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UBT: ‘I Had a Moment of Weakness As a Fragile, Broken Human’

Universal Bullshit Translator
The Universal Bullshit Translator

Hey there, Chump Lady.

I’ve got a few texts from my FW’s big apology day that may be good fodder for the Universal Bullshit Translator:

“I never left you and the family. I made several bad choices in a row, but it did not mean that I gave up!

I had a moment of weakness as a fragile and broken human being. It was selfish of me, but holy shit Chump, I got pulled back from that flame and saw the light and I know what I want and it is YOU and OUR family! Nothing else.

I have the power to apologize, to show remorse, and to commit to change.

You have the power to forgive and allow me to prove my love and devotion to only you.

And now more than ever I feel more ready, capable, or able to be the best partner I can and should be for you.”

And here’s one more doozy he sent me a week after D-Day when I was still trying for reconciliation and a sobbing mess:

“I was thinking about something today. It was weird because I was kinda in a good mood, and I thought why am I feeling good when this horrible situation is happening.

It’s because I finally after all these years was able to come clean to you and open up about how I was feeling, rather than hide my feelings in an attempt to keep us together.

It’s because of this openness that I feel at peace with you and in GREATER love with you because I found out that you truly have loved me this whole time, even when I thought you couldn’t stand to be near me.

Do you know how much that jacked with my emotions. I constantly felt disrespected by you.

And then to now find out that you loved me so much after all the crap, it just melts my heart.”


The Chump Who Melts Hearts


Dear Heart Melter,

Wow. That’s a lot of mindfuckery before breakfast. I’ve been on vacation, so the Universal Bullshit Translator has just been lounging about, more recalcitrant than usual about getting to work.

“Hey! We have a broken, fragile cheater here who needs understanding!”


“Get off your rusty quarter panels and start translating!”

Surly stare.

“There’s Lebkuchen in it for you.”


“If you don’t get back to work, I’ll sell you for scrap. Or feed you to a can opener.”

Look of mild outrage.

(I wave the can opener menacingly.)

Groink of resignation.

“I never left you and the family. I made several bad choices in a row, but it did not mean that I gave up!

I never left you and the family, I’m right here on the sofa texting my mistress wondering where my dinner is. I didn’t give up! Pass the gravy.

Okay, so I made several bad choices in a row. That happens!

Brexit — several bad choices in a row.

Subprime mortgage crisis — several bad choices in a row.

The fall of the Roman empire — several bad choices in a row, plus barbarians.

The point is, I’m here. And my gravy is cold. Get on that.

I had a moment of weakness as a fragile and broken human being.

Fragile and weak, one moment. Yet an asshole 24/7.

It was selfish of me,

Enjoy this nugget of lucidity. A qualifier is sure to follow.


There it is.

holy shit Chump, I got pulled back from that flame and saw the light and I know what I want and it is YOU and OUR family! Nothing else.

Just my dinner. And my Schmoopies. And warm gravy.

I would’ve made more Bad Choices, but I saw the light! The light of the flame I was pulled back from. My metaphors are mixed, my mindfuckery is sloppy, but I know one thing — I am selfish. I want NO CONSEQUENCES!

I have the power to apologize, to show remorse, and to commit to change.

I also have the power to sign post-ups, give fair divorce settlements, or offer you a lump-sum buy out and respectfully co-parent our children. But I offer none of those tangibles. I got words. Apologies! Apoplexies of remorse! Behold this confusing email! And promises — nay COMMITMENTS — to change! I’m a man who takes my commitments seriously, as you can tell by my Several Bad Choices in a Row. Our marriage vows? Oops! I have the power to apologize. And commit. And apologize again.

Whizz goes the mindfuck blender.

You have the power to forgive and allow me to prove my love and devotion to only you.

We’re equal, really. Powers united in the wonderfulness of me.

And now more than ever I feel more ready, capable, or able to be the best partner I can and should be for you.”

I’m ready now to be a husband. I don’t know what I’ve been doing these last dozen years, making children with you, sharing a home, and filing joint income taxes — but I’ve searched my heart and I’m ready to avoid child support.


“I was thinking about something today. It was weird because I was kinda in a good mood, and I thought why am I feeling good when this horrible situation is happening.

Who created this horrible situation? I don’t know. Clouds. The woke mob. Goblins. Point is, why let it ruin my good mood?

It’s because I finally after all these years was able to come clean to you and open up about how I was feeling, rather than hide my feelings in an attempt to keep us together.

I wasn’t cheating, I was hiding my feelings in an attempt to keep us together. You should thank me really.

It’s because of this openness that I feel at peace with you and in GREATER love with you because I found out that you truly have loved me this whole time, even when I thought you couldn’t stand to be near me.

Your pick-me dance is truly exhilarating. I wonder what other humiliations I can inflict upon you to feel your love?

It’s only telling you how I fuck strange that I can feel MORE in love with you! I thought you couldn’t stand me, so instead of asking you about that, I very considerately crafted dating profiles. To think you loved me the whole time I was dipping my wick in the STD slop bucket of Tinder! Mind blown.

Do you know how much that jacked with my emotions. I constantly felt disrespected by you.

I constantly disrespect you and jack with your emotions. DARVO, Darling.

And then to now find out that you loved me so much after all the crap, it just melts my heart.”

Whenever I’m feeling wobbly, I’ll just manufacture more crap for you to love me through.

What matters, is that you love me so much. You, the mean, mean disrespectful withholding shrew who wouldn’t touch me with a barge pole. You! You LOVE me!

I have said nothing about me loving you, or why I love you, or our family. Just that I saw the light that I WANT you and our family. Now that you’re not all horrible, jacking with my emotions and disrespecting me with cold gravy.

