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What Do I Say to the People Who Knew?

Dear Chump Lady:

How is one supposed to relate to people the cheater told about his affair? These are people he burdened with his secret, for whatever reason (validation?), that then were faced with the uncomfortable situation of feeling like they needed to “keep it to themselves”, for whatever reason.

I actually confronted one of those people, a woman I considered a friend (I still do), and she cried. She said she didn’t know what to do. I will say that this friend has been one of the few that has actually been there for me since D-Day. Others who know treat me like I have the plague.

Cheater said that one of the friends actually said, “Oh, I really wish you had not told me”. And yet he continued to tell people while I remained — not clueless, since I knew something was up — but not as informed.

What really pisses me off is that while he was saying God-knows-what about ME, he wants to be able to have his own side told if I tell anybody.




Dear Ivy,

To be cheated on is to be conspired against. Which is why all the excuses about cheating being a singular crime are bullshit. It’s not some private matter between you and your husband — the creep had his enablers and conscripts. This particular horror — who knew and what did they know? — is suffering that pays dividends. You will keep discovering these people and every discovery is a fresh betrayal. Why didn’t they tell me?

Because it’s awkward and people tend towards gutlessness. And as you suspected something was up, they probably comforted themselves with You Already Knew.

So what to do with those relationships now? Let them go.

You can make some exceptions if you want to, but just like marriages, friendships are based on trust. It’s going to be hard going forward knowing that your friends are capable of conspiracy and feel close to them.

While you were unaware, their loyalty to you and concern for your well-being was being tested –and they flunked the test. Most people are going to find that sentence judge-y. They were put in a terrible position! It wasn’t their job to tell you!

Nonetheless they had a decision tree of options and they chose to harm you with lies of omission. Choices they had? Tell you in person. Tell you anonymously. Tell your cheater that if HE doesn’t tell you, they will tell you. Tell someone closer to you to tell you.

They chose silence.

One friend of yours has the human decency to feel ashamed and apologize to you. The rest treat you like you “have the plague.” Keep the human friend. Let the rest go. No need to confront — you know what they are. And so do they.

What really pisses me off is that while he was saying God-knows-what about ME, he wants to be able to have his own side told if I tell anybody.

Yes, he misses the power imbalance. That should piss you off.

A few words on the cheaters who conspire — it’s part of the abusive power trip. This is schoolyard bully shit. Don’t sit next to Ivyleaguechump, okay? It’s isolating you to harm you.

Every cheater narrative is going to spin this as hey, They Were Just So HAPPY They Couldn’t Contain Their JOY! So of course he had to flaunt the Schmoopie, or invite her in your stead, or gush with enthusiasm.

Isn’t love grand?

Not when it’s a triangle. (Or rectangle. Or dodecahedron.)  If “love” involves chumping, it isn’t love at all. It’s some abuser wet dream.

The irony in all this is that these “friends” aren’t friends of his either. They’re props. Things of use. They aren’t going to get loyalty from the cheater either.

Let them figure that out. You go gain a life without these losers. Good luck.


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  • Yes, this a typical cheater tactic. They need their narrative spread so they tell people their phony story. As Chump Lady said, your friends were being tested and by not telling you they failed. The cheater always wants to get ahead of the Chump and spreading their narrative or their “truth” is a goal (see Cheater Handbook Volume 1 Chapter 12).
    In my case, the FW told everyone he could that I was crazy, was bipolar, abused him, cheated on him, was an alcoholic, was both sexless and bisexual and many more lies. His issue was that he was a liar with a bad memory, so he did not know who he had told what set of his prepared lies to. Very few people said anything to me and of course now they are blocked and if I run into them, I treat them as distant acquaintances. They did not have my back or the decency to tell me about what he was saying about me and his cheating.
    My real friends, although, not as many as I thought I had, know the truth and do not believe anything he said. They have seen what he did and they know who he is. These people are keepers because they can be trusted. A friendship without trust and respect is just hollow.
    The friend who feels remorse may be a friend, but you need to keep her at a distance and watch her actions unless you have decided to dump her along with the others. You will find true friends out there. The good, kind, loving and trustworthy people are out there.

    • I too was a drug addict, dealing drugs, abusing our children, and wanted to have a lesbian relationship but would not let him participate in a threesome. Since we were older when we met my friends stayed with me as well as some of his friends and eventually ALL of his family – though I just keep it civil with them until the kids are 18 since it has become my burden to manage my kids relationships with his side of the family – yup eating the Shit Sandwich for my kids. I got a few more years of that – then I can dump the “I’m sorry we believed his lies rather than looking at the person we know you are” former in-laws. The only one who said anything was the sister’s husband who said, “Hmm, that does not add up”

      • I was also “violent and beat him up when he came home from work”! Seems like all the AHs he hung out with believed him (but they didn’t know me anyhow)! Thankfully I roared laughing when I heard it and I think that was proof enough for the flying monkeys!

