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I Feel Stronger Breaking Up This Time

maintain your dignityDear Chump Lady,

I recently got back together with my cheater, after a horrible breakup of discovering he had a prolific hooker problem, (I’m going to assume most of our year-long relationship, but of course cheaters only admit to what they know you know, not confess what you didn’t catch them doing).

Anyway, after three months apart, he manages to convince me of his new epiphany, his new revelations of our destiny together, and the tragic errors of his ways. Being the chump that I am, once the anger and hate subsided, I missed him, and that was music to my soul…

But on the first week back, I decided to start your book on Audible (just in case I had to leave again, and was preparing to not lose my sanity, literally, the next time).

Sure enough, only three weeks into our ‘new beginning’ I find a text to a hooker, asking about her availability. Nothing more was texted, (and of course he declares that absolutely nothing happened, he knew it was wrong, and didn’t do anything further… “See, she didn’t reply, and I wouldn’t have went even if she did. I knew what I did was wrong” … Three days later is when I found the text.

The point is, is that now during this breakup (for the last 6 days) I have been responding to his gaslighting, blameshifting, guilt trips, and entitlement to my forgiveness, with your words. In fact just this morning, listening to your book in my car, I replied to his message almost word for word what you had JUST said.

I was destroyed on our last break up. For months. In therapy, isolating, terrified, mindfucked, feeling abused and battered… This time — I feel strong. A boundary defender! A red line enforcer! Someone worthy of respect, and boy, is he frustrated. “Where is the (chump) that I know? The loving, supportive, understanding woman?”

She is gone, thanks to you Tracy ☺❤


Not a unicorn


Dear Not a Unicorn,

Thanks for your kind words about “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life.” I’m sure you meant this as a note of appreciation, and not blog fodder, but I gotta pipe up. Did you skip the chapter on No Contact?

I’m gratified to learn that your spine is stiffened and you’re feeling stronger. Yay! But never try and match wits with the witless. We call that “sticking your head in the mindfuck blender.” It never ends well. Unless you want a blameshifting smoothie.

I did not write all that sassy talk for Mr. Hooker Habit. I wrote it for YOU. To free your mind, to decode the bullshit, to have answers to all your 3 a.m. ruminations. It’s not crib notes to own him with.

Let’s go over a few fundamentals.

He doesn’t have an insight problem.

It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.” We owe this axiom to Dr. George Simon. Your boyfriend is fully aware that gaslighting or his hooker habit are unacceptable to you, but it works for him. He doesn’t agree that he should behave differently. That’s what his actions say.

Explaining it is kibbles for him and hopium for you.

Anyway, after three months apart, he manages to convince me

No. After three months he should be blocked. You’ve lost his number. He perseveres, he gets a hang up or a restraining order. He cannot “manage” to convince you if you’re not there to hear the words leave his mouth. Shame on him for batter-ramming your boundaries, but it’s what freaks do. That’s why you have to enforce your boundaries.

Explaining your boundaries to him? It feels fair. You’d want an explanation if you were being dumped — but you don’t owe him that. But you did that. And what happened?

only three weeks into our ‘new beginning’ I find a text to a hooker

So, he had his come to Jesus moment and he blew it. LEARN FROM THIS. Instead we get…

listening to your book in my car, I replied to his message almost word for word what you had JUST said

Don’t reply to his message!

All this engagement is centrality for him. And you’re engaging with him because you part of you believes you’ll get a different outcome than the reality you’ve been smacked with. Hopium says he’s not a shit, he’s a project! He’ll explain this and be different! Put down the pipe.

Instead, he baits the hook with a message, and you respond. Thus begins the cycle of abuse.

Nothing says “we’re breaking up” like silence.

If you really want to lose the loser — you have to go no contact. Refuse to engage. There’s nothing to explain. Just like I’m telling you to pay attention to his actions (he’s not sorry, he literally couldn’t go a day without a hooker), pay attention to YOUR actions.

You’re sending a mixed message with “We’re over” and “Oh, I’ll give him a snappy retort!” Be congruent in word and deed. Over means OVER. No zingers. Let go of the Hooker Boyfriend Project.

Speaking of the hooker habit…

I recently got back together with my cheater, after a horrible breakup of discovering he had a prolific hooker problem

Figure out your dealbreakers

Personally, I find buying sex pretty repugnant. Tangent: I’ve evolved on this topic, mostly as a result of writing this blog for 10 years. Before I was like, eew, but needs must. Keep an open mind, etc.  Now, I can’t get past the misogyny and probable sex trafficking. If you need convincing, read Nicholas Kristof’s  The Children of Pornhub.

Anywho, back to you. Do you want a boyfriend with a past, current, or future sex worker habit? Is that STD risk acceptable to you? Did you cynically think all men use hookers, so you could look past it? Or wanted a boyfriend so badly that you’d take another chance on this guy? (There’s a world of people out there! He’s not special!)

You don’t have to work with people who are bad fits for you. Really! It’s a big planet with lots of people. Is sorting through potential boyfriends exhausting? Sure, sometimes. So, learn to like your own company and be secure. Dating isn’t all about rejection — it’s often about doing the rejecting.

God, way to sell it, Tracy.

Okay, it can also be about awkward but friendly coffees, or backgammon, or hook-up sex. My point is, your boyfriend hid a big secret from you. A really fundamental part of himself. Of his sexuality, of how he views women, and his character. You can next him.

But, but… destiny!

Let him ride off into the syphilis sunset without you. And listen to my book on repeat until the no contact sinks in.

Speaking of my audio book, forgive the plug, it’s half off until Jan. 27. Follow this link to get the deal. 

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • The lovebombing hoover is hard to resist, but you know the truth now. He’s a con man. You’re the dupe.
    Now armed with the reality, take care of your business and leave the fraud in the rearview.

    Life is precious.

  • Yep… no contact. Many of us chumps envy a Chump that wasn’t married to the FW… no kids… no major financial ties. If you discover a boyfriend is a FW with a hooker problem? Drop a cement wall between you and him forever. (And yes, I know that’s easier said than done. I was in my 20s once with no understanding of unhealthy relationships… but I also didn’t have CL then. Wish I did. ) I hope Not a Unicorn has moved on in peace and silence.

