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How Did You Explain Your Split?

Not that it’s anyone’s business, but how did you explain your split from a cheater?

“I didn’t like his girlfriend” is one that gets passed around here a lot. Did you have a snappy rejoinder? Or emotionally vomit all over strangers’ shoes?

To suddenly navigate the world unpartnered can feel fraught. Relationships are part of our identity, and even the most stalwart of individualists can feel awkward trying explain a fuckwit’s absence.

My advice here is to feel zero shame. About divorce or the chump condition (it’s sadly incredibly common). While I don’t suggest spray-painting their name on a bridge span (or unfurling the banner in this meme) — if it feels good, don’t do it — some snark is granted.

You’re the keeper of your story. So, Friday Challenge, how did you tell it?


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.
  • Something like “FW was sleeping with his coworker. I had no idea. Then I started noticing he was doing strange things and confronted him — I didn’t even believe it. But as soon as I confronted him, he walked out and moved in with AP. I had no idea. It was awful.” And usually a few more questions come up and I let them know I divorced him and made sure son was ok. Sometimes it’s 30 seconds… sometimes it turns into discussion and laughs. Sometimes it leads to discovery that it also happened to the person I’m talking to.

  • I think that I had a tendency to emotionally vomit until I settled on “She left the kids and I to be with an old boyfriend of hers.”

    If I was feeling extra snarky, I would add in that “her denying having had an affair and then bridging into suggesting an open relationship in a single sentence didn’t sit well with me.”

    Just for effect you understand 😉


      • I was threatened if I told her friends (anyone on Facebook) that she would make up stuff about me… Ok yea meh

  • I just started telling people recently, so this is a good question for me right now. 🙂 Well, I told my family and closest friends, when it all went down a year and a half ago. But then in the year of wreckonciliation and brain blending, I didn’t really tell anyone new, because I was hoping we could somehow work it out (silly me).
    Now I mostly tell people a short recap of what went down. That I found out he had been cheating on me for our entire relationship with a bunch of different women and was basically living a double life. That I tried to reconcile, but it was literally impossible/I had nothing to work with. That does it for most people. If it’s my friends or people closer to me, we usually get into it more. Everyone asks, how I found out and that actually opens up a whole chapter about the last (and longest lasting) OW. So if people know her and her husband (who was the one that told me), I usually just tell everything as it was. The funny thing is that this guy (the OW’s husband) threatened my STBX (they used to be close friends) that he musn’t EVER tell anyone at all, especially not their common friends/friend group (because he’s still with her of course and doesn’t want the shame and judgement of staying with a lying cheating hoe). But I have no trouble telling them, they’re mostly my friends and acquaintances too. I’m just here, sitting in my chair eating popcorn, waiting for shit to go down. And it’s truly not out of spite or revenge or whatever, I just have no reason to lie to anyone in order to protect disordered people. It’s my story, my truth, so I tell it as it is.

    • Also, this bitch is in my wedding album. We (both couples) got married the same summer in the midst of their affair and we were both at each other’s weddings as well. They were cheating one year before that and the year after as well. Why the f* get married? She babysat my little girl. And wanted to be friends with me so much. It’s all so sick and twisted it’s hard not to tell people actually. So yeah, sometimes I barf too. But mostly with my close friends.

      • “We (both couples) got married the same summer in the midst of their affair and we were both at each other’s weddings as well. They were cheating one year before that and the year after as well. Why the f* get married?”

        I would guess that made the cheating even more fun for them. The more transgressive it is, the bigger the thrill.

          • Also recommend burning the cut pics of her. Somehow burning the old photos and lie-filled love notes/cards was cathartic for me

        • Actually FW has the album. In the middle of “reconciliation” he wanted to “make it right”, so he took the album and contacted our wedding photographer to make a new selection of photos for the album (without her in it).. funny shit. Like you can make it go away 🙂
          He can keep it, look at the photos and weep, being a sad sausage most of the time.

      • Why get married? Lots of cake. And the cake-iest cake is wedding cake, I guess.

      • One way I found out about one of his affairs was because the OW kept trying to be my friend. Then she suddenly stopped talking to me when I guess the affair turned from her just flirting with him to the real thing.

    • “I just have no reason to lie to anyone in order to protect disordered people. It’s my story, my truth, so I tell it as it is.”

      I absolutely agree. My story I tell who I want. I don’t lie, or tell things I am not sure about, but basically I had the financial records to prove it, and he had an ethics complaint filed against him, and he got busted in rank. (she was his direct report).

      He didn’t get to keep the life we had built together as I am sure he thought he would. And honestly I thought he would too. I readily admit that when I read of his demotion in the paper, it put a bounce in my step for a couple days.

      • Big question and concern here – when we out a cheater at work and they lose income, this can negatively impact us as well right? If I share the fuckwits behavior at work and HR fires him, I believe he won’t waste 2 thoughts on coming after me for child support. Has anyone here experienced this?

        • You absolutely have to consider how your actions against him will affect you, and it sucks. I soooo wanted to ruin ex-FW – turn him into the Bar, get him prosecuted for felony bigamy – but that would have hurt my son and me financially if he was unemployed/unemployable, so I couldn’t. So you do have to consider all angles before you act. Generally better to wait for your settlement to act.

          On child support specifically, yes, he might come after you if you go after him and get him fired. If he does get fired, you can argue that he’s voluntarily unemployed due to his own conduct and then try to attribute to him his former income for calculation purposes, but it doesn’t always work. (I was a child support attorney for many years in two different US states, and I’ve seen it go both ways depending on the judge.)

        • Yes, I didn’t pursue disciplinary action against OW for threatening me (she was my coworker; I did make a report so it was on record if she escalated), or report her and FW for their affair (yup, he worked there too), nor did I report them at their new job where he was her supervisor and I knew they’d lied about their preexisting relationship. Because then I ran the risk of FW losing his job and me having to pay HIM child support, and making him angrier than he already was. It was more important to me that my son be taken care of then that I get some kind of satisfaction from ruining their lived.

          In the end it all came out right, so I’m glad I held my tongue.

  • I barfed on everyone. Everyone! The reason I did was because I was so utterly she’ll shocked I was looking to anyone and everyone for sense checking that it was indeed as bad as I thought it was. It’s one thing to find out your whole life was a lie, but I also had the massive post separation abuse to deal with. So because I was so confused I just looked to others to check my sanity. It helped because everyone else was also shocked by it!

    • The people I barfed on got a lot of it and for a long time. I separated those who I told nothing (my parents and other people I didnt want him to look bad in front of) but the gals at work and Cheaters sister got it daily for a long time.

      He said he was leaving me because I was a terrible wife then he didnt leave but when he said he decided to stick with me/kids then he moved away “to work” ( not to “live”, mind you) to a place 3000 miles from us where the main OW was also “working” (not “living”, she resided in Seattle). His excuse was that there were “no jobs” in Washington DC.

      • I projectile vomited to everyone and felt bad about it. I felt bad I was ruining FW’s name. I later found out that she had been planning all this and had painted me to be an abuser, not physically of course but the standard emotional, verbal and psychological. Most people have wised up but there are still those who believe sweet innocent FW. Man I was blinded by love and so trusting

    • I barfed on absolutely everyone too! I couldn’t control it! I also had massive post separation abuse to deal with and I feel like that is one of the reasons. He was so awful and was even telling people I just left him and he had no idea why.