        • I was also abusive and bipolar, he didn’t know how much more he could take.., said while dabbing his eyes.
          How anyone could take him seriously is beyond me.


  • Yes, everyone knew and NO ONE said a thing. They all accepted OW (after knowing her a few months) and excluded/ignored me (after knowing me 10+ years), and I suppose believed all of FW’s stories (lies) about me and our marriage (I don’t know what those stories were, but I can imagine), since they all congratulated him and OW when they finally “came out”. Unfortunately, FW had pretty much isolated me from my own friends and family, so I lost my entire social circle when we split up.

    I cut every last one of those people out of my life, and it is one of the best decisions I ever made. I don’t need “friends” like that.

    “The irony in all this is that these “friends” aren’t friends of his either. They’re props. Things of use. They aren’t going to get loyalty from the cheater either.” – This is particularly astute. FW was narcissistic, and used people. He also thought that everyone was like him, and didn’t trust his friends since he was sure they were using him too. Turns out he was right (I could see that even OW was using him). THAT is why they accepted OW and rejected me. Because FW (a film maker) was USEFUL to them, and they needed to stay on his good side. Most of them were actors/artists/writers/musicians, and looked to FW for professional opportunities and exposure. I had nothing to offer them. FW changed friends without a thought, once they started to catch on to how he viewed them, almost completely replacing our friend circle every five years or so throughout our relationship. But he didn’t GET loyalty from his friends either. When he really needed people, they were no where to be found. But they came out to his funeral in droves.

    I would rather have just a few real friends – loyal, kind, honest, genuine people who care about me and whom I care about – than the hundreds of fair-weather “friends” (acolytes and hangers on) that FW surrounded himself with.

    As CL said, just let them all go. Make new friends, and find people whose values align with yours.

    It does hurt. It’s another betrayal. But it will do wonders for your mental and emotional health to cut ties with them.

  • Those people that chose silence? Not all of them are Switzerland friends. Some of them are people who love to have power over others, they revel in knowing a secret that you don’t know. One of our mutual friend’s husband kept giving me a smirky smile whenever I saw him. I thought he was just being a jerk (he was), but I realized after that he knew what the FW was up to & he was getting off on the power trip. Others will think you deserved it too having your spouse step out on you, so they won’t give you a heads-up. Or they might have been secretly envious of you, attracted to your spouse themselves, having affairs themselves & don’t want the spotlight on them, or just thought you needed to be taken down a notch. Lots of reasons other than being Switzerland! So CL is right, cut those people out because you won’t ever know the real reason why they chose not to tell you. They will give you a defensive answer if you challenge them too! If they’re just a weak-ass friend, well maybe teaching them this lesson will make them a better friend for someone else down the road.

    • I would warn that mutual friend. It likely wasn’t just that he liked having a secret – he vicariously enjoyed the FW stepping out and getting away with it. If that husband isn’t already cheating on his wife he’s planning to.

      • Apidae: I don’t see this couple anymore to tell. I only brought a few long-time girlfriends into my new life. The couple friends either wanted to be Switzerland, the wives were nervous around me being single or they wanted to set me up with any single man that still lived with his mother. And for sure, he was cheating on his wife!

  • There were quite a few that knew about Skankella. My ex I later found out double dated with Skankella’s BFF and husband. Our mechanic and his wife. Skankell’s daughter and her boyfriend. I am sure there are more. Not any of those lowlifes told me. Can you imagine double dating with your friend and their married boyfriend and think nothing of it? All those people were accomplices. My ex was telling them that I was a hateful bitch with mental problems. That I refused to work and left the house a mess. And we did not have sex for years. He failed to tell them that I earned more money than him. I paid all the bills while he stashed his cash. I did all the household chores including the outside work.
    After Dday I started telling everyone that he cheated on me with my cousin. That he did not contribute much to the bills etc. He became angry and demanded that I stop telling people. Because it was not their business and it was between him and I. I told him that I do not have to keep his secret and I will tell anyone I see fit.
    I fired are mechanic period. And cut ties with everyone who conspired behind my back. The best thing to do is cut ties with anyone who knew and choose not to tell you. They are not your friends.

  • I realize a great many people are Switzerland friends or like to be Esther Perel’s brand of cool.
    One of my closest friends got cheated on in the worst way possible. Basically in the middle of the pandemic, her ex-FW moved into her place to isolate socially together (at that time, he was already cheating on her with the OW who broke up his first marriage). 6 months later, he packed his bags and moved out without a word or explanation into OW’s place. My friend tested positive for two STDs and had to anxiously wait for her (fortunately negative) HIV test results. so much trauma.
    Anyway her ex-FW and his OW are still together (they are living together and bought an apartment together). and I am simply astounded by how many of our common friends (including very close friends of mine) just accepted it or sometimes justify it with “he didn’t end the relationship the right way but everyone can see OW is a much better fit for him”… or sometimes they justify it by saying they are realists “the world is not fairy tales and cheating happens”
    truly shows you the moral caliber of people and how everyone wants to go along what is easy, rather than what is right

    • Yeah and if it ever happens to them then it would could come into sharp view how god damn awful this actually is.

