Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

She Left Me for a Downgrade. Was I THAT Bad?

Hi Chump Lady,

I’m a chump, my ex-wife cheated on me with a man twice her age, 59, and then left me and moved in with him after I found out. We both have decent jobs, had the house of our dreams and neither of us wanted kids, so we had plenty of freedom. The man she left me for is on disability, and works part-time where she works, is overweight and penniless.

So my question is, could I really have been that bad of a husband she would downgrade to the bottom of the barrel?

I admit my faults, I have my own demons that I am revealing through therapy, I’m booked for the next year every week, in fact. But I feel like as a married couple you fight the demons your spouse has together, not abandon him for an old ugly fat and poor dick fuck.

Please help me get the thought that maybe I deserve to be a chump out of my head.

Thanks!

Ultimate Chump

****

Dear Ultimate Chump,

No one deserves to be a chump. And this idea that there are deserving and undeserving chumps — those that Drove Them To It and those who had a Bad Thing inflicted on them — is what makes the whole infidelity discourse fucked in the head.

We don’t compel people to abuse us.

Deceit is not a problem-solving relationship tool.

And yes, I’m saying cheating is abuse. It’s risking your health, it’s emotional abuse and mindfuckery, there are opportunity costs (wasted years), financial costs… it’s the theft of your reality.

Everyone (and I’m talking to you shrinks too!) needs to drop the Deserving/Undeserving Chump dichotomy. Oh well, you weren’t meeting her needs. Oh, you didn’t lose the baby fat. Oh, you were too invested in your career/children/Pokemon cards… DESERVING! Oh, you were with a cunning Lothario/ruthless Delilah. Poor boo. UNDESERVING!

Do you see what this does? It puts every chump on the defensive. Cataloging their faults, weighing which ones were powerful enough to make people betray us, and which were more benign. The emphasis is on proving our worthiness to NOT BE ABUSED. Whose character is not being examined? Who’s rights are unquestioned? The abuser’s.

Well, maybe if you hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t have hit you.

We don’t tolerate that shit any more. Why do we tolerate it in situations that could result in default judgements and paternity tests? STDs or broken homes?

Things fall apart. I get it. Relationships fail. And people suck — including chumps. Heck, UC, you might suck. I don’t know if your battery of therapy appointments is merited or if you’re better off spending that money on a self-help book and a trip to Cancun.

My point is — there are ethical ways to end things. To address problems. To treat the people we purport to love.

Let’s say you’re just Nebulously Awful. There’s therapy, difficult conversations, divorce lawyers. Did she do those things? Or did she express her unhappiness by screwing the mailroom guy?

Or let’s say you’re Truly Awful. You’re dangerous. You’re an addict. You’re harming innocents. She must leave. Okay, then it’s no contact, divorce lawyers and reports to authorities. Why would Grandpa Disability be in the picture? Why would your marriage only end after you found out?

It’s not a bad thing to examine your faults. But your faults, real or imagined, didn’t make her cheat with Dick Van Wrinkle. Those choices are on HER. She let you invest in her, extracted value from that relationship, and let you believe you were safe, until you discovered you weren’t.

She owns all those decisions. Her shitty life skills are not a reflection of you. Neither is Part-Time Fat Fuck.

Yeah, yeah, Tracy. Trust That They Suck. We’ve heard it before.

Internalize it. Every chump has the nagging thought: What if I suck? How do I trust it wasn’t ME?

Did you wake up under the fetid breath of the unwashed disability dude? Did you cheat? Or did you love with your whole heart and get played?

Did you respond to this crisis with mindfuckery? Or did you book a year’s worth of therapy appointments?

Did you try? Or did you abandon?

Seems to me your humanity is pretty intact, UC. I don’t have a big sample to go on, but it appears your reactions to adversity are admirable. I bet you’re a pretty good guy, and she’s an idiot.

Maybe she’s better suited to Penniless I Fuck Other Men’s Wives Guy. Maybe because you’re NOT that guy, you’re a bad fit for her, a “bad husband.” Thank the sweet Lord baby Jesus, right?

You didn’t deserve to be chumped, UC. You deserve a better life. And you’re getting one.

(Her? Not so much.)

****

This one ran before. Also check out The Lola Doctrine on the universal theory of cheaters never trade up.

****
This one ran before. Also check out The Lola Doctrine on the universal theory of cheaters never trade up.

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.
  • Honestly? Going on about how the OP is a ‘downgrade’ – physically or financially – is sad. Like it’s less understandable than if OPs are richer, younger, hotter. Like ‘maybe I’d get it if she left me for Brad Pitt, but THIS guy??’
    Need to take that shit out of the picture, hands in the air at whatever FW sees in OP. Too many chumps beat themselves up comparing. Cheating is no less or more hurtful either way. Just wrong.

    • “Honestly? Going on about how the OP is a ‘downgrade’ – physically or financially – is sad.”

      Why is it sad ? True, cheaters are a downgrade in terms of *character and integrity*, which is more important, I agree, than their looks or financial status, but it’s totally understandable that a chump, in the first throes of that agonising betrayal, should look at the whore/man whore, and think, WTF ?

      Fuckwit cheated on me with a whore with a face like a rat, who always looked like she could do with a good scrub. Initially the hurt was compounded by that fact , it was only later I realised her shitty character was actually more important, and said more about her and fuckwit than her looks did.

      • The downgrade is about the character of the other man–willing to cheat with a married woman, not respecting boundaries, lots of character issues; however the fact that he is on disability has nothing to do with his character unless he is not disabled and is gaming the system. Lots of very good people have disabilities but that does not make them a cheating scum bag. That is a choice they make that has nothing to do with their medical problems. I do not mean to offend anyone but most people with physical or mental impairments are very good non-cheating people who were dealt a different hand so to speak. This is not to excuse the wife’s AP–anyone who will even consider cheating with another person’s spouse is a scum bag IMO.

        • Well said, LC. I was bothered by the emphasis on the OM’s disability, too, though I doubt the chump meant it that way.

          • The only way in which disability might be relevant are studies showing that “aggressive mating strategies,” including mate-poaching, show a statistical association to poor health or sense of shortened life expectancy. But obviously this doesn’t apply to the vast majority of normal people enduring health issues and has to be qualified up the yin-yang that people with personality disorders (as other studies characterize mate-poachers) *and* health issues are more likely to poach or cheat.

      • I think it is sad because it somehow puts the Chump in the mix of comparisons. The OP could have been anyone — anyone. The only common denominator there is fuckwit. Fuckwit that we also chose. So isn’t it the downgrade putting yourself in that comparison to either the fuckwit *or* the OP? I mean fuckwit is supposed to be the guardian of your marriage not some OP.

        If OP#1 would have said — “Nope, no thank you”. How would my situation be different? Would there not be a OP#2, 3, 4, ……?

        • That reminds me of an Argentine slang expression tailored for this exact situation: “No odies la chancha sino a quien la engordó” or “Don’t hate the pig but the one who feeds it.”

          You don’t have to hate the AP to still regard them as a pig.

          I might have a slightly different perspective on this because, in my former line of work in a narc-filled industry, I encountered more than a few chronic side piece coworkers. If they knew the target was married or otherwise committed, they’re always accessories. When I was young and dumb and thought it was “ungroovy” to judge others’ sexual choices, I made the mistake of not judging these types. But I soon learned they never just suck in that one way but are also snakey, nutty nightmares to work with and in every way imaginable. And just like sentencing the bag man or getaway driver doesn’t reduce the longer prison term of the gun-toting bank robber who pistol-whipped hostages and shot the elderly guard, I believe in giving all participants their due.

      • Never forget to look at …..access to pain pills. Through my sister’s work, I have heard hundreds of stories of people leaving shocked decent partners to hook up with the disabled or chronically ill so they get access to pain pills.

        It is almost impossible for us chumps working a straight job to get legitimate pain relief. (Broken hip? Take Advil). Cheaters don’t follow the rules or suffer any indignities. Hooking up with a Big Dummy who gets 120 oxys a month is a win/win for these slugs.

        Further remember: when we start to catch on to their bullshit, we are too much work. It’s a real drag having someone realize you are the moral equivalent of a hobo’s dick cheese. It’s a lot easier to be with someone who is slow on the uptake or worse….has no moral stop signs and is right there in the slop with them.

        Fun fact: My replacement was a woman who was so lazy that she let the dogs actually shit on the floor. *SHE HAD NO JOB*. It was a matter of shoving off the heaps of junk food wrappers off of her lap, walking 3 feet to a door and opening it so three little dogs could go out and poop in their little yard. Poor little fellas. It was abuse. I hope my many calls to Animal Services resulted in their removal to a safe and loving home.

        Nah. Too much work. Just let the dogs shit on the floor. It’s fun! I am a wild and crazy gal!

        I pray I will see her buried under a massive pile of trash and cat feces on Hoarders in a few years.

        • That’s a good theory, Sandstone. It could be about that. Or it could just be the usual boring reason- the OM flatters the cheater incessantly and gives her all the feverishly obsessive attention her narcissism desires. Normal people can’t live that way, so she found somebody abnormal to get it from. Little does she know that it can’t possibly last even with that guy. It gets old for fucked up people, too.

        • Good point. Drug-seeking knows no bounds. I’ve heard of people prematurely putting their elderly parents in hospice and speeding their deaths in order to steal the benzodiazepines or morphine supplied by hospice.

    • Your comment is incredibly sneaky here. This “All comparisons. Thieves of joy! So SAD!” rhetoric reads like you’re admonishing Chumps for simply noting the painfully apparent TOTAL WTF?! situations like this one.

      It’s always unhelpful to gaslight or silence folks for pointing out the OBVIOUS facts of their abuse. Can we please just let Chumps speak plainly of their abuse in their own words?

  • Ultimate Chump,

    You asked “Was I that bad?” The simple answer is “No, but she was.” Remember that her choices reflect on her and not you.

    I hope that this helps.

    LFTT

    • So true. Cheating is really a situation where two dysfunctional folks with little to no good character, find each other. It usually shows up in other areas of their life, and is usually on full display as they take themselves with them where ever they go.

      • Cheaters don’t leave for someone better than you; they leave for someone worse than themselves.

        It’s about water finding its own level. Birds of a feather flock together. Cheaters are a species of their own; they eventually find their own tribe.

        • Latitude,

          You are bang on. Ex-Mrs LFTT left me and our kids for an Ex-boyfriend of hers that predated our relationship. I recently found out that their original relationship (in the early 90’s) was also adulterous; he was married then and she was single, and they hooked back up (mid-2010’s) after he had been divorced twice and was “available” and she was married to me ….. I guess that he was just returning her original favour.

          I suppose that they have a lot in common, what with them both being fully fledged alcoholics and all.

