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Should I Sleep With My Ex?

Dear Chump Lady,

What do you think of sex with the STBX? I’ve lost weight and am looking pretty good. I want him to see and feel (with a condom) what he is missing. To screw with him the way he did with me all these years. Thoughts?

Nomorechit

****

Dear Nomorechit,

I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. It’s very un-meh, and will really set back your healing. Besides, rewarding a cheater with sex is essentially performing the “Pick Me” dance naked. You tell yourself that, oh no, it’s different, because in your fantasy, you’re going to dump him. Hah! He’ll be dancing to YOUR tune now!

Really, why do you think he’d dance? Because he’s your “soon” to be ex? Oh no, he’s really going to lose you now! So maybe he’ll value you more? Because you’re thinner? He’s already shown you how much he values you by cheating on you — your BMI doesn’t change that. You think you’re going to screw with him, but having sex with him just reinforces his centrality. To him AND to you.

Having sex with your STBX or ex is just the bargaining stage of grief, IMO. You tell yourself nonsense like, oh, I’ll fuck with HIM and see how he likes it. (He’ll like it very much. Cake is delicious.) Or, you think, well, I can’t have a marital relationship with this person, but maybe I can use them as a “friend with benefits.” (Bargaining.) You know, just downgrade the relationship. But lurking in there is the thought that it will be so amazing, your belly will be so flat and your arms so un-jiggly that He Will See What He Is Missing and chase you for once.

Pray to God that doesn’t happen. When you’re trying to get one of these wingnuts out of your life, the LAST thing you want is for them to pursue you with a new ardor. It’s a dance we do with the disordered — the whole cycle of abuse. You’re missing your honeymoon stage of the cycle,  when it’s intense and the laser beam of sparkles is focused right on you, and the make-up sex is mind blowing. Of course what follows is the devaluing, and then tension builds, and he’ll act abusively again, and try and make it up to you with more honeymooning.

You’re telling yourself, this time it will be different. You’ll get all the goodies without having to put up with the rest of the crappy cycle. Go ahead, devalue me! Cheat! I won’t care this time!

Of course you’ll care. Your head will be full of happy, love neurotransmitters from the sex. You’ll bond. It will still hurt like a motherfucker when he inevitably cheats on you or treats you like shit again. Don’t kid yourself. You aren’t a disordered person, you’re a chump. You can’t be like them and you shouldn’t want to be like them — using and abusing people.

Put down the hopium pipe. And save your thinner, healthier self for a partner who deserves you.

****

This column ran previously.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • One word. With no sugarcoating.

    Manipulative.

    And I don’t want to be manipulative. I don’t want to manipulate someone into a relationship with me. Not to mention that cheaters are the Olympic gold medalists in the sport of manipulation, and I don’t want to compete in a game. Which is exactly, and only, what a “relationship” with a cheater is.

    I want to be voluntary, clean, clear, and conscious in all my relationships. I want to protect myself, not re-traumatize myself.

    That being said, I did engage in some post DDay sex. My number one regret. Because I realized what I said above too late. 😪

    My preference is for sex as an expression of love, for myself and the person I am with, and that the feelings are mutual.

  • I needed this advice after Dday and CN didnt exist yet

    (and if it had, I would have ignored it, in fact, I stumbled across CL early in her service to Chumpdom and my reaction was something akin to “Oh fiffle, those poor souls should have done what I did and they too could be a Unicorn” – hence my name)

    Refusing to serve up cake on a platter might have lessened the subsequent 7 years of suffering by a few years.

    Dont do it…they have already showed you (likely hundreds of times) what a ghastly poor partner they are.

    • I did the same. It wasn’t CL that I came across, though. In my belief that klootzak really was a sex addict, I sought online support for partners of sex addicts. And the board was filled with spouses who had divorced and run as far as they could from their cheater exes. And they didn’t believe in unicorns.

      I left the page right away. I even brought it up in counseling as I wanted to share that I was interested in keeping our marriage going. I was hopeful the counselor was going to direct me to a group who had fought for their marriages and won! The last thing I wanted to hear was that I needed to leave.

      Instead of getting free, I got myself stuck longer and now with a child involved will have a much more complicated divorce and never ending ties to klootzak. I want to kick my own ass some days….

  • Let’s reframe the question:

    Dear CL,
    Should I keep begging for scraps by screwing my stbx? It is crazy to pretend it would mean something to him beyond a cheap lay? I know he devalued me by screwing whores but dammit I lost weight and look good! Maybe if I offer free, easy sex he’ll notice how good I look!

    Doesn’t sound so great now. Listen to CL and save yourself for someone who values you.

  • Well put, CL 👏 I made this mistake with an ex-boyfriend (a different FW). It did not make my heart feel any better. I just lowered myself to his FW level. The mental gymnastics your heart is trying to get your brain to work out…well we’ve all been there because being heartbroken sucks. Just bandage your heart up for now & move on somewhere where there’s a better clinic, doctor & treatment plan.

  • In some locations, having sex may imply a legal acceptance of infidelity or a re-start to the clock for separation requirements. It will also muddy those same issues emotionally when clarity is needed.

    • Yes – In Virginia divorce cases, for example – “condonation” is a legal defense (by the manipulative cheater) to an adultery charge by the chump. Source – me as naive pick-me dancing chump, against scumbag attorney husband who I put through law school early in the marriage. I had no idea what the word meant.

  • Everything CL says is spot on.

    When we objectify ourselves, we’re just doing half of the devaluing work for the cheaters and other toxic narcissists. They’re the kind of people who rate others body part by body part as if we’re all modular sex dolls to be used then discarded when we get boring. “Face is a 6, legs are a 9, ass is a 2, well I guess the obviously amazing me could throw that highly imperfect person a quick one, just to be nice.”

    There’s no reason weighing less, or more, changes anything that matters about whether or how we engage with cheaters or any other abusers. If we’re thinking of ourselves as legitimately more valuable because of superficial physical changes, that’s a sign we need to do a lot of personal development work. How does a person in that mental space cope with the natural, inevitable changes of aging, or a health change that is also appearance and/or ability changing, when the person’s self-view is so superficial? Nobody stays young and smooth and able to walk, grip objects, see, hear, speak clearly, etc. forever. What then?

    I say, take the desire to see superficial change as a change in personal value as a sign that we’re ready to explore self esteem more deeply. Channel the energy for good. Become a person who can be happy (at a core level, not at every moment in life) in any physical body.

    When you lose all desire to be desired by/interesting to abusers, that’s a good indicator that you’ve made excellent progress. I’ve been at it for about 20 years and it still takes daily self-talk at times.

  • Also, why would you want to be with a person who only values you as long as you “look good?” That’s the kind of person who will blame you when you age or you gain a pound, and pressure you and shame you into maintaining their standards of beauty and appearance. Those standards also typically only apply to you while they can gain as much weight as they want and walk around in sweatpants almost exclusively.

    Nope. Just big ol’ nope.

  • I wish I’d found Chump Lady before I did exactly what she counsels NoMoreChit not to do. Every hope I had, every rationalization I made, every inevitable hurt I felt–Chump Lady nailed them all. Three years down the drain.

    Separation asap and no contact provide the only avenues for the Chump to heal.

  • When I saw the lead to this post, I thought it was a joke.
    Oh dear writer, that is the WORST idea ever!!!
    Im thin and I’m great shape; others here can testify to all kinds of tempting accoutrements. Didn’t matter AT ALL! They still cheated and stomped on out hearts.
    Your head needs some major work if you truly think this is a good idea.

  • That’s a hard pass.

    I lost weight during and after the divorce and I look goooood. I wouldn’t touch my ex with a ten mile long pole!

