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Don’t Tell Me to Leave Him

not a unicornHello Chump Lady,

I just started reading your blog. I found it on Reddit after looking up “can a cheater change”. I’m not really sure why I am reaching out to you, plus I don’t even know if you will respond. I just need to reach out to someone who won’t judge me and I’m hoping you won’t just say “leave him” or “respect yourself”.

I just found out that my boyfriend of 8 months was cheating on me. Yes, I know it was only 8 months. “At least it happened sooner than later” or “You guys weren’t together for that long, you should be happy,” people keep telling me. However, they don’t know what our relationship was like. We were just looking for apartments together and talking about leasing a car together. We got a dog and talked about our future.

This email is getting really long, but to make a long story short, he was cheating with his ex. Who he had broken up with right before getting with me. (I didn’t know that. He told me they had broken up months before). Well, he had blocked her on everything, but she started emailing him. Saying she wanted him back and was sorry that she had abortion without his consent and that she cheated. They obviously met up and had slept together. When I asked him why, he said, “The emails were so mindfucking, I was confused.” “I didn’t know if I really loved her or if I really loved you.” After reading the emails he had told her that he didn’t want nothing to do with her anymore and that he sees his future with me. He had blocked her and she flipped out. Started blackmailing him, but making new accounts and emails. Lastly, she reached out to his family and me telling us everything.

I was so heartbroken. This was just a couple days ago and I don’t even know what to think. I am so attached to him. I don’t have my parents, no siblings, and no family. I feel like I’m losing him and his family. My whole people who kept me sane and made me feel loved.

I’m just reaching out because everyone is telling me “leave him” or “he is no good” or “you can leave respect yourself and move on”. I had my mind made up that he wasn’t going to disrespect me like this. However after days of no contact, I went to get my things from his house. We talked and he said he would go to therapy. We agreed we need a few months to think, but he still wants to go on dates and hang out during those months. I don’t know what I want. I OBVIOUSLY WANT HIM. I LOVE HIM and I can’t comprehend why he would even do something like this or even put me in this position.

I keep going back and forth telling myself to leave him, but that maybe if we give it time he will change and realize what he did. I mean I think he realizes because his whole family and I are not talking to him. I’m just so confused and just want to talk to someone who won’t judge, but could also relate and won’t tell me the obvious thing to do (which is leave).

Thank you so much! I’m not sure if you will ever read this but even just typing this out made me feel better.

Sincerely,

Kim

****

Dear Kim,

Sweetheart, you wrote to the Leave a Cheater lady. It’s kind of my brand. I’m like one-stop shopping for Respect Yourself And Move On.

That said, I’m not going to judge you for your heartbreak. What’s implied in the comments that you’re getting, which you’re objecting to, is that this loss is no big deal, because he’s a fuckwit. And that feels wrong because you pinned such hopes on this person and you really believed he was your family and your future. And you also seem to believe that there’s some misunderstanding here, something redeemable, and (bargaining stage of grief), something salvageable. Aka, he’s not a fuckwit, and you didn’t make a bad investment in a bad person.

Kim, that’s all totally normal. This blog — this international collection of chumps — we’ve been there. We have felt these things, and we get it. To be whipsawed like this, from total love to betrayal, it’s a monumental shock to the system. It hurts like a motherfucker. And it feels, especially in those early days, like insurmountable grief. But I’m here to tell you it’s survivable. And so are a bunch of other folks, living their best lives, after going through the kind of shit you’re going through right now.

So (((hugs))). And let’s cut through his bullshit, okay? (That’s also my brand.)

Yes, I know it was only 8 months. “At least it happened sooner than later” or “You guys weren’t together for that long, you should be happy,” people keep telling me. However, they don’t know what our relationship was like. We were just looking for apartments together and talking about leasing a car together. We got a dog and talked about our future.

You thought this was going to be a stable relationship and you were really looking forward to a further investment in this person. Totally understandable.

Now, try to integrate this new knowledge, okay? While he was promising you an apartment together and a car and a dog — he was also sleeping with his “ex.” (Who only recently seems to have gotten the memo that she’s his ex.) He was playing you both, making promises.

So, he’s not a stable person to invest your future in, okay? There is NOTHING WRONG WITH YOUR DREAMS. And you can absolutely have those things — an apartment, a car, and dog. Alone or with a worthy partner. But this guy? He’s not someone you can ever feel safe with, because he’s not an honest broker. He played with your hopes and desires and future faked you. I’m sorry, I know it hurts.

He might’ve put a deposit down, or bought the dog, or whatever evidence you’re clinging to that he really cares — the fact is, he did this with full knowledge that he was having ANOTHER relationship with another woman. I’m sure he probably promised her things too, and you’re writing it off as the ravings of a lunatic. The crazy maker is your boyfriend. Double lives aren’t normal.

he was cheating with his ex. Who he had broken up with right before getting with me. (I didn’t know that. He told me they had broken up months before).

He’s a liar. Who never really broke up with his “ex” girlfriend, because she’s been there for the last 8 months.

Well, he had blocked her on everything, but she started emailing him.

He’s a liar. You don’t know if he really blocked her. Everything he tells you is suspect. As she was able to email him, and he responded to the emails, and slept with her, tells me she very much was in communication with him. And he wasn’t trying to shut that down.

Saying she wanted him back and was sorry that she had abortion without his consent and that she cheated.

Five alarm RED FLAG — had an abortion without his consent? It’s her body. He doesn’t own her. That’s one chilling misogynistic sentence and it sounds like he wrote it. Did he tell you this? Do you see how self-serving it is? She wants him? She’s sorry she didn’t seek his permission? She cheated?

Cheaters often project cheating on to chumps — DARVO. Deny, attack, reverse victim offender. But look, even if this is true, it’s a huge mess of drama that he CHOSE TO INVOLVE HIMSELF WITH. At your expense.

They obviously met up and had slept together. When I asked him why, he said, “The emails were so mindfucking, I was confused.” “I didn’t know if I really loved her or if I really loved you.”

Uh-huh. He was so “confused” yet able to summon the executive functioning to fuck her and lie to you about it. So muddled as to conceal a double life. And so ambivalent about you that he’s talking about apartment leases, cars, and dogs.

This is where you stop feeling sad, Kim, and start getting righteously FURIOUS. How dare he!

Also this whole I Don’t Know Who I Really Love is manipulative bullshit designed to get you to pick me dance. You know, work harder to be #1 in his affections. Because he thinks he deserves that, after lying to you and playing you for a fool. Fuck him.

After reading the emails he had told her that he didn’t want nothing to do with her anymore and that he sees his future with me. He had blocked her and she flipped out. Started blackmailing him, but making new accounts and emails. Lastly, she reached out to his family and me telling us everything.

He sees his future with you? Oh really? After being so “confused” about who he really loves? Again, sounds self reported and self serving.

And what is she blackmailing him about? His double life? That sounds like truth-telling, not blackmail, and as painful as it is, she did you a favor. (As chumps we often get the news in terrible ways, it’s still always better to know than be in the dark.)

I was so heartbroken. This was just a couple days ago and I don’t even know what to think. I am so attached to him. I don’t have my parents, no siblings, and no family. I feel like I’m losing him and his family. My whole people who kept me sane and made me feel loved.

Kim, I’m sorry you don’t have your own family. That makes this loss especially awful. But you can build a new tribe, and you can be your own tribe, at least for now. His family may be innocent, but they’re still his family, and the way forward is no contact with him. (We’ll get to the advice you don’t want to hear in a minute.)

Other people don’t keep you sane — YOU keep yourself sane. You’re responsible for loving and protecting yourself, and part of that is having boundaries with anyone who harms you.

I’m just reaching out because everyone is telling me “leave him” or “he is no good” or “you can leave respect yourself and move on”.

Well, think about that. Other people have perspective because they aren’t caught up in the emotion of it. And you went looking to them for their opinions. Here, we have the perspective, but we also have the lived experience. We care, we’ve been there and we would like to save you some pain. Not ALL the pain, unfortunately pain is unavoidable when you tangle with a fuckwit, but more pain. Like, the self-inflicted pain that comes from further investment in a terrible person. Been there, done that, have the legal bills.

I had my mind made up that he wasn’t going to disrespect me like this.

Good! I like this Kim! Listen to her! This is your better self, your mighty self who loves you and wants to save you.

However after days of no contact, I went to get my things from his house. We talked and he said he would go to therapy. We agreed we need a few months to think, but he still wants to go on dates and hang out during those months.

That’s not respecting your no contact boundary, or your few-months-to-think boundary. And that, Kim, is a very bad sign. He just wants to rug sweep and forget this ever happened. Anyone can promise “therapy.” He could tell you he’s at therapy and could be screwing someone else. He could actually go to therapy and just learn better ways to manipulate you with therapy speak.

The truth is in his ACTIONS. He lies, he future fakes, he manipulates, he refuses to respect your boundaries.

I know this is hard and scary. And you’re going to feel lonely and weak, and being wooed sounds pretty great. A date! Let’s lift out of this misery! But it’s the opening overture in the abuse cycle — the honeymoon.

Also consider, this is EXACTLY what he did with his “ex.” Have a “break-up” that never really breaks up.

I don’t know what I want. I OBVIOUSLY WANT HIM. I LOVE HIM and I can’t comprehend why he would even do something like this or even put me in this position.

You love who you thought he was. You love who you were with that figment — someone who felt safe and optimistic about her future. Who he ACTUALLY is, is someone who deliberately put you in this position of grief and trauma, for his own power trip and sexual hijinks.

Why would he do something like this? Because he’s not that deep. Not that committed. He doesn’t care about you or the other woman, or anyone but himself. He’s shallow. And that’s no reflection on you or your lovability. It’s just a reflection of his poor character.

I keep going back and forth telling myself to leave him, but that maybe if we give it time he will change and realize what he did.

I’m the biggest data sample you’ll find on the internet that he won’t change. They don’t get character transplants. You can read through a decade of archives and read about multiple D-Days and sunk costs. But look, even if he changes (he won’t and don’t you have better things to do with your life than wait?) — he destroyed the trust. You cannot unring that bell. He’s not someone you can EVER feel safe with. And he’ll never be a solid foundation for a long-term reciprocal, healthy relationship.

I’m just so confused and just want to talk to someone who won’t judge, but could also relate and won’t tell me the obvious thing to do (which is leave).

Okay, I’m not going to tell you to leave. I’m going to tell you to ask yourself — is this relationship acceptable to me? 

Not as you hope it might be, or wished that it could be, but as it is right now. With all the information you have available. Your boyfriend lies and cheats and is ambivalent about his love and manipulates you. And he doesn’t respect your boundaries.

Is this acceptable to you?

We cannot change other people. We can only change ourselves. It’s up to you what you do next.

 

 

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.
  • This was my story 20 years ago. I stayed, I forgave, we married, had two amazing kids and built a great and stable life together. Except for his constant cheating. It got worse and worse and worse with every passing year. I’m now a 40 year old single mom. I had to rebuild me entire life at 40.

    • My story from 35 years ago. I stayed, married, had children, house with mortgage, dog….etc.etc.etc!

      Rebuilt my life at 54.

      Dont be me.

      You are worth SO MUCH MORE

      Hugs to you…

    • Same. Discovered his first cheating incident six months after we got married. Went to marriage counseling, had a child. Discovered 8 years later that he was basically Tiger Woods in fat suburban dad clothing. Oh, and that the incident I initially discovered was the fourth time he’d cheated before we even got married. The more they cheat, the easier it is for them to do it again.

      • Same. Suspected something was up early in marriage. Thirty years later, I found out he had secret life the entire time. He won’t change.

    • Same. Cheating before marriage with his “so-called ex.” Only recently did I realize I was the OW – he never left ex. Thirty years of marriage with serial cheating, deception, addiction. Ground down to question everything – thirty years of desperation and confusion. Rebuilding everything at age sixty-two. Thank goodness I got out.

      • Doing the same in the same circumstances Liberated, at 62. I was effectively the OW throughout the relationship. Sickening!

    • I married in 1977. Barely six months later, I walked up to him at the office Christmas party where he was chatting with the boss’s wife just in time to hear him propositioning her. My gasp must’ve been audible because he turned to me and said, “I meant with both of us, obviously.” In 1978 my father told me he’d been sleeping with my sister, who still lived at home. In 1979, I caught him in bed with the neighbor. Although they were both naked, he swore up and down that “nothing happened.” I went to my pastor who told me that marriage is a sacrament and I needed to look at myself and figure out what it is I had failed to give him that made him “have to cheat.” My mother said I’d made my bed, now I’d have to lie in it. My father said, “All men cheat. Men have needs. You have to get over it.” So I tried really, really hard to get over it. I divorced him in 1982. By that time I’d had so many STDs it ruined my fertility. I really wish even ONE person had told me that it was OK to leave a cheater. No one did.