    • I was post-adolescent once too and I guess there’s always the first time someone claps back at a douche just to tell their friends how they did (“And so I said to him… hahashrieksnort… and the look on his face was like… hahahahahaha”), or just to see if they can because they’d always been tongue-tied before that, or just to have something to remember later that makes them laugh when the memory of the trauma crops up again (instead of flooding and shuddering). So now that Not a Unicorn has been there, done that, sharpened her claws a bit, got to hear the hilarious “uh, whut, der” reaction and has a story to tell, enough is enough. *Now* NC begins for real.

    • Great advice, Michelle Shocked. It took me several rounds to get out, like the OP; it wasn’t until I went 100% No Contact that I was truly, safely, free. Two-and-a-half years and I still fall asleep feeling relieved.

      Also, I wouldn’t envy any chumps. While yes, I am extremely thankful I don’t have to deal with parallel parenting or divorce courts, and I admire the legions of mighty chumps who deal with this nightmare , I feel I need to pipe up to say it’s not all roses on this side of the tracks, either… with no children and no legal claim to the home and land I invested in for fifteen years. It also gets old being dismissed by onlookers *because* you weren’t married — as if that reduces the abuse you survived, costs and consequences you incurred, betrayal and heartbreak you suffered or challenges you face moving forward. (I don’t take your comment as dismissive, BTW; I mean “helpful” non-chumps who like to weigh in.) I’m now a middle aged spinster starting from zero, and that’s not an easy place to be, either.

      • Bread&roses – absolutely please don’t take my comment as dismissive. My 20s with a terrible abusive relationship was no joke either. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done to break free of it — and that was when we were not married, no kids, no major financial commitments…. Just trauma and emotional abuse (leading into some early physical abuse).

        So believe me, I get that none of this is easy. But the saving grace of no marriage/kids/finances together is that you can have real no contact. It’s an extra kick in the teeth when you have kids or other ties that force some sort of long term contact/grey rock.

        I’m nearly 8 years past DDay… 7 years divorced. My son is still a minor. When he graduates high school I’ll still need to “work with” FW on any college money per our legal agreement. And I’m sure I’ll run into him through the years at weddings or whatever. But at this point I’m at meh and couldn’t give a rat’s ass.

        The guy from my 20s is long in the rear view mirror and I’ll never see him again because I could truly go no contact. That’s the only real difference.

        • Oh gosh, I definitely didn’t, Michelle Shocked! I frequently read and appreciate your words here, and I 100% agree with your advice and would offer OP the same. The longer you’re in, the worse it gets, and the more of your life you waste; the deeper a bond to break, the greater the heartbreak, the greater the costs… all the harder to GAL. OP should not allow this FW to further insinuate himself deeper into her life or to entrap her with “commitments” (which she will take seriously, and he will not) like marriage, a home together, or kids. She’s “only” a year in, and he’s already escalated and she’s already feeling stuck in the cycle of abuse; it doesn’t get easier to leave, it only becomes more difficult, and abusers become more dangerous. If OP can make the break now, she can be free and clear to GAL.

          ps, MS — I’m sorry for latching on to the bit about envying other chumps and taking it out of context of this reply and the OP’s circumstances (still a fairly new relationship without major joint investments or a longterm commitment) to apply them to my own. I notice how the expectation/norm of marriage that exists in society at large is also present here, and I think there are certain assumptions and biases about this that folks, even chumps, make without realizing. I felt like I, and my relationship, was dismissed/minimized because I wasn’t *married* when I was in a longterm relationship, and I continue to feel that lower status now that I’m out of that unmarried LTR state and single. Likewise, you hear a lot about single mothers — and for good reason! — but I’m noticing, as one myself, that single aging women also face some pretty significant hurdles and stereotypes as well; we are largely invisible, and much of what we deem ‘womanhood’ is wrapped up in ‘motherhood’ — which makes us… what?

          Sorry that this has nothing to do with the original thread! Just wanted to explain myself better. Hugs, Michele Shocked and Not A Unicorn.

          • *clarification: as a single, *childless/child-free* aging woman (I’m not a single mother)

  • “The point is, is that now during this breakup (for the last 6 days) I have been responding to his gaslighting, blameshifting, guilt trips, and entitlement to my forgiveness, with your words.”

    What the what ??? No contact means no contact in order to give chumps a safe, effective way forward. No need to share anything (including LACGAL) with FWs.

    • Hooker Boyfriend Projects have no redeeming value. It’s you that’s stuck; not him. He’s exposed and reveling in your will and desire to come back for more. Don’t feed him retorts and responses as they’re pure amusement to him. Feed yourself retorts and responses received from CL and CN. You’re hungry for change; he is not.

  • She strikes me as someone who needs to get in the last word in an argument. Must provide a retort to every statement, reply to every email, a clap back to every dis. It’s not going to help disentangle from an ex. All it does is give them openings to manage to convince you of fake epiphanies.

    Let silence be your last word.

    • Good point, HC! I was that person who felt compelled to respond to everything. Funny how when I stopped responding to FW when he drives by (and last week when he pulled over as I was walking on my street…I kept walking…I know a hoover thanks to everything learned here & LACGAL) that it transferred over to every area of my life. Meaning that I no longer feel compelled to clap back at anyone’s stupidity, rudeness, or someone’s anger or fuckwittery. I can choose not to engage & be on my merry away! Once the OP masters this skill of no contact/no engagement she will be amazed at how she manages other situations in her life.

      • One invaluable thing I learned from growing up in the Deep South is that sometimes the best, and only response needed, is a “Bless your Heart” and to keep walking.

    • I just think it’s a rookie mistake. How many newly-awakened chumps have tried to express that knowledge to cheaters? Hundreds, I’d wager. To me it was a major revelation that these were not fair exchanges of perspectives at all. The cheater could always drag me down waaaay faster than I could pull him up.

      • Yes, I was this person, trying to help him understand, then I remembered what CL said, it’s not that they don’t understand, it’s that they don’t give a shit!

