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Why Won’t She Admit She’s Cheating on Me?

Mindfuck blenderDear Chump Lady,

Why is it impossible to get the cheater to admit to cheating? I have dozens of pictures of her and other guys dancing, like she never would with me, pictures of her with her wedding ring on her right hand, with another guy, girlfriend after girlfriend admitting that on girls trips she spent the night with guys she met at bars. Didn’t come home until the next day. But still, she calls them liars, with the picture of her and the wedding ring on her right hand.

Her response was: “I wonder what you could have done to make me put my ring on my right hand?” I feel like a battered wife! No matter what she does wrong she blames me!

Not once has she admitted to anything, not once! What can I do to get her to admit it?



Dear M,

Nothing. Quit trying. Around here we call those efforts, “Sticking your head in the mindfuck blender.” (See cartoon.)

Why would she lead with unvarnished honesty now? Because you have evidence?

HAH! You were NOT at your mother’s! I geolocated your car to the Coyote Fugly bar where 27 witnesses saw you drink appletinis with a phalanx of personal trainers. I have the Motel 8 receipts! And Sven called to say he found your driver’s license and thong.

She’s not going to admit to that. That’s your reality. She has her own reality. And even if she cops to some of it, the theoretical bits, that perhaps happened or did not, you’re looking at this in the wrong context… it’s your fault.

Uh huh. That thing she didn’t do? You drove her to it.

Whirr! Pulse… Whirrr!

Welcome to gaslighting. It’s a power dynamic. Why would she admit to the truth when it comes with ugly consequences? When instead, she can just continue to manipulate you and maintain the upper hand. If she bludgeons you with lies, she can keep extracting value from you. What would be really great is if you just don’t bring it up at all, K? Bludgeoning is so exhausting. For her.

Her response was: “I wonder what you could have done to make me put my ring on my right hand?”

If gaslighting doesn’t work (“It never happened!”), then there’s blameshifting. (It happened, but it’s your fault.)

This is your cue to either get defensive, or go down a rabbit hole of self-loathing trying to find all the ways your inadequacies, real or imagined, drove her to fuck strange.

I suggest you do neither. Instead, ask yourself M — do you want to be in a relationship with this woman? Do you feel safe in this marriage? Do you want an honest partner who is an ally, or an arch nemesis who plays power games?

There are a bazillion people on this planet. Many of whom would be honored to keep their commitments to you. Who don’t need the validation of fucking strange. Or going out on benders. Do you want a partner, or do you want to be a parent? “I need you home by 9 p.m.! Wear your wedding band!” And she gets to be the sulky teen who can’t stand your oppression. But please keep the fridge stocked with frozen pizza when she gets home.

I vote for a proper adult partner. She’s not it. I’d talk to a lawyer. Good luck, M.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • “Is this relationship acceptable to me?” is such a powerful question. Do I — me, myself, with my own heart and brain — do I want to be in a relationship with a spouse who stays out all night? With a spouse who taunts me? With a spouse who lies? Be prepared, M. Once you file for divorce, she will turn on the self-pity and anger. And more lies. Save yourself.

    Also… I hope M realizes that CL is being sarcastic here: “She’s not going to admit to that. That’s your reality. She has her own reality. And even if she cops to some of it, the theoretical bits, that perhaps happened or did not, you’re looking at this in the wrong context… it’s your fault.” It is in no way, shape, or form your fault of course.

  • My question is why are you still with her. She should not see you for the dust you leave at 100 mph.

  • It’s time to get legal assistance, and let her wonder why.

    These days I am thoroughly enjoying telling Traitor Ex NOTHING and letting him wonder why.

    Communication is a willing and respectful exchange of truth between two people. This is not that. Cheaters don’t communicate. They manipulate.
    And their success requires your participation in the game. Don’t play.

    Spend your energy communicating with a lawyer.

  • At the risk of nitpicking at the wisdom of CL (something I do not take lightly) . . .

    The question to start with should not be “Do you want to be in a relationship with this woman?” because it leaves the door open to a focus on the person M THINKS she is. “I want the Gertrude she was when we first met, the Gertrude I made vows to and who made vows to me, the Gertrude who said I was her one and only.”

    Better to start with “Do you want to be in a relationship with person like this?” as (hopefully) it helps create a basic sense of objectivity that M will need to start seeing this manipulation for what it is. “No, I do not want anyone this manipulative in my life, even if it is Gertrude.”

    • Yes, I get it UX, some of the useless therapists I spoke to briefly simply asked “what do you want?”.

      I wanted to be with the person I thought he was, the person I knew that he could be.

      What they didnt do is walk me through the path of recognizing who he actually was. I DID want to be with him, NiceHim, not NastyMeanBlamingHim (and that version of him simply wasn’t one of my choices). .

      • “I wanted to be with the person I thought he was, the person I knew that he could be.”

        It took me a long long time to realize x was not the person I had talked myself into believing he was.

        Why did I keep imagining that he was that person?
        Gaslighting for one.
        Why did I believe it?
        Because I could not reconcile in myself that this person who I married, who I committed to, would intentionally use and abuse me like he was clearly doing.

        Codependency – the belief in the potential of things.

        I thought all people were good deep down insight. That was untrue. I know that now.
        I was conned. And I was naïve and gullible. Dumb about people.

        How did I get better?
        No contact and education about these kinds of people.

        Heard this song today:
        “Now, here you go again, you say you want your freedom
        Well, who am I to keep you down?
        It’s only right that you should play the way you feel it
        But listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness

        Like a heartbeat drives you mad
        In the stillness of rememberin’
        What you had and what you lost
        And what you had and what you lost

        Players only love you when they’re playing
        Say, women, they will come and they will go
        When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know.”

        I know now.

    • Fair point. I hope I got to it later with the parent/child dynamic. Whoever you thought this person was, she’s putting you in the position of having to be the sole adult. Which sucks.

    • The road between who I thought he was and and the realization of who
      he is was the longest, hardest, bumpiest, most difficult leg of the journey of infidelity recovery.

      A lot of people followed the trial of Alex Murdaugh, who continued to lie during sentencing in the face of overwhelming evidence. Lying, in addition to entering the legal profession, is another tradition in this family.

      Rather than make yourself crazy wondering why someone lies, remember that when someone is lying in the face of hard evidence, it proves their guilt.

      I found vicarious gratification in listening to the judge’s sentencing speech. It’s a lesson in how to talk to a cheater.

      Ignore what they say and respond to the facts of what they did.

      Some religions believe we are assigned a finite number of breaths at birth. In case this is true, I am not wasting any more of mine talking to a cheater, who by definition is a liar and a thief.

      • Nailed it, VH! Judge Newman is a national treasure. That sentencing was politely brutal.
        Also, if anyone can stomach it, Murdaugh’s testimony was a master class in manipulation, blameshifting, and gaslighting. It was sickening and fascinating at the same time.

        • And the shark eyes – so dark in a fair skinned redhead. Apparently there’s a history of infidelity (and maybe some violent/kinky sex). It’s a predictable package. On the other hand, embezzlement sort of got a pass this time.

      • I’ve been away from the ex long enough that I could watch the Alex Murdaugh trial, but he reminded me of my ex in a lot of ways–outwardly successful but actually a mess inside. He pretended everything was wonderful, but it wasn’t. And the lying…so much lying. It was good to see someone like that receive justice. I don’t know if Alex cheated on Maggie, but he lived the lifestyle of a cheater.

      • This:

        lThe road between who I thought he was and and the realization of who
        he is was the longest, hardest, bumpiest, most difficult leg of the journey of infidelity recovery.“

        • Learning to switch my attention to actions and facts, and ignoring everything he says unless it can be verified is what sped up the healing process.