      Now, there’s a whole blog with millions of members and the theme is, “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life.” That’s great advice! Wish I’d learned my lesson over 40 years ago.

      Five years ago, I left my husband with what I could carry (and the dog), rented a car because I didn’t have one, drove a thousand miles and moved into my best friend’s basement. I started all over again at the age of 62 with no job, no car, no church, no community and my whole family is gone. The people I’d called family for 24 years were all related to HIM. Don’t be me.

      • I’m furious on your behalf that your family and pastor all counselled you so wrongly. And it’s a testament to your strength and human strength that you kept that flame of self for so many years before burning that abusive situation to the ground.

      • I am not feeling charitable. I hope your sister’s fertility was ruined as a consequence of having sex with your husband too.

    • I’m a single mom, and I’m turning 40 tomorrow. I’m STRUGGLING, CN. I don’t want tomorrow to come. When did birthdays become torture?

  • I share my BFF’s experience as a visit from the ghost of Kim’s future.

    BFF fell in love and had a child with Idiot, even though Idiot had three ex-wives (who were all crazy, of course) and a child with each ex-wife. They got married, and Idiot became even more useless and now veered into dangerous territory. BFF realized the Exes were not crazy and Idiot was just extremely good at manipulation. BFF extricated herself from the marriage and worked hard to ensure that her child developed and maintained a healthy relationship with their siblings (which they have). None of them have heard from Idiot in years.

    You have the power to create your own future. There is someone out there who will tell you every single day in words and actions that you are the most important person in their world and they cannot imagine life without you. THAT is what you deserve – not the angst from Fuckwit who has you in his life but still seeks other options. 🤦🏼‍♀️

      • Yup. Kim, do you want to be his next crazy ex? Because this is how you end up the next crazy ex.

        Think about it – he’s saying he’s still confused, that he wants to date while he gets therapy, blah, blah, blah… what do you think he was telling his ex when he started dating you? Yeah, sure, he says that it was all her chasing poor confused him, but we know that he’s a lying liar who lies. He was stringing her along with the same “I’m so confused” crap he’s now using on you.

        Get out now while you still have your sanity and dignity. Otherwise it’ll be you sending the tell-all email while he tells all his other women about how crazy you just kept stalking him and wouldn’t let his poor confused self go free.

  • Kim: What he as SHOWN you is that (1) he is weak – – he has no spine – – he lacks a core of integrity made up of solid values that he can fall back on when he is under pressure, and that (2) he wants to string you along while he goes into therapy – – but what he is offering you is a big bushel of HOPIUM.

    Ask yourself: aren’t you worthy of more than this? If you cannot feel that you are worthy of integrity, I feel that you should also be looking into therapy. And in the meantime, develop a “Team Kim” which includes YOU and those people who you feel really “have your back” and truly have your best interests at heart.

    I send you Blessings for Strength, Stamina and Stability.

    • It is funny when I first read your comment I saw:

      “a big bushel of HOPIUM”
      as,
      “a big bull$#!+ of HOPIUM.”

      I sort of like the latter, fwiw.

      • and I like yours a lot more as well. I will start using it. I shall say that I got the inspiration from “A. Friend”. (;->)

  • Kim, Listen to Chump Lady. You have heard his words and seen his actions. The two do not reconcile. This is a sign. Don’t give yourself many more years of heartbreak. Stop the pick me dance. If you win all you get is a sparkly turd that will cheat on you again. A relationship needs trust, integrity and safety. I don’t think you have these. You deserve more than this. He made hundreds of decisions in the process of cheating. These were all decisions to harm you and that he did not tell you about. A healthy relationship is based on trust. You cannot trust him so the relationship will never be healthy. You are probably quite young too. You have time. Yes, it hurts to be chumped but you can and will recover. No contact will help.

  • I wish the ex had gone back to his ex after 8 months instead of after 26 years! I didn’t know that he had been cheating throughout our marriage until after I had been dumped (affair never admitted). I would have shown him the door immediately had I known. Cheating and lying are the problem, not who it happens with. But, from bitter experience, people who are pining over ‘the one who got away’ are not good long-term relationship material. They never really commit because they are ‘settling’ for you until the other one becomes available and decides to play around for a bit. Of course, there’s a risk that that the other one gets bored at some point. When that happens you can expect the pining cheater to sniff round you again, to see what’s on offer. The ex and his exgfOW were constantly on and off, rowing all the time, when they were together. I’d steer clear of such people lest you get caught up in their drama and chaos. It’s not a good look when you’re young and it’s a worse look when you’re nearly 60! I would also take much longer to fall in love in future. If I thought I was falling in love I would ask myself some tough questions to challenge my emotions with my head. With age I have learnt not to sell myself short.

  • “ I keep going back and forth telling myself to leave him, but that maybe if we give it time he will change and realize what he did.”

    He knows exactly what he did. The confusion he created was intentional. It’s meant to keep you hooked to a con artist. Words don’t define love and respect, actions do.
    He’ll go to therapy? And still date?

    Eight months and he goes from wanting to live together to sleeping with his X who is also a cheater?

    Run Kim. Make this the end of groveling for a loser.

  • You can learn:
    -from your own hard experience
    -from the experience of others

    I learned the much harder more painful way that expended so so much of my good life for an illusion of a relationship that I refused to give up. I suffered and my children suffered.

    You’re being fooled by the faker’s love bombing. It’s addictive. It’s how they get you hooked.
    That’s how they use you until there’s little left.

    Keep reading this blog and you will see that he’s not special. You got duped and now it’s up to you to decide how you want to move forward.

    Life is good without cheating lying fuckwits. Very good.

    • #facts
      24-years-a-chump.
      No.Contact.
      I broke me too.
      It is hard. I will be hard. DO IT ANYWAY.
      I recall something I said to my FW at the beginning of our faux-ationship:
      “[College bf] could not have loved me because he cheated on me. You can’t cheat and love anyone”.
      Prophetic. Accurate. Lesson learned.

  • “You love who you thought he was. You love who you were with that figment — someone who felt safe and optimistic about her future. Who he ACTUALLY is, is someone who deliberately put you in this position of grief and trauma, for his own power trip and sexual hijinks.”

    My Cheater didnt seem to enjoy deceiving me as much as others I see described here. He had 3 brain cells that contained a conscience and every once in a while, he gave me some seriously vague truth about who he was.

    One of those truths was when he said “you love an image”. He knew he had created an image for me and that he was never going to tell me the full truth, but he never elaborated on those 4 words. I thought he was saying that I loved superficial things about him but not the real him (which I projected made him feel unloved) so I doubled-down on loving the guy I thought he was. I now believe he was trying to warn me to look deeper and I would have never, ever imagined the depths of betrayal that I was actually living.

    Im glad that CL brought up “Future Faking”…I dont know why they do that…if guys want to be players and have numerous women, there are plenty who would be willing to openly play that game with, but they find Chumps who want monogamy and they pretend that they are offering monogamy and a future. In this case, I think this guy needed an apartment and a car and you might have been his way of getting them. Car leases are notoriously unforgiving of second thoughts…if you sign, you will pay even if a former boyfriend drives away in the car.

    Im glad that CL was so understanding of why your hopes were reasonable and why this hurts so badly…you are not a fool or stupid to have developed hopes and dreams with a person you thought you could trust, but when the facts scream back at you that he wasn’t who he presented himself as, you have the opportunity to respond to who he is clearly showing you he is. Going further down the path with him WILL NOT BRING YOU LOVE…what it will do is tie you up in emotional and financial knots with a cheater who will keep you from reasonable, loving people in the world who might be actual, good partners.

    • I will add that in the exciting new love phase, even non-pathological people can fall into the mistake of projecting too far. I am now married to a good man who is genuinely trust worthy but during our dating, we spoke of the house we were going to get. What would dit be like, where would it be? the fantasy talk was endless.
      I realized that Cheater had also done this sort of thing and one day I asked then-boyfriend “is this house real? Are we going to get a house together and live in it?” He said “that is a possibility”. I told him “I cant live in a possibility, Im a widow with children. I need something with a roof. We have put the cart before the horse and need to stop this right now. Please dont elaborate on any ideas or plans that you are not ready to undertake in the immediate future”.

      This was all so painful because Cheater future faked then accused me of forcing/manipulating him to get married and I never wanted to live that again.

      I think that thenBF realized he was working out his discernment process out-loud when he needed to do it in his head. He did discern and we did get married and are happy

      • UNM Mine said a couple of times “I knew in my heart (daughter) wouldnt want much to do with me” in the context of, erm, not much (that I knew about). By then I had become invisible but he still cared what his daughter thought, or thought I cared what she thought of him, or something. Strange man.
        I wonder if FWs make these dramatic statements to drop a delicious hint in order to keep the thrilling game of deception going whilst you’re tying to remove the dust balls from under the couch.
        Cos I was like wtf are you even talking about whilst Macbeth made his speech in the kitchen. Idiots.

    • Unicornnomore: I’m so glad you wrote about your experience with your ex telling you about the image he knew you were in love with…My ex did something eerily similar; several times out of the blue and at least once during an argument, he said “If you knew who I really was, you wouldn’t love me.” Damn, with hindsight, that might be one of the few actually true things he EVER said to me, up to including his marriage vows! I also, like you, projected my interpretation of his words, thinking that he meant that he had low self-esteem and that I needed to work harder to earn his trust! (vomit) I now believe he knew exactly what he was saying and he was right; if I knew about the hours daily porn addiction, the alcohol and food bingeing, the daily weed habit he was stealing our money to buy, and the girlfriend he called every night while getting high and walking our dog, well.. yep… I didn’t KNOW that person, didn’t care to get to know that person, and so didn’t love THAT person. The trouble is, I married a different person; a charismatic liar who covered all that sh*t up and removed my agency to choose honestly. I’ve been officially divorced more than a year and separated almost 2, but that part still makes me LIVID.

      • Same here. Every so often my then-husband would tell me “I’m a terrible person.” This may have been a ploy for sympathy (I’m sorry to say it worked), but it was one of the few truths he ever told me. That and “you’ll find a better man” during the divorce process. I did.

        • Towards the end of his life I likely did / said exactly the wrong thing considering the corner he had painted himself into.

          Often he would look lost, miserable, hopeless and I would say “I don’t know why you get like this, you are smart, educated, handsome, you have wonderful children, a lovely home and a wife who loves you”.

          It seems that he may have been terrified that one of the 726 skeletons in his closet might cause an avalanche of truth that would destroy everything and my reassurances might have made it worse.

          To him, it likely sounded like “you had everything and fucked it all up”. I have no idea if APs from the past ever got close to blowing his cover.

          I had caught him on one big DDay and another time I found a former co worker asking him to dinner (I found that inappropriate but at the time I didn’t think they had fucked at the time. I do now.)

          I wonder if there were bunny boilers just beyond my sight.

          • I don’t know how what you said was “wrong” other than being besides the point because personality disordered types can have the world on a string and still be miserable, destructive sods. If you were consciously seeking a way to torment a corrupt asshole, you couldn’t have come up with a better dig than that which still isn’t “wrong” even if it would be out of character for you. You certainly weren’t wrong to be a generous person prone to pointing out the bright side. I’m sure the worthy people in your life are grateful for those traits. In the end, the only thing “wrong” was him. It’s still depressing to contemplate why people like that go around like wrecking balls and squander the gifts life offers but clearly that’s never been your issue.

      • I just remembered that he used to scream “I have failed at everything I ever tried to do” so marriage, kids, school, career…I think that was another “I have failed you” admission. At the time it seemed like such drama, I rolled my eyes. Now, I would have some questions and ask him to elaborate

    • Mine said many of the same things, mostly in the blender after D-Day, and always in tears while he was begging for pity. But now, I too realize those comments were the rare nuggets of truth:

      “Imagine what the kids will think if they find out [about my cheating.] Their image of me will be ruined.”
      “You know what I am? I’m a liar.” “Tell me the truth. You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.”
      “I’m a horrible person. I don’t deserve you.”
      (Once when our son told a lie and ex caught him and went ballistic:) “I’m afraid he’ll turn out exactly like me, and that’s terrifying.”

      So many more it’s embarrassing to write down.

      Post D-Day, my individual therapist asked me about the relatively recent joint marriage counseling we’d done. She asked for specifics, and I said I really didn’t remember any. After she dug more, I could tell she was very interested in the fact that I couldn’t remember any of it, and I asked her why that mattered. She said something along the line of “Your brain can only store so much, and so you pick and choose what you remember. I think you can’t remember any of it because – unconsciously- you knew he was lying in therapy; so your brain threw it away as useless.” And… similarly… these nuggets of truth are still clear as day in my memory, years later.