    He is likely diseased and the sex would be as bad as it was prior. It is all about him; if you catch my drift.

  • I’m not bad looking. Pretty cute really. I have always been on the thin side for the most part. Sure I’m carrying a few extra pounds nowadays, but that’s to be expected from a 1/2 century+ on this planet and bringing a kid into this world. I always tried to look my best for him, for myself. Trust me though, no matter how good you look, it will NEVER be enough. There will always be something that they will pick on to try to unbalance you, make you insecure, keep looking to them for validation. I noped outta that.

    What in the hell is the mind set that we must try, try, try to please them in everyway to keep their attention and love? Instead of holding ourselves to a higher standard and not accepting anything less? Oh, and BTW, when was the last time you looked at your toenails lately Mr. Mr.?!

    • Toenails so long they could cut glass ? 🤣🤮
      What is it with men that expect their women to cut their toenails for them ?

      • This isn’t really a thing, right? My kids have cut their own toenails from tweendom onwards (at least). Why would a grown man expect that of anyone, not least his wife?

        I can only conjecture it’s some weird longing for infantilization combined with an unhealthy conflation of the wife and mother figures … but even so, it seems really strange to me.

        • Plus the person trimming the hooves is usually lower/kneeling to do the task.
          The first time I saw this was decades ago when I worked as a nanny one summer. The father was running for Congress and his second, younger wife got to work. One day, he was screaming at her “I’m going to kick your ass !”. I corralled the kids and escaped to the swim club at the beach.
          Wtf ?!
          Ps Her rich father who owned a newspaper conglomerate bankrolled the husband’s failed run for office. The couple is still married.

        • To add an extra level of weirdness to this conversation, my ex’s codependent and narcissistic mother refused to get a pedicure, which she absolutely could have afforded. Instead, she would call FW to come down to her apartment to clip them for her. It was intense. Just a peek inside the skein.

      • God I had to do this, otherwise he didn’t and he would scratch my shins with them, I believe deliberately, leaving scratches, yuck. Thank heavens I will never have to do that again. Hope OW gets scratches on a regular basis

        • Yeah, I bled more than once because of my ex’s horrible toenails. It wasn’t just that they were sharp; he would thrash around in bed to settle in as if I wasn’t there — scratching me, jabbing me, elbowing me, yanking the covers off. If he wanted to read, he would keep the lights on as long as he wanted. If I wanted to read, I had to wear a headlamp under the covers, taking care not to disturb the princess and the orange with light, movement or sound.

          • And this is why I’m happy to starfish alone in my bed and sleep soundly.
            First on the checklist of a potential partner ? Good grooming and hygiene.

          • Eww. Is this a thing? I didn’t realize it was so common. My ex almost never cut his toenails. He would also thrash around in bed, not wearing socks. He literally ripped holes in our sheets. Not to mention all his socks. Sometimes he’d stab or scratch me with his toenails. If I reminided him to cut them, he’d say I was nagging. Fortunately he never asked me to do it for him. That’s a bit too far, even for me who did so many things for him.

            If he couldn’t sleep, he wouldn’t let me sleep either. He’d play music, leave the lights on, get up (huffing and sighing) to pee like ten times in an hour. But if I so much as readjusted my position, he’d scream at me that I was keeping him awake. I often “slept” in horribly uncomfortable positions becuase of this. He sweated like a pig, so our sheets were all yellow on his side. He also had sleep apnea, which he refused to get treatment for, and so snored LOUDLY and sometimes stopped breathing until I prodded him. I don’t think I slept soundly for years.

            I don’t ever want to share a bed again. I LOVE having my bed to myself. I sleep like a rock, don’t move at all, and am so comfy. My bed is clean, my blankets stay on, my sheets still look new.

            I was not sorry to turn all that over to OW and lether deal with him.

          • Yes,getting up in the night by pulling the covers off both of us, simultaneously waking me up and making me cold, instead of just slipping out of bed, illogical as if you just slip out it keeps your body heat in so nicer when you get back. From the loo. Also managing to pull the duvet off me, and hoard it over his side of the bed, and then accuse me of pulling the bedding off him although he was still under the unrolling hoarse of duvet. Scritching around and managing to get into bed under the bottom sheet, yuck, keeping the light on after midnight when the pc was in the bedroom, click, click clicking away, but if he ever has an unexpected early night and I was finishing something off, cis usually no problem, I’d use a lamp but that was much brighter than the big light apparently, and come to bed…
            I hope OW’s nights are filled with freezing and disturbance

  • This is a dangerous game we play with ourselves. Having sex with someone who does not value you is a bad idea. You will not like how you feel afterwards when you realize that all you were was a way to masturbate with out hands. You. as an individual, mean nothing to this FW. Please , do not debase yourself like this. Love yourself. Take care of yourself. Live your best, and for your own sake, value who you spend time and energy on. You are worth it!

  • Nope. He lost the right to enjoy your amazing body when he cheated on you. Also, having an “amazing” body absolutely will not keep a cheater from cheating.

    Don’t stoop to his level. Respect yourself enough to stay far away from known FWs.

    • Right? Think of all the famous beauty queens who’ve been cheated on mercilessly and discarded for dumpy nannies and tattooed randos. For male chumps, think of Robert Pattinson, Orlando Bloom and Colin Firth. No one on earth is “enough” to inspire consistent love and loyalty in someone with a personality disorder and attachment allergy.

      I’m convinced that cheaters share a demented quirk with batterers and serial killers, that of “cubing” or “life frames.” Because there’s no “there” there, they cycle in and out of different personalities. Unlike someone with dissociative personality disorder, the different personae aren’t fully separated but nearly so and may come with different perceptions, even different memories. That’s why the lovebomber persona– the one that drips with remorse, can’t live without the chump and pines to relive the “good times” in the relationship (the “pull” in the Push/Pull abuser dynamic)– never sticks around for very long and is soon replaced by the “abuser frame” (the “push”) which will invariably shift into viewing the main partner as repulsive and inadequate and will suddenly remember the entire relationship as insufferable no matter how world-class charming and attractive the partner appears to be to the rest of the world.

      The RIC has tried to rebrand, whitewash and euphemize the frame/perception-shifting with terms like “affair fog” but it’s something much darker and more psychopathic.

    • Agreed. My ex cheated on me for at least seven years before dday, through all the ups and downs. Equal opportunity cheater. Didn’t matter how cute, fit, happy, sad, available, busy, stressed, relaxed, social, isolated, slender, plump, etc., I was. It really has nothing to do with the chump.

  • Yes. I did this (embarrassingly) for a year. I kept it a secret from everyone. For me it was a form of denial. It provided a moment of relief from wanting to die. It was also an attempt at manipulating the situation as VH said. It never worked. I almost always lost my shit. It never made the past disappear. I never became that cool woman who could handle it, who could keep him (my very best friend and life partner) in my life in some unique way. (We were talking about still being able to vacation together!) I could never spiritually rise above all of the oppressive societal norms. Haha! I was really gaslighting myself with that thought. But I SO wanted it to be true! Because if it were true I wouldn’t have to feel such unbearable pain. If I could handle it I could hold onto the happy memories.
    I said to him once, after sex, and It was one of those times when I was hysterical after sex and he was still pretending to care, that I felt like I was going to become so unattractive and emotionally unstable to him that he would discard me! Even though he was the one who betrayed me and I kicked him out! Well guess what happened? Yep.
    The pick me dance does not work. In a way, I think I had to go through it. Part of my challenge now is not beating myself up for it. I think that I needed there to be no ambiguity in his discard of me. So, in a way, I made sure it happen. I’m rambling here.
    On thanksgiving I tried a different version of the same thing- I thought we could all eat together as a family so neither of us would be without the kids. I couldn’t handle that either. I was doing ok, but then I saw him texting and smiling at his phone. My entire world came crashing down. I started crying and pretty much ruined the day for everyone 😬. He’s not on the same page as me now and he wasn’t on the same page as me during his 7 year affair. I can’t change the past by pretending to be someone I’m not.

