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Ex-Wife’s Affair Timeline Doesn’t Add Up

twu luvDear Chump Lady,

Your website has been a godsend, you’re funny asides have helped me through a dark time in my life. My name is Josh, and you posted a quote about boundaries awhile back.

Some background for context of my chumpiness. I moved back to Montana for a job and to chase dreams we both had. She was studying in school and linked up with an old friend and she was so flirty with him, he ended up catching feelings and, she even invited him to our house with other friends. I was pissed and intimidated him the whole time, and told her to cut contact, which is what she did.

Next up was a rodeo clown that turned into an emotional affair behind my back, she would meet him for drinks after work. Eventually she told me she cut contact as it became too serious. I feel in both situations I only received half truths, and of course, I went to put the rose colored glasses on.

Fast forward to this year, I get the I love you but I’m not in love with you speech and there’s not another man involved. We had just lost a baby and she shutdown, and she proceeded to blame me for not being there for her, I was not validating or empathetic enough.

She then proceeded to tell me she’s flirty, men fawn over her, she wants full blown affairs, and she wasn’t happy for four years (which line up with the timeline of events above).

Well yesterday, I was talking to my oldest and he told me the AP is going to propose on Christmas Eve, to which I told him that is fine, but if your mother ever tells you again that we were married fast, she lying as she is dating and marrying this guy at a faster pace. My son then proceeded to tell me the AP met her in February through a mutual friend, which would start the physical affair before we separated. He then backtracked and said April (he had a bit of cognitive dissonance), which was only three weeks into separation, still an affair (I did the pick me dance hard until I saw the AP). I feel it started in February because she made me wear a condom the second time we were intimate after her surgery, which is something we never did.

My questions are, does life get better between us and the ex who cheated, or is it continual adjustment to what they do next? Do the hits keep coming? Is there a pattern to chump behavior? I feel there is a user and abuse dynamic to people like this, and they continually try to cross your boundaries and keep you off balance.

Thank you,



Dear Josh,

Trust that she sucks.

That’s it. That’s my advice. Everything I say next (hey, you’re expecting a column) flows from that basic precept. She. Sucks.

Accept it and everything else melts away.

is it continual adjustment to what they do next?

What will she do next? Suck. It’s not an adjustment if you expect it.

Do the hits keep coming?

Only if you care. She sucks. Don’t care.

Is there a pattern to chump behavior?

Yes. Caring for people who continue to suck. Un-chump thyself.

I feel there is a user and abuse dynamic to people like this, and they continually try to cross your boundaries and keep you off balance.

Right. Because they suck.

You need to trust the suck at a bone-deep level. Stop expecting decent behavior. Realize she has a different operating system — kibbles. Don’t ascribe depth and meaning where it doesn’t exist, and stop untangling her skein. (Like trying to figure out the affair timeline. More on that in a moment.)

She can only broadside you if you’re naive and set some bar. Lower the bar to the dirt ground with her. She sucks. And LET GO.

You only control yourself. And that’s where you need to focus your energies. I realize you share children and she has a myriad of ways to fuck up your life. And I know from personal, painful experience how trying and difficult that is. Again, all you control is YOU. When she tries her shit, enforce your boundaries and document it. Be all business. BIFF — brief, informative, friendly and firm.

FWs live for kibbles. When you don’t give them a reaction, and deny them emotion, they often peddle their chaos elsewhere. You have a court order, and that’s your guide. Do what’s in the order, and let go of the rest. Like what she does and who she does it with. Unless it impacts the children in some grave way — this is the standard the courts care about, The Best Interests of The Children — it’s not worth poking her cage.

So, she has a new/old fuckbuddy and they’re gonna get married?

How does this effect Josh? Will this end alimony (if you have it)? How does it effect the kids? Does she want to move them? Is there some provision in your court order? These are actionable items. Did she fuck him while she was fucking you? Not an actionable item. The answer? She sucks. Yes, of course she was. She’s a cheater.

Well yesterday, I was talking to my oldest and he told me the AP is going to propose on Christmas Eve, to which I told him that is fine, but if your mother ever tells you again that we were married fast, she lying as she is dating and marrying this guy at a faster pace.

Do not comment on your ex-wife’s romantic life with your children. Period. Don’t say she’s a liar (of course she is, she sucks). Let your child establish his own relationship with his mother. He’s not stupid. He knows his family fell apart and mom is rushing to the altar. He can connect the dots. He doesn’t want to be in the middle of this and he certainly doesn’t want you interrogating him about mom’s dating timeline.

Look, I get it. Being gaslit is AWFUL. You want validation that you weren’t crazy. That she was fucking around, and all the clues add up. But you don’t need to be a detective if you Trust The Suck, okay?

Yes, it’s worse than you know. It’s almost always worse than you know, because you were deliberately kept in the dark. That’s the fun. Playing their game — I KNOW WHAT YOU DID! — is caring. It’s staying invested in their fuckupedness. Accept the suck. You won’t ever know how bad it was and it doesn’t matter because YOU ARE FREE NOW.

My son then proceeded to tell me the AP met her in February through a mutual friend, which would start the physical affair before we separated. He then backtracked and said April (he had a bit of cognitive dissonance), which was only three weeks into separation, still an affair (I did the pick me dance hard until I saw the AP). I feel it started in February because she made me wear a condom the second time we were intimate after her surgery, which is something we never did.

Uh huh. Right. You’re divorced because she cheated. Probably multiple times with multiple men. And it hurts like a motherfucker. And who even knows if that lost pregnancy was yours.

I’m not trying to make light of your trauma. I have a whole blog here devoted to helping people past this shit, I’m just saying SHE SUCKS.

So, AP is gonna propose on Christmas Eve? Terrific. He gets a cheater in his stocking.

She’s a lump of coal and you’re a diamond — a faithful man who loves with his whole heart.

You don’t suck, Josh. And you’re not shackled to her dysfunction any longer. Merry Christmas.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Josh,

    The sooner that you understand (and accept) that your Ex-Wife doesn’t care about you, doesn’t care that much about your children – other than for image management purposes – and doesn’t care about the truth (particularly if it makes look bad) the better. Fundamentally, things will get better for you over time, but as regards your Ex, please do not expect her to apologise/make amends, and if you hope/expect her to adjust her behaviour to make things better between the two of you, then you will be sadly (and repeatedly) disappointed. As CL states, your Ex sucks and you need to internalise that and act accordingly.

    Your role is to protect yourself, and be the sane parent for your children; believe me, they will know who their mother is, and so you don’t need to explain it to them.


    • ^^THIS^^ and everything CL said. The sooner you accept these truths and set major boundaries with you (and with her/your children….I hate it when the douchebags tell the kids intimate details that they should NOT be aware of) the easier healing becomes and your Tuesday is that much closer. Big hugs.

    • For a second I thought he was speaking metaphorically, but the OP was an ACTUAL rodeo clown. Im with NOMAR, in a way, they are all rodeo clowns.

    • A good friend of mine had his wife leave him for an actual clown. He performed at kids parties and events. A few years later she apologized and accepted responsibility and hinted at reconciliation.
      A show biz axiom is to never follow a clown act. He declined.