  • Kim,

    He has shown you who he is ….. and you need to believe him. You deserve more than he has to offer and, in time you will come to understand this.

    We all get how much it hurts to be where you are now, but it does get better.

    LFTT

  • Marriage, like apartment leases and car titles, involve legal documents. So does starting a business. Would you want to start a business with someone who has proven that they’re dishonest with you?

    “You can always trust a dishonest man and to be dishonest, honestly.”

  • I wish I had listened to my inner gut telling me this relationship wasn’t unacceptable, his behaviour is unacceptable. I denied all the evidence in pursuit of “the dream of creating a life with someone”. No wonder he played me like a fool afterwards because I refused to see who he really was & he took that as consent that I accepted him for whatever shitty thing he did afterwards. The thing is there are wonderful men out there that are unattached, available, drama free, and won’t be treating you shabbily eight months in. You just need to go find one of those instead. P.S. don’t let not having a blood family set you up as being vulnerable & being a sucker. Gather your non-blood family around you & let them help you look out for your best interests too.

  • Kim: CL has nailed this. Read it over and over every day. Only you can decide if you will put up with a BF who is so disrespectful of you and apparently so dishonest to you. Cheaters do not change especially if they get away with it. He might some day be a person who does not cheat on his SO but not with someone who he has demonstrated that he has no problem cheating on. The excuses do not matter. He did it and you know it. The X still in the picture is a giant red flag. At least you know now that she is in the picture and he betrayed you to be with her. It never works when someone is still hung up on an X or doesn’t mind sleeping with an X while in a relationship. The family is nice and all that but he has betrayed, hurt and future faked you. This does not get better. Ask me how I know. Hugs to you.

    • All terribly true, Lee Chump. It doesn’t get better and studies report that narcissists get more abusive with age. I would just add that I think the only cheaters who cease or even pause their cheating in subsequent relationships are either too old and ill to pull it off or because they met their match– someone more cold-blooded than they are. It’s like Jeffrey Dahmer going from “power and control” serial killer to dancing around in pigtails and bobby socks being the “sub” for prison rapists. It’s sort of an axiom that abusers compulsively reenact their own childhood abuse traumas in order to gain “mastery” over the past, either with roles reversed– playing the powerful perpetrator rather than helpless victim– or by replaying the victim role. Some abusers switch back and forth interminably.

      If you think about it, affairs are the perfect pool in which to hunt for the punishing toxic model since APs who know someone is committed/married are preordained as shady and possibly dangerous in their own rights.

  • When I was young, I met a man who I felt was perfect for me. He dumped me twice in the first year, but the last time he came back we got married. We got the house, the car, and the dog.
    What I didn’t get was a good marriage. I spent more than 30 years trying to get him to love me. He never did. But he kept me around because I was convenient, gullible, and desperate.
    When I finally walked away, I found a far happier life, but I regret every minute I spent with him. Most of all, I regret that I could have found someone with integrity rather than wasting my life on a man whose only interest in life was himself.
    Kim, you don’t want him. You want who you think he could be, but he has no interest in being that person. He just fakes it to keep two women feeding his ego while he enjoys their suffering.
    The pain you are feeling now is the only thing you can consistently expect to get from him. If you stay with him, there will be more pain. There will always be pain. The only way to get through and out of the pain is to walk away from him and never look back.

  • I was 48 years old before I really understood what I was dealing with- a Fuckwit (FW). I caught him cheating early on in our marriage and we did “therapy” and stayed together. He continued to cheat and the abuse got worse (turned physical). Finally, (after 20 years) he asked ME for a divorce – no particular reason just wanted out. Of course, I find out later that he had a long-term affair going on. I think the other woman got tired of his dual life because he would have continued that for infinity. Now that I’m out of that (52 now) I can see how horrible those years were, and how it took its toll on my children and me (I went from a confident, driven woman to a spineless pool of self-loathing thanks to the bullshit he was constantly feeding me). No contact is your friend- once you get to 6 months of no contact you’ll start to see things about your relationship that you missed. My life before marriage consisted of men who “accidentally” went back to their Ex as well- my belief that they could be reformed is how I ended up with a FW. They. DO. NOT. CHANGE. There is NO reforming a FW. They lie, deceive, and manipulate. It’s no way to live your life. LEAVE THAT CHEATER AND GAIN A LIFE!!!!

    • “I went from a confident, driven woman to a spineless pool of self-loathing thanks to the bullshit he was constantly feeding me”. BEEN THERE. Never again.

      • Me too on that one. Makes me sad when I think about the woman I was. You can do so much more with your life when it is not consumed by a FW.

        Run, Kim, Run. We are here for you. We get it. “Leave a cheater and gain a life” is great advice but none of us here think it is easy.

    • “ I can see how horrible those years were, and how it took its toll on my children and me”

      Truth. While in the bad relationship, I coped in the moment and was way too afraid to admit to myself the magnitude of all of the abuse.

      • I recently saw a picture of myself holding my friend’s son at his christening 17 years ago. I had been married 4 years and with the ex for 12 years by then. I look unhinged! I’m at a happy occasion but my eyes are wild. It upset me to see that photo. The evidence was there.

      • “I coped in the moment and was way too afraid to admit to myself the magnitude of all of the abuse.”

        Similar. The worst abuse was the last year. The screaming and yelling at me got so bad, and I just I think was in a metaphorical fetus position. Confused, scared, thought it would end. By the last two months I knew there had to be someone else involved, I think at that time I just went numb and waited for the end.

        It was long before CN, or any other readily available help. There wasn’t even internet. If I had it to do over I would go to my preacher or his wife, they likely would have know how to help me. As it was I never told them how bad it was; I just white knuckled it through the D, and pretty much recovered on my own. Though I had an amazing Dad and Brother.

        I didn’t tell my Dad or Brother how bad it was either; but they were able to help me anyway. Just mostly pep talking, and encouraging me. They also offered me money if I needed it. Luckily I made it without having to take any, but it was helpful to know at the very least I wouldn’t starve.

        NOTE: I did open up to my brother a couple years ago, but it was during Covid and by the time I could go see my brother he had died suddenly. So we never got to have that face to face long talk we discussed.

    • This part needs to be emphasized — “Finally, (after 20 years) he asked ME for a divorce – no particular reason just wanted out.”
      Cheating is a unilateral decision; you didn’t get a vote. One day — who knows when — they make yet another unilateral decision: to walk for good. Then the chump is left with all that patience and forgiveness and “love” and nowhere to go.

  • All of this is correct. I married the man who still saw his ex because you know they dated four years it was hard to let go. Ok. But then the personal ads, then the bachelor party, then topping on the cake, the Marriage counselor. Do not have children with him and do not believe his lies. Nothing but pain on that path. You can do much better.

  • Kim: much of this story is still HIS account of what happened.

    He is a lying liar who lies, and you have no reason to believe this current version of events any more than the last one he was peddling.

    Take it from all of us, living in a web of lies and confusion for years or decades will harm you in ways you can’t yet fathom. Save yourself and get faaaar away from him, it’s the only way you will find your true family. ❤️

  • Kim – I suspect that in the next few days, the terrible puzzles pieces will fall into place. But at least you will have the true picture and the information you need. So how do you get through the pain? One day at a time. No contact with him, his ex or his family. Build your team – therapist, exercise class, book club, choir, walking partner. Your interests, your well-being. Be responsible about that dog (do NOT try to co-own with FW). Read Chump Lady archives every day. It will still hurt for months, BUT you will understand he intentionally hurt you.

  • Here’s the thing: without trust, you can’t have a good relationship. He lies and, therefore, can’t be trusted. It’s a hard no.

    My own x lied to me every day for years. He admitted this, although minimized the lying by saying it was only about “one thing.” One thing my ass.

    “When they show you who they are, believe them.”

  • The thing that stood out to me is that his family became your family too soon. What you need is your own tribe. If you can’t have it with your family go find one. There are wonderful people all over the place doing good, sometimes courageous, things. I live in a very small town surrounded by forests. I used to believe homeless people lived in large cities until a friend told me otherwise. Her church serves famines that live in tents in the woods. Her church is her tribe. What interests do you have? Find those and you will find your people.

    How is your health holding up? If you continue to live in this state of panic, terror, misery, your health will pay the price.

    • Exactly this. It’s great to have a close relationship with your SO’s family. What’s dangerous is to have too much of your support system dependent on them. Take away the SO and you end up losing more than just a romantic partner. Do not allow yourself to be in this position again! Take this opportunity to shore up other areas of your life and it’ll make it easier to be more discerning of potential partners in the future. Find a great therapist who can help you through this trauma. My saving grace during the dissolution of my marriage was a kick ass group of friends who were ready to do some ass kicking.

    • Amen, Letgo. It’s been my experience that abusers of all stripes (in politics or interpersonally) tend to inject their nihilistic world view into their prey. It’s a false view and a toxic illusion but, like cult leaders, abusers are relentless in trying to infect others with their own sense of meaninglessness because, if life and other people actually have meaning, the abuser has no alibi for their many betrayals. They would feel damned and abusers will avoid that stigma at any cost. In that sense abusers are waging a kind of “religious war” for a false belief system and survivors, to recover, have to “deprogram,” rebuild their perspectives and sense that life has meaning again. Like you say, one path to give meaning to a meaninglessly cruel experience is to use what we learn to help others in an organized way. It’s also– as you say– such a great way to meet like minds and build a tribe.

      One caveat is that sometimes the worst human beings cluster around good causes because of a tendency of predatory personalities to disguise themselves as “heroes” and “helpers.” The same is true in helping professions. I’ve been through several rounds of discovering this. But I’ve learned if you take your time in getting to know people, observe and learn to identify and avoid the toxic fakes and their minions, the rest can be gold. I’ve also learned that cause-oriented organizations or forums with solid vision (as in “vision statement”– goals, values, cohesive philosophy, etc.) tend to be better at repelling frauds which is why I think CL and CN draw so many good souls.

      • >>It’s a false view and a toxic illusion but, like cult leaders, abusers are relentless in trying to infect others with their own sense of meaninglessness because, if life and other people actually have meaning, the abuser has no alibi for their many betrayals. …. abusers are waging a kind of “religious war”

        That’s a really good description similar to Marie France Hirigoyen’s book “Stalking the Soul: Emotional Abuse and the Erosion of Identity”. A good picture in fiction is the character Iago from Shakespeare’s play “Othello”. Iago wasn’t portrayed as cheater per se. Instead Iago was zealous to spread toxic illusions about cheating to destroy good people he envied. The first time I saw that play “Othello” I couldn’t make sense of the Iago character, but not now.

        • Life has a way of making us eventually understand Shakespeare. My late uncle introduced me to the idea that, in a business context, corrupt people tend to actually go *out of their way* to bring down anyone or any operation that has integrity. My uncle ran a green manufacturing corporation with a flat management style that managed not to pollute internally or externally that ended up controlling a quarter of the market before going public and without doing any PR. Basically his company made typical filthy, top-down manufacturing operations look awful in comparison and consequently my uncle’s company was constantly subjected to corporate sabotage. They learned to ward if off with a sense of humor but obviously the first step was being able to stomach a weird and ugly aspect of human nature.

          As a kid this was all over my head but I eventually discovered it was one of those basic truths and I was grateful my uncle primed me with a heads up. It had all kinds of sad applications. My takeaway is that corrupt people tend to have ornate rationalizations for being corrupt. They reason that corruption is necessary and there’s no other way to survive, therefore they’re not “bad,” just well adapted. But if someone comes along and proves that not only isn’t it necessary to be corrupt but it’s possible to thrive without being a piece of shit, it’s a standing accusation to the corrupted person that their entire existence is wrong, they did grievous harm for no reason and they become obsessed with taking out the non-palliative comparison. Or something like that.

          Thanks for the book title– added to my list! Also I never really thought of Iago this way but it makes sense. He’s a worm incapable of loving or inspiring real love in anyone. In a way he philosophizes that he is what he needs to be… if only it wasn’t for those pesky people who seem to love and be loved. Damn them! He will prove them wrong!

          That brings to mind another possible motive for abusers: their sneaking suspicion that their chumps, being trusting and trustworthy, might one day move on to genuinely fulfilling lives and relationships– the kinds of lives and relationships abusers know they can never have and which they’ve based their lives on the “non-existance” of. Damn, there’s a kind of sniveling, Iago-like envy in it.

  • Oy there! There is really something wrong with your dating strategy if you’re only eight months in & finding it impossible to walk away. Eight months in, you should be still getting to know someone & evaluating them (based on actions not words, honey). Eight months in, you shouldn’t be hanging onto someone for dear life. Your poor choice of a boyfriend needs therapy, but so do you 🤷🏻‍♀️

    • KeepingitReal–

      You’re absolutely right that the best move is to escape. But I just want to add a reminder that a very skillful abuser can psychologically hogtie victims in a very short time regardless of how healthy or strong victims were to start with.

