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Universal Bullshit Translator
The Universal Bullshit Translator

Dear Chump Lady,

I want to express my gratitude to you and to Chump Nation. Your blog, your book, and your wisdom have saved me from very dark moments and depression, thank you.

I left him a year ago but I am still not happy.

My story: we got married in our early 30s and moved to a new continent with him for his work. The new city was great for his career but not for mine. However, I helped our family during financial difficulties by working multiple low-paying jobs. We had new friends and many dreams. It was such a love story that every one of our friends called it “precious.”

He steadily advanced his career over 10 years while I completed my master’s degree and secured a good job. But his promotions led to a rapid decline in circumstances. He became evasive and distant.

It took me over a year to find out about the affair with a co-worker. We had been married for 15 years then. It was painful to discover the details gradually because he would not tell me anything. He had booked luxury hotels, rented luxury cars, and bought expensive clothes and gifts. He even tainted the places we discovered together and loved. It hurts so much that he disrespects our shared past. He forgot about the days we stayed in hostels when travelled and spent so little. He has now turned into a money-spending machine to impress.

Chump Lady, of course I did the pick-me dance but I did not know what the problem was. He had never expressed unhappiness. He claimed to love me the most, but he grew irritated when I cried and was annoyed when I questioned him. He wanted me to eat the shit sandwich and be quiet until he made a decision. I was incredibly stupid to give him time to think.

I left him after two years. I will start the divorce process since he will not do it. During the time apart, he kept contacting me. He said the following things repeatedly:

“ I regret what I did, give me another chance. I will leave her when you give me a chance.”
When I tell him how insulting this is, he looks at me surprised.
“ You trusted me more than anyone else and I did these horrible things to you.”
” I did not do these to hurt you, I would never hurt you.”
“ Do you think I am happy with myself? I never felt so depressed in my life.” (No one is forcing you to do this!)
” I have been the happiest with you, I miss our life.” (So, why destroy it then?)

When I ask him questions, following his messages, he says:

“Are we going to talk about these now?”
“My brain hurts when I think about these.”
“Yes, I spend money but it is my money, I earned it.”
” I am not a bad person.”

I knew no contact was the only way for me and I have been in no contact for almost a year. Some days I feel powerful, focusing on my work, keeping myself busy, baking, travelling. But other times, I feel very sad. The other day when I burst into tears, I thought all my process to meh was futile and I was back to square one.

I feel that I pretend to be happy because a dark cloud of sadness is constantly over me. I do not miss him or his lies, so why can I not get over this and be happy? I occasionally get upset about how he played with me for years acting all confused and depressed.



Dear HorizonWhite,

You cannot get over this while you’re in the middle of this.

I will start the divorce process since he will not do it.

You’ve been in limbo, for what? Three years? Unleash the hounds! Start the divorce process!

Look, you’re not going to feel all zippity-do-dah, but you will feel in control. And that’s a lot better for your mental health than being shackled to a fuckwit.

All those fancy vacations he’s lavishing on Schoompie(s)? Ask for that money back in the divorce as theft of marital assets. Get on this.

I feel very sad.

Well, that’s totally normal. But the paralysis isn’t helping you. Why not let anger take the wheel for awhile? Be furious at how he’s devalued and mindfucked you. Let that fuel you to the other side. Peace and the promised land of meh — all that happens after the crucible of divorce. It’s hard won. But, as a bazillion chumps can personally attest, the road to divorce is MUCH better than the way you’re living now. Powerless in purgatory.

It was such a love story that every one of our friends called it “precious.”

I get that you’re mourning the dream. We’ve all been there. But stop mythologizing your One Twu Wuv. I promise you, not every one of your friends thought your love story was precious. A few of them probably thought your husband was a phony, or had bad dandruff. What I’m reading here is that you feel a loss of status. You thought you had the love story everyone wanted. And instead you had a fraud, and that’s humiliating.

He’s the fraud, not you. This is your life. Other people don’t get a vote. You’re not letting them down, or less than, because you’re divorcing a loser. In my book, to be fuckwit-free is a big step up in status. Be proud of your fortitude. And for God’s sake, let go of that luv story.

With a LOT of distance — you’re not there yet — you might be able to look back and think, well, I enjoyed those youth hostel years. That was fun. But it will be YOUR story. Not some misty-water-colored memory of the precious connection you once shared. You’re choosing to keep that flame alive. Extinguish it.

God, Tracy. You’re so harsh.

I know a toke on the hopium pipe when I see one.

Well, speaking of fire extinguishers, the Universal Bullshit Translator is laying about and could use a job. So, HorizonWhite, let’s shove your husband’s self-serving crap down its gullet.

“ I regret what I did, give me another chance. I will leave her when you give me a chance.”

I regret the loss of cake. I thrill to humiliating contests.

Nothing says “give me another chance” like offering you Plan B status. But hey, it worked for Schmoopie, so…

“ You trusted me more than anyone else and I did these horrible things to you.”

You trusted me. I did horrible things. With full awareness that I was doing horrible things.

I’m feigning insight now. Like oh, whoopsy daisy! Now I get it!

