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She Said If I Was French I’d Accept the Cheating

Hi Chump Lady,

I became friends with an older (mid 60s) French-Canadian woman who moved into my neighbourhood this summer. Over some wine recently, I told her why my marriage ended with my ex cheating and ditching our family to move in with the OW. I expected to hear sympathy and outrage from her. What I got was not a sisters in solidarity moment.

She became haughty and said that would never happen to a French woman! When I asked what do you mean? She proceeded to tell me that if taking a lover was more accepted in North American society, then my husband wouldn’t have felt compelled to leave his family to keep seeing the OW.

When I protested and started to get upset, her parting comment to me (as she was leaving) was, “You see, the difference between me and you is that I accept men for what they are and you do not.”

I was left unsettled by her unsympathetic attitude. I won’t be having her over again, I expect better treatment from my friends.

This has; however, left me wondering. Of course, you probably have guessed why. Are us North American women not accepting men “for what they are”? Is it because we‘re supposedly not as sophisticated as the French regarding “liaisons” and therefore, cause ourselves unnecessary suffering? Is our monogamous culture expecting men to be better than what they are capable of? Because so many men screw around it seems.

I thought I knew right from wrong, but this French neighbour now has me thinking I’m an idiot.

Not French Enough?

****

Dear Not French Enough,

Nom de dieu de merde.

You’re not the idiot, she’s the idiot. In any culture, whatever the views on infidelity, what your neighbor did was incredibly rude. You invited her over to your home, offered her hospitality, and she proceeded to blameshift the demise of your marriage on to you. In polite society you don’t insult your hosts.

She might disagree with you, she might hate your wine glasses, your views on the Ukrainian war, or your haircut. But if she were raised properly, she’d keep her pie-hole shut. Everybody’s grandmother knows the first rule of civility — if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it.

That’s rich coming from you, Chump Lady.

This is a blog. I’m not a guest in someone’s living room. You’re a guest in my virtual living room and presumably you came here for snark and advice. I’m not inflicting my salty views on you unbidden, you came here looking for them.

However, if I were a guest in your living room and you said something I deemed to be patently moronic, I would thank you for your hospitality, make a polite excuse, and exit.

Which is what Frenchy could have done and didn’t. So let’s start there — she’s an oaf. A boorish bumpkin. The last person on earth you should look to for “sophistication.”

What’s she’s peddling isn’t sophistication, it’s the same old misogyny we’ve had for generations. It is Right and Natural that men can fuck around, women must eat the shit sandwich.

You can slather Grey Poupon on that shit sandwich and call it sophisticated. You can serve it on a baguette and call it French. It’s still a shit sandwich.

Let’s extend our pinkies and dissect her arguments, shall we?

She proceeded to tell me that if taking a lover was more accepted in North American society, then my husband wouldn’t have felt compelled to leave his family to keep seeing the OW.

Note that Frenchy is not advocating for open marriage. She’s advocating a system whereby men have a secret life — a lover, a second family — and everyone looks the other way. One set of rules for me, another for thee. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Cheating (gaming the system for one’s advantage) isn’t acceptable in any society, North American or otherwise. And enshrined entitlements based on birth — uh, didn’t France have an entire revolution about this? Overthrowing aristocracy? Frenchy’s arguing that those with penises get special rights and privileges those without penises cannot enjoy. You’re born with these privileges. They are immutable.

That’s not sophistication, that’s supremacy.

Of course, she’s also blaming you here for your abandonment. Had you only been more accepting of his entitlement, he wouldn’t have left you.

I applaud you for not accepting his entitlement.

When I protested and started to get upset, her parting comment to me (as she was leaving) was, “You see, the difference between me and you is that I accept men for what they are and you do not.”

This statement is stupid on many levels. Let’s begin with women cheat too, of course they do. And men are not dim-witted, simple creatures who can’t keep it in their pants. Must make allowances! He’s off rutting again!

Also stupid: she’s bragging that she accepts an unjust system. Yum, yum shit sandwiches!

Staggeringly stupid: She thinks she’s better than you because she accepts second-class citizenship. She believes such debasement elevates her. I don’t know what’s sadder. That’s she’s internalized the misogyny, or that she’s promoting it. Vichy is French, no?

Now to your questions.

Are us North American women not accepting men “for what they are”?

I reject the premise that men “are” something. Dim, unethical, without agency.

Is it because we‘re supposedly not as sophisticated as the French regarding “liaisons” and therefore, cause ourselves unnecessary suffering?

Betrayal hurts regardless of your gender, orientation, race, religion, or hairstyle. If you’re intimate and trusting, you’re vulnerable. Loving with your whole heart is a human condition.

We don’t “cause” ourselves suffering — bad actors inflict suffering when they behave unethically.

I didn’t cause myself suffering when I walked down that alley and got mugged, either.

Is our monogamous culture expecting men to be better than what they are capable of? Because so many men screw around it seems.

And so many men do not.

Note the sly blameshift — Poor dears, they aren’t capable of monogamy. Mustn’t have expectations of reciprocity and respect.

Poor CEOs, they aren’t capable of profit-sharing. Mustn’t have expectations of workplace protections and fair wages.

Also fuck this “monogamous culture” shit. Monogamy isn’t forced on anyone. You agree to it. Why? Because there are a lot of perks and privileges when one’s energies and resources are solely directed at another. Privileges that can be exploited by bad actors.

You don’t want to be monogamous? Don’t be. You’ll find it’s much harder to find chumps to give you their paychecks. And child-rearing, housework, and emotional labor.

Love aside, people do these things because they expect reciprocal investment. It’s not delusional to expect security, stability, and respect in relationships.

I thought I knew right from wrong, but this French neighbour now has me thinking I’m an idiot.

Leave your French neighbor to enjoy her sophistication. I’m trying to imagine what that looks like. The chlamydia sings Edith Piaf.

Anyway, not your problem. No further investment required.

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.
  • Be glad of 3 things:
    You’re not pretending to be sophisticated or above anyone else. That makes you a real person.
    You found out about who this person is at the beginning. You didn’t invest more time (or wine) in someone who has such a different value system.
    You’re not a snobby, pretentious French woman.

    Too bad you can’t get the glass of wine back. Hope it wasn’t a good bottle!

  • Well if you were French you might also not shave your armpits or wear deodorant.

    What is acceptable male behavior is a function of both what women accept and how much power they have to do anything about it.

    Some cultures where women are powerless “accept” that men can’t be expected to control their dick around 8 year old little girls. Or that men need to slap their wives around to keep them in line.

    So this stupid bitch “accepts” that men cheat. Whatever…she probably lived her life accepting crumbs and is pissed off that other women don’t.

    • It’s actually super socially unacceptable not to shave in France now btw.

      But yes, there is a certain culture of entrenched “sophisticated” misogyny, and there’s a strong feminist backlash against it currently. Hope it bears fruit.

  • Isn’t a lot of that the same argument of Esther Perel? She thinks we all just need to be more open minded about cheating.

    I call it “tolerance for abuse.” I don’t want to live that way. I don’t choose to live that way. I no longer tolerate abuse to me or my son… and I’m not making excuses for bad behavior (ie: poor men can’t help themselves). It isn’t that I’m not “French” enough or sophisticated enough. It’s that I have self respect. I have boundaries. I am allowed to have my needs met too.

    But let the French Canadian dumbass spew her ridiculous “wisdom” elsewhere. And you can giggle to yourself that when she finds herself with someone who is French (from France), she is often looked down upon and not considered “French enough” and just a Canadian. She acts with the same disdain for you as she would be treated. She’s an idiot in a glass house. Enjoy your wine without her.

    • Ha, I kept thinking this. What does a Québécoise know about French culture? Hate to break it to her but … she’s also North American, not Europeanand not French. Quelle horreur!

      • As a French Canadian and child of Québécois ancestry, I call bullshit on her conasse ideas. I can’t say I haven’t encountered them, though. Just like when people in whatever country call the subservience of women “the culture” of that nation, asshat Québécois can call their suck-up-to-male-power thing French and declare they’re tapping into the ancestral wisdom of La Patrie.

  • The crux of the matter is, YOU signed up for monagamy when you married. Your ex agreed. And then broke the agreement.

    It’s not about “sophistication”, but about a broken promise, about trust, about respect.

    There are plenty of people happy with open marriages, polyamory, or just staying single. But if you vow fidelity, then it is your responsibility to fulfill that or respectfully break it off and let the other person move on.