      Hate the way it’s totally excused like oops bit of a mistake there on your way to true happiness but who could deny you that? Ugh.

    • > “he didn’t end the relationship the right way but everyone can see OW is a much better fit for him”

      Yeah, because they’re both vile pieces of shit.

  • Yes, the cheater had the advantage of spoiling the well first, putting friends / family in an awkward position.

    Smear campaigns are real.
    “Frigid, not clean, cheated first, still cheating, too depressed, something wrong with chumps body, druggie, drinks too much, refuses to work etc” who knows what.

    I had x’s extended family for 30 years of family love and life, ups and downs, deaths and births. Whatever he told them they dropped me and mine and I get the cold shoulder. Fukk em.
    One dear family couple remains civil but who knows what they think about me given the reactions of the others.
    The whole thing stinks. And so fuck those who want to believe liar x. But it’s a shit sandwich.

    • Yes, his family, the people I considered family after 25 years. His sister who was in our wedding and I was in hers. I considered her the sister I never had, refused to talk to me when I called after Dday. She told cheater to ask me to quit calling. Evidently she knew he was cheating and planning to leave before I found out.
      I’ve never been more disappointed and humiliated.

  • Cheating aside, making amends would require that he clean up every single lie he told about me, in the presence of me and the person he lied to. Of course that would never happen.

    And those who had believed him, sided with and didn’t say anything to me would still be dropped. They failed the friend test.

    I encounter people who are shocked to hear we have parted because to he raved to them about how much he loved me and our family. Or he explained that we split up, listing defects either untrue or things he never said to me, and saying nothing about cheating. I have yet to encounter anyone who knew and didn’t tell me, and it’s something I wonder about. They would be forever on my no-fly list.

    • “Cheating aside, making amends would require that he clean up every single lie he told about me, in the presence of me and the person he lied to. Of course that would never happen.”

      This is where I’m at, too. And I don’t even know if/what lies were told about me. I just know that the deception by him and silence from his family suggest this might be the case. Since he never showed any insight or remorse for his actions during our 30 year marriage, it’s definitely not going to happen.

      We all still live in the same small town, so I have periodic fantasies. Also, not sure how to include this in my sober, resentment inventory.

      • 34.5 years sober here— this is how I’d put it on the 4th step:

        Who: XH
        What: smeared me
        Affects: personal relations
        My reaction: fear, self interest

        The 4th column is simply an observation of whatever completely normal human reactions you experienced regarding the issue.

        Best wishes on a long sober life! (Free of cheating fuckwits and their cohorts!)

    • I don’t think these guys are running around telling everyone they cheated. It’s always – we grew apart, dead bedroom, bad fit, so difficult, and oh by the way I was driven to an affair and have you met my new girlfriend?

  • Let’s see…I stopped loving her years go, I was argumentative, emotionally unavailable, stingy, patronizing, selfish, self absorbed, sloppy, lazy, oh….and we both agreed it was time to part ways. The truly sad thing was, thanks to the RIC I actually came to believe all of this about myself to the point of wanting to end my life.

    • Yes … I was passive aggressive, emotionally not available, apparently withdrawn and un-attentive and a list of other things … and at the beginning when smoking the hopium pipe I sucked it all up and believed that BS … all I can say that my life is 100% better since she left the house and the divorce …

      • Cheater told me he was seriously concerned for my mental well being. He almost had me convinced I was losing my mind. He’d say things then later deny saying them. I’d try to help him remember the conversation. I was trusting and naive and he continued to take advantage of me.
        It’s actually frightening to look back and see things for what they were.
        It was entertaining for him to see me grovel. He wanted me to think I was losing my mind and who knows how that could have ended if I had felt like I had.

  • It’s a hard thing but it is also is a learning moment. I had to walk away from a crowd of conspirators. I was proud of myself for taking that step.

    Best friends from college who were the Switzerland crowd kept inviting me to things. I had to confront (vs “friends” I could just drop). I used this line:

    “I don’t know how to be friends with people who are friends with with X”

    • Talk One, my response is similar: “I don’t feel comfortable being friends with people who are still in touch with ex.” And, depending on the situation, I also say: “Friends of *mine* are *not* friends with FW.” I actually remind myself of this sometimes, too.

  • Not judgy at all. It was a gut check moment for them that they failed. It was their shining moment to show what they were made of…and they did, and it isn’t good.