Melt my heart. With a flamethrower. Or a garbage incinerator. Blow it to smithereens like it was Dresden. Cremate my heart and sprinkle it on soft-serve ice cream sundaes. Throw it on a funeral pyre. Pour gasoline on the flames and singe off your eyebrows. Explode it in a microwave. Melt it like maple tree sap and pour it over pancakes. I LOVE ME! I’m melting!

(The UBT has expired. Send cookies.)

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • FW: It was selfish of me,
    UBT: Enjoy this nugget of lucidity. A qualifier is sure to follow.
    FW: but
    UBT: There it is.

    Priceless — thank you UBT. Welcome back from vacation.

    To the Chump That Melts Hearts— glad you shared. Although there’s plenty of mumbo jumbo word salad in there, FW’s letter is a prime example of how chumps get manipulated into staying.

    Some friends, family and shit RIC types will say “He’s trying! He’s apologizing! You need to forgive!” But after seeing so many versions of these idiotic FW letters, experienced chumps see it for what it is — bullshit. Words are easy. Liars lie… so it’s not hard to lie some more on paper/email/text… and while they are at it, FWs love to throw in some digs, DARVO and self pity. Thank you for sending it through for the UBT to slice apart.

    To the new chumps, please take heed. If you read that letter and felt any pity for FW, or thought “maybe she should try”…. Please stay with Chump Nation so you can see how those letters lead to nothing but more wasted time for chumps.

    • I truly thought mine was trying during our 2 year wreckonciliation, only to discover he was still trying to reach out to the AP through third parties. I proved my determination to reconcile through measurable actions. He only gave words and promises.

      When I discovered a note he was trying to get to the AP via a “friend”, that was it. I threw him out. Oh, the self pity! Oh, the apologies! I just didn’t understand! He needed contingencies!! Nevermind he didn’t think I should have similar contingencies.

      I told him I would allow him back only with a notarized post-nup. Turn on the freak-out mode. Consequences??? OMG!!! “I’m not ready!!” Suddenly he didn’t have the right words to draft a document that would protect me against his behavior.

      Whatever. Glad that is over.

      The UBT helped me so much that day, along with the first-aid of CN.

  • Wow. It’s just… “I was lying to you and cheating on you and I felt constantly disrespected by YOU.”

    WTF is wrong with them?

    • Oh my cheater was full of “shame” for his actions (sex workers, an actual “ransom” for her drug deal gone wrong) and didn’t wish to be reminded of them. [email protected] my feelings of hurt and dispbelief–think of HIS feelings. The sex worker *might* have chumped him; he can’t be faulted for thinking it was his one chance at true love. How dare I bring it up again? Don’t be a downer… UGH

    • Oh yeah KatiePig, mine was never even home, but somehow my neglect was to blame for him cheating. This is why we question our sanity – we know they’re not stupid, yet the things they say…

      • Which is why talking with a FW is useless. They lie. They obfuscate. They blame-shift. They manipulate. They use DARVO on us. All words. All useless in evaluating cheater remorse.

        Now a post-nuptial agreement or an agreement to separate for 6 months or respect for a no-contact request? That might mean something.

    • It honestly took me years to grasp what a personality disorder really is. I thought I understood, but I didn’t. How can anyone be this weird?

      Interestingly, I’ve gotten the same oddly similar comments about my ex-fuckwit lately from numerous people: “Is he brain damaged? There’s something wrong with him.”

  • He felt happy after the reveal because he felt a power high. He could make his partner tap dance. And cheating is just an impulse mistake just like stealing from the company’s coffers – it’s there, they want it, make all those plans and decisions to go there. It just happened like all by itself. The air BnB reservations just made themselves. But all better now that I got caught, right?

    Run. Run. Run. Run some more.

  • What a shit-stir, this email. Like ChatGPT had sex with Jon Lovitz’s Tommy Flanagan (the lying Guy on SNL in the 90s).

    Apparently dude has the power to minimize, to mislead, and to manipulate. #MetaphoricalMindfuckery. Hope Chump Who Melts Hearts has the Power of Crickets.

  • “I was thinking about something today. It was weird…” Eureka – a thought!

    As pathetic as this UBT submission is, I have to admit that in the wreckage of my own D-day I longed to hear something, anything that seemed remotely remorseful and got nothing more than “well we had a good run” and “I hardly know this woman, she means nothing to me, but I really want to see where it’s going to go”. I’m thankful for that now because it made it SO MUCH EASIER to be angry, disgusted and walk away (after 20 years with the slimeball).

    • Ditto, Hardworking Chump. I got, “our 20 years was a nice chapter.” F that! His chapter was my life! Made it that much easier to file.

  • Holy Melting Mindfuckery. This guy is all-time. He is loving the kibble fest of the Chump and the crisis he has caused.
    These texts are chilling.
    He is feeling “kinda in a good mood” and “feeling good” (sadistic much?) as he the power and control. Ugh. All.About.Him.
    Who cares about the devastated chump? That would be “weird” huh.
    The cheater has no heart to melt, just a ton of ego and off-the-charts hubris that should be incinerated. No remorse. Nice dollop of gaslighting on the chump disrespecting the cheater too. There are no words for his self described “crap”. Blaming the chump too. He is a total piece of work.

    • There was a thread about “red flags” for abuse on a subreddit and I remember one often repeated “red flag” was “turned on by crying.”

  • Those of us chumps who were never hoovered, who never received an admission of cheating or faux apology often had the additional burden of telling ourselves these stories.

    The two facts I clung to (with CN’s help) were that cheating wasn’t just one mistake and I didn’t cause it. No contact is really for ourselves.

  • “We’re equal, really. Powers united in the wonderfulness of me.”


    This post reminded me of a lady I once knew who wrote a song lyric about being with a self oriented jerk that included the line “I’m with you and you’re with you”. I think of that a lot, year after year.

