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An Inconvenient Time for a D-Day

broken heartDear Chump Lady,

It’s Valentine’s Day, and in between reading your blog posts, I’ve cooked a steak dinner and given a lovely gift and card to my wife. My gift from her was a collection of her own selfies over the years, set to music, sent to me on Facebook Messenger. So, I guess let that marinate in the back of your brain as you read the rest of this.

My wife and I have been together for 7 years, married 4 years in June. If it matters, we’re a lesbian couple.

Some backstory – when my wife and I met, I was married, but it was not an affair. My now-ex wife and I at the time were in a poly relationship, which I had honestly resisted for years before finally giving in. Everything was above board. My now-wife also knew the arrangement and was fully aware of the entire situation. We all existed this way for a while.

I won’t go into all the dirty details of why my ex wife and I split, but will just say that ethical non-monogamy was not her style and she left me feeling hurt, abandoned, and broken on more than one occasion over several years. Turns out poly people can cheat too (duh). It was a mess, and by the end I was (and am) absolutely done with poly/non-monogamy for good. It’s now a total dealbreaker for me. When all of that happened, my now-wife was very supportive.

It’s a complicated thing when there’s a divorce in poly relationships. It’s not like the OW over there celebrating that she “won” or anything. These are accepted bonds between multiple people, and it’s hard to be in the wake of any of it. But she took it in stride and we had some tough conversations around the whole thing. Primarily, the fact that I was off the poly train for good.

I asked her outright if she would be okay with a monogamous relationship. Totally fine if she wasn’t, I get it. She got into a relationship with someone in a poly relationship, and sometimes that’s what people want. I’m the one who changed the script, I was ready to accept whatever came with that. But, she said she’d be happy with just me, that she wasn’t tied to being poly, and was 100% fine with being monogamous. We later moved in together, and I will admit it was partly out of financial convenience. I was just coming off a divorce and she was staying with her family while trying to get her footing after some “bad times” herself. We were both pushing 40, so it’s not like we were kids. We were in love. It felt right. We did it.

It wasn’t long into us living together that the issues around her exes started. She’s friends with basically ALL of them, and swears it’s just friendship now and nothing more. One night, I saw a text exchange that made me uncomfortable and asked her to stop, it was inappropriate. She agreed to shut it down. A few days later, I saw that she had messaged this ex telling her to message on a different platform because “my girlfriend is in her feelings about it” (we weren’t married at the time). I lost my shit, she apologized, said she was “still trying to get used to living in the light” and promised to really shut it down this time. There were a couple of other occasions where she’d talk to “friends” (exes) about our arguments, etc. to “get their take on it” and I expressed that it was absolutely not cool with me, crossed some major boundaries of mine, and it needed to stop. She agreed and supposedly stopped. I forgave it. We eventually got engaged. I am aware now of all the red flags you just noted in your mind.

We got married in June 2019. It was a beautiful day and then we flew off to Mexico for our honeymoon and everything was coming up roses. So blissfully in love…

Fast-forward a few months. I was miserable at my job and started looking for another one, but otherwise things seemed great. Until one Sunday she went to visit her parents, came home that evening and tossed her phone on the bed and went to use the restroom. While she was in there, her phone rang. A photo and a name came up on her lock screen as it was ringing. When she came out, I told her she had missed a call and asked who it was. She immediately lied right to my face, saying it was “someone from work.” Knowing that a) she talks about work and coworkers all the time and I had never heard this name and b) she works M-F and does not get calls on weekends and c) I already knew it was her ex from a few years prior to us meeting, this was a stupid move on her part. But, I just wanted to see if she’d lie to me about it. And she did, with zero hesitation.

Her and I usually have access to each other’s phones. Her fingerprint is on mine, mine is on hers, because we randomly grab each other’s phones all the time. But, in that moment I realized I hadn’t grabbed her phone for anything in a while and grabbed it to unlock it. Fingerprint didn’t work. She had locked me out of it months ago, I just never noticed because I hadn’t had a reason to. She yanked the phone back. I checked the phone records. This had been going on since our honeymoon, if not earlier. I got a job offer for my dream job (still there today). Our “celebration dinner” was her telling me she’s not blaming me but the whole “sexting thing” was because I didn’t do what she wants in bed all the time and what else was she supposed to do? And “when we met you were poly and now you’re not that person anymore like we got married and you just locked it all down suddenly” and she wishes we were poly so she could feel free to talk to this ex and it not be a problem, etc. WTF. It’s like she creates her own narrative out of the past to suit her own wants at any given moment. It’s infuriating.

She swears they never met up (the ex lived in another state), but there was a very suspicious urge for her to go visit her half-brother that month, just out of the blue. They never talk, but suddenly, she needed to go see him and “reconnect” after literally years of not even speaking to each other. Her brother lives like 4 hours away from this ex (we live 18+ hours away). She still says it had nothing to do with meeting up with this ex but….I mean…come on. She didn’t end up going.

I was hellbent on making it work, though. She insisted on couple’s counseling, so we went. In front of the therapist, she was apologetic and sweet and remorseful. She swore it would never happen again and understood how much it hurt me. I wanted to believe her, so I did. I told her I wanted her to end it with this ex with me present, or at least show me evidence that she did so. Nothing. I asked her a couple of days later, she said ended it while I wasn’t arround and it was done. All messages with this ex were deleted. I still do not know the extent of their exchanges, as my wife went out of her way (got a new phone, reset the old one, deleted every trace) to ensure I didn’t see anything.

I’ve been working on my “trust issues” ever since. Since then, I have been berated for my “trust issues” over a random trip to Atlanta to see a friend for a week (she didn’t tell me she was going until after she bought the plane ticket), a boat trip with an ex (just them, on the ex’s boat, and I couldn’t go) and literally any time I even hint that I’m not cool with whatever plans she has. “How long are you going to hold onto that? I didn’t even cheat. It was just talking and I still came home to you every night and it didn’t even affect our daily life at the time so I don’t get what the big deal even was.”

I did agree that I would not look at her phone while she’s sleeping anymore. She said I can look at it when she’s awake and ask for it, just not while she’s sleeping because…I don’t know why, honestly. If there’s nothing to hide with you in front of me, there’s nothing to hide while you’re sleeping, either, right?

Anyway, I broke my promise. One night a few weeks ago she was passed out and her phone was there on the bed in front of me and honestly, I just wanted to confirm I wasn’t stupid for trusting her again, because I’d been having that gut feeling again. I just wanted to see for myself that there was nothing crazy on there and my instinct was just off this one time. So, I looked around. It took less than a minute to see some uncomfortable exchanges between her and *yet another ex* on there. It was clear while reading them that many of the messages followed phone calls. Some talking about how “worked up” my wife seemed that morning. Wife sending pics of a hotel room they shared in the past. My wife toying around with calling her “Mistress” by using M to address her. Wife sending her pics of our bed after sex to brag about it. The ex asking my wife “Is SHE there? Are you sitting across the table from each other?” after my wife said she was meeting up with co-workers after work (what SHE?? WHO? Is my wife having an affair with a co-worker now???). My stomach twisted. I wanted to vomit.

But, I just quietly came out to the living room instead and checked the phone records. They talk every single day on my wife’s way to work and on her way home. Sometimes even mid-day. NEVER on the weekends when she’s home with me. NEVER when she’s working from home (with me). Literally only when I am not around. Always. Every single available day. One time, my wife went to “wash the car” and came back over two hours later with only the windows half-cleaned. I asked what she actually did and she admitted she was on the phone with this ex “getting a tarot reading” the whole time. I told her then that I was not comfortable with her only speaking to this person when I’m not around. She said she’d start talking to her with me around. She never did. That was well over a year ago. This person lives about 4 hours away, so I’d be surprised if they ever actually met up for sex, but I can’t cross that off my list either. It’s possible.

Anyway, my wife woke up and saw that her phone had been “disturbed” and asked me what was up. I said nothing. Her bday weekend was in a couple of days and I had put a lot of time and effort and money into it and didn’t want it to go to waste over this BS. I refused to talk about it. We got through the bday weekend, even tho she knew I knew about shady ex shit happening yet again.

On the Wednesday after her bday weekend, I was ready to finally talk to her and say I’m done. She called in hysterics on the way home – her niece was killed in a car accident that afternoon. The next couple of weeks were filled with heavy sadness, talking to family, and me just trying to support her through this while stuffing my own shit down for the time being.

We did have one blow up at a dinner out recently, where she insisted she wanted to know what I was feeling about all of the “phone stuff.” I told her in the most gentle way I could that I had seen the messages and phone records, yes I was upset about it, but I didn’t think this was an appropriate time to discuss it and let’s table it for now. She blew up, swore I hadn’t seen anything inappropriate because they are “just friends” and I’m “irrationally jealous of everyone who has ever seen her naked,” yelled about me looking at her phone while she’s asleep when I said I wouldn’t, and then spent another 10 minutes on the car ride home literally screaming at me about how I don’t make my (adult) kids who live with us respect her because “nothing has changed” since she’s been here and it’s disrespectful to her and that’s the same thing as her talking to exes behind my back and lying to me about it and I have no right to be mad right now. To be clear, the adult kids she is referring to are my autistic son (29) and my daughter (23) who spent most of her teen years in inpatient treatment and is just now doing fairly well. She’s tired of me “coddling” them.

