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He’s Checked Out for OnlyFans

Dear Chump Lady,

I am so confused. My partner of 10 years, and friend prior to that, has been interacting and subscribing to subscription accounts, i.e.

Now we had our first baby, who is a year now, and he wasn’t coming near me and was actively avoiding me. I caught him out and he lied to my face three times. First lie was “I’ve maybe clicked it off Twitter.” (I had logged in because he isn’t a tech genius). Second lie was “I haven’t paid for anything.” And third lie was “I haven’t interacted with anyone.”

So we got into a big argument during which he stated that he understands why I’m upset, yet now he’s pretending as though it didn’t happen? I’ve lost the trust with him and I’m unsure how to move forward.



Dear Molly,

I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Let’s put aside the porn subscriptions for a moment, and deal with the overarching rejection of being a new mother and your partner won’t touch you.

That first year after giving birth is such a vulnerable time. Your body has gone through all these dramatic changes to bring a new life into the world. Weight gain, stretch marks, leaky boobs. You bleed like a stuck pig afterwards. Your vagina is a no-fly zone for awhile. And you’ve got an infant latched to you like a barnacle. An adorable barnacle, but a very needy 24/7 barnacle.

What you need is to be cherished, supported, and reassured that you’re loved and desired. Babies need safety and stability. And instead, you’ve got a partner who’s checked out. Who has chosen escapism over greater intimacy with the mother of his child. That’s a stain on his character and it totally makes sense that you don’t trust him.

I don’t know the rest of your particulars. If you live together, if he contributes financially, but this is a 10-year investment of a shared life. And he is failing you.

There are people who would answer this letter and go down the porn hole. Porn is a God-given right. It’s not cheating. Men are visual creatures, doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you, yada yada yada. And that’s the battleground they want to fight on — He’s not getting His Needs Met, So He’s Found This Outlet for $14.99 a month. And isn’t that better than hookers? Or an affair? And shouldn’t you shut up already?

What all of this presumes is his entitlement.

And I say fuck that shit.

Your needs are not being met. He’s avoiding and rejecting you. Your child’s needs are not being met, because he’s not committed to this being a safe and stable relationship in which to raise a child. Instead, he’s destabilizing your bond by choosing escapism over intimacy. Choosing lies over honesty. And choosing to finance his boners over your kid.

Biologically speaking, YOUR NEEDS ARE PRIMARY. Not his. You made a human. He did not. But for some reason, the discourse on porn is all about how we all need to stop worrying our pretty little heads. It’s harmless. Stop being so insecure. Get hip to his sexuality and submit. Maybe be more porn-like (pick me dance!)

If you object to the OnlyFans, chances are you’re going to be told you’re a controlling prude.

So let’s be clear what this is — you object to him checking out when you need him most. You object to being compared and contrasted, especially postpartum. You object to being sexually rejected. You object to being lied to instead of confided in. You matter. He clearly does not “get it” or he wouldn’t act like it never happened.

Speaking of getting it, I’m in the U.S. and I had to Google to find out what OnlyFans is — it’s a sort of British Patreon of porn. You subscribe to “content creators.” I found a whole BBC documentary Nudes4Sale on it here. Which I watched. It first comes off as pseudo empowering. These young girls (many with fake IDs claiming to be 18, when they’re as young as 14) do sexy poses in their underwear for “subscribers.” But the whole thing is an arms race, to be the newest, hottest feed. And the market is flooded with competitors. But top earners make $50k a month. Some girls get more transgressive for more money. Subscribers make… suggestions.

I could write a whole column on this, but the saddest thing to me was realizing that’s the most they’ll ever make in their lives. So how could you not conclude that the most important thing about yourself is your ass or tits? Doctor, teacher, lawyer, social worker. No, your highest earnings are as jizz object. That’s your value.

Anyway, Molly, back to you.

IMO, your partner is not available for a relationship. He’s not a grown-up. He’s an adolescent with a tissue box. When he’s not the center of attention, he escapes — and that’s a shitty thing whether it’s porn or booze or sea cruises. He’s someone who lets you down.

So, next moves? I’d line up those ducks for a life without him and focus on your independence. Better men exist. You deserve a real one.


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  • Molly,

    You have a “partner” who is not really a partner ….. they make themselves unavailable when you need them most, and do things that they know would not be acceptable to you (in this case porn, but other vices are available) and then lie about it when caught and then gaslight you later on.

    You have literally nothing to work with here and I would hope that you realise that you (and your child) deserve better.


    • Thank you for your comment, the biggest thing that’s confusing me about the situation is that we were eventually getting back on track after 6 + months of him sleeping on the couch through his choice and barely interacting with me (speaking, cuddling legit everything was a no go) he eventually started getting a grip and trying again. Then I find out just how avoidant he’s actually been such as going on onlyfans while actively rejecting me.

      I don’t know whether I’m being daft or reminiscent or whatever but I just want to go back in time as I really don’t know if I’ll ever trust him again cause if things change is he just going to do all this again?!

      He’s actually a really good dad and is extremely involved with our daughter It’s just me he’s been weird (distant/avoidant/crappy) with.

      – M

      • Molly,

        There is a lot to unpack here. A loss of trust in a relationship is utterly corrosive; if you do not believe that your partner has your back and is taking your needs into account (and prioritising them over his when appropriate) then the relationship is in trouble. Similarly, the “want to go back in time” statement is something to avoid; I’d bet that his behaviour was the same back then, but that you hadn’t recognised it – the phrase “slow boiled frog” springs to mind (been there and had it done to me too).

        I’d also venture that “a really good dad” doesn’t act towards their child’s mother in the way that you describe; are you describing the man you wish you were in a relationship with/thought you were in a relationship with rather than the man that you are actually in a relationship with?


        • My Cheater (first husband and father of my children) loved babies and had a sparkly spurt of enthusiasm for our relationship after each baby was born. He could also act like a good dad for pockets of time (but always got tired of it and handed them over to me when he was “done” for the moment).

          When I laid in bed completely befuddled as to why he was so distant from me, the idea that he had side fucks was absolutely unthinkable to me. Even in my very worst moments, I never imagined that his behaviors were as bad as they were.

          Distance and avoidance shows SOMETHING. While you might want to try to untangle the skein to learn what it is, his refusal to openly admit whatever-the-hell is going on is a serious red flag.

          • Ugh, distance & avoidance. A few months before dday we were having trouble with a neighbor’s disturbing behavior. Our town’s zoning office was not being very helpful & we were contemplating a lawsuit or even selling our home of 16 years. It was a very stressful & emotional time. I sensed exe’s distance & NEVER dreamed it was because he was getting side fucks from his subordinate. It was only years later when I looked back at that awful time along with therapy & a daily dose of CL did I see that he wasn’t there for me when I was falling apart over the neighbor situation. At times I thought I was losing my mind & didn’t understand why ex wasn’t as emotional. I see now that he had checked out. Incidentally, on my own I successfully sued my neighbor in county court & won. A few years later after his wife left due to his cheating, he moved away.

          • As my narcissistic ex LT boyfriend (divorced with two kids) said to me on his way out (for a ten years younger schmoopie in her second marriage and with kids)…”there was a lot more sex than you know about…if I wasn’t having sex with you, I was having sex with someone else.” !!! Btw, this dude had proposed to me and we were house shopping three weeks earlier! Moral of the story…GTFO!!

        • Along my CL blog lifespan, I’ve seen stories of blatant/gross cheaters and more complicated stories

          My XW is a fine mom. I wish to god she was bad for so many reasons, mostly so that my understanding of her is simplified.

          But that’s a crappy wish to throw onto my kids.

          It’s all messy. It often isn’t so blk and white.

          But what is very clear here is that Molly has lost trust in this guy and he lied lied lied.

          Molly, is this acceptable to you? If you were just dating and he did this, would you stick around?

          I should have said “no” to my xw long ago. Here I am.

        • The idea that a person can be a good parent while being a bad partner is total BS. A FW who is in any way intentionally destabilizing the other parent and thus destabilizing the child’s emotional, financial, and physical safety and security cannot be a good parent. IMO, the narrative really needs to change on this.

      • Hello. Glad you found yourself here, at the hotel “CL loving arms”. Tracy is absolutely right that you need to prioritize your emotional and physical well being. Children are exhausting, if you are not healthy it is next to impossible to be at the top of your childcare game. (Can the parents in the crowd give up an “Amen!”? )
        So. Don’t beat yourself up too bad with this ( albeit repeated) advice, but you may need to re prioritize your relationship boundaries. What your partner is doing is in stark contrast to his most important role right now: provider. Provider of a stable, supportive and loving home for both you and your daughter. Abusing and neglecting his child’s mom is not in the best interest of his daughter.

      • One of the hardest things for me was to let go of the “he’s a crappy husband but he’s a GOOD DAD”. He’s NOT a good dad. Good dads don’t reject , lie to, gaslight, and essentially abandon their child’s mother, their partner. His actions show that he is selfish and immature. Maybe the baby is easy right now for him so he can be “involved”, but eventually kids demand a lot more attention and work. They develop their own personalities. They need emotional support. Plus, he’s sabotaging your ability to fully be there for your child because you’re feeling unsafe and unsupported.

        Tracy’s advice of asking yourself “is this relationship acceptable to me?” is the best advice I can give you. Is this the person you want by your side? Do you want to live always wondering if it’s going to happen again? Policing him? Questioning everything he tells you? Always feeling like you don’t measure up to some fantasy girl? It is so hard to regain trust in someone after they’ve lied to you.

        I was a much better mom after my ex and I split. I was able to heal. I was able to stop obsessing over him. I was able to be present for my child. My son deserved a mother who was whole and happy, not broken. Do you want your daughter to grow up thinking that this is an acceptable way for a man to treat her? What advice would you give her if she were in your shoes? You both deserve better than that.

        It’s not an easy decision, and it can be scary to walk away and start over. It can’t be rushed. But please don’t diminish yourself or resign yourself to living half a life for some idea of a “happy, intact family”.

        We are all here for you.

      • Omg! This is my ex-husband. Put all his attention into the kids & not me. I justified his uncaring behaviour towards me by saying “at least he’s a good dad”. He started sleeping on the couch too. Later, upgraded to affairs with soccer moms in the mini van. He only wanted sex with me if it was wham bam thank ya, ma’am. Long story how this happened, but he went through psychological testing and was diagnosed as dismissive avoidant with narcissistic traits. Now Google that on how to have a marriage with one of those. I did try – too hard, of course. Marriage counselling (of course, he wasn’t too interested in that either) the whole bit. I wish the therapist had been real with me & said “hun, if he’s not interested in being here doing the work to save your marriage, he’s not interested in saving your marriage!”. Period. He then found someone else who latched onto him fiercely (twu wuv ya know because she gave him “attenshun”) & he was gone baby gone. If you’re husband is an avoidant like mine, or worse a dismissive one, they just don’t have any (or very little) emotional attachment to you. And yup, you find that out when shit gets real, like kids, being sick, etc. Oh & he was with me through school too, he loved to say how he was supporting me through school (white knight image). You have the opportunity of enlightenment & – possibly the cajones – that I didn’t possess at the time. I wish I had got out where you’re at now.