    It’s easy to say ‘don’t do it!’, but hard to follow through. The temptation comes from a place of wanting to heal a deep sorrow. I hope you don’t have sex with him.

    P.s. I stayed up until 2 am on thanksgiving night writing him a text explaining how awful he is and exactly how I feel and why. It was a scathing text. It was really good. Surely it would have snapped him out of his fog!!
    I did not send it. Progress!!!

    • Gold star for not sending that text! Keep up the good work.

      Seven-year affair? He’s lucky you didn’t serve him glass shards. Please, NO CONTACT and no “friends for the kids” holiday bullshit either.

      • Honored by your response, CL! It was so hard not to send that text. It was just more hopium, though. Hopium withdrawal is the pits. Thanks for helping me so much ❤️

        • Yes, hopium withdrawal – I have never heard it phrased that way but that does describe it perfectly. Hopium withdrawal is the worst part – it was almost a physical pain in my chest and gut.

          It’s gone now (5 years out) but I remember it very clearly.

          • My therapist talked with me about withdrawal symptoms from the relationship. She said I should expect it would take me 90 days of grey rock before I would start to feel more stable. She was about right, though he was doing crazy chaotic things that made the whole thing longer. (Hard to grey rock someone who refuses to leave your house and tells you they are going to force you to stay married by cooking and cleaning and preventing the year of waiting to file from starting)

    • I appreciate your honesty. I think that most of us attempt to get the soothing from the one who hurt us.
      I remember that I mixed this feeling with trying to get away from his attempts at “intimacy”. I remember he was in full scale fear and abandonment mode. Something he had created. I was scheming my way out of the relationship and he was panicked as he saw me leaving. He even resorted back to love bombing again. UGH.

      I remember the brain vs heart tug that I experienced back then. The “he is not your friend” is in the back of your brain, and your heart and emotions mourning the end of the relationship that could not be bandaged and the acceptance that we would move on without one another. So much grief, so many tears.

      My driving force to get out was knowing that the relationship could no longer be what it was. I also found out at that time that his first marriage had ended the same way with cheating. Don’t waste you time asking WHY. It has nothing to do with you. He was a repeat offender. Period.

      I went through this madness and divorce 7 years ago and love my single life where I can do whatever I want, whenever I want and with whomever I want. I think of you newbies and send you strength to go no contact and get out of that situation and just be you. Feels good. ❤️

    • Glad you didn’t send it.

      For the baby chumps if you are tempted to send a text, if you don’t want to just write it out in a non text form, just send the text to your self. Then read it, if you still think it is good to send it then you can.

      I learned that with email for the work I did. That way no accidently hitting the send button before you are ready, or by mistake. I learned that the hard way.

      Sadly nothing we can say will hurt most of them. They feed on the attention as CL says.

    • LBI, one tactic to help you with the pain of being without the kids: think of holidays as spread over multiple days, rather than One Big Day. So Thanksgiving is not just the one Thursday but the Friday too, Christmas includes Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day (the 26th), birthdays can be a whole weekend. That helps with the temptation to break NC with your ex “for the kids”. He can see them part of the holiday and you see them, separately, for the rest.

      BTW, this is actually the way most Jewish holidays work (for historical reasons I won’t bog you down with) – so for example it’s very common for families to have a Passover seder on the first night with family, and then a second Seder with friends or people who couldn’t make it the first night.

    • LBI, I had sex with my ex a few times after dday, during Pick Me. I felt uneasy and needed boundaries, but I also wanted him to find me desirable and attractive; I wanted him to finally see me and appreciate me. I also felt like it was really unfair that I’d been neglected by him for so many years (remaining patient and compassionate, and eventually shutting down), only to discover that he’d been taking care of himself — at my expense — with porn and needy young OW’s. I felt like I deserved intimacy and attention. I was just so done with ignoring my own needs. Made it worse that the pandemic was in full swing and there wasn’t anyone else to have sex with (even though I wasn’t interested in sleeping with a random stranger, regardless).

      Totally get where it all comes from, but get yourself through the hopium withdrawal and I promise, you’ll be cured of it. Like the first commenter said, the thought of sleeping with — or eating turkey with — your ex will make you want to vomit. I actually imagined I was accountable to CL/CN to get me over the initial No Contact hump. Get on here and vent instead, or just picture what we all would say to support you. Congrats on not sending that text. Think about how good you feel about not sending it, and compare that to the feeling when you do slip up…

    • Lost hope that both you and the poster can move on. Lost, you X was cruel when he had sex with you after the affair and break-up, he did not bother to think how this was not good for you. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    • Was anyone else struck by Lost-but Improving’s words, ‘I started crying and pretty much ruined the day for everyone.’?

      My reaction was the YOU DID NOT SPOIL THE DAY.
      You did a selfless thing, a holiday meal which included inviting him into your home;

      HE SPOILED THE DAY by his selfish actions, checking out emotionally via his phone and his choice to have it ‘on’ while in your home.

  • OMG. Please do something safer, like playing with nitroglycerine. If you want to hurt your ex, which I am all for, tell him in a public place that you are happy to have lost the weight because now men of a much higher caliber than he…better looking, sexier, smarter and richer (the way he judges people as valuable)… are approaching you romantically and maybe you won’t have to fake orgasms anymore. Then laugh at him and walk away.

    Only advisable as a better choice than what you have planned.

  • If you have lost weight and feel like you look amazing now… Why would you give him more of yourself? Wouldn’t it be better to move on? That’s the real “fuck you” to a FW.

    And sadly, it doesn’t matter what you look like. FWs only use you. After their discard, they don’t suddenly have emotional intelligence or the ability to think the way you wish they would. There’s no movie moment of “OMG I CAN’T LOSE YOU NOW.” Doesn’t happen. Ever.

    And no matter what you do… lose weight, nose job, different hair, become a super model… none of it works. It doesn’t matter!

    Some of the many people who have been cheated on (often for people objectively less physically attractive): Elizabeth Hurley, Halle Barry, Tiger Woods’ ex wife, Adam Levine’s supermodel wife, supermodel Emily Ratajkowski, Eva Longoria, Shania Twain, Shakira, Robert Pattinson,… seriously if they aren’t “hot enough” to keep FWs from FWing, then no mere mortal could no matter how much hotter you are.

    Take your sexy ass to a better man and have fun. And get free of that FW COMPLETELY

    • Yes indeed. Ow was heavier than I was and shorter, with bad teeth, and a whole 6 years younger. Yet I was fat and ugly so wanted something better…. Better seemingly meaning loose elastic’ed knickers, debt and a thing for older men, her first husband was nearly 20 years older . That’s what it comes down to, a propensity to remove their undercrackers

  • No More Chit:

    Wrong motives and intent equals wrong outcome. You won’t come out better for it.

    If “seeing what he’s missing” is between your legs, that means there’s an awful lot missing by way of what’s between your ears, what’s in your heart, and who you are.

    Don’t do it. If his vision periphery with a woman is that limited, his exit is self-explanatory. That’s your red flag. Look for someone who sees and feels more than this and be the woman that has more than this to offer.

    • “If “seeing what he’s missing” is between your legs, that means there’s an awful lot missing by way of what’s between your ears, what’s in your heart, and who you are.”

      Quoted for truth.

      • I’ve just been on the reddit adultery forum to remind myself what immoral freaks these sort of people are. There are literally threads with blokes raving about how their penis feels now ten times larger since they started cheating, and what great muff diving skills they have. Utter morons. Honestly it would turn you off sex for life. I was repulsed and still am by my ex.

