Recently I was a guest on an OurPath podcast (the support group formerly known as the Straight Spouse Network), talking about the particular chump experience of being a beard, unwittingly.
The new episode dropped today and you can listen to it here.
As we say around at CN, it’s not the pain Olympics. We all know from double lives. But chumps who discover their partners have hid their sexual orientation do have a particular set of challenges, foremost among them is their grief is very inconvenient.
Why can’t you be HAPPY for the person who duped you for decades? They’ve finally come out of the closet! Liberation! Hurrah!
Chumps, wonder if they’re allowed to be angry. If that’s homophobic. Or if their distress will be perceived as such.
With host Kristin Kalbli, who’s lived this, we try to untangle the skein.
If you’re a certain generation, you can absolutely understand why people lived in closets, and were essentially compelled to do so. To my son’s generation (he’s 25), it’s inconceivable that I grew up in a world with zero open LGBTQ people. There was Paul Lynde on Hollywood Squares and that was it.
It was illegal and dangerous for people to be out. So, if you’re going to have a compelling reason for a double life, that’s it.
Yet a person who is gay knows they’re gay. (At some point, right? Even under the most closeted society.) But the chump isn’t given the memo. The closeted person can say “I was harmed, I was forced to live a lie!” The chump, however, actually lived the lie, with all the lost, sunk opportunity costs. So where is the acknowledgement that this homophobia harmed chumps too?
Where is the remorse for duping someone into a sick closet with you? There were brave souls who didn’t marry and front a fake self to an unwitting partner. Who understood the costs and the pain they would inflict.
I think it’s possible to vehemently despise homophobia AND be very angry and aggrieved that you were chumped, and lost years of your life as a beard.
Cake-eating knows no orientation and gender. There are people who prefer the advantages of a committed relationship and the smorgasbord perks of cheating. As I’ve said here before, that’s a character issue, not a gender/orientation issue. If we believe people to be fully human, then some of them are going to be assholes.
Which is to say — some people prefer the double life to the authentic life. This community supports the victims. To anyone who ever loved a hologram and got played.
Anywho, I hope you’ll have a listen. And let me know your thoughts in the comments, especially any LGBTQ chumps or former beards out there.
The link is working now! Page should come up: “S6 EP 1: CHEATING IS CHEATING WITH THE CHUMP LADY, TRACY SCHORN”
Thank you for this. I lived as a “beard” for years. The trauma associated with being chumped in this manner is confusing and horrible at the same time. I will listen to this after work.
3:30pm and the link isn’t working.
It’s working. Here is the direct link. https://ourpath.org/ourpath_podcast/s6-ep-1-cheating-is-cheating-with-the-chump-lady-tracy-schorn/
Excellent podcast CL !
I can’t access it yet, but I find this interesting because I’ve known several men who have tried to “dupe” me (not sure how much was really intentional or not) — men that wanted to date me but my gut thankfully told me that they were gay… and at some point (years later) they all came out. No one was evil or anything… But I’m glad I didn’t end up with any of them. One guy was seriously gorgeous… the temptation was great. But something didn’t feel right.
And I have a friend who was in a marriage with children whose husband came out —- thankfully he has a real heart (and character) and love for her and his family, so he continued to take care of them, but he knew he had to live his truth. And that is totally fair.
And then there’s an ex boss of mine who everyone thought was straight because he had a wife and kids… But was cheating on her with men and eventually they divorced and he came out entirely. But he has zero remorse for his wife or kids. He also openly disdained women (at work —- I was threatened by him when I became pregnant and had all of my accounts taken from me. Yes, I should have sued but I didn’t). It was all about him… how he was wronged. And he openly admitted to marrying his wife because he “deserved children too”… He was all about men’s rights and how as a gay man it wasn’t fair that he couldn’t have children… basically his poor wife was nothing but a vessel, then discarded so he could have a revolving door of fuck boys in his 50s. Again though, this is an asshole without character. Not about him being gay or straight.
Not sure where this falls in your discussion. But I’ll listen.
And then there is Philip Schofield in the UK. Married for goodness knows how many years and (from what I heard) his wife didn’t know he was gay. He came out about a year ago but what about his poor wife and kids having to deal with that situation (he was – still is – a very public figure)?
I still don’t know what his wife knew and when. I get why he was closeted at the start of his career – he would never have got the children’s TV presenter role. However demographically I can’t believe he didn’t know he was gay when he married her – late 20s and London based.
“And I have a friend who was in a marriage with children whose husband came out —- thankfully he has a real heart (and character) and love for her and his family, so he continued to take care of them, but he knew he had to live his truth. And that is totally fair.”
I’m not following you on this…..did he wait until leaving the marriage to pursue other relationships?
Velvet Hammer, as far as I am aware, when my friend’s husband came out, he was not cheating. She described it as he sat her down and they discussed it. He wanted a divorce so that he could fully come out. She actually didn’t want to give him up… begged him to stay with her anyway for a couple of years. But he went through with the divorce and started dating. He stayed in the kids’ lives and moved into a place nearby. He still came by to help with the house and financially supported them. They even had dinner as a family once a week. They stayed friends. This is all based on what she’s told me.
I’ve met him… He seems to be a kind thoughtful guy who cared about her and his kids but made the decision to finally come out.
Maybe he cheated …but not that she’s aware of. There was no DDay — although I’m sure the discussion and decision was still very difficult and traumatic.
Yes, I have an acquaintance like this too. The husband “came out” when the kids were in high school. Apparently he had never cheated and the divorce was amicable, both using the same attorney with supposedly the same goals of caring for each other’s well being and the kids.’ The wife remarried someone she met in straight spouse network, with 3 entire families in attendance. A brother of the husband said he always thought his brother was gay, but never questioned it, being the early 80’s, Catholic university, and marrying a woman. The husband moved into a house near his ex-wife and didn’t marry anyone else as far as I know. Just shows what people with integrity can do.
the day he sat her down and told her he was gay and wanted a divorce is known as “disclosure”, and certainly counts as dday.
“And I have a friend who was in a marriage with children whose husband came out —- thankfully he has a real heart (and character) and love for her and his family, so he continued to take care of them, but he knew he had to live his truth. And that is totally fair.”
No, it is not totally fair. Although he sounds on the verge of sainthood from your description, this man cheated on his wife. He knew he was gay (yes, they do know) and unless he told her and she was fine and dandy with it, he witheld this vital information from her during their courtship and marriage, so that the very foundation of their relationship was based on deception and lies. Only a person with shitty character does that. He let her invest her heart, time, money and fertility on a deceiver. Well, up until the point “he had to live his truth.” A fucking pity, though, that his truth didn’t include being truthful with his wife, who likely would have made other life choices.
This is my situation. Thak you for putting this topic in the spotlight.
8 months ago my husband announced his gay affair and decision to leave. I had no idea at all. We had been together for 20 years, married 18, and have 4 teens.
I have the triple whammy of betrayal, abandonment and his homosexuality to deal with. He displays zero remorse, regret or guilt. The mindf**k is indescribable. The pain is so intense and profound – all you chumps know what i am talking about.
Not only is the future that we planned together ripped away, but the past is tainted. I can’t look at photos any more. He denies it, but I am sure that he has known and lied for a long time. It feels like my husband was taken by a bodysnatcher. I have no idea who that person is anymore.
Without the support of my family and the OurPath folks, I don’t know where I’d be. I have EMDR and trauma therapy for the PTSD. I have only recently started to work (a little) again.
The mindf**k has caused me to lose my identity, my self esteem and my zest for life.
Our kids visit him whenever they want.. which is once every 1-2 weeks. I feel like a single parent now.
My immediate goal is to get stronger so I will be ready to proceed with divorce. This will be incredibly difficult with kids, a house, assets etc and me not yet back at work.
I have as little contact as possible. I haven’t seen him for 5 months. I have blocked him on all social media and I don’t want to know what he is doing or whether he is with the AP. I do know that he is getting a lot of support from everyone to whom he tells his false narratives ( we had grown apart, apparently) and half-truths (only close friends are aware of the gay affair part).