She also thinks I’m insane for considering any of this even remotely close to infidelity, because she hasn’t met up or had sex, has no plans to leave me, has never told this ex that she would, has made it clear to ex(s) that she is happily married and loves me, and never talks bad about me/doesn’t allow the ex(s) to talk bad about me, and “it’s literally just talking/messaging, nothing more.” I mean…thanks, I guess? But, it’s still waltzing over boundaries I have made abundantly clear with no regard to my feelings about it, so….

I started to fight back but I just couldn’t. I’m so exhausted right now. I just sat there and listened to her scream at me. We were low-key celebrating a big promotion and nice raise I got at work (same job that she ruined the “celebration” of me getting in the first place – I think she hates it when I succeed, to be honest). I just don’t have the energy for this right now. I am so drained.

So, here we are. Funeral arrangements for her niece have yet to be made. Her family is acting crazy, adding to the stress. She is still mourning. She is still grieving. I am still pissed and upset, but also not a monster. I can’t swing the hammer on someone already feeling so broken. So I keep buying her peanut M&Ms and hugging her and telling her everything is going to be okay. I’m trying to console her over her niece’s death, but it feels like I’m also consoling her for her BS with the ex at the same time. Emotions are intertwined – I can’t console one without the other right now. She cries about her niece and then in the next breath cries because she’s sure I’m going to leave her. It makes me furious, but at the same time, my heart hurts for her loss and I want to help her and support her through her loss. We are existing in suspended reality right now, and I feel like we both know it.

And then I feel crazy for thinking this is as awful as I’m making it out to be. Maybe it is just talking/messaging and not a huge deal. Maybe I am blowing it out of proportion. Maybe my feelings really are based on past trauma from my ex, like she says they are. Maybe I should just calm down.

But my heart hurts and I feel so betrayed (again) and I don’t want to keep doing this and that’s really the point, right? What am *I* willing to tolerate? Well, it isn’t this.

I honestly don’t know what to do right now.



Dear Blue,

There’s never a convenient time for a D-Day. In fact, you’ll probably get comments from chumps who had D-Days after childbirth, or cancer treatments, or in the middle of Christmas while opening presents. It ALL sucks.

I don’t mean to sound heartless, but her niece’s death is beside the point. Oh, she doesn’t have the bandwidth to deal with the consequences of her actions? Yeah, well you don’t exactly have gobs of leisure to deal with the aftermath of betrayal.

So, what should you do? Protect yourself. Do all the things. Lock down the finances. Call a lawyer. Get yourself some therapy if you want that. Line up those ducks.

Now then, let’s parse this letter. Your head is in the mindfuck blender. Time to flip off the switch.

There were a couple of other occasions where she’d talk to “friends” (exes) about our arguments, etc. to “get their take on it”

What take is there to get? You’re married. That’s the take. It’s not a group decision.

It’s not okay for her to discuss your relationship problems with her exes. Or the hottie on the next bar stool. “My wife doesn’t understand me” is classic cheater foreplay.

And “when we met you were poly and now you’re not that person anymore like we got married and you just locked it all down suddenly” and she wishes we were poly so she could feel free to talk to this ex and it not be a problem, etc. WTF.

Polyamorists can cheat too. (As you’re painfully aware from your last marriage.) So this is a misdirect. Every relationship has boundaries, she’s violating them.

Fingerprint didn’t work.

Now why would she change her phone and sext people if not to step out on you, virtually or in person? (Or maybe her half brother is that compelling.) You’re not overreacting. That happened. Stop doubting the evidence. It’s bad enough she’s mindfucking you, don’t mindfuck yourself.

She swore it would never happen again and understood how much it hurt me. I wanted to believe her, so I did. I told her I wanted her to end it with this ex with me present, or at least show me evidence that she did so. Nothing.

More evidence. Also, you shouldn’t have to explain basic boundaries. She isn’t ending it with Schmoopie because she doesn’t want to. That’s what her actions say.

I’ve been working on my “trust issues” ever since.

You don’t have trust issues, you have cheating wife issues.

Your trust issues are you don’t trust the evidence in front of you.

a random trip to Atlanta to see a friend for a week (she didn’t tell me she was going until after she bought the plane ticket), a boat trip with an ex (just them, on the ex’s boat, and I couldn’t go) and literally any time I even hint that I’m not cool with whatever plans she has. “How long are you going to hold onto that? I didn’t even cheat. It was just talking and I still came home to you every night and it didn’t even affect our daily life at the time so I don’t get what the big deal even was.”


May I point out the obvious? This is not how people trying to reassure you that they’re not cheaters act. Does any of this make you feel SAFE in this relationship? You’re not invited on a pleasure cruise with her “ex” girlfriend? Do you think anyone with a lick of sincerity would behave this way? She’s getting off on your pick me dance.

She also thinks I’m insane for considering any of this even remotely close to infidelity,

They all say this. And it doesn’t matter what she thinks, it’s about what’s acceptable to you.

how I don’t make my (adult) kids who live with us respect her because “nothing has changed” since she’s been here and it’s disrespectful to her and that’s the same thing as her talking to exes behind my back and lying to me about it and I have no right to be mad right now. To be clear, the adult kids she is referring to are my autistic son (29) and my daughter (23) who spent most of her teen years in inpatient treatment and is just now doing fairly well. She’s tired of me “coddling” them.

You have two children. You don’t need a third. And caring for your adult children, one special needs, is not the same as emotional and physical affairs. And yes, I had to just type that at you.

I am still pissed and upset, but also not a monster. I can’t swing the hammer on someone already feeling so broken. So I keep buying her peanut M&Ms and hugging her and telling her everything is going to be okay.

Please stop. Where are your fucking M&Ms? Do you see the dynamic here? Your hurt doesn’t matter. It’s invisible. IRRELEVANT. She is the gaping black hole of need. SERVE HER.

Cheating or no cheating, (she’s cheating) this is not a reciprocal relationship.

She cries about her niece and then in the next breath cries because she’s sure I’m going to leave her.

Well, I’m sure it’s nothing a sea cruise with a fuckbuddy won’t cure.

And then I feel crazy for thinking this is as awful as I’m making it out to be. Maybe it is just talking/messaging and not a huge deal. Maybe I am blowing it out of proportion. Maybe my feelings really are based on past trauma from my ex, like she says they are. Maybe I should just calm down.

This is me bitchslapping you.

Put the hopium down. She’s shady as fuck and utterly without remorse or apology. She lies to you, because she’s not about polyamory, she’s about deceit. Her MO is goading you into the pick me dance and keeping you off balance. That’s what the EVIDENCE says. You didn’t imagine your phone bills, or all the other bullshit.

You want a committed, monogamous relationship, and she doesn’t have the raw materials. So, this is a nonstarter. End it.

But my heart hurts and I feel so betrayed (again) and I don’t want to keep doing this and that’s really the point, right? What am *I* willing to tolerate? Well, it isn’t this.

There’s your answer.

And if it makes you feel any better, I’m twice divorced and life is fine. I don’t walk around with a brand on my forehead. I mix in company. I don’t smell weird. You’ll be okay too.

Let us know how you’re doing.


Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • This relationship sounds dysfunctional from beginning to, hopefully, end. Not a good environment for adult children, either. There’s no need to find the perfect time to get your ducks in a row and set up a household which reflects your boundaries and values. Take the time to grieve and get your bearings once you’ve cleared the chaos.

  • Blue,

    You need to turn your wife into an ex-wife as quickly as you can …. and you shouldn’t worry that now is not a good time for her; that’s a “her problem” not a “you problem.”


  • Did anyone else note the “Valentine’s gift” of selfies? The red flag turns to black and white checkered there. Please get out – you’re like the frog in the boiling water, and it’s getting hotter by the day. Ask me how I know.

    • The “Valentine’s gift” of *selfies* is the very first thing I noticed. What a monumentally self-absorbed *cow*. Who the fuck thinks a load of *selfies over the *years* set to *music*, is an appropriate gift to someone they purportedly love ?! A narcissistic bitch who thinks the world revolves around *her*, that’s who.

      I didn’t need to read the rest of Blue’s letter to see what was coming next, but it was no surprise. Me, me, me, wonderful me. She’s even weaponising her niece’s death to mindfuck and manipulate Blue even further. Ugh.

      Blue, this creature is scum. Kick her to the curb, change the locks, and divorce her. You deserve so much better. Hugs.xx

    • I hadn’t noticed when the selfies from my ex stopped coming. He just started sending to AP. I was shocked when I saw how many selfies he had on his phone and the naked one in bed still burns in my mind.

      • Yeah, EW. Shirtless selfie found over here, taken in a work trip hotel and sent to who knows? Not me. That’s fine. Narcissistic FW looked puffy in it anyway.

        Can’t unsee it, but if I was ever inclined to find him attractive again I’ve got that selfie lurking in the back of my brain whispering “EW.”

        • Dontfeellikedancin, you know what’s worse than a shirtless selfie…?