    In the whole sordid business of my husband’s affair, the LIES bothered me more than the fact that he had had sex with someone else (not that that didn’t hurt and anger me). You want out? Fine. JUST TELL ME.

    I said that to his face and he LIED and said there was nothing going on and he didn’t love her and he didn’t want to be with her and nothing had happened. And so I wasted three more years, instead of being able to walk away (which I would have). He took away my agency, my ability to make an informed decision about my life.

    There’s nothing sophisticated about lying to one’s spouse. It’s just skeevy.

    • 100%. I agree with you ISTL. he lying to my face is what was the worst for me. Then he kept on lying and denying. In the end, there was too much evidence to be found and FW could not talk his way out of it. The fact that he lied and took away my agency was the absolute worst.
      What Frenchy says is not sophistication, it is that she must enjoy her shit sandwiches.

      • “The fact that he lied and took away my agency was the absolute worst.”

        I made decisions based on lies. The decisions I made were primarily to his advantage, funny how they work that out.

      • FW didn’t admit the affair actually happened until we filed for divorce, almost 4 YEARS from when I asked him if he was having an affair. He kind of had to tell his lawyer, who told mine, who told me. Not that I didn’t already know. There was, as you say, too much evidence. He denied that it had been sexual until after our separation, but after he died I found evidence that it very much was, right from the start. Including during our wreckonciliation. But both FW and OW lied to my face, and worse, made me feel like I was crazy. FW said I was overreacting, reading too much into things, was jealous, controlling, didn’t want him to have friends, etc., etc., etc.

        I wasn’t crazy. I was right.

        But I told him that if something had happened between them, that I would walk away. Even as broken as I was by a decade of abuse, I had too much self-respect to tolerate cheating. I guess he didn’t want to give up his cake (my money, my cleaning, cooking, caring for our child, and essentially being his secretary, as well as sex), or it may have been that he wasn’t 100% sure schmoopie would be a secure bet, since he had only known her about four months at the time. He wasn’t ready to let go of my branch until he was sure the other one would hold him.

        But he didn’t make a wise choice. She didn’t stick around once he showed his true face (I knew she wouldn’t). Whoops.

    • Exactly! It took me a long time to realize that Cheater Narc Ex didn’t want OUT. He wanted to have his cake and eat it too. Secrecy worked great for him, but the absolute best was when I was pick-me dancing and OW #1 was too. He ate that up with a spoon! Weasel.

      He was so confused and disappointed when I said I was done, when I told him I knew about Affair #2.

    • ISTL, this is it exactly. It’s not about the sex as much as it’s about trying to game the system, get away with something and keep all the perks, to the Chump’s disadvantage and disenfranchisement. Oscar Wilde: “Everything in the world is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power.”

      My DDay was two months before I was to move overseas with FW, leave my job, my family and my friends, and go to a place where I didn’t speak the language. We had a house there and the house here was ready for sale. I had a diplomatic passport and needed his orders to fly. All my stuff would be there and I would have to ask his commander to move back to the US early.

      FW knew I was onto him and I sincerely believe he was trying to deceive me just long enough to get me to a place where I had no support system or autonomy, and had to depend on him for everything.

      The sex part of cheating was upsetting, but the entire scope of the betrayal was downright horrifying.

      • The POS XW tried to argue w/me about her exit-affair in the months after D-day. “All you care about is the sex we had,” she said, or something close to that.

        I told her no, I was upset by the sex because it represented the breaking of (what I thought at the time was) trust and honesty in our relationship.

        You know. As if actions in the physical world could help portray the character of a person. Duh.🙄

        Sophisticated, my ass.

    • Exactly. If my ex husband had come to me at any point and talked to me it wouldn’t have been as traumatic and we could still be friends. He chose to gaslight, cheat, lie, and abuse. That says a lot about him. I can’t ever respect him or look at him the same.

  • Wow! A DIY gaslighting. You do the work of lying to yourself because you are SoPhIStICaTeD.

    “Look at me! I am completely unfazed by the misappropriatated martial property, the alienation of affection, and the emotional roller coaster he strapped our family into unwillingly. Ha haha! Baguette?”

  • Her statements are a deluded version pick-me-dancing/a way of “othering you” from her perceived moralistic high ground
    “It would never happen to ME because…” that’s what everyone who never experienced infidelity thinks.
    what comes after the “because” is always invariably stupid/insipid as demonstrated in this case truly.
    Just because she would have swallowed the shit sandwich doesn’t mean she’s a food critic!

  • If the sanctity of her marriage is subjective, their vows contained no reference to faithfulness, and it’s institutionally acceptable for married men in married relationships in France to cheat, then this was the agreement your neighbor friend settled for.

    For you, the agreement of marriage was founded on pillars of strength to uphold the union. You two agreed to be faithful partners. He reneged and it destroyed the union.

    The game of life, marriage, raising children and leading a principled life is successful only to the degree two partners have mutually strong values and objectives working to achieve common goals. While this is steadily eroding in western culture and societies, at present women still maintain a defined interest in monogomy in marriage and are not willing to settle for cheating.

  • My fear of being “frenched’ is a reason I don’t share the details of my marriage ending. Society makes this all very easy for cheaters and very hard for chumps. It becomes clearer – ethically and legally – if the violation is unauthorized withdrawals from a couple’s bank account. Maybe we should just tell people that cheater turned out to be a kleptomaniac.

    • I have found that people were much more sympathetic to my plight when it was revealed that he refused to get a job after being fired/quit (depends on who you ask which it was) and he had been siphoning money out of our joint account instead of paying bills, leaving us to almost have our electricity turned off at Christmas when he left me alone to care for our 3 year old.

      Money theft in this country especially is considered so much more horrible than abuse. I discovered many years later that it is considered “financial abuse” but rarely stands alone without other forms.

  • Is it overly-suspicious on my part for me to suspect any “Cheater apologist” – such as the woman mentioned by NFE – of being someone hiding something ….. like the fact that they might just possibly be a Cheater themselves?

    LFTT

    • Most likely she had been in a relationship with a cheater and had used this line of “reasoning” to accept that everyone did it. If everyone does it and it’s accepted, then it’s not bad?

      Also, depending on how old she is, she may not have had much of a choice. My mother’s generation, women couldn’t get credit cards in their names, everything she owned pretty much belonged to her husband, etc. Divorce was a horribly shameful stigma. Jobs were restricted as to what was appropriate, and resources were few. For many there wasn’t an option to leave, so these sort of “coping mechanisms” were adopted to keep them sane. When I was a child I remember my best friend’s family was excommunicated from her church because her parents got divorced. Absolutely no support there.

      Her attitude is to be pitied, it’s probably a form of Stockholm syndrome that she needed to keep herself sane in a society that punished women for standing up for themselves. Or, she’s just a cruel haughty B and either way, not worth having over for tea again.

      • FCNB,

        I’m going with “Haughty B and likely cheater/OW” and definitely not over for tea – or anything else – again.

        LFTT

      • The text says she is in her sixties. That’s not old enough to have lived the era where women couldn’t have a bank account ! It was two generations beforehand. Or even more than that, because both my grandmothers were working and free, but it was in France, not in North America.

      • FCNB, that’s what I thought. She’s a Chump and her justification not only allows her to choke down the shit sandwich, but to believe that she’s in a special situation because she’s French (Canadian) and thus more sophisticated than her American Chump friends. So surely her FW, no matter how much he may cheat, will never abandon HER.

        Either way, lose her. Sounds like she’s quite content keeping her delusions.

  • Actually, I’ve been told that quite a few French women are fed the fuck up with being lectured about how a very obviously imbalanced relationship giving special privileges to the spouse with all the power and money, is somehow “normal” for men to enjoy and women to endure.

    It’s not “French”.

    • French women are rarely tempted by being a stay-at-home mother who is fully dependent on a man. Only a few “bourgeoises” accept to live like this, at their own risk. Remember that University is free, and they love to see themselves as a meaningful contributor to society.

  • Right, because French women LOVE getting AIDS. If they see a used needle on the ground, they rush to inject themselves with it hoping they can get infected. They also LOVE vaginal infections. They smear shit into their vaginas daily to get them. That just makes so much sense.

