the blonde coworker I mentioned above? I found emails to her from him stating how he wanted to live a “child-free” life (although he told me he wanted kids).

    These people ARE addicts, and they are losers. Harsh but true. They are broken deep down. Also…shout out to Portia! She broke it down so well with saying that porn (while not an excuse) can be where some of this starts.
    A cheater’s brain can be wired over time to feel that this is “normal”. After many years of these visuals, their sense of what is truly normal goes out the window.

    I had no problem initially with my husband looking at porn or images of women.
    It became a problem when he stopped having sex with me, his attitude changed, and then in 2016 or so I suspected that he was meeting with people.
    Then I found his Twitter account following tons of women (some coworkers, half of whom I don’t know). That’s when it hit me that yes…he has a problem. This person is an addict. And because he doesn’t want to admit it or work on his issues, I have to make a plan.
    I need to somehow find a good job, work on self-improvement, and find a way out of this.

  • My STBXH had a secret underground life. How did I know? He asked for more and more. I was never ever enough. I told him I felt like a vending machine. He laughed. I began to feel completely used. If he did anything fir me in the house he expected to be “paid”. I told him I felt he had expectations I could not meet. He said others could if I didn’t. It was very progressive and I became an object only. No tenderness, no caring. I sacrificed my body and my mental health and left me after 32 years telling me others could do way better. I am sorry but porn destroys the dignity of woman, turns us into objects, creates Illusions of power over and entitlement. And from my experience It also causes mental changes that leads to arrogance. It took 32 years for my husband to change from a gentle kind man into a user until he and a coworker ran into a room closed the door and did it at work. That does not happen overnight. Just baby steps of brain changing porn. My husband said I was never good enough like all the woman out there and he wanted to try as many as possible at the age of 61.
    I cannot raise another child and i know I had his best years and they are gone. An elderly sex driven pervert is not any way to spent my retirement. Nope, I am No contact!! Forever I hope.

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