          LFTT

        • Interesting comment Latitude. When I found out about the affair partner on DDay I thought the same thing- she’s not good enough for him. A major downgrade. But my husband wanted to stay married to me and have her on the side – apparently she was up for doing all the S&M violence for him (eg being hurt, tortured and abused). It made me feel so utterly sick and I wondered why the fuck she would do such a thing. But she was a lost soul and she wanted what I had – a nice family, hard earned money and a great home and business. He, on the other hand, wanted someone to abuse. I don’t think she was capable of seeing what was going on and she really fought hard to keep him. Well, she won because I told him to get the fuck out. Good luck to them both. They accepted their downgrade together. I kept my integrity.

          • FormerlyKnownAs:

            Chumps are good cover. We’re a curtain that doesn’t get pulled back…yet. We’re useful to camoflauge them until…we aren’t. We are a prop, a muse, an appearance, tools of use to them.
            Whether it’s their career, position, social standing, income, reputation (remember, they’re void of character) or a peek into the lives of the strong and stable, etc.; we exist to bolster their fragile self.

            It’s harsh commentary. There’s nothing amusing or entertaining about hollow abusers wreaking havoc on the lives of decent quality Chumps and children. No one wins at this game. It’s hell on earth, so don’t look back. Keep going – you’ll get through it and be better for it.

            • Thanks Latitude, yep I’ll keep going. Yep I was the cover/appliance wife. Trouble is, he made me out to be the lame, boring, vanilla wife and my self esteem was in the dumps after 25 years of it. It’s only now, 3.5 years later that I’m realizing I was actually too good for him. He’s a low life who just wants sleaze. He’s got it now! As you said, he found his tribe.

  • He is going on about it because that is the way he feels, that was his experience.

    It was the same for me. Oh I get it now, but in real time it crushed me that he could leave me for a short, fat, town whore. One whose reputation was well in place before I ever heard of her.

    Yes of course now I realize these folks are pretty much all the same, but it real time it was horribly confusing. Especially since I was actually in the marriage and I know how I treated him, which was very well.

    We feel what we feel when we are in the depths of hell. This is a place where baby chumps should feel free to express how they feel about the FW, about the adultery partner or anyone who was a part of it.

    • I had a very similar experience Susie, I just couldn’t understand his choice on any level. Neither could anyone else, including his associates, before grey rock

      Well meaning Switzerfolk said, he cheated on Anarchy with her?!

      Even a few, ‘you never know what went on behind closed doors and ‘’Anarchy is attractive and ‘seeeeems’ nice but you can’t ever tell, I suppose’

      My brain was scrambling to make sense of it all because I was blind sided. It took time for me to realise it didn’t matter who it was

      Your comment about a character issue was spot on too

      I’m working on the trust they suck and am there a lot of the time with weeks of relapses

      I’m 20 months in

    • I think we don’t get it early on because society loves a pick me dance. We are raised on it. Fight for your man! Get a makeover! Get a better job! Show FW how fabulous you are to win them back! Our first inclination is to compare ourselves and start dancing.

      Klootzak has picked up so many APs. One is a CEO of a large charitable organization. She was the only ai confronted and she didn’t care one bit that he was married. She knew and decided that she wants what she wants and his marriage was his problem, not hers. Another is a lovely looking married nurse he has known since high school and likes to keep around. The rest? Some knew he was married and others didn’t. Married/single, much older to much younger, none with much education nor with fabulous careers. I can think of only two who were thinner than me and only one comes to mind who I would say was better looking than me by conventional standards. As a baby chump, I sure as hell did that analysis. When asked, klootzak had nothing to offer that they had that I didn’t. In the RIC, I was accused of being too independent and of not communicating when I had concerns that something was off. You know, because when Indid speak up, I was being gaslit and told that his actions were in my mind. That his female friends were just friends and how dare I suspect them of anything.

      Movies, books, RIC… they encourage baby chumps to do this. FWs love the dance and the chump having their head messed with. In law school I learned that sometimes you will lose your case if you get sucked into trying to win on X argument. If you reframe the issue completely, you can find your way to a win. Chumps win when we stop the dance and declare that this relationship where we have been betrayed is not acceptable to us. When we recognize we have the power to reject the FW and walk away. Our recognition of that agency to choose or reject them is a real epiphany. It was for me. CL helped me wrap my mind around that. LACGAL reframed the argument. And the Lola Doctrine helps newbies fill the mental gap. FWs always trade down because they accept someone as morally bankrupt as they are. That’s the only metric of comparison worth giving a thought to when the mind wants to go there.

      • “In law school I learned that sometimes you will lose your case if you get sucked into trying to win on X argument. If you reframe the issue completely, you can find your way to a win. Chumps win when we stop the dance and declare that this relationship where we have been betrayed is not acceptable to us. When we recognize we have the power to reject the FW and walk away. Our recognition of that agency to choose or reject them is a real epiphany.”

        Excellent advice. My attorney actually sometimes said she wasn’t even going to reply to/argue with some of the ridiculous thing’s my ex (via his lawyer) sent, because it wasn’t worth engaging in such nonsensical arguments. I eventually was able to emotionally detach and step out of the pick me dance. *I* rejected *him* and it made all the difference for me. Everything got easier after that.

        • Similarly, I stopped comparing 24/7 at about 2 years post Dday (it was a long process that still occasionally pops into my head 8 years later- must be normal). I had the intentional thought: “we are not compatible because he is not capable of being honest/monogamous.” That reframe really helped me build my new life and put down the hopeium pipe.

    • I really like and agree with what you’re saying here, Susie. When it was early days for me – actually, when I was still in the relationship and it was raining D-Days – I would disparage all the LCL’s side fucks and give them ugly but witty nicknames. All in an effort to prop up my wobbly self esteem.
      Then I left. Years went by. My self esteem was no longer wobbly and my disdain for the Broken Bitch Brigade was irrelevant and not needed.
      Thank you for pointing out this is a phase most chumps go through and we should be compassionate.

  • It’s impossible not to make those comparisons early on. The mind of the chump is trying to Pick Me Dance and looking at what facts are available, can’t sort out what it is they are trying to compete with. The truth is, FWs thrill to the deception. That’s all it is. The OM or OW could be any old body. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, a relationship with a FW is unacceptable no matter who they are boinking. Stop focusing on the AP and focus only on the betrayal.

    When I was ensnared in the RIC, I demanded to understand how I was not measuring up. What did these OW have that I didn’t? And klootzak’s immediate answer was that they had nothing on me. The MC asked if he had the affairs because he wanted to end the marriage. Oh, no! Not at all! He wanted to stay married to me! The MC acted like I was supposed to be relieved. And then she pointed to this as evidence he must have a sex addiction – because he would hook up with any women who would take the bait of his online dating profiles. There was no evidence of him rejecting anyone. I was supposed to be happy, “See? He doesn’t want to leave you! He was cheating on you with whatever came along! He wasn’t trying to replace you!” Oh yay… I get to keep this “prize.”

    Klootzak is a betrayal addict. He enjoys the pussy buffet because it’s exciting to do when he’s married. Rich, poor, young, old, pretty, ugly… those things don’t matter. FWs will jump for damn near anyone who takes the bait. They need a triangle. The deception is everything. If one of the sides is a beauty queen or a random cockroach doesn’t matter to them. The qualities of the AP do not matter. It is not a competition though FWs love it when you think it is because they hope you will dance harder.

    Comparing yourself to an AP is a fool’s errand. It’s the betrayal, it’s the betrayal, it’s the betrayal!

    • The conclusion I draw from what you say is that they don’t care about either us or the affair partner(s). It’s all about themselves and themselves alone. Such a person is incapable of both empathy and love, and who would want to “win” that “prize”?

      • Absolutely….. If I was on a dating app and read a potential partner describing themselves as ‘up for cheating’ I’d scroll past.

        • Claire, my sister chump best friend and I frequently do this— we write out a dating profile of our XH’s laying out the truth of who they are …. Hard PASS!

          I sense a Friday challenge, Chumplady?

  • “Every chump has the nagging thought: What if I suck? How do I trust it wasn’t ME?”

    So true. On DDay, I was gobsmacked. I was so confused. How? Why? What did I do? How do I fix this? How do I fix ME?

    When I realized AP was the mousey coworker that always looked sweaty and disheveled, I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. The best thing that happened through therapy was learning to focus on myself and my son. Then finally recognizing that FW is a covert narcissist and the therapists all saw it.

    I’ll never understand why FW would “downgrade.” Hell, why would anyone abandon their child and beautiful home — let alone their loving spouse? Everything they do is bizarre and selfish and disordered.

    The real release from the self-flogging and self-blame is when you realize how much healthier and happier you and your children are without a FW. And slowly friends and family reveal the things they saw and dealt with when FW was around.

    There’s nothing quite like having your 9 year old son meet AP and come home and say “Dad left YOU for HER????!!!!!” At 16, son still can’t believe it. And he immediately recognized that “dad is insane.” Thanks, kid.

    Who cares who FWs end up with — as long as it isn’t YOU.

  • I think it is human nature to compare yourself to someone perceived to be your “rival”. The helpful thing for me was learning it was not beauty, or sexiness, or intelligence, or wealth that made OW attractive. It was their willingness to be used in some way. They were available. FW’s have the ability to spot useful people, and quickly determine if they are willing to be used. FW’s may use charm, they certainly lie, and they only consider their own desires. They really don’t think about the spouse at all, unless it is in a vengeful way. “See what you get for not allowing me to purchase a sports car, buy something you cannot afford, etc.”

    It is always about them, their wants, their insatiable need for attention. You may be extremely accomplished and have a giving, trusting nature. But once they have “used” you to their satisfaction, they move on to the next person who offers something new, or something you are not willing to do. It is a deadly dance contest; one you cannot win because there will always be someone out there willing to offer up something you won’t or can’t offer. Refusing to dance anymore is your first step toward freedom from the FW. If they just leave, and you were never given the opportunity to choose, consider yourself fortunate. The choice to stop the pick me dance feels like a defeat, although it is actually a win. Whether or not you chose to stop dancing, at some point you have to choose yourself as being a person of value. You deserve love, and respect. You do not deserve lies and deception.

    IMHO, everyone needs to work on their value system and try to achieve positive change in their own life. None of us is perfect in every way. We never will be — but we can try to be a better person in some way. But the FW’s of the world are far from perfect, as well. In addition to their other deficiencies, they lie and cheat. That is their problem. You deserve so much more than a person who lies and cheats. Believe that you are worth being treated well, and your life will become so much better!