    My grandmother is French so I’m not actually insulting French women, just pointing out how stupid that attitude is. I hate this shit because it ignores the realities of cheating. No, French women are not dirty, diseased morons who love having their health ruined. No sane person is ok with that

    • French women also enjoy washing their husband’s underwear, dirty from sex with another woman. And they’re so happy to give marital money to the husband so he can spend it on dinners, fine wine, jewelry and lingerie for another woman. LoL.
      The argument that all men cheat and it’s just who they are is also very dehumanizing, offensive and sexist to men. No, men aren’t wild animals who aren’t able to control their urges. They also most frequently cheat with women. So what about these women? So, some women are also just who they are.

      • Exactly … as a man I find that sentiment that somehow we can’t be faithful demeaning and offensive … being unfaithful is a choice, just as being faithful is a choice – it is not that difficult really.

  • Are French wedding vows different? Just wondering.

    If you don’t feel anything when you are betrayed, you’re not wired properly IMHO.

    Psychopaths and sociopaths are found in every country and gender.

    It sounds like you met one, and good riddance.

    My neighbor, who I regarded as a friend, was cheated on. She told me Traitor Ex cheated because of the condition my house was often in. (My mother was a compulsive cleaner and I prioritized family fun and a relaxed atmosphere over a spic and span magazine spread museum house).

  • Just heard that France is offering men ages 18-25 free condoms (women already get free birth control till age 26). BECAUSE STDs ARE A HUGE ISSUE. Hmmmmmm- Hope that woman gets tested regularly…

  • She is accepting of thievery? Your time, family time, planned future, money from your pocket to finance the AP, health, stability are okay to steal?. She’s delusional.

    • Yes, exactly this! I HATE that so few people recognize the collateral damage involved in cheating! My Switzerland friends kept encouraging me to be patient and forgiving, as though it was all about my hurt feelings. I finally yelled at them, “My FEELINGS are the LEAST of it! We are bankrupt due to all the money he stole from his family to finance his whoring around! I had an STD after 10 years of faithful marriage! He put my name on loans and even on fraud schemes that could have gotten me sent to prison because he wanted more money for cheating! When does anyone start caring about ME?”

  • My SIL comes from rural Provence. If and when my brother runs off with another woman all of southern England will be scorched earth.

    She has mellowed a bit in the last 25 years but she still decides when the plates can be cleared after a meal.

  • The French Canadienne sounds and acts like an OW. It is very odd that she is defending affairs to you, a woman devastated by betrayal. What is her history? It would not surprise me to know that she had an affair in her past and the husband did not leave his family.

    • Thought the same thing…a little too uppity and hostile which makes me think she was the OW at some point in her pathetic life.

    • OP here: frenchy claimed that her partner cheated on her & got the AP pregnant & left. Whether she has also been an OW, I don’t know & won’t be hanging around her to find out!

      • Now that is interesting. So her version of reality didn’t even play out for her own situation. She was just being judgy of you to be a B. Well, good riddance to her. I wonder what her little display of “superiority” was all about, then? Guess she wasn’t French enough either.

        • Obviously not French enough! I don’t understand either why a person whose been cheated on & dumped wouldn’t have been more empathetic. I guess she believes throwing her hands up in the air & saying “merde, that’s men” makes it all better. Low expectations: can’t get hurt as much I guess is her thinking.

          • It’s weird, if you’re going to be a judgemental jerk, maybe choose something that actually applies to you? I’m thinking she must not have a lot of friends if this is how she socializes. To claim to be part of the “superior” group, I assumed one must actually be a part of said group? She’s neither French (she’s Quebecoise, which isn’t the same) nor did her husband stay with her. Pretty clear and weird example of internalized misogyny I guess?

          • She has a personality disorder. Lemme guess, either she told you about how she was cheated on and dumped after you took offense to what she said OR she told you that first to claim victim status and then when you shared you had a similar experience, she got mad and insulting.

            This is a personality disorder. You’ll want to keep her far from your life. These people are insane and destructive.

        • Maybe she is blaming “forced monogamy” for her fw leaving her. As in, well if people weren’t so narrow of mind, he wouldn’t have left me for the whore.

          Who knows. She sounds messed up for sure.

      • Here is a twist to the story! I am truly astounded that a woman abandoned and cheated on and lied to would defend the cheater by saying ‘ I accept men for what they are’. What a defeatist attitude. I do truly believe that a percentage of people in the world are capable of cheating and lying, but to paint all men with the same brush is not reasonable. I kind of wish we had her here to grill her on her views.

        • I doubt we’d get anything useful out of that exercise. People who treat others the way she treated her host have very little depth and likely zero introspective ability. It would be like questioning a cabbage.

      • So even though Frenchy was sophisticated enough to look the other way and accept her her partner’s cheating, he still dumped her ass for the AP? I’m thinking Frenchy, for all her sophistication, is one angry woman and is totally confused on where to direct that anger. Good riddance.

      • I figured she was either a cheater herself OR been cheated on herself and is deep in denial about how painful it is otherwise she’d have a stroke. Sounds like the latter. She’s trying to cover her own insecurity by shitting on you – in your own home, no less. She’s a rude asshole. Don’t waste more brain bucks on her.

        As an aside, I lived in Paris for a while and your neighbor’s in for a rude awakening when she finds out French people don’t consider HER French enough either!

  • “That’s not sophistication, that’s supremacy.”

    Way to bring out the smoking guns, CL! How long did it take you to write this piece? To think I never would have discovered your work if I hadn’t been chumped.

  • Every time people bring up the whole “forced into monogamy” thing, I have to ask: who forced you? What they really mean is that they can’t find anyone willing to commit to them (money, sex, retirement accounts, raising kids) for less than full commitment back. They also rarely want clearly defined open relationships, where both partners seek out other individuals. It’s never about wanting out of a social construct that’s been forced on them. It’s always about wanting “a better deal” somehow. It’s about desiring an imbalance, aka privilege and entitlement.

    • My ex tried to say that my Mom forced him to marry me, or that I forced him to marry me. He moved into my home with me voluntarily. He asked me to marry him. I had the audacity to say yes! Such pressure. They make up all sorts of interesting fairy tales to justify it all. My ex is a professional victim of everything, but he has a hard time keeping his stories straight so he has alienated all his friends. He’s merely an amoeba bouncing around life absorbing whatever is around him. No will at all. He fell into that woman. He swears it wasn’t his fault. Ugh.

      • I got the “there was a lot of pressure” to get married comment too. Was hard to hear that rewrite of history and then I wondered if he shifted parental pressure to me or if, maybe, when I thought we were discussing he was feeling pressured. Then I realized he is/was a free agent who had no trouble asserting himself back then. It really doesn’t matter what they say as you can’t rely on an honest assessment.

    • ” It’s always about wanting “a better deal””

      Right? and of course they (most) spend years making sure they are getting the better deal, before they let the chump in on it. And then it is “oh, I have been so unhappy for ten years”. “Poor sad sack me”.

      When in actuality what usually happens is they have been outed, or whore is expecting the big prize and is tired of sleeping in the alley.

  • For generations women told each other to look the other way. Not because they were sophisticated, but because they couldn’t work, support themselves. The laws kept them tied to their husbands paycheck. Their worth was the husbands paycheck. Even in Iran, women now know, they can support themselves and no longer must accept the affairs, as part of life. Suck it up buttercup is a thing of the past. I would have laughed at her.

    • Hcard, I partially agree with you. But I think that too many women (any nationality) still suck it up because the narrative remains that a woman’s worth is higher if she has a partner/husband than if she is single.
      They vilify the OW and give their cheating spouse a pass, in order to preserve their “elevated” married/attached status.

      • I’m 66, I was told by society, church and family. Being married no matter how bad was the only acceptable life for a woman. I get it

    • Some women did, but lots didn’t. Power differentials are what this type of attitude is about, as is accepting other kinds of abuse. Not every society had/has such big power differentials.

      The times, they are a changin’!!!

  • With apologies to Lennon and McCartney . . .

    Dear Cass, my lass
    You have your head up your stupid ass
    Stupid ass
    Dear Cass, my lass
    Tu as la tête dans ton cul stupide
    Ton cul stupide . . .

  • “You can slather Grey Poupon on that shit sandwich and call it sophisticated. You can serve it on a baguette and call it French. It’s still a shit sandwich.”
    🤣🤣🤣 🥖#CLgold

    • You can’t find Grey Poupon in France, the name is ridiculous (grey toddler, what ?). Even if it is made in Dijon, it is sold only on the American market.