      • FYI or working out ex is a narc or wotnot, and sending them the link to an article pointing it out expecting them to have the same epiphany 😫

  • My dear lady! That is a hooker contaminated pecker that you let near you again. That’s way too much germ going on. Walk straight ahead. That’s the only direction you need to go.

  • Dear NAU. Let’s assume that someone just cannot resist texting sex workers, for fun with no intention of following through. It’s ‘who they are’. The honest approach to their partner, no matter how long or short they have been in the relationship, is to say this: ‘You know, NAU, I really need to text sex workers, for fun with no intention of following through. I’m going to carry on doing this. In the interests of transparency, I want to tell you this. This will help you to make an informed decision about whether my need is acceptable to you or not’. You have an adult conversation and make your informed decision. Life is a bit sad but ultimately sweet.

    The thing is, most chumps object to the lies and deceit more than the sex. Liars and deceivers in one part of their life lie and deceive in all parts of their life: love, money, work, alcohol, drugs. You name it, they lie and deceive about it. Staying in contact with liars and deceivers for any reason other than having to deal with shared children (you and I don’t have to manage that) is setting yourselves up for misery. There have been many moments of ‘see this, FW, eat my dust’ that I have wanted to indulge in with FW. Hard though it is, I have resisted the temptation. Go high, always. It is much better for you in the long run, and who cares about what FWs think.

    • I add that I have not heard of one cheater in my real life who has not lied and deceived about more than the affair. Honest folk don’t lie and deceive.

  • The No Contact WORKS, it saved my sanity.

    However, the FW contacts me via his monthly payment to me. He can only squeeze in 10 characters. Usually its something like “payment 1” or “Payment 2” or more recently “PAYMENT 3”. This month he put the word “photo’s” (his incorrect use of punctuation not mine 😁). He is referring to 35 years worth of pictures that he wants me to copy and upload to a hardrive for him.

    I said to FW, in my mind of course as I am STRICT no contact, the same phrase he liked to say to his howorker…… “YOU CAN SUCK MY DICK”.

    Hugs to you all 🤗

    • I had to break no contact when FW sent the money order receipt instead of the check. 🙄 I left a voicemail to what I think is his number? and then sent a copy of receipt to his apartment address, he puts POB on envelope 🤪. (Son found it under voter records when applying for govt clearance, FW must’ve needed another form of Id). Received wrinkled original a couple of days later. I do get triggered seeing his tiny handwriting on the envelope for a minute or so.

        • The ex had minute, spidery handwriting. He got so defensive when people said they couldn’t read his writing. It does seem to be a thing with the disordered.

    • The request/demand for photos has come up here several times. On her divorce, my former DIL demanded return of all photos of herself, which would have also deprived her son of them, since she abandoned him. My ex didn’t ask for any, either because he had many of them or didn’t care. What was odd was that when we signed the divorce papers, his attorney gave mine a big envelope full of MY belongings that ex had confiscated: business mail to me, checks to me that he’d signed and apparently attempted to cash, and two little photos of me as a little girl, at approx four and six years old. I don’t know how he got them or why he had them. It was creepy.

      • When we were dividing up some of the smaller items in our home, I told FW that I wanted our wedding album (not because of sentimentality, but because I designed everything and I was damn proud of my work – it was a beautiful wedding). His response was “we can talk about it”. I was floored. He was moving in with his “new” gf (OW). WHY would he want the wedding photos of his stbx wife? Never got an answer to that. I took the album anyway.

    • I got the same thing on our shared google calendar: events with titles like “Kids with IG all week because IG refuses reasonable requests to swap and deprives kids of time with their mother”. It had never even occurred to me that you could turn a calendar into a psychological weapon!

  • So often, people who are deceptive run their deception game on a core platform of redirection.

    They look for ways to make the deception sound reasonable so they can get you arguing about the reasonableness (easier to make YOU seem unsophisticated or hysterical) instead of the deception (because there’s no escaping their own shitty character there). Especially popular is the false-equivalency-turned-hypocrite argument (“You think you’re so innocent, but you lie too! You kept Susan’s birthday party secret for months, and you made the kids believe in Santa, and you never told me my fly was undone at Jeff’s barbeque! Defend yourself and stop talking about me!”)

    They twist conversations about lies to claim that omissions and lack of clarity aren’t really actual lies, claiming that they didn’t literally speak completely untrue statements aloud. (“I was at work, there were a few things I had to finish up.”)

    I take a dim view of any person who expects another person to grant their trust then abuses it via deception. It doesn’t really matter what the topic is. If a person sneaks sex or sexertainment, money spending/borrowing, emotional connecting, activities (especially illegal), or really anything else that is clearly outside any core agreement of the relationship, that person is not worthy of trust and, therefore, is not a good risk for your vulnerability.

    The thing about sex work is that it very frequently kicks someone’s consent hard in the nuts. If you and your partner agree that it’s part of your core relationship to risk legal and health issues to be patrons of sex work, fine, everyone is consenting to the choice and the risk. That’s such an uncommon arrangement that sex workers nearly always work extremely discreetly to help their patrons deceive their partners.

    My primary problem with the work itself — assuming everyone involved is an enthusiastically consenting adult — is that its core operating model operates in secrecy and deception, which denies consent to so many unwitting partners. I don’t really care how many products anyone uses, sex exposes everyone doing it to one another’s biohazards.

    Monogamy usually assumes limited exposure to just the one person. The monogamous partner doesn’t require the same level of risk-reducing product use from a partner they’re supposed to be able to trust to be equally monogamous. The patron doesn’t typically go home to the monogamous partner and suddenly start using condoms and dental dams. That would be suspicious. Ergo, nonconsensual exposure. (I have a hard time not getting out my violin when a person acts like I’m some kind of prudish monster because I don’t think their sex work is good for women and positive in society. Maybe if the workers broadly acted like it should be done openly and ethically, I could go there, but the prevalence of the attitude that “discretion” is reasonable — because participating in keeping secrets that dismantle patron partner consent is a good way to do business — is a real support-killer for me. I once gave a salesperson the finger for suggesting I purchase a kitchenware set behind my husband’s back because “he’ll never know and you’ll get to have these great products”. Lying sucks when it’s not about genitals, too.)