          I spent 27 years listening to what he SAID and doubting my feelings, my gut, excusing and minimizing or ignoring what I saw, his actions. Of course it took me a while to make the switch.

          For a long time I was very invested in the written apology he promised. Of course it has never happened, and now I would put Return To Sender in Sharpie on it, unopened. I could not care less what he has to say. He had twenty seven years with a therapist on retainer to be straight up with me and didn’t. I am no longer interested in anything he has to say, which is a blessed place to be. At one point I got an email saying he was sorry for his dishonesty. He sent it at 3:45 am. I forwarded it to my lawyer and did not reply.

          I also realized I had slowly become accustomed to FIGURING HIM OUT; what he meant, what was going on, because he was not straightforward.

          FIGURING HIM OUT became a very bad normalized habit. You don’t need to FIGURE OUT people who act with integrity, and if they don’t act with integrity they don’t have the skills or the emotional maturity for a relationship of any kind.

          • “You don’t need to FIGURE OUT people who act with integrity, and if they don’t act with integrity they don’t have the skills or the emotional maturity for a relationship of any kind.”

            Thanks for this, it is gold. I did this for many years. Trying to interpret what his moods were, why he did or said something and then trying to justify it. It was such a waste of time and energy and I am so glad I am out of it. I just have to be careful of not doing this in other relationships.

          • I agree completely. Words mean nothing and actions mean everything. I try to stay out of my (grown) daughters’ relationships with their father. I have simply counseled them to watch what he does, not what he says.

          • Liars don’t do relationships. They do power trips. I think it’s unwise to ignore the warning label.

            “In lying, one is identifying the other as one’s opponent, even one’s enemy. In marriage intimacy is developed through confessions, explanations, and soul searchings. But of course intimacy involves equality, and people who are telling lies are not seeking any aspect of intimacy, especially equality. Liars are hoping for advantage, which will be produced by disorienting and distracting the other person. The liar is stepping outside the relationship. The lie may be a greater betrayal of the relationship than the misdeed being lied about. It takes very little misinformation to disorient and destroy a relationship. I often point out to people that if I gave them detailed instructions on how to go from Atlanta to New York City, and threw in only one left turn that was a lie, they would end up in Oklahoma.”
            -Dr. Frank Pittman
            Private Lies
            (p. 59)

      • Ignore what they say and respond to the facts of what they did.

        The trial had me thinking, I knew FW spent tens of thousands of dollars on drugs, oxy included. Hearing about the years of Murdaugh addiction, the lies, the enormous theft and then murders makes me realize I’m lucky my marriage ended in divorce.

        • This is the thing that the pro-affair brigade miss, namely that if someone is escalating yet their trusting fully in the dark spouse doesn’t know there is even an issue, said spouse is already in danger.

          CL advocates getting ducks in a row quietly and getting out but some chumps never get that opportunity due to the extra covert nature of their particular cheater. Mine was so covert and for many years after DDay, gaslit out of my mind I had no idea what I was dealing with. (Thanks CL / CN!) I recall one time when he was picking up our dog and he actually faked / pretended to be scared of me. I was mystified at the time but I actually laughed out loud. It was so ridiculous of him to even try that on! I had never done a single thing to warrant that reaction from him. It’s a threat, as Hell of a Chump explains, of what he might do to me. So glad he left of his own volition as if he hadn’t I wouldn’t doubt I could have had a highly convenient staircase fall or other accident. Highly inconvenient for me of course haha.

          Re the Murdaugh trial, I’d bet dollars to donuts Alex Murdaugh was a through and through cheater. He was escalating and had every red flag flying at spy balloon scale of visibility.

        • Clarification. I only knew about the drugs after searching and finding them. I knew I was missing something, even after AP revealed their affair.

  • Never one shred of culpability on her part. I was seeing things. Oh…our daughter knew his name? “Well he just drove by to talk”,” I’d never expose our kids to him he’s a stranger, but what could I do ? he just stopped in his police car while we were walking ” . I listened to and fell for more shit than a septic tank all in the name of trying to save my family. ” He just wanted to vent about his ex-wife’s behavior at his mother’s funeral. She was terrible to him!” What the fucks business was that of yours…” well I’ve always had an attraction to him” …” but you let your mother do things that upset me all the time!” Oh like help us with the down payment for the house you wanted? Or paying off your student loans to help our credit score? Hmmm that evil bitch! “You never gave me any attention !” Ah I see attention, like even though I worked 2 full time jobs to support your vision of what our family was supposed to look like you could never help with a part time job or even acknowledge my birthday holidays and special events like anniversaries and such, and the topper cutting me off from any intimate activities physical, social, domestic or otherwise. My biggest problem, I never once said no

  • “They’ll never admit it, so stop trying” is solid gold advice. Receipts and evidence don’t matter at all; they’re the heroes of their own story (as we all are).

    My xFW never, ever admitted to cheating/adultery and still doesn’t. He merely “made a mistake” (me) and “finally found his soulmate” (several times; he eventually married the last one). I only got to use the word “adultery” (used legally and dispassionately) once in front of him when we were sitting down in a food court (I’ll never be in a private space with him again; I don’t feel safe) and, to my surprise, he reacted by wincing, cringing inwardly, and his whole body pulled away from the table like he had had his hand placed on a hot stove and reflexively recoiled in pain. Then he recovered and the conversation continued.

    That was the only real confirmation I got from him; his body–briefly, unconsciously–couldn’t lie. It’s never happened again but I’m as no contact as I can get.

    That was enough for me.

    • My STBX also physically responds that way to words he doesn’t like. He will clear his throat over the word “divorce” and physically flinches when I say “abuse”. It’s such a tell-tale sign.

  • M:
    Here are some precepts I had to learn:

    If they admit to anything (like the photo evidence of her dancing with guys while wearing her wedding ring on her right hand), they will only admit to what you know.

    They will never admit the full truth, but they may tell you the “trickle truth,” IF you have evidence.

    What you know is only the tip of the iceberg.

    We get so caught up in the side issue–why won’t she admit what I know to be true?–and their word salad smoothie (the mindfuck blender at work) that we are unable to focus on the real question: “Is this state of things acceptable to me? Do I want to be married to someone who would treat me this way?

    After confusing months of whirling in the mindfuck blender, I finally got to the point where I realized he would never be straight with me, I wouldn’t ever know why, and said to myself, “I know what I know, and what I know is enough.”

    You know enough, too.

    • “If they admit to anything (like the photo evidence of her dancing with guys while wearing her wedding ring on her right hand), they will only admit to what you know.”

      So true. When I found evidence of his cheating and confronted him, the first thing my exFW said was “how much do you know?” Fortunately I had the presence of mind to realise he wasn’t going to admit anything by that reply, so I simply said “answer my question first.”

  • Trying to get them to admit to the cheating just plays into their hands! Your wanting something from them means that you’re dancing to their tune. The only solution is to take the truth and walk away. Even if they do admit to cheating, they’ll have an excuse. My FW said it wasn’t really cheating because the marriage was long over. Really? According to who? Not me. Not our family. Not to anyone else other than FW. Let them have their fantasy. Your reality will be better every. single. time.

    • 👍 👍“ trying to get them to admit to the cheating just plays into their hands! Your wanting something from them means that you’re dancing to their tune” My ex relished that he was mind-fucking me & I’m glad he’s gone after the initial trauma!! I will walk now from anyone that does this….and that includes a job. I went out and got a new job -started today- because my boss that we got last year is a complete mind-fucker!! I listen to everyone left there & they’re complaining about her & I just say “is that an acceptable work environment for you?” Because it wasn’t for me & that should always be our bottom-line!!!

    • Melon, your FW was “divorced in his mind” – a phrase I learned on this site. SMH…where do they get this stuff?