I always got it. #sorrynotsorry

” I did not do these to hurt you, I would never hurt you.”

You could not possibly feel hurt because I would never hurt you. Stop hurting yourself!

If you enjoy this gaslighting, I have more.

“ Do you think I am happy with myself? I never felt so depressed in my life.”

I express my depression with clandestine fucks in four-star hotel rooms.

“I have been the happiest with you, I miss our life.”

I miss our old life from the balcony at Chateau Shangri-La.  A Thai masseuse rubs my blubbery bits and I think, “I was never so happy as when Horizon was working a series of low-wage jobs to support me.” Then I swill champagne and it tastes like the bitter tears of my regrets. (Sob.) #preciousluv

“Are we going to talk about these now?”

Hey, I’ve got a flight to book. #depression #frequentfuckwitpoints

“My brain hurts when I think about these.”

Are you traumatized by my deceit? Questions hurt my brain. Bring me a cold compress.

“Yes, I spend money but it is my money, I earned it.”

I’m unaware of the concept of joint marital assets. Perhaps a judge will explain it to me.

” I am not a bad person.”

I am a bad person.


Get shaking on that divorce, HorizonWhite. I predict happier days to come.

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.
  • The sadness, even periodical, may be a companion. I have that. But you are in the middle. It takes a long time. The divorce process is traumatic and is a marathon. You’ve got to keep going and file and do all the hard things because this is someone who put themselves and their dick before you and your health, life, well-being. The ex asshat took his ho to our HONEYMOON location and hotel, and then all our fave family vacation spots. I wouldn’t be surprised if took her to our wedding location and fucked her there. They don’t love. They CAN’T love. They only service themselves. Do yourself a big favor and cut him out.

    • I have no doubt that if FW and OW had stayed together and gotten married, they would have had their wedding on a boat in Loch Ness (which we were planning as our 10-year anniversary vow renewal) and honeymooned at the same cottage that we did. OW was suddenly putting pictures of Scotland on her Pinterest page, when she had never expressed any interest in going there, and was eating up lore about the Loch Ness Monster (in order to impress FW who fancied himself an expert on the subject). I know he took her to restaurants and other locations that I had (foolishly) thought were “ours”, including a restaurant/bar where we’d been going for 15 years and where the entire staff knew us by name. It was humiliating.

      Just goes to show that FWs have no creativity and just use the same playbook they did with us. Even better if they can steal OUR ideas to add to their roster. One of our “special” things was to kiss at stoplights. Well, wouldn’t you know, FW put a picture on Facebook of him and the whore…kissing at a stoplight. FW would NEVER go to the pumpkin patch with me and our kid (he was “allergic to hay” or “too tired” or whatever), but he went with OW and her kids. Impress her, upset me. Two birds, one stone. Par for the course with FWs.

      It’s infuriating at first. In time it actually becomes rather funny and pathetic.

      • “With a LOT of distance — you’re not there yet — you might be able to look back and think, well, I enjoyed those youth hostel years. That was fun.”

        At first it’s quite literally gut-wrenching when they steal our plans and treat their floozies to what was supposed to be our dream life, the one we thought we were working together to achieve.

        But here I am, years later, and what I actually remember fondly is the fun we had traveling on a shoe-string budget and exploring the world with fresh eyes.

        HorizonWhite, please take action NOW to end the limbo life with this guy.

        • I apologize for repeating the same reply multiple times. For some reason the page was acting weird after clicking on submit and I could not find my messages, and kept posting the same thing.
          Eirene, after so many years of living on a very tight student budget, we finally reached a more comfortable point, but it was exactly when he decided that I should be discarded. Before this experince I never knew anything about betrayal. I thought it happened only to bad marriages. I see that most of the cheaters admit that they were happy in their marriages. The trauma is that I was blindsided like many of us here, and it was unreal what was happening around me.

          • After bugging me for years (more than bugging – abusing me for years) about my “crappy” job, it was when I finally got a good, steady, well-paying job that FW had his affair. Right when we could have started to get ourselves into a good, stable financial position. Instead, we then wasted, collectively, close to $100K in the divorce. Fortunately, I was able to recover and finally have enough money to live comfortably rather than paycheck to paycheck and alway worrying about falling behind. It always surprised me that FW chose that moment to leave. He died up to his ears in debt, with unpaid bills (including to his lawyer, who was NOT pleased) aplenty. He and OW had rented an expensive house and she left him less than a month after they’d signed the lease, and refused to pay anything after, so he was left holding the bag. He also quit his job (same one I still work) right before our group unionized and I got a massive raise. I was also able to work remotely during covid and he wasn’t and he was so angry about that, even though he was the one who decided to quit and who had complained for years about how much he hated the job. FWs make very little sense, really. A complete lack of foresight. It’s all about what feels good in the moment. FW had no ability to practice delayed gratification. He complained about how tight we were financially when our son was a toddler, about working opposite schedules to save on childcare, about that fact that I’d stayed home with the baby (even though we’d agreed on that), etc. not realizing that kids are only little for a few years and things wouldn’t always be the way they were. Oh well. His loss. He killed himself because he was in a bad place and couldn’t see a way out. But there’s almost always a way out. You just have to keep going, make a plan, take steps as you can, forge ahead. He couldn’t do that. I noticed that our whole marriage – whatever situation we were in, he thought/acted like it would ALWAYS be that way. He hated his job? He’d have to work that job til he died. But, like, you can change jobs? We didn’t have money? We’d ALWAYS be poor and struggling. He wasn’t successful? He’d die a failure. The small child took a lot of my attention? He’d ALWAYS be secondary. But kids grow up, they become more independent. Financial situations change. Heartbreak can heal (OW left him and so he figured he’d ALWAYS be alone). It’s catastrophic thinking. I tend to be an optimist, and am inclined to think that things can always get better. It has served me well, and they DID get better. MUCH better. I just had to slog through the bad times to get there.