  • Why would you even think about it? Losing weight or looking good does not matter to a FW. He wants cake. Don’t serve him cake. Let someone else win the pick me dance.
    You need to place higher value on yourself and your health. Don’t touch him not even with gloves and a crap ton of sanitizer. Remember he chumped you once and no matter how good you look, he will do it again because it gives him pleasure.

  • “Love conquers all.” That’s as deeply untrue a statement as the food pyramid malarkey we all were handed by the FDA.
    Love can’t break the code on entitled, manipulative, selfish personality disordered narcissists. Love is fully out of its league in those realms.
    I have come to believe, these disordered people do not experience genuine love in their lives. They are playing a game with life and love and it is completely a transactional experience for them.
    It’s a superficial life, they will tell anyone at all that they love them to get what they want from them. It has zero meaning.
    There will always be an agenda, something to get out of you and life and they stop playing the game with you when they are bored or need a change or you’re on to them and it’s time to move on.
    It satisfies them to acquire fresh kill to flip around a bit before they again will tire and then easily on to the next victim.
    This is who they are! It is not anything to do with you, or how you look or what you’re capable of. It’s not about you at all!
    They can fake love like nobody’s business, we all wouldn’t be here blogging if that weren’t the case. They are very damn convincing and professionals at the game they play.
    Your love will always remain unrequited with a FW, because I sincerely believe they aren’t capable of loving the way we understand what love is. They are broken.
    He can only keep hurting you, that’s all he’s got for you.
    He will be the victor in the –
    I’ll -show -him -what -he’s -missing -and -sleep -with -him game.
    You cannot win that game! You care too deeply and he cares about nothing.
    You will get hurt more than you already are now.
    As VH has aptly said, they are the gold medalists of manipulation, you can’t out-disorder the disordered.
    Very sound advice from our CL to you too, she is a wizard at sharing hard won wisdom with razor sharp clarity, value and believe it, because it’s the best free and accurate truth on the subject available!
    Stay in your sane lane, it feels like a sad place to be right now, we know, and you feel like he won because you are more devastated than he. We get it.
    But what did he actually win?!
    He is left with himself and that’s a scary ass trophy!
    He will move on to manipulate and hurt others, dropping his destructive grenades on partner after partner’s lives as he skips off into the cornfield in search of his next victim. Is that worth our envy?
    Who wants that kind of life? No one.
    You certainly do not, you just can’t see it quite yet, but you will someday.
    If you revenge “ I’ll show you!” sleep with him, you WILL regret that later down the road and it will delay your healing. Don’t waste another second of your precious life on someone who 100% doesn’t deserve to be with you.
    You want to do the most hurt to him that you can? Walk away and never look back.
    At the end of his life, if he ever takes five minutes to self reflect ( doubtful), he will be alone and see his life for what it was, a wasteland of destroying people’s lives.
    I doubt that could even feel good to a narcissist. It’s not our problem though.
    Get rid of him and enjoy your own in shape kick ass body, because YOU deserve to feel amazing! And you deserve to do it cheater free!!
    That’s the gold for the win!! 😊👍🥇

  • The OP forgot to mention why she lost the weight: The Trauma Diet. It’s bigger than keto and paleo combined! RIC should make it a side line profit niche of their therapeutic approach. If you follow their protocol, you’ll end up a glamourexic bag of bones no matter what you eat and right on point for the resurrection of low rise jeans. You’ll get the coveted “worried look” from your doctor and close friends! Adult blood pressure cuffs will fall off your arms. For a nominal fee, you can also try the RIC brand Abu Ghraib Sleep Deprivation Program(TM) for the full heroin chic look.

    • It’s no joke. I was 96 lb for awhile. A size 00 was too big. Thank god I recovered. I’m now 140, which is a pretty healthy weight for me.

      FW, who had called me “fat” for years when I was about 130 lb, said of the super skinny version of me “you don’t look good”. There’s no “winning” with these people.

      • Oh yes, I had the same issue. Lost way too much weight way too quickly. That combined with no sleep and my hair started to thin. It was awful and I looked like crap. Thin is good but too thin is horrible too. Once I got away from the cheater I started getting better. Divorce is finally done (just waiting for the judge to sign and it to be placed on record). I think next year will be my year of getting way healthier. I have gained back about 15 of the 30 lbs I lost. My hair is coming back fuller and is longer (yay). Sleep has been much better. As to the FW, no matter what I did , he could not be happy. I was never able to live up to his standard. His 32 years younger Schmoopie (heavier than I ever was even when pregnant) will soon find out about the prize sh has won.

      • Pardon my gallows humor. I’m nearly 5’9″ and was skinny to begin with so dropping even 10 LBs bordered on clinical. Of course FW criticized me for it and tried to use this for crazy-baiting with suggestions I must have an eating disorder. Funny how FWs’ twisted minds work– using someone’s stress response as a justification to subject them to more stress? Thankfully my integrative doctor figured it out. She knew I was eating well because nutrient panels and related blood markers were perfect which isn’t possible if you’re starving yourself. The problem was cortisol. She said I was verging on adrenal collapse and stress was burning off every calorie I ate.

    • Haha! Yes I had this look. A kind colleague shoulder tapped me at work and said, “doll, maybe while you’re in this state you should consider not wearing those trousers to work. You’re so thin you’re worrying your team.” I was 90 pounds and had no ass. I had to sat on a pillow because my bones stuck out. I had grey bags under my eyes. This post made me feel sad that someone thought their trauma weight loss made them feel sexier for their cheater 😞

      • I had a woman at work whose name I barely even knew approach me in the hallway and ask if I was ok because I’d lost so much weight and looked like crap generally. Of course I told her I was dealing with a cheating husband because I didn’t try to keep it a secret. She responded, “No one is worth that.” That’s all she said. I said, “I know. Thanks,” even though I really hadn’t given up on my marriage yet, and we walked on to our separate destinations. That brief interaction still resonates with me – a virtual stranger giving me such caring, personal, wise advice during a really hard time. There are good people out there. 🙂

      • Some grease monkey doctor I went to for a sinus infection “commended” me on my weight loss. The same weight loss that got me banned from donating blood. I understood when I saw a picture of his tragically thin and bleached second wife in a bathing suit grinning like someone was sticking a knife in her ribs and ordering her to smile. He was obviously from the “you can never be too rich or too thin” generation who would badger their spouses into eating disorders and install Pebbletec around their pools.

        • I had a lot of people compliment me on my weight loss and say things like “I wish I could eat like that and be as thin as you”. Little did they know that I was CHOKING down my food (everything I ate made me feel nauseated – I lived on Doritos, cigarettes, and beer for a few months) and forcing down protein smoothies under doctor’s orders because I was dangerously underweight and my doctor was legitimately concerned about serious health consequences. I’m 5’2″, so 30 lb off my body is a LOT. I was only 125 lb when it started.

          I was hollow-eyed and gaunt. My ribs jutted out. My skin was pale and blotchy. I had to shop in the children’s section for pants. It’s kind of disgusting that thinness is so idolized that people can’t see it’s because you’re SICK. I’d much rather be complimented with something like “you look happy” than “you’re so slim”. I am probably 10 lb over my “ideal” weight right now, but I would so much rather have a little belly and be happy and healthy than someone’s (even my) arbitrary ideal of thinness. It was hard to accept, after so many years of being criticized for any bit of weight gain, but I think I’m at a place where I am accepting of my body, even if it isn’t exactly what I would like.

    • Perhaps a Friday challenge could be how much wt did you drop during discard and divorce? Last night this topic came up during a conversation with my chump buddy. We laughed that were two of the heavier players on our rugby team, but now we may need to move to positions.