The hardest part for me is that he has nuked our family, in an instant, without a second thought. He put his sexual desires ahead of his wife and children. He was too cowardly and weak to have a conversation. In that respect he is no different than all the other FWs out there.
I’m so grateful for the clarity and humour) of LACGAL and CN and the insights of Runaway Hisbands and the kindness of the OurPath folks.
Hang in there honey. You can do this and have all of Chump Nation’s support!
What gets me is the fact they’ve planned a future which keeps you invested and making sacrifices. Also the ease of the abrupt ending often delivered in a single sentence followed by the false narrative. All I can say is ALIMONY. Get a good settlement.
Your story is heartbreaking.
Take comfort (minuscule I know) knowing you are doing all the right things to take care of yourself. A long, hard road one centimeter at a time. ❤️
He is cowardly and weak, not “was”. When you can look back without so much pain you will see that he was cowardly in so many areas. You’ve been a single mom for a very long time running the house and ensuring the kids have everything that they need. You are perfectly normal for being angry. I remember someone telling me at the beginning of the betrayal, “Trust me. He did you a favor.” I couldn’t imagine it ever being a favor. My family was devastated. But years later, though my family is still torn apart, I’m grateful that I’m no longer dealing with a coward. He messed my head up horribly. My self esteem was shot, but I’m so much better now. It is so good not to have a coward in my life anymore.
This! FW was a total coward and entitled ass. I overlooked it for 38 years. Life is so much better on this side.
Queen: I’m sorry that your husband sadly turned out to be not who you thought he was (although some people will cheer him on saying he’s living his “authentic” life now, implying that everything before was his faux life, and one hell of a fucking big shit sandwich for you!). Whatever your husband’s sexuality is, he’s still an asshole. I think of Kris Jenner too & how her husband dumped her, embraced being a transgender female & didn’t seem to care one whit about the impact on his family, all carried out within the public eye. Apparently we won’t supposed to feel bad for her & her family either because they’re wealthy, but I did. I knew it must of hurt her horribly & she had to eat shit sandwiches while putting on a public brave face. My heart goes out to you & I’m happy you’re here & getting other good supports too. One day at a time (hugs).
The Jenner situation shows how the personality disordered come in all flavors, imo.
He abandoned his children from his previous marriages;Kris was wife number three (an OW). Most of the adult children made an appearance for Diane Sawyer’s interview of Jenner. I hope they got their money up front for the dog and pony show.
Well, he told Kris, the AP, what his “proclivities” were (cross-dressing, taking female hormones, feminization surgery, wanting to be a woman since he was in college, etc.) the night before their wedding. She, proceeded to marry and procreate with him. She was not a chump. She loves money and limelight. I wouldn’t feel sorry for her.
I couldn’t agree more
Kris Jenner cheated on Robert Kardashian, so don’t waste any sympathy on her.
The whole thing is a bit of a FW daisy chain since Robert Kardashian defended OJ in his murder trial. Since defense attorneys– even ones who defend obvious wife-killers with tricks and gusto– are a necessarily element of our justice system, I don’t see that as a “cheat on me” green light. Kris is just an all-purpose FW who got hoisted on her own petard.
Oh crud, I wasn’t aware of Kris being a cheater at all!
Can we agree that Jenner is an asshole and was a terrible spouse and parent without misgendering her?
(Trans 101 – once someone comes out as trans, it’s customary to refer to them by their preferred gender even when referring to them before they came out when they were presenting as another gender. Even cheating jerks who were famous under their prior name)
It’s not misgendering in reference to Jenner before the person came out publicly. The Jenner/Kardashian clan has made millions putting itself on public display. I have never watched the show so I can’t say when exactly Jenner started verbally identifying as female, before transitioning. And who knows what was said between Jenner and Kris whilst dating. Those were pre reality show/social media days.
I certainly hope you don’t extend that rule to a person’s family, who knew the person by their earlier gender. Otherwise it’s an erasure of their lived experience.
Sure, but not really the point, and also, the conversation relates to when Caitlin Jenner was Bruce and very much presenting and living as a man.
Yes, it is misgendering. There are a lot of transphobic assholes in this comment section patting themselves on the back because they’re dunking on trans women to try and get back to another asshole who neither knows nor cares about their opinions.
If you want to criticise Caitlin Jenner, do so for her hurting people, not for her identity or her transition. The world doesn’t need more transphobia. Your hateful, ugly words and attitudes won’t hurt Caitlin Jenner, but they certainly hurt run-of-the-mill trans people who never did anything to anyone. Shame on you.
‘He displays zero remorse, regret or guilt. The mindf**k is indescribable. The pain is so intense and profound – all you chumps know what i am talking about.’
I’m so sorry. So hurtful and life altering for you …… and not even asking for your forgiveness for the huge shit sandwich you’re forced to chow down.
Time and all the great things you are doing for yourself will help. You’ll get through this.
This: “It feels like my husband was taken by a bodysnatcher. I have no idea who that person is anymore.”. 100% here too.
While we were in marriage counseling he was proposing marriage and planning a honeymoon with the OW. I found their emails, thankfully. I was being played big time.
I thought I don’t know this person I have lived with for 25 years. He was unrecognizable to me.
Yes, a bodysnatcher, a pod person. Gay or straight, they are playing us like violins.
Abuse is abuse is abuse. He’s a FW through and through. I think at one point FW in my situation nearly tried to compare his “need” to fuck around with someone being persecuted for their sexuality and sneaking out of the closet in stages. But that would only have worked as a mindfuck if I were politically dense and thought being gay made it somehow okay to cheat in a hetero marriage. Saying it’s okay for closeted individuals to cheat, gaslight, put at risk and rob consent from a partner automatically implies the betrayed partner is one of the “oppressors.” Holy shit. Talk about demonization. How is that different than run of the mill batterers wailing to cops “The bitch had it coming/ attacked me first/made me do it!” Remorseless blameshifting is the mark of a recalcitrant perp.
So very ksorry to hear that your spouse chose to keep u in his dark closet. The mindf**k, I understand very well. My husband lied and cheated with men for the entirety of our marriage, 34 years, and I’m certain the 4 years we dated before that. Most of my adult life was a mirage. And it is a different kind of grief. The person we miss NEVER really existed. Working on my codependency has been crucial and trauma therapy has helped too. It’s been a year and a half since he confession , I chose to ask him what was up because his behavior was so erratic and strange. He’s living the “ gay adolescent “ phase right now. Marriage counseling was pointless, no pick me dancing either, I’m 68 years old and Ma bit wiser than I was at 28, but the shock and grief was profound. Honestly thought this break me beyond repair. But it did not. To anyone who has had a resent discovery like mine, IT WILL GET BETTER. Progress is like wading thru thick pea soup, uphill. This relationship was REAL for me. I bonded. I trusted with my whole heart. This is admirable beyond measure. Now I get to learn much more about myself than I ever dreamed possible. Family of origin issues were the main reason I stayed for crumbs, I believed I was not worthy or capable on my own. Those beliefs are being challenged and released. We must let go or be dragged😈. Please take one day at a time and know that we are all worth full recovery and happiness. Sending all chumps a virtual ((((((hug))))))).
Indescribable. That’s about the only descriptive word available. The future and the past both poisoned.
I do promise you though, Tuesday takes a while but it does come. Nearly 6 years for me … it’s not easy but I’m ok and VERY glad I am the Me I can be without him in my life. I have zest, I have joy, I have a new and MUCH BETTER identity. Hang in there.
And to give you context … married 22 years, 4 kids, (lost a 3 yo daughter in an accident), he was paying for both gay and straight sex for last 10+ years of marriage (since youngest a few months old). Then all of the “friends” who “supported” his bisexuality and cancelled ME! Including a friend I had become particularly close to, through her husband’s cancer and then after his death. (It helps when you are grieving to be with people who “get” grief).
Well … my ex was in her bed within the year, they moved out of the area and now they’re married, doing as they please when they please (#LivingTheirBestLives). Huge parties and celebrations for the happy couple including two months skipping around Europe on honeymoon. Meantime I’ve been raising sad, angry, confused teenage sons with trust and abandonment issues. Fun times! Except … completely honestly … I love being in the Land of Meh and I am (mostly) pretty happy.