          • I my story is the same. As soon as he became financially independent he left. 35 yrs. Blindsided.

      • Yes, and that lack of creativity was how I guessed the correct passcode to crack open the Aladdin’s cave of debauchery that is klootzak’s burner phone. lol

      • Not interested in fw or ow’s social media. I don’t care where they go. I’m busy creating new special places with friends. Plus I do as Tracy says and look back on the old places as somewhere I enjoyed. I must be at meh.
        What they do and think is not my concern. My life going forward is.

      • I had same experience ISawTheLight. There was a restaurant that we went to for years and we were friends with everyone that worked there. He was there with the ap all the time lately. He took her to places we loved the most, except that he would now spend thousands in expensive hotels rather than staying in cheap options.

      • Can you block or unfriend FW? Or just unfollow. Following or being friends with my ex FW just felt like needless pain shopping to me.

        • Oh, this was years ago, when I hadn’t figured out NC. I definitely pain shopped, but I think it actually helped me except the reality of what was happening. I eventually got to the point where I didn’t care what they were doing, but it took awhile.

    • But why??????? When the world is a big place. I will never understand the FW brain.

      • Laziness. It worked once, so why bother to come up with anything new for secondhand Rose (or Robert)?

      • Why steal “our” plans? In my case, FW has no plan for himself. I was the planner. There were “my” plans. Not “ours”. He stole many family traditions that I crafted. I reframed that as copying. Copying is a form of flattery. So I created new traditions. The kids love it!

      • Hmm, why do FWs and APs seem to deliberately and systematically desecrate everything that might be sacred or represent precious emotional memories for primary partners? Personally I don’t think the vileness of it is accidental or casual but serves specific purposes.

        I think for APs, the motive for territorial creep is obvious. It’s like a feral cat peeing all over a rival’s territory and also a way of prying FWs’ fingers off that primary relationship by getting FWs to shit on symbols of the primary relationship. Behaviorism 101: person A can’t truly muster burning hate towards person B until person A actively does something really bad to person B. Meaning that person C (AP) sees a benefit in getting person A (FW) to shit on person B (chump) or desecrate anything of meaning to person B.

        The latter might provide a hint about why FWs often to drag their APs all over territory sacred to primary relationships. From the viewpoint that cheating and battering relate to something called “masked dependency”– where abusers theoretically feel mortally threatened by their own pathological, infantile dependence on primary partners– systematic betrayal, violation and desecration of meaningful symbols can be seen as attempts to uproot that intolerable dependency. In other words, they do hateful, violating things to their partners in the hopes it will inspire burning hate and therefore break their demented dependency.

        APs have their reasons and FWs have their reasons. The funny and ironic thing is that APs don’t seem to understand that if they achieve the “dream” of getting FW’s to completely shift dependency (all that passes for “wuv” with abusers), they’re next in line for the same ritualized abuse and desecration.

        • Hell of a Chump, the info provided is very interesting thank you. In my story, we had common and separate hobbies, jobs, we spent time together as well as separate, and there was- as I thought back then- a healthy attachment. But he often said that he couldn’t think his life without me. That’s also how I felt but we didn’t dramatize it, and continued living our lives.
          During the discard, just as you explained, I was shocked to find out that he had violated meaningful things for us. He even took that ap to where he had proposed to me years ago. It couldn’t have gotten worse than this. But I don’t understand why there is this intolerable dependency, why is there such attachment to their primary partners?
          He even told me that he was trying to kill me in his had, so everything you said makes sense. But I don’t understand why they feel that urge to destroy everything. If there is attachment, should one not feel in love and treat the subject tenderly?

          • HorizonWhite–

            I think some of the answers to your questions are in a book listed in the resource page of this blog: criminologist Donald Dutton’s “The Batterer.” Like I mentioned in another comment, there are so many overlaps between batterer psychology and tactics and “cheater” psychology and tactics that I find they’re virtually interchangeable, give or take broken bones and black eyes. The masked dependency issue is just one example. The general takeaway is that cheaters, like batterers, mean harm because harm is instrumental to control.