  • I’ve lived in France for over 30 years and my French neighbour confided in me years ago that she knew her husband had cheated on her from the get go! She desperately wishes she’d left him when she was younger (she’s 70+ now) and the heartbreak I see in her is real, not “sophisticated”! Quite by coincidence they and my sister and BIL got married on the same day the same year and both couples “celebrated” their 50th wedding anniversaries last week. Well when I say “celebrated”, my sister and BIL did and are probably more in love now than ever. My neighbour and her husband happened to pull in the driveway the same time as I did so I wished her happy anniversary. She shushed me (he is pretty deaf) and said he hadn’t spoken to her that morning and they would probably spend the day ignoring each other. So yeah, it’s not French “sophistication”. He’s an arrogant, entitled AH who asked ME to have an affair with him when my FW left (I told him that his wife was my friend and she deserved better)!

    • I had a very close family friend, older than me, who was generally pretty frank when I was a romantic teen about what marriage was all about (her all time classic, you feel a bit differently about them when you’ve picked their dirty underwear up off the floor for the umpteenth time). She was English but lived in France and said that other women tended to be a bit distant in that all women could be a threat. She also found out probably similarly around 65 or 70 that her husband had had an affair the whole time, with someone at work. I couldn’t really relate to how awful this was then as I would now but she was devastated. She knew it was too late to move out and they couldn’t afford to do a two-house thing so she tried to get planning permission to get a brick wall built right through the middle of the house. Good on her. I think about that now and how awful a discovery that must have been. She said there definitely was a different attitude towards it in France but it was just the usual patriarchy bullshit, one she was prepared to buy into.

      • My neighbour has known since the start of their marriage that he cheated on her. Her own father didn’t like him. He put in for a transfer from western France to here in the east and her dad told her he was deliberately isolating her from family (he was right, but then the first mistress she found out about was also on the west coast)! She said her biggest mistake was quitting work when the children were born – she didn’t want to but he insisted – and now she’s too old and beaten down to escape him, sadly! And he’s gone from being a relatively attractive man to a wizened shell of himself where his outside now matches his inside!

  • My FW ex-wife didn’t just have one affair. During the divorce process, and after, I subsequently discovered she had cheated with multiple partners since the early days of our marriage. And she was being encouraged to cheat by her toxic, controlling, cheating mother who assured her that she was so special that she was entitled to have her cake and eat it too.

    The discoveries were devastating and each time I confronted her I was met with the usual gaslighting and blame shifting, which also included the occasional “you’re so unsophisticated” trope.

    Leading up to marriage we specifically had conversations about cheating and how that would be completely unacceptable behavior. Regardless of gender, a cheating spouse is a lying, abusive, entitled POS. In the end it’s up to each cheated-on spouse to stand up and shout “unacceptable!”.

    The alternative is to “let them eat cake.” Apparently cake eating is very French too. But we all know how things turned out for the French woman who uttered that phrase.

    • I remember about a year and a half before fw left, he brought up the saying “have your cake…” He said he didn’t get that saying because of course you would want to have your cake and eat it too. I did explain it to him, but he still didn’t agree.

      Didn’t occur to me in real time, but shortly after Dday, it hit me; that ass wipe was confessing. He of course (in his mind) was joyfully having his cake and eating it too.

      Ass wipe soon lost all his cake, not just me (I didn’t matter much) but his reputation, his cushy office and his recent promotion, the respect of his son and more. All gone, but no problem he could go home to the grungy little whore he dug out of the whore pool at the Pizza Hut.

  • The guest sounds pretty defensive. When a person says something crappy as they swiftly leave, it makes me think the person is clearly feeling pretty defensive and rushing to escape to avoid losing control of the conversation.

    Methinks she doth project too much.

  • OP here: thank you everyone for your comments! I will read them all & respond. It’s so easy to doubt yourself when around another person who seems so “self-assured”. Chump Lady brings so many great insights to the table that I am reassured that I’m not an idiot after all!! Thank you, CL & Chump Nation! <3

    • Some of the most self-assured people I’ve ever met are also the most closed-minded, dumb as a post individuals I’ve run into. They aren’t trying to convince you, they’re trying to convince themselves.

    • False moral certitude is one of the many afflictions of narcissistic people, NFE. She’s not genuinely self assured, she’s just a toxic self justifier who is using you to rationalize her idiocy.

    • I’ve had many European colleagues over the decades. Most of them suffered from an attitude of immense superiority toward Americans generally and Texans specifically. Ironically, upon getting better acquainted, they tended to be significantly more misogynistic and racist than any locals (or just more comfortable expressing it). But that superior self image did give them a wonderful self-assurance that it was tough not to envy. (And a few came around, bought the big pickup truck, and learned to say “y’all” like a winner…. So happy endings do happen.)

    • You’ve gotten great comments here already but just wanted to add: Even if she was right that French people are okay with infidelity (they’re not, but whatever)… who cares? YOU are not ok with it and you have the right to hold that standard and not be disrespected by a guest in your own home.

  • Not French enough
    you mean you didn’t surrender? Sophistication???? Hardly the word I’d use…staying faithful on course and having boundaries and deal breakers is what separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom. Your neighbor is full of shit! And probably hasn’t gotten laid in decades. To suggest to a person who been obviously hurt deeply by selfish lowlife isn’t equipped to handle the norms of an fucked up view is one of greatest forms of condescension. Your neighbor is my age so I have license to say this , Fuck that old douche bag! I.W.L.H.B.M.D.!

  • “Are us North American women not accepting men “for what they are”?”

    No. To say that being duplicitous and breaking promises is how men are is a stupid, sexist statement. If men (or women) don’t want monogamy, they don’t have to promise monogamy. It’s that simple.

    “Is it because we‘re supposedly not as sophisticated as the French regarding “liaisons” and therefore, cause ourselves unnecessary suffering?”

    No, lying con artists are causing the suffering. Again, nobody forces anyone to vow monogamy. They do it of their own free will, and if they are cheaters, they lie. It is not okay to lie and trap somebody into marriage with that lie. You try a sat in the kind of life you want. A cheater who falsely promises to be faithful has taken your choice away from you. That is never okay. Not one time.

    “Is our monogamous culture expecting men to be better than what they are capable of? Because so many men screw around it seems.”

    So do many women, so I’m calling bullshit on making cheating into a gender thing.

    Again, nobody forces monogamy on any of them. They agree to it. This lame “French superiority” argument completely falls apart on that basis alone. No need to deconstruct it further, though one certainly can, as CL has shown.

    Frenchie is not your friend, and I’d lay odds she’s a cheater herself. She’s a nasty, gaslighting, falsely superior little bitch. Who meets a friend’s pain with; “I’m better than you? If only you were like amazing wonderful moi, your pain would vanish, you silly North American enfant.”” Only a creep does that. Drop her like a bad habit.

    Btw, Quebec is in North America, not Europe. Send the stupid bint a map.

  • Sorry, that was supposed to say “you get a say in the life you want.” I was making the point that cheating takes away your right to have a say in what kind of life you want. That is not okay on any continent.

  • I’d have loved to explore all facets of this woman’s views with some pointed questions.

    Should I, then, too have “taken a lover?” Or is it only fair that there be a chump at home to pick up the slack from diverted time and energies? If both adults are out fucking around, who is running the household? Do we take turns? Am I sporting this chlamydia infection sophisticatedly enough?

    GTFOH Frenchie ✌🏻

    • Buwah ha! Ha!

      I essentially as FW the same thing. If we are all tremendously focused on ‘meeting my needs!!!’, who is raising the children?

      And that would be the partner appliance.

  • Sounds like this ‘sophisticated’ little baguette is trying to get you to eat half of the shit sandwich she was forced to consume. (Misery needs company?)
    Delusional rationalization to make herself feel better for accepting infidelity in her own life, otherwise she’s a cheater herself I’m guessing.
    Anyway you slice that baguette, it’s moldy old and stale and needs to be tossed.
    Maybe she wants you to accept it, because she herself was forced to cave on the issue. ( strength in numbers?).
    If we all accept that cheating is just a little side dish appetizer that someone deserves regardless of the great harm it does to others, then it doesn’t hurt us as badly that it’s happened to us.
    Maybe something like that is this woman’s problem. She’s putting a big red bow on abuse and calling it open minded and sophisticated, instead of being honest with herself and shouting from the rooftops what it really is. ABUSE!!!