      • I wish I had spilled. I was so humiliated and confused, but I should have at least told anyone who would listen how abusive he was the year of discard.

        By the time I got to where I could stand up again, it was too late. But, everyone knew he was a lying con man by then, so that helped a bit.

        My advice to baby chumps is spill to anyone who shows an interest, even the nosy neighbor down the street. If you hold it in, it may come back to bite you hard down the line.

        • Nosy neighbors are usually the best gossipmongers ! Sing like a 🐦!

      • After spending years devaluing me to my face and to everyone in our tiny remote community, he was just baffled(!) that I ‘left’ him. He ‘just couldn’t wrap his head around it’. And the amazing thing is, that after years of emotional and financial abuse and rampant infidelity, I think he really couldn’t understand why I left.

        • Skunkcabbage, my sociopath ex thought I would never leave him. Can’t really blame him; it rained D-Days for three years while I threatened and attempted breakups that never stuck.

          Until, finally, one did.

          He still didn’t believe my words. He did believe the For Lease sign that appeared in the yard of our shared rental (the lease was in my name).

          It’s been five years since I dumped him. These days, I rarely talk about him (except here). And I never use his name. He’s “my fuckwit ex boyfriend” or his contact name on my phone: Community Dick.

          • “And I never use his name.” Hah, if anyone mentions her ex’s name, a friend always responds with a quote from Romeo and Juliet: “My ghostly father, no! I have forgot that name and that name’s woe!”

            She changed the punctuation a little for effect and added a deliberately bad plummy accent and overwrought “theatah” gestures. So much fun and people always laugh. Somewhere on the other side of town her ex monster dies a little and doesn’t know why.

    • Same. The FW had been on staff at our church. (I was in the worship band.) He put on a good act, making everyone at church believe how devoted he was and much he loved me. Others would tell me how he would sing my praises in their staff meetings, and how lucky I was to have such a caring husband. 🙄 So everyone was shocked when I told them he had left me for a Chinese massage parlor worker while I was across the country caring for my sick mother. Turning off the security cameras on our home, sneaking out his shit like a thief in the night. People’s mouths were hanging open, expressions of wide-eyed disbelief. So shocked that I almost felt like I needed to apologize to some of them. They just didn’t know what to say.

      Now, four years later, I no longer vomit on all and sundry. Usually I just say my husband left, and leave out the lurid details. Just depends on the situation. But I am not ashamed of it. It is, sadly, my truth. He is the one who should be ashamed.

    • I did as well… unfortunately it bled over into my teenager’s world which caused a lot of distance in our relationship. That was a huge mistake and I’m still trying to earn her trust again.

      • I encouraged my teenage son to barf all over anyone he wanted to. And I he did, to his friends and also some teachers/counselors at school. So we both barfed all over everyone. I decided it was healthier for him (and me) to do that than bottle it up and have it become our shame. We didn’t do anything wrong. I know every situation is different, but we’ve never regretted it.

    • Same for me, FKA. For me, it wasn’t even a conscious decision. I think subconsciously I was trying to check my sanity, like you, because I honestly couldn’t believe it, and I probably was looking to be comforted by others’ outrage and sympathy for me.

  • The truth! To everyone…for at least a year as I recovered from my state of shock. I’m an introvert and I blurted out the sordid truth to total strangers…something about needing to see the expression on their faces, to confirm that his behavior really was that outrageous. That this new reality was mine. After I recovered from the shock, and was fortunate to retain the best #!@! lawyer in my city, the rage commenced. It powered me through the divorce. Now I’m in the phase of smiling and thanking my lucky stars that he is gone. Life is sweet on the other side!

    • I totally get this need for validation. I have this too. Waiting for the anger and rage to kick in…..

  • The dealbreaker was dating three women, getting tested for communicable diseased, and a ‘mistakenly’ freezing the computer on a child porn site.

    He couldn’t use condoms, they don’t make them that small.

    I also forwarded ho’s arrest records of assault, breaking and entering and felony drug charges to family.

      • Part of his narrative to the women he tried to dupe was explaining his penile pump (which didn’t work) on the first date. I found out from a woman whose husband passed away that I knew. He told her we were separated and attempted to get empathy. She said there’s something wrong with him. Ho bragged he was the best lover she’s had despite the inflated 2 inches. Talk about faking it.

  • Looking back, I had a variety of answers and a few emotional vomiting moments as well. My lines are generally:
    1. He asked for an open marriage but I did not know I was already in one.
    2. I couldn’t accept his hooker habit.
    3. I was too old for him.
    4. I am a living cliche. He left me for a woman 32 years younger than him.
    5. I would not accept cheating.
    The worst one I guess was the emotional vomit I did on the poor soul who was collecting emergency contact information at work during COVID. I responded with the whole long, I don’t have a spouse anymore because he left he for his much younger girlfriend who just so happens to be a prostitute (she even had her website advertising her service which to me makes her a prostitute) and went on (probably for too long). Then earlier this year, I ran into this gentlemen again and I probably turned 50 shades of red at the time. We talked and I apologized and then he confessed that his wife left him many years ago so he completely understood. About a week later, he asked me out. We have been seeing each other since. We have some really nice times together and are taking it very slow. He has shown we what reciprocity is and it is fabulous. I guess this shows that sometimes two chumps find each other in the strangest ways.
    For newly minted chumps, please don’t worry about what you say. The early days are the worst. There are people who will understand and empathize with you. Those are the keepers. Those that don’t get it are not worth keeping. The most important thing is to work through the pain and become that person that you are meant to be without a FW.

      • It was the strangest way to start dating someone. When I saw him and he came over to talk to me and I turned 50 shades of red and apologized profusely. Then when he confessed to also being a chump, I knew he understood. We have a lot in common. My son is just a year younger than his son (both kids are NC with the FWs). The great thing is that we are both equal and I am discovering what reciprocity is in a relationship. That is special!

        • Oh wow! I didn’t see that coming! The universe works in mysterious ways. Love this and go you 💕🌸

        • That’s definitely a vote on the side of blurting. How else are certain people going to find each other? It sounds like you both might have been too modest to connect under any other circumstances.

    • That’s a lovely story ! I hope everything works out for you both.😘💝

  • I just said he had a long term affair, is an emotionally abusive bastard and that I was leaving him. I got criticism for not giving him another chance. Apparently I was supposed to pity FW, a poor widdle confused waif who just made a mistake. I didn’t speak to some of them again until they apologized. Others I never spoke to again because they did not apologize. I was completely done putting up with manipulative people after Dday.

  • I told the truth to anyone who asked (and some who didn’t 🤣).

    Neighbour: haven’t seen fuckwit for a while, how is he? Me: I threw him out because he was cheating on me. Site manager who hadn’t asked why we split: Fuckwit cheated on me,which is why you’re giving me a cheque made out to me. Mutual acquaintance: We must get together and have a meal out. Me: Difficult, I threw the fucker out for cheating on me.

    Family and real friends, I told them all the gory details of course. 😀

  • “He took his girlfriend on a cruise for our 20th anniversary instead of me.” That about sums it up. No shame here.

  • I would tell people that we both had a different idea of what monogamy meant. I thought it meant we would be faithful to one another, he disagreed.

    • I’ve also been using this as a variation for professional settings as they knew I was married before – I tell them we wanted different things and leave it at that. For my personal relationships, I give them the truth – he cheated on me and I left. No shame or embarrassment from me. 🙃

  • Funny (or maybe not so funny) thing is: to the people who really matter, who have always had my back and always had the good example, I didn’t have to explain a thing. They got it. They were horrified, they felt horrible for me and my daughters, but they got it. I’m very fortunate.