            But why? It seems like such a crazy way to live that it doesn’t make sense on the surface. The things that stand out to me in Dutton’s works are certain theories and observations about how abusers are shockingly motivated to go to any lengths to control to first lure their victims into a false sense of trust and then collapse the agency and self esteem of their victims. They are typically tireless in these efforts. But rather than casting abusers as “mentally ill,” Dutton’s description is more along the lines of “criminally disordered” because abusers tend to also go to great lengths to evade consequences for their abuse, expending a lot of energy playing “hero” to bystanders and discrediting their own victims.

            Again, why? Dutton argues that abusers often display something akin to “reactive attachment disorder” which can include irrational rage towards the objects of attachment. He borrows from other theories about attachment disorder and offers some of his own speculations, like the idea that, as infants growing up in homes where their mothers were abused by their fathers, an infant might experience deep terror and rage to find their abused mother isn’t emotionally available because the mother is too physically injured or deeply traumatized herself to properly attend to the infant’s needs. The infant may also experience terror and rage because the traumatized mother clings to the infant, either to protect the infant or as a comfort object which, to an infant, would be experienced as suffocating and threatening.

            So in short, Dutton’s main observation is that abusers typically internalize abuse they experienced or witnessed in childhood and end up “re-enacting” this abuse as adults. At one point Dutton also points out that many batterers lie about or disremember their histories and tend to have selective and “fuzzy” memories regarding abuse in general (especially the abuse they themselves commit). What I inferred from this is that victims may not necessarily know the full truth about abusers’ past trauma. If the childhood trauma angle sounds sort of “sad sausage,” as if abusers are just trauma victims in dire need of hugs and sympathy, many of Dutton’s other observations make the opposite case– that abusers with this personality construct are virtually unfixable. He includes statistical reports that recidivism for abusers is about 97% even with jail time and anger management therapy (and worse without).

            As far as “re-enactment compulsion,” there’s a lot of material on the web about it but I’d warn that some of it is misdirected towards blaming victims on the debunked old theory that victims “seek out” or “draw in” abusers on some Voodoo tractor beam. Actually victims come from all walks and may even statistically skew towards higher than average pre-abuse self esteem (for example, prior to being abused, more DV victims had careers than average). Otherwise victims are no more likely to have grown up with family dysfunction than the rest of the population. But abusers predictably experienced childhood trauma and, when they “reenact,” they tend to reverse perpetrator and victim roles, preferring to play the “powerful perpetrator” rather than the “helpless victim.” The theory is that they do this in order to resolve their shame at having once been victims, sort of “rewriting” the scene so they come out as victors as if this would change the past. They also theoretically do this because they identify with their own abusers. For instance, if an adult abuser witnessed domestic abuse between their parents as children, they tend to internalize the “perpetrator parent’s” punishing attitude towards the “victim parent.” Dutton and other researchers insinuate that this can be almost a show of “loyalty” to past abusers whom adult abusers often fear even beyond the grave, a way of saying, “Look, Daddy/Mommy/Whoever, I’m just like you so please don’t hurt me!” From that perspective, you could argue that, for abusers, committing abuse is a way of groveling for amnesty from the ghosts of their own past abusers. It might be one of the reasons that abusers are so intractable and incurable. It can also explain the irrational hatred abusers seem to bear towards their own victims.

            Something else very important that Dutton points out is that most batterers operate on a “beat by need” basis, mostly preferring less legally risky and less athletic forms of controlling and destroying the self esteem of their prey, mostly reserving the worst abuse for victims who resist. That also contradicts the old, debunked theory that victims typically had preexisting “low self esteem” since it’s hardly worth the effort to beat someone down who’s already lying face down on the ground. What this also means is that the more skilled abusers may not even have to take their hands out of their pockets to paralyze their partners and take control. The above meshes well with new research on “coercive control” or sub-violent forms of psychological torture and abuse. As I usually try to point out (sorry to be repetitive), the abusive behaviors associated with patterns of coercive control mesh perfectly with many of the behaviors that cheaters typically use to facilitate their cheating like financial abuse, gaslighting, blameshifting rages, etc. Even if cheating can’t technically be outlawed on its own, there’s hope that many of the abusive behaviors used by cheaters to control and coerce their partners may one day be criminalized.

            Usually we’re advised not to untangle skeins to figure out abusers’ “issues” because of the risk we’ll fall into the deadly trap of trying to “fix” them or suffer from regret over leaving abusers on the idea that they might have been “fixable.” But when I did advocacy for survivors of domestic violence, I learned that untangling skeins in the direction of batterer stats and psych had the opposite effect because those resources not only provide zero hopium but set off raging alarms. For one example, the “masked dependency” dynamic is seen in the most statistically lethal abusers. No hopium there. Basically, if someone is damaged to the degree that they display syndromes like this, you might as well stick a fork in them since the evil and danger are “baked in.”

            There has never been a major study showing an association between cheating and domestic violence or domestic murder but there should be. When I was an advocate, I never met a DV survivor who wasn’t also cheated on. Anyone reading through comment threads on this forum could probably predict that a strong association would be found if a study like that were ever undertaken. There’s also the fact that many prominent cases of domestic murder began with the murderer cheating. The new civil statute against coercive control in Connecticut, “Jennifer’s Law,” happened to be based on two cases like this. Those campaigning around the world to add coercive control statutes to DV policies and legislation argue that coercive control is statistically predictive of eventual violence. So is cheating in my humble opinion.