  • When I discovered my now ex had fallen for a catfisher (online romance scam) I asked if he had sent her any money. He denied it. None at all. Then, in his emails, I found he had sent her two gift cards. He denied it, then when presented with written proof in his OWN emails to her, he said that was all. Then I found he had sent her still more money from his business account. He claimed that was for her to “review” his music. And for inspiring it. He said that was all. He escalated his denials. Got angry with ME for making him thinking about it. Then I discovered that he had been out buying and sending her gift cards every time he did the grocery shopping. I confronted him and he got violent. After he was out of the house, I discovered he had sent multiple gift cards per DAY, for amounts ranging from $50 to $100. And found receipts that he had sent thousands of dollars at a time through Western Union. Even at court, when confronted with those receipts, he denied that the money went through. Cheaters cheat. And lie.

    M, there’s probably nothing you can do to make her admit her cheating, or the extent of it. Why try? Even if she admits to any of it, you can’t trust that there isn’t more. And isn’t what you already know more than you want to live with?

    If you catch a child with his hands full of crumbs and the cookie jar is empty, does it matter if he denies he ate them? Why are YOU accepting her lies?

  • M, the reason you feel like an abused spouse is because you are. You are being emotionally abused. Believe us when we tell you that she won’t ever stop. She’s even more brazen and less remorseful than your average cheater, which is saying a lot. Your only sane option is to get the hell away from her. Sticking around hoping she’ll eventually admit her wrongs and change is a non-starter. Please don’t wait around until you get an STD from this whacko or she conceives a child with some other dude and claims it’s yours.

  • M – I am so sorry this is happening to you. You didn’t mention an age, but you really, really don’t want to have to DNA test any future children. It really sounds like you don’t have anything to work with here – if even her “girls trip” buddies are throwing her under the bus. Don’t present her with any more evidence, give it to a good attorney instead. Start protecting yourself. Maybe speak with a therapist to be sure you don’t internalize any of her invented deficiencies. Good luck!

    • I can’t imagine what horrible thing I would have to do to my girlfriends that would make them want to destroy my marriage by telling my husband I was cheating when I wasn’t. So, either she is a cheater as the photographic evidence suggests, or best case scenario, she is a person who somehow upset her friends so much that they now are hell-bent on revenge.

      Either scenario screams that this is person to stay far away from.

  • M, as CL said, you will never get the answers you want. Please realize that these people are liars. Even if you get something from them, it will not be the entire truth because honesty is something that these FWs don’t practice. Sure it would be nice to get an affirmation of what you already know but it is as likely as finding that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
    The Ex never admitted to anything, even in front of the retired judge doing our settlement discussion. He lied and for each lie my attorney and I had legitimate evidence showing the contrary. So pretty much (I was not able to be in the room):
    FW: I don’t know Schmoopie
    Attorney: here is a receipt of a monthly bank transfer to Schmoopie, please tell us why you send money each month to a person you don’t know.
    FW: I don’t know Schmoopie
    Attorney: Who is this in the video having sex with you.
    FW: I don’t know.
    Attorney: Please look at the Western Union receipts and tell us who you sent money to
    FW: I sent the money but I don’t know her
    Bottom line, I got a great settlement.
    Just let it go M. You will not get an answer that is worth hearing. It hurts not to have closure, but you can work through that. Time will heal this; you will have a scar, but you will heal.

    • Closure is a gift you give yourself, and does not involve input from a perpetrator.


      • Velvet, I agree. Closure is good in most instances, but you will never get it from someone who blew up your family. I just closed that chapter understanding that liars are going lie. What I have now is honest friends with character and a life without lies.

  • I’m so sorry this is happening to you and yeah, it sucks. But you’re at a website for a reason and you know in your gut what many here know from a former life dealing it a cheater. I’m seven years down the line (as of last week) and was in the same position scrawling through this site trying to make sense of the behaviours by a women who wouldn’t admit what my gut was telling me for months. Until I had the emails, texts to hand. And she then blamed me for it all and implied to people I was the one that was cheating…she couldn’t admit she was a liar and cheat even to herself. It was just in her nature and core to who she is.

    In your wife’s case, her friends are telling you, pictures are telling you, her behaviour being out all night drinking and not coming home is all telling you what you already know. And there is no way whatever you do isn’t going to suck, especially if ye have kids en tow.

    Put yourself first this minute, gather all the financial information from before and during the marriage, figure out how to protect the kids best if you have them and talk to the best Divorce specialists you can. Then take action.

    Who she is and who you think she is is a mirage. Read the book, read others stories, you know where this is going and that’s why you’re here. You know in your gut it’s over. Even my ex directly told me that when someone shows you who they are, you should believe them. It took me a while to believe who she was in reality.

    It’ll take a while but once you get a reality check away from the gaslighting, manipulation, unbalancing, etc. your head will clear. I used to occasionally look back in the early days but really missed the kids more than her (shared custody). Years down the line I have a much better life in every way and you will too. I wish you well.

  • You will NEVER get the truth. Even when Fuckface the sociopath told me after the first dday “I have nothing else to lose, here’s the truth”…HE STILL LIED…and continues to lie about everything, including telling people lies about me. Thankfully I’m no contact and IDGAF what he does anymore.

    The best thing you can do for yourself is leave and go no contact asap. You will NOT get any “closure” from her. She will only continue to hurt you. GTFO. (((Hugs)))

  • On a slight flip of this, once I was out after work and I remember my boss was v.v. drunk and I knew the company was going through some kind of ‘being put up for sale’ or something. I called home and said I’m just going to get boss to spill the beans on what’s going on so I’ll see you a bit later but just so you know where I am but he is so pie eyed I know he work keep his mouth shut. This ploy worked a treat as did spill all and it was mighty useful for me to know where we were and if my job was safe or not and to have a bit of crystal ball into the future. I got to the station and missed my last train by about 1 minute. Called home immediately and said argh, I’ve missed the train, just working out whether to stay at a mate’s house/get cab etc and he cried and said please don’t go off with him. I stopped in my tracks as I wasn’t up to anything, I was doing exactly what I said, totally honest, hadn’t just not turned up home and was just out and doing what I said I was doing. What made me most upset was that I had ABSOLUTELY NO INTENTION of ‘going off with anyone’ everything I had said and done was as it was, I had called, I hadn’t done a disappearing act. And I felt terrible the next day, like terrible but I think a bit because it felt like I wasn’t trusted and I didn’t want to make him upset and I was upset that he even thought that was what I was up to. But then when he was cheating he lied and lied and lied and lied (as they do) and even lied when confronted with all the evidence and started crying. A good bit of gaslighting (did I need therapy? was there something wrong with me?). It’s so f*cked up when you are an honest broker and someone accuses you of something you would never do but then goes and does way worse and lies about it with impunity for many months. It truly messes with your head. And acceptable to me it is NOT!

  • A life skill I deeply wish I had wholeheartedly learned as a youth was how to view myself and my life as complete and without being in a partner-y relationship and enjoy living that way.

    I don’t wish this because I don’t value such a relationship or don’t want to be in one. I wish this because I feel sure I would have only chosen to be in a relationship at any time because it was totally worth being in it, and I would have been quicker to end one that wasn’t working.

    I believe I probably lost time and opportunity with many people who would have been strong partners while wasting time focusing on the few shitty ones who had all of my attention all my life.

    With the education of hindsight, I now believe the best path is to find my own path and choose closeness with people whose authentic paths mesh well naturally with mine. I view platonic, romantic, and even professional relationships this way, more and more, and life has gotten a lot better because of it.