      • Oh sweetheart, I’m so sorry you’re going through this, especially when you’re so physically and emotionally vulnerable right now. ((hugs))xx

        CL’s advice is spot on, as always. I just want to say a couple of things to you.

        Why did you write to ChumpLady ? I think because you know in your heart this is not acceptable, or indeed normal behaviour on the part of a man who’s just become a father. Our mantra here is “leave a cheater, gain a life”. I think it’s just a matter of time before he crosses over from porn into actively and physically cheating on you. Do you really want to wait in a constant state of hypervigilance until that happens ? Because statistically, it’s more than likely.

        He’s not a good man – good men don’t behave like this to a woman they profess to love, who’s just had *their baby*.

        You say he’s a “good father”. What’s your criteria for that ? Is it changing a few nappies now and then, or does it encompass taking a full share in everything that entails looking after a newborn ? Getting up in the night ? Taking his fair share of all that it takes to look after a newborn ? Does it entail being a man you can trust to have your back, and that of your child ? Only you can answer that.

        Having a new baby is overwhelming in so many ways, and I can understand your bargaining with yourself, and trying to rewrite what he’s doing in your head, and contemplating being a single mum is frightening. But try and think of your future; as someone said above, you have a *real* baby to look after, do you want to be looking after a man baby as well ?

        Please think about that. And keep us up dated on what you decide if you can and want to. We’ll be thinking about you. Xxx

        • Molly,

          I second everything, EVERYTHING, in this thread.

          My ex had a porn addiction before our first child, when we were living separately. I didn’t know what was going on at the time, but in addition to sex issues there was the dismissive/avoidant/mean behavior. It got better several months after he moved back home – he apparently fixed it himself without saying anything to me and there were some good years.

          But once they prove they are capable of a secret double sex life and treating you so hatefully, it’s only a matter of time before entitlement rears its ugly head again.

          He went on to cheat IRL (once that I know about; once is enough) about 8 years later. His behavior was porn-addiction-times-10. He was over-involved with the kids and used it as a way to avoid interacting or spending time with me, to where it felt like he was taking them away and leaving me behind. It was confusing to the point that I felt I must be mentally ill. It took me a whole year to figure out what was going on, and by then the cheating was past and (after a creepy-feeling love bombing stage) things were back to ok. Still, I’d had enough. He was not the “good person” he sold me on our wedding day. I couldn’t trust him to be there when I needed him. He would be there when it suited him and he didn’t have anything more interesting going on. Divorce was difficult and painful, but 3.5 years out it was absolutely the best thing I could have done. I wish I did it during the porn addiction stage.

      • He. Is. Not. A. Really. Good. Dad.
        Read CL’s answer again, the very first paragraph where she writes “he is not committed to this being a safe and stable relationship in which to raise a child.”
        Actions that create a “safe and stable relationship” make him a “really good dad.”

      • As someone whose husband has also done only fans (and Ashley Madison, and eharmony), it just sucks! I feel for you and you’re doing great.
        My discovery of only fans was a week after d-day where hookers, happy endings at parlors, etc came to light. FW said he wanted to follow a local woman on OF, but it wasn’t what he expected. Pathetic really. My concern for you is what else you don’t know. It is always worse than you think with these porn addicts.
        It’s not you, it’s him. A real man and partner is honest and supportive. You have neither with him. Take care of yourself, you are worth so much more than he’s giving!

      • The last sentence is all you need: right now he is not partner material. You’re not compatible. Leave him as an intimate partner and build a new life. There are so many wonderful people who are reciprocal and who have integrity. He does not. Time to move on.

      • Good dads don’t abuse the mothers of their children.

        Moreover, he has a child who should be getting the time, energy, and attention he is spending in illicit interactions.

        Your family is your bird’s nest. Cheating is burning down the bird’s nest with the parent and the baby bird in it.

        Actions which protect and strengthen the family define good parenthood.

        (((( ❤️ ))))

        • PS….trust and safety are the two essential non-negotiable components of a healthy relationship. Cheaters don’t realize that if they are untrustworthy people, the untrustworthiness extends to ALL of their relationships. The trust of the involved children is compromised as well.

          My daughter does not, and should not trust him. If I promote him as a good parent (a safe and trustworthy parent) to her, that makes me untrustworthy and sets her up to pick someone like him for her life, and the shitshow gets passed on.

          Good parents ARE TRUSTWORTHY.

          It’s just between you and him IF THERE ARE NO CHILDREN. When children are involved, the trust and safety is compromised in those relationships as well, a fact and a distinction that goes completely over the heads of people who participate in illicit relationships.

          Exhibit A? On Father’s Day, he had our daughter. She was ten. They were in a restaurant and he excused himself to go to the bathroom. He was gone for so long she went to a table where some police officers were sitting and asked for help. Thankfully. He was obviously not going to the bathroom.

          The one time I left her in his care for a week and went out of town he left her alone at home, with no phone, lied about where he was going, and went to hook up with the Craigslist cockroach. She still talks about it to this day. She wrote down a list of all the lies he told her. It is in my safe deposit box.

          When he left us, he did not get a place for him and child. He left town, moved into an apartment with the Craigslist cockroach, and became a ghost in his own child’s life. He was also caught on Tinder by our daughter during this time while she was using his phone to watch a video.

          I call side pieces (IRL or virtual) cockroaches because the one you see means there are 40,000 more you don’t.

          Please do not fool yourself about his being a good dad.

        • Agreed Cam and it hurts like hell to feel like you can’t compete with a porn star! I felt so down when I wondered why my ex wanted to jerk off instead of having real sex. But he was doing that with hookers 🙁

          • CL is about the only place I’ve read stories like Molly’s (or the recent letter writer who shared her FW’s “every man watches porn of lesbians buttfucking!” rage comment) that ring so true to my own experiences with cheating/abuse, and yet are so different from what I’ve read on most other sites about abuse and IPV. It’s important to know we’re not alone, and what we’re all sharing in this thread may in fact be a pretty common pattern within abusive relationships. When you read that jealousy and sexual pressure/assault are common abuser symptoms — which they are — you might think that if your partner isn’t like this, they’re not abusive. You might think your partner is withholding and withdrawing because something is inherently wrong with you. And if you already have body dysmorphia or issues with self esteem — conditions that do not tend to improve after years in an abusive relationship — this can be especially damaging.

            The reveal came in stages for me. First, I learned about the porn, completely by accident when I opened the laptop and a YouPorn history box popped up. Well, there went my access to the last device FW hadn’t freakishly blocked me from using. He angrily told me “every man does it” and that he’d been “watching” (and…?) it every day since he was 14. He blamed me for not being able to tell me because he feared my response (I let that FW get away with sooo much, so the accusation was just a mean spirited DARVO). I was mostly upset that he’d hidden this daily habit from me for years; it was creepy and shocking to learn. Kinda seemed like a big deal — even though he’d also hidden the seriousness of his alcohol addiction for years. (I would later learn he also hid a prescription drug habit for a time, and of course… the affairs.) I was also really hurt and upset that he’d been such a terrible, neglectful lover while secretly meeting his own needs with porn and was attacking me for even trying to talk about it. Plus, yeah, when you internalize your perceived undesirability and then insecure and frustrated when you learn you’re being compared to porn stars and “perfect” young/underaged women, it feels rotten on many levels. This little peek behind the curtain did begin to shift some long-held unhealthy beliefs I carried about myself, FW and our relationship. So that was good 🙂

            Then, about a year later, I learned that FW had been having an affair. He begged me to come back and said it was over with the OW, but he was still withholding and un-affectionate when I most wanted to feel loved and desired. I knew I deserved far better and it was sickening but i was trapped in pick me purgatory and didn’t want to rock the boat. THEN, I learned the one brief affair with one woman was actually years of affairs with several women, one of whom he was still fucking — all while I was feeling like an undesirable nobody, total confused about why he begged me to come back so he could make it up to me, only to treat me like a leper. I was a shell of myself, and he caused it, and he didn’t care; in fact, it seems he got off on it. Naively, I thought his job was to help me heal — thank you RIC and MC. In a way, that last dday was a massive relief because the evidence made it clear that it wasn’t me, it was him, and that those APs were not better than me.

            There’s so much shame that comes with this, and its roots are deep. As CL and other chumps have been mentioning quite a bit recently, this sex-pozzy culture has the opposite effect on many of us. I lt really is refreshing to read the experiences and perspectives here… because a lot of my friends are drinking the kool-aid, and it sucks and sometimes makes me wonder if I am just judgmental, crazy and prudish.

            • I heard that every man watches porn. All husbands watch porn they just hide it from their wives. I was lucky that he was such a good husband because he didn’t hide it. I drank the kool-aide.
              Being a super chump, thinking I was actually lucky.

            • I had so many similar experiences, B&R… it’s so horrifying. I’m trying to manage the body esteem and shame issues still, 2 years after I left him.

      • Is he really a good Dad or does he throw a bone every now and then by paying attention to your daughter? It’s just that I’ve witnessed throughout the years many women saying “yeah he’s a shitty husband but he’s an excellent father” when in reality he wasn’t a great father they were just grasping or focusing on the few occasions they actually paid attention to the kids. Shitty husbands or wives rarely make good parents.

        • I think often our bar of “excellent father” is very low, and what we are really saying is: “doesn’t hit or emotionally abuse his kids and interacts with them once in a while.”

          But a good dad is so much more than that.

          • Yea, I be willing to be the author has been conditioned to view a “good dad” as someone who does the absolute bare minimum. Oh, you changed one diaper…good dad! Oh, you held your daughter for 21 minutes…good dad! I know that’s what I did. And I kept waiting for more, relying on the great big lie that a man will “grow up” when he has a kid and rise to the occasion of fatherhood and family man. Alas, that just doesn’t happen for manbabies like the guy described here.

            • YES!!
              “….kept waiting for more, relying on the great big lie that a man will “grow up” when he has a kid and rise to the occasion of fatherhood and family man” I heard this several times and put waaaay too much stock into it.

      • “He eventually started getting a grip and trying again” – so what was his explanation for treating you like an enemy for six months? (Six months of new motherhood and of your baby’s life?) Let me guess – he didn’t give you any, but you were so happy that he was speaking to you again that he just went with it.