  • “Do the hits keep coming?”

    Absolutely they keep coming. They’ll never stop for the rest of your life, if you let it. I was years (years!) away from my first D-day, only to discover that the girl I thought was his first extramarital affair was not actually his first. There was another even more secret extramarital hookup that he never even told me about. If I wanted to go digging, I’m quite certain I’d find pain and deception from our very first date in high school onwards.

    “Do the hits keep coming?”

    Absolutely. Don’t inquire. Don’t investigate. Don’t dig. There be dragons. Trust that she sucks and don’t talk about her affairs with your children. Just assume that she sucks and move on with your life.

    • Yes…they do keep coming and they hurt as long as you hold out hope that there was ever decency happening. Like you, I was YEARS into processing the The Affair only to learn that was simply The Biggest Affair but surely not the only one.

      One of my biggest mistakes in the Whole Big Thing was the same mistake Josh makes above…not trusting the Suck soon enough to spare myself some misery. I tried ad nauseam to untangle a particular skein that was maddening…it made NO SENSE to me because I kept assuming a baseline level of decency in him where there likely wasn’t one.

      • A FW is the gift that keeps giving. The trick is to stop accepting the gift, looking at the gift, talking about the gift, or trying to figure out the gift. Because, of course, the gift is a turd. Maybe a sparkly turd, but it’s a neverending turd so long as you keep opening the package. A FW is a turdy tribble.

        While I’m still processing everything (it’s been awhile but there were multiple D-Days, the last one… I think.. occuring in 2011…ish? I don’t know anymore), and still working on meh (which I may be for the rest of my life–whatever), I do recall the immense sense of relief I got when I realized that there were probably other girls before the secret girl that he never told me about BEFORE the first ascribed affair girl that everyone knew about (which wasn’t the one he dated after or the one he married after that)… yes, there were probably even more… *and I didn’t care.* I wasn’t even going to look into it. I shrugged my shoulders and meant it.

        Such a relief not to care about digging into things and trying to piece together a timeline of pain and deceit. I just assume now that there was never a point where he was ever faithful and loving, even in our puppy-love high school days. I assume it was always a con now. And that has brought me contentment. I don’t have to figure anything out anymore. I just trust that he sucks. And that frees me up to live my life.

        • I remember one night in particular when soon to be X was out of town. I knew that I was being lied to on every level and I had the keys to the deception right in front of me in the form of his home office computer and files. (He’s a hoarder so the filing cabinets were so stuffed full you couldn’t even shut the drawers. Papers falling out of folders crammed into corners. Piled everywhere.) He’s not that computer savvy so I knew I could probably hack into it, of course didn’t need to, he’d always leave it on with many multiple tabs and windows open. And I felt this huge boulder on my chest as I looked at it all and knew I could dig and probably find all sorts of shit and he’d never know I did ’cause it was all chaos. Just like my so-called marriage. And I turned and walked out of the room. At that point I just didn’t care. I knew he was a liar, and would continue to lie and try to manipulate me to serve his wants.

          Though I do regret not finding out some of the financial stuff and better defending myself in court, the rest just wasn’t worth it. Seven years later I am still a bit curious about whether all my suspicions of online hook ups, prostitutes, affairs and theft of marital $ and property. But in the end I really don’t care. I got out. I’m mostly at Meh. And he still sucks.

      • Same here. My continued attempt to untangle the skein and pick me dance only kept me emotionally trapped longer. When I realized at 7 months pregnant that he was cheating on me while we were trying to get pregnant via IVF and then throughout the pregnancy, that was it. A switch flipped and I trusted he sucked. I had a long hill to climb to get out but not a day has gone by that I have not taken some action to keep me moving in the right direction.

        Once you stop wondering or caring about how or why they go about sucking and accept that this is not someone you want a relationship with, it’s easier to let them go their merry way and move forward. And to reflect on yesterday’s LW, that also means not caring what they think about your new life, too. Let them become a stranger to you. No more significant than anyone else you come across but maybe less so because you know they suck. I don’t think I would even hold a door open for a cheater.

      • ^^^THIS^^^
        “It made no sense to me because I kept assuming a baseline level of decency where there likely wasn’t one.”

    • I agree- the hits keep coming and if you try and figure out an actual timeline you’ll be wrong anyway. You don’t know what they did and you never will. They lie, lie and then lie. I had more discoveries for a solid year and then I decided I needed to stop looking because it was only hurting me more to learn the level of deception. They suck.

      • Agreed. Trying to figure out the timeline is trying to gain some control (even just in understanding) about the situation. The sooner I figured out that the timeline I was trying in vain to piece together simply didn’t matter, the more relief I felt. Any timeline we construct will always be wrong anyway.

  • Josh, Chump Lady’s advice is spot on. The only thing you need to feel and think about the ex is that she SUCKS! She will not change. Think of it this way, you have sanity and you have the ability to love. She does not because she thrives on kibble and her “love” depends on the quality of the kibble she is getting. You don’t want or need this in your life. We all know how difficult it is to get the cheater out of your head space but this is something you have to practice now.
    The holidays are difficult because we tend to ruminate about having that perfect holiday with family and a loving partner. It is human nature for those who are capable of giving and loving. We get it. Please count your blessings, you are at least physically free of a cheater. Now you need to practice being mentally free of a cheater. It is not easy but by focusing on other things like your kids, your family, you hobbies, etc, you will find yourself thinking less and less of someone who SUCKS. It will take time and it will not be easy but you can do this.
    You know your stock will trade high. Value yourself and take care of yourself and your kids. Let them decide what type of relationship they want with their mother. The FW is going to get remarried regardless of when the affair started but this guy is getting a sparkly turd. You have your freedom. You win! Just trust that she sucks and that will never change. Focus on being grey rock and rocking it. You can get through this and sometime soon you will find that she is no longer on your mind and that you could really care less what she is doing and with whom. It is really hard at first but once you get the hang of it it does get easier and your life will improve.

  • This is about my brother the Chump. He, and his young kids, were abandoned by his wife. Overnight. Overnight. He cried, they cried, then he got angry. His focus was all on his children. The state they lived in had a long wait period for divorce. He was able to prove abandonment and got a very fast divorce.

    My suggestion is to reread CL’s answer until you get it. Then look at your Cheater’s behavior. Do you want her anywhere near you? She reeks of narcissism and possibly the entire PD playbook, known as The Cheater’s Handbook. The sooner you get out of her orbit the better.

    Focus on your children and reread what CL said about boundaries with information. They don’t need most of it.

    Get angry and use it to propel you forward with lawyers, std tests, fun with the kids and leaving her behind.

  • The truth is, it doesn’t MATTER what the timeline was/is. She cheated (emotionally, physically, who cares?), it was unacceptable to you, you divorced her.

    You will likely never get answers to all your questions. And that is okay. More information doesn’t make it any easier. I found out a lot more about the timelines, etc. after FW died. And it was just more confirmation that FW and OW suck. Which I already knew. You know enough already to move on.

    She sucks, she will always suck, Whoever is marrying her is getting a cheater who sucks. Now go live your own, non-sucky life. Eventually you will not care what/whom she is doing. Because she sucks and you are well rid of her.