    • So true. I eventually realized that OW’s true “value” to FW was her willingness to flatter him and cater to him, something I just couldn’t bring myself to do any longer, because of how badly he had been abusing me. (I mean, if you call me an ugly, fat, stupid whore, and never even apologize, why the FUCK should I care about the article you wrote, no matter how “well known” the website is?) He hadn’t abused OW (yet. He did eventually, because he was an abuser and you can only keep up the “nice guy” act for so long) so she could gaze at him with stars in her eyes. A decade of abuse rather dims the sparkle. He knew I’d never be able to look at him with wide-eyed admiration again, at least not without SIGNIFICANT work on his part. He’d drained me dry. It was so much easier to move on to the next unwitting victim, who had plenty to give. OW also … wasn’t that bright? So she was very easy to impress. Everything he said was “mind blowing” to her. She lacked a lot of life experience and sophistication (grew up in a rather backwater area, married VERY young, etc.), so he had the “pleasure” of teaching her and being her mentor. He loved feeling superior and imparting his “wisdom” and shaping people’s tastes. He saw her, I think, as rather a blank slate that he could mold into exactly what he wanted. And she let him do that. I’ve always been rather independent and more than a little opinionated. She also had low self-esteem, and was (is) rather desperate to become a writer. FW was a talented filmmaker and writer with decent success, and I think she saw an opportunity to hitch her wagon to his rising star. They both used each other, and it worked for awhile. Until it didn’t. Eventually she asked for some reciprocation, I suppose. And as Hell of a Chump put it, FW returned to factory setting and started treating OW the same way he’d treated me, and she left. It’s the only intelligent thing she did in the whole debacle (but still, at the core, that was selfishness too). So in the end they blew up two families for … absolutely nothing.

    • Disordered people also use this as leverage in situations outside the cheating framework.

      Case in point: A personality disordered acquaintance (former friend) with a long track record of manipulation is currently separated from her husband.

      This was a marriage that lasted four years. She whirled him into it after ten months of love-bombing, in the face of every friend she had (at the time) advising her to slow down.

      A mutual longtime male friend recently paid her a visit from interstate. She made a big thing of inviting him to stay with her, but then changing her mind because her ex is “incredibly jealous”.

      The friend didn’t react at all and simply stayed somewhere else. So she tried it a few more times. Again total failure to raise his interest.

      (She has no idea that this man is gay, because she’s not really that interested in people beyond how they can be useful to her).

      Trying to create a Pick Me Dance situation is at best pathetic, and at worst very manipulative.

  • Something in their brain — dopamine? Stray moment? Hormonal rush? — goes *ping* at the coincidental timing/appearance of the OW/OM. Then some raggedy, effed up part of their personality chooses to follow through and see how loud the *ping* can get.

    But honestly, the dopamine or hormones might just as well have been triggered by a tree or an angry raccoon. And don’t think I can’t appreciate the idea of my brainless FW humping a tree or persistently love bombing a raccoon.

    The OW/OM is never better than the Chump. They are a downgrade no matter how you slice it, if only because they possess low-rent morality and didn’t mind breaking up a family or two. The upside here is that once all that New Toy sparkle fades, the FW and OM/OW find out they’ve landed smack dab in the middle of…the incredible mundane. Ordinary laundry, bills to pay, sex slacking off, disagreements, and a side platter of tangled legalities and new enemies.

    In the end I suspect (hope?) all these FWs wake up, blink their eyes, and sincerely wish they had followed the angry raccoon option. Because they don’t deserve a happy ending.

  • Being chumped is a massive kick in the nards. It’s natural to feel enraged and CL’s analysis is spot on. Even if I was the biggest asshat in the world, that wouldn’t make the cheater less at fault for cheating. The responsibility for shitty character lies entirely with the person who exhibits it.

    It’s also natural to feel enraged at the AP and see that person’s faults and failures through that lens. I get it. I don’t question the depth of those feelings at all.

    And it’s still a thing a person needs to work on if you look at another person (an AP included) and see that person as lacking actual value based on appearance, including weight and/or disability, or because of income.

    I am overweight and I have disabilities. Does that make ME a downgrade? Of course it doesn’t. When I was desperately seeking work during the worst job market in many decades, working shitty temp jobs and applying for more than ten regular jobs a week (not kidding, I had a file box!), should my husband have left me because of my low income? Of course not.

    Should whoever I’m with at any time ditch me because I’m getting inevitably older and that is a failure of ugliness on my part? Do I stop deserving love when I stop menstruating?

    When folks come on here and talk about traits like these as being downgrades — things that make a person ugly or low value — they are almost always saying something that’s true about me now or was true about me in the not so distant past. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels kicked in the nards when a group of people starts riffing on our reality like we’re obviously too ugly to have value.

    I’m here for your rage and I don’t want to shut it down, I just want it to be focused on shitty character, not surface stuff — and especially not surface stuff people can’t change. Disabilities, health, and age aren’t choices, and sometimes weight and income aren’t choices either.

    If you’re going to talk about downgrades, it’s possible to zero in on how he’s the kind of jerk who deceptively diddles married people. Maybe he doesn’t shower (some of us chubsters are squeaky clean and all exfoliated and everything!) Maybe he lives in an apartment full of undiscarded fast food boxes. Maybe he accepts disability payments and sneaks some under the table lucrative side job, living in a low-income-based rental someone else needs that’s filled up by an expensive gaming system he sits and plays all day, which shows his entitlement and penchant for deception. Maybe he’s rude, smug, self-aggrandizing, kicks puppies, whatever. Pick on that.

    I’m an overweight, disabled, aging, unglamorous, middle-level-income (finally, after MANY years), generally unadventurous, quiet-life-living, puppy-kissing upgrade of a person. If you are too, then I am here for it. 😊

    APs are asshats because they are APs, first and foremost. That alone is a massive downgrade. If you’re married and someone wants you anyway, that should be its own red flag. (Just like how if you’re 15 and a 25+ year old is interested in you, that alone is its own massive red flag. Ew.)

  • One of the best lines I heard in all the videos on affairs that I watched after D-day was “you can dress up a trashcan, but it’s still a trashcan”. The external things – looks, money, status, whatever – don’t change the fact that inside the AP is full of garbage. An AP will ALWAYS be a downgrade, because they have have bad character. I never cheated. I never slept with a married/attached man. I never tried to attack AP. Because that’s not who I am.

    And while at first I was intimidated by AP, and felt that she MUST be better than me because FW was always comparing me to her, I eventually saw through all that. And honestly, looking at her social media and seeing what a shallow, vain person she was, and how she actually wasn’t even all that pretty, did help. (I don’t feel bad criticising OW on their appearance. Normally I will find beauty in everyone, no matter how they look. But once you’ve shown your shitty character, everything is fair game in my opinion. Especially when FWs praise these homely women to the skies. I eventually saw it for what it was – flattery, pure and simple. OW wasn’t “the most beautiful woman in the universe” by ANYONE’S standards. Without all the makeup, and the skanky clothes, and the selfie poses, she actually resembled nothing so much as a teenage skater boy with long stringy hair. He held her up as “put together” and well dressed, but I saw her Instagram and thought her “fashion” choices were just…ugly.

    FW had been BRUTAL about my looks. It took me ages to see myself truthfully. I am actually quite pretty. I like my style. He just liked women so thin they look ill, and painted and dressed like $10 hookers. My preference is comfortable clothes, a more natural look, and a healthy weight that doesn’t require that I starve myself, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I also realized that in the same way FW tore me down by comparing me with OW, he did the same to her by comparing her with ME. OW wasn’t better looking than me. She was just more willing to change everything about herself to suit FW. By the time they went public, she unrecognizable as the person I’d first met. She copied me quite blatantly, morphing into some twisted version of me (it was uncanny) in an attempt to usurp me and to keep FW from returning to me, something she was constantly afraid of, since it had already happened once. She started out a bit on the heavier side, and I watched her shrink and shrink til she was so thin she looked sick, with hollow cheeks and dark circles around her eyes. And I knew exactly why, because he tried to make me do the same thing. I stopped envying her, and was able to say “I’m so glad that’s not me anymore”.

    All OW’s “ambition” (with which I was also unfavorably compared, since I am content with a simple life and have no desire for fame or noteriety) was performative, as was her charity work and social justice warrior stance. There’s nothing behind it. It’s easy to Tweet about equality and human rights, or to post inspirational memes, but if a person can’t display empathy and compassion in real life, and in fact takes pleasure in actively harming another person, they are an empty soulless hypocrite and nothing more. She also had a very inflated view of her talent (I read her novel- it was TERRIBLE, like, embarrassingly bad), but FW flattered her about that too, pimping her book everywhere.

    I came to the conclusion that OW and FW were a PERFECT match – outwardly “wonderful”, but in reality shallow, selfish, abusive, disordered people. Character is how you behave when no one is watching, not the face you put on in public. Behind closed doors, FW was terrifying and cruel. OW took pleasure in “winning” over me to bolster her self esteem while pretending to be a feminist who championed women. I’m not perfect (no one is). But even though FW had crushed my self-worth into the dust, I never hurt anyone to make myself feel better. OW will never be “better” than me for that reason alone.

    There are stages to healing, and comparing ourselves to the OW/OM is normal. Hopefully, we all eventually see the truth.

    • ‘Outwardly “wonderful” and a ‘public face’

      Yes, they’re whitewashed graves

      It’s all impression management and I sometimes think they want to convince themselves as much as anyone

    • I’ve discovered the hard way that the sort of people who post memes about kindness are often the most thin-skinned and insulting when they meet someone who disagrees with them or even asks inconvenient questions. If I see a social media profile full of inspirational memes that in itself is a red flag for me.

  • Sweet jumping Delilah! I want this quote to just follow me around and somehow just play over a loudspeaker any time someone talks about cheating. Thank you, CL:

    “And yes, I’m saying cheating is abuse. It’s risking your health, it’s emotional abuse and mindfuckery, there are opportunity costs (wasted years), financial costs… it’s the theft of your reality.”

  • I think the AP chosen by a cheater says a lot about his/her motivation for cheating–none of it good. We tend to look at them as attempting to “trade up,” but really I think they are usually just finding their own level in some measure. I’m sure the EX dreamed of trading up. He kept complaining that I was too old, not pretty enough, etc. He told me he was attracted to young college girls. I pointed out that he was in his fifties, overweight, and balding, and I really doubted any college girls would be interested. He seemed shocked. It was like his mind was always stuck in his teenage years, and he never realized that he got any older, as he resentfully watched me age year to year.

    In the end, he took up with prostitutes (young girls he had to pay), and then with his old high school girlfriend, even though she was married to someone else. He seemed to determined to return to his youth no matter how he had to do it. The girlfriend was actually significantly older than me, but I’m sure she reminded him of being a teenager.