            Chances are you may have dodged a much bigger bullet by escaping when you did. Sending strength and support.

            • p.s.– I forgot to finish the thought regarding abusers’ demented and ambivalent attachment. Dutton theorizes that the push-pull dynamics of abuse originate in infancy when infants experience or witness abuse. As adults, they end up with internally-triggered, ever-shifting, dueling fears of being either abandoned or “engulfed” (“suffocated”) by a partner as they once feared being abandoned or engulfed by a parent. If the partner seems too distant, the abuser might use pity traps, jealousy traps, blame, rage or lovebombing to pull the partner back in. If the partner then seems “too close” and “suffocating,” the abuser will do things to push them away (more rage, abuse, betrayal, sabotage, etc.) and back and forth until the partner collapses into learned helplessness like a Skinner dog in an electrified chamber.

              If you think about it, cheating as an abuse tactic has an interesting and effective dual function in controlling partners’ proximity or distance because it can both push and pull at the same time (abandoning a victim for a replacement partner is the “push” while deliberately inducing jealousy and the pickme dance is the “pull”). As a form of abuse, cheating slices, dices and makes julienne fries! (can you tell I’m a fan of vintage ads?).

              On the idea that abusers are people who never really grow up and that parts of their psyches remain trapped in infancy, they arguably experience these attachment threats as life and death crises and therefore feel justified in brutalizing their partners in order to control the partners’ proximity or distance (and back and forth, push/pull, pull/push). This could explain why cheaters seem to irrationally swing back and forth between accusing their partners of not loving them enough or “suffocating” them.

              I always found abusers’ hypothetical fear of engulfment especially ironic because, according to experts on abuse, abusers typically erect a false self when first grooming, mirroring and lovebombing a new partner. They do everything they can to pull the victim into close proximity, including wearing a total disguise, then, once the disguise eventually becomes too tight and constricting, the fraudster ends up resenting the partner for naturally expecting the abuser to continue being this fraudulent self. So even abusers’ feelings of “suffocation” are their own doing.

              Not everyone who grows up with abuse ends up as an abuser so obviously choice and culpability are involved with becoming an abuser. Bear in mind it’s the same personality construct associated with serial killers. I don’t think anyone’s ever heard of a reformed serial killer.

              • Hell of a Chump, thank you, this is very informative. Throughout cake eating he would spend a lot time with me and then disappear completely for a few days. After reading your comment I figured out that I was experiencing the push and pull dynamic. During the pull, I remember feeling extremely stressful as I was walking on eggshells and trying to be perfect. The push was even worse; it left me paralyzed. I was worried and talking to myself in confusion. I was wondering what I had done to make him disappear. Every time there was a pull, the game was getting more difficult for me as I was trying to stop the push, which was impossible.But I was dancing much harder to extend the pull period. I was completely in dark about when how long each of these periods would last. It is very sad that I endured this for so long. I did not know that there was a name for this. If I had been an invisible 3rd person watching this dynamic in the same room with the abuser and the victim, I would have felt extremely sad.

      • Because they have no original thoughts or feelings. Everything they have is ‘borrowed’ from someone else.

    • I think it’s because they can’t love that they do this. They can only pantomime a real relationship so they copy things they did with us or take our ideas to pretend to be real people. I was still getting bank statements for a few months after the divorce. He was taking women on dates I wanted to go on and suggested going on for years. Things like going to one of those ceramic places and painting pottery. Restaurants I’d wanted to try, etc. It was such a kick in the teeth.

    • Thank you FWF, I stayed in limbo for so long that I am upset with myself. Even though I left him, I played the scenes from this horror story in my head over and over again. All the lies and his robotic new character. It is very traumatizing. It is surprising to read that most cheaters go to the same special places we loved and travelled to. Not even an ounce of regret. They are horrible.

      • I was FW’s first wife. Our honeymoon was flying across the country to San Francisco, then driving to Napa to visit his best friend, then driving down the coast for 2 weeks, ending in San Diego and flying home from there. He did the same thing with his 3 subsequent wives. It’s what FWs do.

    • FWF, thank you! I am upset with myself that I was in limbo for so long. I had a very hard time believing what was happening so I kept waiting. Even tough I left, I keep playing the horror story of him blindsiding me in my head over and over again. It is traumatizing. I understand from here that most cheaters taint our special places, even our homes.

      • Yes. One of the reasons I decided to sell our home, even though FW eventually offered it to me (after he’d run it into the ground to the point where it needed many thousands of dollars in repairs) was because he’d had AP there all the time while we were separated, especially during covid lockdown. I prefered to start somewhere new where she had never been, even if that meant giving up the house I had loved and chosen in favor of a tiny apartment. OW truly have no conscience. Or they enjoy being disgusting. It would bother me SO much to take over another woman’s home, that was filled with her things (including my wedding dress hanging in the closet, wedding photos all over, my knick-knacks and heirloom furniture, etc.) but it didn’t seem to bother schmoopie to use my things, sleep in my bed, etc.