    I also really recognize the familiar euphoria deceivers feel when the lie is out on the table. They describe it as a relief to stop lying, but all I see is the euphoric drug rush of centrality and control. When we are hurting from their actions, they feel the heady sense of everything-is-all-about-me that they treasure most. It’s universal and diabolical.

    “… united in the wonderfulness of me”. Yep. Exactly. Except for one pesky little detail — we have many OTHER options, and ZERO obligation to inform them ahead of time about our choices.

    Stuff that in your pipe and smoke it, Asshats.

    • “I also really recognize the familiar euphoria deceivers feel when the lie is out on the table. They describe it as a relief to stop lying, but all I see is the euphoric drug rush of centrality and control. When we are hurting from their actions, they feel the heady sense of everything-is-all-about-me that they treasure most. It’s universal and diabolical.”

      So much truth. My ex made the statement that he just wasn’t good at lying. By his own admission he had been lying for “ten” years. I submit he had likely been lying from our wedding night, now all of a sudden he wasn’t a good liar. He was an excellent liar. He had been lying to pretty much every one. Even his boss. (he did get demoted, and kicked out of his cushy office). She was his direct report that he had been screwing for at least three years. Then he brought the whore in as his employee, so she lied too, thus opening the PD up to a major law suit.

      Once someone dropped a dime, by filing an ethics complaint his house of cards started tumbling down, all of a sudden poor Sad Sack wasn’t a good liar.

    • Ah, yes. On DDay, after confessing everything in a public restaurant where I made everyone wildly uncomfortable by sobbing and crying as he destroyed my life, he finished up with, “Well! I know this won’t mean much to you but MAN! It sure does feel good to get that off my chest after all this time!” (He means the 7 years of cheating that I had 0 knowledge about.) I was blindsided, shocked and devastated but at least *he* felt better!

      • OMG I got some similar shit! Mine talked about how good it feels to come clean. But wait! He also added how nice it will be that we can still be best friends, raise our child together and bring the OW into our lives. WTF

  • I wanted to see what kind of letter Chatgpt would create for someone that was cheating. It is interesting and better than most. We chumps need to be guarded.

    Dear [Partner’s Name],

    I am writing this letter to express my deepest and most sincere apologies for cheating on our relationship. I know that what I did was wrong, hurtful, and completely unacceptable. I can only imagine the pain and heartbreak that my actions have caused you, and for that, I am truly sorry.

    I take full responsibility for my behavior and the damage that I have caused to our relationship. I know that trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship, and I have betrayed that trust. I want you to know that I am committed to making things right and earning back your trust and respect.

    Please know that I deeply regret my actions, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to make things right between us. I understand that forgiveness is not something that can be demanded or expected, but I am willing to work hard to earn it. I will do whatever it takes to prove to you that I am worthy of a second chance.

    I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me and allow us to work through this difficult time together. I value our relationship more than anything, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to make it work. I promise to be completely transparent and honest with you from this point forward.

    Once again, I am truly sorry for my actions. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do to make things right between us.


    [Your Name]

    • Ohhh interesting!!! Good point about Chat GPT! Lots of bullshit going to be created by it!

    • ChatGPT excels at creating formulaic responses, especially when it has a large pool of them to draw from. This isn’t a criticism of your experiment – just an observation of how rote and empty these apologies are.

    • Someone ask the robot this: “Should I rehire my accountant who once stole $1,000 from me? He apologized and promised never to do it again. Should I do my own accounting from now on or trust this former criminal instead? What is the decision that will make me most happy?”

    • I swear to gawd that I have received more or less this letter… pre-chatgpt… hmmm beta version?

  • As someone who received this from my then spouse: “we haven’t been connecting for awhile – here is a picture of my girlfriend & I’m going to be living with her to see if I will be happier with her. I’ll contact a lawyer to make arrangements about the kids, house, etc)….I guess I should be 1/10000000000 grateful that he was a straight-up asshole instead of carrying on the gaslighting. Of course, at this point he didn’t give a shit anymore to even try a non-apology like this one. If this even means he cares a bit? Nope. Probably not. It’s like that t-shirt usually little kids wear “it’s all about meeee”!

    • “’we haven’t been connecting for awhile'”–that’s some gaslight there. If you hadn’t been connecting because he’s having an affair, he’s trying to make you believe a false version of what happened. And had his little note included an amount for child support and the mortgage, it might have something of the ring of adulthood about it. Cheater communications are often just as revealing by what they don’t say.

  • OMG, I swear we were married to the same FW. When I found CL, I stopped the pick-me dance. He was horrified. He said, “I told you I was sorry! You should be rejoicing that I am staying with you! But what incentive do I have to be faithful if you are mean to me? You have to offer me a reward!” That was when I saw so clearly that in his mind, he was getting rewarded for cheating. He expected me to run around making all kinds of changes to meet his needs and keep him on the right path. I told him I didn’t want to keep a cheater.

    • I got the “I can be faithful if you will….” BS. He knew he had agreed to monogamy and then unilaterally (and secretly) decided he wanted to fuck other women. So in order for him to be faithful, I had to tend to his penis 4-5 hours every day (not kidding), do anal (can’t – I’ve tried), swallow, tell him constantly how splendid he is, work a full time job, and lose weight.
      That isn’t love.
      He never bothered to ask me how I would like him to change, though he knew I wanted him to keep our vows.

      • “So in order for him to be faithful, I had to tend to his penis 4-5 hours every day (not kidding), do anal (can’t – I’ve tried), swallow, tell him constantly how splendid he is, work a full time job, and lose weight.”

        😡 Rapey POS.

      • Yep… pretty much exactly how it was for my FW too. He told me he needed S&M sex every day. And he said he needed to be with someone who admired him and made lots of money. I told him I can’t admire someone who cheats.