    (And my primary problem with ANY form of sex work that does NOT involve ENTIRELY enthusiastically consenting adults, is that it’s morally bereft. I will never apologize for that point of view. Sex without enthusiastic consent is abuse, full stop.)

    I agree with CL that the best contact with a deceptive jerk who doesn’t deserve a relationship is zero contact. Totally on board with that. Sometimes we still need some self-talk that sort of functions inside our brains as if we were talking to our cheaters. Some of us process well through role-playing some made-up conversations to get our minds focusing on the right things and letting go of the chatter. That’s fine if you need it. Just tell it to your teddy bear and kick that liar to the curb, says me.

    • Excellent response untangling the sex work part. God, you can hardly have a conversation about this topic without being labeled prudish, Vanilla, or a purity culture Jesus freak. (Which is another form of misogyny, but I digress.)

      • Thanks! I’ve absorbed some of your genius over the years, I think. 😊

        Even the Vanilla thing as an insult is a mindfuck. As long as I respect others, and don’t ask them to become like me, there’s not a damn thing wrong with being like I am. If they want respect for their kinks, they should respect me liking what I like. The problem is the stuff that’s in the deception-abuse topic area.

        I mean, I like apples, and they’re healthy, but if I threw an apple really hard at somebody’s nutsack, it would still be assault. We wouldn’t say “Oh, well, apples are healthy, so, no crime here.”

        Deceivers deceive, then deceive about the deception to more successfully get away with the deceiving. If you want respect, act respectful. If you want people to think the thing you do should be respected, do that thing respectfully. Simple math.

        • I like your analysis. I mean, I am a Christian – but saying something is just ‘wrong’ doesn’t begin to get started on it, though it is a handy way to start with small children. I like Elbert Hubbard’s quote ‘we are punished by our sins, not for them’ – so untangling how and why something is harmful, is for me a very useful thing to do. Like knowing what strong alkali does if you put your hand in it, so as to try to avoid that event.

      • I really want to lay that crap spin about sex work to rest. All that drivel falls on deaf ears with me because it’s not just an abstract concept. When I lived in NYC, I had the trippy experience of getting to know several women and one guy who turned out to be supplementing their incomes through high end sex work or sugaring while pursuing other aspirations. There’s a whole world of pimp-less, agency-less sex work operating through informal circuits that’s pretty common, especially around the arenas of media, performing arts and fashion. What I learned about these people doesn’t necessarily reflect on all sex workers. I never personally knew any trafficked immigrant single moms living 10 to a room and trying to feed their children or women entrapped in mafia stables. My life didn’t overlap with those worlds. But the sex workers I encountered did fit the model of sex worker that most apologists are holding up as supposedly positive examples: ones who didn’t really “need” to do sex work but “chose” it, who live relatively well, had some higher education and all their teeth and tended to present their choices as groovy, alt, glam expressions of sexual liberation.

        I think the need to sell their choices as glam and sex-pozzy fits is partly cognitive dissonance and partly a natural tendency of some sex workers to shift into pimping. The grooming procedure is the same. From what I saw, some try to cuddle up to and groom young “civilians” in case fresh meat is required for a party arrangement, as fresh bait/side kick on the club circuit or just because it’s fun to inculcate and destroy the young. It felt like encounters with poltergeists who were jealous of the living and wanted everyone else to be as dead as they were. Somewhere between high school and college, I missed the fact that I was no longer a gawky geek and had become “marketable.” I must have had that nerd-in-the-woods-needs-friends vibe when I was first living on my own because I was targeted multiple times in unexpected settings. One was the office manager of a media company where I interned who was trying to be a newscaster. Another was a male dancer from Feld ballet who eventually died of HIV. One dated a classmate and was training as a makeup artist. One got me a contract with a major modeling agency when I was struggling to pay tuition and posed as a “mentor” at first. Another was a catalogue model whose career was waning at the ripe old age of 25 who played professional side piece for elderly, married .01 percenters. One is now a recognizable media personality who went to a top ten school and another was a scion of a wealthy and famous family.

        If I were to boil it down, I’d say the first informal pimping approach typically involves bouncy, wholesome friendy-friendy mirroring stuff, then the literal grooming attempts where they start playing fashion advisor to get you to dress “hotter.” Then there are the little testing hints to see how you react to mention of underworld lifestyle and if they can sell you on kink. Sometimes there’s a come-on to see if you can be controlled through emotional attachment or as an opening wedge to performative lesbian sex for clients. And/or the penny drop moment when they suddenly turn dark and start negging to see if grinding down your self esteem and crushing your optimism will make you more malleable. And finally the big pissed-off discard when it turns out you’re never going to be game for any of it and aren’t useful.

        It’s really just a cycle of relationship abuse but, maybe because the ends are so pragmatic, the cycle happens very quickly. All of this was so far outside my life experience that it took me a few beats to figure out what was up and even then I had a hard time believing it until someone spelled it out for me. I learned a lot– too much to ever believe the sex pozzy spin around sex work. Along the way, these people would let drop bits and pieces about their dysfunctional upbringings, childhood betrayals and traumas that fit with the theory that sex work often has something to do with trauma reenactment. The ballet dancer’s financial guru father had molested him and then committed suicide. The scion’s famous dad had impregnated his own daughter in law and passed the child off as his grandchild. The makeup artist had been raped at 14 while running away from an abusive home and gave the baby away to an adoptive family. And on and on. Not so groovy and choice-y after all, in fact they all had the smell of abject misery and untapped rage around them and were usually functional alcoholics or periodic hard drug “chippers.” These brushes were traumatizing and the main takeaway is that these people had typically become proxy sexual abusers or abusers in their own rights. Again, trafficked sex workers struggling in poverty might not be so hypocritical or gratuitous but the above is what I observed.

        • Feck, that’s heavy. Thanks for sharing. There’s a conversation there I need to have with my (happy, for the most part, and maybe naive like me) teenage girls.