        Yes, he will do this again. I mean, he’s still doing it.

        • Yep. Deprivation (of communication, intimacy, food, etc.) makes the deprived feel so grateful when crumbs are thrown their way. It’s an effective relationship manipulation technique. It gets the deprived to lower their standards so frickin low that anything above abject rejection feels like a gift. This kind of person will break you down until you’re nothing but dust. Get. Out. Now.

      • Hi Chaotic Butterfly – I may get an internet ass whooping for this. But that’s ok.

        I would not let a man who used Only Fans be around my daughter. I would thank whatever Being or your own Good Luck that you are not married to this guy and vanish like a wisp of fog in the night.

        OnlyFans is an la carte porn site. The women who make big money are the ones that take requests for their live cam sessions. Let’s be clear about what this means.

        “Stick that dildo in your ass- hard and fast. Bend over and pull your ass cheeks apart.”

        “Do you have a sister. Bring her in.”

        “Rub your tits with lotion and bounce them up and down.”

        They are furiously jacking their dicks or whatever else freakiness nuts them. I would suggest neck hanging games but I digress.

        It is the live cams that make the cash. It is a live porn show. It is not a man peeking at a cheesecake shot before he goes back out to join the family for a late afternoon game of croquet.

        So, even if he was going down on you every night, and rubbing your feet with Aquaphor and worshiping you like a sex goddess – I would still leave him. I would never let him around my daughter OR son.

        He reduces people to holes. Orifices he can pretend to be fucking. He pays for it. It’s as debased as you get.

        He’s taking part in the Great Global Ass Peddling Scheme.

        This is an easy one. You bred with the wrong man. Don’t make it worse by subjecting your precious new born baby to this Creep. Fast forward 15 years. “My dad wants to watch me change my bathing suit.”

        Think it’s a leap? Read the book Pornified.

        AND: Do you actually want to be with a man who has to “get a grip” to BE around you? Sleeping on on the couch like you are a fucking chore to be dealt with- like folding heaps of laundry or pressure washing the house?

        As CL said: FUCK THAT SHIT. You deserve so much more. What are you doing? Wake up!!!! You are better off alone. And you will NOT be alone if you do not want to be. There is so much better out there than this Human Scab.

        • Sandstone….


        • I mean, people like this are already hard wired to push boundaries and move goalposts. Although I wouldn’t go so far as to label someone a future child molester for engaging in OnlyFans, or porn in general, I would certainly place them in a category of folks who struggle with boundaries, which automatically makes them problematic around kids, for any number of reasons. I am, however, a stanch believer that regular consumers of porn, in general, seriously damage their ability to have fulfilling sex lives and absolutely contribute to the sex trade, which is inherently damaging for women and girls.

      • Your whole story has me in tears – brought right back to the past. The “great Dad” was an act he put on as my ex treated me like crap. He was either the greatest Brady Bunch Dad you ever saw or completely disconnected with a “valid” excuse of course. There were still signs though. I chalked them up to being: different parenting styles, a different upbringing, different sense of humor, etc. I could gaslight myself into believing he was the best dad ever. The bad parenting things were more like microaggressions – hard to spot at times, but ultimately very destructive.

        I had a similar discovery about some subscription to interactive porn and I wish I had run. He knew how i felt about it and yet I believed that I was defective because he had needs that I was unwilling ot fulfill. You are not defective. You are a life-giving force that deserves to be valued.
        Look to all the evidence and even if this is not enough to send you running toward freedom, always have a back up plan. My aunt used to say that you should never be in a relationship because you have no out; only be in a relationship because you want to – every damn day.
        I wish you all the best.

        • FW realized that the “good dad” act got him LOADS of kibbles. But it was mostly when he was out in public with the kid. Anything he did with my son, he photographed or filmed so he could put it on Facebook and eat up the compliments. He was a monster to me. Often while our son looked on crying (and when he was a little older, begging him to stop).

          After we split, I watched helpless as FW started emotionally manipulating my son the same way he had me. Belittling my son’s interests and trying to replace them with his own. Demanding perfection. Getting angry if my son expressed any unhappiness, particularly if he said he missed me. Using my kid to carry messages back and forth. Using my son to try and garner information about me. I could hear my ex’s voice when my son would get angry and tell me I was stupid or that he hated me. I knew my ex was feeding those ideas to my child. My son was stressed to the point where he said he didn’t want to live anymore because it was too hard. He was a ball of anxiety and depression.

          Now that FW is dead, my son is a happy little guy (he’s 10). No depression. No anxiety. No stress.

          No matter how performative FWs are with parenting, in the long run they cause harm because of who they are. They have poor character. It spills out into the rest of their life. Not to mention, if your husband “checks out”, you can’t trust him to care for your child. In spite of “being very involved” my ex husband didn’t want anything to do with the mundane aspects of parenting – providing clothing, medical appoinments, school supplies, taking care of the child when he was sick (child or FW), etc.

      • Wait — he quit SPEAKING to you for six months after y’all had a baby?! Am I reading that right?

        No. No way. Just no. HELL no.

      • As others point out, he’s not a good dad because he’s abusing you. As CL alluded, the baby’s long term development hinges largely on your wellbeing, both during pregnancy and infancy. Research shows that human fetuses and infants are exquisitely sensitive to maternal stress which can cause changes in infant brains. Scientifically speaking, you and your daughter, in her stage of development, are physiologically and emotionally interconnected to the degree that you are only one person. What he does to you he does to her.

        As far as whether your partner’s behavior constitute abuse, as a former advocate for survivors of domestic violence, I personally can’t see any difference between the psychology and tactics used by domestic abusers and “cheaters” give or take broken bones. I see little difference between the effects on victims of either cheating or domestic abuse. Both forms of betrayal can induce trauma and trauma has measurable physical effects on both mothers and children. Most battering victims describe the emotional abuse, coercion and control involved in DV to be more paralyzing and damaging than even assault which is why “coercive control” laws are being added to existing domestic violence statutes in various regions. In the UK, coercive control– or “subviolent” forms of emotional and psychological abuse– has been criminalized. Google, “The Science Behind Coercive Control and Adverse Outcomes During Pregnancy + Americas Conference to End Coercive Control.” Then read the rest of the articles on that site for descriptions of coercive control and laws in various countries.

        From the article on adverse outcomes and coercive control:

        ‘Many women say non-physical abuse is far worse for them and their children to live with than the physical abuse because of stigma and difficulty in detection, safe access to reporting and aftercare resources being limited. The findings reported in this article indicate brain imaging from infants who were exposed to domestic violence, even as they are sleeping, or in utero, showed reduced parts of development. Research found changes in the overall structure of the brain in children of non-physical abuse. When the brain is affected at this time, the circuits tend to misfire immediately and continue throughout a child’s lifetime.
        Exposure to emotional trauma can also impair learning, according to Alissa Huth-Bocks, a child psychologist at University Hospitals in Cleveland. Huth-Bocks stated the “most damaging time” is during pregnancy and the first three years of life when development “takes the biggest hit at the brain level.”
        Research shows Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, similar to that of soldiers returning from the war, is found in babies born to mothers who experienced non-physical trauma during pregnancy. The study of PTSD found in children has not been researched as significantly as it has in veterans returning from war. Psychologist Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, past president of the American Psychological Association’s division of trauma psychology, said “babies are like a blank slate… If a mother is beaten while pregnant, there is a chance the baby will be injured, delivered prematurely, and there is a stack of other things that can happen – including physiological programming of the hyperactive stress system that leads to inflammation as an adult,” she said while comparing it to Veterans, “It’s like when a soldier comes back from combat, hears a click and hits the ground.”‘

        Gaslighting is abuse. Bilking family assets without partners’ consent/financial abuse is officially considered a form of IPV or intimate partner violence. Acting out sexually in ways that rob agency and consent from a partner– i.e., cheating– is sexual abuse even if indirect. Psychology professor and researcher Jennifer Freyd expanded her original concept of betrayal trauma to include partner infidelity. Infidelity, which is increasingly being viewed as a typical tactic within DV, can induce traumatic stress so, again, it arguably puts infants at risk.

        Personally I think part of the reason why infidelity is so traumatizing is that it’s a cue that any existing abuse within the relationship will amplify. One tiny assurance that victims of any form of ongoing relationship abuse have that their abusers (who, by their actions, show a concerning level of impaired empathy to start with) won’t outright destroy them is if the abuser still has sexual “use” for the victim. But once an abuser shifts sexual attention to other targets, that small window of safety disappears. In relationships with histories of psychological and emotional abuse, coercion and control, infidelity implies these abuses could potentially escalate to dangerous levels, even physical violence (for the record, simply threatening to abandon a mother with a small infant is officially viewed as “IPV” or intimate partner violence). In relationships in which any form of violence or threat of violence has already occurred, infidelity implies the abuse could intensify to lethal levels. Because infidelity carries an implied threat of escalation of abuse, it’s akin to casually waving a gun in someone’s face. It doesn’t matter whether the gun is loaded or not because the message is clearly, “I could do this. I might do this. This could happen to you. Wait and see.” That’s not the behavior of a good person and particularly not the behavior of a good parent.

        I know that talking about the problem is, at first, likely to induce even more stress in the short term. But talking about the problem is not the problem. The problem is the problem and the solution is to stop the source of the chronic stress in the long term and get to safety. I wish you and your daughter strength, safety and peace in the coming year. A better life awaits you both.

        • HellofaChump, Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of all of our hearts for this very specific and researched information. While we all know it instinctively, it can be very anchoring and empowering to have this data to throw in other people’s faces when they tell you you are “overreacting,” or give you the culturally-sanctioned lie of “You have to keep the family together for the children” (the patriarchy loves BS like that). Thank you

          • Falconchump–

            Isn’t it a relief there’s a whole field of research out there to counter the bs? Half of what the advocacy network I worked with did was offer survivors “study-comebacks” and clinical antidotes to victim-blamey psychobabble. That’s because half of what was discouraging and crushing survivors was the barrage of blame they’d get from bystanders and so-called helping professionals. The RIC drivel is probably familiar because it’s all recycled from the bad old days of “split blame” DV theory. Those theories were just sitting around gathering dust so they were repurposed for chumps!

            Come to think of it, it’s sort of like bombing Laos during Vietnam because a bunch of surplus planes and bombs were sitting around going to rust. In poly-sci speak, that’s sometimes called “instrumentalism”– using toys just because you have them. Aiming moldy old victim-blaming hogwash at a new set of targets would be “therapeutic instrumentalism” by that score. Fuckers.