    Yes, don’t discuss this stuff with your kids. Let them have their own opinions. Kids are pretty bright. They know what is up. And you can actually tell them you aren’t interested in discussing their mother’s love life. You can have that boundary. Or just use the “cool/bummer/wow” response if they bring her up. (Although you can always say you are willing to discuss how they FEEL about the whole situation. This is being supportive of your kids’ emotional and mental well-being. But just gathering information/gossipping is not helpful to you, them, or anyone.)

  • Thank you for the dose of reality, chumplady and for telling me to pull my head out of my butt, I was starting to fall back into old habits. I just need to focus on closure is she sucks and is a turd, and I have a great future ahead of me.

    The less interaction, the better.

    • Josh – it’s not easy at first. No contact helps. Or minimal contact. Grey rock or yellow rock or whatever also helps. Therapy helps. A friend you can vent to helps. CN helps. Time helps. You remembering what she did to you and your kids and how that is not acceptable to you in your marriage/relationship helps. Journaling helps. Try all the things and see what helps. Remember- She sucks. You don’t.

    • Josh, it’s normal for our brains to try to figure out what happened. But, at some point, we know enough and we can notice those thoughts and direct our thoughts elsewhere because it isn’t helpful to building our new life. Having the ability to notice our thoughts and direct them elsewhere is a human superpower (metacognition).

      I’m 8 years out from Dday, 6 from divorce, married 25 years, 4 kids. XH is a serial cheater. I totally get the impulse to discuss this with the kids. I wish I had said a lot less. It’s been 6+ years since I’ve had the urge to say something negative about their dad. I’m well trained in the “cool,” “bummer,” “wow,” camp. It’s for their well being. It’s my “fault” XH is their dad. I don’t need to add to their pain of who he is by providing any commentary. They sadly know more than enough about his failures.

      • “I don’t need to add to their pain of who he is by providing any commentary. They sadly know more than enough about his failures.”

        Thanks so much for this eloquently perfectly expressed wisdom.

      • The issue of what to tell kids is a balance and it’s never perfect. But not filling them in at all can have terrible consequences. I have a friend who now wishes she’d told her then-ten year old daughter the truth in an age-appropriate way before her demonic ex managed to get ahead of the narrative and groom the daughter into a narc against her mother. I’ve been on the phone with this friend when she’s started whispering something so that her daughter wouldn’t overhear and repeat the bit of information to toxic daddy.

        I felt so horrible for her. I don’t have the same issue. I probably erred on the side of explaining too much to my kids, mostly because my daughter did a bit of hacking and sleuthing and ran across a mass of graphic and disgusting facts about dad’s affair partner. It shocked her so badly that she tore a room apart, piled up the gifts her dad had recently given her and started destroying them, then immediately shared with her brothers. The whole thing felt like watching an epic disaster happen in slow motion. I wasn’t alarmed because I forbid or fear emotional displays in general but because I could see the “permanent damage” descending like a missile towards my kids’ souls. I kicked into emergency gear to lessen the impact. My tactic was humor. The kids ended up knowing too much and, not knowing what else to do, I used gallows humor in an attempt to transform shock and trauma into a source of hilarity.

        Was that the “best” thing to do? Probably not but I’m not a trained pediatric trauma specialist. My therapist at the time– who is a veteran PTSD specialist who tried to help me find therapists for the kids– listened to my lament over the way the kids learned the details and my hand-wringing over how I dealt with it and she simply shrugged and said she didn’t disapprove of the gallows humor tactic as long as it didn’t supersede their ability to access and express other emotions about it. When my daughter later cried about how dad had spent on an affair money that could have been spent on her brother’s medical treatment, I was assured that at least she was able to experience sadness and anger and express it verbally even if any other time the concept of cheating comes up in a movie or conversation, the kids still explode into jokes and ribald cracks. The rest seems to come out in an interest in social justice. My sons are very scathing towards public figures who commit sexual offenses. That also gets mixed with humor. For a time there I had to put up with a lot of “Epstein island” cracks over the dinner table.

  • I can tell you it’s gonna be awesome!

    Not trusting that she sucks; that’ll take a long time. Healing isn’t awesome, that’ll take time (give it all the time it needs). (Re)learning how to parent on your terms is kinda difficult. No.., a lot of this won’t be awesome.

    You know what will be?
    Everything else.

    If you let yourself learn and grow, you’ll bloom. You’ll see life differently. You’ll live a fuller life, love more. You’ll enforce boundaries and leave sticky people behind. You’ll learn to seize the moment.

    Trust yourself.
    I was you. It gets SO MUCH BETTER!!

  • Yes, the hits keep coming but it does get better.

    I still live in the same area where we met and raised our kids, and he’s many states away. Maybe he has it easier in some ways because he started over, but I kept what was precious and familiar including the adult kids and most of our friends (not all, but what can you expect). Putting the Christmas tree up with the adult kids is always hard for me, but they love doing that together every year. I bought a few new decorations this year, and the house looks great. We have Christmas dinner and more all planned.

    At times the associations and memories hurt in certain situations, but I basically didn’t change and healed. He pretended like we didn’t exist and morphed into something different. My therapist said that was really unhealthy and would eventually come crashing down on him, but at this point, it doesn’t matter.

    Yes, they suck, and on the path they’ve chosen, that will always be the case. However, their chaos is something you can now keep on the outskirts of your life even if you share children. And the children grow up and can make their own choices on who to hang out with. Tuesday is a good place to be.

  • You were married to a serial cheater who liked to rub it in your face. That’s why she would bring these guys around you. I was married to a man like this. In my experience, the hits will keep coming. Even after you accept that she sucks and stop looking for anything, you’ll be talking to someone you think is safe about something that isn’t even about her and they’ll say something and a puzzle piece about your fake life will snap into place and you’ll want to vomit. It’s awful. That shit nearly drove me to suicide. Every time I would start to feel ok it was like I was suddenly run over by a truck that came out of nowhere.

    It doesn’t matter if you don’t care about your ex anymore, that stuff will hurt. I had so many of those moments talking to my own sister and she would sit there and have no idea she just clobbered me over the head with something and what do I do? Do I react and become that “bitter” person who “just can’t let it all go” or do I pretend I’m fine and not react to the horrible thing she just revealed to me. And of course there’s the “why didn’t you tell me this before” aspect which is hard to ignore. Like gee, I wish I fucking knew what you just said years ago. How convenient you never mentioned it to me before, is that because you’re fucking him too? It can take you to a dark place.

    I pretty much walked away from my entire life because I needed it to stop. I got rid of everybody except my son. And he drops bombs on me occasionally without realizing it but the relationship with him is the only one worth enduring that for. People like this poison everyone and everything around you. That’s what they do. Sometimes when you cut out the cancer, you have to cut out tissue around it too in order to make sure you got it all. That’s how I look at it.

    • My sister has inadvertently told me her truths about my whole life that equaled out to wasting twenty years of my life – and I still can’t quite forgive her. It’s not that she’s right or wrong but triggered emotional avalanches that I had to survive. Being told by a know it all how worthless your life has been by someone who professes to love you – it’s worse that hearing it from the cheater.