  • I say that I found out he had a secret sexual double life, probably the whole time we were together.

    It’s the truth, and also a great way to find out who my allies are.

  • I tell people he kept an ex gf on the side our entire relationship. I’ve never had anyone who failed to understand that.

    Depending on how well I know them i might throw in that I also got tired of his poor boundaries and nasty passive aggressive playing dumb MO. He tries to keep a nice guy image but he’s not. Most people know someone like this.

    Then I throw in his shitty toupee. That’s always good for a laugh.

    • Kim, I always laugh when you share about the shitty toupee. I’ve made it his porn star name.

      Shitty Toupee.


      • Velvet, I wish I could share a picture so everyone could see just how bad it is!

        I hoped he’d come around and voluntarily get rid of it but it never happened. He knew I hated it and he had to know it was the butt of jokes everywhere. He was just so good at burying his head and playing dumb.

        • He was just so good at burying his head

          I sincerely hope this was intentional! It made me laugh.

  • Most people got the less succinct response but my best response was “I lost 75 superfluous kilos over night”

  • My chump elevator speech:
    “I asked him to stop cheating on me and he said no. At first I tried to help him because I thought he had a brain tumor or was having a nervous breakdown or something. But I eventually had to let go because you can’t help people who don’t want to be helped.”

    • My FW got scanned for a brain tumor, too. All clear. It made me nuts to accept he was willfully hurting me. Stupid FW.

      • FF,
        I have on occasions wondered that myself. The cheating itself was shocking, but also not so shocking if that makes sense, but some of the other stuff he has said truly sounds like he lost his mind. My therapist actually asked if it was possible he was unstable. It’s that wacky. Alas, no. He is just that hell bent on rewriting history and not looking like the typical middle aged person cheating on a loyal spouse and blowing up their entire life and that of their child because they want to stick their dick into something new. It really and truly comes down to that.

      • No, no, “they did a brain scan but couldn’t find anything”. See the difference? 🤭

    • Gotta love the brain tumor explanation. My ex MIL was convinced her son had a tumor. No, sorry, he’s just a flaming asshole.

  • “He chose to live near the beach as a single man over marriage and family here.”

    In his eyes, I was perpetually deficient, particularly in the bedroom. He periodically talked about leaving for the beach for fifteen years. So when he took off when I asked for a separation and told his religious family he’d work on reconciliation long-distance, I knew it was a farce. Who is serious about their marriage and does that? Then he was perpetually vague about how he was spending his time and money, a big red flag for someone who was supposedly part of a couple working on things.

    I gave up at the one-year mark (too long, really) and told him relationship discussions were over. It was all a game, and he kicked off the divorce in what my attorney called a “memorable and unprecedented” case. Yes, that’s how little my ex thought of me. Good thing that I refused reconciliation.

  • It’s been “he impregnated an employee”, for me. idk, I’m lucky in that the feelings of shame seem to have missed me completely. This is jarring for some people to hear, but… I mean, it should be. It’s a jarring, awful, traumatic thing.

    • Love the simplicity of that. Let people hang with the shock of it.

    • I really like this answer. This has happened to me and I have no idea what to say that honestly explains the gravity of the situation. I hope you are going ok

  • I just told people that he was emotionally abusive for a long time and then he started cheating. I’m an introvert and didn’t do a lot of vomiting. Like most abusers he had arranged our lifestyle to limit my IRL friends even though I had a bunch of internet friends. I did lots of virtual vomiting on them until somebody implied that I was being a drama queen.

    After I filed for divorce he asked me what we were going to tell people as the reason. I believe the idiot asshat was expecting some kind of joint “we grew apart” moment. I told him that I was telling people that he was emotionally abusive and then he started cheating, but that may not work for him. LOL.

    The very best was when I bumped into a women from his work. When she asked I told her that he was cheating. I KNOW that everybody at his family business heard about it. That made me smile.

  • We divorced on what would’ve been our 20th anniversary, so my go to is the snarky, “we got along great, just didn’t like her boyfriend.”

    Part of my healing is to say, think and believe the truer response, “she simply did not love me the way I deserve to be loved.”

  • When asked by a co-worker (a religion teacher) how FW was, my reply was “I don’t know as he’s now living with his mistress of 3 years.” I said it factually with no emotion vomit which I believe helps disspell any “she/he is crazy…” narratives from FW. Word then spreads like wildfire.

    • Don’t get me wrong…I had verbal chump diarrhea for at least a year – and to some poor souls like when trying to negotiate a better internet deal (which they actually gave me as the rep was also a chump)! I learned to save it for counseling where it validated my feelings to have a neutral person tell me he was a real douchey narcissist.

  • I told the truth, he had a girlfriend and would not break up with her. He was not very sneaky about hiding it.

  • To most of my friends and family, I told the whole story. To acquaintances I’d run into, say at the grocery store or church, I’d say “ I thought we’d try marriage counseling but his mistress didn’t think it’d work.”

  • He made it easy to explain with a simple TL;DR. Anyone asked about him or what happened (or DIDN’T ask 😜) I’d respond with, “He left me for the 20-year-old he was fcuking behind my back.” Easy-peasy.

  • On the old forum, I read something that I keep in mind.
    It came from one of the longtimers:

    ” He was a liar and a manipulator. I wish I had found out sooner.”

  • “He hated me! Apparently, I wasn’t as good enough as his sidepiece.” was my line.

    Every time I said it, the recipients eyes would bug out and they would gasp with a quick “Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry.”

    • My ex used to joke about trading me in “for a new model.” That should have been a red flag, frankly.

      Ultimately, he did, although I don’t know the extent. And life goes on…

      • When I was turning 36 (years ago), FW on several occasions said he was going to trade me in for 2 18 year olds. Yeah right, go right ahead big boy, I said. Flash forward & FW married a woman (not the OWhore) who wasn’t even born when we married. If my math is correct he was 51 to her 29. What the ever loving f*#k?

        • My ex’s new girlfriend was about three or four when we got married. I like to joke that I ruined their big love story by marrying him. What was supposed to happen was her parents were supposed to rush into our wedding carrying her as a toddler and scream, “No! Don’t marry that adult woman! Rape our child instead!” It’s a dark humor but it’s even funnier now that he’s been arrested for attempting to have sex with a minor.

          • FW’s sugar baby was 2 when we started dating and 6 when we got married. She’s 22 to his 48. Such a cliche! 🤢🤮

      • We got married a week after his best friend got married. We were ostensibly doing well ( since I did not yet know of his cheating) but his friend was divorced after a year or 2. The friends first wife was rough, unattractive and was apparently fucking the UPS driver while the friend was deployed. He later went on to marry a beautiful heiress.

        My Cheater used to joke that if he could get a second wife who was as much of an improvement as his friends second wife, he would have quite a gal. It was funny for a while because it was absurd – he wasn’t going to dump me for a new one.

        After I learned that he was planning to leave me for Susan of Seattle, He made the joke again and I lost my shit at him.

        After Cheater died, “beautiful heiress” called my up and told me off in such a horrid way, I had to pull the car over to cry. She may be pretty on the outside, but she ia a shrew.

  • To strangers who ask, I tell them I don’t believe in Dating While Married with paid and unpaid “girlfiends”.