      • Had a longish comment typed out but this site is wonky sometimes. Long story short, you got yourself a manbaby who, when deprived of 100% of your undivided love and attention, will do these things. He’s a taker, and he’ll never change. It will only get worse. He’ll never be an enthusiastic family man. He will always feel deprived, no matter how hard you try to build a life that suits him. He will always need more. And you will suffer endlessly as a result. He can no longer be your “baby” because you have an actual baby now, and that will never be ok with him.

        Sorry. It sucks. I’d get out if I were you, now, before your child comes to rely on this faux family unit. I regret not getting away from my ex manbaby sooner. I waited too long. The divorce was (and still is) very tough on my daughter.

        • It’s obviously a choice. When I worked in DV survivors advocacy, we were told to never command victims to leave as a condition of participating in online forums and group or getting support. Realistically, it takes survivors an average of seven attempts to finally break free of abuse so it was assumed to be a process that involved tackling a series of obstacles that might not be apparent to bystanders. Precisely because abuse is more akin to criminal disorder than mental disorder, abusers are typically quite skillful in subtly fostering dependency in victims and weave such dense webs of coercion, control and fear that it can take time to see all the invisible strands and pull them loose. We assumed everyone was doing their best against great odds. All we could do was try to help break down each obstacle by offering practical solutions and support for survivors to defend themselves and their children against each separate threat (strand in the web). Consequently moderators and advocates would share with new members all the reasons it was probably a good idea to leave. Other survivors would speak from the heart about their own experiences. But it wasn’t a directive. Obviously abuse survivors get enough commands from abusers and enough shame heaped on them for “failing to obey” from abusers without piling on more of the same.

          But while we wouldn’t command anyone to leave, we also picked apart all the social prohibitions *against* leaving, such as authoritarian religious edicts or the more modern psychobabble drivel that abusers are poor sad sausages who just need love and understanding to heal from their brokenness and only heartless cretins would abandon such sad souls. To hell with that. Not even theologians take all scripture literally and unconditionally and no one should have to set themselves on fire to keep someone else warm.

        • You can set all the boundaries you want with an abuser; they will cross them. Give it a day, tops. If you know you’re dealing with an abuser, which I think has been established in Molly’s case, then “trying again” is guaranteed to put you right back in the ever-escalating cycle of abuse. I know because I tried many times, and it only ever got worse. If you want to have boundaries with an abuser, there’s not one choice: leave.

        • Right, it’s her choice if she wants to be the porn police. And she’ll be setting boundaries with a guy who’s lied to her. Trust but verify is a shitty way to live.

  • Molly, you obviously do not find the relationship acceptable. He is no longer safe or trustworthy. He will never be a role model for your baby. Quite simply, do you want to raise two babies or one? Because he is an entitled man-baby. He helped bring a new human into the world and he needs to take responsibility for the child. Spending money on what boils down to porn is not supporting a partner or a baby! Leave the porn watching man-baby in the dust, get a lawyer to make sure you get child support and start your journey to a freak free life. You will find you have a lot more time and money with just you and you baby. Don’t waste your time with a person who has shown you what he really is. Sorry that you have to go through this but it will get better.

  • Molly, so sorry you are going through this. On the plus side, you’ve been given the gift of seeing him as he truly is and the golden opportunity to DO SOMETHING about it early on in your child’s life before he wrecks your precious child emotionally for life. And the “something you should do” is leave him, establish your own life, and bring your child up only around people who a) don’t check out of the relationship and b) don’t gaslight family members.

    I know you want to go back in time, but there is no time machine. There’s only the future. You can’t raise your child to be the person you want them to be and have the life you envision for them while sharing your space with a lying, gaslighting father.If he’s improved for a bit, it’s only because he ‘s afraid of losing the services you provide, and if you stay it will teach him that it’s okay to treat you that way. He’ll relapse, and find new ways to abuse your trust and faithfulness.

    Run, now.

  • The thing is that you don’t really know what he’s up to. Remember they only admit to what you already know. What you do know independent of him is that he finds comfort outside of your relationship, that he lies to you and that he minimizes your needs. These things don’t get better because he lacks the empathy and self reflection to even see that he needs to change.

    Also he could be doing much more than you know, and odds are high that this will progress. My ex started with porn, then flirting with several women, then online interaction, then happy ending massages. It took many years for the progression, but it’s common. I should have left when it was an unacceptable relationship with only porn issues (so far as I know).

    I will also say that I’m now dating a guy who appears to be the solid guy we all hope really exists. He’s just moved and does novel things like ask which artwork I like in his house because he wants it to feel like our space together. It’s such a small action but my ex would NEVER have considered my opinion on these sorts of everyday decisions. I think I’m in love. You can find another better life too.

    • Re: ‘ex started with porn, then…’ Same story here.
      FW said, “I started using porn, then chat rooms and video, then I got on Pure and started having meetups for sex. I was chasing women and drinking too much. Then I met Schmoopie (on New Year’s day via the Pure app: mate poacher), and we had a connection. I have fallen in love and I think I want a divorce.” When I questioned the cash required for all of this, it was “not even $200” followed by “I was helping out this girl” to the reality, which included a host of charges from cashapp payments to hotel rooms found on both his personal and work credit cards. I stopped counting at $4400, just logged the low hanging fruit. Get a good lawyer, as that money can be counted in your favor. When I suggested that he have a talk with our 2 kids about the dangers of porn and alcohol, he looked at me like I was crazy. I knew then he did not have a clue as to what the kids and I were going through as a result of his choices…really hard to believe, but true nonetheless.

  • Dear Molly/Chaotic Butterfly,
    You’re a young woman with one child. I encourage you to take stock of your situation now rather than wait.

    I was married for 18 years to a man who ignored and neglected me, rejected all my bids for connection and affection. (Our sex life remained intact but wasn’t affectionate or intimate.) He would go to happy hour with his buddies and come home with women’s phone numbers in his pockets. I was entirely excluded from his social life.
    When I left him, I was 42, and our three kids were teens.

    If I could go back in time, I would leave sooner. Much sooner.

    Your partner seems to consider it an unpleasant chore to be plugged in to your relationship. He’s avoidant to the extreme. He lies to you. He spends money on OnlyFans for his own gratification.

    Is this the foundation you want to build a family on?

    It’s unlikely he will change in any significant way. Take CL’s excellent advice to start lining up your ducks. If he’s a great parent (I thought my ex was a great parent), you can be great co-parents separately.

    But your needs matter. You matter. Don’t sacrifice either on the altar of cherished outcomes.

    • This was me except that my Cheater was VERY discreet and careful. Never once found a phone number in his pocket. His ability to hide his tracks for so many years was amazing.

      I thought that my kids were better off with a present dad even if he was a sucky husband. My sons have had sucky relationships in the wake of their fathers abuse.

  • Molly,
    As someone who experienced almost four decades with a partner who chose porn over a healthy, intimate relationship, your words are hauntingly familiar. But he’s a good father, it’s only me he acts this way with , etc … are just some of the thousands of rationalizations we create in an attempt to salvage the relationship.
    The core issue is he has lied to you to cover up an activity where he is sharing faux intimacy with someone that is not you. And speaking from my experience and my experience alone, once they manipulate you to look past that, the activity will escalate.

    Like CL, I will avoid discussing the ethos and morality of the visual sex trade. Instead, I would simply ask you if his behavior surrounding it is acceptable to you?
    You are mighty! You have created a life and you should damn well be cherished in every way by the father of your child.
    He is churlish if he does anything but.
    I will tell you it is the most painful experience to have a child tell you how heart-wrenching and difficult it was to grow up watching their father show no interest or affection for their mother. A good father loves and devotes himself to a child’s mother. The ramifications when they don’t are far reaching, affecting more than just you.

    • I finally learned that all my “thousands of rationalizations” were “an attempt to salvage” not “the relationship,” but my hopium! I realized I didn’t have a relationship, except with the hopium.

      • Ugh, me too, friend, me too! I thought I could do my part and rest was between him and God. The FW did me a favor by falling in love with Schmoopie, and I finally put down the d@mned hopium pipe!!!

    • Some FWs are more or less aware of the “family values” optics involved and will playact at being good parents in a compensatory way as they treat their partners deplorably. The worse the abuse to partners, the more frantic the little sprees of “great dad/mom” performance art become. But take a step back and you’ll notice how sporadic, brief and cheap these gestures are. They’ll throw themselves on the sofa weeping copiously at the thought of losing their children to divorce… as if a bit of booey-hoo-hoo makes up for blowing kids’ college funds and heaps of family assets on affairs and hookers, preferring to spend all their free time chasing rando bonks rather than time with their children and crushing their partners to the point of impairing partners’ ability to be emotionally available to children.

      What a crock. It’s all image management. FWs and abusers in general are lousy parents by definition.

    • I wish my mother found it a painful experience to be told what it was like watching her minimize my father’s abuse.

      She minimized his indifference, lack of affection and condescension then and denies it now, and has even taking to making cruel jokes, at his expense, on occasion that are as bad (worse?) as he used to be.

      I don’t see the same rage in my dad anymore since he isn’t being asked to genuinely parent when he had such a hard time even pretending to. Now he doesn’t even pretend. He converses with me if I’m in front of him or on a call to my mom and she makes him come to the screen. This is not even necessarily about him being a jerk; he has a trauma history and I’ve come to accept that my existence stresses him rather than gives him any kind of feeling of pride or desire to nurture.

      I found his porn stash when I was young (10) and it devastated me. Tried to talk to him about it and he yelled at me for invading his privacy. That was 40 years ago and the impacts of knowing that my father was looking at those women and treating my mom contemptuously (while they both insisted they love each other and me) has followed me into every relationship. I feel like every “nice” guy is probably hiding a habit and I have no way of using my instincts to tell different before I get deeper into relating with them.

      • “I feel like every “nice” guy is probably hiding a habit and I have no way of using my instincts to tell different before I get deeper into relating with them.” Same. It’s terrifying.

  • The other risk with some of these sites is that he will fall for a romance scam/catfisher. Check out the show Catfish. My ex used to watch it and laugh at the gullibility of people who got sucked in and sent money to someone they’d had no contact with, other than photos (usually stolen) and texts. Despite knowing that, he signed onto Tagged, fell for someone and within weeks, with no contact other than texts and emails, was sending thousands of dollars to help “her” with immediate needs, then within a month or two, tens of thousands. They only spoke on the phone, briefly, and he texted afterwards that she sounded like a man and couldn’t understand a word.