    So now, I focus on bolstering the self value and practical goodness in young people wherever I can. It’s what I wish more adults had done for me. So many times in the last several years, I’ve said something like this to a young relative or friend:

    “Why doesn’t he like you? I don’t know, really. I mean, liking other people, especially romantically, is complicated. When we’re younger it’s usually accompanied by a lot of social bullshit, too. What I do know is that if he doesn’t like you, it probably has very little to do with much about you, and it certainly doesn’t mean anything about your personal value. If you have a good heart, and behave with positive intentions, and try to be kind and honest, and shower at least semi frequently, and some other person still doesn’t like you, it’s their loss that they don’t get to have you in their lives. I know it hurts, and nobody likes to feel unliked. We’re biologically wired for belonging, so feeling left out is deeply painful. It’s ok to feel bad about it, it just also is important to only focus our full energy on the people who see and appreciate the goodness we are putting out into the world. There are literally billions of people in this world. Some will like us, some won’t. The logical thing to do is keep looking for people who we like who also like us, then putting our energy there. Maybe school is just school for you. Maybe your best people are at church or scouts or bowling or a dance class or girls who code club or something. We only find out when we try. So one boy you like doesn’t like you. Ok, then go do things you like and you’ll meet some other boys. Maybe you’ll meet a boy you like there who also likes you, and then you’ll notice because you aren’t wasting time on this boring one. Plus, you’ll be having fun either way.”

    Ah, what I wish people had said to me back then instead of what they did say. “You’re pretty, someone will like you.” “Maybe you can do this different thing so he will see you differently.” “Have you told him how you feel?” “Boys are mean to girls when they like them, maybe he does like you.” Screw all that. Screw ALL OF THAT. I want to help the world have fewer chumps, and that starts with us ALL knowing our worth!!!

    • I wrote this from my own life experience, so I wrote the genders in it as the topic typically arises in my life. The concept is genderless overall, yet our stereotypes still often tend to lean into the gender based roles our parents and grandparents were handed and lived by while raising us. Those aren’t functional, so I’m working hard to shift my thinking to match humans’ actual truths rather than the movie plot versions I’ve been fed for years.

      Point being, YMMV based on your experiences, but the essence remains true: it is OK to feel good about you, even if someone else doesn’t, and it’s important to shift our focus away from people who don’t treat us as valuable and toward people who do. It may even be the most important form of loving we do.

      • Amiisfree–

        In the end I agree that abuse is abuse no matter who’s doing it. But all the same I’ve been wondering about the association between toxic gender conceptions and cheating. What I’ve noticed is that, at least in hetero cheating, both male cheaters and she-cheaters seem to harbor a variety of porny cartoon concepts of gender even if the expression of this differs. For instance, it seems to be a common story that female FWs will screw over a decent, safe good provider type for a knuckle-dragging thug or skeevy power figure. In their turn, a lot of male FWs seem to prefer marrying stable, responsible type while banging simpering faux-girlish flytraps or cartoon biblical strumpets. In the latter case, the APs might verge on dominatrix but even that trope is arguably a product of patriarchy. It’s like they’re all trying to reconcile some sexual schism in their psyches– the need for security and appearance of wholesome normalcy with a libido that leans towards freak. And it’s like some are searching for extreme gender contrast that somehow reassures them of their own unstable gender identities, whatever that may be. It makes me question if it all stems from some form of child sexual abuse if the adult abuser expresses abuse in any kind of sexual manner.

        As far as understanding that not everyone on earth will like us, I actually do put a value judgment on people who decide right off the bat that I’m “untrustworthy” or “unlikeable” because I know myself. In spite of any minor quirks I might have, I’m pretty inoffensive. I’m respectful when I meet people and, even if I disagree in conversation, I’m very civil about it. I’ve never so much as cheated on an exam or gratuitously hurt another person and tend to stick up for the little guy but don’t act saintly about it, so if someone knee-jerkedly decides they can’t stand me, I’m usually right in guessing that, at the very least, they have histories of getting ripped off and screwed over because of their reverso instincts about who to trust. Saying this could sound like the moldy old theory of victim blaming– the idea that all victims are drawn to danger– except for the fact that people like the latter tend to be pretty mean-spirited in their own rights. At worst they tend to be serious crooks or abusers and they (accurately) sense I’m a whistleblower type. Some predators have an almost telepathic ability to suss out who might thwart their schemes so it’s a sort of back-handed honor to be identified as a “thwarter.”

    • Thank you, Amiisfree! I appreciate what you wrote about supporting young people. This is helpful to me as I have grandchildren and this gives me ideas for what to say when relationship topics come up.

  • My ex buried his head in the sand and admitted only what I could prove and not a sliver more right up until the divorce was signed.

    Still claimed they were “just catching up”, which was funny because he’s dumb and couldn’t figure out how I’d found anything so he went nuts pouring through FB because he was terrified that his “catching up” might be public.

    I don’t understand the obsession with them admitting it. Why would you play idiot games with these people?

    • “I don’t understand the obsession with them admitting it. Why would you play idiot games with these people?”

      I suspected exFW of cheating for some months prior to D-day and I wanted so bad to find evidence and get him to admit it. The “obsession” I think came from wanting validation because having been gaslit for so long, you want some kind of validation that your suspicions are correct, and that you’re not just “imagining” or “going crazy” or “jumping to conclusions”. For so long exFW would tell me I was just being insecure, or jumping to conclusions, that finding evidence and getting him to admit became an obsession.

      Once I was out of that abusive situation, I saw it for what it is, an unhealthy obsession. But when you’re in the mindfuck blender you don’t see it for what it is, hence why the OP is obsessed with getting an admission.

  • I am not a trained therapist, but I think these dysfunctional folks have an image of themselves that is just as false as the one they present to us, and possibly the rest of the world. It is like reality does not exist for them. They want to be the smartest, funniest, richest, most attractive, most successful person in their fantasy world. Any truth that proves to be contrary to who they wish they were, is dismissed.

    So, lie, lie, lie, or blame someone else. It is almost painful to watch once you catch on to the deception. Many chumps have remarked about never knowing the true person they were in a relationship with. It used to bother me that I was reasonably perceptive when it came to evaluating other people, but I had a blind spot when it came to the men I became involved with. Maybe I wanted to believe they were better than they were? I don’t know all the reasons why I spackled so well. I do know that once I truly saw who I was involved with, it was no longer acceptable for me to co-exist in that fantasy world. There was a clear moment of transition for me, a rejection of all the lies, all the discrepancies. I compare it to finding the piece of the puzzle which allows all the other pieces to easily fall in place. Once you get a clear picture of what your reality is, you cannot and will not go back into the fantasy world. That is intolerable to the users who must be admired.

    There are probably many explanations as to why these folks become so dysfunctional. Some of them may even be born that way. I just didn’t care to stick around and listen to any excuses or endure any blame shifting. Leaving the relationship and finding my own independence and freedom was enough reward for me.

    I think what you want is like the moment in court where the accused must admit to every aspect of the crime in order to get whatever deal the prosecution has offered. It is probably more painful to admit guilt than it is to be found guilty. They can always appeal a guilty verdict. I believe they only accept this fate when they know the evidence is overwhelming, and the consequence is more than they can endure. Just remember that getting free of your cheater is not about whether or not they are actually guilty of what you suspect. The reality is probably much worse than what you suspect or feel you can prove. You need to concentrate on how much better your life will be when you no longer have to be vigilant or concerned about their wrongdoing. They will continue to be the miserable self-deluded person they are. Wherever they go, they will drag that baggage with them, because they cannot put it down. You, however, will be free.

  • M., you don’t need anybody’s permission to walk away from a bad situation. You are allowed to be treated with respect, to feel safe and loved in your life. Don’t waste one more minute of your life with someone who repeatedly hurts you and you can’t trust. It doesn’t matter if you have proof of cheating or not. Talk to an attorney today and get out.