    With friends and family who ask, I tell them to pull up a chair to hear a condensed Jerry Springer episode. I told the kids NO 23andMe tests because I do not want to add the “Who’s Your Daddy?” theme to the episode.

    • I agree, though I consider his whore a paid whore. I had the credit card statements going three years back that proved it. Huge pay out for her. No wonder she was ok with staying in the alley.

  • Bc FW was cheating with a close friend who was integrated in all aspects of my life—including with my children and my in-laws, I just had to state that they were in love and having an affair. Then the person could do the calculations of how often they saw us all together and 🤮. Doesn’t everyone have their mistress and wife at the dinner table with their kids and parents? FW and ex friend act like I badmouthed them—as if. They especially act hurt that the kids don’t trust them—again AS IF that’s bc I badmouthed them. When I read the term “reverse victim offender” it all became crystal clear. After DDay my world got very big and theirs got very small. And now, other than occasionally voicing that I hope it’s a sexless tumultuous relationship, I don’t care.

  • I’m still in the process of getting out, but I plan to tell people the truth. He forgot to mention it to me when he decided we had an open marriage. Open to Tinder, Ashley Madison, prostitutes, and STD scares for me.

    • Take good care of yourself, Almost Out. Mine did this too, but wants to be the victim of the story. Once the truth was out, his poor pitiful me story changed to, “I fcked up…” which may work on compassionate people who have never been cheated on. However, I would love to be a fly on the wall when he pulls that on a Chump. I warn people that I am an open book and will answer all questions honestly and suggest that they consider how much they want to know, because it is some pretty dark sht. If I want to summarize, for polite society, I simply say, “he turned out to be a serial cheater.”

  • It depends on who’s asking.. or not asking and I’m vomiting to lmao

    Sometimes its as simple as “he cheated now he’s gone” other times it’s “he cheated for 6 months, when confronted mentioned she was poly as a nudge nudge, then told me I wasn’t worth the effort and walked away”.

    Then there’s my neighbor a few houses down (picture late 60’s, definitely had her best years in the 80’s and definitely doesn’t remember them, overly processed bleach blonde hair that I swear she’s had since I was a kid, smokes a pack a day and probably downs a 6 pack in the same time frame… she’s seen some SHIT in her life and is always ready and willing to help whenever you need it so long as it doesn’t mess with her soap opera watching).. anyways she was always badgering us (lovingly) about when we were getting married.. she asked ‘where that man of mine’ was and I told her he was gone forever and she thought he died 🤣 I was like ehhh sometimes I wish but no he was cheating and left. All I hear over the glass clanking as she’s pouring out her empties.. “ooooh that BASTARD” and “not to MY pet name she has for me“. She’s in her ways and odd, but a good egg.

  • When someone who didn’t already know all the details (that is, outside my small circle of close friends and family) would ask why I got divorced, my answer would always be, “He was not trustworthy.”
    Also, I was not interested in dating for several years after the divorce because I was busy getting established on my own two feet, etc. Sometimes a friend would say something to the effect of “why aren’t you dating anyone?” I would respond, “I didn’t get divorced so that I could date. I got divorced to protect myself.”
    I did not want to come off like a bitter woman, and that’s mainly because I was not bitter – I was thrilled, ecstatic, over-the-moon happy to be free of my FW. Life was better the minute I decided to really go through with the divorce.

  • Everyone knew when he got outed by an ethics complaint. We were both well known in the community, and the dirt spread like wildfire.

    Few approached me, but when a couple did; I just said he left me for a woman he has been messing with for years.

    I remember one old guy (I was 40 at the time, old man was about 7ish). Anyway, he started a spiel about how youngsters now days just give up, I cut him off and said “He left me for another woman, he did not give me an option”. To his credit he looked ashamed and apologized. He was buying our wood stove for a good price, so I didn’t want to kick him out. 🙂

    I did tell him who the whore was, and how long he had been sneaking around that I knew of.

    • That old ”they just GIVE UP” trope really winds me up. Yes Frederick, they do, because they can. Before, in the good old days, you lived in misery, too ashamed and usually too financially dependent to dare to leave, no matter what. Now there are options, isn’t it GREAT??

      • ITA, Caro. I tried counseling with Cheater #1 and without. Religious intervention. Asking Cheater #1 what needed to change so we could stay married. No response, no action. I had nothing to work with. Nothing. Nothing at all. However, I can look my son in the eye and say, “I tried everything, but your dad was not interested in staying married”. Can also say same to my very conservative, very religious family. It is much better to have the option to go when the option to stay is so very bad.

  • I couldn’t help but emotionally barf over everyone. Now I just say ‘We had different values. I value monogamy in a marriage and he didn’t “

  • If people knew FW & his family, I would just say, “Turns out the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.” (His dad cheated on & left his mom.)

    I typically use, “It turns out we don’t have the same values.” Occasionally followed up with, “He ended up marrying that ‘friend’ we used to argue about right after we split.”

    • I really like this one and may use it myself when needed. It’s true and darkly funny.

  • We found out XH had been cheating for decades and he refused to stop. I had no choice but to divorce. I couldn’t live that way.

    That’s the truth and nothing but the truth.

    At the end of the day, no one really cares. I moved out of our 30-year community 5 years ago. I recently moved back. All the kids grew up and people moved. As I walk my dog or visit the local grocery I rarely see anyone I knew from the old days. Life goes on.

    Most of the people in my life with only know me as partnered with my fiancé or never ask about my 25 year marriage and why it ended. It’s interesting in a way.

  • No matter who you choose to tell the truth to, it ultimately gets out. My Ex, father of my children didn’t want the kids to know and accused me of trying to ruin his relationship with them. My kids were pretty smart, they already knew we needed to divorce, before we told them, and they put all the pieces together on their own. They still loved their dad, but they understood why I didn’t want to stay married. Other people who knew the truth talked to even more people. Occasionally it would get back to his potential new squeeze. He accused me of telling them because I didn’t want him to be happy. I didn’t have to tell — he never understood that he told on himself by his behavior. He never understood he had offended old friends/couples we socialized with by showing up at events with a new friend while we were married. Some of his new friends found out he was married while at the events. He was absolutely clueless that his behavior was not appropriate.
    Once, he invited himself and a new friend to be a houseguest at another friend’s home in Florida. He had frequently used their home as a stop in, and he never contributed anything as a guest. He told the friend they had been invited, and his friends wanted to meet her. We were divorced, but he had not told her the truth. She got along well with the wife, who I have remained friends with over the years. New friend repeated something he had told her over a friendly bottle of wine. My old friend decided to tell her the truth. Needless to say, her opinion of him changed, and her opinion of me changed. He accused me of calling my friend and telling her to do this! He never understood why his behavior was offensive. Clueless.

    I guess “the Truth will set you free” has more than one meaning. Too bad, so sad!

    • Portia,

      “My Ex, father of my children didn’t want the kids to know and accused me of trying to ruin his relationship with them. ”

      I am not at this stage yet… my kid (12 almost 13) doesn’t know. I am CERTAIN the FW will pull this. We see it on this blog all the time. Dude, it’s the truth. Kids don’t need to know every nitty gritty detail obv. Especially if they are young. But WHY is it the betrayed spouse who is “ruining the relationship “with the child by telling the truth? And never the FW who cheated when he was married? I have seen a lot of posts on this site and see a myriad of situations with co-parenting. Some FWs do a better job than others. Some leave altogether. My child loves their dad. I hope that continues. But I am not LYING for them.