  • Some of the leading Europe. researchers into coercive control and DV have a few choice opinions about this aspect of French culture and what it means for women. None of them particularly positive. I’d assume she’s living at an intellectual and emotional level that you’ve been fortunate to avoid… and would keep avoiding it.

  • Well, infidelity is the NUMBER ONE cause of divorce in FRANCE. Chumps leave Cheaters there too, lots!

    Also, she’s French-Canadian, not French. Believe me, Quebecois are not known for their sophistication, but they are known for some very down-home values. Cheating is NOT generally accepted up here in the franco-frozen-north!

    My bet; she is or was an OW.

  • Sounds like your picker is working really well. You knew something was wrong with her once Frenchy gave you that bizarre load of OW-tastic verbal abuse, and you acted on your knee knowledge of her. Excellent! 👏👏👏

  • Don’t let this lady into your inner circle again, but I think you know that.

    I grew up in a multicultural area where one of the cultures was like what this French lady relates. I then returned there after college to work. One of the married gals working for me confessed one day that she was battling a really bad STD. I expressed some horror over that, and she just shrugged and said that most men in her culture cheat. She knew that when she got married, but that didn’t make it any easier.

    Personally, I expected a long, committed marriage. Apparently, I was alone in that. He retired and then took off to live like a single man. Thankfully, the next chapter has been really good though.

  • This is exactly the argument my ex-husband, who is German, fed me for nigh on 20 years. He commented constantly about how the French just accept affairs. Presented it as some sort of sophistication. I trusted him so I can only see in hindsight that he was trying to justify what he was doing to me without me knowing he was doing it. It is ridiculous. So buy it for a second. Don’t second guess your interpretation. It’s self serving nonsense.

    • Yes. Their contorted arguments/justifications give us clues. Only months before revealing his affair, x started to defend (yes, defend) Jeffrey Epstein, I should have know he was up to something.

      • Reminds me that the Christmas before FW started the year of discard, we went to his work Christmas party. Strong rumor was one of the Captains was screwing a co worker, and it was common knowledge I guess. I didn’t know until that night. Someone said something about it, and fw said, yeah “Sam” wants to marry her, but she says she doesn’t want to get married, she is just having fun. Then FW said “their business, I can’t judge him”. My thought was since when, you have been judgmental about everyone and every thing. Little did I know what was about to hit me. Red flag just zoomed past my head.

      • Extremely oddly mine started defending all sorts of alleged perpetrators of all sorts of things. And this was contrary to his usual nature. I should have realized that he was building a mental allegiance to the abuser.

    • As a French speaking Belgian, I concur with Persephone. I am no more French than a French-Canadian, but I live 100 miles from France. My educated opinion is that as a people, the French have a more direct style of flirting. Though, when they commit to monogamy, they are not less feeling betrayed by cheating than any of us in Chump Nation. All French-speaking posters might not be French, but surely some are 😁

  • “The chlamydia sings Edith Piaf.”

    Damn, CL, because I am a mature chump whose name is not Darvo Blameshift, I will not be sending you the bill for my ruining my screen by spewing coffee. But I am tempted. (I’m only a man, after all! I cain’t hepit!)

  • J’adore les Francais. They are often wonderful people, Paris waiters notwithstanding. But all French claims to sophistication should be met with the same two words: Jerry Lewis. And it’s faux sophistication to dilute your relationship with side skank anyway, no matter your gender.

    • You realize that most people today don’t know who Jerry Lewis is, do you ?
      You all, it’s time to refresh your clichés dating back to the end of WWII or max. the seventies 🙂

      • That’s no doubt true, but I’m still twitchy from having been exposed to him when I was a kid. Maybe he should be explained for the young set as the most annoying bits of Jim Carrey, amplified by 100? (Throw your tomatoes this direction!)

        • All a Blur, I appreciate your insight. Truly, I busted out laughing and scared all three cats.

          I’m 45 years old and I know who Jerry Lewis is, and with that said, I hated his comedy as a child. I grew up with Nick-at-Nite and loads of cable re-runs. Putting French humor into a comedic-relatable perspective is helpful. Reminding chumps that for many years the French nation appreciated an American slap-stick comedian is a very good observation and makes a valid point about cultural influence. (Jerry Lewis teamed up with Dean Martin, who was part of the “Rat Pack” with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., who are all big names in American entertainment and culturally relevant in terms of shaping American society’s perspective surrounding infidelity.) As such, your original comment is very astute.

          (And I only liked Jim Carrey in “The Truman Show.” Agree with you that even then, Carrey was annoying. STBX loved Carrey in everything else, especially… “Liar, Liar”!!! Should have known the marriage was doomed to fail.)

      • Small side note, ChumpFromF- for whatever it may or may not be worth, that “you realize that…” or its common variant “you do realize that… ” is a definite gauntlet-throwing move, on the off chance you aren’t fully aware of that, though I assume you are. It gets people’s dander up, since it assumes a superior position. I don’t much care, since I am the sort of person who uses things like cultural references from 50 years ago, and a medieval metaphor in this post. I’m not all that old, but I’ve seen lots of movies from before my arrival on the planet, is all. So I sometimes reference pop culture from 100 years ago. In the age of Wikipedia, it’s all fair game.

  • These stats are from 2013. I did not find anything current with a quick search.
    “Just 47% of the French say it is morally unacceptable for married people to have an affair, the lowest percentage among 39 nations surveyed in 2013 by the Pew Research Center. In fact, France was the only country where less than 50% of respondents described infidelity as unacceptable. Instead, four-in-ten think it is not a moral issue, while 12% say it is actually morally acceptable. And there is essentially no gender gap on this issue, with 45% of French men and 50% of women saying affairs are unacceptable.
    “Across the countries polled, a median of 79% consider infidelity unacceptable, including an overwhelming 84% of Americans….
    “…But even among France’s Western European neighbors, most think affairs are morally wrong, including six-in-ten or more in Germany, Italy, Spain, and Britain.”
    Per the same research, 76 % of Canadians found infidelity unacceptable.
    The neighbor mentioned French society and North Americans. North America includes Canada, so she is aligning herself with with the most extreme segment of Europeans, not her own country.
    So, her defense of infidelity had a heaping helping of gaslighting. She is not French. I, too , suspect she is a cheater. She certainly doesn’t have some enlightened high ground.

    https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/01/14/french-more-accepting-of-infidelity-than-people-in-other-countries/

  • Clearly, this one triggers me. But here’s a thought: you know what’s actually sophisticated? Understanding that the depth of emotional connection and relationship that’s possible only when two people create a space of trust over time is worth far, far more than the temporary physical satisfaction of a multiplicity of bodies.

  • Cheaters are full of if/then statements to justify a lack of character. They love to give themselves permission to cheat as well as contingencies supporting tolerance of abuse.

    As chumps we need to have our own toolbox filled with our own if/then statements. If you lack character then contact is ended. My list is long.

  • Chump Lady is right. She came to your country, to your neighborhood, and then was over at your home. This older woman has no class.

    I’m curious to hear what this Older woman has to say about my situation. I’m a man who is American. And my ex-wife was born and raised in Italy. She cheated on me many different times while we were married. Do I not understand women because I divorced her? Am I not a man because I was faithful and never cheated on her?

    When an Italian man who has having an affair with my wife found out that my wife was married to me – he physically attacked her. In fact, some of other people from Italy asked if I physically attacked my wife when I learned of her affairs. I did not hit my cheating wife. But that seems to be a thing over there. Am I not a man by European standards because I didn’t attack my cheating wife? I simply divorced her and sent her back to Europe.

    You would think Italians are very religious and that marriage is sacred to them. I spent a lot of time taking classes to learn the Italian language. I supported my wife and would buy us flights to Italy frequently. I made a strong effort to learn and embrace that culture for my wife, but yet she still cheated on me. With multiple people. What does the old woman have to say about this?

    Chump Lady is right. People are people. And shitty people are shitty people, regardless where in the world they happened to be born. This idea of hiding behind different cultures and being from different countries to excuse horrible behavior does not work for me. I don’t buy it.

    I feel sorry for this Old woman, and I hope her words don’t make you upset at all. It’s sad that she thinks women deserve to be treated like this. But please take it from me, European women cheat on their husbands too. And it wasn’t then and will never be okay with me.

    • Im a dual citizen (US-IT) born and raised in Italy and Im very sorry that happened to you!