  • M, cheaters get high off of these type of questions— you are giving her a power trip over you. Just walk away. The fight is over— the marriage (mirage, citation VelvetHammer😁) died a long time ago. You cannot turn a pickle into a cucumber, unring the bell, turn back time…. Unicorns are for children’s stories, not for marriages. She lacks character and no amount of talking, begging, shouting, reasoning, or horizontal pick me dancing (aka trauma sex) can make her change from a lying cheating skank into a loving, devoted wife. Only thing to do is go no contact, hire a lawyer, file for divorce and save yourself. Better days ahead!

  • “Who are you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?” is a long time joke for a reason. That reason is, reality doesn’t matter to her. Your feelings don’t matter to her. All that matters to her is her being the center of the universe and getting to do whatever she likes. Anything that conflicts with that – including reality – must be discarded.

    She will NEVER admit it because it’s fun for her to deny it and blame you.

    Get your head out of the blender and into a lawyer’s office.

  • Word of warning to the letter writer: Not only will they never admit to you that they cheated, lied, and stole family money, they will spread their lies to any friends and family and random acquaintances who will listen. It is truly shocking, but get ready for the smear campaign from the person who once processed to love you.

    • I liked it to a WW2 size smear campaign. She went after everyone but one of best friends and my immediate family because they hated her. She told them I was an physical abuser, child porn viewer (child abuser, took me a little bit to figure why people stopped letting their kids hang out with my kids if I had the kids), and emotional abuser.

      • False claims of domestic violence are relatively rare in general but, when they exist, I think you can bet the prevaricator is at least a cheater if not violent in their own right. When I did advocacy for survivors, I rarely encountered victims who hadn’t also been a)cheated on, and b) framed as an abuser by their abuser. Abusers playing victim to their victims might be more difficult to pull off in a legal arena since, in studies of official reports, cases of likely false claims were found to be in single percentage digits. But that doesn’t stop abusers attempting smear tactics in social contexts. “DARVO” isn’t just gaslighting but also a dry run rehearsal of what abusers plan to tell others in the case their chumps get uppity.

        • She told me that women can’t be domestic abusers. She would corner me and start screaming at me until she was red in the face and start pounding on me. If I pushed her away to get away from her she would scream at the top of her lungs 🫁 “he’s doing domestic violence!”. When I told her that I will call the police she would always say “who’s are they going to believe, a man or the woman?”. It’s sad because so many people believed my ex wife and not me when the smear campaign started.

  • The Narcissist’s* Prayer
    By Dayna Craig
    [*note: you can substitute “toxic or disordered person” for narcissist – this does not require a formal diagnosis!]

    That didn’t happen.
    And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.
    And if it was, that’s not a big deal.
    And if it is, that’s not my fault.
    And if it was, I didn’t mean it.
    And if I did, you deserved it.

    • I *love* that one. So absolutely true, and *word for word exactly what ex fuckwit said to me*. These people are deranged.

      M, she won’t admit it because it’s a power trip for her. She gets off on witholding information you want. They nearly all do it. What advantage is it to her to admit the truth ? None. So she won’t.

      My ex fuckwit was exactly the same, he even lied on his FDR, and told the Court and my solicitor the rat faced whore was his lodger.

      I know how infuriating and frustrating it is, but it really, *really* doesn’t matter – *you* know what you know, so act accordingly. Kick that piece of shit to the kerb, get yourself a good lawyer, and gain a life. ((hugs)).

    • I keep repeating the point that this is also the mantra of serial killers. Serial anything. Someone who was one-and-done with a particular offense might– if just for selfish reasons– seek to get everything off their consciences. The lies, obfuscations and blame-shifting have to be taken as a direct measure of intent to strike again.

  • ‘She gets the sulky teen who can’t stand your oppression…partner or parent” …it is so good to be out of this dynamic. The push-pull of a relationship that has devolved to lying and cheating and trying to understand what is going on with my “partner”. Spackling away to make him happy. The roller coaster of emotion. A relationship in rapid decline is exhausting. When you are beating your head against a wall, just feels so good. Hugs!

  • My ex wife denied and denied everything unless I got 110% proof. She would tell me that “I told you I wasn’t going to get rid of my male friends when I married you!” (When I called her out on hanging out with married male friends without their wives or me present) and “I made many mistakes” and “I had many emotional affairs” when I asked her how many affairs she had. The only thing she would admit to was that my daughter wasn’t mine after an Ancestry DNA test proved she wasn’t and that they only had sex 5-6 times over 2 YEARS 😆😆😆. All other questions like the secret apartments/PO Boxes/bank accounts were met with “I don’t remember” and it’s “your fault for breaking the marriage”. She actually gave me a list of 30 things I needed to change for us to reconcile! Be like me, I filed 2 1/2 weeks after DDay when a lawyer ran a background check on her and I saw her whole double life unfold before me. And the wedding ring thing. My ex wife never took it off. The AP’s didn’t care one bit that SHE was married. They, of course, freaked out when I told their wives.

    • Well done Sir! These people really run a game on us. I really think it’s the thrill of deceit, it makes them alive, or something. Pretty sick

    • Good for you for informing the wives. Good for you for getting out in such short order too.

      It’s probably not that surprising that your ex’s APs didn’t care about her wedding ring. According to studies on “mate poaching,” it seems the general meat market rules apply to male and female poachers. She-poachers, like garden variety bar flies, are more likely doing a bait and switch– feigning interest in casual hookups while actually looking to poach for long term commitment– while male poachers are more likely looking for shorter term bang-fests. In the latter case, rings would be reassuring. In the former, not so much. FW confessed in the “full disclosure” part of RIC that the AP was increasingly nagging FW about his ring. She’d apparently get very angry if he forgot to take it off. The PI I hired caught a funny photo of FW grimly tugging off his ring as he got out of the car and walked a few yards to the APs basement studio. He had this cartoon frowny, miserable, furrowed-brow expression that was exactly like what you’d expect to see in a reverse cliche of the situation: the resentful husband married to the old ball and chain grimly jamming his ring back on as he approached the family home. Oops, out of the fire, into the frying pan.

    • My ex is now on match again (caught him actively on it in the early days and believe he went back this past spring). Now, after we separated, he is bummed out. Apparently, online dating sucks when you are legit separated. I suspect his wedding ring was a turn on for many.

      Now, it’s probably also sucky without the dupers delight component.

      • Like Velvet Hammer has said, cheating is a three legged stool. Take away the “victim leg” and the thing falls over.

      • “You aren’t the boss of me” and “I know something you don’t know” are big turn-ons for some (perhaps many) cheaters. Also, once you cut them loose, they no longer have a triangle to protect them from the demands of the affair partner. They’re just in another relationship that will turn ordinary in a few weeks or months.

  • Aside from the initial validation from her that your reality is correct, I think you want her to admit to cheating so that she will see her wrongs and try to make them right. It’s not going to happen.

    It’s not going to happen.

    It’s not going to happen.

    Have someone you trust validate your reality. A close friend, a therapist, a family member. We here believe you and say she’s cheating and lying, but also find and use your “posse.”

    Remember that most people don’t change. If she’s driving you crazy like this now and you hate it, do you want to keep doing this to yourself? You have the agency to leave.

    You can do it.

  • I often wonder…. When movies and TV shows portray the cheater as a despicable waste of a human being do “our” cheaters think “yup, that’s me!” and cringe at their own behavior? Or do they gaslight themselves?

    • I think there’s a lot of clinical evidence that serial abusers and other criminals gaslight themselves. I always post a link to this paper on the “quasi split personality” and mental “guilt reduction” strategies of a range of serial offenders. Click “download” for a free read:

      Though I agree that it’s generally better not to fall into the trap of untangling skeins because of the danger of thinking we can “fix” what’s wrong with cheaters, it can be sobering and tends to kill “hopium” to realize that compulsive cheaters are on the same behavioral continuum with Ted Bundy in certain ways. Ever hear of a reformed serial killer?