        • …and the next challenge can be how much of your hair fell out from malnutrition and show us your favourite topper

      • I get the temptation, but as a person who has experienced massive weight fluctuations due to illness and medication changes that were exacerbated by D-Day stress, I can’t get on board. Too hard on people who struggle with dietary issues and eating disorders.

        Reframe to how our health suffered and how re-entering healthy mind-space improved our health and you’ve got my vote!

  • I did the deed once during separation, and I hated myself for months afterward. It was weird.

    In my state, there are a variety of factors used to determine the separation date. I told my attorney that I had no clue when I had hit the “no more marriage” point because I was such a flip-flopper. Apparently, one factor is the last date that you had sex, but we went with a much earlier date because there was more hard proof. I also had witnesses that would back up that I had said “it’s probably over” which is enough.

  • I had sex with my ex post-dday. I don’t think I regret it. I have no desire to ever do it again, but it did kind of provide reassurance that the OW wasn’t special. Not even the depth of his twu wuv for his SOULMATE could keep him faithful. He’s just trash, and he’s about him — the OW and I are just NPCs in his story. He didn’t pick her over me, she’s not better — we’re both just accommodating holes. It kinda helped my state of mind, tbh — further evidence that this has nothing to do with ME.

    • I did too, it was after we were legally separated; and when he wanted to come back home. It only lasted a week before I figured out what his real reason was.

      It was awful for me, though I am sure he had a good time. I don’t regret it because I was still legally married to him and it had no effect on our separation agreement. It was just my last ditch effort to give our marriage a chance.

      If nothing else it showed me that he no longer did it for me. And it showed just how awful of a human being he really was. He knew going in that he was using my emotions to do what he had to do.

    • I get it. I can hardly judge. It was satisfying knowing that FW wasn’t even faithful to the AP because she was really the last choice on a list of previous targets and FW was still trying to ply those targets by throwing professional perks at them throughout the affair. What was even better is that the previous targets– several married narcissists who just fleetingly used the attention from the drunken office horndog to boost their unstable self esteem– weren’t even interested. The affair had always been about salving wounds to FW’s self esteem that he got by being repeatedly rejected on the meat market. If I’d been in my right mind, I wouldn’t have needed the clarification that the whole lot of them– FW and his descending collection of office barflies– were a chain of embarrassing provincial losers. But I wasn’t in my right mind immediately after D-Day.

      I came to realize that cheating typically follows a long program of “perspecticide” where abusers attempt to destroy victims’ perspectives and replace them with the abusers’ world view and way of seeing things. By the time D-Day rolls around, chumps have already been boiled like frogs to internalize the abusers’ perceptions of the situation as well as the abusers’ perception of victims and others. That’s the only reason a chump would “wonder” if the AP– someone who, let’s face it, was so desperate that they’d sink to debasing themselves for the sake of an established liar and creep– was superior in some way. Time and distance alone would have clarified this since perspecticide relies on proximity and constant tending and maintenance by abusers– systematic attacks on victims’ self esteem. Once you’re physically removed from an abuser and out of range, the spellbinding effect fades and your own perceptions and perspective start to return. Then you wake up one day and realize that, rather than losing something, you just escaped a pen in the zoo where a bunch of monkeys were throwing shit at each other and eating it. Ew. Zero FOMO.

    • Me too. For a couple of years, actually. And I kind of feel the same way. Of course, at the time he denied a physical affair, or I would NEVER have let him touch me. I put the pieces together later and realized he was doing us both, which is gross.

      But like you, it did help shatter my illusions about his “perfect” new relationship. I don’t think she had any idea he was cheating on her with me. But clearly he didn’t “love” her enough to be faithful to her either, and she wasn’t some sort of magical being. He just took whatever he could get.

      One night I had the weirdest feeling and thought to myself “that was the last time”, and it was. And somehow I was okay with that. He had actually been uncharacteristically sweet, and somehow it was a positive ending and I was able to walk away and not need or want that anymore from him.

      I wouldn’t recommend my long, drawn out process of emotionally and physically separating, but I feel like I personally had to take that journey to let go. By the time we got around to the divorce, I could face it without emotions of “love” or nostalgia. I was done because I had worked through my feelings and come to terms with the end of the relationship. Due to my abuse (which lasted well over a decade), I was unhealthily entangled with him, and very broken, so it was a slow, slow process to find my own feet and feel like I was capable of making it on my own. I don’t judge anyone who makes similar mistakes along the way.

      There’s a short story by one of my favorite authors, Kelly Sandoval, called “The One They Took Before”, about a girl who was abducted by the fairies and lived in their world for awhile until they cast her out again (when she realized it was actually horrible, not beautiful as she had first thought, and stopped doing what they wanted her to), but she still longs to go back even though she knows it was killing her. The “real world” feels blank and empty. She’s isolated and feels no drive or desire to do anything. Eventually, even though it hurts and she wants to say yes, she is able to say “no” to their invitation to return (even though they say they will send back her replacement so that there is a space for her).

      I made a recording of me reading that story and listened to it over and over. It expressed in ways I couldn’t how it felt to be cast off by my abusive spouse. The story is available on line and I’d recommend it for anyone who has been married to a narcissist, particularly if they were discarded.

  • Nomorechit still doesn’t understand FW’s. He will see it as ‘winning’ and a feather in his cap if she has sex with him. A truly horrible idea.

  • As someone who has been in good shape most of her adult life, I can tell you that a thin body is not a magic wand that turns jerks into nice guys. He will find something else to criticize about you now that you’ve lost the weight. Bet on it. Do not do this. As others have mentioned, it could have legal consequences for you too, depending on where you live.

    My XH cut me off sex even before the affair(s) began because it gave him kibbles to see me beg for sex. Your STBX appears to be cut from the same piece of warped cloth.

  • I was devalued by my ex-husband for failing to live up to his thinness and attractiveness standards. I was still good enough for him to have sex with, though.
    When I met the LCL, one of the ways he lovebombed me was to profess disdain for thin women and a preference for chubby/curvy women.
    After never daring to eat a cookie or candy bar in front of my ex-husband, I finally began to relax around my body/weight/appearance issues.
    But the real work has been to learn that my worth is not extrinsic. Not tied to body shape or size, or appearance. Whether or not other people find me attractive or repulsive has nothing to do with me.
    Glennon Doyle said (and I paraphrase) “You’re body is not your work of art – it’s your paintbrush.”
    I spent way too much time, energy, money, and effort worrying about being attractive to some man.
    I’m so glad I finally figured out that the sole determiner of my worth is me.

  • There’s also hearing later on about how he has told everyone you know that he’s such ‘grade a beef’ that you can’t keep your hands off of him. 😟 I believe most of them call it a mercy f•ck, which they then also use to keep the new schmoopies in line.

  • There’s also hearing later on about how he has told everyone you know that he’s such ‘grade a beef’ that you can’t keep your hands off of him. 😟 I believe most of them call it a mercy f•ck, which they then also use to keep the new schmoopies in line.

    • Came here to say this ⬆️. The revenge sex ‘play’ in the playbook serves many purposes for the Cheater, and none whatsoever for the Chump. The Chump who is willing to sleep with the cheater after D-Day(s) also sends the message to anyone the Cheater needs to tell that “the affair wasn’t a bad thing” as being physically intimate is a clear REWARD for bad behavior. Not only that it validates the Cheater’s narrative that the Cheater is not a bad person per se since the Chump (who is a good person) is putting out! It serves the further purpose of keeping the AP pickme dancing too. Suddenly everyone is pickme dancing for the cheater. Cheater is high high high on the incredible supply. It’s a narcissist’s dream!
      They will call it a mercy fuck — absolutely — but they’ll show no mercy to you regardless of whether you sleep with them or not. It will damage the Chump and re-traumatise and it will definitely set the Chump back emotionally and in the healing and recovery too.