        • Same. I was so vanilla! He said he needed someone who could do exactly what he wanted at all times. And he found one! Good luck to her.

    • Carol, omg me too! He typed a list. I tried to take it seriously but … Dude, maybe before you cheated on me…

  • “I got pulled back from that flame” is a weird way to say “I got caught”.

  • I think the ultimate sign that you will never, ever, ever fix things with a cheater is what you’ve got here: even in the middle of apology, there’s the turn to what you did wrong. They can’t help themselves. That’s why they’ll never be capable of the self-knowledge required to have a real adult relationship, and will continue thinking it’s a viable plan to “hide my feelings in an attempt to keep us together.”

    In my case, there was such a spirit of competition and “win” vs “lose” even in the fauxpology stage that my FW was only willing to talk about what she did wrong if we gave equal time to what I did wrong that “caused” her cheating. Had to level that playing field, in order to gain the advantage and eventually score the goal. I hope she’s enjoying her empty field.

    • This!!! So true for me, too. It’s a competition though you didn’t sign up for one, and the chump will not/can not ever be the winner within it.

    • Absolutely! If they don’t own up and flip everything on you, run. Bad behavior has to be called out.

    • I was blamed in MC for focusing too much on the kids. Cheating was my fault and due to this. When I asked well, with him traveling 90% of the time for work, who was going to raise 4 kids? All in locations very far from family & friend support.

      He then went for the, “I didn’t think you loved me!!!!”. My response in MC was essentially WTF kind of answer is THAT??! I said if I didn’t love him, I would have told him.

      After these 2 idiotic blamshifting statements AND an attempt to gaslight me during MC, he had 3 strikes and the MC told him he needed individual therapy.

      Lesson: don’t do MC with liars.

  • The first time I ever heard someone refer to themselves as ‘broken’ was when ex FW was talking about his affair and leaving me. FW was a v successful business and high functioning family man, all of a sudden he’s ‘broken’. But not broken enough to wreck 2 families! OW was married with young kids. There’s a lot of work involved setting up that new life. How does a ‘broken’ man find the energy!

  • Remember Chumps considering reconciliation with a cheater… nothing says I’m sorry more than a post-nup with a very generous settlement and a willingness to be microchipped (for the continued marriage policing).

    Great UBT for a Monday. I forgot to pack a lunch, but this word salad will do the trick!

  • I hope Heart Melter is out and away from this FW. The cheaters must have a chapter devoted to fake apologies in their handbook. EXFW tried to “apologize” but then that went straight into how I caused him to cheat and all his grievance over a 28 year marriage.
    So glad that I am out now. For all new chumps out there, don’t believe them when they attempt to apologize and blameshift. Just get out, they suck and there is nothing to work with. Good, Hinest people do not cheat on their partners.

    • Or, if the mind fuck is met with resistance, there’s the “sex addict” ploy.

    • It still many years later befuddles me that so many folks are willing to take the word of a lying sack of shit, who has lied to pretty much everyone and hold the loyal partner responsible for the cheaters acts.

      Just speaking for my own faith, the bible makes it clear that the sin emits from the heart of the sinner. Sin does not come from God or the innocent party. That is why God via the bible gave dispensation for divorce in the new testament for those who are the victims of adultery.

      But taking religion out of it, our legal system does not hold innocent parties responsible for the crimes (actions) of others. Well except for marital betrayal I guess.

  • I was dating someone who wanted to move the relationship to an engagement. I spent the next two weeks checking the various dating sites, created a couple of fake profiles, had him engage with me under a fake name. When confronted with why he is still on dating sites …
    “My understanding is that you can’t just suddenly leave dating sites. It has to be gradual.”

    • “My understanding is that you can’t just suddenly leave dating sites. It has to be gradual.”

      🙄 Because otherwise, they throw virtual cabbages at you. He was just protecting his head from flying cabbages. You can’t hold that against him.

  • The strange thing about this fauxpology, beyond the chump blaming, minimizing, and lack of empathy, is the way he admits how exultant he feels when he finds out that that chump is devastated about what he’s done. In fact, his emotions are “jacked” when he becomes aware of his wife’s pain. He exhibits zero empathy. It’s all about him and his kibbles.

    I really think that if other cheaters were to read this letter, the would think it was a sound apology. As a group, they really don’t get it.

    • Too many chumps think any “apology” is good. But what’s the cheater’s plan for change? How does the cheater intend to learn how to be honest and trustworthy? Instead, they just tell the chump to trust them again, with no evidence of change over time.

      • I got the AA apology. He was crossing me off his list of “steps“ to get through the AA program, of which “amends” is a step, as I understand it. How can someone make thoughtful “amends” mere weeks after we were officially over and heading for divorce after almost 30 years together?

        If he’d spent real time thinking about it, maybe, but apologizing to me as nothing more than an AA step to get through….I was livid. His “amends” were for him, just a step in his program, not a truly thoughtful apology for me.

        I might have bought it if he hadn’t left his “amends list” on the laundry room counter after one of his meetings. There was a list of probably 20 names of people who deserved amends, some with question marks beside them. That’s when it hit home that I was nothing more than a name on a to-do list, a step to cross off. At least I was first on the list with no question mark. Small consolation for his thinking about it for a whole 2 weeks before he approached me.

        • I’ve also been on the receiving end of an AA apology that didn’t account for any of the things that I wanted him to express as far as awareness of his impact on me. Rather, it felt like he was proud of himself for being such a “good” recoverer and like he was performing for the Most Self Aware Guy award. He’d recently learned a bunch of new recovery terms and I think just wanted to show off and make it hard for me to be mad.

    • Being aroused by causing another pain is a basic feature of sociopathy.

      Just saying….