  • Several incidents in my life have taught me that people in general do not like to be discommoded. They don’t want to be inconvenienced, they don’t want the upset, they don’t want the fallout. They learn something that ought to require them to speak up–a theft, a betrayal like cheating, etc. But rather than do the right thing, the thing that may cause discomfort to them, they remain silent, convincing themselves that it’s not their problem, not their place to speak, not their responsibility, or otherwise has nothing to do with them. They do this while simultaneously self-righteously convincing themselves they are good (ethical) people.

    I don’t control them. But I do see what I see, judge them according to their (lack of) action, and then act accordingly myself in relation to them. Sometimes this means keeping them at arm’s length as casual friends but not cutting all ties, but sometimes, as with a betrayal like this, of knowing about the cheating but not saying anything, it means dropping them entirely. It’s a rare person who has the courage to do what’s right; those are the people I like and admire, and want as friends.

  • Fraudster told people I had become irrationally jealous, my brain had deteriorated, that I was waving a gun around, was violent, and to stay away from me for their own safety. As far as I know, only one person asked why he left our young grandchild with me when he left, if I was so unstable.

    The abandonment and betrayal of close friends was excruciating. When I discovered his financial abuse, he beat me to the ground and assaulted our middle-school age grandson when he tried to intervene to protect me. I didn’t realize til later that I was unconscious, although I didn’t understand how my grandson had moved from where my ex had flung him at the far side of the room, to the hall on the opposite side, without me seeing him move. Grandson was screaming that he was going to call 911. I told him to call our best friends instead.

    They showed up and immediately went to work on me, telling me not to call the police because, they claimed, there was no proof of who hit who and we’d both be arrested, and grandson would be left all alone. I told her what had happened, while he helped my now-ex pack. I had bruises all over my arms and a huge bleeding lump on my head. They never suggested I get medical care, instead saying I’d be fine. And the wife, for some reason, said repeatedly that the house would be too much for me to manage on my own, so I should start working on getting rid of stuff and move into a small apartment.

    My grandson repeatedly blamed himself and me for not calling 911 as he wanted to do, and I explained that we were in shock from the violence, I had a concussion, and he was a child and did what I told him to do in calling our friends. He stunned me by asking me what was their excuse? Why hadn’t they called police? That’s when I realized that what they had done was also unforgivable. Everything they did was in my ex’s best interest.

    I suspect they knew for a long time. The check he used to pay his half of taxes the next year had his name but their address on it, and from the check number, well into the hundreds, I suspect he had been using their address to hide his financials for years. I also suspect that some of the weekend trips he took with the husband for “music business” were trips he took for cheating, but there’s no way to know.

    Another couple, one of them a friend since middle school, emailed me that they no longer wanted contact because they didn’t want to be in the middle. Friendships of 40 to 50 years were gone without my knowledge. So were the holiday traditions of decades, because those were the couples we celebrated with, either at our house or theirs. That’s very hard to rebuild.

    He also got his story in first to our Sunday services group. When I reached out to the leaders months later, they looked at all the evidence I had, and believed me. She was the one who had asked him why he left our child with me if I was so dangerous. They became a tremendous support to both of us.

    Although most of my social circle melted away, two women who had not been close friends stepped up to be the best friends I could want. Other casual friends acquaintances helped in many ways. And the kindness of strangers stunned me.

  • The only people I think knew or know are ones I would never want to keep as friends in a million years. As far as I can tell, only his flying monkey sister and narcissistic, AH friend ever knew or should have known. He tried to keep his behavior away from all the good, upstanding people we know. After the last D-day and his sudden announcement that he would like me to “find (my) own place to live,” I let his behavior be known in drips and dribbles to my closest friends. And then came outpouring not only of support but of the many ways they saw he was an AH (but not the cheating). And in the last year, his controlling behavior came on full display to four friends.

    I’m literally surrounded by guardian angels. Need an emergency phone in case he kicks you out unexpectedly? Here you go. It’s on my family plan and you owe me nothing. Need some $ for your retainer? Need a place to stay? Want me to hold your grandmother’s ring so he doesn’t try to steal it? Just need an ear to listen to you vent? We’re here! Those are the kind of friends I have. They know how vile he is and abusive. I didn’t have to tell them about his non-cheating awful behavior as they witnessed it first hand. They offered to testify to what they have seen. I feel like if I lose every other friend I have, I am so happy just to have this core of people – men and women – who agree that cheating is repulsive and are as eager for klootzak to go away as I am. I might have chosen a FW spouse but I chose great friends. SIL and his narc friend were never my friends, anyway, so no loss there.

    But speaking of friends, I do worry that I will burn out my friends hearing the drama of my divorce. I think I recall someone mentioning having a divorce coach so you can bend someone’s ear without wasting your attorney’s time. I did a quick search online in my area and only found one who wanted $12,000 up front. Holy cow, are they really that expensive? If so I’ll just keep those dollars for my attorney and get used to screaming into a pillow as an emotional outlet. Is there a good resource for finding such people or do I just resign myself to sitting in a counselor’s chair? I anticipate needing to vent like mad rather than needing to do psychological work.