    The reconciliation crowd would tell us to introspect and discover our shortcomings that make the FWs cheat… but in reality, it is impossible to give a cheater what he/she wants. The EX wanted me to stay young and beautiful forever, to be rich and able to give him whatever money he wanted, while also having endless time to be available whenever he wanted me. These are not actual things any human can do. Yes, I’m sorry, reconciliation folks–I failed to shape-shift into an endless array of young college girls. I also failed to be born into a wealthy family that gave me endless money to bestow on my beloved. My bad.

    • Absolutely yes, C39. One of the most significant things I’ve learned from watching cheaters perseverate on young targets (in person and via pornography) is how important it is to let go of the absurdity and folly of wanting to be younger/cling to youth. It took some time, but now I see that as the red flag it is. It’s a beacon of lack of maturity, emotional development, and stability. A dish of agar in which cheaters rapidly grow and thrive.

      I’m not talking about people wishing they were younger and grieving their youth. Everyone wants that from time to time, in balance with other equally reasonable feelings. I’m talking about people who have a singular vision-locked predatory focus on seeming young and engaging with young people in order to feel young. Besides the fact that they’re exploiting the young people they encounter, it’s generally a deceptive approach to life. Living in fantasy rather than reality deceives ourselves and others about who we are. It’s a foundation of sand under an unstable house of personality.

      I like where I am, here in middle age. I don’t feel pressured to conform to trends, or to accommodate others in order to be liked. I like that I’m not always questioning whether I’m good enough based on how I compare to airbrushed and altered models in their teens and twenties. I like that my friends are solid, stable, respectful, present, available, kind people who speak their minds and let me speak mine. I like when I look at another person and feel like I’m looking at the real person.

      Fantasy bores me. I like reality, and I like other people who like it too. 🙂

      • Clinging to youth, status symbol, perversion, power and control… so many reasons that so many FWs go for young women OWs, prostitutes and porn. None of these motives reflect positively on the creepy, pathetic, insecure, misogynistic FWs. There are always exceptions, but I see red flags when I see major age gaps, or men who have a pattern of dating significantly younger women.

    • “He told me he was attracted to young college girls…The girlfriend was actually significantly older than me”

      Carol39…your post reminded me of my ex…she used to complain about overweight people (while being overweight herself, which was always bizarre), would mention to me that if I ever became bald that I would have to get in absolutely great shape (I was always in better shape than her) because there’s “no way” she could be married to a bald guy that wasn’t “ripped,” she thought tattoos were a sign of trashiness, and thought cheating was the lowest thing someone could do to their spouse. She even abruptly cut off her best friend after finding out she had an affair.

      Lo and behold, she had an affair with and ultimately left me for a man significantly older than myself, who was overweight, covered in tattoos (chest, back, arms, legs), completely bald, and who had previously cheated on his wife.

      I’m willing to bet my other Chumps can relate to our stories.

      • Yes. I can relate. Throughout our marriage, x professed a strong distaste for lies and liars. I took comfort in this, saying to myself, “My husband will never lie.”

        lol

        Turns out, he’s a very skilled liar. And he married the AP, also quite adept at lying.

        What a pair!

    • Mine went one further in his quest for youth and rides a litte kid’s razor scooter ~ to work in his suit (if he still has a job) and to skate parks. I used to like that he could play with our kids at their level, now I wonder if he is a pedo 🙄. It’s all about perspective.

    • “He kept complaining that I was too old, not pretty enough, etc.”

      Fuck him! I truly can’t stand people who judge others harshly while ignoring their own flaws. It’s clueless and cruel.

  • Always a classic to read and re-read, Tracy’s very first blog entry, The Unified Theory of Cake. It’s essential to look at cheating through the right lens.

    Criminals gonna crime. Chumps just happened to be the one standing on the X when cheaters decide to cut the rope suspending the piano forty stories above the sidewalk.

    When the wits start regathering, you’ll see they treat everyone around them badly. Cheating requires a straight man/woman in the dark. Cheating or being the secret side is a devil’s mark of three sixes tattooed on the scalp hidden in the hair of the person you partnered with, not a commentary on you. At all.

    I’d never buy a used car from a salesperson yelling in my face about its major systemic mechanical defects, but that’s essentially what people do who get into illicit relationships. “Buyer beware” is not a tool in their tool box.

    It took me a while to start seeing this for what it is. This site was invaluable walking me through the self-recrimination period which most of us start out in. Get your new glasses here.

    For the record, the boyfriend I had at age 25, before meeting Cheating Husband, was referred to the local batterer’s intervention program. No question he was an abusive male. I ended that relationship, no cheating, no one waiting in the wings, and I didn’t date for almost a year after breaking up with him because my therapist advised me to make sure I had really processed the end before dating again.

    That’s what healthy people do.

    Love is a verb, and people who are skilled at it don’t knife others in the back.

    You just found out who SHE is, and that has nothing to do with who YOU are.

    • To clarify…

      “For the record, the boyfriend I had at age 25, before meeting Cheating Husband, was referred to the local batterer’s intervention program. No question he was an abusive male. I ended that relationship, no cheating, no one waiting in the wings”

      I didn’t cheat, and I had no one waiting in the wings. He did.

      I’d also like to add that on occasion over the years I have been reading here, some have defended the cheating committed by women who are in abusive relationships.

      I don’t believe there is ever any excuse for cheating, and based on my own experience in abusive relationships, which have included trips to the hospital, I think cheating on someone who is abusing you is an especially dangerous and bad idea. I recently watched a program on Investigation Discovery where a woman justified her cheating because her husband was abusive, and he almost killed her and her secret side piece. I suggest seeking assistance from your local domestic violence prevention organization instead.

  • The FW fished ‘a lot’!

    I realise this now. 2 previous Ddays ‘they were only friends GODDAMIT woman’ preceded… I was going to leave but FW cried and then love bombed the shit out of me! They were always younger…. not more intellectual, not more emotionally intelligent, not prettier, or more witty (I’m a fucking good laugh 🤣🤣), not fitter, not slimmer etc etc etc….

    The howorker (last DDay then I dragged myself to the solicitors and divorced the asshat) was just available. Two destroyed families. I’ve picked mine up and myself. I’m worth more. I’m a big deal (repeat this til you believe it 🤗). FW is a loser so is the hot hole he fell in – they deserve eachother. I went through the ‘oh my gawd what’s wrong with me’ stage (still crops up every now and then but wayyy less, thankfully) but truly realise its nothing to do with me. I danced hard but then hung up those shoes dropped the ropes, turned my backed and walked away. No dance would’ve changed the FW’s lack of integrity, lack of decency, lack of character.

    I’m free!

    Hugs to you all CN x

  • My wife did same… not precisely but definitely a downgrade. It was confusing for a short bit until I realized I had been tricked into thinking she was a better person than she actually was. That downgrade was actually a perfect fit for someone like her. She didn’t downgrade, she found her match! They act like immature children and treat each other horribly, a bit comical to observe knowing that my new girlfriend and I never fight yet my ex claimed the fighting was all my fault. 🤔 So this may not be easy to hear but congratulations, your trash took itself out.

    • “It was confusing for a short bit until I realized I had been tricked into thinking she was a better person than she actually was.”

      Exactly. I think it was about six ish months after Dday, I told my fws sister that he and whore had more in common than he and I. I think she took that as a positive, it wasn’t. I simply meant that their character and behavior matched.

      If his sister were ever to mention it to me again, I would just simply say; it wasn’t meant as a compliment. She would likely laugh. She saw how his life unfolded.

  • Schmoopie (“mutual” “friend”) showed manipulative tendencies before I ever felt jealous. Like she would call us crying but refuse to say why. She would lie. Treat her friends badly. These kinds of things that FW had actually always despised! (We’re all independent adults. And I just felt the need to specify it. That speaks for itself.)

    After one particularly egregious and obvious event, I told FW “You know I have been thinking you like her, but after this, I don’t feel jealous anymore. There is no way you actually like that behaviour”.

    Well, SURPRISE!

    I somehow doubt it was worth it.

    • PNR you just reminded me FW was one of the few people who would entertain my deranged sister’s various dramas. She’d ring to update me on her latest manufactured issue, I would refuse to speak to her, and FW would do his fake doormat nice guy act and speak to her for ages. It wasnt sexual ~ I think he just liked being around crazies because he looked comparatively calm and logical and therefore superior and in control. His AP I have heard is a maddy ~ throws herself on ground crying at work. I realised when we met I was also a bit unhinged and thought he was the calm stable one~ so he probably loved my youthful craziness, but I grew up, became emotionally stable and self assured, and he did not love that. Jeez who invented marriage.

  • What does she got that I don’t have?

    She has him, a serial cheater.

    But I get the comparative analysis. The woman is an explosive, ugly, controlling, needy whore. She makes no money, his words.

    They make a better match. I cringe at the thought I ever loved a lie life asshole.

    Have that; it’s a prize worthy of equals.

  • The condition of the Schmoopie is irrelevant. If you aren’t bad enough to leave without a Schmoopie in the picture you aren’t bad enough to cheat on. When you get married you promise to stop looking and put aside thoughts of “I wonder if I could do better”. The situation is either unbearable and you just need to get away or things are kinda meh and you need to work on that with the person you promised to love honor and cherish for the rest of your life.

    As for good chump/bad chump, My ex, shortly after DDay, while I was still smoking the hopium thinking we could somehow salvage our marraige, was telling me how awful Schmoopie’s husband was to have cheated on her sweet self and how kind she was to have taken him back. He said this without any hint of understanding of the irony of what he was saying. He and Schmoopie and me? Well, that was different somehow.

    As for Schmoopie being “kind”, I think she just didn’t want to lose the pick me dance. After she won she got her revenge.

  • MOST cheaters are cowards. So they line up the next person (regardless of issues) so they can swing from vine to vine. They do not like to be alone.

    They do not have the backbone to say that want to work on the marriage, or end the marriage in a respectful way.

    As CL says, it all comes down to character. These people are users and predatory.

  • I can relate to Ultimate Chump’s assessment of the AP. My cheater used Meetup to find his “dates” and a lot of those groups post pictures of their events. When I was In the process of learning what was happening to my life (he kept telling me I was crazy and should look into getting some help), I found hundreds of pictures of him cheek to cheek, or with an arm around other women – each new photo was a punch in the gut. And the thing was, NONE of them came anywhere close to the standards he had set for me! He wanted me to be gym toned, with spa dewey skin, manicured, pedicured and dressed in only the most flattering clothing, with hair that people used to stop us in the street to compliment me on. I couldn’t figure it out – and that skein untangling was what I lived for for that first year . . . Why?!