  • Please ask your husband this:

    “What would you have done if I conspired behind your back to go f another man several times and then lied to your face the same day? Convince me that a relationship is salvageable after that.”

    Your fw may have loved you at some point if narcissists are actually capable of “love”, but that’s neither here nor there. No matter how much you try to “forgive” you can’t put a relationship back together after this kind of betrayal.

    Whether you should or shouldn’t is a moot point. It’s not possible.

  • Wow Chumplady – You’ve still got it! Awesome post!

    Have you thought about creating trainings – for us old chumps to learn to set up support systems in our home communities? I want to be a master chump! But, only if I have you in the lead.

  • Too funny and spot on. I got emails like this sprinkled in with the rage channel after Dday when X was trying to manipulate me into not imposing consequences. I hope this Chump blocks him and files. Nothing to work with.

  • Wow, this guy has quite a line of baloney. He’s better than you’re average cheater at bullshit, but he can’t hide his off the charts level of entitlement.
    Nice work, UBT.

    My asshole tried to claim he had thought I didn’t love him, too. It’s in the handbook along with all their other clichéd ploys.

  • Yes, I got these types of crazy words during separation. It was as if I had created the mess after my sixty-something husband became a runner and decided that living in another state near the beach would patch up our failing marriage. Ironically, he had been talking about taking off alone for over a decade. Amid the chaos, I knew the score and wrote in my calendar within weeks that my marriage was over. His family thought that arrangement was great and joined him for a housewarming party once he got set up there. I felt like they were celebrating that he was all theirs, and I was finally on the outside.

    I never did see much remorse or an understanding of what his departure did here. The college kids and I were stuck with all the explanations and logistics, especially when we sold the house. He hoped that would force us to move, but I had already gotten into a rental when he arrived with a moving van for his stuff. He wanted us to drop everything for a wonderful life with him, but all trust had evaporated for me. The college kids were deep in their studies and career plans for this area.

    My gut says that all the words were a show, and he was done with family life. Appearing to be a victim to his family and blaming me on the way out was part of the game. He tried all that with his sixty-something attorney, who called him on it and told my ex to “get over himself.” That attorney was friends with mine and did a tell-all several times. It was ick but confirmed so much. I told my attorney to stop sharing the dirt and just get it done. He did.

  • Hey folks, this is my letter. My FW of 13 years wrote this six months ago, after I walked into his office and caught him with a much younger coworker he had mentored.

    I had no idea. I spent a week feverishly forwarding him YouTube videos on limerance and overcoming infidelity. I cried nonstop, had chest pains so bad I thought I was having a heart attack, and he liked me like that.

    I found out later that on the _exact_ day he sent me this “heartfelt plea” to stay together, he was at his AP’s house, begging her to stay with him (I guess me walking in on them killed the fun). He promised to get his vasectomy reversed to have kids with her (I had desperately wanted another baby and he went ahead with the vasectomy anyway, so that hurt me in a deep place), promised to buy a house with her several hours away to be closer to her family (we have two boys, 9 and 12–when I asked him how he planned to _parent_ them if he was living hours away with her he responded “They like you more anyway”).

    I consider myself ridiculously lucky to have stumbled on Chump Lady’s book and this website a mere week after D-Day. My FW noticed the change and didn’t like it. He told me “You were sad but now you’re really harsh and mean. If you just act nice to me, I’ll help you out.” In that moment he utterly repulsed me, and he has repulsed me ever since.

    I’ve been in my own place with my kids for three months now. I’ve decorated, bought a bunch of plants, and hung new artwork. He’s pulling the usual FW moves in regards to the kids and child custody (he thinks child support is unfair) but I’ve turned a corner.

    He was a horrible husband, pretty much from the beginning. I was willing to stick it out for a bunch of reasons I need to examine, but I think now the universe did me a huge favor. I get a do-over. I get to love someone who will love me back in equal measure. These days when I go to bed I think “I’m someone else’s wife—I just don’t know who he is yet. Goodnight, husband-I-don’t-know-yet.”

    It’s not meh yet, but it’s something : )

    • Good for you!💪

      It’s early days still. Before jumping into a new relationship, let alone finding a new husband, give yourself time to heal and to examine what you describe as “the bunch of reasons” why you were “willing to stick it out” even though he treated you badly. What worked for me was a good therapist!! Highly recommend.

      Good luck!

      • I should add—I am _not_ dating. Not even close to dating. I’m being sensible and giving it a year or two before I jump into that. I’m taking a long breather and focusing on my kids.

        BUT. . . I have faith that somewhere out there (anyone else want to hum the song now?) a decent, kind man is living his life and someday we will live our lives together.

        • At least you now know what a sociopath is like. You are now better equipped. I’m sorry you ended up with an asshole the first time. It was pure bad luck. It says absolutely nothing about you.

    • “when I asked him how he planned to _parent_ them if he was living hours away with her he responded “They like you more anyway””

      Gee, I wonder why they like you more. Son of a bitch.

      “I think now the universe did me a huge favor. I get a do-over. I get to love someone who will love me back in equal measure.”

      Yay, CWMH! Plus, even if you don’t find that, you finally have peace.

    • (((hugs))) You can’t reform a liar, period.

      I therapist friend of mine recommended at least two years apart before you consider dating, FWIW. You have plenty to do getting past this and being there for your kids.

      I’m in my sixties with grown kids, and I’m over partnering up, but I get wanting to do that.

    • I know it still hurts like hell, despite how disgusting they begin to seem to you when the veil is lifted, but you clearly have a good mindset going forward. Stay true to yourself, do what you need to do for you and your kids, get what you are entitled to from this selfish piece of shit, and life will find its way back on the tracks. Taking these moments to laugh at their bullshit is great therapy. I have minimal contact now, but some of the mindfuckery that I was handed in the early days was just so laughable.