    • My health insurance includes mental health coverage so that my copay for a 55 minute session with my very excellent therapist is $30. You might want to check out your policy and find a counselor that will be the girlfriend/life coach you vent to in the short term. Then if you decide to do deeper work, they’ll already know you.

    • Talk to your attorney – they almost certainly know of counselors or coaches who can help you and won’t drain your wallet.

    • I know I was burning people out and they were experiencing compassion fatigue. It turned out I had many supporters and almost no one sided with my ex, he simply walked away from almost everyone in his life. But my dday and separation happened in 2020 when life was difficult for everyone and I think I was extra needy. Eventually I wanted to be there to support my friends and family and not talk about myself constantly. So I started some therapy and I also started expressing myself on the chumplady nation FB page and here. It helped me tremendously. I still reach out to friends if I am really struggling but sometimes I post my feelings on that FB page and I usually get an immediate response from someone so I don’t feel so alone.

  • Frenamies are a thing, even in middle age. I cut every single Switzerland or conspirator out of my life since Dday. I also noticed all the other relationships I had that were not reciprocal. I stopped doing what I was doing and never heard from those vampires again— unless they wanted something 🤦‍♀️. Some of these are blood relatives. So what? They suck. It’s been 8 years. My circle is small but good. Life is WAY better.

  • After the loss of our child my ex husband suddenly abandoned me. We got back together a year later but in that time he’d dated someone. This was bad enough but what I didn’t know was once we were back together he got back with her and cheated on me for another 2 years.

    He created a whole double life, and this was made easier by the fact we were living overseas. So friends and family back home he never told we were back together – instead he told them we were getting divorced and he was now dating the AP. He discouraged people from saying anything to me, painting me as the angry ex and “you know what she’s like!” which I guess meant I was just a horrible person. He discouraged me from talking to anyone because he needed “time and space” while him and I were working things out. Just so many lies to keep his two worlds apart.

    I am so angry at the people he told about his AP who never said anything to me or asked any questions. I must’ve said strange things to people like “my husband and I are trying to work things out” and yet people never thought to say anything? They all acted shocked he was cheating but how could they not have put 2 and 2 together.

    • “how could they not have put 2 and 2 together”
      The same way you didn’t put it together. These lying liars are very convincing- don’t take it personally.

  • At my wedding, my sister learned that my new (second) husband had been married 4 times, not 2 as he’d originally told all of us. A very drunk relative of his made a comment under his breath that my sister caught and quietly confirmed. She told her husband about this conversation but never shared anything with me. After D-day sixteen months later when I was uncovering lie after lie, I also found out about this betrayal. From my brother-in-law “what could we say you just got married?” From my sister “how could I tell you?” She could have told our mother who would have found a way to break it to me as my mother was starting to suspect that my new husband was becoming abusive. I still had kids at home.

    I could and should have been armed with this information early on in our marriage when the emotional abuse started. Not when I was beat down a year later. I’m not sure I would have given cheater that second chance to get “help” – another 5 months on the trauma rollercoaster courtesy of the RIC who turned a blind eye when he escalated to physical abuse.

    During the months I was going through the divorce, I couldn’t have anything to do with my sister. I couldn’t speak to her or see her. Slowly a relationship has come back but it’s nothing like it was. She’s never apologized and I don’t expect she ever will. She truly believes she didn’t have a choice but that I did in choosing to marry the cheater. She’s still family but no longer a friend.

  • As far as I know, x and his AP kept their multiyear affair secret. Supposedly, no one knew. I asked some of his co-workers, and they insist they, too, were in the dark. I have to think that the secrecy might have been part of the naughty fun for x and schmoops. They were so careful that they didn’t even eat at a restaurant!! Imagine that. Post D-Day, x had the nerve to whine about this TO ME, HIS WIFE. To think, they had to order room service or get takeout. Waaa. 🎻

    Some Swiss friends emerged post D-Day.
    There was the nurse who said, “I love you both.”
    And FW’s mother who, only weeks after D-Day, told me to forgive and “get over it.” On one occasion, while we sat at a restaurant after I had taken her to her doctor’s appointment (I know, I know 🤦🏻‍♀️), she sang “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” to drown me out as I was tearfully describing my pain and pointing out that her son showed an incredible lack of character and sense of entitlement.

    But, overall, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that so many of our friends and family seem disgusted with x. He blames me for poisoning our adult kids against him, but I would imagine he’s having a tough time explaining why so many others, including nieces and nephew ON HIS SIDE OF THE FAMILY are giving him the cold shoulder. They’ve invited me to their weddings, for instance, and not him. Colleagues run the other way. No doubt I’m still to blame–and who knows what lies he spreads–but a lot of people don’t seem to be picking up what he’s putting down.