    Molly, reading that he’s “barely interacting with me (speaking, cuddling legit everything was a no go)” says he checked out of your relationship for that time. That’s not what a partner does. Many of us here know that cheaters only admit to what chumps can prove. Since you’re good with tech, dig deeper and see what you find in his online activity AND his finances. Not to be the marriage police, but to know what else he may have lied about. Maybe he’s a good enough father to a baby that sleeps most of the time, but if he’s directing his energy to online porn, he may not be as attentive once your child is teething, a toddler, a preschooler, etc. He checked out on you when you were not at your best, due to pregnancy. Chances are he’ll do the same to your daughter when she’s not at her “best” either.

  • This might be tmi, but something that’s rarely discussed but real…how porn addiction affects a lot of men. It often causes ED, which the loser then blames his partner for.

    • Not TMI at all! It’s the truth. The more porn, the more freak they need to get it up! Then they want you to act like their own personal porn star so they can. When that didn’t happen, it was off to have affairs to get it up.

      • Not TMI, it happens. He was only 27. He refused to even look at me in lingerie I bought specifically because I thought he would like it. Talk about confusing, permanent emotional damage.

    • Men who watch porn are horrifically bad lovers. It’s honestly embarrassing (for them).

      And I’ve already ranted enough in one of my other comments below about the exploitation of the porn industry…

      I won’t touch a guy who watches porn. If I’m single forever, so be it.

      • CL ends her post with “Better men exist. You deserve a real one.” I wonder if this is even true and possible, though? with porn so normal, ubiquitous, accepted and thought of as a “right” or entitlement—it’s just in the air we breathe, you know? So these Better men that supposedly exist, we just have to find them. to me that just sounds like you have to find the ones who only seek out their porn the least (quarterly, perhaps?) and who do it openly, don’t try to deceive you about it or hide it. And that would be like finding a needle in a haystack anyway, and it’s still not something I would be interested in allowing into my relationship even at that extreme low end of the spectrum. Being single forever seems like an excellent alternative to me.

        • Better men do exist. A bunch of them are members of CN. But as to your point about being single, that’s absolutely a legitimate choice. I’m not so cynical as to think there are No Good People out there.

          • Thanks for the reply, Tracey. Here’s a request for CN, then :(and for sure something I’ll be working on with my therapist) any suggestions on how to become less cynical? I WANT to be less cynical, an not let my n=1 lead me to believe a reciprocal, shared values, fulfilling happy relationship (with both good sex and friendship) is only a fantasy. Is cynicism a personality trait or a choice?

    • Booze is another major cause. But a lot of “recovering” porn users cite porn and some describe the effect as permanent. Apparently one third of men between 18 and 30 suffer from ED, up from about 3% a few decades ago. The modern availability of streaming porn is considered one of the potential culprits. I’m sure hormone disrupting chemicals in the environment don’t help but it’s clear something really scary is happening and all factors need to be weighed even if Pornhub, pesticide, plastics and sildenafil makers would prefer no one investigate.

      • 😳one third! When I made my comment about porn and Ed the thread was young and no one had mentioned porn yet…..but it seems like many of us have been affected by it. I didn’t realize how involved my ex was until after the fact. I have talked to some people who seem totally uninterested in it. Which at first I thought was strange…..the dick and his friends thought it was great fun. All the cool kids are doing it. Well turns out a lot of the cool kids think it’s gross…..maybe there is hope.

  • I had just had our first child when I discovered an “emotional” affair (it was a real affair). I was so upset and stressed out that I lost a bunch of weight and my breastmilk dried up. Their actions DIRECTLY affect your health and the health of your baby (that baby is 18 now and has lived without his father for the past 4 years now). At the time I didn’t even KNOW about the porn. I “forgave” him and stayed for many more years. I’m certain that porn was a constant in his life before he ever met me. By the final Dday he was absolutely refusing to even TOUCH me. If I tried to sit near him he would move away- wouldn’t hold my hand … NOTHING. At the SAME time he also managed to manipulate me into feeling guilty that we weren’t having sex- complete and utter mindfuck- HE was the one that was refusing sex, yet that was somehow MY fault. The porn use also involved him keeping his own personal sex toys around (uncleaned laying on the floor). There’s nothing wrong with sex toys, but when you are leaving them in plain view of your wife and children while simultaneously refusing any physical intimacy it’s an added level of manipulation. If he’s spending money on porn and then lying to you about it that is likely just the tip of his deceit. It’s the deceit that was the final nail in the coffin for me. Telling me in one breath that we couldn’t afford to do certain things for our children while simultaneously spending thousands on other women was the clincher for me. I hope you leave him now and never look back.

  • Molly I stayed in this situation for almost 20 years. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, I rationalized away the fact that he could lie to my face. And after all, it was just posting online, it’s not like he was “cheating” on me… blah, blah, blah.

    I have huge regrets of not leaving when my child was little. The lies continued until I got numb to being lied to. Each passing year he treated me worse – these things don’t get better over time.The lies got bigger. He got secret credit cards and sent us into debt. He went to massage parlors. He sexted old girlfriends. He let me work multiple jobs, do all the parenting, and do the adulting while he jerked off.

    I also wondered, how could he act like nothing happened? I would be suffering and crying and wondering what to do, and he would be fine and dandy. It took reading lots on this blog to realize it’s because he was doing what he wanted. He was HAPPY devaluing me so he could justify his secret sexual life. He didn’t care if it hurt me, if he did, he wouldn’t have done it in the first place.

    I had to open my eyes and accept he is the type of person who will lie to his wife and steal martial funds. He is not who I thought I married. Luckily, I found this blog and a good therapist who helped me through that grief and built me up enough so I had the courage to leave, even if it was a couple of decades too late.

    Life on the other side is so much better. Keep reading here, keep learning ❤️

  • What a dick.

    They are the same dick in a different package.

    A dick cannot be counted on. And you waste good years full of youth and opportunity and energy dealing with a dick who will always be a dick and gets worse with time.

    The kids get fukked up dealing with a dick as a role model. “He’s a good dad.” Bullshit. Good dads don’t shit on their kid’s mom.

    Cut your losses. Get on with your own great life, fuckwit free.

  • This is such a profound analysis, thank you for your words that really pierce through the subject like a fiery spear. Love all of this! -minus that people go through it, of course, but at least if they come here they have clarity about it and can arm themselves with the tools to OBJECT to this wordly, decayed view of porn and its raunchy relatives.

  • When he’s not the center of attention, he escapes — and that’s a shitty thing.

    When you’re the most vulnerable point the escape artist emerges. Be it the birth of a child, health issues, death of a loved one, or bettering yourself professionally these are considered restraints by the self centered character disordered.

    This is when they’ve shown you what’s hiding behind the mask.

    Get your support system in place, protect yourself financially and set yourself up to exit this relationship. If it requires moving closer to family do it before you file. Often times the entitled isolate their partners for control.

    • Exactly this. The guy has manbaby syndrome and will never be content in a life that doesn’t revolve completely around him 100% of the time. I bought into this very American ideology that a man will grow up after he has a child, become less selfish, become a family man. Everyone kept assuring me of this. It’s a lie. Maybe a small percentage go this way…but the majority of these guys just become insufferable partners. I wish I knew that back then.

      A la Oprah, when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

    • Doingme is so very right. When you’re down, these freaks get it up. You’re just a cover of normalcy while he has a house-of-mirrors life with you none the wiser.

      These people are not emotionally healthy. There is a hollow void where emotional maturity should be. It manifests in so many hidden depraved and unthinkable dysfunctions.

      Get out now while you’re younger, in one piece, and wiser for the experience. A better life with your lovely child awaits on the other side.

  • After our baby, my ex slept in the guest room, “so as not to disturb my sleep.” That just meant I did 100% of the nighttime waking, and was supposed to be clueless about how late he was coming home at night. Never mind that I am a very light sleeper and was often already awake with the baby to hear him anyway.

    When they choose to avoid you instead of support you, whether it’s about evading baby care or a porn habit or financial shenanigans or a full-blown affair, and then LIE about it, they are destroying the marriage.

    Don’t wish for a time machine. There is no previous moment where all was well. He was always this type of person, someone capable of doing this, under the surface. Now that you know, what are you going to do about it? You can’t rely on him to do anything reasonable. If he insists he will, that’s just more deceit. Ask 1000s of us how we know.

    My ex wished for a time machine too, to go back to before I figured him out, so he could do a better job of avoiding discovery.

    • That’s bad, but still better than what FW did to me – he asked (told) me to sleep downstairs with the baby (on the couch) so I didn’t disturb HIS sleep. Because, ahem, HE had a job and I was a lazy SAHM.

      So I also did 100% of the nighttime childcare. And all the daytime childcare. And when FW came home he was “tired” because he “worked so hard”, so I did all the child care then too.

  • Molly, don’t do what I did. I found out about my husband’s porn habit 15 years before I divorced him. He denied and used the same excuses that your significant other is giving you. We went to therapy. He became better at hiding it. I then found a video with a girl who looked 14 about 12 years later. I was sick to my stomach because we had a daughter that age who played volleyball with many other 14 year olds. I still stayed because he said it wasn’t a big deal. He then had an affair 5 years later with a woman who was 30 years younger. I was still stupid and made us go to therapy with a therapist specializing in porn. Within 2 months, I started divorce proceedings because he was still cheating. What I found out from the therapist is that it takes more and more porn to get them off, so porn addicts keep escalating to get off. The men become desensitized to the woman in their life because she becomes too vanilla and they need the thrill, so their behavior escalates. The therapist told me he had a client whose behavior ended in murder because he needed more of a thrill.

    Bottom line, don’t be like me and waste 20 years of your life with this person. Protect yourself and your child.

    • This….. porn is Not the harmless hobby many think it is. Porn addicts use demeaning and abusive tactics to cover and protect their destructive habit.

  • When I was pregnant, I discovered my partner’s gambling habit and gambling debt, right after he was fired for forgery at work. It. Was. Awful. Had I not been pregnant, I would have left then & there… but I was afraid of raising my daughter on my own, of not giving her the stability of a 2-parent household I had grown up with. I thought this was part of the “worse” when you promise, “for better or for worse.” So I stuck by my man. My job paid off his gambling debt. Kept the roof over our heads while he went back to school to switch careers. I had begged him to pick up any kind of work while he was unemployed, before the baby arrived. He refused anything retail, less than white collar. Can you imagine?! With a gambling debt & baby on the way? Anyways. He hoovered & love-bombed me so I’d stick around. So much fake remorse. He took care of our child for her first 18 months before he was able to go back to work. Once he was back to work? Did the minimum of parenting, but was checked out. On the phone a lot (still is from what I hear). Caught him in lies again, started getting too close for my comfort w/another female friend. I was begging for more quality time, more family time. Nope! Bro’s gotta golf! I don’t need his help w/whatever I asked him to help with, he cleaned the bathrooms the other day! We tried couple’s counseling, but he just didn’t see a problem w/his behavior, and I couldn’t keep up with his ever-changing goal posts. Fast forward to now, we’re divorced a few years, I’ve had to take him back to court twice, he’s missed half her soccer games and lists the new wife’s phone number & email in the teachers & coaches contact forms. He shows up for the IG photos, but leaves the boring, adulting stuff to the new wife appliance. My life is more peaceful, I’m not begging for anyone’s time or attention. I only have 50/50 (regret agreeing to that, really hard to undo outside of grossly negligent parenting though), but I love getting to parent according to my values on my time. She’s becoming such an awesome little human.
    Men that check out when life isn’t parties and fun stuff? Not worth the energy to try to keep around.