          • Marcus,
            I think it depends on profession and location. I worked in the media industry in NY and LA. Big cities and the fame game seems to attract every species of narc and monster. If your daughters aspire to be dentists, academics, biologists or financial analysts, they’re probably less likely to run into grifters like this. Then again, with the rates of college students resorting to sex work to pay student loan debt and the current media (consider the source) campaign to normalize sex work as groovy and libby, a conversation might be a good idea. I talk about things like this with my three teens.

        • I appreciate this post a lot. Have to process it before I’d know how to respond, but it rings true to many of my experiences that I, in midlife, still struggle to understand. Thank you for sharing it, HOAC. I feel like it added tools to my toolbox that I’ll have to use a bit to suss out how to make them feel familiar.

      • “Prudish, vanilla, purity culture Jesus freak.”

        This is absolutely my next tshirt.

        Sex work is vile and a last choice (if a choice at all) for most people who do it.

        It’s also why many women who do stay in it of their own accord graduate to being dominatrices. You don’t have to have sex with the client any more. And you can take out a lot of anger on them instead.

        None of this helps make the world a better place.

        But hey, I’m just a prudish, vanilla, etc.

        • >It’s also why many women who do stay in it of their own accord graduate to being dominatrices.

          Interesting factoid Lola. 🙂 How do you know that?

      • That’s the porn culture in action…. normalizing abusive sex to pressure/coherce others into consenting to it.

  • Anyway, after three months apart, he manages to convince me of his new epiphany, his new revelations of our destiny together, and the tragic errors of his ways.

    Not a Unicorn, your bar is set so low; you need to raise it quite high. Let this be your epiphany. Figure out why you fell for the revelations of a con artist who exposed you to STD’S and all that destiny crap.

    The only thing he initiates is use of others. Please stop dating until you’ve established self worth and firm up your dealbreakers. Raise that bar high.

  • No contact is the secret sauce in my healing and rebuilding process. Without it, I’m convinced I’d still be trying to break the trauma bond with the cheating bastard ex.
    (He too frequented sex workers for the entirety of our almost four decade long relationship.)

    Ironically, for the first time since my divorce, I had to break NC yesterday when my mortgage lender needed proof that he was paying two old business loans that were still showing up on my credit report. The property settlement is clear I am to have no further obligation, but that wasn’t enough for their underwriter. So I requested, via a two sentence email, for him to send proof of payment directly to the lender. And, of course, he sends the all the documentation back to me and includes a lengthy response saying that he stands willing to help me in any way he can.🙄

    This is what they do if you crack open a window. Best to keep it sealed shut.
    Oh, and as an aside … I did not look at the paperwork he sent, but was told by my lender he never removed my name from his accounts, so now I get to jump through more completely unnecessary hoops in order to buy a home for myself …

  • Put you energy towards yourself, he isn’t worthy of one more sentence or emoji. If you can, seek some clarity through counseling too perhaps at a local women’s center.

  • I will probably get into trouble for saying this, but IMHO the addiction to hopium is the crux of the issue for chumps. No, it is not the same thing as his arguement, “it’s not what I did, it’s how you reacted to it.”

    I watched a program last night about a man who appears to be an otherwise good man, but in his past he discovered he was an alcoholic. I am not an alcoholic, but my dad was, and at least one spouse was, and I finally figured out I was addicted to hopium. The illness of addiction is manifested in the behavior of the addict. The illness of addiction is insidious because you can stop, and go thru the steps, and rebuild your life, but when stress or some of life’s many bad times happen, you are tempted to return to the bad behavior that ruined you the first time, expecting that you can control it now. It is a lie we tell ourselves. It is a lie our culture reinforces. It is a lie we want to believe, so bad we can taste it. But it is a lie. There are some things you cannot do, or change, and once you find out what they are you have to choose to avoid those things every day. If you do not, you will devastate yourself all over again.

    If you knew you were allergic to seafood, would you go to a seafood buffet and start eating? No, you can accept and avoid seafood no matter how good it tastes. This man is toxic for you. Avoid him. If he miraculously changes his life, great for him, but it will never be great for you. He doesn’t want to change. He wants you to change your attitude so that he can enjoy all the wonderful things you provide in a relationship and turn a blind eye to his hooker habit. He wants your kibbles.

    Addiction has to be acknowledged. Your friends and family have to know about it. CL is like an AA meeting for hopium addicts. My children know I was addicted to trying to “save” their father and our relationship, and how devasting it was for me. They know about my struggle. I had to tell them so they will understand my pain and the danger I am in if I am not vigilant. I had to put down the hopium habit to have a peaceful and productive life. I do not want that kind of drama to be normal in my life. Listen to CL and chump nation when we say work the steps and humbly accept you cannot change another person’s behavior. He has already shown you who he is, for you, and you cannot risk exposure to him because he is toxic for you. I believe I am a good person, and worthy of living an authentic life. I am worthy of love. But I was addicted to hopium, and I had to put down the pipe, and I had to change my behavior to save my life. I did it for me because I wanted to. I choose, every day, not to believe I can smoke even a little hopium to take the edge off. I am allergic to hopium, and I do not believe it is safe or charming, or that it will ever be for me. I do not believe it is healthy for anyone, so I beg you to put down the pipe and go no contact. Do this for yourself, no matter how lonely you are. The withdrawal symptoms will pass, you can do this. Save yourself, you are worth the effort.

    • yup. she’s still addicted to winning the argument and showing him the error of his ways. Needs to go full no-contact cold turkey.

    • Thank you for this! I have often asked myself why I still feel compelled to come to CN even though I’m definitely at meh and this explained that beautifully. I’m a recovering hopium addict trying to keep myself clean for future relationships.

    • This is undoubtedly one of the best responses to Chump Lady I’ve read in 2 years. Soooo true, ALL of it. Accurately describes my situation. Married 34 years, afraid to leave, fearful he couldn’t live without my help, scared I couldn’t live without him as well. My Foo abandonment issues obscured obvious neglect and lack of empathy. It all seemed kinda normal to be ignored and and not listened to. Love bombing me when he felt guilty, on and on, classic abuser behaviors. And yet STILL, I suffer from cognitive dissonance and thoughts of second guessing myself in decision making. Yes I did call a lawyer right after discovery, sold my home of 30 years plus beautiful gardens, assets divided, moved into a small rental with my 3 pups. Approaching 70 years old and I’m looking for work. I TOOK CARE OF US and worked and did all the housework, shopping, planning, etc. I was a SLAVE. And he was cheating with men the entire marriage. Entitlement is real. Hopium is an addiction. Thank you Portia for explaining this so well. Such a good reminder to be vigilant.