    I finally put it down to the fact that the women in those photos were the women who were desperate enough to have a good looking, successful man on their arm/in their bed to put up with the fact that he had a partner at home that he had no intention of leaving. So, for him it was just the easiest way to get some strange. And they competed for him in those groups as if he were a rock star. He always did like to be admired, and I guess that I was no longer enough in awe of his wonderfulness (after 20 years).

  • “Everyone (and I’m talking to you shrinks too!) needs to drop the Deserving/Undeserving Chump dichotomy.”

    Amen to this!!!👏👏 👏. Yeesh. The implication that chumps are to blame (even just a little bit–the argument that “it takes two”) hurts chumps, the victims of the abuse. Thanks to CL for pointing this out and fighting to change attitudes.

  • FW’s Schmoopie was 14 years younger than me, not pretty, but dumpy. I called her the fat-ankled skank to his face (but in truth I’ver never seen her ankles – it just had a nice ring to it). Her relative youth was never the issue either. What “won him over” was her ability to put away a litre of whiskey (or thereabouts) and spend every evening in the local ho bar – which is where they met – roaring laughing together, because of course everything’s funny when you’re three sheets to the wind. Well that is, until the next morning and the beer goggles come off! But then he “had money” (well he had OUR salaries until I cut him off) and was paying for a lifestyle she wanted. Lasted about three years before she cheated on him and he was DISGUSTED!

  • I think of it this way, they think that person is better for them in the moment. That it’s. My ex left me for an overweight, once divorced man-child. He hasn’t hade a stable job in years. The only thing he has going for him is he’s “fun” and has no spine. Once the real life stuff hits, it will get interesting. I’m sure she’ll love changing his diapers or helping off the toilet.

    They do not want to grow and learn, only meet their wants. Continue to grow and learn, and move forward.

  • Yup, my X traded down when he gave me up (I walked out and he didn’t say boo about it, only: “Well, didn’t we have some good times together?”). She didn’t last long either, and boy did she try hard to better me in every way when she moved herself into my old life. (Literally!)

    But what I have also noticed is that if they can they will glom onto someone who’s recent or current partner is BETTER than them. My X has been working on a woman for a few years now that is definitely not me physically. She’s a bit younger, but looks older, dresses like a frump and is 20 lbs heavier than I am – but I bet is 100% more malleable. What I think is the real attraction, however, is that she is was (is still?) still married (but separated) from her fairly famous and good looking husband. That is a huge score for a covert narc who has security issues.

  • “Dick Van Wrinkle” wins the internet today.

    My own ex-wife, Mme YogaPants ran off with an older man who I suspect she thought was well off. He’s now retired and I suspect the alimony I’m paying (15 more to go) is a good chunk of their income. This is after he closed his business, sold his house and also got a large insurance settlement from when his wife passed.

    • I am pretty sure FW’s O-whore thought she had grabbed the brass ring of fw’s. He after all was a captain now, and he owned several rental properties, he was spending hundreds a year on her and her kids.

      She didn’t realize he was going to turn to gambling and lose everything. He got most everything in the D, because he could afford the payments and I couldn’t. But, I got away with no debt, and a small apartment sized one bedroom house. I also spent the next few years finishing college and building my own savings and retirement.

      I don’t like to brag, but I think I won. Though in real time, no one would have been able to convince me of that.

  • For a little schadenfreunde, my sons MIL cheated on her ex several yrs ago, broke up the family. She coparented 5children-all of whom are adults and married with their own children. In one of our private conversations, she told me about her affair and her life after. She begged for forgiveness for years, she struggled financially, she calls that her greatest regret. She continues to be “lost”, went through bad relationships. She thought this story would make me feel better about my chumpdon. It just made me see her as a liar and cheater and I lost respect. Her ex, -my sons FIL, is a great guy and made a good life. Devoted father and really stand up Dad. I really like him. Happy New Year!

  • Newly chumped ppl want to understand why their FWs made the choices they made. I understand that, I did too.
    If the replacement is better looking and more accomplished, we will look at our shortcomings in these areas and blame ourselves for losing the relationship because of them.
    If they are physically less than us or seem to have nothing going for themselves, we will wonder how could they possibly leave us for that?!
    Do I have that little to offer that absolutely anyone is a better fit?!
    But both of these views are the wrong ones to take.
    It’s not what we lack or what the replacements have more of, it’s who the FW feels they can have more power over and who is the most convenient and easy to manipulate. That’s the criteria.
    I think they fear the loss of inability to control us any longer and once we see who they are, we can’t unsee it.
    They want to remain magnificent in someone’s eyes and that trumps all else. It’s easier for them to replace ppl than to try and fix a relationship.
    Just about anyone they can manipulate to their will and jumps through the hoops they insist on, will suffice. There is not a lengthy vetting process for a partner going on there, whoever thinks the FW is great is very strongly in the running.
    We, as chumps, overthink it. There is added confusion when the FW’s point out our shortcomings ( too fat, too thin, not successful enough, too successful, etc).
    My FW told me my replacement spent 45 mins a day putting on her makeup and bought $1000 dresses on the regular. She owns her own highly successful business and I was a SAHM through my children’s growing up years.
    I go for a more natural instead of highly made up look, but I’m healthy and extremely physically active and I’m young in spirit and energetic. I’ll shop at Marshall’s or TJMaxx and find some great styles that don’t break the bank and be proud of the way I look.
    He just wanted to make me feel inferior and I let him do that, in my fear of losing him.
    But I couldn’t compete with a bar that never stopped moving. I am faithful to a fault and would never think of betraying anyone, especially the ppl that depend on the strength of my love. What I have will never be enough.
    When I argued with FW replacing me in the early days and tried to defend myself by talking about how I care how I look and put in time to look physically and emotionally attractive, his criticism would be it just “ wasn’t enough” and that his mistresses do it for themselves and he finds that sexy and I do it for him, because I know that’s what he likes, and that’s just not the same. They were all ridiculous arguments.
    None of that was true, but we can’t argue with fictitious narrative they need to create in order to walk away. The devaluation starts long before they leave, but we can’t see what we are not prepared to accept.
    They are as hollow as a human can get, it is all superficial to them, lasting love has no draw. They are not willing to bond or see any benefit to a loving, safe, stable and lasting relationship. I don’t think anything scares them more than that, other than growing old and dying. They can only see their own needs. That’s all they see.
    They want to be worshipped, they want the superficial infatuation,flirtatious period of relationships, not the bonding deep connections, real love holds no
    interest for them.
    It’s all about the here and now and they have no desire to invest in a relationship so that love and safety can be solid and dependable for both parties. That’s way the hell too much work.
    They only see their own needs and those needs are never fulfilled completely by ANYONE, thus the constant instability in their psyche that adversely affects anyone foolish enough to get close to them.
    I read a quote once in the car driving with FW that I was reading at the time which said:
    “The true measure of a person is how they treat someone who can do them absolutely no good.”
    He didn’t get it at all and that kind of surprised me at the time. But I fully understand why now.
    It isn’t about looking out for others for them unless that get full recognition for doing that. It’s a lack of true empathy and it’s needing to be center stage in everything.
    The only journey they see is their own selfish one, and whoever can enhance that at the moment for them is the one they will be with. That’s as deep as they go.
    We understandably overthink it, but that’s a waste of our time.
    There is no one in their world that can’t be replaced, because no one counts in their eyes beyond their own solipsistic view.

    • “It’s not what we lack or what the replacements have more of, it’s who the FW feels they can have more power over and who is the most convenient and easy to manipulate. That’s the criteria. I think they fear the loss of inability to control us any longer and once we see who they are, we can’t unsee it. They want to remain magnificent in someone’s eyes and that trumps all else. It’s easier for them to replace ppl than to try and fix a relationship.”

      NAILED IT.

    • “I think they fear the loss of inability to control us any longer and once we see who they are, we can’t unsee it.”

      I think there is a lot of truth in that. I didn’t really begin to see it until much later. I noticed through the years that the few times we crossed paths (graduations and such) that he would not look me in the eye. Whore had no issue, and I think it is because she just simply had never had any morals, so couldn’t relate. (she thinks everyone is like her) He however lived for a season in a world where he was looked at with respect and folks thought he was who he pretended to be. He was able to do that with my help. And maybe for a short while he really was that; but he couldn’t hold on to it long term, after all those thrills don’t last forever.

    • “They want to remain magnificent in someone’s eyes and that trumps all else. It’s easier for them to replace ppl than to try and fix a relationship”

      So true. FW was an airline pilot and everyone thought his life was glamourous and exciting (far from it, but that’s a story for another day). He leveraged that into several affairs that I only found out about upon his retirement. I stayed, foolishly thinking that he wouldn’t have the opportunity now that he was home all the time. Silly me! It just got more difficult but of course he cheated again. Now he’s fighting the divorce with everything he’s got (including a shady lawyer) because he is, in his words, too old to be divorced.

      But he was so in need of admiration and validation that every time he got dressed up he would say “Don’t I look good?”. I called him out and he stopped asking me, instead “joking” with others about how he cleaned up well, and fishing for compliments. Yet he would have bitten off his tongue before he would pay me a compliment.

      This suddenly reminds me of another of his habits – he would never pass a mirror without stopping briefly to admire himself. It would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic. I can hardly wait for the divorce to come through but it’s going to be quite a while yet because of all his delaying tactics. Sooner or later I will be FW-free – the day can’t come soon enough!

      • I was married to one of those. Looked in every mirror in every shop, every piece of glass we passed. His vanity knew no limits. We were at a painful dinner after my dumping but before I discovered the affair. The ex was full of himself, confident, glowing, and, yes, looking as attractive as he had ever looked. The waiter came over and somehow, I have no idea now how, the ex looked at the waiter, looked at me and said, with his by this time usual smirk: ‘men get better looking as they get older’ with the emphasis on ‘men’. The waiter glanced at me with sadness, and said something kind about how I looked. I weighed nothing and looked like a bag of bones at this time. The ex is 6 years younger than me, but exgfOW only one year younger than him. I felt the stab through my chest as he said that. It was visceral. Funnily enough though, on the three times I have seen him since then, one of which was online, he looked awful. I’d started divorce proceedings on the grounds of his unreasonable behaviour, including citing the affair. Having to face consequences was no beauty treatment for him!

  • Cheating isn’t about the chump or any supposed “short comings”. It is about the opportunity to cheat, the availability of an orifice, and the lack of character in the FW. It is an absolute truth that all chumps try to make sense of the situation by looking for reasons and wondering “why that person?”, but the fact is, it has nothing to do with us. We are the innocent victims of a crime, an abuse of power, or whatever you want to call it, so long as you don’t call it the chump’s own fault. I am convinced most FWs would bang a chimpanzee if they could find one and the chimp was willing.

  • My ex had the audacity to say to my face that he always thought he had dated up with me but realizes now maybe I was the one dating up. Who even thinks like this about their partner? Wtf.