    • “he’s missed half her soccer games and lists the new wife’s phone number & email in the teachers & coaches contact forms. He shows up for the IG photos, but leaves the boring, adulting stuff to the new wife appliance. My life is more peaceful, I’m not begging for anyone’s time or attention. I only have 50/50 (regret agreeing to that, really hard to undo outside of grossly negligent parenting though), but I love getting to parent according to my values on my time.”

      Same, but with 3 kids and bat sports. It’s wild, and if it weren’t for the new spouse appliance doing the real parenting half the time, my kids would be totally neglected at his house. Damn cheaters! None of these cheaters are “good dads” – that’s impossible when dad is a user only out for himself.

  • One fact is the only fact you need to focus on. You can skip over literally everything else.


    I was friends with Traitor Ex for two years before we started dating. I married him after dating for seven years. I had a baby ten years after getting married. I did not rush into anything with him. For my twentieth wedding anniversary I found out 27 years, half of my life I can never get back, was probably a lie. We had gone to therapy THE ENTIRE TIME because we were both from homes with parents who had shitshow marriages which I did not want to replicate. I wanted oversight, assistance. To learn the skills necessary for a healthy long-term relationship. He claimed to want the same. I thought he was a nice guy who would never cheat or otherwise intentionally hurt me.

    I WAS MISTAKEN. Royally.

    Except for my daughter, I wish I had left AT THE FIRST LIE.

    Hindsight with insight is terribly painful. But I did just enjoy a really fun road trip to Disneyland to celebrate the sixteenth birthday of the most precious, wonderful, adorable little girl, who he traded for a piece of garbage he found on Craigslist in Casual Encounters.

    I realized there is an entire galaxy of hookup sites and apps and I have no desire to be tethered to someone who thinks it’s ok to use them while lying to me and pretending to love me, love our marriage, love our daughter, love our family. (Affairs damage the involved children, and love is a VERB, so don’t anyone ever try to convince me that cheaters or side pieces love the involved children.)


    As for therapy? Going to therapy with a cheater is like calling the fire department after the cheater has burned the house to the ground. Or calling the doctor when on your deathbed. Don’t bother.

    Cheating is not an option for me. It is for him. He kept that a secret, and therefore that counts as the first lie (by omission) and that is when I should have left.

    Quality people don’t intentionally hurt you. They care about how their behavior affects others. They are trustworthy and want those they care about (especially their children) to feel safe and secure.

    Leaving a relationship, especially when you have children with that person, is terrifying. But you have no relationship. You have a MIRAGE.

  • Molly, I’m sorry you’re here. I agree wholeheartedly with CL. Your “partner” is not a partner. He’s a liar and an entitled asshole. Hire a family-law lawyer today. Do not tell him. Get some advice. I had 4 kids when Dday hit. I was blindsided. I hired a lawyer, got full custody, child support and 82% of assets. It took 15 months start to finish, but if you’re not legally married and especially if you do not have real estate together it may be more streamlined to get child support orders and a parenting plan. You can survive and thrive after this phase is over. I was with XH 26 years. I’m completely no contact now and that is the best strategy for healing and being free of emotional abuse and manipulation. If XH is out there saying I suck… too bad so sad. I could care less. Who’s he, anyway? Just someone I used to (think) I knew.

    I met a wonderful man who has 2 grown kids. We’ve been together 6+ years now and engaged for 2. He wants to be with me and only me. He does not lie to me. He does not blame me. He is reciprocal and makes life better, not worse. He makes me laugh, never cry. XH didn’t. He had to go.

    You’ve got this new mama. We are here to hold you up as you navigate out of the toxicity with baby daddy.

  • I still love that sweet young guy I married. I never suspected he would cheat and hide things from me (like money or secret relationships etc). Having a baby was a game changer, though. He stopped wanting sex. He didn’t want another kid. Our freedom to come and go was majorly curtailed. My body changed. I didn’t get enough sleep and I developed a fear of heights right out of no where. I’d cling more and became easily anxious. When we’d fight, he’d ask me what I really wanted. And I told him I wanted more sex. And he said, come on. Tell me what you really want. Like, he didn’t believe me when I told him point blank. Unbeknownst, He was already crushing on other women and dating by the time our child was 18 months. I was so innocent to the ways of cheaters, I never even imagined that could be the reason he’d be distant and reject me sexually. But he did lots of sneaky, cheaty things because that’s probably what he was hiding from day one. I stayed, and took him back, I believed in him and didn’t recognize his foolishness. I call this maturing in the hardest way possible. I suffered a lot of told you so moments from besties and siblings and parents. And they were right. My ex had many good qualities. He really was a contender. But his sneaky, lying character flaws sabotaged him. His kids love him despite himself, not because of the man he is. It’s a Shakespearean tragedy, really. Like most here, I wish I’d given up after the first betrayal and rejection. But no, I kept putting myself thru hell instead of letting go of the fantasy of that sweet young guy. When the rubber met the road, he was no where to be found. Took me way too long to get it. I hope you get it faster than I did, Molly. My life always much improved when he was gone. I might be sad, but not tortured and bitter angry at myself for falling for his words. You might not want to give up on this relationship now. So just know that by staying and trying to fix it, you’re choosing the most torturous path. Hugs

    • Yes. I think letting go of the fantasy of the person you thought you had committed to is among the absolute hardest parts of this.

      The main regret I have is projecting good intentions onto my ex husband that in retrospect he never had. I too wanted to go back in time to the wonderful man I thought I had married and kept trying to get back there any way I could think of, because he kept lying to me that he was distant because of “stress” – moving for his supposed dream job, date nights, giving him more space, anything. Nothing worked, because he was not that person anymore (maybe never was).

      It’s a cliche, I know, but cliches exist for a reason – your partner has now shown/told you who he is. Believe him now, not what you thought or believed he was.

  • Ugh, this sex pozzie bullshit drives me bananas.

    If sex work was so empowering, men would be doing it themselves and have pushed women out the way they did with computer science, admin work, and medicine. In a way, they’ve already done this, but as the pimps. Look at who owns OnlyFans and all the porn companies. From billion dollar sex traffickers to the pimp standing on the corner, who are they? Not women, it’s men. Women get the crumbs, the PTSD, and the shame when their images go viral.

    Women have had sex for millennia. If it was so empowering, we’d run the world by now, but we don’t. We don’t even account for 50% of leadership in business or politics anywhere in the world.

    • Agreed. Monetizing sex ruins lives, mostly women’s lives, no matter how it’s done. Either you are ok with that, and engage with this content knowingly, or are not ok with that, and reject it. Everything else is just justification and denial. I refuse to argue this point with OnlyFans fans. If they can’t see this reality, then the conversation is over before it started.

  • This one really got to me, Chumplady. I wasn’t expecting the stance you took. It really, really hit me in a hidden and painful place.

    I carried and delivered two beautiful babies. He was never supportive or helpful. More like he put his quarter in a vending machine and waited patiently for the product to pop out. Of course it was going to pop out and of course he deserved only the best so I better put in the effort to meet his expectation.

    I’ve never allowed myself to look at that for how deeply devaluing it is. Was. My children are near 40 now. I wasted a whole lifetime. In the end, he had groomed them from babyhood that I was the wife appliance. After 40 years of marriage, I was broken so he brought in a new wife appliance and they totally went for it.

    I’m going to go cry for a while. But, thank you for using words to help us heal.

    • My daughter(with whom I live) just had a baby. It is so so bittersweet watching how her husband loves and cares for them. Im rocking the grandma life though

    • i’m so sorry you went through this. sometimes you just have to hit pause and have some time to heal. I hope you are feeling better since you wrote this.

  • Yes to all of that!!! She created a human—she deserves soooo much more. Also, my FW soon-to-be ex sent thousands of dollars to Only Fans (it’s not just a subscription service for regular nonsense)…she has every right to be concerned. Don’t be like me and find out the hard way, years later, in a divorce discovery (that took a court order and a bank subpoena go get).

  • You have a DAUGHTER! So her father will teach her that only porn or whatever it is called is a good career move? Sounds like a great dad. NOT
    Leave for her. Gain a life for you.

  • Boiled down, and covering a plethora of pastimes: “…he’s destabilizing your bond by choosing escapism over intimacy.”

  • Transactional people behave in transactional ways towards everyone, including their partners and children, as painful as that is to accept. The pay-for-play platforms are usually the tip of the iceberg and it only escalates to worse abuses over time.

    A good partner and parent prioritizes their family’s well being above gratification. What is the benefit in settling for someone whose biggest selling point is their unreliable claim that they won’t mistreat you again? Both you and your child deserve better, but it takes time, space and healing to recognize that.

  • Sweetheart, you already are alone. He doesn’t love you or want you. He’s using you. This is your future. Imagine this continuing for 10 years – what would yourself 10 years from now say to you?

    That’s us – Chump Nation. We’re you, staying, 10 years from now. Sending love and hugs, and a “Dear God don’t be us” 💕

  • Here’s an article by Natasha Singh, a local brilliant and lovely healthy sexuality literacy educator. I’ve had the pleasure of attending one of her workshops about teaching our children about healthy sexuality. I trust and agree with Natasha’s beliefs.

    I’m trying to remember the book she recommended in the workshop on the documented harmful effects of porn….it’s a newer publication.

    Part of infidelity recovery….a VERY IMPORTANT part, is that mom (me) is continues to learn about and model healthy respectful sexual behavior, and continue to deal with my own issues in this area which I don’t want to pass on to my daughter.

    Not being a cheater, tolerating cheating, or being a side piece was Lesson One.

  • My youngest son told me about only fans. I thought he was kidding, but sadly he was not. He is going to be 33 soon, would like to marry, have kids, the whole “try for a good life” dream. He saw a lot of trying in our home, but very little good life. He has been thru a relationship with a woman who lives in the “secret sexual basement.” He tried to be cool, hip, understanding, forgiving, not judgmental. None of it worked. He got out of that relationship alive and traumatized. He is healing, seems happy. But he struggles with the all-to-common mores of his generation, and maybe PTSD.