      • Right there with you. There’s nothing like discovering that your family had no faith in you, and that their ideas about you and your life devalue you. After I left my now-ex my mother told me that she and my sister had agreed between the two of them that “she’ll never leave him.” I guess she did this to let me know my leaving was a “pleasant surprise,” but the sting of knowing they were sitting in judgement on me from some high place of their own self-regard stayed with me and affected my relationships with both of them.

      • My sister came up with “you’ve always been jealous of me !” at Christmas, out of the blue. I concluded that she believes I envy her, while in fact I have been quite focused on my misery. It sure didn’t feel like support. It was soooo weird.

        • Remember that every accusation from a narcissist is actually a confession. Especially this one. While normal people fear envy because envious people can be destructive, narcissists live for it as the sad and empty replacement for real love that they’re incapable of inspiring or absorbing.

      • That’s exactly how it is. I was also married 20 years and I’ve had the same experience with my sister. You get it. I don’t know how to move on from it with her, or even if I want to. Part of me says it’s not her fault but she could’ve been more kind about it. This is the stuff so many people don’t think about. All the other relationships that are damaged when someone decides to betray their partner. It’s sad.

        • I know. I love my sister and hate her at certain moments, or triggers. I cannot disown her because there are other sisters involved but it gets a bit gut bubbling for me. I feel rage and I have to check out for awhile. And the thing is, ex isn’t worth the trouble and the destruction he left behind.

    • Katie and Trudy, Im sorry that the subsequent hits hurt so bad. I believe what you say about the intensity of your pain and Im sorry that you suffered so much in all this.

      I present a slightly alternative version in my experience in that time did cushion some of the blow for me. The immediate pain in the worst of it back around Dday hurt like a MF to the point I felt physical pain and it controlled my life for a number of years.

      I have had new revelations in the past few years, but for me, it simply didnt hurt as bad as the initial hits. I think there is some variability in this.

      • There probably is variability. For me the new revelations don’t hurt so much because of the now extinct relationship but because I learn that I made huge, life altering decisions for 20 years based on lies. And that people who knew me and claimed to care about me had information that would have greatly impacted those decisions about jobs, finances, moves, etc. And they stayed silent because… I guess it’s fun for them to watch me start over as if I’m a new adult in my 40s? I don’t know, I guess they just enjoyed having secrets at my expense. That part is way worse than getting cheated on or divorced for me.

        • My family does stuff like this. They enjoy the self righteousness of watching you make a mistake.

  • Hi Josh. I hope you can enjoy the holidays. Find all the things in life that bring you joy. End everyday thinking of all the things you are grateful for. This is hard and completely normal – the wanting to figure out wtf happened, when it happened, how it happened, who… etc. I was told it was a 6 month affair. Then it was 9 months. Lo and behold guess what? It had been going on for over a year. They hide things from us. It brings them joy because they are messed up. It makes them feel superior and powerful. Later I found out about the sex workers. I’m pretty sure the one I discovered wasn’t the first one. I believe he had been unfaithful for over the last decade of our marriage and I thought we were happily married and committed to each other. I now expect more to come out just so I won’t be surprised and shell-shocked like the first time. Be happy that she has found a new mouse to play with and you can move on. CL is 100% right. They suck. Hugs to you.

  • Josh – These are still early days for you. Healing takes years (though each year hurts far less than the previous one). You have so much on your plate as a parent to your children. Leave them out of the speculation about their mother’s sexual behavior (eeww) and model what responsible actions look like. Everyday. You will come to accept she sucks each time you choose a different path from her. Make sure you have your own team of caring adults (therapist, lawyer, family, friends).

  • I’m guessing you want to nail down that timeline because you’re looking at every which way to maybe reconcile. I gave my ex probably a year to come to their senses. The problem with waiting for them is that you keep yourself in limbo and can’t move on. I kept thinking, if they smartened up, they will realize what they tossed for some pile of trash. But cheaters tend not to have introspection. And when you catch the lie, they don’t care. Even the kids come second. They only care about their feelings. They’re like sharks. They will eat when hungry, nothing personal. It’s about feeding themselves. And they’re always hungry. And change usually triggers them. A new job, a move, a new house, a baby, a set back or a success – can trigger a feeding frenzy. It sucks, they suck because you’re on the wrong end of their shit stick this time. I wasted a good two years trying to figure out the when why and what fors. Turns out you’re not in the equation. Even if they break up with AP they don’t want back while you’re calculating compromise and reconciliation and how to forgive. They don’t really care unless more money is involved. Don’t be part of her triangle. Don’t put your kids in the middle. Be their safety zone. Hugs. Don’t look back.

    • Trudy, I like your shark metaphor. I’ve said before, apropos not taking my cheater’s actions personally, that it would be like being mad at a shark for biting a bleeding swimmer. Sharks gonna shark.

  • “Trust that they suck” is the fundamental precept, and like all fundamentals, always worth returning to.

    Whenever I find myself idly wishing I could ask my ex this or that, or let him know just how his behavior affected me, I remember that he sucks, and his reply or action in response to my wistful imagining would reflect his suckitude.

  • If only cheaters stuck together and stayed out of Loyal People pool!

    But there’s no fun for them in that.

    Here’s more proof of cuckoo for you. Traitor Ex and I separated in 2018 after his true identity (secret sexual double life conductor) was revealed. Divorce finalized the last quarter of 2021.

    Last month my mechanic found an active GPS tracker on one of my cars. It belongs to Traitor Ex. Who told the officer who made contact, “I just want her out of my life!” Right. So, of course, he’s tracking me. Makes total sense. Yep.

    This is what whoever he is screwing around with gets. And, if they knew he was in a relationship, he gets a disordered individual. Cheating is the identifying hallmark of the Relationship Idiot like the mark of the devil is a cluster of 6’s hidden in Damien’s scalp hair.

    The idiocy extends to all of their relationships.

    I don’t ask our daughter anything about him. But if she comes to me to validate something he told her, or if I know something he told her is untrue, I tell her the truth. That was OK’d by our therapist because they use and lie to their own children too. We also process what comes up between them in therapy sessions because our therapist had been our family therapist for years before his double life was exposed. Thankfully, she knows the score and therefore is a source of sanity, safety, knowledge, wisdom, and truth.

    A great therapist is an invaluable crew member on board the ship when you’re sailing to healing, especially when little folks are on board. Get one for you and your children ASAP.

    If they were capable of decent behavior you would not be here.

    • SUCK = Shady Underhanded Cheaters are Kryptonite

      MINIMIZE MINIMIZE MINIMIZE contact. It takes time and practice. My ultimate goal is to never see him, hear him, or speak to him ever again.

      • …..and expecting what cheaters say to add up is a fool’s errand…..

        They lie about anything and everything, so talking to them is pointless. Nowadays I prefer to let the lawyers, judges, and law enforcement do the talking.

    • “If only cheaters stuck together and stayed out of Loyal People pool!” The thing is, cheaters don’t want to be cheated on themselves so they’re bound to try to shop in the LP pool. They tend to disparage and distrust other cheaters, probably why only a reported 3% of divorced cheaters go onto marry their affair partners.