  • Everything CL says, but most of all: “Nothing says “we’re breaking up” like silence.”

    I didn’t find LACGAL until a few months after the blowup, so at the time, I was not familiar with No Contact/Gray Rock as an actual “thing.” But I’d already started the basics with KK and was SO elated to read the book (and all of the other literature out there) about how effective and mind-freeing this seemingly simple strategy can be.

    And just like with today’s contributor, it had the dual benefit of frustrating my cheater almost beyond belief: “What’s happened to you?! Why are you like this all of a sudden?! I can’t even talk to you anymore!!…”

    It’s called Boundaries. Self-respect. Worthiness. Empowerment. All wonderful garments to put on after wearing itchy, scratchy, uncomfortable chumpwear for so long.

    • Yes. Frustrating the cheater is MUCH more rewarding than responding to them! When you stop responding they ramp up their efforts for a while. That’s when you have to remain firm. If you respond after 5 messages, you’ve just taught them that it takes that many times to get a response. And if you stop responding again, they’ll keep trying even longer. When the goal is to extinguish the behavior, you just have to treat them like a not-very-smart pet. Remain firm and do not reward the bad behavior.

      During my divorce, which was before I ever heard of Chump Lady, I figured out that the best thing I could do was to not respond immediately to the fuckwit. The angrier he made me, the longer I took to answer. I needed a cool head to give a short, reasonable response. It really made him angry. I would not be surprised if he was hoping for a fight. With a jerk like that it’s all kibbles. After my youngest turned 18, I blocked the cheater on email. I had quit answering his phone calls years before, and I never answered a single one of his texts. (We separated around the time phone companies stopped charging for texting.) I’m still living in the same house I bought during the divorce, so he knows where I live, but I haven’t heard from him in years. Life is peaceful.

  • Following Tracy’s advice on no contact gave me the first control I had had in my marriage in decades. It also gave me some power. Thank you Tracy! He had always played the stonewall/silent treatment game to get his way. At first it was very hard not to respond. My employers over the years had promoted answering every call by the sixth or fourth ring, so it was wired into me. Every time I did not pick up the phone or stayed silent when he sent an email or voicemail, I remembered what Tracy said and held back. Over time, I felt more and more powerful and comfortable with my silence. I could look at the unanswered text or email and think “HA! I didn’t respond to you!” And when he sent my former friends to plead on his behalf (to visit him when in the hospital), I didn’t respond to them, either. I’d already told them about his physical and financial abuse.

    I mostly ignored his words the few times he was allowed in the house by court order to do property inventories, and I had security or a lawyer with me. Since the divorce he has sent a few apology messages. I don’t respond to those either. He’s called a few times on phones that aren’t his, so I don’t recognize the numbers. I only stay on the calls to find out where he’s living in our community, so I can stay away. Recently he emailed using a new account, and it started, “I know you don’t want to talk on the phone with me, but I got a new email account to try this way.” so obviously he got the message I’m not responding. It was full of apologies and regrets. I didn’t reply to that one, either.

    • Yes.

      You have yourself a boundary buster. Someone who can’t hear another person’s No.

      Maintain. You’re doing the only thing possible. Well done.

  • For a number of reasons, X and I were court-ordered to have No Contact, except for official Our Family Wizard emails. No in-person conversations, no phone calls, no texts, no nothing. I hadn’t realized how much damage that access did to me until it was removed. It was a lot harder for X to spin his web of lies when I could just copy and paste the truth from previous emails. It was a lot harder to threaten me when I could forward his scary emails. Son’s school, X’s employer, our church, his mother (ha ha!) – all got copied in when I responded to him. Guess what? The bullying stopped.

    Intimidation and control thrive only in secrecy. Go NC and kick him out of your head. He can play his games with someone else.

    • >It was a lot harder to threaten me when I could forward his scary emails. Son’s school, X’s employer, our church, his mother (ha ha!) – all got copied in when I responded to him. Guess what? The bullying stopped.

      You are my hero. I hope he shat himself.

  • Work on YOU. Learn to respect YOU. Are people worthy of you if they do not respect you, do not care if they expose you to whatever they may have picked up from hookers, have no problem engaging in a business that has bought stolen children to turn into prostitutes, etc? The list goes on and on. Anyone engaging with prostitutes or porn is helping to make a market for kids to keep being stolen and sold, they are making a market for sexual slavery. Is this the kind of guy you want in your future, to be a parental model for your children if you get together, is this what you want for your future. Learn to respect yourself. NO CONTACT will help you get there. Good luck to you. Just keep listening to that audio book. You will find no better solutions. Keep reading here. There are many people here who have survived the breakup and are in better positions for it.

  • Agree 100%

    No contact is the only path to peace and Justice when dealing with a cheater. Start today. If you backslide, start again, and again. Notice how wonderful life feels when you aren’t in the abuse cycle. Peaceful. Free of the agony, the ruminations, the obsessions.

  • Hookers? Gross. You’ll do much better, the guy is hanging with hookers, you’re waaaaaaaay better than that. Ignore his skanky ass and live your life.

  • Not A Unicorn delete his number, delete him from your mind. I was with my ex husband for 18 years before he left me for a work colleague, he cheated and lied constantly. I have two now almost adult children with my idiot ex. I had to co parent with him for 13 years, it was painful every step of the way because as mentioned he’s an idiot. I could not wait for the day when I never had to see or speak to him again. My children still see him occasionally, I NEVER see him, speak to him, text him, or think about him. This is a man I have known for 32 years, had married, had two children with and had at some point loved with all my heart. Going no contact is the best thing you can ever do. You have only known the hooker loving idiot for a year or so and there is absolutely no reason to speak to him, you are so lucky!