    He meets a wide variety of people in his line of work. He socializes, sometimes. He makes friend easily. But he has not found a girl who feels like a fit, for him. One of the problems he has is he often finds the girls he meets are on only fans, selling their faux intimate moments. It is an immediate turn-off for him. However, he says he keeps his mouth shut about the real reason he “doesn’t think they are compatible.” He has seen what the comments are if someone makes a negative response online, and he has heard young women discussing what a “dick” someone was for objecting to onlyfans. These girls believe it is their “right” to sell these pictures or performances, because they don’t believe it is prostitution or pornography. They believe they are being sexually liberated. They justify the money because it supplements their income, because they feel underpaid in their jobs. The patriarchy pays men more than women. This is their way of evening the scales.

    I remember when Madonna released her photo book. I was working, had two small children, my husband was working an out of state job. The advance for her book was discussed on the news one morning while I was getting ready for work. The dollar amount staggered me. I had a master’s degree, had been working since I was 16, was working for a college, taking care of our home, our kids, and my husband was working, and her advance was more than we made in an entire year. What message does that send to young girls? Don’t work hard for an education or a job in the “square” world, just sell T&A pictures of yourself doing lewd things and call it “art”.

    Back when I took the Myers Briggs personality test it determined I was strong in the judgmental category. In all other categories I was rather evenly divided. But I had no trouble making a decision about whether something seemed right or wrong for me. I don’t consider myself a prude. I do consider myself a feminist. I just cannot justify only fans. I wonder how these girls will feel someday if they have children, and their children see any of these images? What about their parents or grandparents? Their co-workers, or potential employers? I don’t believe pictures remain private. I personally knew a woman who posed for private pictures for her then boyfriend, and later her children were mailed copies of those pictures. There are new laws for revenge porn, or pictures on phones being circulated in high schools. Someone can end up on a sex offender registry. Why??? How can this seem like a good idea????

    My son doesn’t want his potential wife to be selling images of her private parts to others. I would prefer my future daughter-in-law to have a little more sense than that. If my boyfriend/spouse is paying to look at only fans photos, that is a dealbreaker for me. It may not be technically cheating, but it’s not art either. If the “artsy, liberated” folks out there want to label me a prude, well, I’ve been called worse.

    You are only truly liberated and free when you have equal opportunity and respect under the law of the land. If you are being treated as a commodity. and you willingly sell yourself into this arrangement, you are objectifying yourself. You become part of the problem, IMHO. If you find out your potential “soulmate” needs to view this type of material, get out. Read up on pornography, and the way it affects the brain. That is truly liberating!

    • I recently had the Only Fans conversation with a neighbor who had 2 older teenage daughters. She was telling me about so many how girls today aspire to be cam girls. It’s shocking how young women have somehow internalized this message that this hypersexualized behavior is ok.

      • Why wouldn’t they? They receive that message constantly – the only difference is that outside of porn, they’re expected to put up with men’s sexual aggression for free, and to keep up their appearance in a way that is pleasing to the men around them. And that includes being subject to porn. A depressing number of women have no idea that photos of their bodies are circulating on the Internet in the form of ‘revenge porn’ or just plain old photos taken without their knowledge (upskirt photos, cameras left in dressing rooms, boyfriends/husbands secretly recording them – we’ve heard about FWs doing that to chumps here). So a lot of young women figure, if this is how things are going to be, they might as well get paid for it.

      • Would aspiring cam girls set up shop with a tip jar in public and do what they would do on a web cam? I haven’t ever seen that IRL (yet!), so I am guessing most would not, but that is exactly what it is.

        The computers and the phones blur reality in the same way that poker chips do.

        There’s also no way to ascertain that someone performing sexually online or in print is not being trafficked. I went to a lecture given by a woman who had been trafficked as a young girl. She had been discarded after she aged out, which was while she was still very young.

        It was heartbreaking and eye-opening.

        A red flag I ignored was when Traitor Ex told me he had gone to the Mustang Ranch with his friends when he was growing up. (He hasn’t grown up yet, BTW….)

    • Sounds like your son definitely needs to start hanging around different people. I know and work with many women in their 20s and 30s, and nary a one is involved with OnlyFans or anything like that…they are hard working, smart ladies. These types of women may not always be fashion plates, or get their nails done, or have fake eyelashes and boob jobs–they’re a little too busy being productive members of society…but they indeed exist.

      • I’ve told him the same thing. I told him his future wife is not going to knock on his door, he has to go places where he is likely to meet working women. He goes to church but doesn’t feel he should be “shopping” for a girlfriend there. He doesn’t want to date someone he works with. He works long hours. He just has not figured out when and how to make himself available or how to be in the right place at the right time. I do think it is harder now than it was when I was younger. I didn’t have the internet enhancers — I met people by socializing. If I ever meet anyone again it will be by socializing at places where others share my interests, like live music. I’m not shopping either, but I do know he has to put himself out there with purpose if he wants to meet someone. I believe there are good women out there, too. I just have to have faith and hope that he will meet his match soon!

  • _Our_ Dad could be “nice” and “a good parent” while using us kids to hurt our Mom.

    For example, he brought me back a pretty Hawi’ian shirt from a trip he took “by himself.” Much later, like decades, I put enough pieces together to realize what was really going on there–and on other occasions. I then realized also that every time I innocently had worn that blouse, it must have been salt in Mom’s wounds. (She stayed with him, she told me towards the end of her life, because she couldn’t believe she could make it alone.)

  • Financial infidelity is a red flag for sexual infidelity. I innocently checked the public records to see if our deed to commercial property had been recorded. I discovered FW was being sued for contract and indebtedness -business AEX account. $26,000. I was shocked. His explanation was bill had been sent to wrong address. He had hired attorney to handle, didn’t tell me because he knew I had been dealing with my mother’s illness and then death. We ended up settling for $17,000 out of personal savings. I never saw the charges.
    About a year later I see his phone unlocked (lies about HIPPAA) and a CC email that he was over his $10,000 dollar limit 90 days after opening. He said he had a gambling problem, then later said he was buying Human Growth Hormone for healing his injuries.
    The following year was when I learned from girlfriend younger than our children, about affair, plans to marry. Soon after I discovered his drug addiction. We had had a good life for 34 out of the 36 years.
    Like others have said, they only admit to what we know. As Velvet Hammer said it’s the lies, the lies are the worst and only grow or there’s new lies of omission. Had I not been so naïve about the first big about face in my life, I could’ve gotten ducks in a row much sooner.
    You don’t really know the extent of his subscriptions. That is diaper money, takeout food, pediatrician co pays, baby shoes, etc. It’s a big damn deal.

  • Just to pile on about the Only Fans. Even if you think “it’s not that bad” (lots of evidence in these comments that that is NOT the case), you know what you have found is only the tip of the iceberg — it is ALWAYS worse. I think mine probably reverted to OF at times when I was snooping around too much for his IRL hookups in parks and parking lots and online sex with [the neighbor, old coworker a, b, c or high school friend 1,2,3,4 and maybe even a DBT groupmate]. Its all bad. And it never ends because they get off on the sneaking around and lying. The lying is central to the thrill — ultimate kibbles. So they have to keep upping the ante from regular old asynchronous porn.

    You have all the info you need – today! We are pulling for you. You can do this.

    Oh, and there is no way self-centered pricks can keep up good parenting when things get hard as kids get older and the day-in day-out slog starts. Getting kids to do their chores and their homework is not a great kibble-zone for them. Photo-ops become few and far between and FWs lose interest.

    [Side note – I’m a huge Nick Kristoff fan. He explores stories that mainstream media giants probably prefer to ignore.
    Half the sky, anyone? Fantastic book].

  • It is never only one site and it is never only one time.

    I first discovered Mr. Sparkles online escape on portals like Adult Friend Finder and Craigslist. He swore I had caught just at the moment he was beginning to explore the Internet for things like that (I was apparently too busy raising our 3yo son and the 5 stepchildren and he missed the “spark”). Imagine my luck… catching him the first time like that… he used the same excuse a year later when I found the hotel room receipt (and this time he swore he left before the hooker got there). I really should play the lottery with that kind of luck.

    All in, 3 D-days later, I had only scratched the surface, the proverbial tip of the iceberg. This fuckwit has EIGHT different email addresses that I could find – mostly variations on two names, but on multiple email portals (apparently you can aggregate them all to go to a single GMail account, how convenient). There were pictures of him from before I ever knew him (meaning – he’d always been “out there” trolling and cheating on his first wife). And subsequently, after he left for the final OW, it took me all of two seconds to find him on Ashley Madison… only this time, he changed his location based on which office location he was working from that day (he works in 9 different offices… can you imagine!).

    My fuckwit was/is hardwired to online fantasy life that he’s happy to take into real life as long as there are “no expectations to change anyone’s situation”… he likes his current appliance right now, thank you very much.

    I’m 8 years out since discard, no contact, and going to my son’s National Honor Society induction ceremony tonight. You can single parent – you can be the sane parent – you can model a different way of living. Many of us here have, you’re in the right place.

    You found him on one site… I promise you, it isn’t the only one. Get out now, while you can and avoid years of devaluing and the inevitable discard.

  • Molly,
    Everyone has already said it all. I just want to chime in one more time and say it’s the lying that is the problem. Not everyone thinks porn is cheating, and while I think many good points were made about OnlyFans, it might be easier for you to put aside the OF account for now as that just muddies the water. The fact of it is that you asked him questions and he lied. And he did that because he thinks it is ok to do what he wants, and lie to you about it. If he feels that way, he is capable of doing it more. No one wants to spend their life sneaking around checking their husband’s phone/computer etc. Wondering. We have all wasted so many years. Don’t be like us. Read the archives. I think it will help.

    • And you know, you’re really only wondering, “What?”, not, “Whether?” Because at that point, you know he’s a cheating, lying POS. I think I was actually digging for evidence that he *wasn’t* an FW. *That* is what I really wanted to find. I wanted his lovebombing, epiphanies and promises to be believable and true. Otherwise, I knew I was facing a fake past and an uncertain future. That’s hopium for you.

  • Porn teaches men to enjoy using devaluing, and hurting women. No man who uses porn can be a good father to a daughter. It should be a deal breaker for any woman who wants respect and love.

    He has shown you that you and the baby are less important than his fantasies. Believe him. I put up with “relapses” for decades, hoping someday he would love me, only to realize he was incapable of genuine attachment and had never actually relapsed, because he never really quit.

  • This man is a garbage partner and by extension, a garbage father.