          I found a selfie from my late-thirties ex to one of the 20-something OWs who worshipped him: a dimly-lit photo of FW sitting cross-legged and naked from the only the waist down. One of those “dear god, she can have him” moments that helped me step away from the Pick Me dance (and offered a rare dday laugh). Think he must’ve been stoned; not sure if that makes it better or worse. Wait, I tried to erase the image from my memory but writing this, I’m pretty sure the photo was taken from somewhat of a distance, so I guess he went to the effort of propping up the phone and setting a timer.

          Yep, ex loved selfies and had (has?) a YouTube channel about himself, with weekly faux-modest videos glorifying his life and awesomeness; plenty of rambling selfie monologues that I couldn’t stand even pre-dday when I still loved and respected him. I, in contrast, have always hated photos and videos of myself, so I avoided his camera. Not so hard in the end, when I now realize he wanted to minimize the outward appearance (to strangers, OWs and — yes — their parents, who evidently loved to watch his channel). My lack of interest in social media, my desire for privacy (he broadcast our home, pets and projects) and the fact that I was camera shy, these were all major strikes against me. I actually forced myself to relax and came around a bit because I wanted to support him and not be too insecure/uptight, but *that* approach changed nothing with FW. Then, he started making excuses about why I couldn’t be/wasn’t in videos. This was one dynamic that helped me begin to catch on to the shifting goalposts/blame game before dday, in fact.

          Which brings me back to today’s actual topic, the mindfuck blender. Oh, the circular “conversations” and “fights.” It’s like trying to explain a fever dream that kind of made sense at the time, but when you open your mouth you realize it was sheer madness. I appreciated CL’s comment: “And caring for your adult children, one special needs, is not the same as emotional and physical affairs. And yes, I had to just type that at you.”

          You clearly “get it,” Blue, when you step away. But you’ll remain trapped in the cycle and it won’t truly get better until you close the door for good. Definitely no more Reese’s! I think many of us fell into the trap of feeling sorry for and continuing to nurture and caretake fuckwits who were actively hurting, deceiving and taking advantage of us; it’s an added shit sandwich to look back on. Please remember that cheaters are chaos janitors, and there will never be a good time. If there isn’t a crisis to make your needs unimportant and make you feel guilty for even having them, they will invent one. Ugh, your letter also reminded me about how my ex would complain to OWs about things being “hard” with me, hard for him. Meanwhile, I was offering him forgiveness, making myself tiny and Pick Me dancing my ass off. I can’t even… Blue, your letter triggered so many bad memories. Your FW is not unique. Hope you get yourself free.

          • *Meant to write: “minimize the outward appearance *of living with a longterm partner*” (even though he sure didn’t mind showing off all the things I helped make nice without giving me any of the credit)

  • I read something relevant:

    Codependency described as “addicted to the potential of things.”

    Four years of gaslighting. No wonder you’re a wreck. Leave a fuckwit, work on self recovery, value and live your life.

    • Addicted to the potential of things. So Accurate!!!!

      I was trained by parents who always expected me to be the best at everything. Nothing I did was enough. I could do better if I tried. I had potential.

      I hated this, it hurt me all the time, but I internalized this philosophy. I married men with “potential”. I feel this is a form of abuse that I accepted and even perpetuated. My unhappiness drove me to therapy and study, and slowly I rehabilitated my worldview. Fortunately, I was well on the way to change when I had children. I won’t say I was a perfect parent, but I let them know they were loved, and I was proud of them all the time. I made a point of letting them feel they were more than enough for me.

      My spouses had many faults of their own making, but I was guilty of expecting them to live up to their potential. The problem was they had misrepresented who they were and what they wanted from life. There was nothing to work with there. I am so much happier now. I know what I am capable of doing, and what makes me happy. I don’t look for friends or lovers with potential anymore.

      Living an authentic life changes everything. Learning to spot those who will misrepresent who they are, and who try to mirror what they think I want to take advantage of me, is a wonderful life skill. I don’t seek people with potential. I look for people whose actions jive with their stated beliefs.

    • Yup. Also, next time, don’t get into a poly relationship thinking it’ll turn monogamous. It’s like going to a burger joint hoping for pizza: probably not on the menu, and if it is, it’s probably not done well.

      • Blue asked the question expecting an honest answer, and took her wife at her word. Does this mean polyamorous people shouldn’t be trusted if they decide to be monogamous?
        One of the problems is that the poly community is one of assumed honesty and trust, and therefore ripe for misuse by the unscrupulous. My ex was the same – cheater hiding in the poly community and when I told him I was monogamous and did not want a poly relationship he lied and committed to monogamy. The OW who finally blew up his game keeps in touch, and she has encountered more like him (she’s poly, I am not). Nobody twisted my ex’s arm – I told him right up front what I was and needed, and said “if your needs are different I totally respect that and let’s just be friends”. Like Blue’s wife, he began as he meant to go on – deceptively. Blue, your wife and my ex sound like peas in a pod. I have disabled kids, too. I bet yours aren’t telling you lots of crappy things about your wife – I was shocked by what came out after my kids learned I was divorcing their father. Seriously, lose this woman.

        • I don’t think poly people can be trusted to stick to monogamy. Nor can mogamous people be trusted to be okay with polyamory. They might give in to please a partner, but if it isn’t who they are, it won’t stick.
          It’s not that dissimilar to asking a gay person to commit to living as straight.
          But IMO, this particular FW’s problem isn’t monogamy vs. polyamory. It’s honesty vs. deceit. Deceit is just who she is. It’s even possible she has not been having sex with her exes, because she gets enough of a thrill by talking to them and hiding it from Blue.

          The AP in my case was certainly not motivated by desire for polyamorous relationships or even by sex at all. She only wanted to chump her husband, then later to chump my cheater as well. To her, the purpose of sex is not mutual pleasure, but to be used as a weapon against a partner and for attention. It seems Blue’s cheater likes to weaponize any kind of intimacy, including conversation, in the same way. She seems pretty much a textbook narcissist.

  • There is so much chaos in your relationship and only one person causing it.You don’t need that. I was exhausted just reading your letter. Show her the door and get some peace.

  • OMG, I am exhausted just from reading this. How you must feel from living through all this bullshit is how no one should ever feel in any relationship. I am one hundred percent sure she is also cheating (physically). Why? Because all her behaviour is classic narcissistic crap. Lying, gaslighting, hiding things, then fake apologizing and doing it again and again and again and again.. Being nice and apologetic in front of the therapist. Promising something and acting differently. Literally showing no concern or understanding for your feelings and boundaries. Narcissists never change or get better, they only get worse and push the bar until you finally crack. She will just keep pushing and pushing, because you keep tolerating everything she does. Why would she stop? No reason to. She can have it all. Nobody is as single as a married narcissist. And these people believe they deserve it, that they’re special in some way. And when you express your feelings and concerns, she finds a way to turn it back to you, how YOU have problems with something, whatever comes in handy at that moment and basically she’s the victim in the story. Believe me, when I say this, after being in “reconcilliation” with a narcissist for over a year and a half: LEAVE, NOW. Save yourself some pain and brain blending. It never gets better. The promises never stick. You will accept eventually that she is who she is and that you deserve better than what she is able to give.

    • “She will just keep pushing and pushing, because you keep tolerating everything she does. Why would she stop? No reason to.”

      Yes! I recall literally saying to myself, after some horrific post-dday incident, “What makes him think he can just cross my boundaries like that?” Then I realized that was the wrong question (untangling the skein): a. FW clearly DID feel fine crossing my boundaries; and b. I was the only person who could be held accountable for maintaining my boundaries. I had to accept that the only way to protect myself was to leave, in spite of the massive costs.

  • At this point the “Is she *really* cheating?” question is a sand trap. You can dig for years, but as Chump Lady says, is this acceptable to you? Do you want a partner who disregards your feelings and instead plays relationship lawyer who says “According to Relationship bylaw 5 I didn’t cheat so your feelings are wrong..”.

    She doesn’t seem to know how to have a healthy conflict that respects your feelings, or know how to repair the damage. Your trust in her is damaged and you are in the role of care taking her grief while denying your reality.

    You don’t sound happy, supported, or at peace. You don’t need hard proof of cheating to leave. Wanting to leave is enough of a reason. No longer being able to trust that she will listen to you and respect your boundaries is enough.

  • All that phone policing gets old and exhausting, yes? Look. Everyone is allowed to have friends that we can talk to about feelings and such, That may not have much to do with their partner. But my partner and I still require a high level of trust, esp when you have established reasonable boundaries. The poly factor effects all those relationships. Perhaps you initially got involved on the rebound and for convenience. But it’s obvious to you now that she’s not a good fit for you and the type of life you want to lead. So it’s ok to let it go even if it’s painful. Take time to enjoy being with yourself and your family and fix your picker. Good luck.

  • “I’ve been working on my “trust issues” ever since. Since then, I have been berated for my “trust issues””

    I felt sick for you reading that. I remember those days: living with a cheating spouse (during a “reconciliation”), checking his phone, his social media messages, all in all just acting like his warden, and pointing out his behavior to him only to have him flip the script quite easily, so that his cheating, and my heartbreak, were irrelevant: “You… you checked my messages…? You monster! This is classic abuse!” (Then, in a text to his mistress later: “She checks my messages! Can you believe it?!” Her: “You poor dear!!! You need to get out of that relationship!”)