    • NC is salvation.

      I met Asshat in 1983 and we married in 1993. He left me for the HoWorker and divorce final in 2018 and they married in 2019. During final financial negotiations in March 2019, Asshat saw me walk in the court lobby and had this big silly grin and actually said “hello”. He must have been shocked as hell when I walked right by him without any acknowledment. A few days later I picked up the last of my posessions from our marital home Asshat had just bought me out from when I noticed the most ridiculous attempt to get me to react–I laughed instead. I’ve been NC since, even with hoover attemps. My 23 year old son lives with me while figuring out life (Asshat lives in the same town). Right before Christmas, I happened to see him (walking very far ahead of HoWorker/Wife) in a parking lot right by where I work and he works out, and a day later a Christmas card arrived for son even though they spent time together on Christmas Eve. This week, son received a post card. Mind you, son has been with me since college graduation in August 2021 and hasn’t received anything from his father until the Christmas card.

      I could care less.

  • I always felt like it should be, “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they don’t CARE.”

    This guy maybe agrees that hookers are a problem, but he doesn’t CARE.

  • Anyone who goes to hookers doesnt respect women. Its transactional. They view everyone this way. The only way you can feel ok about going to hookers is if you do not fundamentally value women. I saw red flags in the beginning regarding FW not seeming to value his mom. I dismissed it because he was treating me well. No surprise he went to hookers. I see he also didnt value any of his schmoopies. The way he talked about them. He used them for sex. At first DDay, 19 yrs ago, I asked him, so and so your coworker, you were friends with at work, they probably liked you since they were so eager to jump into bed with you, you obviously had a good rapport with them, they are single in their late 20 early 30,s, you mustve hurt their feelings. They probably thought they were going to get a relationship with you. His response, no they were not looking for me to be a boyfriend, they are just loose and like to sleep around with alot of men. Me, really? So they are jjst sluts who have no interest in ever getting married and having kids? They just like to have sex with alot of men? His response, yes. I didnt believe him, that they were just horny hot to trot women who slept with everyone at the office. But then again some people dont value themselves. They do in fact do that! So maybe 3 yrs later he is looking howorker up on facebook. She is married with a kid! Lol. I said wow looks like she did want to get married and have kids after all. I understand why you werent interested shes not very attractive. He wasnt happy with that comment. You can see they have to lie to themselves and others to justify it all.

    • Hard agree to everything you said.

      I would be turned off if someone had to sleep with me or else not be able to eat. That’s not consent, that’s rape. Johns are rapists.

      • Exactly so, Cam. Normal people can’t even get turned on without full, enthusiastic consent.

      • Power. At its most horrible.

        Rape is all about a massive power differential. So is buying sex.

        There’s a lot of nonsense talked by sex work’s flying monkeys about how ‘respectful’ johns are because they’re paying.

        Really? Do you want to read that again and let it sink in this time?

        • I want to ask those people how many women would still do sex work if women finally had equal treatment in business and politics, were guaranteed equal wages, were compensated for the $9 TRILLION worth of FREE labor we give every year which keeps the world running, if we were guaranteed control over our own bodies and economic support for mothers. Women don’t do sex work for fun, they do it out of desperation. Or because they’re trafficked.

          The fans also conveniently overlook the fact that abuse in this industry is the norm. I read a horrific medical report out of Germany recently detailing the injuries doctors are seeing prostitutes suffer on the job: PTSD, STDs, rape, and crippling injuries. Men are paying women to tear them apart.

          It’s an evil business. Anyone who says otherwise is delusional or a participant.

  • I am so hopeful that Not a unicorn is on the right path, just a little shaky and accumulating new insights that she has to ACT ON (not acting is a behavior). I like the advice to read the book or play it on repeat OVER AND OVER. My FW may not know about this site in particular but when he is asking me to reconsider the divorce (every 2 weeks – down from daily!), he refers to my “echo chamber” that has convinced me that he cheated yada yada. Fuck yeah, repeated messages are the only way to get over his brainwashing. I know I made mistakes even after reading the book with all the future faking hoovering lies, but I kept trying things out (still am!) until I was ready to make the big jump to filing, then the big jump to minimal contact (kiddo and financial discussions).

    Not a unicorn – – Kuddos but keep going, you are ready for the next step, which is NO STEP, silence as the most sincere fuck off message…

    “It always seems impossible until it is done.” If this quote did come from Nelson Mandela, I know there is a false equivalency in applying it to our situations. But man, the direction of the sentiment is fitting for when we first get the inkling that we need to leave, but the whole idea of starting over is just so daunting and scary and exhausting.

  • CL gives very clear advice and answers. This site is dedicated to moving on. It is not for reconciliation.
    Her advice is crystal clear. Let go of your hopes. Your reality is he is not honest or dependable.

  • In addition to his online profiles on MANY dating sites, Mr. Sparkles also dallied on the Craiglist personals way back when in the dark to find by the hour dates. Mind you, he squeezed all this slutting around during normal business hours and whenever I was on a play date with our son. Very efficient time management, but I digress.

    When I discovered all the exchanges via email with Craiglist hookers, he said he was just fantasizing but would never go through with anything. We’re talking orgies out by the airport with women who looked barely legal… women of different cultural origins and very very very large breast and even women 10-15 years older than me. He was not discerning in the least. (Reread – what is acceptable to you in LACGAL). I felt so disgusted and disgusting that I wanted to scrub myself with a wire brush… the same man that engaged in those activities was sleeping in my bed every night and my son calls him Dad.

    It is a special (not special) kind of fucked up to behave like that. I love Dr. Simon’s work… because even though Mr. Sparkles is about to get married to his latest victim, I know in my heart of heart he hasn’t changed. He hasn’t lifted a finger let alone attempted years of therapy to undo the hardwiring of his (lack of) character.

    Follow CLs advice. Go no contact. You can do better, even if it means being alone for a while so you can fix your picker and get very clear on your dealbreakers. Know your worth. He won’t change. He can’t. He doesn’t want to because in his mind there is nothing wrong with him.