    AP is definitely a downgrade in every way, but indeed the fact is that they are by definition downgrades solely on the basis of by being devoid enough of character to sleep with people they know are not single. That’s not to mention that my fw’s AP derives most of her main redeeming quality of a decent career from the fact that she was having an affair with her boss (my ex) who continually increased her professional opportunities. I guess my ex considered her willingness to indulge his desires for an open relationship and to watch her screw other people in front of him to be a major upgrade too. Have at it.

    There is no point in comparing yourself to AP’s. FW’s can’t see past immediate gratification of whatever nonsense is in their head anyway.

    • My ex said I was a snob, thinking I and my children were better than everyone else (meaning her and her children (all by diff fathers and all divorced at least once by 30). And I look at him, frowned and said ‘well. Yes.’

  • It wasn’t that you were bad or that any of us were bad. The AP gave the FW attention and flattery. It’s likely just as simple as that. You see, when we gave them attention and compliments, that didn’t count, because we were “supposed” to. In their minds, we were merely fulfilling an obligation, so it meant nothing to them. Then another person came along who was not obligated to, so the FW figured it had to be because s/he is truly fabulous. They so desperately want to believe they are fabulous that they’ll take *anyone* who provides them with that illusion.

    My FW’s whore was a loser in every way. She was a long-term addict and serial cheater who emotionally abused her kids. She looked like a used up old whore. She was a middle-aged, flat-assed, unattractive woman who wore booty shorts and crop tops, thinking she was irresistible to men. A friend who saw her once described her as looking like five miles of bad road and said that he could tell she was gutter trash immediately. She cheated on FW, including with his friends, and practically right in front of him. I saw a picture on his phone of her all over FW’s buddy, and the evil smirk of duper’s delight on her face was unmistakable. It wasn’t enough just to cheat on her husband. She had to cheat on her married boyfriend, too. 💩
    Yet she was gold to FW because she threw a few insincere compliments his way, not many, but just enough to keep him wanting and hoping for more. What are ya gonna do when FWs are that stupid?
    What they don’t know, because they are so stupid, is that when they have left the chump for that person, the new person then becomes as obligated as the chump was, so the ass-kissing ceases to be exciting. Even worse, the FW is now accustomed to the artificially high level of ass-kissing an affair provides, which cannot possibly be sustained long term. They’ll eventually need to cheat again to get that feeling.

    So keep up the therapy and keep working on yourself, but please don’t do it in the hope of getting her back when she tires of Dick Van Wrinkle (awesome name for him, CL.).Do it for you. From now on it’s about fixing your problems, fixing your picker, and healing from a bad relationship. I think if you are objective, you’ll see that she was always selfish and needy for attention. Nobody can give these people what’s missing inside them- a healthy, stable sense of self.

  • I guess it’s possible your ex has daddy issues you might not have been aware of and might sexually hit her kinks. The thing with trying to connect their dots is you end up with ugly, misshapen messes and it’s easier to just toss that trash than to figure out. With my ex, it was a bit of the classmates dot com reunion with a huge dollop of her hero worshipping him (oh he loved that) and her having a good income to make up for losing half to me. She was older but thin and chain smoked to not eat. So they reeked together. He also thought he was superior, too. But what really kept them together was the triangle. Big bad me against their true love. So after going grey rock, they started floundering. When I wasn’t there to blame for his angry, miserable crabby mood, his petty cheap approach to everything wore thin. But she got entrenched in his trap and it took awhile to escape, but she did finally. Oh, he’s cryin in his beer now. This is a person who does not like being alone. When he was young, he was bad and wild and quite the bachelor even while married (sigh). Now he’s out and broke down and can’t attract much. He still tries to blame me but since we never speak, and everyone knows this, they look at him like he’s nuts whenever he’s whining about how much I took him for. Lol. That’s right, jerk face.

    • “But what really kept them together was the triangle. Big bad me against their true love. So after going grey rock, they started floundering. When I wasn’t there to blame for his angry, miserable crabby mood, his petty cheap approach to everything wore thin. But she got entrenched in his trap and it took awhile to escape, but she did finally.”

      This is exactly what happened in my case. FW was so devastated by being alone that he killed himself. Very typical. Drama to the end.

  • I totally agree that the “Lola doctrine” applies in cases of knowing APs. It’s an axiom that anyone who’d wittingly bang a committed or married person is the lowest of the low. That’s regardless of what they look like or how much money they earn but, considering that someone with normal self esteem would be unlikely to poach and play side piece, it’s probably not surprising that most APs have something glaringly off about them. Studies on mate poaching psychology tend to underscore this. But today’s post made me think about something mostly unrelated to the above and it’s got me in knots.

    I don’t know what kind of “demons” the OP is referring to or whether this is a typical case of a chump– out of a need to have any sense of a control– exaggerating their own faults to find cause for being abused. I’ve heard DV victims do this when first approaching advocacy services, a sort of “Well I have my faults, too…” Some victims who’d been barraged with bystander victim-blaming would say this automatically because they’d learned it’s what the social context and bad therapists preferred to hear. Then again, other victims may have internalized the DARVO accusations of abusers. In any case, when working in advocacy, I noticed it usually didn’t take very long to make survivors understand that about 90% of the behaviors they had accepted as “their faults” or “their part in the dysfunction” were, in fact, typical reactions to abuse or reactions to the gut sense that they were in danger but they’d just lost track of “cause and effect.” Anyone who’s lived with a blame-shifting abuser/cheater knows how easy it is to lose track of cause and effect. Keeping track is like trying to shovel the walk while it’s still snowing because the cycles of tension building/abuse are endless.

    Also because of the nature of captor bonding/Stockholm syndrome which, as a survival tactic, depends entirely on the victims’ assessment of danger and reactions to danger being unconscious (if it was conscious, the perpetrator would read it as rebellion and disloyalty, therefore the survival tactic wouldn’t work to “inspire” the perp’s mercy), a lot of defensive behaviors are unconscious and therefore confusing even to the victim.

    It’s something for survivors to bear in mind when inspecting “their part” in abuse. But for reasons that have nothing to do with the OP of today’s post, I had a realization that, one day, an actual batterer in chump’s clothing might write to CN for advice and the personal “demons” they vaguely refer to might be far more serious than they openly admit. What makes this somewhat less likely to happen is that most batterers are cheaters and are automatically made allergic to the chump perspective. But in a case where, say, a batterer hadn’t gotten around to the typical cheating part yet, I suppose it’s possible. And how would CN even know the difference?

    I’m wondering about this because I’ve been doing research lately on something I was unaware of even when working in DV victims’ advocacy. Apparently victims of severe abuse sometimes monkey branch– “cheat,” if you will– in the process of escaping abuse despite the fact it would be unlikely for the same person to cheat within a non-abusive relationship. This is not to say that a chronic cheater couldn’t somehow end up being battered. But the weird thing about dyed in the wool sadists is that they’re often conversely masochistic. I would guess that chronic cheaters would be more prone to cheat on loyal partners and more likely to be inexplicably loyal– at least for a stretch of time– to worse abusers than themselves. The latter is also not to say that battering victims who don’t cheat were all “looking for Mr. Goodbar” and would have been disloyal to a nonabusive partner. Statistically speaking and contrary to old-timey, victim-blaming theories, most DV victims have nothing out of the ordinary in their backgrounds or psychology predicting that they’ll become victims, suggesting that the overall “cause” for intimate abuse lies mainly within abusers’ MOs, psychology and backgrounds and the rest can be explained by cultural biases that blame victims and leave victims fending for themselves.

    But what does one do with the statistics saying that a certain percentage of genuine battering victims will “monkey branch”? I remember thinking the plot line of the Coppola film “The Rainmaker”– in which a severely battered woman starts up with a lawyer while still married to and living with the man who assaults her– was farfetched. It unsettled me and I wondered if the story line was just shitty Hollywood mythologizing that, unfortunately, gives credence to batterers’ typical demented– and usually projected– paranoia of being cheated on that drives a lot of violence. I was also put off by the fact that, in the film, there’s no warning that the “rescuer” can– statistically speaking– just turn out to be another abuser.

    Anyway, I never personally encountered a DV survivor who “monkey branched” and assumed that, as much as DV victims might want to escape the danger they’re in and are especially terrified of ending up alone and unprotected, most would be far too emotionally taxed, drained and anxious to step out while still technically with an abuser. I saw a few situations where women moved from the abusive situation to a new relationship very quickly which was worrisome because of the 50% statistical risk that DV survivors will end up with a subsequent abuser.

    But, again, the stats are the stats and it seems a percentage of battered women will have exit affairs. I found this kind of depressing and hard to grasp since I’d been operating on a different theory all these years. After my brain adjusted to the new information, I thought about it and realized it’s probably the exception proving the rule that cheating in regular circumstances is completely unjustifiable because DV is the one and only case where it’s “understandable”– where someone had repeatedly been put in fear for their lives would fall for the offer of “body guard services” to escort them to safety and buffer the terror of escape. Because batterers typically use financial threats and typically inhibit victims’ means of making a living, the motive to “monkey branch” could also be financially motivated– a “rescuer” offering financial support to help the victim segue to safety and self sufficiency. I can also understand the “branching” a bit because abusers automatically dehumanize themselves through violence. Plus the captor bonding/Stockholm syndrome abusers systematically induce in victims isn’t actually love so it’s foreseeable that victims, once out of perceptible danger, would be able to suddenly shift allegiance to a new partner. After all, the former allegiance hadn’t been real, only a case of enforced dependency masked as love as a survival strategy.

    All the same, because of the statistical risks of landing with another abuser, the Lola doctrine still applies. It’s still not a good idea for victims to jump from one relationship to another. What upstanding person would take sexual advantage of a desperate person fighting for their lives? It’s mostly going to end very badly as it does when DV survivors start new relationships too quickly after escape. I’ve come to believe the latter is for reasons having to do with abuser personality traits, one of which is the tendency to play “rescuer/hero” and also because– other than being approached by sheep in wolves’ clothing playing hero– DV survivors often find themselves social pariahs following escape and completely isolated. In my view, survivors are typically isolated because “regular, nice” bystanders aren’t really nice enough and have a knee-jerk tendency to split the blame for abuse between victim and perpetrator. The poor behavior of typical bystanders gives an obvious advantage to abusers gushing with understanding and empathy for victims’ plights.