    • Chump Who Melts Hearts, you are MIGHTY!

      On being someone’s wife – let me tell you about a friend of mine – not a chump or a cheater, just a guy whose needy first wife decided she was bored with being married and made the divorce (with their toddler son) needlessly spiteful and ugly. Many years later, friend is now deliriously happy married to his second wife.

      What convinced my friend to remarry was she didn’t NEED him. She had her own life, her own career, her own activities, and she invited my friend to share them with her (and in turn to share his interests and activities with her) – but she wasn’t looking for a man to fill in a spot marked “husband”. She didn’t need him to be “complete”. She is with him because she chose to be, not because she was missing a half.

      You may well remarry someday, but take a looooooong break to fix your picker and whatever made you put up with this asshat for so many years. As long as you’re still seeing yourself as looking for the next man, you’re at high risk of making bad choices.

      • It’s kind of funny. In the RIC, FW complained that the reason he sought out APs was because they made him feel needed. I, by contrast, had my own friends, career, and hobbies. I wasn’t needy. I chose to partner with him because it seemed we complemented each other well and I loved him. And when we were engaged, it was my independence that he said made him choose me. And in RIC, he said it was what caused him to seek out other women. In truth, he would say whatever suited him to get what he wanted at any given moment.

        I am a good person and I have character. I was an excellent wife and realize that FW being a cheater speaks all about him and nothing about me. I work hard and play by the rules. I honor my commitments. My biggest fault has been tolerating him as long as I did and not standing up to him sooner. I was conned. But when he started saying that what he valued was the opposite of who I am, I felt like I have nothing to work with. He lies like normal humans breathe.

    • Hi Chump who melts hearts and thanks for sharing that classic example of FW mind muck. It’s amazing how so many abusers are able to walk among us seeming relatively normal considering how disordered their thinking and perceptions are deep down. Getting involved with people like this is like downloading an app from a trusted source only to find it had some Trojan horse virus lodged deep in its code that eventually takes over your computer and locks you out.

      Just to beat the analogy to death, according to people who study these things, a lot of abusers are semi-split personalities so they might continue to believe that they’re, say, helpful “anti-virus software” even as they freeze your keyboard and melt your hard drive. But before your proverbial hard drive imploded, there were usually signs that your system was getting progressively glitchy and slow. Maybe you thought it was the server or connection. Maybe you repeatedly rebooted and cleaned out cookies. Eventually you got used to the glitchiness. Perhaps you thought it was just a problem with the brand of PC. In other words, you’re the laptop in this comparison and the glitching is the debilitating “boiling frog” emotional effect of abuse. The offer of proverbial anti-virus services is the typical protection racket strategy of abusers who basically pretend to offer fire-fighting services for the very fires they’ll eventually set. I wanted to point this out because you wrote that you’re exploring the reasons why you might have stuck it out for so long. As you delve into those reasons and before you wade into the whole codependency ball of wax, consider the idea that typical abuser tactics might explain a lot of your paralysis and indecision over the years.

      Personally, I think the best resources for learning about abusers’ typical tactics (the better to spot a Trojan horse or protection racketeer in the future) are observational studies of domestic batterers. There are some great books on the subject like criminologist Donald Dutton’s “The Batterer” which is listed in the resource section of this blog. Dutton studied batterers like bugs in a petri dish for decades and his work is loaded with observations on personality, motivations and behavior that should be common knowledge but still generally aren’t. The book and other works by Dutton are like the nittier-grittier clinical and peer-reviewed predecessors to Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That.”

      The comparison to DV might seem like hyperbolizing in the case your FW was never directly physically violent but the modern thinking on domestic violence is that typical batterers operate on a “beat by need” basis and will usually chose the less athletic and less legally risky methods of controlling their partners, engaging in about 99% coercion and psychological control and about 1% actual violence (if that. The most skilled would never have to take their hands out of their pockets to collapse their victims’ agency). Furthermore, most survivors report that coercive control is the worst and most debilitating aspect of abuse even beyond direct assault which has given rise to the movement to legislate against coercive control ( Modern research on DV is also starting to identify cheating as one of the more potent tactics used by abusers to crush and maintain an advantage over their prey.

      When I was an advocate for domestic violence survivors, we’d recommend that survivors prepare for criminal or civil court showdowns by taking the time to write out their story of the relationship from beginning to end as a kind of “coercion diary.” First they would write out a list of their worst fears and then recall every word and gesture from the abuser over the years that somehow exacerbated or played on those fears and also recall the conditions that the abuser created which amplified those fears (such as a survivor fearing their own ability to survive and support children post-divorce because the abuse was making the victim lose sleep and become physically ill and confused). What usually emerges from the exercise is the image of a progressively tighter barbed wire spider web that the abuser wove from early in the relationship. The barbed wire web is the classic protection racket arrangement where the abuser at first pretends to offer fire-fighting services for the very fire they’re eventually going to set.

      The exercise would tend to make survivors less vulnerable to coaching and nudging from bystanders to “take responsibility for their part in abuse” because the survivor could look back and realize how limited their choices seemed during the time they were being abused and that the limiting of choices was being systematically maintained and enforced by abusers. And none of it is accidental even if some abusers claim the behavior was “unconscious.” Some people become so skilled at coercion that it doesn’t require conscious intent anymore. One of the reasons that abusers are so afraid of consequences is because it’s like having their favorite weapons turned against them. So much coercive behavior is about meting out implied or directly threatened “consequences” against their victims (according to whatever the victim most fears). Some of those agency-robbing words and gestures might be subtle or only implied by something intangible like the abuser’s attitude or vibe or just the feeling that the words, gestures or attitudes produced in the victim but, when taken in light of the abusers’ agenda to quell and control and the fact that victims’ reactions will often– oops– fall right in line with this agenda, the pattern of coercion becomes more obvious.