Big, big hugs to you, Queen.
also, I must add I’m not in any pain Olympics here!
I am of that younger generation where being in the closet seemed nonsensical, and I still ended up a beard for three years.
Although my alarm bells would ring from time to time – my ex-boyfriend had a gay sister who was married with kids, and their parents were loving and supportive of it. There were no generational family reasons for him to be in the closet.
I also knew he would have faced zero judgement from any of our friends.
I also don’t think he was struggling with his orientation, or was bi. To this day I literally have no clue why he did it, and probably never will.
My heart goes out to chumps that find out after marriage. I have a friend who’s spouse announced they were transitioning to female a couple months after their wedding and when my friend had just become pregnant. The timing was so obvious, to trap my friend into a wife appliance role and keep here there by shaming her about being anti-trans and homophobic.
It worked for a few years – but eventually my friend found her mighty and got free
Being gay doesn’t keep a man from being an entitled misogynist. These men want a wife appliance – they just don’t care about having sex with her.
Exactly. He treated me like a kindly aunt, while having sex with men in our bed every chance he got.
Not the same story but maybe…?
The kids and I always thought the AP (co-worker/friend) was gay. Ex even joined in the questioning.
I’ve wondered over the years if perhaps the ex isn’t gay.
It’s been suggested that the affair was and is double-bearding for each other.
I will never know but we do wonder.
Thanks for bringing another angle forward in the chump world! There were times I wondered if my ex was gay & it’s interesting, because after we divorced some others came forwarded saying the same thing. Apparently there is a similar rumour where he works too. He has a macho navy dad & I think that can lead to a beard life. He is now living with the OW, so if he is gay, he’s still in hiding.
At TnT, gotta admit… FW may also be gay. He’s still with AP too — so if he is gay, AP is just has another beard. There’s been a few times I’ve questioned if he was gay though … he had zero sex drive with me. Never wanted it. And others through the years questioned it too. But I’ll likely never know for sure. And for me it’s just more skein to untangle— I’m just thankful AP can take on that crazy now.
Me too! I know FW had one male sexual experience from (yet another) D-day but I never thought he was gay even though he was quite effeminate. It was always women he hit on and had affairs with. After I kicked him out I had so many people say he was def gay or bi but just hiding it from himself, even one of our marriage counsellors (whine he hated). The only people who might have a problem with him coming out were his kids who were ultra religious so maybe that’s why he overcompensated.
I believe it was the actor Joel Gray who came out while in a very long marriage and could not understand why his stunned wife wasn’t happy that he was finally living his truth. He writes about this in his autobiography.
The Rule is ALWAYS applaud those Living Their Truth.
It’s in all the self-help, how to be happy books, y’know?
Decades ago I knew a couple in academia who were married and had kids. From his mannerisms (like Paul Lynde), it seemed obvious that he was gay, and from her mannerisms, it seemed likely she was, too. I wondered if they married in part to be each other’s beard. Both were outstanding academics, so when he was denied tenure, it was hard to say if the denial was due to their orientation or colleague jealousy. Regardless, he was pushed out and they moved away. Unfortunately, he was an early casualty of AIDS. And since his family lost their spouse and father, his widow and their children were casualties too.
There are many books available for chumps who discover their cheater is gay. It’s not my issue so I don’t know if any of them rise to the level of LACGAL, but I know that some early and highly regarded books were written by Carol Grever after her then-husband came out.
What a tangle for chumps. CL is right, that there’s not a pain Olympics. There’s no scale to measure the injustice of discovering you’ve been misled on such a fundamental level, or that you’re supposed to support and celebrate your cheater for coming out.
Definitely not a pain Olympics. It’s like when someone dies. It hurts, but the specific circumstances–a child, a lingering illness, a sudden and violent death like a crash, a murder or suicide, or a death in war, do affect the experience for those who grieve.
Reminds me of that 7 husbands book… I didn’t like that either.
Thank you for acknowledging that the homophobia of times past (and present) does not explain all instances of those who choose to live a closeted life with an unwitting (or in my case formerly unwitting) beard. My cheating ex, who declared to me he was a “woman in a man’s body” and a “lesbian” after 58 years of being unremarkably male and decidedly heterosexual, 32 of them married to me, made a calculated decision to remain closeted, although we were both university professors in an institution that promoted trans rights. In fact, it was clear to me that any decision of mine to leave would put me at odds with the feminism that had been my intellectual home my entire professional life (my academic work, both research and teaching, was focused on women, I supported women students, and I served for six years as the director of my university’s women’s studies program).
After he decided that living as an older, homely, overweight woman would cost him professionally and socially in ways that living as an older, overweight, normal looking male did not, he opted to remain in the closet, while expecting me to keep his secret and accommodate–well, enthusiastically validate, including sexually–his gender identity at home. This left me with the disadvantages of being a woman in the workplace, while he continued to enjoy the unearned dividend of his maleness (the assumption of expertise, the expectation that one would be heard, etc). It also left me with the trauma of experiencing my publicly male husband morph like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when he crossed the threshold into our home: clothes, gestures, voice, all changed into a tortured simulacrum of woman. My horizontal pick-me dance phase came with the addition of wanting my husband to choose his maleness, while at the same time I was attempting to “accommodate and support” him. I can’t fully do justice here in this comment to the full horror of that experience, including his attempts to remake my own sexuality and gender expression to “complement” his ideas about himself, nor to the trauma and damage it caused to me.
And this all came on top of the cheating with a former student of his, with all the awful cheater behaviors that come with it.
I guess this topic has stirred up the past for me.
One of the most difficult aspects of this experience was that in addition to my ex’s cheating on me with the ex-student with whom he was “exploring” his gender identity, it felt like he himself was an additional affair partner. He was, as autogynephiles are, sexually attracted to and in love with himself while dressing as a woman and acting out his fantasies of being female, so it felt like he was both my cheating husband and an affair partner, one he’d brought into our bed and asked me to love. And if that is hard to wrap your head around, that’s because it is.
I have contributed a couple of essays about this experience to the website Trans Widows Voices. You can read them there; mine are the two titled “Alison’s Story.” https://www.transwidowsvoices.org/our-voices
I respect your insights here. I read both of your essays, and they’re remarkable. You’re a phenomenal writer.
Thank you. On both counts.
Adelante. you are a wonderful writer.
Just wow, I think this would win the pain Olympics
Thank you, CL, for separating the “coming out” from the cheating. I am of the generation where people tried to deny their orientation or hide it. My sons don’t understand the why of that. The discrimination was so strong. Some could lose their jobs for coming out. Some could be shunned by their church or family. The pressure to conform is daunting.
I don’t think cheating is justified. Anytime one person decides to cheat the faithful spouse is endangered. It is not just the danger of disease. If you lose your lifestyle, your home, your future dreams being fulfilled, you have every right to be angry. To find you were also duped because your spouse did not tell you the truth about who he/she actually was as a sexual being just adds to the pain.
My hope for the future generations is that people will learn to separate issues. We have a long way to go as a society. Assumptions about what it really means to be anything other than the “norm” are unfair to everyone involved. Maybe someday people will be known by the totality of their human characteristics. If we can lose false assumptions about what it means to be an individual with different desires and orientations from other people, we will have made progress.
I think the lyrics of a Bob Seeger song, Turn the Page, from his Back in ’72 album express it perfectly.
“All the same old clichés
“Is that a woman or a man?”
And you always seem outnumbered
You don’t dare make a stand.”
It’s 2023 folks, not 1972. We have to learn to separate issues. Cheating is one thing. Sexual orientation is another.
Although I do not believe you have to make a public statement about your orientation, I believe you should talk about it with anyone you feel you have a relationship with. Personally, I get tired of being asked why I am not interested in dating. IMHO strangers are not entitled to ask that question. If I feel I have made a close friend (this takes time in my book) then that conversation will probably take place.