        It’s so lovely now that I’ve bought my own house. FW died about 2 years ago. He has never and will never darken my door and the place is all mine. I only kept a few things from our marital home, and they were things I had chosen that were special to me, or things I had from before we even met. I’m still unpacking, and one of the very few things that broke during the move was a mug I’d bought for FW as a gift, something that was rare and hard to find (merch from an old sci fi show). It seemed fitting somehow, and I didn’t get upset about it. I looked at it as getting rid of one of the last vestiges of him, and just threw the pieces in the trash without regret.

        I stayed in limbo for about four years and looking back I’m upset that I didn’t file for divorce the moment FW admitted to having feelings for someone else.

    • FWF, thank you! I am upset with myself that I was in limbo for so long. I had a very hard time believing what was happening so I kept waiting. Even tough I left, I keep playing the horror story of him blindsiding me in my head over and over again. It is traumatizing. I understand from here that most cheaters taint our special places, even our homes.

  • Been there, done that, hung around in the suffering for a decade before I finally filed the divorce papers and got free. You know the only thing I got for that decade of waiting? TEN YEARS OLDER. This is your one precious life. Don’t wait another minute. File and start your new beginning. Time is passing.

    • NotAnyMore and they act all vague and confused all those years. They are just in a dilemma and they need more time to think. They are sorry for themselves and act like vulnerable kids. I bet they laugh behind us for keeping us in their orbit for so long with these acts.

  • Use his arrogance and indifference to get angry and reclaim, spent marital assets. His brain will hurt, and throb much more. Expect rage once he realizes it’s not his money when you get your settlement.

    • Yes, you see the real them when the division of assets starts

      He’s playing to delay

      • Yep, FW has rescheduled our settlement conference twice already. I know it’s because he doesn’t want to begin dividing those assets because a) he’ll have to move out of the house and b) once he’s paying support and rent he won’t have the disposable income that he has as long as he keeps me in limbo hell that allows him to openly take the child mistress out on lavish dates and trips or shopping sprees (to our places x100 or to even fancier and more expensive places than I ever got).

        • You’ve invested so much of your resources and energy into this guy…imagine if you had invested all of that in yourself instead?! Imagine where you’d be personally and professionally. I think about this all the time when I find myself prioritizing another person’s success over my own. Been there, done that….and I suffered the consequences. Never again!

          Don’t give this guy anymore of your emotional energy. Who cares where he takes his latest conquest, care only where you take yourself moving forward. And CL’s right, finalizing the divorce is a bright line that you can walk past into the future.

          • I agree. You don’t file for divorce to keep a FW from being involved with an affair partner. You file to get on with your own life. Conchobara, call your lawyer and tell him to do what he needs to do to get past the stall and delay tactics. Maybe an emergency support order or some other action will get you in front of the judge.

          • NANC, the investment of resources is a key factor in the “heartbreak” that comes with betrayal in longterm relationships, and acknowledging the significance and caring about this is something that I think many chumps (especially women) have been conditioned to feel ashamed about but but shouldn’t. We have a right to care about and invest in ourselves. For me, the sunk costs and the timing and the impossible feeling future I was facing were a huge part of why I continued to engage with my ex even when I knew in my heart I was done with him. It goes so far beyond heartbreak. I was in the bargaining phase of grief, bargaining for and grieving the life I had worked so hard for — and mourning the loss of the person I thought I loved. That’s why many of us put ourselves through hell trying to hold on.

    • Thank you Doingme, I will reclaim the spent marital assets and depress him even more. His acting skills are really bad. I spend so much time in limbo because I could not understand what was happening to my life, not because he was a good liar.

  • “I will leave her when you give me a chance.” WTF? What’s stopping him from leaving? Every single day, hour, minute, he has a chance.
    HorizonWhite, you left him physically but you need to leave the relationship behind and move forward. You’re not happy because you’re still married to a man who is spending YOUR marital assets to treat another woman in ways he doesn’t treat you. If you’re still married, he’s still cheating and abusing you financially and emotionally with these self-serving, gaslighting lies.
    You were thrifty when younger, put in the hard work that allowed him to reach career success, and got your degree while working. Go you! Now go on to the next part of YOUR life.
    BTW, precious may not mean what you thought. It can also be somewhat derogatory, as in, “Isn’t that precious how they still dress in matching outfits in their forties.” Kind of like the southern, “Bless his heart,” doesn’t mean he’s a great guy, it means he’s a jerk but you’re too polite to say so.

    • Goodfriend, “I will leave her when you give me a chance” is an insult, is it not? When I tell him so, he pretends not to understand what I mean. He says, “I have changed, can people not change?” and I repeat over and over again that he is still with that ap. He looks at me confused. I add that people who lead a double life for so long and hide it from their spouses for months and years do not change so easily. He gets angry and claims that I am the one insulting him. Can you believe it?