  • When we are on the brink of insanity is when clarity blasts through the cobwebs the best.

    This writer * who is a Unicorn Herder * is tittering on the edge of a 100 story building. And we were all her- we all had our staffs and cloaks and sat on the hillside, herding unicorns.

    Think of the mental algebra it takes to accept back a person who paid hookers for sex. Used money that could be for a cancer policy, a new hot water tank, a jar of salsa…to get his dick sucked. Then exposed you to STDs that can make you itch, make you bleed, make you die.

    And to take him back, to hearth and home, back to Mac and cheese and clean sheets and beverage requests when they are sick. Back to feigning interest in “remember when” stories – a true act of unconditional love.

    We were all as crazy as her. Her resolved will be tested on a rainy Thursday night and he texts a semi- insightful blurb and the spark of hope ignites like a pilot light.

    Can she beat it back? Can she crawl back to sanity? Yes. Yes. YES!!!!

    Because I was the craziest, saddest, most broken Chump that ever walked the Earth. I would have eaten broken glass for him to love me.

    And now? now? My heart is stone cold demon to a cheater. I see every angle. I smell out the self serving crap excuses like a pig in a truffle patch. Someone should hire me to sniff out a liar and a cheat, because BY GOD- that Maggot gave me superpowers.

    • I love this Sandstone! You’re a great writer. I couldn’t take my husband seriously after he told me he’d been going to hookers for years. It broke my heart that he chose that sex over time/love/connection with me. Not to mention as you say- the wasted financial resources. He won’t pay for our daughter’s medical bills but he was okay using marital resources to pay for hookers. I will never, ever forgive him nor would I ever consider taking him back after his utter disregard of me and my body. There is no respect left.

  • Thank you everyone for your words of wisdom & support! On my lunch break today, I finished listening to the No Contact chapter. I see now that I was trying to get him to ‘see’ my point, ‘feel’ my anger, but what does it matter if he does anyway (which he doesn’t – I highly suspect he’s a clinical Narcissist Personality Disordered person). I almost text: ‘I’m going to block you now. Leave me alone!’ but then I remember “Let silence be your last word.” So I just blocked his number. Done. He can officially ride off into the syphilis sunset without me! haha Thank you ChumpLady, for everything!

  • He showed you who he is. Believe him, and go No Contact.

    Leave him to the hookers. You can do better.

  • Arguing with liars NEVER BENEFITS YOU! It only teaches them how to better manipulate you.

    You’re expending way too much effort for this loser. Get rid of him before he wastes any more of your life and for God’s sake, don’t marry him.

  • I get the temptation of this. I did this sort of thing, though not so much in a effort to enlighten the FW, but to insult him. It tweaked his ego and he flew into narc rages, making a complete fool of himself, much to my amusement. However, matching wits with an unarmed man was much too easy and not worth the bother in the long run. Once you get it out of your system you can forget about the FW.

  • Nothing hurts a cheater like No-Contact. They lose the ability to justify, lie, manipulate, and charm.

  • You aren’t married to this guy. You dated him for a year, just long enough to find out he’s essentially a cockroach who stands upright. So why take him back after finding out the whole time you were supposedly together and monogamous, he was paying people to have sex behind your back? So–he was cheating and lying. Deceptive and manipulative. He doesn’t care about your heart or your health. And he’s a future faker.

    The problem with “anger and hate” is that they are emotions that can flood you and then recede, leaving debris. What NO CONTACT does is allow you to process these emotions in service of healing, of learning to live without a toxic relationship, of fixing your picker so you don’t gravitate to another disordered person.

    Block him on phone and text. Block him on social media. If he shows up at the door, don’t answer it. If you run into him at the coffee shop, go elsewhere. And remember the last half of CL’s title: the book is ultimately about gaining a life that isn’t tied to a toxic disordered person. Leave a Cheater. Gain a Life. You can’t get to the “gain a life” part if you aren’t willing to let go of a lying crap weasel with a hooker habit.

  • Totally get it, after a 28 year marriage where I always felt he was up to something, which made me so insecure, I went from a confident, outgoing, attractive women to a complete shell of who I had been.
    I got a text from him at 8am on a Monday morning July 2018, the start of my NHS shift, after he’d been away at the weekend (his brothers he said, turned out NOT)
    but the text was meant for the other woman!!!
    when asked about it he ignored me, he gaslighted me, used Darvo, in fact every deceitful trick they all use, then he just left.
    When I found LACGAL it was a huge eye opener for me, sadly I still did the pick me dance, tried to untangle the skein🙄 my 4 adult children thought me mad…it took 4.5 years to get him to agree financials during which I found on the family computer his sat nav was linked, so knew exactly who he was seeing & bank statements showed he’d given her money, taken her out to fancy restaurants ect, he moved back into the family home (I had to legally let him as he was on the mortgage)he saw me reading LACGAL & called me rude for reading it 🙄
    Our sons were still living at home at that point & he never spoke to them, I finally got the divorce agreed, I sold the house, 60/40 to me plus half his pensions.
    At last I moved in September 2022, new home, new car, new life.
    Had a bit of a hiccup as he had a heart attack October 2022, I struggled as Ifelt I should ask if he was ok, he was just waiting to have an op, so text a few times, he wasn’t bed bound, not at deaths door but not once did he think about contacting his sons or even ask about them…
    I did tell my boys as I’m concerned it’s hereditary but they chose much more intelligently than me to not contact him….He had hurt them deeply.
    So, I finally went no contact November 17th day after my 62nd birthday, he had text me to tell me he should have his surgery soon, I didn’t reply & I blocked everything,
    I then had the best Christmas in 25 years with all my children & grandchildren together, I am finally at peace, I am sorry it took so long but Tracey its the realisation that no contact has finally brought me to Tuesday 🎉 🎊
    Much love from a truly grateful, happy & at peace ChumpnoMore in England xx

  • Ok, I’m a day late to this post, but I had to let CN and Tracy know that I snapped up the audiobook just now. You gave me an easy excuse to do it, Tracy! The only thing I was disappointed to discover is that you don’t read it, Tracy. Ah, well. I’ll have to somehow carry on.😁

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