My x is the kind who apparently enjoys all the possible sexual configurations but I was so naive (when we married). He’d been having homosexual encounters since he was a teenager but he’d also abused his little sister for years when she was a child. By DDay (forty years later), he was having sex with our male minister and his husband (who, conveniently, was our marriage counselor – for the one terrible session following DDay). In our very liberal church, where he is now on the board, x is a hero for ‘living his truth.’ IOW, that community, who, like me, came up during the 60s, 70s, and 80s, when coming out of the closet could be dangerous, believe they are encircling him with warm and accepting arms – unlike that prude he was married to. x is happy to let them stay deluded. Just another role he was born to play.
And x can be very charming and chameleon-ish whereas I’ve always been a little prickly.
Did I read this correctly? You went for marriage counseling with one of the men your husband was sleeping with? And another of his partners was your minister? Roaring, I hope you use your power to inform your state department of licensure about the therapist. The therapist should never have seen you if he was sleeping with your husband. Ditto for the minister, although I don’t know if that’s monitored by his church. I hope you were unknowing about his relationship with them at the time you went. What a bitter pill it must be to see him on the church board and being lauded as a hero for coming out. You called it “our church.” Is it worth it to you to still keep going there?
Also, please speak to the sister he abused for years as a child. Presumably, the information came from your ex. Families tend to hush up sibling child abuse. It might be an enormous benefit for her to hear validation from you, that your x admitted to abusing her. He may have denied it all this time.
Like everyone’s story, the minister/counselor thing was just the tip of the iceberg. I contacted everyone I could think of at the time to no avail. Former SIL has had a long life overshadowed by her golden older brother. Finding out about the rape/incest at DDay was only a surprise to me. Their family had minimized the eight years of molestation as ‘kid stuff’ and SIL’s overreaction.
Excellent podcast Tracy! I’m interested in learning more about the therapist you spoke about who wrote about ‘integrity abuse disorder’.
This happened to my neighbor. Her husband came out while their sons were teenagers and revealed a years-long affair with the true love of his life. It was devastating for her and the children. Typical cheater – zero remorse, 100% entitlement. And he left her with nothing.
Years later, I was chumped (with a female AP)…and my neighbor expressed her condolences to me by saying “It must be so much worse for you. At least I know there was nothing I could have done since he was gay.” Lost a little sympathy for her that day….
Thank you so much for acknowledging this issue, Tracy. I learned of you from Straight Spouse Network (now “OurPath”), and honestly I would have gone completely out of my mind if I hadn’t found both support groups.
You write “If you’re a certain generation, you can absolutely understand why people lived in closets, and were essentially compelled to do so. … It was illegal and dangerous for people to be out. So, if you’re going to have a compelling reason for a double life, that’s it.”
Gotta slightly disagree here. It may be a compelling reason to lie about your own sexuality. It may be a compelling reason to conceal your own truth. It’s a perfectly acceptable reason to live a “double life” as long as that life doesn’t include tricking an innocent and unoffending victim into a painful fake marriage. But, your “double life” can’t victimize someone else.
And as I have posted on this and many other sites before: don’t bullshit yourself into believing that “what they don’t know won’t hurt them.” Personal experience tells the exact opposite: what I didn’t know, prevented me from protecting myself. What I didn’t know, left me taking the blame, time and time again, for his bursts of anger and frustration. What I didn’t know was also damaging my daughter. The damage done to my own self-esteem, knowing of my husband’s sexual indifference to me (at times, outright resentment of me for even having sexual needs) absolutely hurt me.
When you’re denied the truth, you fill in the answer yourself.
And, as I have posted many times, nobody is so brilliant they’re capable of keeping a lie alive forever. Believe what you want, but the lie is going to come out at the worst possible time.
I’d posted my own life story on OurPath, under “Our Stories” if you have the stomach to read it:
Believe it or not, that story only is the tip of the iceberg. He did much more damage over the years.
Here’s one other issue I have with the claim that in a certain generation, people could be “compelled” to live in closets.
The “closet” part I agree with, as I said above, but I know plenty of gay people my ex’s age (67) and older who did the courageous thing. The problem is, you must always remember a cheater is an entitled little self-absorbed shit. Gay, straight, and everything in between: he’s gonna move those goalposts and claim victimhood. My husband would not have suffered any career setbacks for being gay (although he certainly suffered setbacks over being an alcoholic). His parents? Maybe his father would have made jokes, or rolled his eyes, but his mother’s younger brother was a very early leader in the gay rights movement in San Francisco, and the family was always proud of this uncle.
At the very most, he would have been mildly embarrassed for a moment. The real issue is that he was such a sanctimonious judgmental prick, and he would have lost his moral high ground. That’s not being “compelled” to live in a closet, or to lead a double life to such an extreme degree is excuses you for victimizing someone else.
It’s a perfectly acceptable reason to live a “double life” as long as that life doesn’t include tricking an innocent and unoffending victim into a painful fake marriage. But, your “double life” can’t victimize someone else.
I’m in agreement.
With each generation there were unacceptable norms which have changed for the better. Under the umbrella of abuse, rape victims, women/children who were abused, hate crimes and abandonment weren’t addressed.
Women at one time had larger families and stayed home with children making them vulnerable to abuse. No one talked about it. It took me decades before I was able to recognize what I went through as abuse. I never Volunteered as it was stated in the podcast.
As we say, hindsight is 20/20.
I read your story. It’s horrific. He was horrific. I don’t know how you got through that. The callousness of how he treated your daughter. And the injustice of learning he had rerouted nearly half of his earnings into secret accounts for years, and not getting a penny of that in court. I’m glad you’re on the other side, and that he didn’t give you HIV.
Walkbymyself wrote: “The real issue is that he was such a sanctimonious judgmental prick, and he would have lost his moral high ground.” Bingo. No abuser is going to give that up. Playing victim to their victims and engineering their superiority to victims is too intrinsic to their elaborate system of rationalization whereby they can do terrible things while still retaining a self image as martyr and saint. Gender orientation has nothing to do with that gymnastic mental trick. It’s an abuser thing pure and simple.
I’m in complete agreement with you that a double life should not victimize someone else. My point, perhaps badly expressed, is there were advantages and forces to conformity. Again, it boils down to character.
I’m sorry, I really misread you — and last night I listened to your actual podcast and of course you got it exactly right. I know for a fact I’m oversensitive about this (ask me how that happened!!).
walkbymyself, I just read your whole story and it is horrific. What a monster, I’m sorry you went through all that. My ex wasn’t out gay, but I’m convinced he was by comments he made and the company he kept though DDay was an affair with a women (one of many I only discovered 8 mos after kicking Ex out) …. one time we’d been to a Christmas party at the home of a couple of gay guys who my ex the home handyman had done work for, and as we exited I said, “Well that was nice.” Ex then said, “Are you kidding, I was so uncomfortable in there because every man in the room was lusting after me. They love guys with toolbelts” . Weirder than hell, that I didn’t realize how weird this was. I never found the proof either. Good riddance to these psychopaths.
FW sister and her husband didn’t show up for an event at our home and I realized it was their 32nd anniversary. We later found out they were divorcing and FW sister was gay. She called us and said when she hit 50 (their dad had died at 52 from cardiac arrest) she decided she didn’t want to live a lie any longer.
2 adult kids, one in law school. The daughter (lawyer) didn’t speak to her Mom for a year. Her ex had a quick rebound marriage. Daughter felt her life had been a lie. Her Mom has been in a relationship for several years now and all came together for daughter’s recent wedding.
I had to tell ex SIL about her cheating, drug addicted brother. Idk if she was cheating when she came out but I do know my former BIL had experienced debilitating depression over the years.
So far reaching. I received the wedding invite for the daughter . None of his siblings speak to FW.
When FW was acting brain tumor weird, I ask if he was gay, he laughed in such an evil way- ….
How do assholes aways seem to get into years-long relationships quickly afterwards? I wish I found relationships so easy.
Getting There, with low standards and big vats of spackle, you too can easily find a years-long relationship quickly.
Being together a long time means nothing, as we all have pretty much experienced. I don’t think the length of a relationship is a yardstick that measures anything other than how long people have been together.