    I’d go out on a limb and say it’s the one case where the behavior isn’t necessarily a reflection of deep seated character issues but more a matter of falling into a protection racket situation. Protracted, ongoing, extreme trauma can make people do things that would otherwise be out of character. Those circumstances are completely different than a cheater blaming past trauma for their betrayal or blaming trauma unrelated to the victim of betrayal. Military chumps have reported their FWs justified cheating as a result of battle fatigue or TBI but, if it wasn’t the chump launching shrapnel at cheaters’ heads, it’s bullshit. Abusing innocent people who had nothing to do with a separate trauma is still a character issue unless it’s a case of extreme delusional mental illness, though the solution for victims in both cases is the same: escape.

    But here’s the diabolical thing about cheater rationales: most cheaters– like batterers– likely *were* victims of some form of childhood abuse. To the extent that former-victims-cum-adult-abusers tend to compulsively “reenact” past abuse, they often treat their victims as if victims were the perpetrators– with punitive rage, blame, hatred and callousness. Doing the latter is demented because abusers who reenact past trauma often do it with victim/perp roles reversed while still somehow maintaining a sense of victim status. They know how to feign being genuine victims because of having once been genuine victims.

    • Hi HOAC – I have known of a couple of instances where women in abusive relationships – and I knew the marriages were abusive – had exit affairs. One ended well with a long and happy marriage. The other resulted in a long marriage that ended with cheating by the “exit affair” partner. I thought then and think now that they should have simply left their abusive partners, but I think in each instance they were too afraid. Neither was ever unfaithful again, as far as I know, and I believe I would know. So I am uneasy about the conclusion that all cheaters are FWs and will do it again. I don’t doubt that most are, and certain my STBX, but I think sometimes they are decent people handling a horrible situation badly.

      • FooledAgain–

        It’s interesting that the two cases you know about illustrate that “50%” statistic about leaving an abuser only to land in a subsequent abusive relationships. At least it seemed to be less directly violent than the first. Because I wasn’t raised Christian and my chumpy loyalty is motivated by my basic nature and principles and not fear of God for breaking vows, I don’t think a battering victim who overlaps relationships is committing any kind of “sin.” I don’t think batterers deserve any kind of loyalty since, from the second they raise a hand, they’ve broken the biggest vow that exists and the relationship ceases to be a relationship and becomes merely a hostage situation. The problem in it for me is the protection racket aspect of it, risk to kids in the mix and any moral confusion the victim might have in the wake of taking actions like this.

        The thing about extreme abuse is there’s no way to respond that won’t incur rabid criticism from one corner or the other. That can be confusing to victims who can barely hear their own life-saving intuition over the din of victim-blaming, much less the voice of their inner moral compass. There’s also the fact that, in the two weeks after leaving an abuser, the risk of being murdered rises 70-fold so moving in with a 24/7 body guard has its draws (and it’s dangers. Like the Roman poet put it, “Who will protect us from our protectors?”). And again, there’s also the fact that 99% of batterers use financial abuse and threats of impoverishment to control victims and up to 60% of battering victims lose their jobs in circumstances related to abuse. I can’t fault people in life and death circumstances who escape by any means necessary. Society can take at least some of the rap for not providing victims with enough resources and protection to always make a clean break.

        But the study was specific about the circumstances being assaultive and dangerous. Even if the number of victims who would “exit affair” was “statistically significant,” it’s still a pretty small subset. If this is the one “loophole” where cheating isn’t necessarily a reflection of baseline character, it’s so extraordinary and specific that I don’t find it threatening to regular chumps. As much as abusers love to claim far and wide that they endured terrible abuse at the hands of their victims, survivors themselves know this is bullshit.

        What could be disturbing for chumps are the optics in regard to cheating apologists– the idea that negative bystanders (who are always looking for any reason to blame chumps even if they have to invent those reasons) could weaponize the concept to cast all chumps as somehow violent. None of us want to feed the trolls or Perelistas with victim-blaming fodder.

        But just because a bit of evidence makes an issue more complex to discuss and risks feeding the apologist trolls doesn’t mean it can be discounted. I ran into this a lot when working in advocacy. Anything that complicates the discussion is a pain in the ass because, as an advocate, you’re always having to defend your position from the peanut gallery and as part of raising funds and awareness. No advocate welcomes the complicating factors. For instance, a lot of people found it simpler to view DV as strictly a gender issue when, in fact, female batterers exist. Even if women don’t commit most unprovoked violence, even if they don’t cause serious injuries or kill anywhere near the statistical rates of assaultive men, it’s still an issue that advocates have to be prepared to wrestle with to maintain any credibility. And I don’t think circling the wagons in a reductionist way is justifiable if there’s any risk that outlier victims end up getting silenced in the process. I accepted that I would have to adjust my narrative of DV in a way that didn’t chase battered men away from getting resources even if they were in the minority. It just gives an opening to naysayers and takes more WORDS to combat it in a situation where most want to tune you out anyway. The challenge is to make those words interesting enough to get past the puny attention spans and hinky resistance of bystanders and people doling out funds.

        In the end you could say that DV mostly relates to gender inequality but not always. And cheating is only “understandable” in very limited situations that can’t be extrapolated to the whole while it’s also rarely the healthiest option. Not because anyone should care about the “sadz” of batterers but because its the victims themselves and any children in tow who will likely pay the added price for taking the risk.

        • Good men (grandfather and one uncle) in FOO were abused and killed by the ongoing abuse (subtle heinous coercive control). Main perpetrator: grandmother. And two sons. It came to the death of her husband and one of her sons. Sibling abuse by dominating and enabled sibling/s is also not given the attention it ought to receive.

    • There are definitely chumped posters on SI that have all the hallmarks of a coercive controller The ones that refer to their wives who they love so much in misogynistic terms like slut and whore (there was whole disturbing thread about whether whore was a technical rather than derogatory term if you were christian), make them demonstrate remorse by engaging in various sex acts, provide graphic details, appear to get off on being a victim, dont take on board anything posters are advising etc. They eventually get shut down by the posters on the forum but it takes a while.

      • Thanks for the profile. That sounds very in-your-face and unmistakable. I did see one guy I knew from the eco world start to disintegrate after being brutally chumped. He was spewing all sort of misogynistic crap which seemed like such a departure from his usual personality. But he’d begun drinking heavily after his wife split and took their son and soon died prematurely of heart failure. Consequently I don’t know whether this was a matter of his hidden “abusive side” finally showing itself or if he was having mini-strokes that caused radical personality change. I’m on the fence about it because this didn’t seem like some loud-mouth hater merrily letting their freak-flag fly but someone utterly caved in by grief. That situation has always haunted me.

        There are also violent abusers who know better than to publicly express misogyny or derogatory terms but the type is apparently so controlled and compartmentalized (scary because they’re also reportedly more prone to snap and commit spousal homicide) it makes me wonder if they’d fake being a hapless chump in circumstances they couldn’t completely control because of the risk some poster might trigger a suppressed memory or break through the abuser’s denial.

        Why can’t bad people just have shit-colored auras like in that Stephen King short story?

    • “But the weird thing about dyed in the wool sadists is that they’re often conversely masochistic. I would guess that chronic cheaters would be more prone to cheat on loyal partners and more likely to be inexplicably loyal– at least for a stretch of time– to worse abusers than themselves.”

      This was my FW. His whore cheated on him and treated him like a slave, yet when given the opportunity to cheat on her, he didn’t. I suspect it was about trying to get her to love him. He felt that if he proved he was slavishly devoted enough, she would eventually value him. She never did and he would have kept in trying if he had not been caught. It was linked to his mommy and daddy issues, as he had been trying all his life to win the love and approval of fucked up parents. That never worked either, but he’s still kissing up to mommy to this day.
      We chumps weren’t worth pleasing because our love was attainable, so they were contemptuous of us and felt were deserved abuse. They look up to those who are worse abusers than themselves.

      I can see an abuse victim having an exit affair, if only to have a protector in order to safely leave. I cannot blame somebody for doing that. The abuser already broke the commitment anyway. But as you say, chances are good the new person is yet another abuser.

      • I’ve mentioned before the impression I’ve gotten that a lot of abusers seem to switch back and forth between pursuing partners who are a big departure from former childhood FOO abusers and then, when they get bored of the chump and sick of feeling like a monster, start pursuing partners who resemble whatever demented FOO abuser who originally traumatized the adult abuser. It’s effectively switching roles between perp and victim, sadist and masochist. No wonder abusers like to accuse victims of “playing victim.” Pure projection.

    • Subtly (hidden but very severe coercive control) abusive FOO, therefore unconscious (because one is ignorant about coercive control tactics, yet one has lived in dread and fear since birth) need to escape. A rescuer comes about, presents as good person and truly seems a good person, only to reveal himself to be a predator but only once the escapee is entrapped (marriage). Isolation before, isolation and after. Mostly fake-kind FOO -the good people, destroyed by abuse found death-, fake-kind spouse. Nowhere to turn. Dependency foisted on one in FOO, repeat in marriage. Generally people who smell this kind of situation and come close are subtle blamers, concern-shamers, therefore covert victim assaulters, stalkers, who covertly beat one down, lower one’s self esteem even further because they feel better themselves.
      A few good people intuit but are in the impossibility of helping. But it’s good that they keep an eye open and their judgement intact because through the ether it somehow reaches the victim, like an invisible thing, that nevertheless exists.
      Reaching for help by the victim, likelyhood of another predator-rescuer because one in a situational trap where healthier people are not reachable, and, would they be interested in so much trouble?
      Likely several generations of this. The worst subtle blame is that one ought to find a job when you have been cut off from the possibility since ever, education as well. I am talking first world, impoverished potential middle class. Maybe education reached during marriage to rescuer. Job opportunities. Then with dumping (divorce) all lost. No longer access to jobs owing to having to care for an aging parent, a traumatized sibling (remaining victims in the FOO) in low-job area. Must stretch remaining funds for self and FOO while rescuer-former spouse has monkey branched to better situation having used one as starter spouse.

      En example of escape: a victim of incest by parent, married friend of said parent in order to get out of the situation.

    • “What upstanding person would take sexual advantage of a desperate person fighting for their lives?”

      And yet one does not think that one is being taken advantage of.

      When one is in a not so good predicament (e.g., hidden abuse in FOO, subtle but sever coercive control, severe gaslighting, which one might not be aware of) one might encounter someone who seems genuinely interested, sincere and kind. And one would not think that there is an agenda behind that interest. One also goes about it with some caution. A desperate person fighting for their lives retains some hope that someone could be genuinely interested in them. Should they not? Would it be wise not to let down the guard and not let anyone close? But then how do you live? And for the thought that one ought to be extra circumspect, so as not to fall prey to a predator, and be super safe, one should not trust at all, not even those who seem genuine? But then how does one live?