      The reality is that because of Catholic religion was dominant in Italy for a while, many people rebelled (to the point they don’t even know Christianity anymore or are just holding up the facade of being religious) and there’s actually A LOT of this “French” / “look the other way” behavior, going both directions!

      It’s frankly disgusting that not only do we endure such abuse from cheaters, but then we are steeped in a culture that thinks nothing of it. It’s rife with abuse on a lot of levels by now.

    • What you say reminds me of something. Some people I worked with knew an American film director who married a woman from Spain and then divorced her when he found out she’d been cheating on him the whole time with some older Spanish dude she’d slept with since college. I think the drama was kept private, otherwise it would have made the news. The whole story left me scratching my head but what particularly stuck out for me was how shocked the Spanish wife was that a man would divorce her for cheating because, apparently, she assumed that he must be cheating himself “as all men did” in her experience. It seems to be what she’d adapted to. When he cut her off, she reportedly lost all kinds of weight and had a major breakdown. Like CL always says, if she didn’t want to go to Chicago, why’d she buy the ticket? I assume the woman assumed things went down in “Chicago” in a different way. She wasn’t prepared to deal with (what a concept!) someone who didn’t cheat and didn’t accept cheating. Maybe she didn’t even respect a man who didn’t cheat.

      Because domestic abuse/betrayal of intimate partners goes on everywhere and because protests against abuse go on everywhere, you can’t ascribe intimate abuse to particular cultures. All the same, I’ve wondered if it’s a bit more common in countries with more traditionally feudal systems or more disruptions to democracy (Franco’s dictatorship for example) which tend to have fewer prohibitions against it. In wonk-speak, macro power imbalances are expressed in the interpersonal microcosm, blah blah. Then again, abuse/betrayal might just be a norm in someone’s family of origin. Whatever the case, I think what I’m trying to say is that too many people adapt to toxic dynamics by developing this false binary mentality where, in order to avoid being a victim, they believe they must be a perp. The third option– to be neither– doesn’t exist in their warped reality.

      Sad, sick and tragic. I can feel sorry for people like this in an abstract way and from a distance but I’ll use a flamethrower to keep them out of my life.

    • FC, I lived in Italy and found that Italian men are terrified of being cuckholded. It’s considered the worst possible insult to call a man a cornuto (cuck) over there. Those are fighting words. Yet many of the men themselves tend to be ridiculously promiscuous and cheat, as do the women. The men are more open about it is all. They try to pick women up right in the streets. Street harassment is terrible there.
      It’s a sexist culture, so I’m not at all surprised they expected you to beat your wife for making you into the dreaded cornuto. Fuck ’em. You did good, booting her back to where she came from.👏

      • Beating rhymes with cheating. I’m convinced that lurking in every cheater’s family tree are stories of domestic abuse in one form or another and– key– no one ever talks about it. A bit like how radiation and certain chemical compounds are genotoxic and can cause health problems for generations, unprocessed violence and coercion are “psycho-toxic” and probably mutate family psychology for generations.

        I say “unprocessed” because some of the best people I’ve ever known are trauma survivors. But I think if all someone learns from dire experience is how to dish out the worst of what was done to them, they’re not technically a survivor but a kind of infectious trauma zombie.

  • I wonder if your former “friend” has ever been chumped. Everyone has an opinion on what they’d do if they were chumped until they’re punched in the face. Adultery, lies, cheating, “side chicks” etc are media norms and it’s only when one has time and immense trust invested in a relationship can they can feel the pain of betrayal acutely. Eva Longoria in “Desperate Housewives” played a character that was cheating on her husband with the gardener. When her husband cheated on her in real life, she broke down and said she realized she had become a real life desperate housewife. It was no longer lights, camera, action. If your former “friend” has been chumped before then she has been eating a steady diet of shit sandwiches for a long time and wants to offer you the menu perhaps so she can have some company in her misery or convince herself that the other items on the menu aren’t as tasty. Whatever the case may be thank God she showed you she’s also from Switzerland early on. Good riddance to her.

    • I bet all my xmas jollies that she has been cheated on, AS WELL AS having done her fair share of cheating. The shallow find each other, as water seeks its own level.

  • Not funny at all, but interesting that I had a few Nigerians tell me something very similar. More along the lines of ” every man has an outside woman… be glad there is not an entire outside family that he then has to financially support…” and ” why would we leave our men and give up all we have worked for…” blah blah blah. On any continent, cheating is unacceptable to me. I will be broke and unsophisticated yet healthy and happy and sane. x

    • I find it interesting that, following D-Day when I was looking up articles on infidelity on the web, I kept running into tons of denouncements of cheating from Nigerian publications, all in English. Whenever you see people from a certain country nervously parroting some retrograde view about their culture, dig a little deeper and you’ll find a deep vein of rebellion against the trad view which probably explains why the parroting is getting so loud and nervous. It means the culture is undergoing a shift and those stuck in the old thinking feel more compelled to distance themselves from the upstarts in order to avoid any punishing backlash that upstarts are receiving.

      I related the number of Nigerian anti-cheating articles to reports that the country’s HIV epidemic affects married women in droves and is apparently being driven by adultery. But the protests of the practice seem more nuanced and political and go beyond physical risk, suggesting there’s a cultural upheaval going on. I saw a lot of blog posts by women and religious leaders advising mpango wa kandos (Swahili for “side plans” or side dishes) to be “self respecting” and not to let themselves be used by married men and cautioning men who destroy their families.

  • Madame Canadienne was basically confessing that the men in her realm have always been cheaters/abusers and she would feel orphaned if she denounced them. Punishing Not French Enough for daring to speak out was Madame’s way of making an oath of fealty to Madame’s abuser-ghosts to whom Madame still grovels for amnesty from beyond the grave. It has the same feeling of the system of finger-pointing informants under dictatorships.I got the same feeling from how my French ex-MIL always tried to police my errant feminist leanings. I knew all along that it wasn’t about me but about ex-MIL’s father and uncles and brothers, etc. Every time ex-MIL would lob a dart at me, she was saying, “See, Daddy, I silenced that bad woman! Aren’t I good? Aren’t I loyal? Don’t I keep your secrets? Please don’t hurt me anymore…” I don’t know what happened to her or what she witnessed growing up (because she kept those secrets) but it had to be something terrible.

    I also lived and worked in France as a teen. My impression is that the French accept infidelity the way, say, all Americans are redneck racists who eat only mac and cheese from a box. Sure, there are people waving flags who identify themselves this way and there are powers-that-be that loudly promote this as national identity but they’re pointedly ignoring those who beg to differ– like former President Hollande’s wife who was hospitalized following his infidelity or those who protested the French court’s decision not to charge 20 firefighters who repeatedly raped a 13 year old. I’m willing to bet La Canadienne was deeply miffed when French women took to the streets en masse in 2017 with signs reading “Balance Ton Porc” or “denounce/squeal on your pig.” Like in Latin America– where women are also stereotyped as adapted to macho domination– weeks of unsponsored marches were bigger and more intense than in the US.

    I think that old view is growing cobwebs. The idea that all men are pigs by nature automatically comes with the view that all other women are scheming poachers. The cynicism is equal opportunity and you can imagine what that does to friendships. The clear sign that these women haven’t actually demurely adapted to the double standards and that the fawning, well-adapted face they show to men isn’t the whole story tends to leak out in how they treat other women– with backstabbing rage and spite like ex-MIL. I also notice that women like this are more likely to cheat themselves. That’s also part of “adapting.” While still married to FW’s father, FW’s mother would brag to her teenage kids how she always “fell in love” with various political power figures she served in her job at an NGO.

  • So sorry you were subjected to this. You can’t really have a conversation with someone who believes
    1. Men and women are completely different species, women and men can NEVER understand each other (actually we are all human and very similar, or, as different as we are from any other person on earth regardless of sex)
    2. People aren’t in individuals
    3. Believes entire countries of people hold the same views
    4. Believes it’s okay for people to hold a double standard based on sex (sexist)
    5. No moral standards, no sense of right or wrong.

    I mean , you’re talking to a person who sees women, men, countries as homogenous group-think bots. It’s infuriating but people have insane ideas. I had a man, I’ll say boy, argue as well how women make men abusers by staying. I ended up just saying well there’s nothing to discuss here because I genuinely think you’re insane and you have to be completely unreasonable to hold that view, so I can’t make logical points and get anywhere with you. He then said I was annoying. I then told him I felt the same way about him. It pretty well ended the conversation but then I just left.