My ex will have sex with anything. The pictures of some of his “friends” can only be described as looking like a cross between the people of Walmart and a BDSM sex dungeon. But because some of them identify as men and some were transgender prostitutes, I am a bigot for not being cool with it. The judgment I got from friends and even my sister while going through the worst pain of my life is not something easily forgotten. I needed support at that time and instead I was getting lectured about which pronouns to use for people I have never spoken to, never planned on speaking to, and was horrified by gross pictures of them where they appeared to be covered in feces. It was insane. But I guess it was more important to them to be perfectly woke appearing than care about my life and the devastation of that life. It was eye opening, that’s for sure.
Cheating is cheating and no one gets a pass because the person they are cheating with is an oppressed minority. I know plenty of ethical kinky queer people. You don’t get to hurt people because you’re wearing a leather diaper.
As someone who came out in Ohio in 1987, I’m annoyed at people who deceive their partners. There are options for a decent life even if you have to remain in the closet for a time till you can move away from a super homophobic community. Honestly being in the closet at work was hard enough in those days, being in the closet at home has to be worse. The only reason is cake as far as I can tell. I’m someone who went to 12 years of Catholic school and I managed.
I do believe there is a special place in hell for those gay conversion folks who tell gay people they can be straight. They are basically setting the stage for a broken family.
Important feedback and insights, thank you.
My ex FIL and MIL were in this situation. They married very young, in the early 1950’s, so I think it took awhile for him to figure himself out (don’t get married at 19 kids!). He did come clean to the MIL, and they had some kind of “bargain”. Their livelihood depended on keeping that closet door very tightly closed. Living that lie for decades and decades warped and deformed her as a person. She was broken, and cruel and nasty as a result. Then there were the kids, including my ex, who grew up in a household of cheating and lies about who their parents actually were. The whole mess was just a shit stew. And both of the boys ending up as cheaters and creeps, with broken families in their wakes. Oh, and he was clergy, so–Jesus cheaters, and his extra marital partners were mostly choir members or students. Yuck.
I’m the daughter (56) of a beard and my father, who died in the 80s at age 40–he was a closeted homosexual and a pedophile (boys). My mother says that she suspected but never discussed it with my dad. I strongly suspect my narcissist/maybe sociopath mom cheated on him too…. Their alcoholic relationship was a hot mess. Needless to say, I was not raised well. No wonder I picked abusers. 😢😢😢
Last year one of my adult children opened up about being bisexual. I began reading some recommended literature and came across a biographical account of a woman who did not discover her sexuality as lesbian until after she was married and had a child. This was recently too, not years ago. Anyway, she came out to her family and wrote about the surprise it was to her, her husband, their families, and about how much support she received and was grateful for. She decided to leave her husband and pursue her unexpected attraction to women.
At the same time I am picking up the undercurrent from young adults that gender, and sexual attraction, is “fluid.”
As a result, I am more confused than ever. How is “fluidness”different from someone’s husband saying “I used to be attracted to you, but now I am attracted to 20 year olds? Celebrate me and my newfound sexual preference!!”? Other than the fact that a husband made public vows?
I hope my family member continues to have the integrity they have shown over the years. The potential for them to be hurt by someone else seems very high.
Sexual preference and sexual orientation are not the same thing. Sexual “preferences” are things that you like, but are able to do without. Sexual “orientation” is the gender you are attracted to, this cannot be changed.
Example of sexual preference: I have a preference for men who have full beards and chest hair. That does not stop me from dating and loving my boyfriend who is only really able to grow a goatee and doesn’t have any chest hair. I still love him despite him not having my exact physical preference. I love him enough in other ways, and he fits enough of my other physical preferences for me to be happy despite him lacking those two things.
Example of sexual orientation: I am a cisgender, heterosexual woman. Meaning I was born biologically female, the gender with which I identify myself is a woman, and I am attracted to the opposite sex (men.) These are things about me that are not changeable. I cannot make myself identify as a man because that is not who I believe myself to truly be (gender) I was born with biologically female organs and naturally producing female hormones (sex. While this can be changed with hormone treatments and surgical transitions, I do not choose to do this because of my aforementioned identified gender matches with my at-birth biological sex.) I have an innate attraction to cisgender men, and I cannot force myself to be attracted to women. (sexual orientation.)
Someone suddenly telling their partner “I’m not attracted to you, I’m now attracted to people 30 years younger than me!” is not sexual orientation and shouldn’t be conflated with it.
Gender fluidity is when someone does not fully identify as either cisgender male or female. They identify as both, either, or neither (androgenously.) It is about who they are, not who they are attracted to.
*If you do not know cisgender= Your gender identity matches your at-birth sex.
Transgender= Your gender identity is the opposite of your at-birth sex.
Agender=You do not identify with any gender type.
Genderfluid=You identify with more than one gender that may or may not match your at-birth sex.
Gender presentation=How you express your gender outwardly. Myself, being a cisgender woman, often wear makeup, do my hair, wear dresses/skirts, etc. I am easily outwardly identified as a cis woman.
Thank you. This helps. I admit I am not familiar with all the vocabulary.
Life-long lesbian here. Research has documented that sexual fluidity is more commonly experienced by women than men. Some women who enter straight marriages, especially if they had limited sexual experience prior to getting married and/or repressed their sexuality due to internalized homophobia, don’t become aware of their capacity for same-sex attraction until later in life. In this situation, the woman did not deliberately deceive her straight spouse when she got married. Once the woman is aware that she is experiencing same-sex attraction, she has the option to either hide it or disclose it to her spouse. The only ethical option, of course, is to disclose it to the straight spouse, and then either exit the marriage or try to stay together, if that is mutually agreed upon by both partners. Most couples that try to stay in an openly mixed-orientation marriage will fail (something in the range of 30% of mixed-orientation couples are able to remain married; the rest will either divorce immediately or divorce within several years).
Not my story, but someone I know.
A buddy of mine was dating a woman for a few years, and I remember seeing their Save The Date card with engagement photos hanging in my roommate’s house. The wedding was supposed to occur sometime in 2021.
One day, I overhear my roommates talking about our friend “looking for a date” to an upcoming event. I spoke up and said “Wait, isn’t he engaged?” They said yes, but…apparently they were now “poly.” My roommates said this with a bit of hesitance in their voices, and explained that his fiancee had met a woman online who lived in another state and decided she was falling for this woman. Our friend, bless his heart he is a good man…loved her so much that he wanted to do whatever he could to keep her in his life so he acquiesced to this open-relationship agreement to let his fiancee go pursue this other woman. We all kind of agreed this was a bad idea and we felt badly for him because this was clearly NOT the type of marriage he really wanted. He just wanted to be with her.
Well…the wedding date rolls around…and our buddy is at our house watching movies and sharing beer. Roommates had invited him over so he wouldn’t feel lonely that day, because you guessed it…wedding got called off. His fiancee had decided she was, in fact, lesbian, and wanted to be with her new partner in the other state. Our friend knew there was no way he could fight that and let her go.
On the one hand, if she is truly lesbian, then that is who she is and being married to a man is not ever going to be right for her. It’s not something that can be changed or forced, and it would be unfair and cruel to try to make her be something she is not.
On the other, there was no reason to cause our friend the kind of pain she put on him. He really loved her, and he bent over backwards to try to make her happy. Instead of pressing for having an “open relationship” she should have done the more fair thing and ended the relationship. If she wanted to pursue other people, women or otherwise, it was unfair of HER to continue to drag him on, especially knowing he did not truly want an open marriage.
There wasn’t really any way for their relationship to end without some emotional pain, endings can hurt, especially when you really love someone. But there were points where she could have ended it way sooner and saved him the suffering of being dragged along longer and watching her be with someone else, and then eventually be left for that other person.
This is always a complex discussion, and I don’t think there’s ever a one-size -fits-all solution for every relationship.
Good news, our friend has met someone new, and she is a delight to be around. She has come to several of our movie nights, and came around for our annual new year’s party. We all like her and we’re happy our friend is happy.