      As a side note, because of the stats (one caveat is that the statistics were drawn from polling top male execs), I tend to think that chumps of cheaters who married their APs are statistically over-represented (but never unappreciated) on this site due to the extra shocking lowness of character of their exes and the protracted trauma involved.

  • Josh, No more contact, EVER. This is how you end the mystery. Only facts conveyed through text if necessary concerning the children. Period. If she marries, speak with the lawyer about alimony ending.

    The reason to cut off contact isn’t to make a point. It is to protect you while you heal over the next few years ahead. Every time there is contact or energy spent considering her, it puts the healing on hold or reverses it. Just to repeat, only facts discussed with the kids as necessary.

    Of course the time-line doesn’t add up. No need to know those details, not just because you know she sucks, but because it will not answer a question, only open the door to more, and then those answers bring on more until one day you decide it doesn’t matter to you. Why not start now.

    This process sucks, but at the same time it is wonderfully liberating to be free. Some of my best memories are those first moments enjoying life early on in the midst of adjusting to being free of cheater. Take care.

  • Thanks for this reminder today, Chump Lady. FW is having a holiday sadz and has been love bombing, trying to get me to have sex with him. Um, no thanks. I had to get std tested since finding out he was using hookers for years. Even if he washed with bleach, he would not be clean enough for me.

    I trust that he sucks. He’s a Jesus cheater, and claims that he is a new creation in Christ and therefore fuckable (I guess).

    WWJD? I bet he would also say “Trust that he sucks!”

    • “ He’s a Jesus cheater, and claims that he is a new creation in Christ and therefore fuckable (I guess).” This made me laugh today. Good on you JCC for staying strong.

      I received an email 4 days ago, from my XH, (separated 1 year, divorced 1 year)with the subject “Amends” & only this visible on my email app “UpAndOut, I have gone back to attend.” He is an alcoholic & blamed his “philandering” on drinking, but the secret sex life worsened after he got sober.

      I haven’t opened the email yet & don’t know when I will. It will definitely be when I damn feel like it, not on his timeframe. It’s way past time for any reasonable amends, so I am assuming this is just a dumb apology letter so that he can feel good about himself. Not gonna let it ruin my Christmas with the adult kids.
      I thought I was getting to meh, but I’m feeling angry when I think about it.

    • “WWJD? I bet he would also say “Trust that he sucks!””

      ahhhh, that one is beautiful! (;->)

  • Josh asks:

    “Does life get better between us and the ex who cheated, or is it a continual adjustment to what they do next?”
    Yes, life gets much better. It will be because YOU change. You have no control over her changing. YOUR change is what will point you in the direction of a better life.

    “Do the hits keep coming?”
    Only until YOU change will the hits keep coming.

    “Is there a pattern to chump behavior?”
    Yes. We often try to untangle the skein of fuckedupness thinking we will find a fix to the problem. Once you leave the Cheater to their own vices and self-destruction, you begin the process of your own healing in earnest.

    “I feel there is a user and abuse dynamic to people like this and they continually try to cross your boundaries and keep you off balance.”
    It’s great you recognize this early-on. Who really knows all the reasons disordered people act out? You could spend the rest of your life analyzing the psyche of an ingrate and still never pin the tail on a donkey.

    What matters most is that you separate your life, head, heart and future from hers – no longer interested in what makes her tick, how she’s living her life, who she’s with, or whether she apologizes, etc. From this difficult transition of separation you’ll go through, you’ll learn many things and take them to heart. You’ll have learned from adversity and prepared for a better life. Your picker will also have been sharpened like iron and will point you toward people that will become an asset in your life, rather than a liability. It’s YOU, not your ex, that makes this happen. YOU are the change agent.

  • “Do not comment on your ex-wife’s romantic life with your children.” Really great CL advice. Help your children process their trauma without accidentally adding to it.

  • It’s not a continual adjustment to what they do so much as it is putting on your armor when you have to be around them.
    40 years divorced here. I’ve been raising a granddaughter and sighed with happiness last September when she finally made it to college. It was difficult for both of us the last couple of years. I’m on fixed income, paid for her tutors to get a passing ACT score, was the parent for all school meetings, took her to a million volleyball tournaments etc etc etc. She was going to struggle for 4 years, but just getting her in college was miraculous.

    My heart was broken last week when she called to tell me she was dropping out.

    I was still processing it when I ran into my ex and his wife of 20 years at my daughter’s house. A mixup and last change in schedules and I arrived just as they arrived. I knew they knew the news. But I don’t think they knew about my heartbreak. It was difficult to put on a bright smile and say crap like, “She can return any time.” “She needs to mature.” “we’ll support her in whatever way we can.” We meant me and my other daughter and her great husband.

    My ex tried to grill me about how much money I had wasted. I brushed it off.

    I am not sure ex and his wife were buying my act, but as soon as I left, they were quick to put on their Trump Christian hats and begin to condemn/disown her, speculating about her sex life etc. My daughter said she tried to shut him down by reminding him that he himself had bailed out of college the first time around because of his drug+alcohol-induced psychotic break.

    I am pretty much over the sadness, but ever so glad that I hadn’t exposed myself to him again.

    • Hey Emma C – I was a lecturer at a lower-ranking UK university. I thought I might be able to encourage you – some of the best students I had were folks in their mid 20s, not necc. very bright, but really motivated by having endured a shite job for a few years before coming to us. Sounds like your grand-daughter dropped out quite sharpish, so the ‘waste’ might not be too damaging – and she may come back to a course that interests her once she has put up with some crappy jobs for a bit, herself. So – please be encouraged! cheers, M

        • I dropped out of college too, and received my BA after two decades in the workforce. I turned out fine after I figured out where I needed to be, and so will your daughter. Older students are more focused and motivated. It will get better

    • Regarding the dropping out of college:

      A talented high school friend of mine dropped out. Her family was lower income & she was struggling financially & quit. Ended up working for a bank for 10 years & got promoted several times. Switched jobs to an insurance company who ended up paying for the rest of her degree. It was a better outcome in the long run than if she had taken the loans & persisted at college the first time

      • Thank you for the reminder. She has shown enough positive traits that she was offered a promotion for her summer job — she works for the Girl Scouts at their live-in summer camps.

        • Emma C: Both my husband quit college after our sophomeore year. (Separately. We did not meet until each of us returned to finish our degree several years later.) It was a matter of “why are we spending (?wasting?) our own hard-earned money?” when neither of us had any idea of what we really wanted to do once we graduated. After working in the real world for 5 years, each of us returned to college, focusing on getting a degree in a field that each of us (1) really wanted to do, and (2) knew what doing the job would really be like. We were motivated to reaching a well-defined (and well-researched) goal. Our grades were great.

          I hope that this will also be true for your granddaughter. Instead of seeing this as “dropping out”, try to see it instead as being more along the lines of “stopping out.” And even if your granddaughter never returns to college, it is better to not continue, than to continue – just for the sake of continuing.