      He could have realized he was done with me and told me, and left. BEFORE cheating. Instead he handled it the worst way possible. That was HIM not considering our child. That’s not on me.

      • My kids were in college locally when my ex took off. I made scads of mistakes, but the one thing I did right was to focus on my relationship with them, period. I didn’t share the relationship garbage or how worried I was. I let his relationship fall as it may with them. At times they barely spoke to me as it was, but I was steady. Well, he spent over a year doing his own thing. He texted/emailed a few times but missed all of the birthdays/graduations/etc. during that period. It was like he didn’t have any kids.

        When the attorneys got involved, I went no contact and explained to the kids what that was in case their father contacted them to complain. They talked with each other and went no contact as well. Besides that issue and the college/insurance part, I didn’t share anything with them about the divorce. They knew that I cried a lot, had a lot of office appointments, and occasionally would overhear phone conversations with my attorney, but I mostly shielded them.

        He started sending them cards with checks and inviting them to visit, but they have remained no contact. I leave how they handle the cards up to them.

        And yet I alienated them. Nope. He took off and has never owned up to what that did in their lives.

      • My sons were 9 and 12. It actually amazed me how much they knew. I didn’t have to tell them. I never shared gritty details. I told the Ex I would not volunteer information, but if asked a question I would not lie. Not the answer he wanted. I had tried everything I could think of to “fix” the marriage. I was just tired, and over it by then.

        My son’s learned more about betrayal and heartbreak as they grew up. Sometimes they would come and talk to me about it. They knew I had lived through it. When they experienced it, they understood more. Many of our friends told me later they were not sure if I knew, or how I could not know. My FOO starting point was an ode to stand by your man crap and looking to the wife for fault. I had already been sifting through that mess and discarding those useless beliefs. I knew his drinking and cheating, and financial irresponsibility’s were not my fault. He never understood that running around on his wife did not make him a “man’s hero.” He tried to explain it as part of his Italian heritage, too! Neither argument impressed anyone.

        I guess I was just surprised that he was not ashamed of his bad choices, and never thought of consequences. He never grasped that no one, even his sons who loved him, believed for a moment these OW’s were just a friend. My only regret was that it took me so long to get myself together and do myself the favor of leaving. I lived the gain a life part of CL’s motto long before I found CL. I am so glad she put the message out there into the world. I hope others will not waste their precious time, but feel empowered to leave,

  • Mine is:

    “Irreconcilable Differences. He wanted a wife and a girlfriend and I couldn’t reconcile with that.”

  • In the movie “Ghost Town” Tea Leoni says about her cheating, expired husband that he was “Disloyal”. In the early days I would vomit out all the details, but now I go with disloyal. It says enough to give the idea and if they want to know more I will go there.
    Disloyal cuts to the core.

    • Watching her talk about her dead ex and never knowing why she wasn’t enough (despite being brilliant, gorgeous, funny, loving) hit me so hard. The only scene that hit me harder was Emma Thompson wiping away tears and putting on the happy face for her kids after realizing the gold necklace wasn’t for her in Love Actually.

      • First time I watched Love Actually was prior to DD#1. Now I’m emotionally shattered everytime I watch that scene. She’s such a great actress. I’m sure she tapped her inner chump for that Oscar worthy performance. I’d rather be with Greg Wise than Kenneth Branagh any day!

      • That is a great scene and if you can get past it, a redemptive story of two chumps finding each other. I recommend it to everyone I know who is going in for colonoscopy.

  • Yup emotionally vomited. My STBXH got ahead of the narrative and told a huge story at my family church. Grabbed the pastors, got his sad sausage story out there in living color. No sex ever… =PTSD from my work as a nurse. Got rebaptized with his online gf in the pew. I then told whoever asked, the real story of mental instability abuse, and cheating. Direct. Had a few that listened and believed. They were my rocks. The others were not my friends. My STBXH had a rage attack at church when the pastor asked him to return a large sum of money he had stollen from one of our accounts. Then my STBX flamed out in the lobby with real people watching him. The ones who cared figured it out but yes I talked and I filed.

  • Asshat decided to accidentally text me, my two children, my former Swiss BF and her two children at midnight on Good Friday a “I loved sleeping with you XOXO”, obviously meant for HoWorker/Wife. My son was away participating at a school activity in another city and my daughter had just gotten out of inpatient psych and bounced back from college to live with us. I had to to wake her up the next morning to drive her to outpatient psych and to make sure she saw the text. She came home that afternoon and asked who it was. Good times.

    I was happy to send the text to anyone and everyone in town. Call it the “text heard around TC”. Relieved me of having to say much to anyone except telling my dad–the hardest conversation of my life.

  • I told everyone that he had been patronizing prostitutes our entire married life and who knows how much longer beyond that (trickle truth, you know). It was never my shame to bear, and if it sounds horrific, that’s because it fucking is. He did it right through several moves and the birth of a daughter. I wouldn’t wish this kind of deception on my enemy.

  • Ya I pretty much told everyone.
    My thought was: if I say it enough, repeat it enough, it must be true.
    Looking back, I was in a state of shock and disbelief for a long time.
    As far as oversharing… probably the worst? Was the poor fellow from the credit union calling me to tell me the car payment hadn’t been made in 2 months. I started crying and told him in between sobs how my husband had literally run off with his 20 years younger co worker and left me and moved in with her the same night. That he had told me he would keep up the car payments and I even told him how X had taken me to the company christmas party and everyone knew and the two of them never said a word to each other all night and it was so odd and everyone got quiet when I approached them! …. On and on !
    That poor guy must have been a chump, too. He got all indignant and said he was going to call X and hound him day and night for payment. He said don’t you worry you won’t hear from me again!
    The car payments were timely after that. As far as what I told friends neighbors community?
    I said X has broken my heart.
    He has moved in with his co worker.
    I left the details for them to put together- not too difficult- a lying Cheater.

    • Love that guy from the credit union. Such a great story of kindness when you need it most.

      One person who sticks in my mind was my obstetrician, at my 6-week post-natal check, 2 days after D-Day. I was still in complete shock and hadn’t told anyone. She mentioned that because I wasn’t able to breastfeed, I’d need to use contraception. Of course that opened the floodgates. She hugged me as I cried. She was also speaking quietly in her native language; I never asked but am sure she was praying for me. Then as I pulled myself together and went to leave, she gave me another hug, looked me straight in the eye and said “He does not deserve you.”

      I wish I’d listened to her then. Would have saved me 3 more D-Days over the next three years.

    • Maybe we need a Friday challenge about the kindness of strangers when they find out we’ve been chumped…

      X always did our taxes. Post-divorce, I secured the services of a tax advisor. Sharing about X’s betrayal naturally came out as the advisor/I were discussing my income, newly divorced status, etc. My advisor shared that he and his now-wife had both been chumped by their first partners, 40 years ago. He gave me a discount on his services, and a few weeks later, offered me a job in his office.

  • It depended on the person/relationship. Close friends/family know the full story. Some just know I’m divorced and others know he cheated. I was honestly never in the place of vomiting on strangers – I had friends and family for that lol

  • I got it down to short and sweet. “He put his wants before his family’s needs.”

    • When I’m feeling snarky I say, “He betrayed me in every way a man can betray his wife.”

  • I offered my home as a shelter and safe place for a woman escaping domestic abuse. Then my husband started fucking her. Both of them did their best to hide it from me.