Of course relationships aren’t one size fits all. But monkey branching is a definitive FW maneuver. It sounds like this ex-fiancee first secured the alternative partner before “opening up.” Whether or not the ex-fiancee fully sampled the goods or not is beside the point. She’d made a love connection first, then spilled the beans. I can’t remember which author wrote this about affairs: “All the damage is done before the first kiss.”
From what I understand, it started out with her saying she felt like she might be bisexual. Even if she was bisexual and not lesbian, she didn’t need to open the relationship and fall for another woman. I’m not sure of the exact timeline, but if I remember correctly, she did connect with the other woman before approaching him with that conversation. There are so many other ways she could have handled this that did not require connecting with someone else and stringing him along with an open relationship he didn’t really want.
They’re still friends on facebook, but I don’t know how much contact they actually have. Personally, I don’t think I could bring myself to be friendly with someone who used an “open relationship” to find another partner before telling me they’re gay. I’d find it easier to move forward and be friends with someone who was just honest about questioning their sexuality in the first place.
It sounds like the ex-fiancee eventually hooked up with the object of her extra-diadic crush which suggests the ex-fiancee found her own icky level. That’s the thing: if only out of self interest, who would want to be involved with the type of loser who’d even put feelers out to hook up with a target they knew to be married or engaged? And even if the feelers were extended before the third party knew the target was otherwise engaged/married, once they knew– that is, if they had a scrap of integrity– they should be grossed out if the engaged/married person vibed back. If they’re not grossed out, they’re gross themselves.
There’s just no way to work around those facts without resorting to some goofy, magical “destiny” mindset or an entitlement mindset. After D-Day, I heard smart people suggest I hunt around for prospective partners before the papers were filed but the reality of it always stopped me dead. I didn’t feel I owed any loyalty to FW, plus I wasn’t raised in the church and had no fear of God’s punishment for breaking a vow that had already broken by the other party. But who would even be game to start up with someone who wasn’t yet divorced? Yuck. Not anyone I’d touch with a thirty foot bare pole nor anyone I’d allow around my children. Totally moot issue. The kind of person I’d invest in or allow around my kids would never so much as flirt with or nurture fantasies about an individual they knew to be still attached.
Yeah, the whole situation felt conspiratorial to me. Apparently after the relationship “opened” (I put that in quotes because it was done reluctantly) she went on a week long trip to OW’s state to “explore the relationship and figure things out” with her.
…uh huh…I’m sure all of that was totally honest and completely openly discussed with all parties…
Were it me, I would be like no, if you want to go out of state for a week to be with this person, then don’t come back.
At this point, nobody really talks about ex fiancee anymore. Which is good. We’re glad our friend has found someone new who wants to be with JUST him, and they seem to be doing well.
He was triangulated against. It’s always so much fun for narcissists to play princess in the tower beset by wanton suitors. Good to know the ex has taken her rightful place in his history– something unmentionable and soon to be forgotten.
Sometimes it takes a complicated argument to simplify things that have been made too complicated by apologists. If you really think about it, apologists for infidelity, like rape apologists, seem to assume that an appetite for sex is a life and death issue and, if gratification is deferred or delayed, this could lead to something akin to “starvation.” But I’d like to correct the comparison of sex drive to hunger. Since no one ever died from not getting their rocks off or delaying sexual gratification, I think it’s more accurate to compare horniness to “peckishness,” not starvation. If anyone argues otherwise, it reveals the fact that they’ve somehow normalized sexual compulsion and have confused it with sex drive.
Getting to the point, I think it would simplify everything if we viewed people whose sexual appetites aren’t immediately killed at the very idea that their sexual expression may cause harm to another person as another gender entirely. Basically if their mojos don’t wilt and their orgasms don’t fizzle at the thought of another human being suffering real harm as a consequence– given that not jizzing in that moment won’t lead to death– they’re an “abusosexual.” It goes without saying that “real harm” doesn’t include busybodies and bigots merely feeling scandalized, grossed out or disappointed that others have sex outside wedlock or with same-sex partners.
In our current era of sexual fluidity, “abusosexuals” should get the recognition they deserve. They may present as gay, straight, bi, male or female but their identifying sexual trait, the common denominator between all is that their libidos require victims or their appetite for sex simply isn’t impeded by causing or witnessing suffering in others. Domestic batterers can be any gender or orientation but their sexuality requires victimization. There are fully heterosexual rapists who will rape boys and other men just because the opportunity to overpower another person turns them on. And even if the MO is “subconscious,” anyone– male or female or gay or bi– who knowingly participates in a deceptive affair and whose sexuality doesn’t immediately shut down at the idea that a third party– not to mention any children involved– will be humiliated, duped, put at risk, robbed of consent (or money, if we’re being realistic) or suffer in any real way in the scenario is demonstrating that part of their sexual response may hinge on victimizing others.
The latter argument might seem like a leap. If including cheaters on the same continuum with rapists and sex-driven serial killers were put to academic debate, some might argue that, because cheaters and affair partners typically demonize or otherize betrayed primary partners, play victims to their victims or attempt to rationalize that their victims don’t truly suffer, the mental trick of denying that their behavior is harmful somehow proves that cheaters and APs don’t really “get off” on the victimization of others. The problem with any argument like this is that serial killers (and by extension, serial perpetrators like domestic batterers and rapists for whom sex is driving force in abuse) also typically “neutralize” their own guilt by “denying the victim”– engineering a concept of their victims as unworthy, not quite human, somehow deserving to be harmed or even that victims invited and enjoyed or magically weren’t harmed by mistreatment (click download for free read of academic paper on “neutralization”: https://www.mdpi.com/2075-4698/9/2/46).
In other words, the mental tricks used to reduce the stigma of harmful actions or to reconcile positive self image with doing harm to others don’t take away from the implication that certain perpetrators are sexually charged by the harm they’re doing. The only proof required is that their sexuality wouldn’t function if this wasn’t true. To illustrate this, you can use “appetite for food” as an analogy which reflects on bystanders and their assumptions and tolerances as well. Again, that’s only if “hunger” isn’t depicted as starvation level. But imagine a scenario in which a restaurant was held up by strapping armed robbers. If the robbers were grabbing a snack and munching away while simultaneously pistol whipping bus boys and waiters, would bystanders assume the perpetrators were “just really hungry” or were extreme psychopaths whose appetites are whetted by cruelty? Would freedom-minded bystanders applaud the robbers for munching in the midst of committing violence because, say, the robbers were snarfing foods that are banned by religious edict in the repressive country where this was happening? And what about the appetites of bystanders themselves? Would normal patrons keep eating their meals without retching while watching people get menaced with guns or hearing blows and screams from the back of the kitchen? Just to stretch the analogy, what if one group of patrons is protected behind bulletproof glass and knows the robbers can’t get to them? Do they keep eating simply because they don’t feel immediately personally vulnerable to the terrible things they’re witnessing or overhearing? If that analogy sounds too extreme, change the scenario to watching someone get bullied in a lunch room. Who could keep calmly eating their sandwich?
To a normal person, witnessing suffering on any scale is “unappetizing.” If you believe that tolerance of the idea of others suffering reflects on both participants and bystanders, then it wouldn’t be surprising that a study found an association between “rape myth acceptance” and “infidelity tolerance.” Once you can deny the victims of one type of sex-based offense it seems to open up the gates to denying victims of any type of sex-based offenses. But what this says about bystanders goes beyond that and starts to suggest things about their own “appetites.” In the specific case of bystanders to harmful sexual acts who presumably aren’t perpetrators in their own rights, why– instead of knee-jerkedly identifying with victims and feeling boggled at the idea of a perpetrator getting it up or getting rocks off in situations where others are expressing suffering– do their minds immediately leap to the defense of perpetrators (the perp was just “hungry/horny”) and blame of victims if, deep down, they’re not somehow identifying with perpetrators’ “appetites” and don’t secretly share them? In that view, however the appetite is expressed– through gay or het sex, through eating kosher/halal or non-kosher/non-halal– is a total red herring. It’s about whether harm and suffering kill your appetite or not and *nothing* else.