    Well, he did leave and marry his mistress, thank goodness. Those “trust issues for no reason at all” (except for, you know, all the reasons) nightmares are now her kettle of fish to deal with.

    So, I remember those days. The days where a cheating spouse is doing “nothing wrong whatsoever” and they berate you for having doubts. Those days put me on antidepressants and it only got better when he left. It didn’t matter that I loved him at the time; the sun started shining more after he was gone. These people, no matter how much we love them are crabs in a bucket. Vampires. Black holes.

    Get those ducks in a row. Be kind about it, if you want, but start putting her on that shovel and start shoveling her out the door. Better days are ahead when she’s gone.

    • “It didn’t matter that I loved him at the time; the sun started shining more after he was gone. These people, no matter how much we love them are crabs in a bucket. Vampires. Black holes.”

      Oh my, what a powerful statement. It’s so true that everything got better after he left. I never would have believed it at the time, but it was truly like coming out of the darkness when I started to focus on myself and my future without him. I had no idea how beaten down, sad and alone I really was until I was on the other side. Now everything is better financially, mentally, emotionally and even physically. All of the sleep issues and anxiety are gone. Poof!

  • My thought: Use the time while she’s extra distracted to set yourself up for the divorce. Then when the timing works for you, initiate the divorce. You may be able to leverage this situation to make it easier on yourself

    When I got divorced from the cowardly liar, I told him I wasn’t predicting what the future might hold, but that being married wasn’t good for me for the time being because he was doing so much with his life that didn’t involve me, and I wasn’t going to judge it, but it made me think our finances should be totally separate, at least for now. I said we can talk about whether to remarry later on if it’s right for both of us. I had no intent of remaining in relationship. It was a stalling tactic to get him to sign, recommended by a lawyer friend who had worked with poly divorces. (He was secretly “poly” (so, cheaty) and I was not poly at all.) He went for it, thinking he could gain the poly life he wanted and would still have a chance to fool around with me and get support from me going forward.

    I’m not a natural manipulator, so I’m not proud of this, but it did work well. It allowed the divorce to remain amicable. I didn’t ask for any support at all, just took the fastest straight shot path to divorce before he could realize what was up and get combative.

    Your mileage may vary, but it’s something to consider. Some folks disagree because the fact is that a spouse DOES have support responsibilities. In my case, rapid disentangling felt a lot more important than anything else, especially from the point of view of never having to communicate with him again.

    I feel deeply for you. Take care, and choose what is best for you. We’re with you all the way, Blue.

    • Well said about using the FW’s distraction to set up the exit strategy. I started my planning right after my ex-FW’s mother died and I regret nothing. I respectfully said Kaddish at her service and started my research while FW and his brothers were fighting over the inheritance.

      Blue owes nothing to a lying cheating person who has clearly never respected her or cared about her.

  • “It’s Valentine’s Day, and in between reading your blog posts, I’ve cooked a steak dinner and given a lovely gift and card to my wife. My gift from her was a collection of her own selfies over the years, set to music, sent to me on Facebook Messenger.”

    Blue, these two sentences were all I needed to know this is not a reciprocal relationship. You gave your wife a lovely gift and a lovely meal. She spent time staring at pictures of herself. How many people did she send that to? You’ll never know, but it was probably more than just you.

    It’s time to lawyer up. Your wife is a lying liar who lies. She is not trustworthy. You deserve better. Your kids deserve better. It doesn’t matter if this is a convenient time or not. She’s a taker and takers always have the next source lined up. When you end it, she’ll go straight from you to the next girlfriend.

  • My head hurts from just reading this, as others have said. You’ve been living it, becoming accustomed to it, over a long period of time.

    The question I have asked myself to help myself into action is “how bad does it have to be to leave?” In doing a written inventory and actually answering that question, I saw that it had passed the “bad enough” test a long time ago. Writing things down also helped me see the totality. I can only think of one incident or event at a time. Writing, putting it all in one place, really helped me see. I used the Power snd Control wheel (Google) and wrote down incidents that qualified for each category. But you may be too emotionally exhausted to write. Do what you can.

    Abuse seeps in over time, and psyches make ongoing incremental microscopic adjustments. Mix those with their intermittent sprinklings of good guy/gal behavior which act as Krazy Glue to keep people confused and snared and rooted to the spot inside the relationship.

    It takes an atomic bomb going off, and the support of others to extricate.

    If someone is lying to you, they don’t love you. You can absolutely keep it that simple. Where there is lying there is no love.

    I like what Miss Manners says about not needing to consider the feelings of those who show no concern for ours.

    Leaving is protecting yourself. She is not protective of you. I encourage you to protect yourself.

    • Maybe turn your laser focus from your “trust issues” to her “integrity issues”?

      I have no problem trusting. I have a problem, on occasion, of continuing to extend that trust after being shown I shouldn’t……

      • I have benefitted immensely from two really great therapists. When he was involved with those therapists, he lied lied lied lied lied. Was cheating. Hid money from me for twenty years. But they absolutely helped me leave when the dishonesty (profound) was revealed. They are also now living reality checks who repudiate his efforts to rewrite history.

        I recommend adding a great therapist, for JUST YOU, to your extrication team. And support from a local domestic violence assistance organization.

  • The inconvenient time part resonates. I faked a happy family Christmas using that excuse . There is no convenient time to jump from the boiling cauldron.
    Vows broken- check
    No trust- check
    The best time to get out is ASAP.
    Stop the slide into the boiling water that will kill you! Find your strength and use it for YOU.
    Keep coming back for support here. Hugs

    • Christmas Eve D-Day here, too. The morning of, with my entire family coming to our house at 6pm for dinner. And then on to opening presents with the children on Christmas Day. Picture poor Emma Thompson in Love, Actually, straightening out the bed while trying to control her tears. Same, girl.

  • Blue,

    Reading your letter made me tired. I felt stress building. I wanted to get away from your wife – just on paper.

    She’s not even interesting. Just a garden variety narcissistic freak who wants to eat all the candy – now, more, me!

    I would get away from this person if I had to crawl through a wolverine den, naked and in a blizzard. I would get on an inner tube and fight the Bering Strait to get away from her. There is nothing to work with here.

    Your lover is a liar. Liars are dangerous. If she is pining for her ex(es) so desperately, if she cannot resist her sophomoric texts and secret lives, by God, she could go be with them.

    She said she is “trying to live in the light”. (GAG). Send her into the light. Fly away, Freak! Be free!

    Stop expecting loyalty from someone who can’t even give you baseline honesty.


    • “She’s not even interesting. Just a garden variety narcissistic freak who wants to eat all the candy – now, more, me!”
      Haha, I love this, because it’s so true in this case. And it’s always like that. The narcissistic freaks just sell themselves as something more with their fake charm, but when you start seeing them for who they really are, you see that they’re just a black hole and they’ll just suck the life out of you as long as you let them.

  • Blue, if and when you go no contact, get divorced, and a few drama-free years pass you are going to look at this and you literally will not believe what you lived with. This is a VERY toxic and abusive situation. It made my stomach hurt to read it.

    Save yourself.

    No contact is the only path.

  • Blue,
    Every single person here understands your trauma. We’ve all been through this, and know the the sad fact is, cheaters are all very predictable. Listen to the advice here and take it to heart. This will be easier in the long run since you don’t have kids and won’t be navigating the dregs of co-parenting. As you start to value yourself and have empathy for what you are experiencing now, the healthy anger needed for healing will rise within you. That and no-contact will carry you to Tuesday.

  • You don’t have trust issues, you have deceitful wife issues. THIS THIS THIS. It doesn’t even matter what she is being deceitful about, whether it involved sex or not. She is lying to and hurting the person she’s supposed care about the most.

    You want to spare her pain because you are a kind and thoughtful person. But it sounds like she has a number of people waiting in the wings to console her!

  • Oh wow. So many parallels here to my relationship with the Lying Cheating Loser: his underfunctioning in life (I got to feel great about myself by overfunctioning), his lack of boundaries with exes and “friends”, zero reciprocity, and on and on.

    I’m going to zero in on one thing though, because in a quick read-through of the comment I didn’t notice other chumps addressing it, and it’s something that for me became a retroactive red flag and honestly a fuckup on my part.

    Blue, you wrote “…how I don’t make my (adult) kids respect her…” and from that, I’m concluding that your kids don’t really like her.
    Maybe I’m wrong, but if I’m right, that’s a big deal. My adult kids never liked the Lying Cheating Loser. My two sons in particular. My daughter tried.

    They saw all the big and small ways the LCL was letting me down. They correctly pegged him a shitty, selfish person. A user.
    But for a long time, I was too attached to the story I had made up about our relationship to be willing to consider what my kids were subtly trying to show me.
    I was trying to straddle the tension between him and them, and too many times that meant choosing him when I could/should have chosen them.

    Thankfully, I came to my senses eventually, and dumped the LCL. I’m coming up on 5 years of cheater-free life and have worked hard to repair the damage I did to my relationship with my kids in choosing a fuckwit over them.