      This isn’t to say that survivors’ previous traumatic experiences don’t sometimes complicate warding off and escaping abuse but survivors’ previous trauma or self esteem issues are not the reason abuse occurs. The abuser is the reason it occurs. There’s also the fact that the tactics used by abusers are universally devastating even to the mentally healthiest and strongest people. These tactics have been described by more than one leading expert on domestic violence as virtually identical to those used by professional interrogators and torturers which are so effective that even veteran intelligence operatives are never given whole parcels of state secrets but only bits and pieces because it’s expected that, if captured and subjected to certain stressors, the captives will crack, captor-bond with their interrogators and spill whatever secrets they carry.

      In short, anyone can be entrapped by abuse. Maybe long after they’ve achieved safety in their lives, some survivors might like to explore how previous trauma, self esteem issues or cultural beliefs threw up a few hurdles in the path of escape but, when it comes to abuse, those things were never the main roadblocks. It can take time and reflection after the clouds clear in the wake of abuse to realize the size of those “roadblocks” and how abusers play off the fears of their victims but, according to the non-victim-blamey clinical view of domestic abuse, just by virtue of survivors staying beyond the point they no longer felt completely safe suggests the abuser was likely laying the trap very effectively.

    • If you ever decide to review my book, just write: “My FW noticed the change and didn’t like it. ”

      Highest praise ever.

    • Chump Who Melts Hearts , I’m so glad you left! And that things are going well. Thanks for the update.

  • “I’ve searched my heart and I’m ready to avoid child support.”

    This right here!! Bahahaha…

  • Ultimately I think it’s a good thing when cheaters prove with their own words that they lack character and therefore relationship skills and the capacity to love.

    I turned a corner in my recovery from Traitor Ex’s infidelity when I stopped thinking about cheating in terms of LOVE (what I thought it was) and started thinking in terms of GOOD CHARACTER, which is an essential part of what defines love.

    Besides Chump Lady, please read Dr. George Simon’s books and blog for invaluable reprogramming of your thinking.

  • My FW said the exact same things! Had the same sentiments. Its laughable. Thats what the mindfuck blender is. You believing there is a possibility that this is just a big misunderstanding. They say this BS and you want to believe its true! Then you can keep the family intact, not sell the house, not go through divorce, not sharing custody, nothing has to change. Not only that but you can pretend you still have a marriage. When you see through the BS your house of cards falls.

  • The FW I was with for 35 years denied any affair. Referred to ho worker as a distraction.

    They moved in together the day he left me, not that he admitted this either.

    All the time he would send me mindfuckery messages. NC was the only way forward. Once I put that in place I could see much clearer. Of course CN helped.

    Hugs to you all ❤️

  • Thanks CL, and the best bookend to this masterful translation is the ad for the cheesecake shop that is directly under the post that trumpets, ‘It’s not a party without cake!’. Indeed.

  • FW must have received the legal paperwork

    Amazing how legal consequences make them find the love in their hearts

  • Part of the reason I know that I am at meh is that I am thankful he said that “Remorse and humility are not part of the personality I am trying to cultivate.” The harsh discard has changed to a thankful release. It was SO EASY to leave. Hard at times to have mattered so little – but there is no way to change or explain his internal life. It is irrelevant and he made is so so much easier to not even want reconciliation at all once he said that. Those with a discard reading this – you may have been given a dark gift that turns into a bright gift over time. Shortcut to coming to terms and finding new joy.

    • “Remorse and humility are not part of the personality I am trying to cultivate.”

      Well, there it is. He has spoken. Such a gift indeed to have this kind of reveal.

      I, too, did not have the option of reconciliation but rather received the bitter gift of an unceremonious discard. It hurt like hell at the time (still does on bad days), but I guess I view it now as do you, a “shortcut to coming to terms and finding new joy.”

    • I so agree! I find it hard to be grateful for the gift of my life being thrown in a blender (40 year relationship/30 married); at 59; rebuilding a new life with limited assets has been hard however I AM SO MUCH BETTER OFF!! I don’t live with disrespect, fake love or insincerity. I live with me; & I rock!

    • I agree about the “bright gift” because I think cheating is on the domestic violence spectrum. Both arguably arise from the same personality disorders, the same infantile agenda for control and the same demented perceptions. If there’s any difference, it’s only a matter of tactics and degree. In advocacy, we used to refer to the “tension building” stage of DV as the time when the “bitch tapes” or “hate tapes” would start rolling in abusers’ heads. Due to whatever external events or guilt or internally-generated fears of abandonment/engulfment, the abuser goes into a stage of casting the victim as the enemy. Most chumps recognize the same pattern in cheating. So with that in mind, imagine domestic abuse on a dial where murder is “10,” injury assaults are “8” and “9” and cheating is about a “6” or “7.” Given the options, 6 and 7 seem like the better deal. But only if you understand that the other options were 8, 9 or 10. I think cheating is what happens when abusers pull short of beating their victims to a pulp or killing them.

      It drives me nuts when advice columnists and cyber shrinks cast cheating as a reflection of “relationship dissatisfaction” because they’re missing the fact that no one is more “dissatisfied” in relationships than batterers who are always having a problem or making problems, up to and including killing their partners.