      But, of course, none of any of this matters at all to the Cheater: They. Do. Not.Love. And. They.Do.Not.Care.

      The Cheater controls the game.

  • NoMoreChit:

    You said you “want him to see and feel what he is missing“. Please don’t kid yourself, HE DOESN’T CARE. He’s not missing anything about you or he wouldn’t have left in the first place. The only person impacted by this terribly poor decision would be you; why would you want to further bond yourself to a FW? Please rethink your strategy.

  • Oh sweet revenge! I can appreciate the temptation. There were moments in the year after D-Day that I fantasized about seducing my x and then dumping HIM. I wanted him to feel my pain. I wanted the OW to have to suffer by being a chump. Crazy idea. Luckily, it stayed in the realm of fantasy.

    During that time, I realized these truths about myself:

    *Cheating with my x would make me the OW, no better than all the OWs I now condemn.

    *The best path in life for me is the high road. Added benefit: It’s challenging for those on the low road to throw mud upwards.

    *Any contact with x would end up hurting me.

    *The best revenge is living a good life. That x will learn that I’m doing well pleases me. But perhaps true “meh” will come when I don’t give a rat’s ass about what he thinks at all.

  • This is an example of a chump thinking FWs have normal feelings, as in missing us and what we have to offer. If we could just remind them of how great we are, be it by amazing sex, listening to them, cooking a delicious meal, whatever, they will remember why they loved us. The problem is that they didn’t love us. They used us. So this kind of thinking just sets us up to be used again. They didn’t appreciate our qualities enough to be faithful before, so it’s a sure bet they never will.

    My FW does not miss me. It might be a drag for him to have to do the adulting now, and he might miss the things I did for him, but as for me as a person? No. He hates me because I see him for what he is. He hates me because he’s not good enough for me. He can’t blame himself, so I’m the one he resents for his failures. I think they’re all full of hostility for the chump, once we’ve seen behind the mask. They might pretend otherwise in order to get some slap and tickle with the ex, but don’t be fooled.

    • I agree. The idea is flawed in a sense that the FW does not think like us. He didn’t care before and he won’t care now. He won’t miss you because he’ll just move on except now you’ve set yourself a step or several back..

    • You’re right. I think most feel hostility for the chump. In fact, perhaps some even harbor revenge fantasies against the chumps whom they blame for their current, sucky lives. Their thinking might go something like this: “If only she’d made the coffee the way I’d liked it and folded my socks just so, I wouldn’t have strayed. And if I hadn’t ‘strayed,’ I wouldn’t have lost half my net worth and my kids would still talk to me etc…”]

      But it’s more likely that they don’t think of us at all, which is probably for the best.

      • “In fact, perhaps some even harbor revenge fantasies against the chumps whom they blame for their current, sucky lives.”

        Oh hell yes. It was clear to me that for my FW, cheating was a form of revenge.

    • Excellent point, OHFFS! A point that really needs to be internalized and understood by Chumps. It’s the hardest crucible to bear because it lays bare the hard reality. Cheaters are barbed-wire monkeys. There was no love there. It was a mirage.

      • Yes, it is hard to bear, Latitude. There a part of me that’s still in disbelief that I was with somebody that cold and loveless for so long.

        • Yeah, that they never loved us at all is a hard pill to swallow. We like to believe that there was a time when the love as real. I think it was real for me but not for him. I don’t know.

          • I don’t believe that the ex is capable of loving anyone including himself. Instead of a PigPen cloud of dirt, the ex always had an aura of shame. I worked hard to help him to feel better about himself. I settled for the limits of his love because it was what I thought I was worth. It was better than I hoped for at the time when I met him. I’m an entirely different person now and I have a much better feel for my value. It’s glaringly obvious through therapy that every man I have had a relationship with had that same aura of shame even when they were super-confident on the surface. Until I work this out in my head I will stay single, even if, at 62, that’s the rest of my life.

  • My ex tried to have sex with me post DDay. I was hurting so much and I missed him BUT I rolled over and squeaked out a “no, I can’t do this because you don’t love me.” He got all huffy and left the room. He was mad that I rejected HIM! It was so hard on me, and I spent a year believing that if I would have had sex with him, that he would’ve come back to me. I worked through this with my abuse counselor. She kept asking me, “what part of you believes that?” I’m so glad I held my boundaries and rejected him. He didn’t love me, he never did. He was just getting off seeing me in pain, curled up in a call in the bed.

    • I did know where he’d been, as I told him when he tried to hug me at the end of our last in person meeting in 2020. The fact that I knew where he’d been made him completely repulsive and ugly to me. That switch in my brain was extraordinary as he is a very good looking man and I did find him very attractive.

      • MW I hear you. When this first happened to me almost five years ago someone here said to me that once you find out and delve you learn there is more to know. Unfortunately with cheaters being the liars and deceivers they are, it is likely that this is not the first time they have cheated and I did my fair share of delving and untangling the skein. I now cannot un know what horrible hedonistic things he did with multiple parties so in effect he was bringing home all the STI/STDs he encountered on his travels and I was none the wiser. I did not have a clue. So that is what I meant by we don’t know where he has been. Some affair partners we know of true. The hookups the orgies the hidden pornography and swingers and meetups maybe not? He was to mean to pay for prostitutes so went for the freebies.He found most of them online

  • If you end up doing what an abuser wanted you to do all along– basically fulfilling the central agenda of intimate abuse– it’s hardly a victory for the victim. If the victim has any gut sense that the abuser could be dangerous, it might be the way of assuaging an abuser’s rage but it’s not an expression of independence for the victim.

    If seen through the lens of battering, infidelity is one of several tools of generating a power shift in an intimate relationship in moments when abusers sense they’re losing power. The power that abusers seek to wield over their victims tends to be sexually themed so it makes sense that the means of regaining control or “gaining victory” over the victim would also be sexually themed. In any case, infidelity is increasingly being viewed as a form of intimate partner violence: https://www.joplinlawyers.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/FINAL-COPY-Infidelity-as-a-Consideration-in-Domestic-Abuse-and-Coercive-Control.pdf

    “The feelings of powerlessness generated by infidelity marks a shift in the power balance and enables maintenance of dominance within the relationship, contributing to the ability of an individual to assert control over a victim. Extra marital can be used to hurt a person. Infidelity alters sexual and psychological dynamics in the relationship and may result in a victim being more vulnerable to sexual coercion as a way to maintain the relationship with the offender.

    “Christine Murray, co-founder of the organisation ‘See the Triumph’, has researched the experiences of women who had experienced sexual abuse within relationships. Murray identified it was common for the participants to report their partners had been unfaithful more than once throughout the course of their relationship.15 Despite their infidelity, the abuser continued to control the victim, monitoring and tracking their whereabouts and isolating them from friends and family. Those participating in affairs often blamed the victim for their behaviour, further diminishing self-worth and contributing to a distorted sense of self and reality. Denial of affairs was also common, regardless of whether victims had evidence or not. The deflection of responsibility may further exacerbate the feelings of self-blame present from
    other forms of abuse. How blame is perceived can impact a victim’s response to the affair.16 Ongoing infidelity can form part of the abuse cycle, with the offender at times demonstrating some remorse and guilt but then continuing to participate in the behaviour. In addition, the National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book, providing examples of social abuse, cites the experience of victims where their partner threatened to have an affair.17 Lying and deception is often used to conceal acts of infidelity, victims reporting gaslighting by partners engaging in infidelity.18 Gaslighting has previously been recognised as a form of psychological and emotional abuse. Infidelity contributes to humiliation and belittling of victims, undermining self-worth. In all, the shift in power created by infidelity enables greater coercion and control within the relationship.”
    ………………………………..