    As I see it, my kids love me wholeheartedly and without selfish ulterior motives. They wanted to see me be treated with loving, caring respect. They wanted me to have a partner who made my life easier, not harder.

    I have no interest in dating again, but I know one thing for sure: I would never again be in a relationship with someone my kids didn’t like.

    My kids didn’t like the fuckwit for good reason. Seems like same goes for your kids, Blue.

    • I’m going to second Walkaway Woman.



      No one should trust anyone who disrespects others. (My argument for the people who defend cheaters in the workplace and how their “private lives” are separate. They’re not.).

      Little Hammer does not like or trust her own father because of how he treats me, her, others, because he lies. She shouldn’t trust him! It’s appropo to not like people who intentionally hurt and disrespect others. I am not going to interfere with how she feels because IT IS ACCURATE.

      How dare the POS you’re married to dish out disrespect to others and demand respect from anybody? That is a classic cheater attitude and ON ITS OWN grounds to hit the launch codes IMHO.

      If ever Traitor Ex is worthy of trust and respect, I’ll be the first to say so.

      • And narcissists demand respect, feel entitled to respect, while dishing out disrespect left and right. My daughter should not respect her father because he has not earned it. And I am not going to mess that up.

        Hilarious and ironic that the people who prove they know nothing with their lying and cheating, etc., about being in a relationship insist on being in them.

        I’d be better off jumping out of an airplane without a parachute than staying in a relationship with a traitor, thief, liar, cheater criminal.

    • Good observation, Walkaway. Often those who care for us see things that we simply do not see. A friend and my mother refused to forgive FW the first time he cheated on me, even though I had forgiven him at the time. He was furious with them and, by association, with me for not convincing them to forgive him as quickly as I had. I told him that he had to earn their respect but he wasn’t interested in earning anything.

      And, to no one’s surprise here, they were right not to forgive him or trust him. He already had his next GF lined up.

      Agreed, our loved ones having no respect for our cheating partners is definitely a tell.

    • You are correct that they don’t exactly like her. Specficially my autistic son – wife and him do not speak to each other at all and haven’t for years. And I mean, not at all. Daughter and wife get along okay, but even that feels pretty surface level. To say there is constant tension in the home is an understatement.

  • She also does not support your relationship with your kids, or your accomplishments at work. On the day to celebrate the one you love above all else, she celebrates who she loves the most, HERSELF. In a series of pictures, set to music.
    As Lizza Lee wrote, “You gave your wife a lovely gift and a lovely meal. She spent time staring at pictures of herself. How many people did she send that to? You’ll never know, but it was probably more than just you.” Everything she does screams ME ME ME! The trips and vacations she takes that do not include you. Taking so much time away from your relationship with multiple daily tests and calls to someone else.
    And what’s with her family’s inability to plan a funeral? Typically it takes a week or less, and this seems to be longer than that. Did the niece even die, or been buried already? I suspect one or the other, because she’s making even this death all about herself and her supposed grief.
    You’ll feel so much better when you get her out of your life. Please don’t settle for this constant stress and drama. Your love seems so one-sided. You give, she takes.

    • The funeral thing – it’s a whole other mess. The niece really did die and the funeral really hasn’t happened yet. It’s way too much to type out, but suffice to say sanity does not run in the family.

  • LW, if you had a straight female friend who told you this whole story, but it was her husband doing all this shady shit, you’d tell her “he’s been cheating and gaslighting you the whole time, get a lawyer NOW”, right?

    You’re tired and feel broken because she’s deliberately done things to make you tired and broken.

    And please free yourself from the idea that lesbians/bi women are stuck putting up with cheating and abuse because we don’t have as many potential partners as straight women. Or that we “owe” extra grace and forgiveness to abusers because they’re part of the community.

    • Yes! Do not put up with this BS. Too bad if she’s experienced crap for being queer. So have you and you deserve better. Lawyer up quietly and protect yourself and leave her.

  • When you leave one unhappy relationship, and go into another relationship too quickly, you often don’t take the time to do the hard work on yourself that is necessary for growth. I cannot say how long it takes, or exactly what you must do, but you will know it when you sense a fundamental change.

    I have never understood how polyamory works. I get the theory, but it seems too messy for me. I understand people who think monogamy is boring. It doesn’t have to be, but if you don’t like it, don’t marry.

    It seems to me Blue didn’t so much decide what she wanted but allowed herself to be convinced to try it out. When she found she didn’t want to be poly, she moved into a relationship with someone who also had been poly. It doesn’t sound like her new love really made the decision, as much as she let herself be convinced. New convictions require courage and dedication. When you analyze what it is you actually want to do, and you take steps to change your life, you will probably leave some people you know behind. Your values and goals just don’t align any more.

    That is why I believe you must learn to be happy alone. You must be true to what you believe and value and set boundaries for your own happiness. Then, if you find someone whose values align with yours, you have a better chance of success.

    Sometimes I have to interact with people or relatives who knew me when I was younger. They often do not understand I am not the same person. I have evolved, they have evolved, all we have in common is past tense knowledge. If the new me is not who they want me to be, they will have to learn to live with the disappointment. I no longer respond to what other people determine my potential to be. I try very hard not to have expectations about the potential of others.

    I think Blue must learn to be comfortable without the safety net of an existing relationship. She needs to find out who she is, and what she wants. She doesn’t need to examine the minefield of past relationships looking for someone she used to know to have a “new” relationship now. It is scary to give up the comfort of a long-held dream for the danger of a new adventure. You might well make mistakes or misjudgments with a new person. But you have to take the risk that you can be on your own and still be happy. If you find someone compatible, consider yourself lucky and blessed.

    Along the way, don’t make assumptions about who people are. Let them show you who they are. Take your time. Previous life mistakes do not necessarily indicate that people have not learned from them and will always repeat them. Having an unsuccessful marriage or relationship does not mean you are incapable of having a successful one.

  • I feel this. My ex decided to tell me he wanted to be “poly” during our son’s 6th inpatient psychiatric stay the 2nd that month. He bullied me into being poly… it was horrific. It was Labor Day weekend and we were using the time with our son inpatient to get him a new car because his had died. He sneered at me that I looked horrible. Dunno I guess a teen struggling with mental illness and dealing with it 100% on my own for years would make me look awful. I vowed at that moment I was going to leave. I got a therapist. I worked HARD. I made plans to leave but then it was Christmas and I didn’t have enough money yet. I suffered through the holidays and I was GONE on Martin Luther King Day which is now my favorite holiday which is all based on freedom and service. It was over 3 years ago. My son’s mental health is MUCH better. No more impatient stays for him.. he is now a 19 year old senior who is also autistic, bounded off to work a few min ago as a lifeguard. They won’t change YOU have to. Save yourself and your kids are perfect. He used to tell me I coddled the kids too.

    • Wow! I’m so impressed with your mightiness…….and so glad your son has you in his corner.

      I think about my daugher being inpatient psych on suicide watch when Asshat ran off with Schmoopie for the day, calling me later and thanking me for “taking one for the team”. My only sadness is that she is still being triangulated, but at least she is in a much better space. All I know is that I will always be there for her, even if she hasn’t realized that yet.

      • Thank you!!! I am ginger as are BOTH my sons. My oldest calls it his super power! My ex tries to triangulate but the kids don’t buy into it. My ex is a non issue which is good. Sometimes they get sad over their Dad and I say you have to accept he is limited and then live your life. Depend on who you can.

    • My autistic son’s mental health also greatly improved without FW (in my case FW died before the divorce was finalized). My son had suffered from terrible anxiety, and even talked about self-harm and not wanting to live anymore because it was too hard. I had put him in a children’s psych ward at one point (just for a few days, but still – he was only 8).

      Incredibly [/sarcasm/] without FW (and OW, who was certifiably crazy) in his life, without all the constant back and forth between houses, without all the negativity from his dad (who, unlike me, had no issue with talking badly about me in front of/to our kid), my son’s anxiety is gone. No more threats of self harm. He is a happy, thriving 10 year old now.

      It’s funny (not) how FW’s criticise our looks and say we’ve “let ourselves go” or that we “look awful” and never seem to understand or acknowlege that it’s because of the burdens we carry, in large part due to their behavior or their lack of providing any help or support whatsoever.

  • Blue, to me you sound incompatible. Maybe you were once (sounds like she overrode her own desires to be with you), but not anymore. Your spouse wants to have other relationships & you don’t. The rest of the drama around that clouds that main point. My ex & I were once compatible & then he wanted a plastic blow-up doll aka trophy GF to prop up his flagging dick ‘er ego, so then we weren’t compatible anymore. Yup hurts like a MF’er though, mostly because he was doing this in a dishonest way instead of being upfront about it.

  • ” I can’t swing the hammer on someone already feeling so broken.”
    This woman was already broken when you met her. She senses something is up and uses her niece as a way to gain sympathy.
    Get the hell out of there. This woman has absolutely no respect for you.