      Sorry if this sounds wonky and I’m not contradicting your point that therapy can help. Previous or longstanding past trauma and previous damage to self esteem can certainly complicate escape for people who find themselves in abusive relationships. But, statistically speaking, people who find themselves in abusive relationships aren’t any more likely than average to start out with low self esteem prior to abuse. Victims can come from all walks. What’s predictable and universal is that, *after* abuse, self esteem and psychic health will suffer.

      When I worked in advocacy, we were required to read a mountain of tomes and research on domestic violence, abuser psychology, evolutionary science and victimology. It was interesting to find that leading researchers and experts often debunked the reigning old theory that victims were all “psychologically deficient” prior to abuse and that becoming entrapped in abuse was a reflection of victims’ preexisting personality flaws. Instead several experts noted that “learned helplessness” in victims might all boil down to abusers’ tactics. DV researcher Donald Dutton spent his career studying batterers in prison settings to identify these MOs and tactics. Researcher Richard Gelles observed that the methods used by domestic abusers are virtually identical to professional interrogation tactics used on political captives to induce “captor bonding” or “Stockholm syndrome.” The most effective abusers, like the most effective interrogators, might not even have to employ physical violence to break subjects. The East German Stasi were famous for this. While fascists and the KGB “broke bones,” the Stasi were said to “break souls.” In any case, this is why even veteran intelligence operatives are never given whole parcels of sensitive state secrets because, if captured and subjected to certain stressors, most will predictably crack and spill the beans.

      If released, political captives are typically professionally deprogrammed to break any bond with captors they might have formed for survival. It seems the hardwired tendency for human beings to bond with dangerous captors theoretically goes back to our ape roots as a manner of “inspiring mercy” from violent alphas who demand total fealty and will lethally punish the smallest hint of rebellion. In this sense, the mechanism is effective for survival since captors, like violent ape alphas, are rarely completely immune to the appearance of touching loyalty in their underlings. In other words, the more the captive “believes” their own survival ruse on a cellular level, the better chance they have of inspiring mercy in captors. There’s a wrinkle in the research that the best interrogators, like the best abusers, are prone to bond with victims because they’re not completely sociopathic and will use their own empathy as a means of identifying and targeting victims’ vulnerabilities. In pop-psych, this is sometimes called “weaponized empathy” or “dark empathy.”

      It’s all really fascinating stuff. Anyway, where captor bonding outlives its usefulness is when captives have a chance to escape but don’t because they get stuck in the survival ruse. Call it a glitch in human evolution that most people can’t easily throw off the survival bond the second the prison gate is left unlocked. So much of abuse recovery is about deprogramming from the “evil spell” cast by abusers. The good news is that captor bonding is the furthest thing from actual love so, once survivors are effectively “deprogrammed,” it’s not the same as grieving the loss of someone genuinely lovable. Survivors tend to find they have little remaining feeling for abusers other than repugnance. Personally I think part of effective deprogramming is learning about the methods abusers use to break their victims down. If any survivor finds themselves still pining for an abuser, it may be because they haven’t yet reflected on and fully taken apart the tactics used against them. I would recommend Dutton’s “The Batterer” for anyone wanting to “break the spell” and Evan Stark’s “Coercive Control.” Both books identify both physical and non-physical abuse tactics. Dutton’s work identifies the demented psychology of abusers and ways in which they conceal and mask motives and agendas. In the end I think it can relieve survivors of some of the shame of having been entrapped to understand that most people are sitting ducks for this intense level of manipulation, not to mention polishing up survivors’ defenses.

  • I’m sorry Kim that you’re here. I was with mine for almost 30 years. I was blindsided and was the queen of the pick me dance. It lasted 8 months. I pick-me’d, went to therapy, marriage counseling, he went to counseling (except when he lied about it and used it for rendez-vous (still got charged). I became paranoid, suspicious, broken. I was 100% in limbo or purgatory for that 8 months. Borderline suicidal. All while he told me that it was me he wanted and then “I wonder what life would be like with her instead of you”. Life was torture. His words were cruel but then loving and then cruel again. Later I found out about the sex workers and others. Please, please, please read up about “love bombing”. Try to see if you were being used and manipulated. He could have been using you as a “revenge affair”. I would never tell some one to stay or leave. That is your choice. Right now you do not have any financial ties to each other, no kids. Use a journal to let your thoughts flow. Read back every word but try to read it as if a friend sent it to you. What advice would you give someone else? Please come back here and let us know how you are doing. Huge hugs to you. The pain can be crushing.

  • Kim, I think you are panicking over the loss of what you thought was a potential life partner that came with a solid family to boot. If a loving partnership and family is what you desire, this package ain’t it. More often than not, cheaters come from dysfunctional families. They may present themselves as a solid, happy family but the cracks will appear soon enough. I hope you find a great partner and I hope he has a great family, but you need to move on from this cheating defect.

    • KB22, this is a very important point that is often missed. My family is very dysfunctional. I survived it by developing certain defences which I have taken into all my subsequent relationships (I have been married unsuccessfully twice). I was attracted to the cheater in part by his apparently solid, secure happy family, including two brothers. I learnt that the truth was very different. The father had had an affair and all the brothers had affairs. The eldest brother was very dodgy. The mother was heavy on the narcissistic traits. Their family was more dysfunctional than my own. No surprise that after 26 years I was dropped like a ton of bricks. My father died a few weeks before I was dumped by the ex without being told why. The family, people who were sending texts constantly, did not send me one word, one call, one card. I had supported them so generously and kindly over the years in the belief that I was part of their tribe. That was shocking before I was dumped but I was so bought in to the image and so nullified by their behaviour over the years that I didn’t see it until long afterwards. We need to take time to fall in love, with partners, families, and friends, especially if we are already vulnerable.

      • All families have imperfections, including mine, but I learned at a relatively early age that the more a family presented themselves as perfect, there were always deeper dysfunctional issues that were well hidden. My highly educated aunt was married to a man that seemed saint like. All three of their kids went to Ivy League schools and all three kids struggled mentally & financially. It was a puzzle back then but everything comes out in the wash. My aunt’s husband, Mr. Perfect, left her after 35 years, for another woman. Also took all their savings, my aunt was left with nothing. Luckily she had siblings that stepped up to help. I have more examples but pretty much if a family portrays themselves as a prefect, loving family, my antenna goes up.

  • Kim, you have a grade A cheater on your hands, and one thing that is crystal clear to the thousands of chumps on this site alone, is that cheaters don’t change. Ever.
    I understand the investment in time and the exciting dreams of where life would take you together. It truly sucks to lose that!
    I never felt it was possible for someone to care for and love me more than my own cheater, who I had three great kids with and married to for 38 years.
    He cheated once on me before our kids were born and I was devastated and almost left then. But, I’d been with him for 6 years dating and 7 years married at that point and we lived a beautiful, charmed and very loving life together, as I saw it. I didn’t want that dream to end!
    How could he cheat on me?! I couldn’t even imagine for a second how that was even a possibility!
    We had everything together, he was my rock who I trusted fully, more than anyone on this earth.
    It just HAD to be a terrible mistake and I loved him so ridiculously much, we were so solid, we would weather any and all storms together. I just knew that was true.
    I told him never again would I stay with him if he cheated on me and we mended the brokenness as best we could.
    The reality is, Kim, that’s when I should have left him.
    Because I know now, beyond any doubt, that once trust is broken, all the kings horses and all the kings men can’t repair it.
    Trust is the plug in your boat and once it’s pulled out, you can try bailing out that water out with all your might, but the boat is going to sink.
    These cheaters aren’t genuinely remorseful, as they appear. They don’t get cured of their selfishness and entitlement. It’s who they are at their core. ( TRUST THAT THEY SUCK!)
    They just go underground and become more careful with their cheating. They are amazingly skilled at maintaining double lives.
    They can con you for decades without your knowledge.
    You may not be aware they are cheating again for a very long way down the road, when you have a lot more invested in them than you do now.
    But that’s not the only sign of a cheater or the only way they will damage you.
    They will be nasty, short tempered, say very hurtful things, explode in rages and anger over literally nothing and keep you on a bed of eggshells and shattered nerves. When they are with you, they are ALWAYS distracted by something else that seems to capture them, has more value to them than any time with you. It’s crushing to your spirit.
    They give you breadcrumbs of care and support and you are so starved for any, that you settle for their tossed crumbs and start thinking you don’t actually deserve more and that will be enough for you.
    You imagine somehow that you must have caused him to be so distant and cranky all the time. What have I done wrong that he’s so annoyed and short tempered?! It must be me because he’s so great to everyone else he encounters and everyone just loves the hell out of him.
    You’ll waste a great deal of time trying to improve yourself. But it isn’t you, it never was!
    Welcome to the mindfuck! It can do so much damage to you, it’s worse than any horror movie you could imagine. He devalues you to justify his cheating.
    Your cheater has at least two women that are aching for him to fly right and love them like he once did.
    He has the power and control over both of you and has you exactly where he wants you, wanting him with every bit of your beings.
    He will keep you on that hope wagon for as long as he is possibly able,not out of love for you and not wanting to lose you. He does it for his own need for control and manipulation.
    It’s a power game he’s playing, not a love game. He is not available to love anyone at all really, most def not himself.
    You asked the right person for advice coming to CL. I’m excited for you for that.
    I know how much pain you are feeling, Kim, it is soooo horrible to go through this!!
    It seems absurd to you to be looking for support from complete strangers who know basically nothing about you. Why should they care about the outcome of my life? You just have someone that’s confused, but has shown great great love to you in the past, you want that person to come back.
    That’s the part that’s almost impossible to comprehend. That guy does NOT exist and he certainly does not have your back.
    It is all about what he’ll get out of life,it always has been.
    He is not looking out for you, or he never could have cheated on you in the first place.
    Leave him and his family. You will need to grieve and heal, but you will be okay.
    I can then guarantee you, when you are 67 years old as I am right now, you will look back on that decision from the view of your current great and very loving life.
    You will be able to see with 100% accuracy, you made the very best call imaginable!! Thank God you did!

    • “It is all about what he’ll get out of life,it always has been.”

      Thanks. Was in the same boat.
      Glad to be on land.

    • Hugs, Chumpasaurus.
      You and I speak the same language.
      Kim, there is nothing more painful than a long term investment of love with a cheater who breadcrumbs, withholds affection and showers everyone but You with attention. It hurts like hell. I lived it and my self esteem was rock fucking bottom by the time he discarded me.
      Well, no more.
      I have gained a life of self-respect, clarity and self-love. You will too once you are free of that cheater.

  • Thank you for sharing this. Nobody cuts through BS like Chump Lady, and yes, it can take time before a person is ready to hear such brutal truth-telling. I must have read every save-my-marriage book before mental and emotional capitulation set in enough for me to be able to read a book with “Leave” in the title. It seemed so final. The end of everything we had built together, and all my hopes, dreams and plans for our future. I only mustered the nerve to read the book about a year into my own humiliating pick-me dance. LACGAL flipped the script enough to start envisioning real hope for a real future with the potential for real happiness and fulfillment beyond such devastating gaslit trauma. With the advice of Tracy and the many equally battle-hardened, supportive but plainspoken chumps of her Facebook group, I have been able to recognize and am slowly coming to terms with the reality that my marriage was over the moment he cheated. It’s easy to see intellectually why he’s no good, why he’s never going to change and you should leave; but it’s a very very hard realization to accept deep into one’s soul. That’s the journey.

  • Well, you do have all the feels of early stage chumpdom. Eight months, eight years – doesn’t matter. I do hope you can hear what all of us are saying. If he is so “confused” (see page six of cheaters handbook), do you want to entrust your life to someone who can’t make up his mind on something this important? Yes, he is wanting to string at least two women along – but that’s so, so immature, a committed relationship isn’t in his plans. You aren’t going to want to raise a man to be mature, trust me. They remain indecisive and you become a mommy. They never tire of playthings: other women, trucks, cars, boats, guitars (the list goes on!). Ask me how I know. Please, do detach yourself from this unhealthy relationship. He can talk a good game but it’s still a game. Take the dog with you. I did.

  • WOW… whenever you’re in doubt… this line is a keeper “The crazy maker is your boyfriend. Double lives aren’t normal.”

    Sometime we get so caught in the triangulation (which is what they want) that we spend all our time blaming the OW/OM when the REAL blame goes to YOUR CHEATER.