For anyone who prefers neat analogies, this one is probably too messy and requires too many qualifiers if flogged to death. For instance, there are ethical vegans who can’t bear the thought of eating meat and gag at the sight of anyone else eating it because of animals suffering. Some people are especially sensitive. Then again, H*tler was a vegetarian who made animal cruelty punishable by death. If an ethical vegan isn’t bothered so much by human suffering, they’re an even bigger psycho because they have selective empathy. By the same token, if a perpetrator or bystander think that the rights and feelings of someone suffering closeted sexuality due to persecution trump the rights and feelings of betrayed and endangered chumps, they’re compartmentalizing, denying victims and exposing a personal view that sexual appetite is of life and death importance, can’t be deferred or delayed and therefore justifies doing harm. That’s an abusosexual in a nutshell.
OMG Hell of a Chump. U are brilliant. Comparing cheaters to batterers connects soooooo many dots for me. Everything in your post today resonated with me. 🙏
CC– Read the paper on neutralization. That one put my jaw on the floor because, for any chump who ever got blasted with a cheater’s excuses for cheating, the overlaps between serial killers and cheaters will appear frighteningly precise. As a former advocate for dv survivors, I had read about neutralization or “reduction of self punishment” in a book titled The Batterer by Canadian criminologist Donald Dutton (link in this blog’s resources). If you’re curious about overlaps between the psychology of cheaters and batterers, this book features a ton of recognizable behaviors and tactics. Anyway, I knew the system of rationalizing harm had been applied to batterers but I didn’t know it had also been applied to Ted Bundy et al.
My husband gave me chlamydia last year after he cheated with a male bartender on a work trip. We have a 3 and 1 year old. I knew he identified as bi-sexual because before we were married he told me he’d had sexual experiences with men. No one else knew this – he’d asked me to keep it a secret (red flag?). After D-Day, I looked for comfort and guidance on some infidelity threads on reddit. (This was before I discovered CL). Many folks accused me of being homophobic for being upset with my circumstances which left me feeling even more defeated. If I was homophobic, why would I ever have married someone I knew was bi-sexual? Monogamy should be monogamy regardless of sexual orientation. It’s been 3 months. I’m picking up the pieces of myself. But man, does it add another slice of confusion to the whole shit-sandwich situation when your partner cheats with a same-sex AP.
The extra slice of confusion is basically the same as having bystanders howl “How can you hit a man wearing glasses?” after a man with glasses smacks you in the head with a tire iron. Actually it’s worse. It’s akin to bystanders howling this because you simply indicated that getting hit in the head with a tire iron left you with a cracked skull. How dare you try to put your skull injury above his myopia!
Gunnichump that’s gotta be a mindfuck. Those people were wrong: if you agree to be monogamous then it’s cheating and wrong. Plus Bi folks have been complaining that they are characterized wrongly as cheaters because they are Bi. Being Bi doesn’t make someone a cheater. Being an AH does. And you were right to be upset and hurt.
Homophobia would be “I wouldn’t have cared if he’d cheated with a FEMALE bartender!” You were upset that he cheated, period. That’s not homophobic.
After reading you for years, and having your voice in my head, it’s really nice to actually HEAR your voice.
I enjoyed the interview, and especially appreciate the parts where Kristin and Tracy talk about pushing back against the attitude that calling infidelity ‘abuse’ is “not nuanced” or “not cosmopolitan,” and where they call out the shittiness of character of those who get off on the power trip of duping others.
I was a beard for 22 years. 2 kids. He cheated on me at the end (4/5 years I think) and got PRAISE for what he did. The praise really gets me. He got a pass for all bad behavior and an instant support group. It’s worked out really well for him. I got silence. Deafening silence even from people who thought what he did was wrong. The very few people who called him out got labeled as homophobic. His entitlement statement was “I had to cheat to see if I was gay”. Umm no. He knew when he married me per the journal I found. It was deliberate and intentional (to marry me. He wanted “kids and a straight life”per journal). He used my kindness and patience to gaslight me and set up his new life (he blamed a lot of things on his career demands and lack of career progressing which was the only truthful thing out of his mouth). Now he makes jokes at my expense. He’s got lots of groupies and did not really have to parent any these last 4 years. CL saved my life when I figured out the cheater code – mine just has the added pain of “why can’t you be a modern happy family? Why can’t you be happy for him? He’s being his authentic self” BTW. My story is pretty typical (they know from the beginning, they cheat and then they get praise). I actually forgive him for the initial lie as he was sexually into me (or a good faker). I don’t forgive the cheating and making me feel repulsive during that time and that everything was my fault. He stole 14 years of my life (he says he really knew the last 14). Just a total coward with no ethics or morals.
This isn’t something I speak about often because it is a source of guilt for me that I am still working through about myself. I am asexual. That is, honest to God, my orientation and is unchangeable. I tried to change for him, but I have never enjoyed sex. I view it as a messy, inconvenient, gross waste of my time.
But I did try, and I communicated, he was patient – on the surface. When I discovered his porn habits I turned a blind eye and ignored this huge issue in our relationship. I was content to provide sex and be a side partner to his fulfillment through porn, because I believed that was the logical response to his marriage to an asexual spouse.
I did not know I was ace when we got married because I was celibate.
I asked him if he had a problem with it. He said no. I constantly reiterated that if there ever was a problem, it needed to be discussed. Divorce was something I was willing to have if we were sexually incompatible.
Then he got a side girlfriend, and that’s when my life became a hellscape of lies, gaslighting, secret credit cards, financial abuse.
Since I was the LGBT one in the relationship, was he my “beard”?
I wasn’t the one who lied and cheated and gaslit, but sometimes the guilt strikes me that I was not a sexually receptive spouse.
Dating as an ace person is extremely difficult so I gave up on finding an ace male partner. I think they’re about as rare as unicorns.
I wouldn’t say he was a beard in your case. For one, you didn’t know you were ace yet, you hadn’t had any sexual experiences before you married him, and that doesn’t necessarily make someone ace, so until you thought about it within the context of your marriage, I assume after experiencing sex with your husband, you hadn’t explored that as your sexuality. I’ve known some ace folks who didn’t know they were ace until after they had sex and realized, “Y’know what? I really don’t want this…with anyone.” And it’s not about their partner, it’s nothing their partner did or didn’t do, their sexuality is just that they are ace.
In your case, you actually spoke to your husband about it, and told him that he needed to talk to you if he felt it was a problem, and you have him an out if he really felt like it wasn’t going to work. He cheated on you. It doesn’t matter if you’re ace. He was married to you and he started a relationship with another woman behind your back even after you told him he could talk to you, and divorce was possible if it came down to it. That’s cheating. Period. Periodddttt.
I think he would have been a “beard” if you had not been honest with him about it, kept up a facade of some kind, or found a bunch of excuses to avoid sex and not tell him the truth about your asexuality. Your husband had the truth, and he chose to cheat. That’s not your fault.
In a sense, chumps are all “beards” to make sexually abusive people appear and feel normal. See my comment above– your ex was an “abusosexual.” You are not. You were forthcoming, open, had no agenda. “Abusosexual” is the only sexual orientation that worries me because, even as the world begins to accept every iteration of sexual identity, abusers will continue to disguise themselves because they get off on deception and can’t entrap partners without subterfuge.
How is this different from being forced to share custody with your rapist? Straight spouse didn’t know they were being bred under false pretenses. How is this not rape?
I think the terms “affair” and “infidelity” should maybe be retired and replaced with “deceptive sexual behavior”. How about a super accurate term which conveys the meaning and dispenses with euphemistic breezy minimizing connotations?
My two cents on today’s topic is that failing to disclose one’s sexual behavior to an intimate partner can cost them their lives. Lying, directly or by omission, regardless of gender, can result in someone’s death.
Below is the obituary of my friend who died from AIDS in 1992. She had been intimate with three men in five years. She found out she had AIDS after donating blood and got notified by the clinic. She died on February 18, 1992.
I am lucky that I only got herpes from Traitor Ex.
I think I have shared this here before.
I biffed when I pasted the link to the obituary and it won’t let me re-post…..