      • During our wreckonciliation, FW refused to give up his “friendship” with OW because, as he told me, “what if we don’t work out? I’ll have NOTHING.” I can’t believe I didn’t walk straight out the door. It is extremely insulting to be plan B. Don’t do it. You’re worth more than that. He said he’d changed. He said he’d have boundaries. He did not. The affair continued. OW “waited” for him. They kept writing love letters and seeing each other. He continued to treat me like shit. Not surprisingly, the marriage was not salvageable. I eventually decided to just leave him and OW to it and to focus on MY life. Once I did that, things got so much better for me. I filled my life with good things and good people. I stopped paying attention to what he and she were doing. I took a hard look at my finances and made a plan to get myself out of debt. I got my ducks in a row to file for divorce (FW got wind of it and rushed to file first, after sitting on his ass for four years, but I was fine with that as it saved me the filing fee, so I opened a bottle of champagne; I suppose it would have ruined his narrative that I was the problem if I’d divorced him).

        Later, after OW left him (he started treating her the way he’d treated me, and yet was FLABBERGASTED that she left), FW came sniffing around again, thinking I might be his ticket out of his dire financial situation and inability to be alone. By that point, I had grown a backbone and had enough self-worth that I basically laughed in his face. He really thought I might still be a possibility! After he’d abused me for years, cheated, lied, etc. Like I’d ever, ever consider him again. I didn’t have any sympathy for his plight. He made his bed. He bet on the wrong horse and lost. Oh well. Not my problem.

  • I filed for divorce when I realized that I needed to protect myself from my then-husband. I suspect he was going to string me along as long as he could (sleep/play house with me occasionally while future faking me) when he had moved in with the OW. What I realized: when someone else is brought into your marriage, your marriage no longer exists, the person you married no longer exists. It’s futile trying to think or wish it wasn’t so because that decision, that control over our life was taken away from us by our spouses. We can rail against it all we want but all we have is control over ourselves, not our spouses. So I let go so my ex-spouse can do his thing; while I go do something else. I’ve made a nice life for myself. Sure, it wasn’t the life I envisioned 5 years ago, but so what? it’s still pretty sweet.

    • “…when someone else is brought into your marriage, your marriage no longer exists, the person you married no longer exists.”

      This! It’s important to realize–and useful to think–that the legal divorce is a formality, because the marriage is already over.

      • I consider dday the end date of my marriage, not the date on the divorce decree. Obviously, it was over way before dday but I didn’t have a clue.

        • Hurt1, same. Divorce was three years after dday, but I consider dday the end date. Like you say though, it had to have ended (for X) long before dday. I wish I could know when that was for X, what year, what triggered it for him. Call me morbidly curious.

          • It was always there, Juniper. It’s somewhere buried deep in his skein, from way before you came along. He sucks. There might’ve been a first “transgression,” or a first time when he realized the “opportunity” before him and decided to act on it, but it took years for your ex to develop into the FW he is. He might “admit” it was one thing, and he might even believe it, but anything he says will be word salad. He might even blame bagged salad, for that matter! And the next day, it will be something else; whatever most benefits him at a given moment will be his reason. Looking for a trigger from a lying, cheating, shallow FW is as futile as looking for honesty, closure or amends from one. Any way you slice it, it’s not your fault.

        • I consider the end of my marriage the moment he was deliberating whether or not to cheat. Because we had been dating for seven years before we got married, and lived together for six of those years, this probably means my marriage was over way before the wedding.

          I never wondered if I should or shouldn’t. As someone in a committed relationship, I never pondered “should I or shouldn’t I?”

    • Good point. Since husband is with OW, there is no marriage. You’re in a tug of war over a memory. Let go of the rope and let the a-hole be on his way. Yes, you had some great times once long ago but right now it’s not great anymore. It’s downright bad. Move on. You will feel like a dead weight has been lifted off your shoulders!

    • Orlando I hate the future faking so much. What kind of a sick gaslighting is that? They are full of wishful fake thoughts to correct things but evil forces prevents them from taking action. Shameless liars, and they lie at our expense.

  • Please Horizon run far far away from this pig. And he is a pig, I have spent way too much time studying them and know what am talking about. He will leave the other woman when you will have him back?!I I’m sorry what!!!!!?? Do not even entertain any thoughts of getting back together with this nut job. I wish I could send you a film of all my d days spliced together and me watching it and hitting my head like Homer Simpson saying ‘Doh’. Like a nightmare blooper reel except it’s my life 🙁 Divorce this creep asap – the chances are astronomical that the bad stuff just happens over and over again and you wind up at the drs office to get a std test.

    • My therapist once said he had so much to work on, and it was not about infidelity only. It was about the entitlement, his attention-seeking personality, his need for validation, his lack of empathy, self-centeredness..Keeping a secret double life for many months and feeling no remorse indicate that he is wired differently. I know that he wouldn’t hesitate to hurt me further if I gave him another chance.

      • This is my STBX, 100%. It’s such a common profile here.

      • My ex was exactly the same. There’s literally nothing to work with when a person has these traits.

        Be prepared that he will try to hurt you once you leave. In any way he can. Litigation abuse is real. Get a good lawyer, and document everything. My ex’s abuse escalated dramatically once we started the divorce process (actually once the affair started), when he was supposedly so “happy” with his new squeeze. They don’t want actual consequences, like child support or dividing the assets, or losing control of their victims. FW was furious when he saw I was doing well without him and he could no longer get under my skin (I went grey rock and ignored every attempt he made to goad me). He started lying to the courts, accusing me of being an unfit parent, a stalker, etc. It’s very important to keep records, communicate only through email or text (so it can be documented), and to restrict contact as much as possible.