          BTW, HIGH PRAISE and APPLAUSE for not letting the EX bully you into revealing ANYTHING about your investment and involvement in helping your granddaughter out. That is an accomplishment that you deserve to be proud of.

          I am sorry that things have been difficult and disappointing lately. I hope that you will be feeling stronger inside soon.

    • EmmaC:

      Oh my God what a toxic, creepy ape your ex is. Speculating about his granddaughter’s sex life (shriek)? It’s interesting that, though normal people know not all men are toxic, toxic creeps like your ex project a world in their own images and in HIS WORLD VIEW mere sexual contact with any man– given that men IN HIS WORLD VIEW are poison– is enough to destroy your granddaughter. Very telling and fits my theory that self loathing is what ultimately underlies FWittery.

      I’m sure your ex and his vapid harpy would protest loudly at the following which makes it all the more fun to bring up. There was a study mentioned in a book by Gloria Steinem about how college immediately following high school can be damaging for the self esteem of very young women and minorities because the perspectives taught and the methods by which knowledge is taught are typically centered on white male primacy. It’s sort of like that heartbreaking study where little black girls showed a preference for white dolls. It seems women and minorities thrive best in college after having enough life and professional experience to assemble a sort of philosophical armature that protects against subtle messaging that would have too easily negated them earlier.

      I just wanted to add to the other comments supporting delayed college.

        • That’s amazing that she’s had support to find her tribe. In the best circumstances it’s a high wire act to raise kids who can survive and thrive in the world. My kids are mixed heritage and my middle child struggled through chronic illness, disability and discrimination for many years so I introduced them to “political/philosophical armature” as soon as they could speak. My ex-MIL was constantly crossing those boundaries and I was constantly having to correct it. She’s French and at one point brought a “vintage collector” DVD of the most violently sexist kiddy cartoons I’ve ever seen in my life. But the DVD was French so, you know, the height of culture. I literally ran to pull it out of the DVD player before my then-tiny kids could absorb it. For that and other interventions (stopping her from singing the La Rirette gang rape song to the children. Ugh. Look it up), she detested me to the point that it blew up spectacularly and divided the whole family. But I truly didn’t care because I know the stakes. I knew people who’d committed suicide or developed addictions in high school and college and because they lacked enough armature. My ex-MIL’s life strategy of cuddling up to the dominant paradigm to grovel for approval and amnesty doesn’t work for everyone.

          These days, my kids are all teen justice warriors with wicked senses of humor about all forms of wanton human corruption without ever straying into hubris or cruelty and I’m so proud of them.

  • Josh,
    It is strange living in parallel universes. A year and a half from a blindsiding Dday and 7 moths post-divorce I find myself missing and wanting what I had, but not with FW. Or at least who FW turned out to be. This paradox is extremely difficult to wrap my head around because I know I can never go back. As my buddy told me “you cannot unring that bell.”
    I told fellow Chump HelenBack the other day that I feel I am close to Tuesday but woke today with all the raw emotion and bad thoughts as if it happened yesterday. Healing will take time and there is always the urge to untangle.
    Josh thank you for this letter and ChumpLady thank you for your answer, especially this:
    “you’re a diamond — a faithful man who loves with his whole heart.”
    Have a Great Day CN

    • Stay on your journey. The periods of raw emotions will keep coming back, but with longer intervals en less intense. And one day you’ll realise that you don’t care anymore.
      That day will come. Untill then: ride it out as it comes and stay focussed on your goals

    • Yeah, it’s been nine months and things have gotten much better, but it is easy to fall into some negative patterns, especially now as it the holidays and our anniversary season. But I know my life will get better, grad school in the summer, I work for a company that really values me and my employees love me, plus I have all of our mutual friends. The icing on the cake is women find me interesting and that is a weird concept, I am by no means dating, but it does feel good to know you’re a good person and have value. They do not, everything is surface level and keeping up appearances, what a hell to live in.

      • It might help to try something different for the holidays to shake off past associations. Start new magical family traditions, something to do with nature, cooking, celebrating. Maybe launch a men’s walking group like the movement started by traumatized firefighters in the UK. Definitely make sure you’re surrounded by supporters, light, life and laughter on that upcoming anniversary.

  • Yes Josh, the hits keep coming. Expect her to make trouble for you in any way she can; with the kids, the divorce, money, and anything else her feverish little rat brain can dream up.
    She cheated on you with a rodeo clown, FFS. Safe to say she doesn’t have an appreciation for either irony or decency

    My experience is that when you think they can’t sink any lower, they exceed their previous record for fuckery.
    My FW got even worse after we broke up. I thought I’d seen his lowest, but just recently, he tried to cheat his disabled daughter out of money from the sale of the family home, which we had promised to her to put in her disability pension account. Needless to say, that didn’t end well for him and she’s getting the money. When I threatened to take his ass to court and expose all the shit he’s done, deposing his schmoopie in the process, he thought better of it.
    Never underestimate how scummy they can be. Never.

  • As CL said, her fuck buddy is getting a whore who needs male attention. Men pay attention to her because she gives off I’m cheap and available vibes.

    Grab the popcorn and watch the show that you no longer have to be part of.

  • I am so sorry Josh,

    I had one of these for 28 years: First the flirting (Sparkels), then the fawning and attention which pushed the sparkels into overdrive. This is the cycle these sorts live by. They crave attention and one person can ever satisfy their addiction to it. Please accept that you are a person of character, depth, commitment and they are not. Sadly, they need people like you to keep their lives stable and to maintain the image of stability. Once you realize that you were only one of many she sparkled for (till they dont), you will realize that it really had no value. She is just a commodity and available to anyone who passed. No contact is the only way free.

      • Embrace that super power. Someone worthy will open their heart and soul to you because of it. Healing takes soooooo long (I am still struggling, but less every day). I wish you the best!

  • At this point your kids are the most important. You can have 3-10 more wives, she can have a dozen more marriages. You only get one mom and dad. Be the sane parent. Dont bad mouth her. But dont protect her. If your kids ask you questions answer them honestly. No reason to lie about her actions. They should know the type of person she is, she broke up the family, multiple affairs. Your kids will see her for what she is soon enough. She essentially was a womb for your child. Someone who does what she does I dont think is a mother. Mothers self sacrifice, put their kids needs above their own. She is an egg donor and uterus. Be a great dad, When the kids are raised, get a good woman and role model a loving relationship.

  • Josh, come to this website every day. What you will learn is that nothing cheaters do is original. It is like they are somehow wired to cheat, to pull out the same tired justifications, for shifting the blame on to you. If you haven’t read it, please get the CL’s book, “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life”.

    What makes me ill about your post is that is seems your FW took your son into her confidence. Please get him into therapy ASAP. What she did ISN’T OK, but it looks like she is trying to somehow normalize it to him. If she has custody, she will be modeling terrible behavior that says it is OK to abuse another person as long as she gets her jollies.

    So many cheaters had parents who cheated.

    • He is, I am the one that take him and his brother. He has a strong sense of justice and is starting g to ask questions, but I kind of deflect.