    • Definitely gaslight themselves, I think. It’s a rare liar and all round piece of shit who actually owns up to what they are – there’s always an excuse, it just happened, you drove me to it, blah blah blah.

      Very few of them see themselves for what they are, they have a false persona/view of themselves which they really believe is true. Ex fuckwit truly believed he was a good person, who was always doing nice things for people who were ungrateful. One of his texts to me when he was still trying to persuade me he wasn’t cheating: ” rat faced whore has had nothing all her life ! I’m just trying to show her how the other side lives ! Excuse me for being *soft* !”

      I think he really saw himself as a sort of knight in shining armour who was only trying to uplift a a poor little chav. And it gave him a nice sense of superiority. He even tried to convince the Court, and my solicitor, that she was just his lodger, who he’d kindly given a roof to, because she was having problems with her family, and she was ill.🙄

      The fact that he was lying to his wife, and gaslighting his wife ? I don’t know how he reconciled that, but he managed.

      • “Ex fuckwit truly believed he was a good person, who was always doing nice things for people who were ungrateful.”

        Sounds like we married the same whiny little bitch. Mine believes he gets points for doing favors for people (it was mostly for people at work and his whore, not for me) which then allows him to lie and cheat with impunity. When confronted, he sniveled about how many people he’s helped being proof he’s a good guy. Moron.

        So did the judge believe your FW’s excuses?

        • “So did the judge believe your FW’s excuses?”

          Nope. I was awarded the full price of the sale of our family home. Fuckwit had forked out £800 for a barrister, (I assume because his solicitor told him he had no case) but it did him no good. 🤣😂🤣

      • Sam Vaknin did a good YT video recently on this called savior/rescuer as entitled narcissist (though he was also giving a go at his frenemy Richard Grannon)

      • Mine was the same. He tried to convince me that the dozens of strippers that he dry fucked in the back of the clubs “needed his help”. Didn’t I know what awful lives they led? Didn’t I understand that he was helping them get out of that life by paying them for sex? I mean, why couldn’t I see that? Worse yet, I think he believed it.

      • ChumpNoMore…I agree with your view. I’ve heard that type of behavior described as “performative” (and it is). They might do good deeds and be helpful as a way to throw people off. It’s really just a show, a performance. It’s fake.

        And (like the example you shared above) it is also to make themselves feel better, i.e. “Look at me, I’m such a good person! I help others!”

    • They absolutely gaslight themselves. My STBX has convinced himself that he is different than all other abusers. He’s NOT an abuser and actually I’m the one who has the potential to get violent. *eyeroll* Any time I pointed out his abusive behavior he would scream at me “I’m not a villain! You’re always making me a villain!” while he SCREAMED AT ME. They gaslight the shit out of themselves because they can’t live with what they’ve done if they don’t.

  • So much better alone, than with the liar who stays out all night! Trust me, I know from experience. When you have to locate your wandering ‘partner’ on the regular, it’s truly over. You’re just torturing yourself, thinking you can hang in there and save it. Not worth anything anymore, just leave and file.
    I’m so glad I learned the mistake of sunk costs! 32 years, but look forward, that’s where you’re going.

  • M,
    This is blatant, in your face, DISRESPECT.
    Her behaviour says F OFF at every turn.
    If it was me, and I had to do it all over again because FW loved the guys night outs and golf trips with drinking buddies too…
    I would answer back to the F OFF with an F U. Then I would gladly F OFF. All the way OUT of this sick game.

    Get to safety M.

  • M–
    I’m hoping that your cheater has no other grounds to call you a “batterer” than the fact that you’re pressuring her to tell the truth. Believe me, even male cheaters pull this one. If you have never lain a finger on her in anger nor screamed her into a corner, her comment of feeling like a “battered woman” is a pretty clear threat that she’s going to lie about you to others– possibly even to authorities– in the case you try to divorce her or do anything she doesn’t like.

    Because of that not-so-veiled threat, I think you’re at risk for false charges. If there are pragmatic reasons you can’t immediately leave or lock her out of the house, you should take measures to protect yourself as you get organized and plan your exit from this marriage. Some of those measures may cost a bit of cash but could save you a lot in the long run. The first thing to do as you get your ducks in a row is consult with a lawyer regarding your rights and to get counsel on legal ways to defend yourself. Some lawyers may have cheap or free initial consults. If it’s confirmed to be legal in your region (it is in most), consider getting hidden surveillance cameras set up around the home. These aren’t just to gather proof of what she’s doing but proof of what you’re *not* doing. Which is not screaming at her, grabbing her, giving her third degree interrogations, stalking her, beating her or doing anything aggressive towards her. Run the system 24/7 for a period in order to trap her in any lies she may tell others about your conduct. There are some very tiny and unobtrusive spy cameras and nanny cams with audio on the market these days. Look for well-rated ones which send dated feed directly to your devices. Leave current copies of daily newspapers lying around in view of cameras to prove dates are accurately recorded.

    If you’re in a region that has fault divorce where divorce courts penalize adultery, getting proof of infidelity could be to your advantage as well. For one, it could reduce the amount of support she could attempt to claim in divorce proceedings. But be careful about how you get that proof. If you can afford to hire a licensed private investigator, it sounds like it would be a short project for a PI to get proof of infidelity because your wife is apparently pretty regular in her flagrant behavior. And because your cheater has already barked up the tree of trying to accuse you of abuse, the other benefit to hiring a PI is leaving the sleuthing and spying to a professional so you don’t end up looking like a controlling stalker. Some people are concerned that hiring a PI is “stalkerish” and doesn’t look good but lawyers, judges and courts don’t tend to view this as “psycho.” An experienced PI will have relationships with many attorneys (any attorney you retain could probably recommend one) and, because they frequently testify in divorce, they will know judges and the courts. Legal professionals often appreciate having professional proof from private investigators because it makes their jobs much easier. An experienced PI can also advise you on how to legally protect yourself. If you also save the evidence of any texts she sends in which she’s lying to you about her whereabouts and activities in the course of cheating, it all adds to the picture that she’s prone to lying and also would prove she has incentive to blame-shift in the case she ever tries to accuse you of domestic abuse.

    Another thing you should do immediately is get a full battery of tests for sexually transmitted diseases. There was a study that showed that cheaters are far more likely than others to contract and pass on STDs than even people in “open” marriages. This likely relates to other studies showing that cheaters tend to have personality disorders and psychopathic traits and lead high risk lifestyles in general, including having unprotected sex, drugs, heavy drinking, driving under the influence, etc.

    That’s the takeaway here: even if cheating is common, the people who do it are not “normal.” Cheaters tend to have serious personality disorders and actually get off on conning others. If they’re “addicted” to anything, it’s betrayal. If getting proof helps in legally and financially protecting yourself and you decide to do so, there’s the final danger that she will– when confronted with solid proof– suddenly shift into “fake remorse mode” and suck you into giving her another chance because that’s what psychos do. From what you’ve already described about her behavior, it sounds like giving her another chance to wreck your life would be a big mistake. As others are attesting here, even if she’s caught red handed, she’ll only admit to what you can prove and is guaranteed to continue lying about everything else. You will never, ever know the full story. Cheaters actually measure their self worth on their ability to deceive so will always keep as much back as they can. And as she continues lying, she’s paving the way to cheat again.

    Unless you want to spend the rest of your life sleeping badly (and likely dying prematurely because of it) and stuck in the permanent role of “crotch warden” for a compulsive cheater who might, at any moment, up and leave you for some rando, consider cutting your losses and getting out for good. It sounds as if you’re relatively young and you have your whole life ahead of you. Plan accordingly.

    • If I thought they would frame me as an abuser, after an attorney, I’d never be alone with that person. It wouldn’t be safe for you. Cameras would be a given too. But if I knew it was over I’m would guess the pretending would end and I would always have a witness with me or get away and let attorneys handle communication. They already hate you so no love lost and you’ll see who they are.