  • Sometime in the middle of my three-year attempt at reconciliation with X, he gifted me a family-sized bag of peanut MnMs. On my way home from an out-of-town trip, my hungry self remembered that glorious golden bag sitting next to my side of the bed, and I made a beeline for it when I arrived home. But X had eaten them all. The bag was gone. It probably would have seemed a small thing to most folks, but all I could see was the fact that he had 1) bought them for ME as a gift, then took them all back, 2) was still clearly unable to practice self-control, and 3) laughed it off when I expressed my dismay. It showed me that he still wasn’t getting it. That he wasn’t maturing/evolving.
    Blue, you have a lot of work ahead of you. It is WORK to disentangle from these fools. But right now, at the very least, stop buying her the peanut MnMs!!! Spend your dollars on someone more deserving – YOU. For real.

    • O. M. G. That no good, lousy, rat bastard.
      HE ATE ALL THE M&Ms.
      Yeah. That is a clear sign of being an irredeemable POS. (And no, I am not being ironic, or sarcastic.)
      I am so GLAD for you that you are free of that rectal orifice.

  • 2nd and final DDay was on a Good Friday. At the time I *thought* I was devastated.

    Horrible divorce and vile Asshat firmly in my rear-view mirror (25 year marriage). Firmly NC, even with hoover attempts and triangulation of two adult children.

    It truly was a GOOD Friday.

  • The one red flag that just waved right in my face the whole time I was reading is how many exes she has. She is a serial cheater, emotionally, and physically. No one has that many exes, unless they are not tied down to any one person and she certainly does not seem to be or has ever been. Please get your ducks in a row just like CL wrote.

  • @Blue: I might have some respect for your wife if she had talked to you in an honest way and said anything that sounds like “I thought I’d be okay with monogamy as long as it’s with you. I’m sorry if this hurts you, but I’ve learned it’s really not for me. Is it possible for you and I to revisit the poly topic?” But she didn’t, and she won’t, because such an admission would give you agency, and put her at risk of losing cake.

    Here’s an excerpt from “The Bridge”, one of Edwin Friedman’s most famous fables: .

    As others have mentioned, the issue isn’t that she’s poly; the issue is that she wants cake. Accept her choice and let go of the rope. I wish you the very best with your journey.

  • I guess it’s possible for someone to have “trust issues,” just as people can have commitment issues. But in the context of infidelity, the chump having “trust issues” with a cheater is a nonsensical idea.

    We should not trust people who have proved untrustworthy. They lie? Don’t trust them. They cheat? Don’t trust them. They gaslight? Don’t trust them. They use other people to triangulate? Don’t trust them. They violate emotional boundaries by revealing your private business or talk smack about you to their friends, co-workers and exes? Don’t trust them.

    It is never, ever the job of someone who has been betrayed or deceived to learn to trust a violator again. Never. The problem of trust is one of the major reasons to separate or end a relationship entirely after betrayal. The chump has zero control over whether the cheater will become trustworthy–no matter what the cheater says or how they profess transparency. A new schmoopie is only a secret messaging app away.

    Blue, you write, “I’ve been working on my ‘trust issues’ ever since [betrayal/lie/deception # whatever].” If your wife burned down your house, you don’t have a fire issue. You have an arsonist in your life. You cannot and should not trust people who do not show themselves over time to be worthy of trust. Period. You need to trust YOU to protect yourself.

    Now, a word about staying friends with exes. I’ve read that it’s common in LGBTQ culture to hang on to those exes as friends. I can see why that happens because of big overlap between friendship pool and dating pool. However, and this is for anyone reading this who needs to see it, that shift from intimate partner or spouse to “friend” can’t happen quickly. There needs to be enough time to pass to process the failed relationship and to put away for good the patterns and habits of intimacy. Both parties have to have healthy, clear, and respected boundaries and neither can have a small torch burning for the other one. And never, ever can there be any “my spouse doesn’t understand me” talk or privacy violations involving the spouse. Never. Ever.

  • On the timing — as you have already seen, there is a long correlation between some out-of-the-blue tragedy and cheaters escalating the abuse in relationships. My own ex managed to walk out on me in the middle of the death of his parents (and my in laws of 20 years). Now, obviously, neither my ex nor yours orchestrated their respective tragic losses, and they probably even do feel whatever sense of grief a narcissist can feel. What helped me to understand that yes, you can still go ahead and save yourself is that they aren’t “people undergoing a sudden tragedy with understandably little reserve energy and deserving of basic sympathy”. They’re “narcissists with ZERO COPING SKILLS and EVERYTHING is a tragedy or can be.” These people are NOT DEEP, although their whining and demanding natures can initially trick us into believing them to be “sensitive”. Nyet. Dead parents, tragic loss of niece, someone gets sick — these all produce the same breakdown in the narcissist because they are events that *remove them from center stage*. Your ex is wailing about the pain of having to be second fiddle to a dead niece, not mourning said niece, as evidenced by the fact that suddenly everything and everyone must stop and bear witness to her very very very important sadz. This is compounded by the fact your ex clearly knows she’s been caught , her cake is threatened, and is now whiplashing you between “You must defer to the GRIEF and are a monster if you do not!” and “You are a monster for bringing up my dishonesty and ACTUALLY *you* are the bad person!”. (Classic DARVO).

    My point is — today it’s the niece (which, to be clear, is an absolutely tragic loss, just not one your partner is capable of caring that much about, compared to herself). Tomorrow it will be how you drove to the calling hours wrong. Next week it will be about how your dishwasher loading technique is deeply wounding and disrespectful to your ex, and a much more significant relationship crime than “cheating continuously from day one, including right this second”.

    There’s just nothing to work with here, and from the sounds of it, never was. You deserve better than this, and yes, being alone is lightyears better than being attached to this whackadoodle.

  • Blue, this self-centered asshole has done every single thing remorseless serial cheaters do, because that is what she is. She could write the cheater’s handbook herself, so schooled is she in the ways of fuckwittery. There is no nuance here that needs to be understood. So please, please do not second guess yourself. You know what she is. What you need to ask yourself is who you are. Are you a submissive, willing chump or are you a fighter? If it’s the latter, do what CL says. Get your ducks in a row and bail. If it’s the former, prepare for more if the same. She isn’t going to stop. She’s character disordered and enjoys the deceit.
    It’s hard to accept, bit thankfully you did not waste a lifetime on her bullshit. Seven years putting up with a cheater sucks, but twenty seven years of it will suck worse.
    You have a chance for a good life, do don’t waste it and don’t think being single is so terrible. It’s actually very restful. My sense is that you need to be single for a while, so please don’t jump into another relationship too soon like you apparently did with her. Use the time to pamper and care for yourself. You’ve spent too much time attending to a woman-baby who is a bottomless pit of neediness and unreasonable demands. It’s Blue time now.

  • Thank you CL, and thank you everyone who has commented. I’ve read it all, some more than once, and will continue to read.

    I really appreciate the shared stories, the tough words, and even the bitchslap. I know what I need to do. It’s going to suck, but it can’t possibly suck as much as what I’m living right now. I have begun the process of getting my ducks in a row (just finished changing my direct deposit to not include our shared account). I am so heartbroken and sad and angry right now, but I’m also incredibly strong. I deserve better.

    • Fellow queer woman here. Domestic violence still isn’t discussed enough in the LGBT community, especially among wlw. I know too many women who’ve suffered abuse by their partners, and then gaslight themselves, I think in part because we can’t believe another woman would do this to us.

      Please believe everything you’ve described is textbook abuse. Don’t doubt yourself for a minute. Get a lawyer and don’t look back.

      • Cheating still isn’t clearly defined as abuse even though, when I worked as an advocate, I never encountered a DV survivor who wasn’t also cheated on. In my experience, virtually all batterers cheat one way or another. I’ve come to see domestic violence as nothing more than the enforcement of sexual double standards– sexual freedom for the perp and none for the victim. It’s sort of like free market for the rich and socialism for the poor. In that sense, most abusers actually are monogamous in terms of their expectations for partners. Even those who claim to want equitable open relationships will still belie their double standards by systematically crushing their partners’ self esteem to the point that the partner is too paralyzed to exercise their supposed freedom. And even if the partner does have extra-relationship sex, the abuser will expect that it only be under their command and for their benefit in some way.

        I’ve repeated this often: one of the reasons I think that cheating isn’t generally included in clinical studies of batterer tactics and psychology is because victims are discouraged from reporting it due to how negative bystanders and legal authorities will leap on any mention of infidelity as grounds to dismiss victims’ testimony based on the idea that victims “fabricate abuse out of jealousy.”

  • when the relationship is so dysfunctional you dont have time to even contemplate that someone tragically died in this story, it is time to pull the pin

    life is too short surely for this bs

    time to focus on the people that matter

  • Dear Blue,

    My first impulse after reading your story is to offer an off-the-beaten-path reading list of books which I think might address certain doubts you’re having because I suspect that, for you, being entrapped in abuse isn’t so much about “low self esteem” but about philosophical and political quandaries. It just seems to be a particular hazard for people who are especially ethical or justice-oriented to get tripped up by abusers’ gymnastic blame-shifting. We lack the arrogance to assume our most deeply held beliefs are the only “right” ones. We tend to err on the side of being overly open minded in trying to include others’ perspectives and we’re suckers for underdog rationales. And because of this, I also suspect that the context of polyamory can be especially confusing because it’s an intersection where a bit of humanistic truth crashes into a particularly giant pile of humanistic-y bullshit involving “feminist”-sounding alibis and even a supposed solution to evolving beyond human violence. I’ll get to that last bit in a minute but suffice it to say that the quandaries raised by interpersonal abuse sometimes go beyond what the usual self help resources address and veer into political and philosophical territory and, if we lack the political and philosophical “armature” to deal with those questions, it can be paralyzing. Maybe it’s not permanently paralyzing but just long enough for some predator to get us pinned in place for a spell and completely fuck up our lives.