    Double lives aren’t normal. Picking up the kids from soccer while checking your Tinder profile while the wife is home making dinner… NOT NORMAL. Planning a wedding with someone while covertly still fucking an X… NOT NORMAL. Looking at a spouse’s upcoming business and thinking “great, I can f*ck the mailman while he’s gone”… NOT NORMAL.

    From your letter, first I want to say that I’m sorry. Your feelings and fear are real. Feel them, but you’re gonna need to move on from where you are without your cheater. (I can’t quite discern what you’ll miss more though – his family and feeling part of something bigger than your self – or him?) Either way… both await you and with someone who has been leading a double life with you since Day 1.

    I was six years and one kid (and 5 stepkids) invested when I caught my cheater (the first time). At the time of discard, his X from before I met him told me that they never stopped f*ing…. EVER. Visitation took on a whole new meaning for them apparently, but I digress.

    You lost 8 months… and you might need to invest 12 or more fixing your picker and healing from this mess. But that is the great thing about time, it goes on anyway so why not use it to build a better life than staying within someone who has shown you repeatedly that he is not normal?

    • ICSTM, I empathise. It’s a whole different mindfuck when you find out that the ex was there throughout the marriage.

  • I recommend “why does he do that” by Lundy Bancroft. There’s a section in there for friends of people in Kim’s situation and other abusive relationships. Basically Bancroft says victims will have the abuser om one side saying “you’re stupid to leave me” and friends on the other side saying “you’re stupid to stay.” He advises letting the victim talk it out without telling them what to do.

    I really love what Tracy has done here “is this relationship acceptable to you?” Is such a good question.

    I hope Kim keeps asking herself that, and finds all kinds of good relationships.

  • Kim, this is your future self warning you…. Run, run like your life depends on it. Get busy building a life you love without an abusive fucker conning you. Keep the dog. Get the apartment. Learn a new skill. Spend time in nature. Call old friends and make plans. Volunteer for a cause you believe in. Block the abuser on all channels. Come here daily and post on the FB or Reddit sites when you feel tempted to touch the hot stove again— it will burn you every time.

    The longer you spend no contact the more you’ll see that you dodged a massive bullet here.

    You’ve got this! You matter!

  • Somehow cheaters just have the bad luck to constantly be surrounded by “crazy” people. “Well, everyone except you, Baby.”

    The things where an ex is characterized as a crazy person is its own red flag for three reasons.

    The first and most basic is, it’s a shitty pejorative and lazy, antiquated language. Calling another person crazy is like calling a person ugly. (Says who, you? Who are you to decide? Drop the schoolyard bullying act and describe what’s happening like an adult, or talk to my taillights.)

    The second is, if the person actually IS still working with someone who is unstable and harmful, the person isn’t going to be able to navigate a new relationship well from the middle of that tornado. We must solve such problems before we can give full attention to other things.

    The third is, it’s rarely true that the other person is as unreasonable as the two-timer makes them out to be. Gaslighted people feel scared and even panicked. I mean, look how you feel in the same shoes. We all do odd things when we are in crisis mode. (It’s convenient that the only person anyone is supposed to consider sane is the one who wants to have all the chips while everyone else needs them and has none.)

    When a person discusses their “crazy” ex I immediately cast a suspicious eye. It’s lazy and arrogant to assume that difficulty between two people is always someone else’s fault, never mine.

    Conscientious people are able to see their own accountabilities simultaneously while they see dealbreakers in others and set boundaries. I did things in my former marriage I won’t do again. I’m far from perfect. That doesn’t mean he gets to keep abusing me, but it DOES mean I was part of the cycles in my own way. People who can’t see how they participated in a situation are justifying, not growing.

    In this letter, the boyfriend is clearly running the “bitch be crazy, but not YOU, Baby, you’re the only sane thing in my life, I need you!” game. Once seen, can’t unsee. As CL explains, you can’t ever assume a known liar is telling you the truth, even — and perhaps most especially — when that liar is saying something complimentary about you.

    If he’s a “bitch be crazy” guy, it is certain that eventually if not already, that “bitch” will be you.

    • I learned the hard way via dating a lot of losers than any time a guy told me all his exes were crazy, it meant he was the problem.

    • Fantastic advice, Amiisfree.

      “Bitch be crazy” is so cliche. I have to LOL when I hear it now. But, during the course of my 21 year Mirage, FW’s Big Bro (serial cheater womanizer douchebag) referred to all his Xs as “crazy bitches”. Ahem. Lol.
      Foolishly, I thought I had the “good brother” in the family. WRONG! I had the COVERT BROTHER in the family.
      Fast forward to Xhole abandoning myself and daughters and guess what? He tells the world I’m CRAZY! Lol. These cheater fuckwits really need to get some new material. They haven’t an original thought in their heads due to all the mirroring they do.

  • None of this sounds healthy or like love to me, except for the people advising our letter writer to run.

    The word that jumps out at me is “attached”. The next word that comes to my mind is “detach”

    As in, Don’t Even Try And Change Him/Her.

    I went to therapy on a regular basis with my boyfriend-then-husband the entire 27 years of my relationship with him. We both came from seriously troubled families and I did not want to repeat what had been modeled to us. I wasn’t even going with the intention of fixing/changing. I thought he was a good guy, and I wanted to learn the skills of a healthy long-term relationship as neither of us had parents who modeled that.

    I found out he had a secret sexual double life, had been lying to me, and hiding money from me….THE ENTIRE TIME.
    (Yes. TWENTY SEVEN YEARS).

    Women Who Love Too Much, by Robin Norwood, is back on my bedside table for review.

    Eight months in, there is no getting around the pain, but there is a way to not exacerbate it and perpetuate it, and that is to leave. You are lucky to have friends who care. No one advised me to leave because few had seen behind the Nice Guy facade of Traitor Ex.

    Except for my daughter, I wish I had left THE FIRST TIME he lied. I can’t tell you how much the divorce cost (in dollars). I am afraid to look. You can’t even calculate the cost in emotional psychological pain and suffering and damage.

    Someone said here “what starts out shitty does not get better.” That is a fact.

    You cannot build a Ferrari out of a totaled heap and parts from the junkyard.

    I hope you will find a great therapist and invest your time in her.

    I don’t go to the butcher shop for bread, and I wouldn’t expect my life dreams to be fulfilled by anyone who clearly demonstrates they are not capable of

    You’ve been shown, you’ve been warned by other friends. No one can tell you what to do. But the bottom line fact is that what you want and who he is are not even in the same universe.

    If you want an orange, calling an apple an orange will never turn it into an orange. A great therapist will help you get your orange.

    Do not sit in a burning house ignoring smoke alarms, flames, smoke, having tea and pretending everything is great.

    He is a burning house.

    • If you went to a restaurant and you ordered a steak, and they brought you a plate of frosted dog poop, would you

      A) sit there and wish the frosted dog poop would turn into a steak?

      B) get up, leave, and go to another restaurant?

      The ex-girlfriend gave you the Yelp reviews on this guy. I recommend going to the best restaurant you can find. There is nothing like being hungry, going to a good restaurant, and getting exactly what you want. The same principle applies to choosing people to put in our lives.

      Most of us have had the experience of watching a horror movie and yelling at the screen, “Don’t go in there! Get away!” because we know something the character doesn’t.

      THIS SITE IS THE SAME THING!

      I hope my story saves you 26.4 years, and saves you from the pain, suffering, damage I have experienced that can never be undone, and from
      losing all the time/money spent that can never be recovered.

      • ALONE IS BETTER THAN BEING IN A BAD RELATIONSHIP.

        Way way way way way way better.

        And this is very very very very very very bad…..for your well-being on all levels.

        Go toward what brings you peace of mind, safety, security, contentment, joy. Run from people, places, things, and situations that don’t. Don’t drink poison if you want to get well.

        For 2023, I want to be independent and bad-ass. Evy Pompouros is a virtual mentor on vTeam Velvet Hammer.

        https://instagram.com/evypoumpouras?igshid=NTdlMDg3MTY=

        ((((( ❤️ )))))

  • Someone leading a double life pretends to love and uses love as a weapon to keep you where they want you.

    Regular therapy cannot “fix” him or make him safe to be involved with.

    You felt love, you acted love.
    He spoke love and acted harm.

    There is no version of love that is worth continuing on with someone that pretended they were all in.

    I wasted so much time doing this very thing and, I can assure you, that as hard as it is to walk away from someone you love to be alone, it is 1000% better than being with someone that can lie to your face while you are investing your life and love in them.

  • Dear Letter Writer,

    I don’t know how old you are, but think of me as you, 20 years in the future. And I’m here to tell you: No, they don’t change.

    I know you want to believe you’ve got a unicorn. You don’t.

    I know you want to believe you’re the exception to the rule and he’ll change for you. You’re not. He won’t.

    I could’ve written your letter at age 19. I know it hurts, but you seriously don’t realize how lucky you are to realize what a piece of shit he is 8 months in. The relationship fell apart for me too at the six-month mark. I would give ANYTHING to go back in time and have someone tell me at that point to leave him. I didn’t.

    You know what I got in return? For my loyalty? For all my hope? Another ten years of abuse. I am not kidding. Ten years of mindfuckery. When I finally left, he stalked me for two years. I wasted my twenties.

    I know you don’t want us to tell you to leave him, but I’m telling you: Leave him.

    He won’t change. This is the real him.

    Signed,
    Future You

  • Kim, I just want to recognize the hurt in your email. You feel awful and uncertain. You are questioning yourself. Are you doing the right thing? What if you are overreacting? It’s good to be forgiving and work for what you want, right? What you had felt good and was so promising. You were heading down the road of life together. I get it. You miss him a lot. And you feel alone, with no close family. I just want to pause there and agree this is incredibly painful, sad and confusing. It’s ok to sit in that spot for a good while and feel all those feelings. In fact, it’s healthy and good to feel all of that.

    And when you are doing that, I have two things to consider. First, remember this tidbit of scientific info: Extreme feelings last a finite period, generally in 15 minute intense spurts. And then they pass. In this case, they will come back when you see him or are reminded in some way, but again coming and going with varying intensity. You can make it through 15 minutes.

    Second, notice when you are upset and confused. Is it when you are on your own, thinking about your life and what you want to do? Or is it when you are engaging with him? Does talking with him or spending time with him make you feel good and positive? Or does he take what you thought was true and make it feel confusing and murky? And when you feel happy is it because of something he’s done or because you feel happy and strong because of something else in your life? I actually kept a journal where I rated how I felt. I got all crazy when I was spending time with and talking to my ex. He was an expert at confusing me.

    You don’t have to make any decisions now. You can just be where you are and notice things. You have a long time ahead of you to consider. There is no rush. You can do it.

  • Oh, Kim. I have a friend who was looking at buying a house with her boyfriend. They were talking marriage, but he had not yet popped the question. And then she found out that he was MARRIED. And he threatened her with harm if she told his wife. You don’t even know if you were the primary girlfriend in this scenario or if he was actually still seeing the not-really-ex-girlfriend.

    There are people out there who are lying liars. If one of them tells you it’s raining, look out the window because you cannot trust them. I was with my exH for 25 years. Early in our relationship he told me he was a “bad” liar. Silly me, I believed him. And I kept believing him for 24 1/2 years. Now, I look back at those 25 years with 5 kids and have no idea what’s true. I don’t know if the one he cheated with was the first or just the last in a long series of affairs. And I’ll never know.

    In a somewhat bizarre incident I learned that he’s definitely cheating on his second wife. I think he probably had more than one affair while we were married, but that’s just a guess.

    I know you have been hurt very deeply. The future you thought you had with this man has all gone up in smoke. It’s jarring. It’s scary. Here’s the thing…that future was never going to exist. The man you loved and wanted to be with does not exist. He never existed. The person you loved was the mask that he put on when he was around you. He was not showing you his true self, because you would never have loved the real him. The real him is a liar and a cheater. You know you deserve better than that.

  • Kim:

    CL gave you so much thoughtful commentary for you to internalize as you grow forward. Seize it!

    People often confuse ‘judge’ with receiving well informed ‘opinion.’ Here, you’ll hear alot of well informed opinion from people that have walked in your shoes. Opinion answers to the old adage, “If you don’t stand for something; you’ll fall for anything.”

    It’s always best to have well informed opinion, which is why you wrote to CL . Her reply, and those of CN, are not judgement.

    My opinion is that you’re a sitting duck for exploitation. You’re dependent on others to complete you. You defer to others to make you whole. You attach to any tribe that will have you. That’s where abusers step in to work their magic. They see you and smell you from a mile away like a predator on the hunt.

    Step away and retreat. Work on yourself. Discover who you are, what makes you tick, what your values and aspirations are, where your growth curve is needed, and why you defer to others to prop you up. Become acquainted with people, places and experiences that challenge you to grow strong, form healthy maturity, handle conflict, and address conflicts – all from within your own internal locus of control.