    If people ask I do try to include this context. I used to think that, if only I didn’t have such compassion for opening my home to an abuse victim, my husband would have never cheated on me with her. But he was already a cheater. Anyone capable of behaving this way needs to be dumped, and I’m kind of grateful that it happened this way. It dragged his secret life out in the open and made it obvious to me. It was pretty hard to hide it when it was happening in my own house. A convenient new fuck buddy delivered to him on-location? His wandering dick didn’t have to wander very far.

    Keep your compassion for others in tact. It may feel like ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ at first, but after a year and some emotional distance, I’m glad I did what I did. It helped expedite leaving a fuckwit husband who never really loved me.

    • It’s super predatory to fuck someone who is literally sheltering in one’s home to escape abuse. The cheating is gross enough. But his preying on her vulnerability, in the context of your genuine act of kindness and the woman’s likely perception that it was both he and you offering support, makes it extra extra gross.

  • What would be the odds of sitting on a train for an hour next to a woman whose story of betrayal was greater than mine! I was in a stage where I did not think

  • That I could live w the shame of my ex assholes behaviour. I vomited my story and my fellow train passenger her husband ended up in jail and embezzled money from her own family. Her bravery helped me believe I could rebuild my life…

  • Emotionally vomiting on shoes……but in my defense it happened during the first week of COVID shutdowns so it was rare to have human contact, and always masked! haha! My go -to line was and still is….”Married 40 years! Then, I found out he was f***ing around in the closets at work.”

  • My two closest friends and I somehow ended up on the subject of how much sexual experience we had. In terms of number of sexual partners we had in our lives. Lord knows how we wound up talking about this over the age of 40 but we did. And I said that I had only been with two men before I was married plus klootzak but that klootzak “has numbers definitely well over 20 or 30 and probably still increasing as we speak.” And while they did not know, they were not surprised that he is a FW.

    I am happy to say that I can only remember one time in the last who knows how many years that I attended a social function without him and people asked where he was. And that was when he ran off on a flight out of state for New Year’s to “visit old high school friends” and left my son and I behind for almost a week. As the NYE party was a neighborhood bash, all the neighbors quickly sorted out that he was off with someone else. They aren’t stupid. Most people don’t ask or seem to care where he is when he is not there. Some seem relieved he isn’t there. So hopefully I won’t be asked very much.

  • Add me to the proud list of chumps who vomited their stories. Usually I would give some variation of: “He had an almost 3-year affair with a much-younger nurse. ” I often elaborated.

    Why did I talk? I think I talked and talked for three reasons:

    Somehow it felt empowering to drag ex’s lies into the light. I’d be damned if the secret double life would continue or that I would honor his secrets.
    By telling people, I could control the narrative. This is MY version. I wanted to get it out there. Fortunately for me, people who know us tended to believe me. #reapwhatyousow
    Seeing people’s reactions helped me for two reasons. 1. The ones who weren’t appalled or who said inane things like, “It happens all the time,” or, even better, “Who HASN’T cheated?” provided good information to me. I knew to no longer associate with them. 2. The ones who WERE appalled gave me much-needed validation, empathy, and comfort.
    I didn’t want to shrink from what happened. I wanted to be loud and proud. I wanted to show that I had nothing to be ashamed of.
    I never lied. I told the truth, and if that sullied his rep, so be it. #consequences

    Did I overshare? At times I suppose I did. What I regret a bit are the emails I sent to some neighbors and acquaintances. I think I included more detail than necessary. I even email vomited on poor CL. Apologies to you, Tracy. It was early days.

  • Close friends knew, or heard the truth from me. I didn’t worry about ‘informing’ anyone beyond that. And when approached by someone who didn’t know details, I nearly always gave a quick; ‘he wanted to retire with his young girlfriend’ response and changed the subject. It wasn’t about ‘keeping secrets’, being embarrassed, or being afraid of the truth–it’s about choice, and who I choose to share my intimate details with.

    Another big part of it for me was that I never cared about getting involved in the ‘narrative’. I had no qualms about giving a casual friend some truth fat to chew on, but I wasn’t interested in ‘defending’ a narrative. Those who cared about supporting me in spite of the lies, made the effort to do so. Those who didn’t never would.

  • I didn’t need to. My friends and family were relieved af that I got away from that monster and I didn’t even try to keep contact with any of her flying monkeys.

  • i have options:

    because i made a bad choice 32 years ago and believed in love, faithfulness, and loyalty
    because he was in a longstanding workplace affair with a woman who was his direct subordinate. FYI they both have lost/left their jobs at company T
    because he’s an active alcoholic and is spiralling out of control

  • Most people got a variation of “I had to get rid of him because he was fucking a slut from the gym.'” In slightly milder terms for more sensitive audiences, but the brutal facts. A few unlucky souls got more details and self pity. I needed the sympathy and generally got it.
    On the other hand, he was either spinning the “found twu luv” yarn or lied to people that he had been working abroad for the last year. (WTF?!)

  • “He never said “I love you” in the last two years of the relationship. He started dating another woman. He told me I was not conventionally attractive and that he was not sure he was physically attracted to me. He destroyed my self-confidence.” is what I think in my head
    Out loud I say, “the relationship ran its course and we are not in contact anymore.”
    Usually people follow it up by revealing how FW mistreated them in one way or another

  • I didn’t say why, but people (especially chumps) could sense it, and they’d get me talking. I think if I had to do it again, I’d say that he was leading a double life, and that I was completely blindsided by everything.
    Then I’d say that I’m moving on and that I’ve decided not to talk about it, change the subject ( unless I wanted to talk).
    But I didn’t have kids with FW. That sadly would have been a consideration for me in how I spoke to others. My kids are affected when they see people don’t like their dad (H#1).

  • Add me to the list of vomiters… nauseam. Especially when the individual had gotten the “story” from FW first. That was probably the most upsetting thing to discover, his smear campaign for YEARS with anyone and everyone we knew. Some people would still look at me with the “yup, she IS crazy” face. Ugh
    My FW even sent a “gag order” from his attorney citing slander to get me to quit talking. My attorney, (laughing, but also serious), asked if I wanted to sign it seeing as though HE would have to stfu too, but I refused, saying he WOULDN’T ever stop his victim story, and I was telling the truth so it’s not slander. She tossed it in the garbage.

    Years later and 1000 miles away from him, I am trying to decide what I tell new acquaintances. Sometimes, I give a quick, “He cheated on me with a married friend of mine.” If there are more questions I answer truthfully as much as they want to know.

    Currently I am wanting truthful less barfy answers, like “He found his soulmate/twin flame!”, “They deserve eachother!”, “They are a MUCH better match than we were!”, which are all 100% true statements, of course delivered with a heap of snark. (She cheated 3 times on her husband, was my friend, we volunteered together at our kids’ school, took hikes together, I poured my heartache out to her, I wrote her resume and talked the office manager and my ex into hiring her as his nurse in his office.) They are both gross disgusting cheating back-stabbing liars with zero morals or decency. I’m glad they are keeping their toxic dysfunction to themselves.

  • There were a few people I unintentionally emotionally vomited on people — including a few cold fish types I probably shouldn’t. But for the most part, I kept it pretty brief outside of close family and a few friends. “He was having an affair with a married employee of his. It’s been going on for a year and a half. I tried to work things out with him but in the end he decided to leave us for his affair partner.” I firmly believe chumps have a right to speak up about their experience and abuse, but sadly few want to hear about it and society tends to quickly label us “bitter ex spouse.” It’s strange to me in this post Me-Too World and increasingly trauma informed world, that infidelity still remains a trauma where its acceptable to blame the victim / survivor.