    Same with your scenario, you can’t make points when people are entrenched with this moral less thinking. Just remember the people you know who have morals, she’s probably wrong. Don’t let her shake what you know is real with gaslighting. Unfortunately there is a lot of gaslighters out there so it’s important to trust what you know to be true. Repeat the facts in your head.

  • Believe it or not, I also got this!

    From a lady who told me, based on my strict views on cheating, that I was “too American”

    • Quetzal: it’s not a good feeling is it?! I actually questioned if I was too extreme in my values! vs people with little to none!

  • I should also add, there are many cultures where male superiority and double standards are the norm. Double standards are degradation and abusive. Still, in mich of the world women remain oppressed and there is not strong support, or sometimes any support for them sadly. People of colour also have a struggle to be seen as equal, a history of racism, and social racism (systematic) prevalent still in the world today. Same with sexism. There was a time where racism was the ‘norm’ and accepted, same with sexism and neither have been eradicated.

    • The US tends to have a patronizing and hypocritical view of misogyny in the third world countries while failing to attend to our own alarming dv murder rates, unequal pay and treatment of rape victims. Not to say that overt expressions of misogyny are preferable but sometimes the fragmented forms sneak under the skin more easily and lodge deeper. By the same token, an African American friend said she actually preferred dealing with day to day racism in the south because it was so blatant and easily detectable that you knew who people were right off the bat and it was easy to avoid the freaks. Meanwhile, in the north, she said racism tended to be expressed passive-aggressively and she’d find herself getting depressed and discouraged before she realized what was going on. Mind you she wasn’t saying she preferred violent expressions of racism. On a cross country trip she insisted we drive all the way around Mississippi because she was born in Biloxi the year of a lynching.

  • Infidelity isn’t a lone tree standing in a meadow. It’s a forest of abuse. How many chumps here were gaslighted, lied to, told they were crazy, and emotionally and physically abused, without any knowledge that their partner was cheating? Or the chumps who believed they were happily married only to wake up one day and have their partners announce they’ve been miserable for years and hasta la vista, baby. The utter gall of thinking that we’re all just spectators here and they control both the horizontal and the vertical. We’re THAT disposable. Is Miss-oh-so-sophisticated willing to ignore all those other factors that accompany cheating? IMO, this woman was willing to put up with any abuse just so she would stay married to a man who goes around impregnating other women. The selfish jerk couldn’t even use a condom, THAT’s how entitled and selfish he was. Being a doormat to a man who treats you like shit isn’t owned by any nationality.

    • True. The Perelistas never seem to include mention of things like, say, embezzling kids’ college funds to pay for affairs, children’s traumatic reactions to finding cheating parents’ filthy texts or crotch shots on the cloud, STDs and related pregnancy complications, frog-boiling DARVO assaults or all the other niceties that frequently go along with cheating.

    • I agree. I think Chump Lady has also covered how certain people, like go aren’t ones who would cheat, are essentially just more susceptible to trying to see someone else’s point of view, and therefore I’m making the leap to saying more susceptible to being told they need to accept their inferiority etc. People who cheat never question their behaviour, and the feelings of others don’t impact them. It’s a double edged sword for people who believe everyone’s opinion should be considered because they are more likely to end up with someone abusive and more likely to internalize. It’s tough but it’s important to hold tight to your own reality and only to consider an opinion that has some logical merit to it, despite how confidently someone spews nonsense. Accommodating people have trouble with it so good on the person writing in to just cut this person out. I think that’s the right move – just keeping away from unsafe people.

  • This is cheater talk and she’s projecting her shame onto you. Best to throw her out with the rest of the shit.

  • I lived in several continents and have many friends from all around the world. Those who open their hearts and truly love, do get traumatized by their partners’ lies, selfishness, disrespect, abuse and gaslighting. These feelings do not change based on where you live or what race you are. Heartbreaks do not differentiate whether you are from the poles or the desert.

  • A French man lat my table blew cigarette smoke in my face when we were with a group dining in a restaurant. I asked him not to. His response? “You Amer-i-cains are sooo extreme.” Enough said.

  • “You can slather Grey Poupon on that shit sandwich and call it sophisticated. You can serve it on a baguette and call it French. It’s still a shit sandwich.”
    😂

  • Lazy stereotyping devoid of an evidential basis spoken by someone with issues. She’s not worth worrying about. Shame to have wasted good wine on her though.

  • I lived in Paris for 3 years with my husband and new baby girl. Here’s what I learned: French women dress up and act sexy all the time because they’re trying to make sure their husbands will want to fuck them, not other women. My French friends told me about how they felt nervous and annoyed when their husbands weren’t around because they didn’t trust them (not all of them, of course). I got the idea they felt inadequate all the time.

    My husband started cheating on me when we moved there because it was so easy to get hookers. He gave me trich. The doctor told me that “it was just something husbands and wives passed between each other.” Yep I believed the euphemism and we just took the meds.It wasn’t until I looked at my medical records years later and looked up some French words that I figured out what it was. Also during my time there I lost track of how many times my ass was pinched or I got full on groped with a hand between my legs by a male standing behind me on the metro or going up an escalator.

    Porn was on free to air TV at night- I know because I was up feeding a newborn. Saw lots of shaved and perfect female body parts while I was flipping channels with a baby on my boob. Also French women stop breastfeeding at 3 months because they go back to work and- as my lesbian pediatrician pointed out to me kindly as I was still breastfeeding at 12 months that “breasts are for my husband.”

    I loved living in Paris for many reasons, but once I found out about all the cheating (13 years later), my time there feels icky. When I broke into my cheater’s computer I found things like him writing French terms of endearment to his girlfriends and hookups. I guess he learned a lot of suave moves and language when we were there. Me, at home struggling with an infant in a new country, him out fucking whores.

    Charmant!

    • It’s a pretty horrible description of Paris that you are making. I’m glad that my experience was completely different. I never got pinched or groped (and I was not ugly). Weird.
      Ohio, on the other hand, was a backward place where rich and poor don’t mix, where you get pushed by trucks if you ride a bike, where everyone is married, and where there is absolutely nothing to do except gossip. You can’t find a decent place to drink a beer, and you can’t have a conversation because people can’t even locate anything on a map.
      I bet there are others who have a blast in Ohio but I didn’t meet them.

    • I hate how cheaters taint geographical locations. It’s like they deliberately rub crotch rot around the four corners of every place they live to mark territory. Those places never smell the same again.

  • I dunno at least she is telling you what she really thinks. Decades of living with some phoney, I think I’d rather people speak their mind these days. Then I can tell them to bugger off.

  • Not French Enough….

    What an absolute f**knugget…..leave that one well alone, and thank your lucky stars for a narrow escape…😊

  • I am french and I do not, absolutely not accept that people betray their spouses. Then I am a stupid french woman who does not accept what men are supposed to be to be “viril” or women to be “free and feminin”.

    My husband has been cheating with mothers of his pupils for more than ten years and the last OW was the woman who was paid to help one of his pupil with special needs. DD was 2 years ago for Christmas.
    I was told by a therapist, a woman, that I did not like men because I do not like porn.
    My exFIL told me at Christmas Eve that men are naturelly unfaithful and I should be patient with my soon to be ex husband. Happy Christmas to me !
    The OW told my ex husband that I do not understand men because I am against prostitution.
    The whole bunch of my ex, his family and his mistress think that I am all wrong but I know that I am not. And many french people do not condone infidelity.

    Cheating or condoning cheating is not sophistication, nor french.
    We chumps, french chumps as well, are not stupid intolerant people, we have a strong sense of wrong or wright and we do not want to be taken for fools. No need for that sort of “sophistication”, french or not.

    I am sorry you had to bear that irrespectful judgement from this woman, could it be that she is an OW or a cheater herself ?

    As a french woman I feel insulted by what this woman told you.

    Sorry for my poor unsophisticated english.
    Thank you, you all were, and still are, a tremendous help for me since I discovered CN.
    A french chump.

    • One thing deserves to be noted, though.
      Many of the (subsidized) French movies are about infidelity. Typically, the scenario is as follows: a man in his late forties is bored, is kind of a loser, and cheats on his (generally pretty and successful) wife with the local younger barmaid (or cashier, or waitress). These movies are annoying, and there was a long history of theater before them, where the most common subject was infidelity (hence the famous quote “ciel, mon mari” when the husband returns home unexpectedly). I suspect that these shows aim at de-dramatizing a situation by letting people know that it is common, or by making them laugh. Which proves that there is drama, just like anywhere else.