    Yes, it takes years – sometimes a lifetime. Independence is first necessary to become interdependent. Lose your need to be dependent; it’ll make you captive to others. Years spent in self discovery, growth, change and becoming your best self are your teacher. Learn to respect the necessary journey and yourself. Wishing you the best!

    • Very true. I had no family and little friends when I was young, and loved a string of cheaters and liars simply because I desperately wanted love and acceptance. I never even stopped to think if *I* truly liked the person, or analyzed what kind of person they really were, I was so focused on not being rejected.

      And to top it off, every hurt they inflicted was more “proof” that no one would ever love me and I should “settle” for what I could get.

      So. Very. Wrong.

      It took me 30 years to realize I am a good person, and how my family or anyone else treated me was their problem – it had nothing to do with me.

      Do the work now to figure out how to love yourself. It is so worth it.

  • His ex girlfriend probably isn’t one bit crazy (other than still wanting him) and probably didn’t know she was an ex and probably thinks of you as an OW. His next girlfriend who you won’t know about because you think he is going to therapy and you think he is still trying to have a relationship with you, will think you are the crazy ex girlfriend who just won’t leave him alone and she will think of you as an OW when she finds out he is still sleeping with you (just the one mistake because I was confused, yada yada yada). Think on that. Do you want to be a part of that drama or do you want to get out of the way and go live a more peaceful life without him? Is he really so great that he deserves to have so many women all vying to be the “one” (of many as it turns out). I pity the one who ends up married to this guy.

  • Kim did ask that she not be told to leave. So I’m gonna try to do that.

    Stay, Kim- and you may appear to get what you want. He may go to therapy, say the right things. And part of you will be relieved, and want this to continue, for him to change over time. It may appear to be happening. You may get an apartment and a dog.

    At the same time, the part of you that doesn’t want to get disrespected will have to be silenced somehow. Hopefully not through numbing yourself some way. That part of you will wonder if it’s real. It may itch to know if he’s in contact still. It won’t stay silent forever. There may be a hundred small things that make you wonder. And you’ll keep ignoring them, and then one day they’ll show up anyway, and demand answers.

    The problem is twofold- first, he’s shown you what he can do. He can hurt you and keep quiet about it. A lot of cheaters learn from their experience. They just don’t learn what we hope they will. They often learn to get better at hiding things. That’s why once the cheating has happened, it’s almost completely impossible to get back to real trust, ever. And second- all the stuff that goes with a successful relationship, like an apartment and a dog, proves absolutely nothing about the other person. A whole lot of people can put up a great front, but be a disaster at the same time.

    The things you want aren’t dependent on this guy. But you can stay, and get them from him. And wonder. For as long as you’re with him. As hard as it is to take, real change is very, very hard to get from anyone. It’s even harder to get from cheaters, because cheating proves that you’re able to hurt others for selfish reasons. That’s a really hard thing to change.

    I can’t keep telling you to stay, though. Don’t want an apartment and a dog and a family. Want a really good guy. Then the rest will take care of itself. The best stuff and living situation will never make up for being with a cheater, wondering, and wondering, and wondering if it’s all real.

  • Kim,

    You have a piano hanging over your head. The rope is fraying. We are all telling you to run for your life. We are strangers on the Internet, taking time out of our lives, to warn you. The danger is that close, visceral and deadly.

    Because we know this: What you feel now is an alpine picnic with fried chicken and chocolate cake compared to what this POS has in store for you as the years click by and you invest more into this maggot.

    It will get exponentially worse: get ready for your money to pay another’s woman rent. Think pus and insane itching on your vagina from STDs. Think him ridiculing you to other women. I am telling you, with enough force to bust out the roof: LEAVE HIM NOW.

  • Kim,
    I am so sorry you are going through this. A lot of us come to CL in early stages of change around leaving. We think something is wrong with us and then we discover this whole new world of chumps. It makes me think about readiness to leave in 4 basic stages:
    1) Engagement/precontemplation/straight up denial–“problem? What problem? All [men/women] lie about fucking their ex, right? He is sorry, he says he loves me. Every relationship is hard work. We will be better because of the struggle…[insert stupid cliche] ” — his gaslighting digs a hole and tries to keep you there
    2) **Persuasion/contemplation — “maybe something isn’t right. I am crushed and confused, so I’m writing this letter. But I LOVE HIM and I am having a hard time letting go of this idea of what my life was gonna look like.” This is the phase where obsessively reading each blog entry and the comments helps move you in the right direction. Take a sick day and read them all…enjoy repeats.
    3) Action — your mighty is becoming more visible. You are planning and executing that plan to leave. Deciding on no contact and thinking ahead to pitfalls that may get in the way. For those of us who went on to marry the fucker, lining up the ducks, gathering evidence, talking to and hiring lawyers. Starting to remember who you are and what you are worth!! Energy is building, NEW dreams enter your mind. (I’m here — still negotiating a fair settlement, likely getting screwed financially, just trying to keep the fat check i write to a minimum. court ordered mediator, here i come. I can probably work 5 more years past planned retirement age without this walking/breathing financial liability holding me back).
    4) maintenance/relapse prevention — I’m guessing this is when he asks you for naked pictures if you haven’t blocked him. You decline and ask your dad to do drop off and pick up for 6 months. Meh has arrived.

    You will get to your next step. If the whole idea of leaving is overwhelming, try just focusing on the next small step — get yourself ready for action. Keep coming back here. You will start believing at some point that you can do better. It will come. Many of us forgave the FW and went on for years of pain. You found this blog early…what a blessing! Hope to get some updates soon.

  • Kim,

    <>. This part of your letter stuck out to me;

    <>
    They obviously met up and had slept together. When I asked him why, he said, “The emails were so mindfucking, I was confused.” “I didn’t know if I really loved her or if I really loved you.”
    <>

    So he was confused about whether or not he loved you and he thought sleeping with her might help him with that? After he slept with her he now says — “Yes, it is you that i really love.” A lightning bolt of clarity all by simply lying to you and sleeping with someone else. That behavior is pretty far away from any definition of love.

    Peace.

    • A wise person once told me, “When you are feeling ‘confused’, someone is ‘con’ning you and you are ‘fused’ into it. That was true for me.

  • Like Unicornomore’s ex, my ex told me shortly after we married that I loved an ideal version of him and he wasn’t the person I thought he was. He had years to tell me that, and didn’t mention it until soon after we married. Fast forward almost 40 years, and he suddenly agreed that we needed a house better suited to our needs, and embarked on a quest for a different house–more expensive and BIGGER. We were looking at listings and seeing houses every weekend and some weekdays. He was both future-faking and using it to distract me and give himself cover. There was always something wrong with every perfect house we found. I’m sure he had no intention of buying one since he planned to move out with Schmoopie. Thank goodness we didn’t buy a house, or worse, move into it, because I would not have been able to handle a mortgage. I resent the time I wasted on house-hunting. I think he enjoyed getting my hopes up and shooting them down. Cheaters love to fake you out.

  • What I always wonder, when I read these stories, is why there are so many FW folks in the world who just cannot be satisfied with being straightforward. A life with someone is built on plans and expectations. Why do they need to fuck that up and make life complicated? Maybe they are irreparably damaged. I don’t know. I will probably never know the why. I just know I don’t need this kind of person in my life. I need people who are honest, and capable, who are willing to work towards a good future, who have a sense of humor and gratitude.

    You cannot make someone love you, do right by you, be there for you. You can seek someone who is willing and able to do those things but be aware this type of person is a rare commodity. You do not find love or friendship in a minute. It takes time and observation under a variety of circumstances to know if someone is straightforward. Many of us were born into dysfunctional families. We have learned about false friends the hard way. Your birth family is not necessarily your true family. It has taken me a lifetime to learn how to pick my friends. I still have not found a worthy mate. Along the way I was married and had children. A house and a dog, and material things don’t make a relationship real.

    All you can do is take care of yourself and be true to yourself. You are the only person you are responsible for. If you live your life being a straightforward person, others will gravitate toward you. You have to learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. You sound young — because when you are young eight months seems like a long time. It is not. Eight months is the start of an evaluation period for a potential friend. To me, this guy obviously failed the evaluation. He is too messed up to be seeking a relationship with anyone. He picked you because he is useless by himself. He is also useless with two or more useful women. Duping multiple people is not a positive life skill.

    Take time to invest in yourself, seek your best interests. I guarantee you there are better people in this world to invest your time and effort in. Give honesty a chance. It is much better than a promise. People who are honest don’t make a promise, they live a promise. If you can depend on them, they will show you they are dependable every day, consistently.

  • 8 months is not long enough to know if they are a quality person. 2 years minimum. No living together before. If you dont know someone and live together you are stuck and loose perspective. Then you feel you have to make it work no matter what.

    He was rushing you into a “Situationship”. Did he propose? Did he promise to lay down his life in front of friends and family? No, he bought a shared dog and was trying to get you to lease a car and apt with him. (He would probably stiff you eventually and leave you with a dog and payments on car and apt. Its kind of messed up.) You would be stuck. Right where he wants you, with no real commitment. Looking at your life realizing you wasted years on him. Dont be flattered he wanted to lease a car and apt with you.

    Water finds its own level. He and the ex now his gf again, are addicted to the drama and chaos. Its exhilarating. Maybe you are too? If you are then have at it. Enjoy the triangulation, STD and trauma bonding.

    Absolutely date him. You are an adult and can make your own choices. You can be monogamous with him and not date anyone else, while he dates both of you and maybe a few others. You can love him, be devoted whatever you like.

    Just get your tubes tied so you dont bring a child into a messed up situationship. You can voluntarily be with him. But kids dont volunteer for this stuff. You already know he doesnt take birth control seriously if he knocked up his girlfriend.

    If you want a real relationship, marriage, kids. Move on!

  • I doubt that I’ll ever date again (gray divorce), but one of his ex’s cast a shadow over our entire marriage. She was a predator and clearly thought she had my husband because she called and sent cards for YEARS. He insisted that he had broken up with her after a few months because of religious differences and his family, but I saw how she had wormed herself deep into his thinking. In his eyes, she was the “ideal woman.” Never mind his children and wife of several decades.

    When his thinking became disordered and chaotic, I asked for a separation. He took off and went to the area of the country where she was living, last I knew. Whether they got together or not, his attorney told mine that there was adultery involved on his side and that he didn’t want to go to trial with my husband because of that and the disordered thinking. My attorney encouraged me to get a PI and all emails/text messages, but I just wanted it over. I didn’t want to sit through a trial with him present and having to keep myself composed while dissecting the whole mess. Thankfully, the two attorneys collaborated and got it settled without court.

    Of course, I’ll always wonder what went down, but I’d rather spend the money on something more meaningful than a PI. I have to wonder if all the show with his family about trying to reconcile with me was a cover or partial cover for not really wanting to be married anymore. He was actually the one who filed for divorce and had all kinds of religious justifications.

    My advice to Kim is that he’s shown that he still has feelings for that woman, confusion or not. Don’t hope that doesn’t continue. It’s a reality. A good partner will have entirely cut off all ex’s, custody arrangements excluded. Even then, I’ve heard stories of divorced couples with custody arrangements who went back to each other and broke up another relationship/marriage in the process. In future relationships, ask a lot of questions about that sort of thing. I sure wish that I had.

  • If you stay — be prepared for the likely scenario of being 2-5 years married, an infant and a toddler, having stepped out of the work force and bam…you find out again that’s he’s banging his secretary or the neighbor etc – if you think you feel alone now wait until you’re broke homeless and with 2 kids. Run run run away from him now while you are free to start whatever life you want. Many of us in chump nation dedicated decades of our lives to a cheater and the shock of the discovery – the pain of betrayal- the fear of having shared decades with an imposter can haunt you for life. Get out now – you are lucky he revealed his dark side now.

  • Kim, you sound very young and possibly naive. No offense! I wish that I could still be described that way.

    As CL said, he’s doing the same thing to you that he did to his ex. Even if you get an apartment together he’ll still tell the next target that you’re broken up – but stuck in a lease together. Only he won’t tell you ththat he’s shopping around. Mine told all the gals he tried it on with that we slept on different floors of the house! We didn’t.

    Please Kim, get yourself STD tested, block him on all of your devices, chalk it up to the high cost of tuition for The School of Life, and go build a new life without him. When the right man comes along you don’t want to still be trying to justify the emotional abuse you’re getting from your steady liar. Make yourself a free agent, join some clubs (even book clubs have women who love to introduce the single members to eligible friends and relatives), please don’t spend the best years of your life trying to fool yourself. Good luck!