  • Melt your heart.
    Just read your follow up post. Mine also had affair with younger coworker whom he mentored. Also had a vasectomy. Wanted to get one before I gave birth to my son. I said at least let me get a live healthy child before you get one! He said of all his AP that they were all not interested in getting married just very horny and wanted to have a good ole time! 4 yrs after saw one of them on FB lo and behold they were married with a kid! I guess thats what he told himself to be able to sleep at night. The last one of them not sure why she was wasting her time with her mentor 16 years older married with kids. I think he let her go because he realized he would have to marry her and have kids. She had come off a breakup and was desperate since she was in her early 30’s with no prospect of marriage and kids. Thought she had bagged a nice guy, who would leave his wife marry her and have kids ASAP before her ovaries dried up! She didnt anticipate it going south when I found out. She wasted her time on him, but like all narcs her wasting her time is not his problem! And got the whole you would like her you are so much alike. Yeah maybe she is a sucker who is kind like me, but Im not into married dudes who are that old! I guess we are both suckers in his eyes! The whole mentor power dynamic is messed up. He loved that she did whatever he said, was respectful, polite. I said yes she gets paid its her job and she is learning from you. But he absolutely loved it and manipulated her and the situation. Anyone who doesnt see the abusive dynamics of affairs at work with unequal positions, is a dope. Even if the lesser is a willing participant, its not cool. Power and control for them is an aphrodisiac, both for the dominant and submissive in the work relationship. Call me old fashioned but yeah I believe most men and women cant work together without feelings getting carried away.

    • I do think there are men and women who can work together; but I think there are honestly just so many cheaters, that it is bound to happen primarily in the work place. That is where we spend most of our time.

      I worked for many years after I remarried closely with a very nice man. Had we both been single, who knows. But, we were both married and we didn’t do anything but act professional.

      How? no lunches, no long talks or sharing secrets, no complaining about our spouses. Good morning, have a good weekend etc. that was it.

      When he died a few years ago, I actually had felt like he was like a brother. But were weren’t brother in sister so we didn’t act like it.

      Long way to say they want to cheat they are always on the lookout. It goes back to the simple rule, it is not about the chump it is about them and who they are.

    • “Feelings getting carried way”? That’s how cheaters talk. Those darn feelings, spiraling out of control, all on their own!

      • I have to agree with that, Apidae. Cheaters screwing people they work with isn’t about feelings getting carried away. That’s just a lie they tell.

        • My FW said of his workplace affair,” It was a slippery slope”
          In other words, bound to happen, couldn’t control myself”

    • I don’t know about “most” men and women not being able to work together. In my experience, the problem has always been the minority of bad apples but they cause so much “toxic workplace” carnage that it can feel like a swarm. Also pervy bosses tend to replicate themselves by hiring fellow pervs and/or encouraging a sleazy work environment as a “mutually assured destruction” strategy so no one reports on them. Sex pests and chronic side dish ladder-climbers are also typically bullies and scary to cross which turns the more weak-minded people into facilitators and drives out those who might otherwise stand up to it.

      • I agree about the effed-up power dynamic.

        My FW is a physician who had an affair with a much-younger nurse–his nurse–the one who followed his “orders” at work. And, get this, he liked to watch porn with women in nurse’s costume. Please excuse me while I 🤮. I remember him bragging to me that the nurses know how he likes his coffee. Guess they knew how he liked other stuff, too. #NOboundaries.

        People of good character don’t put themselves in positions to be tempted to cheated. As Susie Lee explains, no lunches, no long walks, no intimate conversations etc… It’s not that hard.

        Anyway, FW is a pathetic man! He and the AP of almost 3 years are married now. Both cheated on their spouses. One can only imagine how their marriage is going. I trust that karma is those two cheaters being together.

  • I was living for this UBT today and laughed until I ached. This is Tracy AT HER BEST!! She Is smack on target!History is one of my favorites so the puns are ( are those puns, just guessing)my favorite. Oh maybe that’s snark? Whatever it is, where are the Tonight show talent scouts. We need this stuff out there!! OK now I pause from cracking up..these apologies no apologies are wack!! My STBXH Laying on our marital bed after D day
    and saidm… I needed to watch THE SHACK and learn how to forgive as he could not wait TOO LONG without honest sex from me and would have to go outside our sacred, now defiled, marital bed AGAIN. DANCE 4 ME STOOPID with my threats. Show your true love while I give you subzero chills and no remorse. Just my wonderfulness and keeping my harem handy. It revolves me now even 9 months later. I read chump lady every night and the book is my traitor guide. I am the biggese fan after 2 ( 3 if you count my first boyfriend ) major life altering cheaters. I am broken with half my retirement going to the last cheater , and Im 70…but I. AM. ALMOST. FREE !!! Thank-you Chump lady forever!💔=❤️!!

  • It’s rare that I feel moved to comment simply because your FW would win an award for being The Biggest Douchebag of the Year. No, I mean it. I’ve seen some winners here but this guy . . . wow.

  • This one was really bad! I don’t remember exact words I received from the ex’s in a long explanation form, but I hope I would have called bullshit back then. It hurts my head to think about how much I wanted to believe back in those days. However, I feel good that I have learned enough over the years so that I can laugh and see how ridiculous the excuses are now. Thank you for a wonderful job UBT! Enjoy your cookies!!!

  • >You have the power to forgive and allow me to prove my love and devotion to only you.

    The grasping entitlement of these fuckwits never fails to astound me, I swear.

    Reminds me of a conversation I had with mine. He cheated and broke up with me over email, then hoovered me months later with this conversation:

    FUCKWIT: It’s not fair that you’re mad at me. You need to forgive me already.
    ME: So you’re sorry?
    FUCKWIT: Of course not. I didn’t do anything wrong.

  • The Chump Who Melts Hearts, he cheated. He will, almost certainly, cheat again. From reading stories on this site, I feel certain of that. It’s what always happens.

    Don’t believe this BS. Start gathering information about your finances and interviewing lawyers.

  • “Brexit — several bad choices in a row.
    Subprime mortgage crisis — several bad choices in a row.
    The fall of the Roman empire — several bad choices in a row, plus barbarians.”

    – this is some of UBT’s best work yet

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