    • Blame the victim of infidelity infuriates me too, Christina. It is so wrong on every level

  • Everyone in my FOO had been following the story for years, so they didn’t need updating. I figured nobody else did, either. I’ve always been very good at the cold, hard stare.

  • Also how to you explain when in the outside it seems everything’s been “fine”? Not everyone knows but how do you finally say without breaking down that it’s just not working??

    • Not sure what you mean. Are you still married? I never knew what to say when I was still in limbo. It gets easier to say definite facts when there are facts.
      I had to come to terms that
      1. Not everyone will understand.
      2. I don’t owe anyone an explanation.
      3. Some people will be Switzerland (for example, my eldest son had grown up, married, and had lived away from home during the worst of our marriage. He still has a relationship with his dad. So do his in-law’s. They know the barest of facts from me, but I’m sure they also want to be supportive of my son & DIL who have XH come visit once a year).
      4. It gets so much easier. I’m almost 2 years out from divorce, 3 from separation. It’s actually easy, now, to know what to say because I have become more confident in all my relationships. That means knowing the degree to which I am friends or acquaintances, and judging others’ intentions of why they are asking questions, or whether I could/should offer info about myself.

  • Unfortunately I vomited “he cheated on me” to anyone who would listen. Now I use the “ I didn’t like his girlfriend line”. I say unfortunately cuz it was hard for people to hear my pain not because I am sorry I outed him. For my sons sake, I wish he were a better man!

  • At first I just told people mu husband cheated with multiple partners. I mostly told people so I wouldn’t stay with him, because the more I said it the realer it felt. People were super supportive and started telling me their stories. It was really helpful. Later I opened up that he was paying for it and some people ask how I found out. I tell them because he gave me an STI.

    I think talking about it normalizes it for other women who have gone through this and feel embarrassed or shamed by it. People always say, “But I don’t get it, why would he cheat on you, your beautiful.” I always respond because it was never about me. It was always about him and his entitlement. When I first found out, I asked him, “How could you do this?” His response was, “I deserved it. I’m going to loose sooo much money. What are people going to think of me?”

    • I also found out that when I shared my stories, soooo many people (mostly women in my case, but maybe because I didn’t really share with too many men) came out to tell me their own stories. Strong, successful women in my life had been through the same thing. It was so eye-opening! I never would have guessed. And that’s exactly what they thought of me, too.

    • “I mostly told people so I wouldn’t stay with him, because the more I said it the realer it felt.”

      This is an interesting observation. It makes sense and makes me realize that I might have benefited in the same way.

  • I used a lot of different reasons, depending on who I spoke with. At first there was a lot of emotional vomit- at doctors offices (seemed to have a lot of health problems the year I separated).
    The one I’ve used the most is “We divorced. The domestic abuse ministry helped me.” No questions come after that.
    Now, 2 years later, I just say “He led a double life.”

    • Harem and bull pen are buzz words that are HUGE red flags, in my opinion, indicative of people who need tons of narcissistic supply

  • Depends on the relationship. Ex husband I make it simple, he wanted to be polyamorous and I don’t.

    Abuser: He dumped me, kicked me out. I found out he was cheating. He swears he didn’t, but I’m not stupid I can figure out date timelines and put together suspicious behavior patterns. I also don’t expect him to ever admit to it. But he also just thinks I’m that dumb so whatever.

    Ex from last year: He suddenly wanted to “be friends.” Acted like he didn’t know what my feelings were about, acted like the whole relationship was less than it was (after three years…). Eventually confessed to sleeping with a coworker 13 years younger than him…who had a fiancé. Been completely no contact since.

    • “Abuser: He dumped me, kicked me out. I found out he was cheating. He swears he didn’t, but I’m not stupid I can figure out date timelines and put together suspicious behavior patterns. I also don’t expect him to ever admit to it. But he also just thinks I’m that dumb so whatever.”

      This perfectly describes my ex. He did finally admit it, when he had to in the divorce because the attorneys made him admit it.

  • Short answer: I found out that he hadn’t quit dating.

    Longer answer: He was lazy, had poor hygiene, selfish, entitled, and just not very bright. He sabotaged any happiness I was making for myself, picking stupid fights to keep me down. I had already starting checking out of what felt like a one-sided relationship when I found out that he never quit dating. I gave my best and it wasn’t enough to satisfy him during the honeymoon period, and I wasn’t interested in working harder to make it through the seven year itch.

    • I envy you, I wish I had gotten out way earlier. I still feel fortunate to have gotten out at age 40, but the earlier the better.

      I am pretty sure though he only admitted to ten years of “dating”, that he actually never stopped dating. May have even “dated” the first two weeks of our marriage. At the two week mark, he shipped off to Vietnam where I am sure he did paid dates there.

      I was of course blissfully ignorant. Or should that be ignorantly blissful.

  • I like saying “He lived a double life. That was two more than I thought he had.”

  • This is timely, as we’ll be officially starting the divorce process in a few weeks. I told two close friends, my brother, and my cousin when I started uncovering the emotional affairs, porn, lap dances, hiding/moving my stuff, and other hidden parts of his life. I also told them about my discovery that he’s a covert narcissist. But the idea of trying to explain this to anyone else gives me major anxiety. It’s too complicated and open for interpretation (by others). I’m afraid people will think I’ve lost it. He’s obsessed with his image and is already trying to take over the narrative. He wants us to “announce” it right now and tell people we “grew apart.” And I actually think he’s convinced himself that it’s three parts my fault and one part “grew apart.” I’m going to suggest we wait till we’re further into the divorce process and then string it out for as long as possible. A) it will serve as leverage in negotiations, and B) I want to be out of the house before I decide what to say. I really don’t want to lie to anyone and say we grew apart, but I’m not sure what the alternative is – especially for mutual friends.

    Any advice on what to say – when it’s not so clear as “he left me for AP” -would be very welcome.

    • When I was new to all of this, I would say, “I left him because of EXTREMELY bad marital behavior on his part.” But you could just say “Our marriage ended because of extremely bad marital choices on his part.” That makes it clear it’s not on you. And you sound confident.

    • I didn’t say anything to neighbors and acquaintances during the time leading up to me filing for divorce, and until I had the filing done and actually moved out. My immediate family knew & a few trusted friends.
      I learned from previous CL posts that ranting on can backfire on you and make you look unhinged.
      You don’t have to agree with him and you do not have to make an announcement with him. In fact, he really is your enemy at this time.
      You can search the archives for “grey rock” and learn how to be agreeable without losing yourself.

    • I’d just tell them you’ll give them the scoop when you feel safe to do so. The bonus is that carries the implication that FW is
      potentially dangerous without actually saying it, and they’re less likely to tell FW what you said for fear of what he’ll do. After all, any FW is potentially dangerous once you reveal who they really are.
      You are wise to use keeping quiet as leverage to get a better settlement. Then when you’ve got it, sing like a meadow lark.

  • Calmly emailed his mother the night I found out (his mother and I had a lovely relationship). “Your son has been having an affair, for at least the last 18 months, with a 20-something girl from work. Her name’s xxx…” I packed up and left within two weeks, and went on our 10-year anniversary trip solo. His mother sends me kind messages now and again. (Oh BTW, OW looked like a pig. I look like a model. Fuckwit wasn’t very bright, poor man.)