    Caveat (cuz I’m a chump and have learned this much): I’m sure there’s a lot I don’t know. So maybe many of his collegues aren’t running the other way and do buy into whatever-the-hell narrative he peddles. So be it. There’s nothing I can do about that.

    But, in general, the people who matter have always known me to be decent and kind and have known FW to be a bit of a prick. Sometimes you reap what you sow.

    He feels unjustly punished.

    He has substituted not only another woman for me but her kids for our kids. It’s as if the entire cast of characters in his life walked off the set and has been replaced with a new group. Maybe he’s fine with that.

    Sometimes I wonder if AP-now-Wife is starting to “get it,” to understand that it wasn’t Spinach after all who is to blame for everything, that x is no prize, that I couldn’t possible be controlling all these people.

    Eh, who cares?

  • Who knew? The most deplorable are the ones who involved their children in keeping their secret. It’s a child abuser of another level with life long consequences for a child. Limited brought five and three year old to multiple OW homes, play with AP’s children while they screwed. Guilty are the cheaters and every last one of their possy in the harm of children. They knew and provided cover. Whatever the narrative that was used there is no excuse for lying to support anyones lack of morals.

  • I’ve always felt that there’s something inherently manipulative going on when someone shares a secret, with either an express or implied caution that the information isn’t to be shared with a third person (always someone likely to be deeply wounded by the secret as well as the preception that their friends are not truly their friends). This is particularly true when the individual receiving this information never asked for it in the first place. It forces you to “take sides” in a way you never chose, either by your action or your inaction.

    Honestly, I do blame these Switzerland friends, but I also know they might be ashamed of their own cowardice.

  • I also found in my case of my now XH that he liked to converse with people in both of our lives so he knew what was going on. It’s easier to be a cheater and a liar if you have information from other sources. It’s easier to make up stories if you know what others are doing l. Information is key to these lying cheating manipulaters

  • There are also people who don’t tell because they are afraid the chump will “kill the messenger” – especially if the FW has taken the precaution of poisoning the well first. And let’s be blunt that as part of spackling, some chumps DO lash out at friends who are trying to help.

    Personally I do think it’s better to tell, and if the chump lashes out, well, they don’t need me as a friend anymore because they can cuddle up with their FW. But I understand why people who are trying to do the right thing may fumble on this one.

    • Apidae,
      Very true, your point about killing the messenger. But also true that if the person told doesn’t believe you, they will have to live with their choice. I told the woman my now-ex got involved recently with about his secret life, on the principle that if I’d known about it, I would have married him, and I thought she should have the truth, and she didn’t believe me. Ok, I thought. But at least I warned you. And at least I could respect myself for making sure she had the information I could give her.

      • Oh, rats. Big typo with change of meaning. I mean “on the principle that if I’d known about it I would NOT have married him.”

    • Apidae very true. And if you have a narc on your hands, it is likely they have used the same manipulation tactics with third parties ~ primarily eliciting a sympathy response by making out they are the victim. Narcs are very good at what they do.

    • Yep, thanks for that insight. One of my good friends had a fuckwit who was cheating on her. I knew it. And I told her as gently as I could. She ripped me up one side and down the other. Refused to ever speak to me again, even when she was divorcing him. Not every chump is grateful to find out.

  • Add me to the legions of sexless , mentally disturbed alcoholics , lol. I had many other flaws too (feeding the dog bologna will always be my cherished favorite), of course. Four years later I think some of the Switzerland team are realizing I’m the one still employed, happily managing the same big house on my own income, has a horse, etc, while he is currently couch surfing. I must just be uniquely high functioning despite my many debilitating issues. 😆. But to the larger point, Team Switzerland gets civil politeness when necessary, but nothing else. Anyone willing to believe the above nonsense is never going to be trustworthy.

  • No Stacy. You were groomed by your emotionally abusive mother to be a keeper of secrets. This is quite different to third parties who enable infidelity abuse by colluding with FWs.

    • This…totally this.^^^^ I’m so sorry you had to find your way out of these toxicities through hard lessons instead of stable nurturing.

    • Thank you, Weedfree. You’re right about my role as secret keeper. One of the first things I remember my mother telling me when I was 5 was “This is not for publication”

  • That answer was perfection. I can’t add a thing, so I will just reiterate; anybody who knew and now treats you like the you have the plague is a POS. They should be apologetic, like that one friend is. But they are too arrogant and full of themselves to even admit what they did was wrong, so they avoid you. To hell with them.

  • Not your fault, Stacy. You were a teenager who never should have been put in a position to make an adult choice. Plus you were groomed and threatened by an abuser. Your mother is entirely to blame.