The podcast was great! Our Path and Chump Lady communities have gotten me through the mindf*ck that was my now-ex coming out as gay. We had been friends for 10 years and then were married for almost 20 when, in Jan 2019, my now-ex disclosed his lingering same sex attraction. Although he swears he didn’t cheat on me while we were married, after he told me, my whole relationship felt like one big betrayal.
We went to same small liberal arts university (LGBTQIA accepting) and graduated in early 90s. You could be yourself! It is ok to be gay! But he missed that memo- he experimented with men but later got scared back into the closet by a particularly aggressive partner. He also had very conservative parents, a narcissistic and abusive mom, and it was Texas. I knew all this history before we got married.
His mother died in 2018 and that apparently gave him the urge to kick to open the closet door. He wanted to explore more with men in person. He was almost 50 and didn’t want to spend the rest of his life not knowing if he had squelched his true nature. Ugh. I assume I missed out on relationships with some great men by staying committed in our 20 year marriage; I made a pledge and kept it. Apparently he made a pledge for his personal safety with me and as a demonstration to himself that he really, really wasn’t gay. Also game over when mean mom dies.
Most of 2019 I spent performing some exquisite pick me dancing involving “reimagining our marriage”and how to manage time and feelings in open relationships… then Jan.2020 I suggested we separate for a bit (that turned permanent)… then Aug.2021 I said I need closure and it is time for a divorce.
I thought we had been great friends. My initial response to his disclosure was, as a friend, I was so glad he would be able to live authentically! However, as a wife, I was really sad. Honestly though, great friends don’t hide fundamental truths about themselves. Great friends don’t hurt each other like this. I doubt he realizes in his personal ticker tape parade of being out how much he sucked as a straight husband and how unfair that was to me.
I claim my own authenticity now- I can admit to myself and others the crappy partner and parent he was; I am the one kids rely on still to be sane and steady. I am happy and relaxed (as much as I can be with 3 older teens who are rapidly making my hair grey 🤣) now, rediscovering who I am on my own 2 feet with a more clear view of life.
Thanks for the great podcast Chump Lady. I wasn’t a beard per se, but might as well have been. My husband had extreme fetishes so I am squarely in the “secret sexual basement” breed of chump. I had an ex who was a sexual sadist. He didn’t tell me and didn’t express this side of himself to me at all. When he finally told me it was because I was nearly begging him for sex and he slipped and said he was tired of vanilla so he didn’t want me. He then said he wanted to try experimenting with some things with other people. I, being very open, said I would agree to some amount of it but I had big boundaries and I gave him my rules. He agreed. It lasted about a month and then the real DDay happened. I got the trickle truth and he already had a sex slave OW. He’d been cheating on me for most (if not all) of our 25 year marriage. I then learned only the tip of the ice berg and it was dark and disgusting. He had male and female partners- it was more about dominance than gender preferences. I’ve always felt the same as those who have gay partners- the dynamic is similar. Weird or little sex, distance, being used as a cover, the service spouse, etc. My ex expected me to be happy for him- that he finally got to go and live his S&M fantasies without all the hassle of having to lie to his wife and spend all of his leftover energy pretending to be a loving husband and father. He was that deluded. He had no sense of rem
Oops. No sense of remorse for what he’d done to me. He stole resources, money and I moved countries twice to support him. Now I’m stuck overseas without family because of him and he’s merrily moved to another city to live with his sex slave whore and they do exactly as they please all the time. My daughter and I are the classic collateral damage scenario. But hey! Isn’t he lucky to finally get to live up to his true nature? Lucky him. And fuck whatever I needed. He wasted my life.
Thanks for being real about this stuff Chump Lady. You’re a legend!
Tracy – I listened to your OurPath podcast interview, it was thoughtful and informative. Bravo! I’ve been following your posts to better understand my own experience with infidelity/betrayal in relationships.
I’m a lifelong lesbian in my early 50s. I came out in the 1990s when being openly gay came with severe consequences. Those of us who did it were willing to risk being rejected by family members and friends, and excluded from many normal personal and professional opportunities, in order to have the integrity and freedom to not live a lie.
I have a few comments to add to this interesting discussion about closeted LGBT+ people – closeted women, in particular – who chump their straight spouses/LTR partners.
1. Some of the women who come out to their husbands after getting married, having children, etc. are not lying when they tell their spouses they didn’t know. Lisa Diamond, a psychologist who presented research on women’s sexuality in the book “Sexual Fluidity,” documents how this happens. It’s a complicated combination of sexual repression, internalized homophobia, and women having a greater capacity than men for bisexual/fluid sexual orientations. So some men who suspect that they were deliberately deceived might not actually have been duped by their bisexual or lesbian spouse. This occurs less commonly with gay men, who are more likely to be aware of their same-sex sexual attraction at a younger age than women.
2. If a straight man’s current or prospective wife tells him that she thinks she might be bisexual or gay, as the saying goes – believe her the first time. I’ve heard a lot of stories from women who disclosed that were not straight to their male partners, and the men were either in denial about it (“But she doesn’t look like a lesbian!”) or naively thought their female partner’s sexual attraction to women would not destabilize her relationship with them (“At least she’s not attracted to another man”).
3. In my experience, most openly gay women avoid getting involved with women who have not yet come out, for obvious reasons. If a straight man with a gay spouse who cheated is wondering whether his spouse will end up in a happy LTR after blowing up their marriage, my advice to him would be – no, it’s unlikely that your former spouse is going to end up in a happy LTR with her AP. If the AP is a gay woman who is already out (and therefore should have known enough to avoid getting involved with a closet case), she probably has psychological problems that will impact their relationship. If the AP is a closeted woman who is also trying to figure out her sexuality, the likelihood that two closeted women are going to figure out how to sustain a healthy, happy relationship with each other is low.
In most cases, women who are coming out of a straight marriage have to painfully go through several relationships before they do enough psychological work on themselves to end up in a healthy LTR. In the best case scenario, a married woman who realizes she is not straight comes out to her spouse, respectfully ends the relationship, does the hard work of fully coming out, and then pursues a relationship with another woman who is already out.
Good, informative post. I want to posit however that there are causes beyond sexual repression and internalized homophobia that contribute to women embracing bisexuality or switching orientations later in life. These are particularly relevant amongst Millennial and younger women who matured in a more inclusive era.
1/ There are shifts in the levels, both absolute and relative, of sex hormones that occur with aging. In particular DHEAS starts to decline steadily around 30 years old.
2/ When economic self-sufficiency is attained, it is typically in the 30-40 age range.
3/ A “mid-life crisis” often manifests around 40-50 as remorse over the narrowing of choices and a perception of opportunities lost.
4/ Persons high on the narcissism spectrum are drawn to people in whom they see themselves (or what they want to believe about themselves) and they seek relationships with people that provide them with affirmation, attention, and other forms of narcissistic supply.
5/ There is a higher prevalence of the so-called “dark triad” personality traits – narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy – amongst bisexuals than hetero- and homosexuals. Which is cause and which is effect is debatable.
These factors have a complex interplay, so obviously various outcomes are possible. One such outcome is that a woman finds her attraction to women increasing, perceives her mortality and sees the horizon of possibilities beginning to narrow, and finds her socio-economic position is sufficient to abandon a partnership that was previously necessary to maintain stability and security. If she is partnered and has dark triad personality traits, she is likely to make the choice to maximize her own “fulfillment” by sacrificing the well-being of those that previously had been useful to her, i.e. her partner. Of course if she has empathy and a sense of responsibility to her partner, she will have the integrity to embrace her shifting sexuality without resorting to cheating and betrayal.
One of my good friends from college dad was gay. They were young when they got married. Eventually came out. Who knows if he just didnt realize it but as he aged, or if he just was closeted. He was a nice dad, but had a younger BF but that didnt last, they had an open relationship, so no real commitment. When dad got older BF left and guy died alone. Kinda sad. His life seemed unstable.
At this point though I wish my FW were gay. It wouldve been easier for me. I wouldnt have taken it personally. I could have had a gay BF to go shopping with and have family holidays with. Not to minimize that but It seems like a better deal.