    In that sense, I see some books as a form of preventive medicine or trauma triage because they help to build or rebuild that armature. Speaking of which, I just gave my teen daughter the “inoculation” of Holocaust survivor and political historian Primo Levi’s The Drowned and the Saved if just for a few passages in the book which I think are the key to living in reality and surviving general human chaos. Levi describes how, in response to shocking human aggression, people’s “moral compasses” tend to stutter. In other words, human aggression has a built-in shock and awe diversion tactic that causes a kind of “perspecticide” whereby normal people lose themselves and question what they believe in. In another passage, Levi describes how political prisoners were more likely to survive the death camps than other categories of victims because their political and philosophical armature offered a bit of psychological protection against captors’ diabolical campaign to systematically dehumanize and morally destroy victims before killing them.

    I want my kids to develop that “armature” in preparation for whatever comes in their lives. Obviously Levi’s work is so universally lauded and enduring because the above ideas apply to many things in human existence beyond genocidal atrocity. I would argue that it applies to interpersonal abuse as well. Levi also offers what is, to me, a particularly realistic view of human nature which, if it’s absent in any philosophical and political approach, invariably leads to disaster. Levi quotes a camp survivor who, during the Nuremberg trials, said that “Ten percent of people are always merciful, ten percent of people are always cruel and the remaining eighty percent can go either way.” Then Levi focuses largely on cases where people who could “go either way” went along with evil which is his sum of the Holocaust.

    Because everything I’ve seen in life tells me that the camp survivor’s assessment is probably true, another book that I assigned my kids to read for “inoculation” purposes is journalist Chris Hedges’ book, “When Atheism Becomes Religion” which is as much about the idealistic vs. realistic view of human nature as it is about religion and atheism. Hedges quotes Levi and many other political historians, philosophers and novelists by way of arguing for a particular view of human nature which, while it seems incredibly bleak on the surface (and therefore not very popular), is also the only path to improving anything. It’s sort of like chemistry in that you have to know what raw materials you’re working with in order to predict positive results. If you don’t know the properties of what you’re working with, you blow up your lab. Along those lines, Hedges argues that any philosophy– whether secular or existential– that bases itself on an overly idealistic view of human nature is the definition of a cult and that cults are defined by the idea that a select caste of people who are capable of magically transcending human moral foibles and limitations will then lead the rest of us flawed beings to a kind of paradise on earth free of violence, suffering, etc. The only difference between religious and existential cults is that religious cults are based on cherry-picked and bastardized scripture while existential cults are founded in cherry-picked and bastardized science, aka, “scientism” according to political philosopher Karl Raimund Popper’s analysis of totalitarianism.

    And here’s a common confusion within “ethical polyamory” as far as I can see: I get the sense that a lot of people who practice it justify it by an overly idealistic and false view of human nature and human evolution. In any case, in poly circles I keep hearing about books like “Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What it Means for Modern Relationships” by Drs. Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá and other arguments that humans evolved from the common ancestor with kinder-gentler, egalitarian, orgy-loving bonobo rather than the common ancestor of the rapey, warring, patriarchal regular chimpanzee. Even if carbon dating didn’t completely rule out the possibility that we evolved from a common lineage with bonobos, one glimpse of human history makes it clear this is inaccurate and that we obviously have a greater resemblance to chimps.

    I’m not saying that ethical polyamory couldn’t be based on a realistic assessment of human nature but that it wouldn’t seem as easy and might not be as attractive to some if it proposed going *against* our human nature to successfully enact it. Making it seem as if polyamory is a route to “unleashing” our natural potential for nonexclusive and liberated sexuality that banishes the evil specter of jealous rage makes it seem more of a walk on the park instead of involving a huge amount of work, thought, an endless struggle to counter basic impulses and endless negotiation. I’m also not saying that the attraction to finding an alternative to jealous rage is wrong headed if you believe the arguments that all war and human violence trace back to sexual competition. What’s would make the approach wrong is that it assumed that sexual competition and aggression aren’t hardwired in our species and could be easily rewired.

    That’s another book that I’ve had my kids read– primatologist Richard Wrangham’s “Demonic Males: Apes and the Evolution of Human Violence” in which Wrangham argues that, while it’s not possible that we evolved from the same lineage as bonobos, we could emulate certain aspects of bonobo society– such as gender equality– as a way to engage in long term social engineering to make human societies a bit less warring and violent. In effect, I suspect the book is Wrangham’s way of squaring off with more populist evolutionary scientists like Frans de Waal who drew cult followings by claiming that humans evolved from the same lineage as bonobos. I don’t know if de Waal tells people what they want to hear as a cynical maneuver to sell books and get grants and TV appearances or because he’s daft but he’s ignoring basic science.

    A couple of side notes on Wrangham’s research: Wrangham points out that, while regular chimps aren’t as creative in their sexuality as bonobos, chimps are totally indiscriminate and polyamorous as well so bonobo evolution isn’t the only explanation for human randiness. Then in a separate study, Wrangham argues that humans differ in many ways from chimps, such as evolving as basically monogamous or at least evolving to (hypocritically) prefer that our partners be monogamous.

    In the end, the view that we could have evolved in tandem with bonobos or that we somehow manage to selectively resemble bonobos in terms of sexuality (the argument in Sex at Dawn) is just a recycled version of Rousseau’s concept of the “Noble Savage.” I’m sure you’re probably familiar with the concept but for anyone who isn’t, Rousseau basically proposes that, without the constraints of society and human institutions, human beings would be naturally peace-loving, egalitarian little creatures incapable of greed, violence, malevolence, etc. It sounds really groovy except that, in application, it tends to get gory. The Reign of Terror during the French Revolution gives a good idea of where that idealistic view of humanity leads and illustrates Karl Popper’s view that “Those who promise us paradise on earth never produced anything but a hell.” It’s not so groovy that, in order to force humanity to be peace-loving and egalitarian to suit an ideal, you end up cutting off about 30,000 heads. Or killing millions. Hitler, Stalin and Franco sold the same ideology which proposes that, in a healthy (Aryan or classless or macho Catholic) state, man is naturally good and all human evil– rather than being a capacity in all of us that we need to personally guard against and keep in check– is quarantined to an aberrant genetic caste. In short, life would be perfect if we can just kill off the morally diseased among us. While playing the groovy, libby humanitarian, de Waal– probably inadvertently– fuels the core of scientism because, by arguing that man’s natural state is solely peace-loving and groovy and that the transcendent wouldn’t even have to guard against evil within themselves, this leaves the default understanding that those who engage in evil are “by nature” aberrant– meaning “born evil” which gets into fascist and totalitarian genetics.

    That brings up another book which I think is important for understanding the nature of interpersonal abuse: criminologist Donald Dutton’s “The Batterer” which delves into the backgrounds and psychology of domestic abusers. Dutton spent several decades studying abusers in prison settings but proves that “understanding” doesn’t necessarily lead to amnesty since he generally argues for longer prison terms of domestic abusers. His focus on the traumatic backgrounds of domestic abusers lends to arguments to protect victims and their children from it since batterers aren’t “born” but are made through witnessing and experiencing domestic violence from childhood.

    When I worked as an advocate for domestic abuse survivors, I thought Dutton’s book especially illustrated the overlaps between “cheater psychology” and batterer psychology, such as Dutton’s description of “masked dependency” and also the tendency of serial perpetrators to use an ornate, blame-shifting system of rationalization to protect themselves from the stigma of their past offenses and also pave the way to committing future ones.

    Cheaters, like batterers, employ “fear/obligation/guilt” strategies in paralyzing their targets and tend to be very effective at it because their rationales usually tie in with airtight world views to the point of being mesmerizing, especially if their victims haven’t formed an equally cohesive counter philosophy (given that the targets are the types to take humanist-sounding alibis seriously). It sounds like you’re dealing with an abuser like this. I’m not suggesting that you delay escape until you’ve “untangled the skein” of this abuser but proposing that, after you leave and get to safety, one step in the plan to heal yourself, process the trauma and get mentally free from it might be figuring out the chinks and gaps in this FW’s world view and philosophical arguments. Doing this has the benefit of recognizing “abuser spin” from 1000 yards away in the future. Another step in processing is to figure out how the abuse tactics operated on you. What I sensed while reading your story is that her own intense belief in her “airtight” world view and the fact that she appears to be forming a kind of coalition or bully squad among her acolytes and fuckbuddies to outnumber you and cast you as the aberrant outlier who suffers from sick and ungroovy beliefs basically felled you to the degree that you’re sincere and care about political aspects of relationships. This brand of intellectual warfare and “perspecticide” perfectly matches the strategies of many domestic batterers (give or take broken bones). Since most domestic violence survivors cite psychological abuse and control as the the most devastating and paralyzing aspects of abuse even beyond physical violence, I think it’s fair to say you’re a victim of “coercive control” by someone who would rob you of your rights and bully and isolate you into conceding. It’s abuse. Like any batterer, I think she was enforcing sexual double standards by rendering you too broken and confused to act on the sexual “freedom” she reserved for herself.