  • Dear Kim,

    I am an immigrant living in a country away from my parents and family. I am lucky that I made a lot of friends in my new community but my ex-FW admitted to cheating on me on January 6 2020 and I ended things on january 28 2020. That’s one month before the beginning of the pandemic and an endless long lockdown in Europe.
    Brokenhearted and betrayed, I was stuck all by myself in a one-room apartment for many months. My FW started to isolate with the Schmoopie he left me for. I lost contact to his mother, his sister, his brother and many of his friends that I deeply love.
    I just want to tell you, I know the impact loneliness can have on your choices! the fact that you are aware of your vulnerability due to loneliness is admirable! don’t make bad choices because of that! If he cheats on you at the 8 months timepoint (that’s the honeymoon period!), what will he do when the going gets rough?
    It’s a huge loss and it will leave you raw and devastated. but you win yourself, at the end of a long tunnel!
    Accept that sometimes, we have to be alone and that sucks. but being in a fake relationship is even more lonely.

    Join meetup, join a hiking group or a dancing class. Go learn a new language. Go to a therapist and cry cry cry all you like. I cried every day for 6 months. I thought I would never stop crying. Here I am 3 years later and I can tell you I cannot remember the last time I cried about my cheating Ex!
    I wish you all the healing and Chump Nation is here for you, if you need support!

    • Kim: Trust these worlds of wisdom. They are solid gold: “Join meetup, join a hiking group or a dancing class. Go learn a new language. Go to a therapist and cry cry cry all you like.”

  • I think he targeted Kim because she doesn’t have a family. She seems young and to be left alone at that age indicates either traumatic loss, dysfunction or both. ( they tend to run together— this is my left and can attest from personal experience). She is probably up front about what she wants and that makes it that much easier for him to tailor his schtick for her.

    The reason it’s hitting the rocks at the 8 month mark is because after 6-8 months it’s getting harder to keep up the lies. He will never go back up being the person she fell in love with.

    • This was my gut feeling too, Regret.
      Predators seek the easiest prey in the pack.
      8 months of him navigating the furious x-GF’s messages, until it all came bubbling up to the surface.
      This guy is trouble and will wreak havoc wherever he goes.

  • What CL is saying = words to live by, Kim. Entitled, manipulative cheaters will always eventually *show* you their crappy character even while *speaking* “loving” words and promises, at least in the beginning.

    In our dating phase (now I see it as the lovebombing phase of the abuse cycle), my cheater told me about the crappy ways he treated his girlfriends and the crappy attitudes towards women in general as a teenager – UNTIL he found Jesus at age 18. Eight years later after his conversion, with a very well sculpted mask of godliness, I marveled at his “change” from those teen years. I remember saying “Wow, if I had known you back then I wouldn’t have liked you ONE BIT. Look at how far you’ve come to be such an amazing man!”

    Lo & behold, it wasn’t all that long into our 28-year-long marriage that his teenage inner jerk self started to emerge, and the more that it did, the less of myself there was. I felt destroyed. After leaving him on the 2nd D-Day, I’m finally free to be me, and part of that means surrounding myself with caring, non-toxic people who truly have my back. Please take care of yourself, Kim.

    Oh, and yes – here’s another plug for Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That?” I’d bet you will see your cheater described in there. 🙁

  • Kim, ultimately we all have to decide for ourselves what to do, but I BEG you to listen to all these good people. We’ve walked this path, we’ve invested years, some of us decades in these disordered humans. We truly want to save you the pain, heartbreak and lost years on a path we all know all too well. When I tell you we ALL have stories of Academy Award winning performances of grief, regret and “I’ll do better” speeches only to find that’s all those words were, performances. We have all lived thru abuse that will haunt us forever, and the longer you stay the worse the pain and the longer it will take you to get your life back.

    Run fast, run far, run like he’s trying to kill you, because he is.

  • I’ll throw in..married 30 yrs, kids, career, homes, dogs, rebuilding my life at 65. Don’t be me. Hugs! Go take care of yourself! Be your own best friend.

  • I read this and immediately thought “8 months is really too soon to be moving in and buying dogs together. He must really hate doing his own dishes.” I am an old and jaded chump, though. 🤷‍♀️

    During the 8 month mark you’ve got the momentum of new relationship euphoria going. He should be learning how you like your eggs and your favorite books, not messing about with his ex. If he can’t stay faithful NOW, when everything is sunshine and roses, what makes you think he won’t stray if you have kids, get sick, or spend a weekend apart?

  • At 25, I forgave and stayed. At almost 70 years old, he gave me an STD. You love him and you want to stay? Then stay. But you’ll be sorry. They don’t change.

    • Yes me too..32 years, STD, lies, blameshifting. I wanted to believe but it was all a mirage…I thought there was an oasis but it was really Heartbreak hill.age 70. Do not wait this long…I only have a few good years left but I am thrilled to be out.

  • A guy who is confused and doesn’t know who he loves does not love either person. He only loves himself.

    Staying with someone you don’t trust because you are hoping they will change isn’t sustainable. It’s very likely they will not change, and that any surface appearance of change is just them getting better at faking it. And some day, perhaps after marriage, a mortgage and children, you will learn that he never stopped betraying you, and you will feel ten times the pain you do now. In the extremely unlikely case where they do actually change, you aren’t going to be able to believe it anyways, because of the previous breach of your trust. You are never going to feel solid in the relationship because you’ll always be wondering when the next betrayal will come.

    Give yourself the gift of a solid relationship. One that doesn’t involve him.

    Treat this as an eight month learning experience of training your discernment and developing a more grounded sense of yourself. Mourn the loss of that dream of car leases and puppies, and start creating it on your own. As said, that was just ‘future faking’ – he didn’t mean any of it, he was just telling you what he thought you wanted to hear, to make you stay. It’s what they do.

  • I live in California in a flood zone. When the fire department shows up and asks me to leave, I Ieave. It’s incredible to me that anyone would ignore them, but it happens, and sometimes the consequences are fatal.

    Chump Lady/ Chump Nation = first responders. Good relationships don’t bring people here.

    With all due respect, no one can see into the future to show you what you are being protected from.

    No one can make you leave, but I feel it would be negligent to not ask you to, so I am going to suggest you evacuate.

    #shanannwatts
    #lacipeterson

    ❤️

  • Dear Chump Lady,
    This is the best you’ve ever written. Not your usual sarcasm, but straight on to the letter writer who is feeling fresh pain and doesn’t accept the truth yet.

  • Kim, I was where you’re at. I thought my ex was at therapy. I gave him my wedding ring and told him to live with his parents and go to therapy and I’d see him every weekend. He made all those promises to my face but was secretly enjoying the freedom of fucking his new gf without coming home to a suspicious wife. He got a burner phone. I only discovered it because I physically searched him when we met up for a “recommitment date.” The whole time he was telling me to my face he was working to earn my trust back, he had texts from his GF actively pinging his burner.

    Sweetheart I hurt for you. But I think you came to the Chump Nation despite claiming you don’t want our advice because, deep down, you know you need it. Your mighty self is telling you the right answer. Don’t put yourself through further pain and trauma like I did, like so many others here who tried to reconcile did.

  • “Is this relationship acceptable to you” is such a great question to ask because it cuts through all of the other uncertain, but ultimately irrelevant BS. None of us can say with certainty where your BF actually is emotionally regarding your relationship. Does it matter if he actually loves you and yet is capable of living a double life and lying to you? If he was genuinely confused does it excuse using an affair to clarify his feelings? I felt that I spent too much time as a chump trying to figure out what was going on in my ex-h’s head and not focusing on what I did know – that he was capable, and quite good, at lying to my face. That whatever he confessed to (upon being caught) was always the tip of the iceberg. It’s truly no way to live. You are going through the worst of it right now since you still have contact with him and the promise of how things can be better, but I’m sure you will find that your life improves with more time and distance from him.

  • TBH the biggest moment of my whole experience was when i saw how much my X enjoyed hurting me. it was glancing look but i saw the cold, dark, reptilian look in his eyes as he said something so incredibly hurtful, and realized he was getting off on it. it was quite a moment. i don’t think i’ll ever forget it. therapy helps.

    these folks enjoy hurting people.

    you have to put your evidence hat on and look at what’s in front of you. leave your emotion hat in the hall closet. you don’t need your emotions right now, besides you can put them aside (regulate them) for a bit. right now, you need to follow the evidence. the story is right in front of you. there will be gaps but you can bridge them with the reasonable expectation that he lies about most things, because he’s building a story that suits him best.

    think about that. lying to build a story that suits him best. where are you in that equation? nowhere.

    you deserve so much better.

    take care.

    • My long-ago ex-boyfriend would do that; he was doing the same thing Kim’s BF is doing (back and forth between me and the ex) and I can still picture his smirk while he mentioned his exploits. He’d never explicitly tell me but made increasingly obvious allusions to what he was doing. The icing on the cake was when he slept with my sister and told me about it afterward, all the while monitoring my facial expression to see if he was hurting me enough. (Yeah, I know my sister bears some of the blame, but that’s the tip of the iceberg with her and a very long story.)

      My first husband was similar – different circumstances but the same smirking expression and coy statements which became more biting when I didn’t respond, being completely numb by then. This is a totally foreign concept to me; I’ve never understood getting off on someone else’s misery but that’s what these guys do.

      Kim, you’re only 8 months in and he’s already shown you what he is. Please think hard about what your future should look like. You said you have no family – do you have any friends, or even acquaintances, you could lean on for a bit until you find your footing? (Often abusers will isolate their partners from anyone sympathetic, but if there’s even one person you can confide in, they may be able to support you. Most people are kind, and will sympathize with you, and that may be all you need to get through this without succumbing to the urge to contact him and “make things right.”)

  • Kim, I could go into detail here, but to summarize…all three of my fuckwit narc ex-boyfriends, that were “so in love with me”, and wanted me to move in with them, etc., lied at the very start about being single, and/or about how long they had been single, and were cheating on me with their “ex’s”. Believe me, I completely understand the mindfuck he’s done on you, but he is 100% lying narc cheater, and you absolutely must think of him as a cancer and/or criminal, completely cut him off, and go no contact forever. You are blameshifting, believing his lies, and now shooting the messenger. He is a cancer…and you can’t let even one cell near you…you have to slam that door shut very tightly. He will never do it…he will just jerk you around for decades, if you let him. Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made. You have more than enough evidence now. As soon as you figured out that he lied about the timing of his “breakup” with the “ex”, you should have dumped and no-contacted him.

  • Kim,
    I was married 21 years now divorced over 6-1/2. I was the same way. I thought our relationship and situation was “different “ from other people’s. I thought we were so special this was not what it seemed to be. I was wrong. It was exactly like every other relationship where someone cheats. I would get furious when people told me to leave him. I defended that idiot for over 1-1/2years after our divorce. I was still pick me dancing then. My brothers wife once said to me “it is what it is” and I came so close to punching her lights out. How dare she suggest that our relationship wasn’t special enough to weather the storm. Your situation is basically the same as all of ours. Your just still struggling with the heartache to see it. Your heart will eventually catch up with your head and you’ll see it

  • This letter makes me cry. I lost my entire life to this abuse cycle. Forty years of marriage; of fighting for something that didn’t exist; of being treated as if I didn’t matter.

    If you can save one, chumplady, your work is worth it. I so wish it could have been me all those years ago. No one around me was able to tell me what I was looking at and support me in standing up for myself.

    My experience would tell me that he chose you as his top next victim, Kim, because you had no family, no support system. That’s a point of vulnerability that can easily be exploited by these fuckers. You were the easier prey.

    Build your tribe, your own family of support. ASAP. You have a life in front of you – I’m wiping away tears because I wasted mine and I don’t know if there’s enough time to create a new one, especially since I am so broken down after 40 years of mistreatment and a very cruel discard.

    You’re wise to write to chumplady. Listen to her and those of us on the same path ahead of you. You still have a chance to fly!

    • “My experience would tell me that he chose you as his top next victim, Kim, because you had no family, no support system. That’s a point of vulnerability that can easily be exploited by these fuckers. You were the easier prey.”

      Truth.

      “I’m wiping away tears because I wasted mine and I don’t know if there’s enough time to create a new one, especially since I am so broken down after 40 years of mistreatment and a very cruel discard.”

      ((tallgrass)) I know the feeling, love.

    • Tallgrass, it’s never too late. For me it was 41 years of tolerating abuse and being erased as if I never existed. And yet here you are inspiring others.

      There are many gifts you possess that cannot be taken away that should be acknowledged and tapped into. You have an imagination and creativity. You can write, draw, paint, and take photos. We can teach ourselves how to do just about anything we decide to focus on.

      You are more than his broken pieces. Create something new.

    • “… he chose you as his top next victim, Kim, because you had no family, no support system. That’s a point of vulnerability that can easily be exploited by these fuckers.”
      Bingo.