    From the above perspective it makes perfect sense that infidelity, like other forms of abuse in the abuser repertoire, might be “set off” by seemingly contradictory events such as a chump’s illness or following childbirth or some kind of success in the chump’s life– job promotion, widening circle of friends, etc. Any of these things may trigger extreme fear of abandonment in an abusive personality (victim is somehow made less sexually interested or available) or loss of control of a partner to an abuser. Even if, statistically speaking, abusers tend to be male and victims female, this isn’t always the case and the same principles apply to female abusers except female abusers might go to greater lengths to conceal aggression and campaigns for dominance because the latter are socially viewed as even more abhorrent or abnormal in women.

    The concealed agenda of abuse is the tricky part. Abusers often resist identifying both the trigger (partners becoming less available or experiencing circumstances that might make them less available in the future) and the resulting feeling (thwarted dependency, fear of abandonment) and will go to great lengths to conceal cause and effect even from themselves. DV expert Donald Dutton, not all abusers are cartoons of overt jealousy and possessiveness. Dutton describes many batterers as “masking” their own infantile dependency on primary partners out of a pathological sense of shame for feelings of vulnerability. In other words, when asked why they abuse, a batterer would typically invent some story whereby the victim did something “bad” that “made” the abuser devalue them as a distraction from the truth and the abuser themselves might even have difficulty identifying the actual trigger. That’s where cheating comes in handy as a potent means of masking dependency. By the same distorted logic, along the lines of concealing/altering the “shameful” chain of events and “shameful” feelings, abusers might engineer a reversal of this sense of infantile dependency, basically displacing the distressing fear of loss, abandonment and rejection onto victims through betrayal. In the distorted view of abusive perpetrators, making victims feel the abusers’ feelings provides momentary relief from those feelings. The abuser can reenact painful events but with victim/perp roles reversed in order to turn feelings of helplessness into feelings of omniscience.

    An affair is also arguably a way of diluting dependency on a primary partner by forming dependency on an outside party as well as a way of hedging bets in case of loss by lining up a replacement. Abusers may even manage to shift most of their allegiance to a third party but the giveaway that the process at least began as a means to mask dependency is a) the weird “victory dance” that many abusers do in discarding their victims and declaring a new allegiance (as if the abuser were enacting revenge); and, b) how panicked or enraged many abusers become when their victims aren’t begging for another chance.

    • This was an incredible read. Thank you for sharing.

      I had a sense that the infidelity and subsequent divorce was due to a power struggle between us and this article explains that dynamic very well. From the article: ” infidelity is one of several tools of generating a power shift in an intimate relationship in moments when abusers sense they’re losing power.” I wouldn’t say that I wanted to exert power over him – I simply wanted to exercise my own independence and be recognized for my contributions.

      • YDB–

        Even the mere contentedness or happiness of the victim can be a “trigger” since happy people tend to have some sense of control over their lives. But if the victim has *any* sense of control, that means the abuser doesn’t have total control= threat to centrality/dependency.

    • Thanks. That was indeed a heavy, but meaningful read.

      I went to a family therapist for a while after my ex first took off on a solo vacation that became a long-distance separation. She had a lot to say about the distortions in our family as you relate here and in the link. She also discussed the meaning and the effects of his abandonment on us including outlining the process of how his thinking became so distorted. He was in a position of losing power, so he took drastic measures to supposedly regain himself. We were just pawns in that attempt. She also made sure that I understand that balanced people just don’t do that after several decades and kids together.

      It was heavy stuff for me. I couldn’t handle it at first, but I realized later just how much she nailed it. She also told me that the divorce would be very bad indeed and said to hire a heavy hitter. That came later, but she was right there too.

      • It’s great your therapist “deputized” you to consider and weigh your ex’s pathology. When I worked in advocacy, the most popular books and research were on abuser psychology. To retake their own power, survivors seemed to naturally need to understand the mentality of the person who subjugated them in order to understand anything that happened and their own reactions to it. It seemed to be key to recovery. Unfortunately, too many therapists euphemize abuse to the point that they knee-jerkedly treat survivors of it as partial or equal contributors to dysfunction– which would only be appropriate only if there was no coercion, control or deception going on. If the therapist views the fact that the survivor stayed in the relationship for any duration as “proof” the survivor was somehow equally responsible for the dysfunction or failure of the relationship, the therapist is going to discourage the survivor from sitting in a seat of “judgement” over the abusive partner and instead will keep redirecting the survivor to focus on themselves and their “part in it.” But the same approach would be insane if a therapist was, say, deprogramming a bank hostage who’d captor bonded with the robbers who held them hostage for three days. When any form of coercion is present, the relationship leaves the realm of normal and bears more of a resemblance to hostage-taking. In the latter situation, I think the challenge would be to encourage the hostage to take that seat of judgement, consider the abnormality of the dynamics, the threat the captors posed, etc., in order to break the bond and restore the survivor’s perspective.

    • This really rang true: “An affair is also arguably a way of diluting dependency on a primary partner by forming dependency on an outside party as well as a way of hedging bets in case of loss by lining up a replacement. Abusers may even manage to shift most of their allegiance to a third party but the giveaway that the process at least began as a means to mask dependency is a) the weird “victory dance” that many abusers do in discarding their victims and declaring a new allegiance (as if the abuser were enacting revenge); and, b) how panicked or enraged many abusers become when their victims aren’t begging for another chance.”

      Once I stopped dancing the pick me dance, my ex became very, very angry, inventing all kinds of lies about me (which he told the court, and most likely our friends), trying to make me feel guilty about not helping him, accusing me of being vengeful or mercenary, etc. Then, when OW dumped him, he spiraled rapidly downhill and eventually killed himself. He hadn’t had time to find a replacement for her because he hadn’t banked on her leaving him. He thought (I suppose) that since she’d stuck around through so much, including our wreckonciliation, and accepted so little in exchange, that she was “in the bag”. But since I refused to engage with him anymore (yay, grey rock!), his rage had nowhere to go but onto OW, and he started overtly abusing her. She packed up one day and fled. He really wasn’t able to manage on his own. Not just from a practical point of view (he had no idea how to handle money, for example), but emotionally. He needed somone to regulate him – to bring him down when he was raging, to bring him up when he was depressed. Like a child. I performed that role for him for YEARS, then I assume OW took the helm. I had scraped him off the floor many times, and I believe averted suicide on at least two occassions. But with no one there, when his depression hit bottom, he simply opted to end it all. It is definitely a dependency and I do think he resented it. There did seem to be an element of “you can’t fire me, I quit” when he dumped me. I think he was afraid I was getting to the point where I might leave HIM. I was standing up to him more and wasn’t as “obedient” as I had been. So he moved on to someone who worshipped him and did whatever he wanted, and took care of him (she LOVED to rub that in my face by doing things for him in front of me) and he got rid of me. Except that he didn’t. He still expected me to do a lot for him, including pay for things, make him appointments, clean, cook, even help him buy clothes, and of course childcare and managing just about every practical task in our child’s life (school, medical, haircuts, clothing, even cutting his fingernails and cleaning his ears which didn’t seem to happen at daddy’s house).

      My ex also used the threat of an affair to try to keep me in line, before the breakup, saying things like “if I don’t get it from you, I’ll have to look elsewhere” or “you’re going to drive me to cheat”. When I did something that made him especially angry, he said he would go out and have sex with someone, film it, and send me the video, as a way to hurt me.