    When I was 19, my mother actually tried to fob off one of her much younger (20 something) exes on me. She was not abusive in general, and I do believe she had no idea it was wrong to involve me. It didn’t even occur to her that exposing me to her extramarital activities might be painful. At the time, she treated me more like a buddy than a daughter. It was bad parenting, she was desperately in need of therapy, and it was a massive failure of empathy. I do not believe she knew it was cruel. OTOH, a woman who uses threats to silence you knows she is doing wrong and cannot fail to know she is being cruel.

  • The people that FW told were our 16 and 14 year old children. The 16 year old he made his confidant, including bringing him along to spy on the AP when FW thought she was cheating on him with her previous AP (she was married and continues to be married). Both kids were sworn to secrecy, and FW had impressed upon them that I had treated him really badly, so he was entitled to some happiness, despite them never having witnessed any sign of said unhappiness previously. That was pretty special. My favourite revelation was that he had told our 16 year old son that I had refused to have sex with him for years (complete lie), even though he had begged me, with “tears in his eyes.” When my son finally revealed all, he was totally ridden with guilt, because he thought that, by “helping” his dad by listening and giving him the advice FW was asking for (he was SIXTEEN!), he had doomed our marriage. It took a while for both kids to de-toxify from that garbage situation.

    • That really is scraping the bottom of the barrel, to enlist your son as your “confidant” and tell baseless lies about you to your son. So sorry for you and your two children.

  • I just had a rare dream in which my ex-BIL told me FW was not in good shape – ailing with a bad back. And when I asked “Can’t schmoopie help him feel better?” I was told that relationship appeared to be over. Since I am no contact with all involved, I’ll attribute the dream to hopium smoke tendrils.

  • I learned that idle “Swiss” bystanders tend to be as destructive as abusers from my time as a bullied school kid and then as a harassment-magnet in college and during my former career in a narc-filled industry. I now hate bystanders and facilitators more than I hate actual perpetrators.

    The actual perpetrators often do very badly in the long run. Sometimes it goes beyond schadenfreude and into wince and cringe territory. One school bully who made my life hell for a summer lost his leg during a drunken dare to jump on a moving train several years later. Another drove drunk off a cliff during a ski trip. And I was reading about one particularly vicious high school bully who verbally attacked me out of the blue in front of a school assembly when I was in first grade because he didn’t like my hand-me-down clothes and said something like “tramps should be sent to camps.” As an adult, he was busted for running an S&M brothel out of his swanky townhouse, ended up in a psych ward and in endless legal battles with his late mogul father’s company.

    But so many bystanders seem to keep worming along in their cowardly, passive-aggressive ways. After a horrible former boss ended up in headlines for multiple reports of rape and died soon after, his evil lackeys took over and apparently the company is as creepy and awful a place to work as it ever was. Then one of the flying monkey allies of a workplace stalker I prosecuted as an intern just got a minor award for his documentary work in LA. His work is mediocre drivel but he’s now getting kudos for staying power, which tells the whole story. Rats and cockroaches are enduring.

    Anyway, this is why I don’t spare negative bystanders when I’m forced to deal with bullies, including anyone who aids, abets or spins apologias on behalf of domestic abusers.

  • You have nothing to be ashamed of. You were not stupid and your FW is not karma. Please don’t blame yourself – you were a kid being emotionally and financially blackmailed by a cheater who had power over you. You do NOT owe an apology to your stepfather – who was himself an affair partner of your mom’s at one point, and unlike you, was free to act on what he knew about her character.

    Please, please put down this guilt. You are NOT anything like a friend who sees a co-equal adult friend cheating and thinks “eh, not my problem.”

    • Thank you, Apidae. I was carrying the guilt because I didn’t feel like a kid. From the time I was 9, she basically left me alone to fend for myself. She was usually out trolling for the next ex. Her fourth husband died last year. I’m convinced she’ll get another, although she’s 83 now and not in the best shape.

  • I nearly wrote to CL recently with what felt like a dilemma but was actually just a bummer. I have a new friend in my new community. People are very friendly here, but they stay in their lanes socially — especially if you aren’t married and don’t have a family of your own. This friend is one of the only people who has made an effort and invited me out, and we are great outdoor adventure buddies. She also recently went through a divorce with a guy who seems abusive (not just from what she says), so I’ve tried to be supportive without getting involved. We started hanging out more last summer, but then earlier this winter, when we were on an overnight trip together, she divulged that she cheated after (??) the separation — with her ex’s best friend, when she was “really vulnerable” and needed help from a man. I told my friend then that I’m not cool with cheating and also that she can do much better than being the OW with a lying, cheating FW — but I didn’t get into it more because I didn’t want to deal. (The rest of the trip secretly sucked for me though.)

    The cheater man’s chumped wife knew at that point (unfortunately, she’s giving him another chance) because a friend found out and told him that if he didn’t tell his wife, she would. After that, he dropped my friend and threatened her to keep quiet, but i get the feeling that several local folks know what’s going on. It’s a very small, rural, close-knit community, and they are all close and have kids the same ages. To make matters even worse, I do temp work for both of my friend’s ex-husband’s sisters — one of whom hates the woman, the other who is alarmingly apologist. It’s really ugly, and my friend feels sorry for herself and seems to feel no remorse. Classic cheater/FW/OW BS. I don’t know HOW, after leaving my own home and community because of cheating and abuse, I managed to find myself here.