      • Ideally we should be able to bolt but there are conditions and circumstances that can make this difficult for some people, especially financial limitations or if there are children involved. It takes time to gather important documents, particularly if an abuser makes this harder (typical red flags for abuse is losing and destroying things of value to their victims as well as hiding evidence of financial abuse). If a victim has been systematically socially isolated (typical) and no local friends or relatives and overburdened shelters require proof of violence as a condition of staying, does the victim of emotional abuse live on the street? It can be illegal to lock a partner out without legal grounds in some places. It can be illegal to take the kids outright. If an abuser is threatening to fabricate a child abuse case against a victim (as many do), the victim may need to prepare carefully. If the victim intends to get full custody on the basis of abuse, they’d better have an airtight case lest they be accused of “parental alienation.” And, despite the fact that bolting seems to make the most sense when abuse involves violence, since abusers are 70 times more likely to kill victims within two weeks of the victim escaping, leaving is a bit like defusing a bomb and has to be done with greater caution.

    • Oh, he meant she said it? I thought he was saying he felt that way.
      You’re right. It’s a veiled threat and he needs to run.

  • My name is crispy chick because of the nonstop gaslighting and because natalie maines is my spirit animal. So this letter is right up my alley. I could have written it myself a couple months ago (only without witnesses and photographic evidence!). I wanted proof to shut that mother fucker up… He continues to tell me and everyone else that I am “crazy and jealous”. Just did again last week when trying to settle before mediation.

    The Phone as appendage, long baths with the iPad, texts to old gfs and fellow DBT group participants (wtf??!!), locking himself in the basement late at night, indoor cameras trained on his electronics when hes gone (covered or off when hes using them), odd gps locations before/during/after 4-5 hour golf outings, golf shorts testing positive for semen and with what appears to be pink lipstick, missing dashcam video, and [insert 20 other cheater red flags] is completely NORMAL, Crispy.

    But then I answered CLs question — is this relationship acceptable to me? No, it wasn’t. That right there is cold hard fact…take it to the bank. Cause Mama is out. Do I still want proof? Sure, it would be nice cause I think some husbands nearby (and a few afar) deserve to know. But i know enough.

    What CL and CN (and this very letter) have taught me is that proof won’t shut him up. So I am not playing this game anymore. Moving on.

  • I am going back and reading all the years of Tracy’s writing. It. Is AMAZING! This one writing had me laughing so hard that I got tears in my eyes. This is not snark, this is brilliance. So I am still going through a divorce with my sick serial cheater. No end in sight..but just this weekend I realized that my cheater DID. NOT LOVE ME.He was using me. When I retired in 2017, he lost my paycheck, when his 95 year old dad and then mom died in 2020, he no longer needed me as the family nurse and care giver. When o said no to his intimate abuse and threats ( if you don’t put out, some else will)..he lost his yes girl who would just roll over on command. IT was over then and the abuse escalated along with other woman. This is NOT love. I had to learn who this evil person was NOW and not who I wanted to be my husband in my dreams. The other guy, not this one. It takes time to color in the truth. The heart ❤️ catches up way after the brain has it. Give yourself a minute but get help asap. These people do change but it takes years. My first cheater just got a changed heart 37 years after leaving me on the delivery room table.My current STBX cheater will take many more years. I do not have the time anymore. It is over. Get out while you can. This is not true love.

      • Agree, CNM6. I doubt very much the first cheater in 2XC’s case has genuinely changed. A lot of people get a temporarily thankful perspective after a life threatening event, but then they start to take everything for granted again. If they were the kind of people to be sincere about lasting change, they wouldn’t have been cheaters to begin with. There might be the occasional one who changes, but it is certainly not the norm.

        • The first cheater, after 37 years, may not have the equipment needed to pursue women for sex anymore. He may be ready instead for the “nurse and a purse.”

      • Domestic batterers have a recidivism rate of about 97% *even with jail time and therapy.* Recidivism is apparently worse with just therapy and far worse with neither jail nor therapy. Since I don’t see much difference between the psychology of battering and cheating and cheaters generally don’t go to prison for plugging randos, I imagine the unicorn rate would be tenths of a percent or something. Even if a batterer stops battering, there will always be lingering intimidating behaviors that will send already traumatized victims’ heart rates and cortisol levels soaring from time to time. By the same token, even if a cheater stops physically acting out, the risk is that there will always be “behaviors”– periodic juvenile crushes that trigger bouts of “devalue and discard” emotional abuse, flirting, lying about time spent with coworkers or “old friends,” gawking and gandering, porn, etc.– that will keep chumps’ teeth set permanently on edge and shorten their life expectancy. You can’t win for losing with an abuser, even a so-called “reformed” one.

        • The chances of hearing “you don’t want me to have any friends” when the first “old friend” or co-worker wants to have lunch or go jogging or meet for coffee” is near 100% too.

          • Agree, LAJ. The “friend” thing is now a red flag to me. It can depend in *some* situations…my elderly mom has lunch once a year with her former boss and his husband (gay couple) but there’s obviously nothing going on there. In that case, it really is innocent.

            But you are so on the money otherwise! I called my husband out on his female “friends” and coworkers when I noticed things were a bit too close for comfort.
            He clammed up with the silent treatment, got huffy and distant. I explained that female friends are not a problem…it’s the weird vibes I was getting from him, the two female coworkers who were just a bit too needy, the texts, the oversharing of details, the lack of boundaries.

            Another red flag went up at one point because one of these women apparently hangs out in this area after work, rather close to where we live. She doesn’t live around here but the excuse is that she shops at a certain place…which is a short distance from our home. The first time I met her years ago, I didn’t suspect anything. Now I have to wonder…is she really just a “friend”/coworker or more than that?

    • 2xchump🚫again, I agree with Chumpnomore6 and susie lee: cheaters don’t change. As susie lee said, they can pretend for long periods of time, but sooner or later, their true character will reassert itself.

  • My X was a 4th degree Knight of Columbus. Apparently, very pious. What I know now is that Jesus Christ, himself, with a Louisville Slugger couldn’t beat the truth ‘outa him. He absolutley did not give a cr@p what others thought or how much red handed evidence was present, no one was going to make him say anything!
    As blunt as the imagery is, that sad thought is what finally made me realize that XH does not believe people deserve to be told the truth. It actually made him angry, condesending and nasty if pushed.

    • “What I know now is that Jesus Christ, himself, with a Louisville Slugger couldn’t beat the truth ‘outa him” – okay, but it would be entertaining to watch him try!

    • Perhaps not, but when your X is burning in the fiery lake of hell for all eternity, will he still be able to maintain his facade?

  • From my research on reddit infidelity pages, this is called “die in the lie”. I have concluded that cheaters do this based on the chance of reconciliation, when they will attempt to convince you it was all a very unfair misunderstanding. My own FW denied all knowledge when I found AP’s belongings under the passenger seat of my car, when I got a late night phone call from AP looking for FW, and last of all, when I was diagnosed with an STD. Die in the lie indeed!

    • “Die in the lie.” Very useful shorthand reference. I will likely never know, for instance, whether FW bonked the AP in our house while I was away with the kids. Even after confessing to a slew of filthy details during the “full disclosure” part of the RIC fiasco, FW seemed bent on taking this one to his grave. I don’t know if this is because he doesn’t want the kids to know he had that steaming turd in the house they grew up in or simply because reserving a few lies gives FW a warm and fuzzy feeling.