      And yes, his abuse was set off by events in my life – having a baby, getting sick with a potentially fatal illness, me having friends that weren’t also his, getting a better job (or a second job). All of these things made him angry and upped the abuse, because, I suppose, they 1) took the focus off him or 2) potentially gave me more power and autonomy.

      • I think direct threats to have an affair clearly define cheating as conscious coercion and control. That’s text book. Everything I dealt with was a bit more insidious but still recognizable. FW in my case had absolutely no memory of the chain of events that preceded cheating. The events were very clear but he rewrote them to erase his own dependency and territoriality from the story. Short story is that, after having to quit work to care full time for one of our kids who developed a serious chronic illness, our son’s health finally turned a corner after a decade of worry and lost sleep and life suddenly became a celebration with new resources for all three kids, lots of new friends, a promising new career direction for me, throwing parties, etc. It was wonderful… for about five minutes. During that time FW went into a massive, nearly suicidal depression and became a wet sack of rocks on my back. I had no idea how threatened he was by the renaissance we were experiencing, that he was jealous even of the attention I gave the kids.He hid the fact he’d begun drinking his lunch and was keeping a bottle in his desk at work.

        At one of our kids’ birthday bashes (which we never had before), there’s a picture of FW standing next to a new friend, a young artist who was tutoring the kids, and the look on FW’s face tells the entire story. The artist friend has his arm wrapped around FW’s shoulder with a joyous grin and FW looks shrimpy in comparison and like he wanted to kill someone. It’s so sad because the kids loved this tutor to death. The tutor was new to the city and was so eager to befriend FW and also wanted to enfold all of us in his own very interesting family.

        It was such a promising time in our lives and FW literally shit all over it by launching into a sleazy, drunken affair with a dumpy, dull and scheming office creep about a month later. He also started throwing tantrums about the money spent on the kids’ art education as he blew tens of thousands on bar tabs, booze and cheesy hotels. And throughout he acted like he was seeking vengeance against me for some terrible wrong. But he couldn’t even admit to himself what that perceived wrong was because to do so would be to admit he was territorial, easily threatened and dependent so he just made up weird reasons why he’d begun treating me terribly, things that made no sense ( I wouldn’t “let him” watch Survivor. Seriously). There was also the issue that the new people around us were the real deal in terms of creative careers and I think FW– who always posed as such a culture vulture– was terrified of being exposed as a banal imposter.

        I was so shocked by FW’s attitude because my mother, an illustrator who was more of a social butterfly than my dad, had always collected a ton of interesting artist friends from every walk and my father was never threatened by it a bit. But then my dad wasn’t a cheater so didn’t project a cynical view on others– didn’t assume that any male my mother talked to might be a potential rival. It would be a ridiculous thing to project on my mother who was a total innocent when it came to sexual politics.

        I wanted to have that kind of life for my own family but FW nuked it. He clearly preferred the time when our son was so sick that it kept our lives packed in a tiny box that FW could control. He preferred me chained down by crisis so, when one crisis faded, he immediately created another one. Once I threatened to get us out of that box, he began diluting his dependency and hedging bets.

        I think because this type of control is indirect and insidious by design, it’s easy for bystanders to miss how it isn’t just the betrayal but the systematic, boiling frog campaign to limit and shrink the lives of partners that defines the behavior as abuse. I think the latter MO is the driving one.

  • “Should I sleep with my ex ?”

    Do you want an unwanted pregnancy and subsequent abortion when the condom tears ? That’s what happened when my parents had sex after a second separation. Or it sounded more like a rape to me. I was in a serious accident in high school (no concussion) and my mother phoned my father to join her at the hospital, and then they took me back to the house. No teenager wants to hear their parents’ bedroom activities 🤮.
    My mother told me and my brother about the abortion several years later during parents weekend (sans our father) at my brother’s uni.
    The only bouquet of flowers that my father ever gave my mother made sense. Heartless Harlow didn’t understand why my mother cried after the procedure.
    Why allow yourself to be abused like that ?

    • Guess he found my mother’s distress and vulnerability arousing and attractive after he discarded us 🤮🤮🤮

  • I had sex with FW after D Day. His performance was lackluster as usual. Nothing for me unless I “helped myself.” I did it more out of curiosity than anything. His countless hookers taught him nothing. Still the same selfish pig he ever was. His body is like a potato with hair on it. Yes, I did make him use a condom, but it was still gross.

    • This was one of the things my divorce lawyer not me to not even THINK about doing.
      No, just no.
      A thousand times no.

    • This was one of the things my divorce lawyer not me to not even THINK about doing.
      No, just no.
      A thousand times no.

  • The ex offered me the opportunity to be ‘the best of friends’, ‘the closest of close friends’. I did not know about his long distance affair with exgfOW when in receipt of the offer. We had been in a relationship for 26 years, married for 18 years. The offer was tempting. I loved him and would perhaps have settled for friendship to keep him in my life. I thought about it. But as CL says, the friendship offer, whether with or without benefits, downgrades the former relationship. I did not accept the friendship offer. Somewhere in my shocked, dazed, addled brain, I recognised that I would be setting myself up for misery. When the offer was made, I looked him in the eye (before he quickly swivelled his gaze away) and said: ‘and how will your next partner feel about you being ‘closest of close friends’ with me?’ Silence! I didn’t know then that the next partner was already in place but I could see that my comment had hit home. By agreeing to go out to dinners with him, to football matches, to the theatre, I would have been doing no more than frantically ‘pick me dancing’. And that’s what having sex with the ex is, however it’s dressed up, ‘pick me dancing’. Meanwhile the cheater stays central and is stimulated by being danced around. The intention was that I filled the gap while she was overseas. I would have received the random text saying ‘let’s meet up’ when he had nothing else to do. I would have quickly got into the habit of keeping myself available for him. I would, in effect, have become the OW. The triangulation which, unbeknown to me, had been present throughout our 26 years would have continued, with the role of the women being the only aspect that changed.

    I still feel huge sadness about the breakdown of the marriage. Some tiny instinct for self-preservation screamed at me to shut the ‘friendship’ idea down quickly. I knew that however I dressed it up, I would be accepting the dregs and delaying my recovery. The ex does not deserve my friendship. I now value myself too much to be friends with a person of his character. Friendship would have led to sex, one drunken night or other, and I would have been back at square one. The sex could never have been good enough to justify what would have followed. True power comes from having a solid core where we know ourselves and understand our motives. Game playing does not sit comfortably with authenticity and using sex or friendship or money as a weapon devalues us.

    • So well explained MW! It is a game with them and they just want us to move to another spot on their board. It hurt me tremendously to get him out of my life, but I love myself too much to be devalued for the rest of my life by him.

    • I sometimes regret that my ex never turned over his text messages and other communications to the lawyers. I was curious to see whether the “sweet” texts to me, or the booty calls, or whatever, coincided with him and OW fighting, or her being busy with her kids or her family. It was only several years down the line, when I got confirmation of the affair, that I started thinking there must have been some kind of pattern to it. Maybe even that he would send the same “invitation” to both of us and see who responded first.

      It’s pretty messed up. I did keep hanging out with him, pick me dancing like there was no tomorrow. It defintely prolonged my pain. It also upset OW, which in my distressed state I actually rather enjoyed seeing. It’s embarrassing now, but I was a mess back then and I’m not going to beat myself up too much for my choices (though I will certainly advise others to make better ones than I did).

      • We do the best we can at the time, don’t we ISTL? There’s no point in us piling in on ourselves. Part of me would have liked to drive exgfOW wild with anger. The other part wanted to beat her to a pulp. I’m not ashamed of those feelings. They were normal and natural.

  • I had these thoughts in the first 90 days or so. Reading here and learning about the narcissistic relationship cycle ended those thoughts for good.

    Better to do the “gain a life” work and fix your picker.

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