  • I settled on: He got himself a Work Wife, but she wanted badly to be a Whole Wife.

    My favorite reaction? Spilling the whole story and timeline to my OBGYN when Sluterus got rewarded with an Adultery Baby Shower while I was dealing with Cervical Cancer.

    ‘Sure, they had a full term baby after seven months. Her Uterus is NOT an Instant Pot!’

    My favorite comeback when Sluterus stalked my FB page YEARS later and took offense at the ONE passing mention of Adultery Baby’s stupid celebrity copycat name, and accused me of ‘talking shit about an INNOCENT BABY’ and messaged me, insisted I refer to her as The Future Mrs Cold Slab O’Meat rather than The HoWorker.

    ‘Well, your innocent baby didn’t choose her own dumb name or her dumbass parents, and there’s a cavalry of Mrs.Cold Meats. You’ll be Mrs. Meat The Fourth, so be sure to register for a nice set of Paper Plates and I’ll fling them in the minivan backseat where she was conceived.’

    Imagine being a timid forest creature unable to answer me while you’re sleeping with a married coworker but being bold years later when I no longer give a shit.

    Imagine being so happy at winning the sparkly turd that you comb their social media desparate to control the narrative of a stranger.

    F IT. I’m allowed to state plainly what happened. Did I destroy their careers and demand they be reprimanded for snooping in people’s bank accounts and taking f}<£ lunches?

    Nope. They got off easy. I could have ETHERED their world.

  • I didn’t have to tell anyone about X’s affair or the subsequent divorce. The gossip burned through my circle like a wildfire in the dead of summer.

  • “He slept with half the women in Houston, including a couple direct reports at work, and took several hundred thousand dollars from our retirement to pay for further shenanigans. I finally had enough.”

    I’m not sugar coating that shit.

  • Of course, I vomited on all my close friends and family, though. My short version is just for people in the fringes.

  • Sometimes I found more strength in answering with “I” statements, such as “I chose to divorce because I believe in monogamy. Those seem stronger to me than the statements that blame FW.

    Did I do this all the time? No! I’m not great at thinking on my feet, and I often was surprised into situations where I had to explain. It took a while to be a little more ready, and to know when to anticipate the need for an explanation. Sometimes people are so rude they don’t deserve more than a stare, or “I don’t want to talk about it.”

  • I would say he turned out to be a serial cheater with a double life — he traveled a lot and took advantage of ALL the perks.

  • I told the straight truth.

    “I caught her dead to rights in an affair, and no one does that to me and gets to stay in my life.”

    If it was awkward for anyone, it wasn’t me.

    Proving the maxim that “breeding with a fuckwit is the gift that keeps giving”, we of course have a child together so I get to continually re-explain this on a regular basis when new acquaintance parents inevitably inquire why mom and I are no longer together.

  • “He flipped a coin at our retirement to see if he’d stay with me and his family or his mistress and I won.”

    • I like that.

      In my case fw left me for the whore, it was a big mess her being his direct report and him dealing with an ethics complaint.

      I was always truthful when asked, I always stated he left me for another woman. I didn’t even call her a whore then, except to a close friend.

      Even though he left me he still tried to get me to file, but I refused. I told him he wanted a D, he could file. For some reason that gave me peace. And I found out after seeing my lawyer that it also gave him (my lawyer) a little more options in terms of getting a favorable temp separation, and that temp separation is how I got a lot of the money back that he spent on whore(s).

      He evidently per my daughter in law had been telling folks that he and whore had not screwed, until we separated. Everyone knew it was a lie, and he knew everyone knew it was a lie, but there it was. Hell he had even told me the day he left about their “first time” in the back seat of his squad car. How romantic.

      He tried so hard to sanctify and cleanse that whore, but her escapades with married men was a common joke in the community before fw got his dick caught in the whore jar.

      • I meant to add that after a while I realized I was indeed the lucky winner.

        • I’ll always remember my therapists indignant voice when I was lamenting about how I lost. Perspective is everything.

          “She didn’t win–she got HIM”.

          Yep, we definitely won the lotto.

  • What I tell myself – “It was my decision to divorce, but he didn’t give me a choice”.

    Amazingly, only one person ever asked me what happened. Even three years out, I responded that it was too painful to talk about. The person asking was a former co-worker at a reunion event and I just couldn’t think of a response which might be shared with others.

    I had a small circle of friends and family who I filled in at the time of my separation, but only my therapist and journal got the full story. The bank employees got the relevant (cheating) headline when I closed joint accounts. They were lovely and professional.

  • It recently occurred to me that the chump’s experience – shock, blame shifting, stigma, complicated grief – is similar to those people whose family members took their own life.

    Asking/sharing the details of how or why might not always be useful.

    Sometimes I wonder if I’d be treated differently if I said “I lost my husband during covid”.

  • The new Mrs FW would have been 11 years old when we married.
    Imagining in my head, a young girl, skipping down the street, with all her life ahead of her and all her dreams.
    Then being allowed to view that SHE will be the accomplice to destroy that very marriage and family in the future. Pretty dark thoughts!
    How critically important it is to choose the good paths through our lives, it’s possible to create our own hells if we are not consciously aware of what we are becoming and check in with ourselves on the regular. This is not a FW skill set. It would interfere too much with what they want and deserve.

  • I would use the, I didn’t like his girlfriend or threes a crowd in a marriage.

  • In the beginning I was still protecting my ex, but thought I was protecting my children by hiding the real reasons for our marriage ending. After my ex did all the things Chump Lady said he would, I started telling the truth. No need to protect him or his image anymore. My job is to care for myself and my children. The truth is always okay and I find healing and that I get more mighty every time I tell the truth.
    “I am divorcing him because I discovered he was cheating with other women and had been our entire marriage. He has been living a double life and is not the person that we, or anyone else believed him to be.”

  • My wife has kicked me out of the house because I have nightmares about her repeated cheating with 4 men, rubbing my face in it by telling me the intimate details of what she was doing in bed with them, giving me an STD and making fun of my anguish to her sister. I have awakened screaming & when my PTSD over this sometimes gets the better of me, I yell at her for cheating. Not once have I received a truly heartfelt apology. It’s like having someone apologize to you for the best times in their life–she LOVED it. She finally had enough of my PTSD. And I’ve had enough of her defending the indefensible.
    I can’t decide if I should tell anyone else besides my 2 best friends in the world (who already know) or make up some “cover story” as to why I’m not at my house anymore.
    “Once you catch them cheating, they’ll never trust you again.”

  • I tell everyone the truth, “He is a serial cheater”, I have no shame and it helps with my healing. I wanted to only tell my closest friends but when FW ran into my best friend at Whole Foods he decided to say “there is more to the story”, “she is borderline, and mentally ill Im the victim” (not true btw but even if I was he is wrong for weaponizing mental illness) etc and he then says I am not allowed to tell anyone.
    Well then, Im blasting it to the world because Im not going to sit back and let someone control my narrative and truth just because he has an ego. So Im not saying I really went that far out of my way but I did post on Facebook to several mutual friends and family members a chronological timeline of factual events that took place without any gory details and said I just wanted to stay ahead of all the lies he was spewing about me. He had already gone out of his way to contact close friends and family members to tell them I was mentally ill to plant seeds against me.

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