      • I always thought it was funny how some of the French people I knew hated the films that culture-vulture Americans thought were quintessentially French. It was interesting because I worked in media in the US, which is the most top-down, douche-dominated, cheater-dominated, rapey, undemocratic, narc-filled industry on earth outside arms dealing, drug cartels and sex trafficking. Media everywhere is mostly the mouthpiece of power more than a reflection of culture. Because of this, it seems like a miracle when any film or documentary with vision gets produced. It makes you wonder what kinds of grueling obstacles the filmmakers must have encountered while trying to push any worthy project through.

      • It’s a common theme in many European arts and isn’t unique to France. We have our English farce which often involves a cheated spouse discovering infidelity and either chasing the wife around the room with comedy music and fighting the OM or being too dim to understand what’s going on. And everyone laughs. In a way I prefer French angst to English so-called ribald comedy.

    • “I was told by a therapist, a woman, that I did not like men because I do not like porn.
      My exFIL told me at Christmas Eve that men are naturelly unfaithful and I should be patient with my soon to be ex husband. Happy Christmas to me !
      The OW told my ex husband that I do not understand men because I am against prostitution.”

      Wow. Those people are flat out crazy. Keep on being you and be proud of who you are. They suck. You don’t.

  • Marriage rates are low compared to other EU countries, 3.5 per 1,000. Divorce rates in France are 50%. Many couples do not marry, but live together and are recognized and get similar benefits as married couples. It’s reckoned that over 40 per cent of French children are born out of wedlock and a fifth are raised by a single parent (85 per cent women). Illegitimacy no longer carries the stigma it once did, and all children have the same rights; an unmarried mother ( mère célibataire) is even paid a generous allowance by the state.

    So you have a country with a very low marriage rate, high divorce rate, high single parent rate. Generous social benefits. I guess you need good government benefits if families have low stability and cant provide healthcare, childcare, retirement. In America families are the safety net, not the government. Thats a huge difference. Divorced women and kids in America are poorer and have food insufficiency. Divorce is economically devastating for American women. The French Canadian woman is not even french. She is Canadian. They also get free healthcare in Canada. They like to align themselves with France, but they are Canadians! Do Canadians love Extramarital affairs? Is it part of Canadian culture? NO. Thats one of those situations where the lady came to her house and blindsided her. The poor woman was basically attacked in her own home and not everyone can spit out statistics and defend themselves when put on the spot. Some people are great at conflict and fighting back. But I would be flustered in that situation. CL is correct that the Canadian was not gracious. F that lady. And I have known alot of Canadians, and they were wonderful people. So she’s not a reflection on Canada! She would be a jerk No matter what country.

  • I don’t think being French-Canadian has anything to do with it. I think she’s a miserably unhappy woman who has knives out for everyone. She stabbed you a few times pretty good. She’s probably like this with everyone and her nationality does not come into it.

  • Just finished watching season two of White Lotus on HBO max last night. Went to bed wondering the same things as the OP. For those of you who are wondering, the series contained stories of infidelity working out just fine for everyone in the end, and “men will be men”.

  • And to follow up my earlier comment, the women characters were portrayed as fine with the cheating too. They also cheated, and it was portrayed as making their marriages better to boot. At least that’s what I took from it. Sigh.

  • I have come to understand the phrase “walk a mile in Their shoes”. Of all the people I have interacted with over his cheating, the ones who’ve had that experience totally understand the pain. The ones who haven’t don’t get it. She likely has not had that experience or was the perpetrator. I’m sorry she was so rude to you, god knows you didn’t need that. It is always good to know who you can confide in and who you can ignore. Hugs to you!

  • My half-French grandmother was the result of her mother’s affair, which resulted in the husband ending his life. It was a huge scandal (before WW I). My grandfather’s father was a dissolute playboy who gambled away his inheritance and allegedly perished in a brothel. My grandparents bonded over their disreputable parents and raised their children with different values.

    My father had very strong views about fidelity: “decent people never allow themselves to be in a position where cheating will happen.” Cheating was rife in his field, and my father particularly despised a famous colleague for his notorious pursuit of sex workers.

    My theory about the narrative of “sophisticated” tolerance for entitled behavior is that it goes back to “droit de seigneur,” the idea that the powerful man may do what he wishes to his perceived inferiors as a demonstration and extension of that power. This transcends political alignment; see “Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal”. My grandparents’ families were not important enough to have the “right” to adultery.

    I sincerely doubt that this Quebecoise neighbor belongs to such a family. She is just an unpleasant person with regrettable values and delusions of importance.

    • “My theory about the narrative of “sophisticated” tolerance for entitled behavior is that it goes back to “droit de seigneur,” the idea that the powerful man may do what he wishes to his perceived inferiors as a demonstration and extension of that power.”

      You’re probably quite right about that. Good point.

  • What Madame Poutine Face gave you are the bullshit rationalizations she tells herself. It’s not about being French or about gender. It isn’t acceptable to agree to monogamy and then break that agreement. Don’t like monogamy? Don’t do monogamy. It’s quite simple.

    The thing with cheaters is they want to give the appearance of being monogamous so you’ll commit to them and for the sake of image management. It is not acceptable on any continent to steal another human being’s freedom of choice away by conning them into a commitment.
    People have an inalienable right to be in control of their own lives. A cheater takes that control away with lies. It’s abuse. If some silly bitch wants to accept abuse and file it under European style sophistication, whatever. It didn’t work out so well for her, since her husband left. Since these are rationalizations she needs to stay in denial of the truth about this fucked up power dynamic she’s accepted as normal, she feels she must defend them. That’s why she got all haughty and nasty. Just file her under self-deluded twit and forget her.

  • Sometimes people can’t keep their piehole shut because they can’t confront that they’ve been victimized.

    I first realized this phenomenon when a loved one was continuously awful about my having been raped. Some women are nasty about it because they haven’t had it happen and don’t want to believe they just got lucky, but other women HAVE experienced awful things and just can’t confront that. So they pretend that they chose it via bad decisions, and that they had control over whether it happened, and so did you. That way they don’t have to confront the fact that someone else took control or the possibility that it happens again. They believe they can avoid it.

    This woman was defensive to the point of being hurtful. Otherwise nice people are usually like that out of their own pain. It’s a sore spot or she wouldn’t have felt the need; she pushed it because it felt important for her own coping. She probably gave someone years of her life and hasn’t processed the pain the way we all had to, or her dad was like this, or she may even be in a bad situation presently. Not that it’s ok, or worthwhile to be her friend, but that’s what I read into this.

    • What you’re describing is sometimes called the “safe world effect” or “just world hypothesis.” It’s a form of “intolerance of cognitive dissonance” where people, out of a need to believe that the world is safe and orderly, will insist that misfortune only strikes those who’ve done something wrong. It’s the dark side of believing that only good things can happen to good people. Because the effect is pretty common, jury consultants will often advise the prosecution in rape trials to boot certain types of women out of jury pools because of the risk that these women– to the extent they subconsciously feel at risk of befalling the same fate and consequently feel compelled to distance themselves from victims– will hunt for fault in victims and side with perps.

  • Cheating is nothing to do with culture. It is disingenuous to suggest otherwise. The urge to form a close personal bond with another human being is one of our species’ fundamental driving forces. It is nothing to do with unshaven armpits or types of cheese. The betrayal of that bond transcends nationality or intellect. In attempting to demonstrate her sophisticated attitude towards cheaters your neighbour is merely illustrating her complete lack of sophistication.

    Methinks the lady does protest too much. Perhaps she has something hidden away in her cupboard that she would rather you did not know about. Cheaters, as we all know, will go to any lengths in their quest to seek validation.

  • I get so sick of the “all men are cheating pigs” narrative. When you’re a faithful monogamous man who has been the victim of a serial cheating wife, it comes across as a kind of victim blaming. As if it’s what men deserve by their unalterable nature. Character is CHOICE, people.

  • Are you quite certain she is Canadian? They’re incredibly nice and polite overall. If she were French, she would at most have shrugged and at worst have criticized your wine with a tastefully wrinkled nose. My guess is she’s been the OW a couple of times and was making excuses for herself. Pay her no never mind, sweetie. She’s from Switzerland (no offense to the true Swiss!).

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