    Anyway, I hope you’ll soon be free of this terrible person and soul-killing situation and looking forward to the bright future you and your kids deserve. And for what it’s worth, I hope my little “armature-building” book list helps.

    • Goodness, thank you so much for all of this. Seems I have some books to add to my reading list asap. There is a lot to take in here, but will take the time needed to absorb it all. I really appreciate every word here!

      • Hi Blue,

        I had kids screaming at me that it was time to go when I was trying to comment. It’s kind of rushed and I’m just glad it didn’t sound too convoluted. If I’d had time, I would have said in summary that I think your FW is trying to use a kind of moral/ethical argument and intellectual intimidation against you which includes her triangulating with a bully brigade of supposedly like-minded people within the LGBT community. Vicious, double edged tactic. The social blackmail part of it is all the more potent because where are you going to go for emotional support if the LGBT community suddenly disapproves of you and– as your FW seems to be spinning it in her screaming attack on you and elsewhere– your supposedly “uncool, unwoke sexual politics”?

        I think you hesitated to make a break for it and feel compelled to keep caretaking this entitled FW to the extent that you’re not sure whether she and her flying monkeys are right about you. They’re not. Furthermore she may have fucked up views about everything because it sounds like she’d bastardize any premise if it justified her abuse. It’s not like it would make her abuse okay if her philosophy was cohesive and well founded. But the philosophies of abusers never are cohesive and well founded. Their views always have to be stretched around their own abuses of power and hypocrisy and will prove to be full of holes. If you can spot the holes in the kinds of social justice spiels and arguments you tend to get snafued by, you’ll get an early warning system to avoid any future double-talkers and psychobabblers.

        Leave it to abusers to use our best human traits against us. You seem to really care about what’s fair and just and I suspect that’s how she got you emotionally hogtied.

  • ‘Lying liars lie’.
    It totally sucks to be in a relationship with a spouse that you don’t trust, and who knowingly continues to hurt you with their selfishness (thinking that we’re too dumb to know what’s going on).
    You sound like an amazing person ‘Blue’, and I sincerely hope that you find the courage to do what is best for YOU and find happiness again.

  • Blue, Chump Lady is 100% right. Your wife is lying to you and cheating on you left, right, and center. Is this acceptable to you?

    Sounds to me like it isn’t, and that this relationship is over. Get your financial ducks in a row, start interviewing divorce lawyers, and find a therapist, assuming you don’t have one already.

  • Blue, I’ve read all 70 comments responding to you and everyone has got your wife completely figured out.
    Chumps are this group of Sherlock Holmes investigators that can smell a fuckwit a mile away, we were forced to develop such skills and they are, sadly, extremely accurate.
    This wife of yours has ZERO respect for you and she loves no one at all, they don’t understand the meaning of love.
    She’s so locked into her selfie mindset, no one else on the earth matters or is more important than she is.
    It’s all about her journey, always will be, they don’t change.
    She sucks!
    I concur that you are dealing with a classic self centered narcissist and she is playing the hell out of you, because lies and manipulating ppl is fun entertainment for these characters.
    This is an untenable situation, Blue. I think you already know that. Your story has so many red flags, you can open up your own store.
    The one that bothered me the most( well the Valentine gift sucked majorly too) is the fact that your kids vehemently disapprove of her, not even talking at all, or another barely tolerates her, which is only because of their love for you that any of them even try at all. They know she sucks!!
    Do your kids need to have that level of stress in their lives? You don’t want that for them. They don’t deserve this lying cheater to be a member of their family. You all deserve so so much more!
    Protect your kids, improve their lives and your own by getting as far away from this rotten egg as you possibly can.
    Don’t stay friends either. Will only allow her to continue her mind fuck games on you. She is not your friend.
    She is knowingly harming you, and she just doesn’t care.
    You are collateral damage in her very dark life games, a pawn on her chess board. I know that feeling.
    Run away Blue!!!
    Good luck to you, you’re going to wonder why the hell you didn’t get away sooner. It’s a common sentiment.
    I also loved loved loved Confused AF’s line “ nobody is as single as a married narcissist.” Hard to find a bigger truth than that IMO.

  • Her wife talks to her former partner on the way to work and on the way back, M-F !

    Disrespect, callousness, deceit and victim playing by Blue’s wife

  • A person can waste many years of their life trying to polish a turd

    I know this first hand. ‘But he had a bad childhood, his father died when he was young, he has panic attacks etc etc.’

    You give and give and find out later you were replaceable the entire time.

  • CLASSIC FW gaslighting—“All this stuff here that totally LOOKS like infidelity is SO NOT infidelity– and not NEARLY as bad as the fact that your children see through all my bullshit and don’t worship the ground I walk on!!!” And classic chump response ” I couldn’t possibly cause further hurt after she just had this death in the family” – Likely your FW could care less about the death and is 100% using this as an excuse to DISTRACT YOU FROM GETTING OUT!! (who is that guy in the news now that murdered his wife and kid to DISTRACT from his financial embezzlement- Alex Murdaugh??- yeah he doesn’t give a crap either) Fly! be free! Get the HELL AWAY FROM HER NOW!!!! and CONGRATS on the promotion!!

  • The operative sentence that popped out at me from Blue’s letter? “I am so drained.”

    Next month I will be 62 years old. I was a chump many, many years ago. While we heal from chumpdom, the remnants of what you felt when you were chumped can resurrect like a sudden chill. Thankfully, it passes. I’m also a grateful cancer survivor a little over three years now. I remember saying, “I am so drained” after my last chemo treatment. Blue, “being drained” is not a way to live. Some people / relationships will never offer the respect you want or deserve. Cut your loss.

    Discarding relationships becomes trickier as we age. We naturally lose significant relationships (through death) and friendships end for a variety of reasons, many times they simply fade away. I’ll speak for myself, but my health battle taught me how precious my remaining time on this earth is, and how discerning I need to be with it. I don’t “throw” people away indiscriminately. I deliberate on it. For example, I had a “friend” (more of an acquaintance in truth) who constantly bombarded me with HER problems during my cancer treatments. At first, I let much of it slip through. I was too tired and feeling too vulnerable to start initiating fractures. Finally after “me, me, me” and RARELY asking how I was feeling, it was enough. Bye. I don’t ghost. I simply speak my mind now. My frontal lobe has worn down, but I remain diplomatic. I say what needs to be said and why I’m ending the relationship. Goodbye self-centered friend. Find someone else to suck the life out of.

    Blue, don’t live in a state of being drained because you’re with a self-centered, emotionally immature partner who sounds like she enjoys the torment she inflicts. And don’t waste anymore time. CL is right — there’s never a good time for D-Day. If you want to take a more ethical approach towards D-Day, get your ducks in line while the funeral arrangements are made and transpire. Once that’s done, you do what you must.

    Then, go back to honoring yourself. Love on your children as much as you’d like. Keep your boundaries real and close. Walking on eggshells? Nervousness? Infidelity? Nope. Be what you seek in a partner (if you’re seeking another partnership or marriage) and accept nothing less.

  • I sense that Blue is the main breadwinner in this dynamic, pretty much responsible for the roof over their heads and cheater barely contributes. Cheater wants a home base as well as the freedom to party and pursue others. Cheater is a pathological liar and there is so much more that Blue is not yet aware of…time to part ways. Oh and hide the silver.

  • She’s a narcissist. They are all the same. My FW did same shit. Needs attention. Attention whores. Doesn’t matter if you don’t like it. Then you are jealous, won’t allow them to have friends, etc. that’s called blameshifting. It’s amazing to read your story with such detail, and see the same story. Doesn’t even matter if they don’t have sex, it’s an emotional affair. They get off on dupers delight, it’s very exciting to have it all going on and lie to your face. They are lying liars who lie that’s what they do. They are so used to lying they don’t even know! They are like the high school mean kids, they never grow up. They never learn, they never change. Maybe they learn to manipulate better. Their loves are always going to be boring to them, because they are meaningless to them. Not deep. They get no real joy out of life. No joy being a spouse, a parent. Superficial relationships. Love is a verb. It’s our actions. It’s what we do. It’s our values. Putting another persons needs above your own. We give give give. They take take take. We are amazing people. When you live a life that matters it’s meaningful. When we die people will care.

  • Wanted to add that your best defense is an offense. Get a pit bull layer. And you just gotta tell her you don’t love her anymore. There’s no argument for that. You can’t yell and argue and make someone love you again. There’s no comeback. So sorry, I just don’t love you anymore, move on. Any one asks, I fell out of love with her. Again, they can’t argue with that. But I heard she cheated, you should give her another chance. Sorry, I just don’t love her anymore, I fell out of love. She needs to move on, I have. Worked great for me. That was my mantra. Even if you don’t feel it yet, you will. You will stop feeling love when you see her total lack of empathy for you, and your kids and wonder what you ever saw in her. Smoke and mirrors, baby, smoke and mirrors.

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