      Because two pairs of diamond earrings went missing during the affair, I assume the former AP isn’t going to brag about it either even if she were tempted to goad me with it. I’m only left to guess. The way it makes me feel about the house itself is still a little cringy, sort of like avoiding the spot on the floor where a pet had a major crapisode for several weeks after the event no matter how much the spot was scrubbed. After D-Day, I tossed the marital mattress and all bedding using hazmat protocols. But time and distance are great sanitizers. It’s unlikely the APs cooties have survived 1000 rounds of enzyme and oxy cleaners on the rest of the house. And time and distance are making me care less and less. Eventually I won’t care at all.

      That seems to be the ironic thing about particularly haunting lies: if we ever do find out the truth, it’s usually going to happen when we’re fully in “meh.”

    • Or the cheater doesn’t want actual reconciliation but rather a continuation of whatever the spouse appliance is providing. A paycheck, help with the kids, respectability, a pension, access to Social Security at retirement, maybe an inheritance up the road. Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with love, affection, or commitment.

      • Yes. I have wondered a zillion times why he returned after living away for 1.5 years (claiming he was only “working” 3000 miles away and he wasn’t cheating). I think it was respectability and that I was tending the kids well (which he didnt want to do). Lying kept his options open and he loved having options more than almost anything.

        If you had told me during the worst if his betrayal and cruelty (when I had emotional pain so intense my physical body hurt) that I would ever get to Meh and not give a fuck about what he did – I would have told you that you were crazy. Thoughts of his betrayal and cruelty flow through my mind with little more import than me thinking of tasks I have to do during a day…its just background noise.

    • My spouse did this LITERALLY.

      Fessed up to “sharing hotel rooms with” OW but literally denied until he was dead.

      After he died, I found proof enough to reconsider a thousand weird, odd things that now look like cheating, cheating, and cheating (all the while being mean as hell).

      I need no more proof. Im certain he cheated on and off for the better part of 29 years. I would like to know more details but I will never get them.

      Ive mentioned this before, but I am Catholic and believe that Purgatory is real and I am comforted by knowing God is holding him accountable.

  • Dear M:

    Based on all the evidence you’ve collected, her shenanigans have been going on for a while; chances are, for far longer than you can even imagine. Your best move right now is to stop the mental machinations you’re putting yourself through in trying to untangle her web of lies, and accept the fact that your spouse is a serial cheater and needs to be booted from your home and your life ASAP. Every day that you remain married to her is a day mired in mindfuckery, a day that you could be free of her abuse and living in peace. And since time is the most valuable commodity that any human being possesses, you don’t have a single day to waste.

  • Maybe there’s a market for “Quack! Get your ducks in a row!” greeting cards. With supportive message inside, of course.

    Very few chumps get the full truth and I suspect that hurts a lot, too.

  • Trust your gut and know that what you know is probably only the tip of the iceberg. They can be so deep in denial that they may not grasp the depth of what they’ve done and how they’ve hurt you. You likely will never get much in the way of owning up or providing insights, so accept that.

    However, after my ex repeatedly crossed his own attorney, his attorney became tell-all and blabbed all kinds of stuff to mine. No wonder that attorney didn’t want to go to trial; it would have all blown up on him. Mine told me that attorneys at that level don’t want cases that are headed down the tubes that make them look bad in front of the judge. Then his attorney changed sides and got it signed. I got my good settlement.

    So I ended up with both legal teams on my side. That was my closure. Even his thrice-married, somewhat unethical attorney thought that my ex was what he called a “dumpster fire” and told mine to tell me that he felt sorry for me.

  • The ex never admitted his affair with exgfOW. I was dumped, blamed myself for being a terrible wife after being provided with a long list of my faults. Then, a few weeks later, when uploading a job application, his emails popped up on the home computer. His was the default email setting which triggered to open when I tried to upload the application form. If he had any technical ability, he would have sorted it before he left but he could never get to grips with Windows! And, amongst emails from Brooks Bros and various wine merchants, were two threads from his exgf from whom he split up 30 years previously. At first I thought it was spam! But slowly the truth dawned on me. I sat with the information for a week. Then texted him to say that I knew that he had ‘rekindled’ his relationship with a woman who was,frankly, unpleasant (I didn’t mention the last bit). He responded with ‘truth and perception are not the same thing’. He stuck to denials even when I told him what the emails said. He lied to everyone , including his closest friends, most of whom knew the woman and few of whom could believe that he had been so stupid as to jump when she said jump. It was like a trashy romance! I’m ashamed to have ever had any kind of relationship with him now. He never admitted the affair and he never will. And that’s ok because I know the truth which is all that matters. And he knows that I know. He will die knowing that I know what a lowlife he is. There’s nothing he can do about that. I’ll never see him again but I’ll always know the truth. That’s powerful.

    • Hi MW…I remember you sharing your story. I’m so sorry for what he did to you. Hope life is better now! I think (apologies if I’m mistaken) that this was an ex-girlfriend from high school or college? And 30 years ago? That was a similar situation I had, too.

      I never got all the proof I needed, but about two years ago while visiting my in-laws, his mom brought up how his high school girlfriend dumped him on graduation day back in 1988 and how he never got over it.
      I already knew that (she thought she was telling me something I didn’t know!) and it made me wonder if maybe he was back in touch with the ex-girlfriend. That year I lost weight, I lost sleep, my mental health was shot. I combed through his social media looking for proof that he might have been talking to her.

      I still don’t know. Her sons are both adults now and she is still married to her husband, living in another state. So again, just want to show some empathy and support for what you had to deal with.
      I think that when a person is betrayed for an old flame, it can hurt bad because you’ve loved your partner, you’ve put your whole heart into it, and the minute their ex comes back…poof! It’s destroyed in an instant.

      And it can make you wonder, was the love they had for you real? Or were they waiting and hoping for their ex to come back one day? You are truly mighty. You didn’t deserve that at all. I hope life keeps improving more for you every day.

  • M: On the one hand, it always feels nice when someone admits that’s they’ve done something horrible. It also validates our own perceptions and experiences.

    However. Spending so much time and effort trying to get a liar and a cheat to admit what she did is to doom yourself to a lifetime of tug of war. You catch her cheating and she denies it. Or she blames you for what she did. And then you look for the next instance and try again. You’re stuck in hell because your focus is your cheating wife rather than your own well-being. If you want proof, hire a private investigator. But only after you get your financial ducks in a row (making copies of all financial and legal documents from the marriage(, see a lawyer and start a divorce in motion. Do you want to be right (get a known liar to confess) or do you want to be happy? And maybe someday loved and cherished?

  • Google “Promise Yourself” by Peter Virdee. Traitor Ex keeps a copy taped on the wall next to his desk.

    As you read it, try to wrap your head around the fact that this is displayed by a man who lies, has had a secret sexual double life for who knows how long, hid money over the course of twenty years, ghosted his own child and prioritized an individual he met on Craigslist Casual Encounters, put an illegal GPS tracking device on my car. A thief, Traitor, liar, cheater, criminal has this on the wall next to his desk.

    Does it really matter why? Knowing someone is stunningly fucked up is enough. I don’t need to know why the house is on fire before I get out.

  • The idea of asking yourself “is this a relationship I want”? is so freeing. I spent years trying to calibrate and be fair and thinking that walking away is so unfair. I was doing the fair thing of confronting and attempting to discuss. Could not get past the brick wall of denial.

  • I have time stamped, video evidence of my FW screwing AP. He still explained to me why, in his mind, he wasn’t cheating. I told him, your mind is flawed because of XYZ evidence. He said “I know, I know” and hung his head. But still, the words I cheated or I’m a cheater never crossed his lips. Only “we’ve both hurt each other in this marriage”. Later, talking to a therapist for our daughter, she told me – you know, your ex is telling me he didn’t cheat on you – I responded with, “I don’t know what else to tell you, except he’s lying to you.” She said I know- you can’t sleep with someone else while married and NOT be cheating. Don’t waste your breath. They’re comfortable living a lie. Let them.

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