    My FW was a pro at using his, on the surface, great father persona (he had 2 kids from his previous marriage who he was by all external measures super involved with, went to all their events, etc) as a lure for other women. Especially single mothers. He ate up the kibble supply of people doting on his parenting and love of children and would suck up by connecting with their children. It was thoroughly disgusting. Ultimately mr “great dad” brought his kids around his AP repeatedly while he was cheating on me, and even had me hang out with her and her kids and his kids. Great parenting indeed… involve your 10 and 13 year old in your cheating. These things cannot be compartmentalized. Your behavior toward your partner IS part of your parenting.

    The reality is that my FW, like I believe is probably the case with your husband, has no actual emotional connection with the kids. They are supply like everything else, while you get kicked to the curb and beg for scraps. I would not doubt that if it’s not occurring already, he’s shortly to be seeking out actual interaction/physical contact with other women. Opinions about porn use aside, there is an endless supply of free porn online. There is simply zero excuse to pay for it. The fact is, people are using onlyfans because they actually want the feeling of INTERACTING and connecting with that person, not just impersonal detached porn with paid actors. Onlyfans is cheating, period. You and your child deserve better.

      • Lol thanks. My FW was the president of a company owned by Berkshire Hathaway/Buffett, and hilariously had his quote “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently” painted on the wall of his office 20 feet wide. He was sleeping with his direct report. Irony at its finest.

  • Oh Molly, I could write a book and in fact started a blog one year ago this month on this topic. My ex of 35 years grew distant, disconnected, flat, and on occasion just mean. I suspected an affair. DDay was Jan 2, 22 but what I discovered was a secret life online where he was not just an observer of porn but an active participant, paid patron, moderator even. When confronted he initially claimed he’d just been “chatting” online, then there was a long term “relationship” online, little by little the truth eaked out. He withdrew 1700 in one month for OnlyFans sub, was participating in sex with online hookers in our own home, and moderating a porn site on Reddit. My smart, handsome and successful ex of 35 yrs became an addict and someone I no longer knew. Trust me, it’s not “just porn” it’s not innocent, it’s not free and I’d bet money it wasn’t just online. I sent him packing one year ago when he could show no remorse nor emotions, and divorce was final in Oct. since then I see so many other flags in our marriage. Mostly it was a great full life but trust me, take the great advice of CL and CN AS THEY HAVE BEEN LIFE SAVERS! And there is a better man out there or indeed a better life than this and I am proof at 62!!

  • Dear Molly,

    Projecting my own reaction to betrayal, I can imagine you reading responses today and being racked with emotional pain and, worse, experiencing this alone. That’s the first thing to address: you need a hand to hold and emotional support from people other than your partner. If that’s easier said than done and you find you don’t have a lot of trusted allies around, that may be yet more evidence that your partner has been subtly abusive for years. Gradual social isolation is a classic earmark of abusive relationships.

    If you don’t have friends or family whom you can talk openly with right now, coming to this forum is a good step and also consider a local support group or therapy. Just steer clear of the victim-blamers and “it takes two to tango” types. There’s nothing you could have done that could “make” an honest person lie the way he has or “make” a non-abusive person do the things he willingly engaged in. If you had the power to “make” another person cheat, emotionally abandon or gaslight, why wouldn’t you aim your prodigious mental powers at controlling the stock market, ending world hunger or even stopping them from cheating? But this isn’t Build-a-Bear and it’s not your job to fix a fully grown adult who quite likely has a personality disorder that even veteran therapists view as virtually impossible to treat. You didn’t cause this and you can’t cure it.

    I know that that’s not good news in a way. Maybe you addressed CL half-hoping that the hardcore “leave a cheater” arena would tell you your cheater is somehow different, that his behavior doesn’t really constitute abuse, that there’s hope for change. And even if the other part of you was drawn to this forum because something in your heart is telling you to break free of this relationship, the experience is still overwhelmingly traumatic. Facing the potential loss of a normal, non-abusive relationship is grueling but adding emotional abuse to the mix makes it far more difficult. That’s something particularly diabolical about all forms of relationship abuse from gaslighting and subtle psychological “gesture warfare” to outright violence: abusers universally like to *appear* to be doing everything to push victims away while simultaneously sticking proverbial daggers in victims’ shoes ensuring that victims can’t easily leave. The push-pull is a way for abusers to mask and conceal their own pathological dependency on their victims. The daggers don’t have to be literal to paralyzing and suffocating.

    In any event, I hope you can find support so you don’t have to pull the daggers out alone. A famous trauma specialist said that abuse is primarily “perspecticide.” Abusers systematically destroy the victim’s natural perspective of life, the world, themselves and relationships and replace those views, hopes and expectations with the abuser’s own nihilistic and twisted views. Because “perspecticide” is a socially-caused injury, contact with other human beings outside the abusive relationship who have healthier perspectives is critical to restoring your faith in yourself, life, relationships and the future. If you’re in the UK, for what it’s worth, this site has links to support networks through phone, email or live chat:

    As you seek support, make sure to ask if any therapist or counselor is versed in “coercive control” and emotional abuse that doesn’t necessarily include physical violence. Not all in the helping professions have kept up to date with the new thinking on domestic abuse that include definitions of coercive control (though they should and if they haven’t, move on and keep looking). Go to this website for more information on it:

  • This reminds me of our next door neighbors who had a baby just two weeks after we moved in. My nine month old was such a handful that I barely interacted with anyone for months. I did meet them. I also saw her outside after the baby was born. She said her husband, the cop, had brought them home from the hospital, told her he did not desire her any more, had never wanted children and left. This is embarrassing but I have no idea what happened to her. My son gave himself three concussions in five years so I was a little busy.
    Please get busy shoving him out of your life. He is not worth an extinguisher if he was on fire.

  • These cases of emotional neglect are difficult as you dont have black eyes and broken bones that signal it’s time to leave. It’s still abuse, and unless this guy grows up it will get worse.
    I observe my now 20 yo who is “just like his dad” (selfish, superior, gaslighty, follows Andrew Tate) and regret not leaving when the kids were little.
    If you wont leave for yourself, at least give your daughter a chance someday of having a good male role model who is not her bio father.
    There was only one occasion early on I watched porn with my husband, and he literally pushed me out of the way to watch it. That was a big red flag this guy had an important bit of his brain missing. Our sex life was never about emotional connection. He complained afterwards “we couldn’t physically connect” 😳

    • Ooh I’ve got one more the ex had a screw loose/porn story

      After I’d had a baby, I was home alone on our remote property waiting for a tradie to arrive. The tradie did his job outside then came inside house. We had a chat, then he started giving me a creepy look and said “your husband told me you’re here by yourself and no one else is around”. I started feeling scared, and he stepped toward me to corner me. I maneuvered out of his way, grabbed the baby from the other room and ran outside. I fed our horses and he still hadnt left. I got in my car and drove 500 meters down the road to my MILs house ~she wasnt home ~ and hid. This guy didnt leave for another half hour. I had no idea what he was doing or what he had planned but it wasnt good. I was shaking for hours. Afterwards I told ex and he said very matter of factly ” oh he would have just thought he was in a porn movie and you were a horny housewife”. He couldnt have given a shit ~ he thought it was normal behaviour. I wondered afterwards why ex told tradie I was home alone by myself with no one around.

  • My divorce attorney had a saying for this:

    Good husbands are good fathers, and good fathers are good husbands.

    My ex wanted children and then was resentful that he didn’t have 100% of my attention. He responded by becoming a workaholic and shaming me for not being able to handle being at home with our colicky kid all day. After all, his mom raised a bunch of kids mostly alone while his dad was off preaching. When #2 came home, he was stoney for a few days and then went back to work. That set the tone for their childhoods.

    In their teens, they asked me repeatedly if Dad liked them because he didn’t seem willing to listen to them and wasn’t interested in what they were interested in. He was only interested getting them into what he liked. I didn’t engage them on that until much later, so I made excuses for him. A lot of excuses. And I talked to him about being willing to listen more to their mixed-up teenage thoughts because it helped them. Nope. He didn’t do it.

    Sure, it’s rough becoming a dad, but whether his interest shifts towards work or porn, it’s damaging his relationship with you and his children. That’s rough.

    • This is an important cautionary tale. Thanks for sharing. More and more, as I grow old, I realize that true family men are fewer and farther between. I’d be very wary of any guy who is anything less than enthusiastic about becoming a father and anything less than 100% in love with his new baby. Major red flags and, more often than not, these guys don’t change.

  • “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” (Theodore Hesburgh)

    Molly: I am 70 years old. I took me DECADES to overcome the damage that occured because my father was not capable of loving my mother. (Not to mention the anguish that he inflicted upon my mother, who died from “eating her guts out” at age 58.)

    I pray that you find support, and I pray that you do not settle for a life with someone who does not love you.

  • CL, I’ve really appreciated your insights on porn, prostitution and sex positivity in this and other recent posts. Like you, my own ideas about all of this have evolved significantly over the years — but your ideas are far better-formed and better-informed than mine, and when I feel genuinely perplexed on a issue, you’re kind of a moral and intellectual true north. Really does help me figure out where I stand. Thanks for the links, too.

    Re:Only Fans, I just dug up an article I read years ago that put Only Fans on the radar for me. As its title spells out, the “content-providers” aren’t as in control as only fans would like us — and the young (mostly) women they recruit — to believe: see “OnlyFans Is Not a Safe Platform for ‘Sex Work.’ It’s a Pimp.”

    One more dismal aside: I work with young adults, and I increasing hear very young boys (one 12-yr-old) bragging to each other about their online girlfriends. And that’s just what *I* hear. It makes me so sad and worried for these kids, of all genders and orientations; at that age, even the perpetrators are victims of all this effed-upness, but they can still cause harm, and they’ll be adults in no time. We have no idea what young people’s worlds — real or virtual — are really like.

  • I just wanna say that I appreciate every single one of you who has taken the time to comment. Honestly thank you. I’m a wee bit overwhelmed at the minute with all the responses and the whole situation.
    I’ve read every single comment and will attempt to form a reply to what I can tomorrow or at the weekend if I’m less overwhelmed.
    Again I just wanna say thank you for taking the time to share your experiences, advice and such it’s hugely appreciated!


  • Big wow. In the old days you would pack up your bags and move back with parents who can help support you while you figure it all out. Nowadays it seems alot of people just dont have that support system. I hope you do.

  • Thank you for this. So many women are gaslit into compliance over pornography. Personally I saw it destroy so many families and wish the general population would get their head out of their ass and see the connection to how toxic it is for women and families.

  • The saddest thing is a lot of older women on the platform spend a lot of time on TikTok trying to convince younger women to do it. Other content creators talk about this too, that somehow the women who rope other young women in the moment they turn 18, make even more money by doing so. I’m not all that sure how it works, but sounds predatory.

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