    After I learned about the affair, I stopped reaching out to her and have managed to avoid hanging out. I don’t know the couple involved and am not part of their social scene, so that’s ok, though still awkward in a small town where the last thing I want is to be associated with a cheater. More importantly, I do not want to be friends with her on principle. I can’t. So I didn’t write to CL for advice, after all, because I knew what to do. I just didn’t want to, because this woman really was a friend and hasn’t done anything to me personally. I just can’t trust her and don’t want to condone abuse. She texted me earlier this week to say she knew the affair made me uncomfortable and that she wouldn’t/shouldn’t talk to me about it, but that she really missed hanging out and wondered if there were any other reasons I was avoiding her. So, I told her the truth: I’m really busy and kind of a hermit, and… she wasn’t imagining things; my own life and small community were devastated by my ex’s cheating, and I’m still really struggling as a result. It’s not something I want to be around. A little sad and annoying, but after letting go of old friends and even some family, it actually wasn’t a big deal.

  • I’m noticing very few examples of actual conversations with people who knew about the cheating. People really do avoid it – it’s like deciding someone else will perform the CPR when the guy at the mall has a heart attack. If it’s so terrible to report the behavior, why is the behavior so accepted?

  • I have the info on one of klootzak’s OW. She is married. I found their address online. I can’t find an email for the chump husband or anything. Would like to let him know his wife is cheating. I did this once years ago but in that case, I actually had the husband’s email and used a burner email account to notify him. Not sure how to get the message to the chump husband without it being caught by the OW wife.

    Too bad there isn’t a hotline “Inform a Chump Network” where you could call it in and they would reach the chump and let them know. lol But seriously, he should be made aware. He lives 4 hours away and all I have is the address. I don’t know this person but boy I wish someone had told me.

    • What’s stopping you from letting this man know he’s being duped/scammed/abused ? Send him a letter recommending Tracy’s book and this website’s address. Post it from a different town from where you reside. And then let go of the outcome.

  • I’m sure this will be an unpopular opinion, but shooting the messenger is a very real thing. More than 20 years ago, one of my aunts informed another aunt that her husband was cheating on her. Betrayed aunt stayed with her cheating husband and took her anger out on her sister. Their relationship has been strained ever since. D*mned if you do, d*mned if you don’t. Not everyone ~wants to know~ that their spouse is cheating. IMO it’s better to stay out of it. If the cheater is that sloppy, assume that the betrayed partner either (1) already knows, or (2) will soon find out on their own.

  • I was also an alcoholic, mentally disturbed, frigid, bad mother, bad housekeeper, neglectful, raging lunatic.
    People I considered my friends not only didn’t tell me but covered for Cheater. Example: Cheater bought me an expensive car for my birthday. He made sure all our friends knew he had bought me this car for my birthday. Friends wanted me to give the rides in the car which I did.
    When we went to court cheater said I forced him to buy me this car and the car wasn’t a gift, that he needed to be reimbursed for the cost of the car.
    Judge said all I needed to do was find one person who would back me up the it was bought as a birthday gift.
    Everyone we knew suddenly came down with amnesia. They knew I had a new car but didn’t know it was for my birthday.
    I had to pay for the expensive car I didn’t want in the first place. I had no income. Cheater is an airline pilot.
    So what do I say to these people? Absolutely nothing. I don’t talk to any of them.
    A couple have made attempts to speak to me in the grocery store and I look past them.
    They don’t deserve my friendship or casual conversation.

  • An update from Ivy.
    I’m just getting around to reading this – thank you CL for reposting. The really sad thing about my update is that the REAL reason my “friend” who cried didn’t tell me is because she was, at the time also cheating, and my xFW knew – though I didn’t. She was afraid of being busted. She is now divorced, and married to another guy (not her AP, who has died). They have moved to another state, so, thankfully, I am not faced with the awkward situation of having to be polite.

    In the shoe-being-on-the-other-foot, when I found out about her affair, her xAP (she had ended it) was in stage 4 cancer. His wife, who faithfully loved him, was already dealing with his upcoming death and impending widowhood. He died 4 months after I found out. I have kept my mouth shut. There is nothing his wife can do to change anything, at this point. Am I rationalizing for myself, or for her? If she were to ask me, point-blank, if I knew if he had cheated, I would answer honestly about what I knew/heard from “realizable sources”. But reaching out to tell her seems, at this point, an unnecessary cruelty.

    In the meantime, I have some wonderful supportive true friends, and I have CN. To know I have not walked through this alone has been, and continues to be, monumental. THANK YOU!

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