      • If kids ask for the truth, I think they deserve to be told whatever is age appropriate. If they have a strong sense of justice, that is really an amazing character trait. You may have to write things out to get a handle on what needs to be said, and what can be left for other times, questions, and stages in life. For me, a child with a strong sense of justice and understanding of injustice is pure gold. I have three great kids- one of them really had a deep sense of what was going on. That sure meant a lot to me. I wouldn’t lie or obfuscate to any of them- if they asked the question, they got an answer they could trust. Matter-of-fact, and that is all.

        • You are very lucky that your kids did not find out like my adult son did. He found out because FW loaded his home made porn videos with Schmoopie to my son’s shared photo account (he shared with us so we could see all the places he has been to since he is in the Navy). FW evidently did not pay attention to his settings and oh boy oopsie. Needless to say, my son is no contact and wants nothing to do with FW. Of course that is my fault (not sure how but then again everything is the chump’s fault). My son can sort out his relationship with his father when he wants to. He is an adult and makes his own decsions. Unfortunately, FW can’t seem to understand it.
          If your kids are younger, then I would handle questions in an age appropriate way. I think it is fair of them to know what is appropriate for them to know at their age. Keeping things from them is not healthy and you need to model honesty, safety and trustworthiness to them. Kids often know more than we think and as parents we always try to protect them so it is a hard thing to balance.

          • Yea, I don’t hide it from him when he asked the other day. He asked me about dating and what cheating meant and I told him what it means. I knew he was asking due to everything that has happened, but I did not say anything about his mother.

  • One of the most valuable bits from chumplady is this “trust that they suck.” So many hours of my life that were rescued from unraveling duties because I was prepared to go the long haul. I had a deep sense that I needed to get all of the ducks in a line before I could move forward. This is faulty thinking. Likely the same thinking that kept me in this horrible marriage for 40 years.

    Once it was bluntly pointed out to me that he lied to my face for YEARS!! – and now my chumpiness was searching for a way to get him to tell me the truth? I could ask the hamster at the pet store display those same questions and it would be more honest and a better use of my time.

    He lies. When his lips are moving, he is lying. Or maybe not this one minute, but maybe this next minute, but is it this minute or that minute? the mindfuck blender whirrs….. bottom line is there is no truth to find. “Nothing to work with here.” (another chumplady great quote.)

    I wasted 40 years. I have absolutely not another minute to waste on him and his dysfunctional alternate universe.

    • Good point Tallgrass.
      And don’t forget about the omissions of truth.
      So much my XH never told me, and he allowed me to persist in faulty beliefs. Such a subtle way of gaslighting….

  • I feel like the zingers continue, but I can now head them off with a direct hit by firmly saying, “Thank God I’m out of that. I am NOT that any longer.” It was so much worse to be in “reconciliation” mode, caring, and trusting — without boundaries, gullible, and always blindsided by lies and deception of every shape and form — saying he was going one place and going another, saying he would be gone five minutes and being gone for a half hour. Yes, I get zinged with memories; it hurts like hell. But, I’m able to dismiss the hits more quickly with zero expectations that he is capable of anything decent (Trust They Suck). I’m grateful for my strength, mental clarity, for the connection of others, for the enormous gift of standing in truth on stable ground.

  • HEY JOSH –

    If you knew how many faithful wonderful women are going to stampede you when you shake off the boring insanity of this Cum Dumpster, you would have a song in your heart.

    Cum Dumpster is not special. Any animal can have a baby. She is just someone you mated with – her ability to bear children is as common as dirt.

    Reading her words (Men fawn over me!) made me laugh and cringe for you. It is apt she was fucking a rodeo clown, because she is a clown. She is a middle aged whore who will meet a bad end. Believe me – she will be a crusty broken down freak show, stuck to a bar stool – the person people run from and ridicule.

    Being obsessed with a Cum Dumpster is a peculiar type of madness. No one else thinks she is special, enchanting or captivating. They just see a willing hole with no obligations – a dumpster behind a greasy spoon, with flies and maggots circling around the 8 day old tuna salad.

    The hits will stop coming when your own brain grasps the howling sadness of wasting one more moment of your precious life on someone who is not fit to pump your gas.

    She will take you down as far as you are willing to go with her. There is no mystical sadness to her actions – she is a disgusting cum dumpster who does not see you as a human being. We don’t pine for, analyze or value cum dumpsters.

    We run.

    And, because you really are suffering, do you want to make her suffer too? Drop her stupid ass like a hot potato and NEVER speak to her again. NEVER. Only texts and email. Look up Grey Rock on this site. Your attention and misery is a life sustaining IV to her. Yank it out and never look back. You are going to need it yourself because you will be drowning in women who want to spoil you rotten.

  • Ask any Chump on this site if they enjoyed being on the marriage police force. We did not. Some of us needed confirmation of the gaslighting and lies. Some of us needed financial information about stolen marital assets. I needed both, and I found out more than I ever wanted to know. Then you can never truly forget what you’ve learned. That sucks, too. The good news is that as time goes by, you enforce your boundaries, start to heal, and you feel better because you don’t listen to lies every day, or live with a cheater. The memories start to fade away. They certainly are not important anymore. The only thing you need to remember is that she is toxic. You wouldn’t drink drain cleaner, no matter how thirsty you are. Stay away from poison people. Chump Nation will provide you with thousands of ways to recognize red flags. There are good people in this world, you just need to learn how to find them.

  • I’m sorry this happened to you, Josh. You did not deserve it and it wasn’t fair.

    As CL say, trust that she sucks. Stop having expectations. We don’t expect dogs not to bite, bees not to sting, and mules not to kick, right? Well, you can’t expect garbage people not to stink. You can Fabreeze the heck out of them, but at their core, they are stinky garbage humans.

    Reading Stoicism and the ideas about focusing on what we control and not externals has done a lot to put my own betrayal trauma in perspective.

    Sending you peace, brother!

  • The rodeo clown is the least skilled person at the rodeo. The only real requirement is to be stupid and enjoy taking risks.

  • Cheaters will: lie about you, forge documents, re-write history, either ignore the kids or spoil them to win them over, refuse to honor legal agreements, drag you back into court if they can. In other words they are character disordered. No contact and not expecting good behaviour from them is the best approach. And as CL said try not to discuss them with the kids, as tempting as it is.

    • It’s so funny / sad / validating all at the same time when you read someone else’s comment about their personal FW, but everything written applies to your own experience. Every. Single. Thing.

  • Josh,

    I apologize up front for my gallows humor. After reading your letter, I’m imagining bold retellings of the great classic novels on cheating like “Of Human Bondage” but in mutated form (like “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”) where the romantic rivals are replaced by… rodeo clowns. Not to knock the profession their gymnastic skill sets but it doesn’t evoke the romanticized TV image that cheater apologists have for “the other man.” So while you may not have the full timeline or truth, you do have an enviable one-liner that instantly sums up your ex’s taste in Schmoopage. I think the rest of us chumps would love to be able to put off nosy idiots who try to pry around for grounds to judge us over why our marriages blew up in two simple words.