      • I think there’s a reason these predators appear so sincere and seem to “understand” someone who’s just been traumatized. What I understand from reading books and studies on batterer/perpetrator psychology, most were traumatized as children and consequently began to fragment and dissociate as they internalized the abuse. So inside every perp is a fragment of their former victim self. That victim self seems to really “get” the victim experience so much better than average people that it could appear to be motivated by true empathy. But that’s the illusion. Like the light from a star reaching earth millions of years after the star already died, the “victim self”– preserved in amber as it is– is a mirage and a trap. The abuser may cry easily over the plights of landmine victims half a world away or lost puppies but that’s only to the extent that they narcissistically see themselves in these tragic people. It’s not the same as having empathy for those actual human beings, though abusers do understand the value of appearing to be empathic since you catch more flies with honey.

        And that’s the thing– abusers know they’re fragmented. They know they trot out different personalities and different faces in different circumstances according to what it takes to get what they want from other people. Unlike someone with genuine dissociative personality disorder whose collection of identities is unknown to each separate identity, abusers know they’re frauds. But they can invest so deeply into each different role they play and face they show that it reads as real to onlookers. The process is sometimes referred to as “cubing,” an expression coined by the BTK serial killer Denis Rader to explain how he was able to seamlessly shift between “upstanding family man” and “pillar of the community” to savage killer and back again. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shadow-boxing/202201/the-serial-killer-btk-and-the-concept-cubing

        Veteran DV researcher Donald Dutton noted that batterers seem to have a strange alacrity for reading and absorbing material related to women’s interests. Personally I think the interest isn’t merely predatory– a way of “studying” their prey and figuring out how to gain the prey’s trust– but is also an artifact of the abuser’s former victim self. Again, this means absolutely nothing in terms of this individual’s capacity for empathy but it does explain how so many abusers manage to hoodwink and entrap victims and con bystanders to evade detection. Dutton also wrote that batterers tend to channel far more psychic energy into image management than normal individuals so it’s not just victims’ subjective impression that these abusers are particularly good at conning others. Objectively speaking, they really are particularly good at conning others.

    • Posting again here since it got misplaced

      Subtly (hidden but very severe coercive control) abusive FOO, therefore unconscious (because one is ignorant about coercive control tactics, yet one has lived in dread and fear since birth) need to escape. A rescuer comes about, presents as good person and truly seems a good person, only to reveal himself to be a predator but only once the escapee is entrapped (marriage). Isolation before, isolation and after. Mostly fake-kind FOO -the good people, destroyed by abuse found death-, fake-kind spouse. Nowhere to turn. Dependency foisted on one in FOO, repeat in marriage. Generally people who smell this kind of situation and come close are subtle blamers, concern-shamers, therefore covert victim assaulters, stalkers, who covertly beat one down, lower one’s self esteem even further because they feel better themselves.
      A few good people intuit but are in the impossibility of helping. But it’s good that they keep an eye open and their judgement intact because through the ether it somehow reaches the victim, like an invisible thing, that nevertheless exists.
      Reaching for help by the victim, likelyhood of another predator-rescuer because one in a situational trap where healthier people are not reachable, and, would they be interested in so much trouble?
      Likely several generations of this. The worst subtle blame is that one ought to find a job when you have been cut off from the possibility since ever, education as well. I am talking first world, impoverished potential middle class. Maybe education reached during marriage to rescuer. Job opportunities. Then with dumping (divorce) all lost. No longer access to jobs owing to having to care for an aging parent, a traumatized sibling (remaining victims in the FOO) in low-job area. Must stretch remaining funds for self and FOO while rescuer-former spouse has monkey branched to better situation having used one as starter spouse.

      En example of escape: a victim of incest by parent, married friend of said parent in order to get out of the situation.

    • HOAC, if I were allowed a second doctrine, it would be something pithy and axiomatic about not dating too soon.

      This has been a real bugbear of mine in Chump Nation in the past. I see some very optimistic people who think they’ve found a better partner almost immediately, but are actually just huffing the dopamine pipe.

      It’s too soon.

      Even when you think you feel ready, it’s still probably too soon.

      • Preach, Lola! Watching some Chumps repartner so quickly has worried me a great deal over the years.

        No way your picker is fixed so quickly, sir! 💔

      • I totally agree that moving on too quickly is a bad idea because victims may not be aware of how the recent abuse experience may have altered the “scent” they give off to others– a scent that abusive personalities seem especially attuned to. It’s not a good idea to jump into shark infested waters– which, frankly, the dating world is– while still bleeding. Survivors also need time to retrieve themselves. Sort of like the phenomenon of “drug spellbinding” or anosognosia where people on certain psychoactive medications may not realize how much the drug is changing their personality and perceptions for the worse, abuse changes people. Come to think of it, it’s probably not a good idea to start a new relationship while still on medication prescribed to get over the trauma of the last to the extent that meds can dull subtle gut warnings. Even without meds, it’s hard for survivors at first to distinguish between *current* gut feelings and PTSD flares. If the frog-boiling process occurred over many years, it’s easy to lose a sense of before and after.

        I’m hesitant to assume all victims’ “pickers” were broken to begin with. The assumption is part of the old theory that all victims of abuse were psychologically “deficient” and suffered especially low self esteem prior to abuse. Though this may be true of some survivors, more current research says it’s statistically no more likely than for any other population sample. Instead abusers themselves deserve more credit for their ability to get past average people’s radars. Again, abusers are clinically noted to be especially good at mirroring and wearing masks. It’s an exercise in humility to understand that, for everyone on earth– even veteran FBI profilers– there’s a predator who can get past their defenses. Furthermore, it’s not like public schools offer classes in 7th grade on detecting subtle early signs of covert abusers and, because abusers are so adept at conning, simply having an “average” picker may not be enough to weed out danger. In fact, ending up in a good or bad relationship might be more a case of dumb luck than most people would like to believe. Human beings are pretty delusional creatures and we love to believe that, when something good happens to us, it’s because God loves us more and because we were special and did everything especially right.

        But anyway, even if someone’s “picker” wasn’t particularly broken to begin with, I do think pickers can be bent in the process of being abused. Being abused, isolated and gaslit for years as well as turned into social pariahs following abuse can certainly make people so desperate for support and positive models which might renew their hope for humanity that they’re in danger of missing red flags. So it never hurts to recalibrate one’s picker according to new information and circumstances. Someone might decide not to try skateboarding a month after getting surgery for a broken back. There’s a ton of data in trauma and survivors may decide they need a far better picker and finer filter than average in order to move forward. If that makes any sense.

    • “Apparently victims of severe abuse sometimes monkey branch– “cheat,” if you will– in the process of escaping abuse despite the fact it would be unlikely for the same person to cheat within a non-abusive relationship”

      HOAC, I always enjoy your posts, so thought provoking and interesting.

      But I have to disagree with the sentence about monkey branching. This came up in a previous thread, and I stated my disagreement with it then, to the fury of some posters. If anyone is still reading this thread, no doubt I’ll be pounced on again, but no matter.

      In my opinion, what you describe, is one person *using* another human being in order to extricate themselves from a bad situation, which is neither admirable, brave, or understandable, and speaks to a lack of character and integrity. It *is* cheating, (without the disparaging quote marks) and I see no excuse for it. Of course an abuser deserves no loyalty from the victim, but neither does another human being deserve to be used as an escape route. And I speak as a woman who was physically abused, as well as emotionally, by my ex fuckwit.

      • “… it would be unlikely for the same person to cheat within a non-abusive relationship”

        Again I disagree. If a person sees deceit as an acceptable escape route in one scenario, it’s extremely likely they will see it as acceptable in another

  • My uncle (by marriage) was very handsome & successful & yet, my aunt cheated & left him for a complete yahoo. This guy just knew how to flatter the fuck out of women. He eventually cheated on my aunt too. Then she wanted my uncle back (too late), he had moved on. She still kicks herself in the ass twenty years later about it. Take some comfort in that Ultimate Chump.

  • Asshat admitted this while I was untangling the skein from DD#1. But instead of Lola, I called it Beth.

    “She wasn’t a prize. There’s not much to choose from. Not a lot of people are willing to screw a married man”.

    Yep. He wasn’t picky. Two miserably disordered people just happen to be deceitful liars, in unison. That’s the soulmate. Nothing special.

    “Deceit is not a problem-solving relationship tool”–love this!

    • I get that, and being told “oh you shouldn’t think that way” “don’t insult some ones looks etc” when you are in the rages of hell is not helpful.

      We each have to work through it bit by bit. To be honest when I first found out who my FWs whore was; I was aghast. I absolutely thought, how bad am I that he preferred that fat little troll. In the beginning I could only make sense of it by telling myself she likely had professional whore level skills. She did have a lot of practice with a parade of married men.

      In the contest of a 21 year marriage, I was blindsided. I for a short time also tried to put it on MLC. Nope he was a serial cheater who had gotten away with it until he wrapped himself around the workplace auger. His house of cards fell hard on top of him. And of course on me, but I never really mattered.

      In time I realized they were just two dysfunctional folks who found their match. But, oh boy getting there.

  • There are people you marry, and people you fool around with. My ex retired and decided that the long-term investment in me and our kids meant nothing, so he left. When I finally came to terms with that, I really didn’t care if it was a downgrade or not. He was no longer invested in the relationship, period.

    Thankfully, I found the perfect attorney for me who got me out of it with a decent settlement.

  • The ex left me for his ex girl friend from his home town/school. They had never lived together, had had two failed attempts at a relationship each lasting less than 2 years before he met me, and she lived in Canada and he in the UK at the time of the affair. I was 59, he 53 and her 52. I was with him for 26 years, married for 18 years at point of my dumping. I found out about the affair 6 weeks after I was dumped and started divorce proceedings immediately. Inevitably I felt that he had ‘settled’ for me because she did not want a relationship with him, until she did. I was the downgrade and he left me in no doubt that I was an all round failure and the cause of unhappiness for a ‘very, very long time’. Not that his unhappiness was expressed, but then it wouldn’t have been while I was a cash cow. It hurts to read about ‘downgrades’ and ‘upgrades’ for those reasons. In the ex’s brain I was always second best and I loved a lie without knowing that’s what I was doing. I felt ashamed and humiliated beyond words. I’m 62 now, nearly 63. It is what it is. I’m not dead, which is in many ways a miracle because I came close to it. It’s about character not age, substance not looks.

  • I’ve heard this one before. Now maybe you know why people are giving you that look because they saw her/ him ( in my case) out with someone else . Didn’t really want children. Everything was equal . We had our own lives. Marriage certificates mean nothing. The marriage was a farce. Even tho he took the money in my case I feel better knowing who he really is . A whore. But I’m truly happy I decided to have kids. He’s going unhealthy pretending to be young forever. Never loyal to anyone. No sanctity for anything. Just thankful I got out of it . Don’t waste time thinking about it. Truly. Life is too short.

  • >