  • Dear Kim,
    Listen to your gut. You are feeling tormented right now as a direct result of the treatment this boyfriend inflicted upon you. Love is not this.

    I am very sorry you do not have family support. I know how that feels as I had to navigate my 21 year Mirage (marriage) blowing up from the cheater I was “married” to. I say this in parenthesis because when you are with a cheater, you truly do not have a solid relationship. It is all a facade that eventually leads to disaster. What you are experiencing right now is a disaster. Created by a cheater. YOU did not do this, Kim. HE did.
    If you were my kid sister I would hug you and take you under my wing and be there for you every step of the way through this to the other side, which is gaining YOUR life. I, too, had a cheater BF in my youth and it was an exceptionally painful breakup. But, that life lesson, as horrible as it was, prepared me to survive my Mirage break up. You WILL gain strength from this. You just cannot measure it right now, but it is coming.
    Please, please contact your local community services counselling for women and give yourself grace in navigating this break up and start your healing journey! It is waiting for you. Baby steps.

  • My STBX did exactly this! Very early on in our relationship. Screwed an ex and than said “He was trying to figure out who he wanted to be with.” Because it was before moving in together , I “Let it go”. Bad move on my part. Please , Kim, Do Not go down the hopimon trail!! It only leads to heartache and sunk costs. Let him Go! Hold on to “he is not allowed to treat you with such dishonor, disrespect or disdain.” Be kind to yourself. Keep all of you safe. You are a strong young women. You got this. Trust yourself. Not him.

  • The absolute beauty of Chump lady is that you can follow her advice and save yourself MORE heart ache, more pain, more of your precious future OR you can follow this man into more of everything except sanity. Watch Animal Planet or Wild Kingdom( are those even still on?) As you are watching find the preditor…slinking beside the herd, singling out anyone they can find and pouncing. Some lioness might just play with their prey, but it is a game. A GAME. I was a game to a manand I didn’t listen and kept moving the bar on what I thought was acceptable behavior. Until I was past my point of shame and injury from a preditor I was married too. THE TRUTH DOES NOT GO AWAY JUST BECAUSE YOU INGNORE IT. So the sadness and beauty is, you will find out either way, what is NOT GOOD FOR YOU and you will learn your boundaries and your worth. I’d rather be alone on a lonely planet in a cave with only bats for friends,than to ever be touched or talk to my husband preditor abuser again. You get it now or later. Chump lady tries to shorten this curve if at all possible. She Is right.

  • Kim, you wrote to the leave a cheater, gain a life lady, and you say you don’t want to hear that you should leave? I think you do, actually. I think you want confirmation that the advice you have been getting is sound. You were probably telling yourself that CL might say your case is an exception, that he’s a unicorn, but you weren’t telling yourself the truth. Where you are, with this betrayal so fresh, you aren’t going to be able to be objective. That’s totally normal, and that’s what we’re here for, to give you an objective outsider’s view.

    I don’t need to reiterate what everybody else has said about what a greasy liar this guy is, but I’d like to share my experience with a “confused” cheater. My cheater would literally tell me he loved me one minute and that he didn’t the next. He claimed this was due to “confusion.” Here is the thing about love- it’s not something you’re unsure of. If he’s unsure who he loves, he doesn’t love either of you.

    I understand the longing to be part of a family, and someday you will be. It just won’t be with this guy, even if you do stay. You will never be secure, and without basic security, what is a family even worth? Please think about all this. Keep coming here for support and stay NC. People here recommend it because it actually works. Please believe that it gets better if you stick it out. I felt as if I’d never feel any better, but I was wrong. 💜

  • One more thing, Kim. My cheater has been in therapy for 5 years. He’s just as big an asshole as ever, if not worse. Therapy doesn’t change character. Your cheater isn’t mentally ill, he’s a creep. There is no cure.

    • Therapy only makes some of them worse. Lundy Bancroft discussed this on his book & Dr. Phil had also mentioned it on his show.

      • This. More and more psychologists have started to refuse to treat abusers these days because therapy doesn’t fix them, it only makes them more manipulative and helps them to abuse better.

  • Any one _can_ change. But most don’t want to. It’s really difficult. It’s painful. It’s costly. It’s really hard.
    It’s easier to not change, so most don’t.
    Even here in chump nation, there have been people who have been in this situation multiple times because they didn’t change themselves to not attract/be attracted to fuckwits.

    Changing oneself is very hard, and the bar is so high most choose to stay low.

  • Kim, in addition to choosing you, please seek support and counseling for yourself. In my area of the country there is a women’s center that offers counseling on a sliding scale. Perhaps you could call 211 for more information. It’s something I wish I had done as a young woman. I did go after my life was turned upside down and it helped a great deal. You will get through this.

  • Kim,
    Run 🏃🏼‍♀️ and don’t look back. I’m adding my voice to the over 100 chumps cheering you on from the sidelines. I hope you write back in a few months to let us know how mighty you are!

    Incidentally, are we all getting the same ads for Livebeam? Seems insanely incongruous for this blog, not to mention triggering, to have to skip over multiple invitations to “click here” for “spicy secret chats.” Chump Lady, I know you make revenue from ads; do you have any agency in choosing which ads? 😂

    • Not getting the Livebeam ads here (Pacific NW). I did get an ad one time for funeral services, which struck me as “interesting”… My biggest shock was accidently typing in Humplady dot com (not going to create a live link in this post), and let’s just say it was not was the Chumplady I was expecting!!

  • My ex cheated with a 20 yr old from work. I left for a month, we tried to reconcile for almost two years only for him to cheat with her again, and us to divorce all while him selling me the story that it was just us not being able to work it out, and he wanted to be friends. I wanted a divorce too by that time and I was done so
    I didn’t push too much or press. I didn’t trust him but thought he would never go back to her. I cut off the friendship when I realized I hated him and didn’t want a lying cheater as a friend who was trying to hide his reignited affair from me. I quickly divorced him and moved on.

    Cut to this last week, 9 months later, and I found out this mistress has tried to hire a hacker to ruin my life and has accessed my ex’s devices to find information about me and try to destroy me. I found out by happenstance because she randomly sends me shitty texts every so often, and it all blew up when I finally mentioned one of them to my ex when he contacted me.

    It’s been a terrible week and incredibly traumatic for me bringing all this shit back up. I haven’t had much contact with my ex at all since the divorce, only what’s necessary for wrapping up certain financial transactions. Maybe 5, very short, all business interactions by email since we sold our house.

    This has scared me like crazy and left both me reeling and now I have had to deal with my ex again trying to figure out what she has, what his role is, and what to do. It’s been a nightmare, and dealing with him is no better than it was months ago. I hate him more than I ever have and this just compounds the issue.

    Reading what this girl was plotting, and trying to do, it’s not hard to believe she would’ve hired someone to kill me if she had the funds. That shit happens all the time in these situations. My ex’s mistress started with shitty text messages and stuff like that too. People like that escalate. Don’t put yourself in that kind of danger. There are billions of people on this planet, why bother with one you know isn’t trustworthy. Especially after only 8 months?

  • I wish I could persaude you to go no contact, but I think it is pointless to try. I believe you have already made up your mind to give him another chance to hurt and betray you. We will be here when you are ready to accept that you have nothing to work with.

  • It may not seem like it, but him talking about an apartment, a dog, commitment etc at 8 months is also a red flag. It can be a sign of love bombing, trying to dangle bait to get you to overlook the warnings. To sweep you off your feet and get you more enmeshed with shared spaces and an animal so it will be harder to escape. Healthy people who love you will want a future, but they will want to discuss things, move slowly, ensure it is a good fit for you both. Healthy people bond over time and build trust. They don’t brake trust out the gate then try to speed run it afterwards. You are more vulnerable when you are desperate for love and family, you are looking at the bait and too hungry to see the trap.

    Focus on friends, community, on your career, hobbies, buy a dog just for yourself! Find many ways to fill that need that isn’t this spiked fruit.

    Even jusy Tell him you want to pause the future plans and just date for 6 months and see how he reacts.

  • I absolutely have to offer my own bitter experience here. My husband of 27 years never stopped cheating or living a double life. When I met him, at 25 he was in the midst of a torrid affair with his 45 year old Boss’s wife (I didn’t know till years later). He was constantly involved with women prior to our marriage (again I didn’t know). We married, built a business together and had 3 beautiful children. I never stopped working really hard. He made sure I was too frantically busy to actually look objectively at what he was really doing. I’m trusting, never even contemplated what he was up to. In the midst and after my third pregnancy (I was quite sick during each of my pregnancies); he was seeing a woman who messaged him about how much she loved him. I saw the message on our work phone and questioned him. Totally denied it, didn’t know who she was. I dug, he dug deeper into his duplicity and I couldn’t find anything out.
    I walked out when I was 59; he was 60. He was deep into an affair with our 36 year old neighbour SAHMM of 3 small children. He was convinced this love of his life was his future. Together they blew up 2 families. He told me that he could never love me because he had loved so much more before?! His common banter was that he could resist everything but temptation. I always thought that was a throwaway stupid line! No; he was telling me the truth, I was too trusting and naive to understand those words. His new true love stayed just long enough for the bomb to detonate both their lives, then she skipped off to new younger men leaving my XFW to grow old on his own. He will be on his own till he dies!
    So this young beautiful trusting 24 year old girl, about to go into medical school; became a farmers wife, worked hard for our family and walked out of a mirage, old, fat and exhausted at 59; having never had a living wage or the opportunity to build my own future. For me; the greatest cost, is my cost of opportunity.
    During my time in our business; I also trained as a chef & speciality baker. I still work incredibly hard, aged 65 in my own business. I am back studying about to enter my PhD in clinical Nutrition and some Neuroscience so I am financially fit as I age and work. And I am still running my bespoke speciality bakery working constantly to build my asset base.
    I am so burned by my life’s deception. I am haunted by the choices I so naively made, I find it hard to imagine another relationship. I was never loved, never cherished, never valued for who I am.
    I was an economic and breeding unit. Don’t misunderstand my message. I have built a beautiful curated post marriage life but I could have had an amazing life and truly used my skills if I was not captured and deceived. I can’t even imagine what a true mature love might have looked like.
    Listen to the volumes of experience here and invest in you! Best returns ever!

  • if was his exs choice to have a abortion, her decision. it doesnt matter if u have been together 1 week or 10 years, cheating is cheating. what where u thinking, u got a dog together, its only been 8 months, u thinking of living together, u n hes going to go back and forth between you. because he knows he will get about with it, do you lend him money, i hope not. is he working

  • You’re getting a lot of advice that sounds like ‘same honey, get out while you can. Don’t be me’ and I hate to say that I am in that boat but I’ll add that I didn’t realize it at the time and I believed in human fallibility and was absolutely stuffed with compassion. If you are empathetic and compassionate and in need of love then it can be extremely difficult to imagine that the person you are dealing with is not like you. Not empathetic, not compassionate and not in need of love. I’m not saying they can emulate that. Some people tell others what they want to hear because it makes their day go better. Two women telling you how much they love you? Great day. My FW was waving all the red flags but I thought he was just a wounded soul like me. Together we could find partnership to navigate the cruel, cold world. I didn’t understand who I was dealing with until decades later. ((hugs))

  • I’m late to be commenting here but Kim, you are confusing what you need (what CL calls a “tribe” or family) with a romantic relationship you are having with a guy who is cheating on you. I don’t know how old you are or why you have no family or friends, but you are confused on a number of points.

    First, it’s not that you had this relationship “only 8 months.” It’s that after only 8 months, your whole life and identity is tied up in this cheater: “I am so attached to him. I don’t have my parents, no siblings, and no family. I feel like I’m losing him and his family. My whole people who kept me sane and made me feel loved.”

    Being “attached” is to the same as loving someone. What you say here clarifies that what he is to you is someone to be “attached to,” rather than someone you’ve build a solid reciprocal relationship with. Your real job here is to work on your own life. If your parents have passed, that’s a tough thing, but there are plenty of other people who can be in your life in a meaningful way. You can’t give yourself siblings but you can build a family or tribe with other people–and thereby keep YOURSELF sane.

    The #1 thing I wish I had known at age 25 was how to love myself. In your case, that starts with protecting yourself from a person who is not a good guy. He lies, he cheats, he manipulates, he future fakes. He’s a bad guy. So walking away from him is a first step at loving yourself.

    You can walk away from this man and develop a healthy relatioship—if you do the hard work of building a life you love even though you are single. Once you do that, you will be ready to share a life with someone. Other people cannot fill up the hollow spaces inside ourselves. That’s our work to do.

    And don’t be in such a hurry. If you’ve only known him 8 months, you don’t know enough about him to live with him. Next time around, don’t fall for lovebombing. Don’t seek “instant love.” Don’t even talk about living together until you have been together for 2 years

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