    On a more serious note, the truth does have a way of trickling out over time– usually at a point when you no longer particularly care. Patience wins the day in that sense while sometimes trying to stubbornly drive towards the truth comes up with frustrating handfuls of dust. But I can understand the impulse to piece back together the story of what “actually happened” and line it up against perceptions at the time in order to learn something from the experience, sort of like how my son as a toddler would fall off his bicycle and then reenact the accident in slow motion to figure out how to avoid falling the next time.

    I did get a lot of the timeline. In my situation, getting my hands on the “secret affair credit card” bill allowed me to cross compare the things FW was lying about on particular dates and times against flashes of instinct that I had on those dates, texted alibis FW sent, my own diary entries of dreams I was having, whether one of the kids was sick at the time, etc. It was useful for measuring the depth of FWs sociopathy and studying methods of gaslighting, modes of manipulation (for instance, his tendency to amp up his martyr act by gasping and rhapsodizing about overwork and stress to cover up being on the verge of blowing heaps of family money on cheesy hotel sprees) in order to remember the tactics as well as the physical sensations the gaslighting produced and, particularly, to remember what it felt like when I was snuffing my intuitions so I could avoid doing it again. Gaslighting not only dangerously decalibrates life-saving (the same intuition that keeps our kids safe), it’s also like our own life stories get robbed from us when we’re gaslighted this brutally. It’s natural to want to reclaim those histories, almost as if we’re making a film about that period and want to document it correctly.

    But again, by the time you reach meh and have moved on, little of it is going to matter. By then, all memories of FWs get stored away in dusty boxes with the label “ick” on them. But where I remain really curious is over other people’s FWs. When reading testimonials like yours, I start wishing I could somehow observe all these FWs up close so I could study them like bugs, pick up a scent and add their behaviors, gestures, microexpressions, general vibes, etc., to my catalogue of red flags and “types to avoid.” That’s because people like your ex don’t just make dangerous partners. They suck in all ways and for anyone decent. They also make disastrous friends, disastrous business partners, terrible employees, horrible bosses, creepy coworkers, scary babysitters and dodgy accountants and lawyers. I’d love to broaden my grifter radar so I can see more of them coming and keep my personal arena safe and welcoming for safe people.

    • Looking back on my marriage, it becomes apparent they really do engage in a lot of poor behaviors. Whether it’s ethical, legal, or moral They think that rules do not apply.

      I am so glad she’s out of my life as it was getting exhausting dealing with such a sucky human.

      • Yes, they think they are above the law and morality. I am happy every day to not be roped in with my disordered self absorbed ex. Once you realize that you are on your way.

      • It can be subtle and easy to miss those blips of unethical views and behavior. It’s probably because disordered people tend to mirror their targets’ values, views, traits, etc., so seamlessly at first that we believe the mirage and don’t quite believe the little breaks in the hologram projection when the face of the devil suddenly flashes. What? Was that real? Could they be serious? Wait, but, noooo…

        It’s probably a bit sobering and telling that I found it helpful to read up on serial killer psychology in order to figure out how I got so thoroughly duped for so long. For instance, how do some manage to maintain double lives? Well, there’s always the BTK killer’s concept of “cubing.”

        Or why do users/abusers lie so seamlessly and why do they tend to demonize their own victims? Hello, “neutralization”: file:///Users/anacat/Downloads/societies-09-00046-3.pdf

      • Making an effort to move past your cheater ex and move on with your life will pay off. You will come to a point that you feel total relief to be free of her dysfunction and chaos. That dysfunction and chaos will continue no matter who she is with or where she lives.

  • If you set the FW bar at subterranean, you will always be delighted.

    Then again, never listen to a lying liar who lies. Accept the premise that they suck and quit ascribing positive traits on toxic people.

  • I finally realized that my ex’s actions (without sleuthing who he all did & when) added up to him wanting out long ago. I think his tiny tiny sliver of honour stopped that (maybe his parents were involved in him staying for as long as he did too). I think some people are only good for so long in a relationship (when the kibbles are high) then they’re off looking for that next hit off the crack pipe! Even my xMIL didn’t think he had it in him for marriage. I thought she was just being bitchy at the time, but I think she knew him better than I ever did. When you realize it’s just who they really are and nothing (nothing!) you could of ever done or said would’ve made them stay or stray, you will find peace & contentment in knowing that. You probably are going to wake up one day realizing how happy you are too! Living with an unfaithful & lying spouse is not happiness.

  • “Uh huh. Right. You’re divorced because she cheated. Probably multiple times with multiple men. And it hurts like a motherfucker. And who even knows if that lost pregnancy was yours.”
    Chump Lady triggered me with this one. At 47, my wife tells me she is pregnant. Did not expect that. She miscarried after a few weeks . I learned later that her fuck buddy at the time was a dark skinned, brown eyed guy. She and I are light skinned with blue eyes. Could have been an interesting hospital scene. Fortunately my other two look very much like me.

    • She-chumps don’t face this particular awful, classic hospital scene or the risk of raising a child for years that is not one’s own. But we all share the risks of other catastrophic long-term consequences through contracting all sorts of little bugs and diseases, some of which aren’t commonly known. Who knew that staph and MRSA can be sexually transmitted? And caries and gum disease? And the bugs that cause ulcers? And impaired immunity (from stress coupled with exposure to those bad gut and mouth bacteria)? There’s even lab evidence that certain autoimmune conditions are transmissible through blood contact though the latter theory is controversial.

      • Actually she chumps do face it. Many find out years later how much money has been diverted to another family, including kids. They don’t all find out right away that their husband has bred with another woman.

        It is just a horrible thing for anyone to go through.

        • Money, totally. My kids needed a half-sib with fetal alcohol syndrome like they needed holes in the head. Fortunately the AP in my situation had PCOS and couldn’t so easily carry out her scheme to “accidentally” get pregnant. Also fortunate is that she apparently got drunk at some work event, blabbed about the pill-flushing and that bit of gossip was so hot it spread fast and prompted a couple workplace whistleblowers to steel their nerves and finally reach out to me. But it seems to be a particular disadvantage to male chumps to assume a child is theirs, bond with it and then have that relationship overshadowed with the taint of an AP. In one sense the latter can still happen to woman: I knew a woman who developed and died of cancer soon after she discovered the “grandson” she loved turned out to be her husband’s lovechild with her daughter in law. The stress must be unimaginable.

      • Oh hell yeah, and H. pylori can be transmitted just by handling the same objects that were recently touched by an infected person, if they don’t practice good hand washing. If you touch the object and then touch your mouth, it has a way in. I caught it from the stupid FW whose family is infected and they won’t do anything about it. I warned him to be careful around them, but he didn’t listen and fixed their toilet, not even wearing gloves, as I found out after the fact. He started puking blood a month later. I paid attention to the early symptoms, so I caught it before it turned into an ulcer for me.

        • Back before anyone knew ulcers were caused by pathogens, they had an excuse to be careless but these days it’s just narcy to spread it.

  • Josh, You’ve been an investigator for so long it’s a hard habit to break. Confirming you were right all a long doesn’t change a thing. You need to stop focusing on her, she doesn’t deserve you. She is a waste of your time and energy. Best of luck.

  • You know the truth. Hard no contact. Your son is old enough that you’ll never have to see her again.

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