        Stay safe.

  • How can so many chumps expect to be happy, right after leaving a jerk. A long, long list of hurtful things have happened. For many are still happening with co-parenting. It takes more than a divorce decree or a year to get over the betrayal. Be kinder to yourselves. You got kicked in the teeth. You loved, they loved only themselves. After long term relationships, normal people grieve it’s loss. Chocolate often works for me. Lol

    • Thank you Hcard! The pain of “co-parenting” with a narc is astronomical. Being continually belittled and undermined has its own toll. These things happened in the marriage and now I get a little respite. This is not the life I imagined, but I am stronger for it. I am still in pain, but I recognize the strength it’s producing in me.

      Sending hugs to Horizon. I hear the pain and I get it. I will sometimes pretend that the pain is a hitchhiker in my life and just let it ride along with everything else. What I notice is that it has to move over for the other emotions that join in. Often I recognize a bittersweetness with my kiddos as the pain of knowing I have to turn them over mixes with the joy of being with them.

  • May the legal system be in her favor and she can claw back that money he spent on Schmoopies. I doubt this is his only one or the only person on whom he spent their money.

    Yeah, nothing is half as pretty when viewed from a distance. Trust me, your relationship wasn’t the stuff of legends. Well, not in a good way.

    Good luck with your divorce! Get on that!

  • Are you still living abroad? You say you helped your family out by low wage jobs initially, are there children involved? I can imagine if you are living abroad, divorce may be difficult or complicated but you must face facts and proceed.

  • HW,

    He is trying to keep you on the hook while continuing with his AP; he clearly sees you as (at best) his Plan B and, more likely, wants both of you so he doesn’t have to decide and can keep his options open. There is nothing in it for you when it comes to staying with him, so cut your losses (and protect yourself) and divorce his sorry cheating a*se.

    You are worth so much more than he offers you.



    • Thank you LFTT, his words and actions are the opposites. He is future faking and acting sad, but carrying on with his lies. He claims that I am the closest person to him on earth (because of the shared history) and we cannot be separated. Never ending gaslighting, but I shut him off and do not buy the lies anymore. He is even surprised that I question him.

      • STOP QUESTIONING HIM. That isn’t no contact. I’m reading a LOT of contact here. And scant little about where you are in this divorce. I’m rapping your knuckles. You’ve got a lot of intel on where they ate for dinner. And stupid shit he says. Take your power back! Do you really want to spend more time examining the finances to learn more horrifying details, or do you want to hand that over to a lawyer and FIGHT BACK? We’re telling you to FIGHT BACK.

        • HorizonWhite – please listen to CL! I agree… You are still discussing things with FW and following his every move. That’s not no contact. You have to go truly no contact and get a divorce. It’s the only way to protect yourself and start to heal.

        • HW,

          It may be hard to hear this, but for your own wellbeing, please follow what CL says above. “No contact” and divorce his sorry cheating ar*e is your best way forward.


        • You already know he LIES, so don’t bother questioning him. You say his words don’t match his actions, so STOP LISTENING TO HIM. STOP TALKING TO HIM. It doesn’t matter. He will never value or respect you. He will never truly see the error of his ways. He doesn’t care that he hurt you. Let that fantasy go. Think of it as detoxing. Breaking an addiction.

          It took me years to go no contact. It’s not easy, but I didn’t start to heal until I did. I wish I’d done it much sooner. Take your focus off HIM and put that energy into YOU: doing what you need to do to get free, building a new life, and yes, taking back your power. It gets better, but not until you DECIDE to MAKE it better. It really helped me break the habit of checking up on him when I filled my life with good things. I got busy with my own life, and would realize at the end of the day that I hadn’t so much as thought about FW and OW once because I’d had other things on my mind. Taking ACTION made me feel better. So, like CL says, FIGHT BACK.

        • Agreed! It’s all I can think when I read these comments. HW, Of course what this serial cheating, pathologically lying, gaslighting POS is saying is insane, but come here for validation. Engaging with him about it keeps you stuck. You are validating him and are allowing him to suck him down to your level, and at a time when you need genuine love and support. Don’t look to the enemy for comfort — the literal cause of your pain who IS hurting you and DOESNT care (and seems to actually get off on the ego trip). Do you really think you need to/should have to explain basic decency to a man in his forties? You’ve got nothing to work with. Believe me, I was having these exact same “convos” with my ex. Rip the bandaid off — treat it like quitting a substance if you need to, that’s what I did — and file and go NC. Just do it. Remove yourself from the cycle of abuse: this cheater and his tactics suck but are nothing special, and everything you write is straight out of the playbook. Time to LACGAL the only path to safety, sanity and security — and the sooner, the better. We chumps have been there and are rooting for you. Sorry it is so scary and painful. It takes time but you will be ok.

          • *oops, meant “suck you down to his level”

            “Talking” to an FW is like trying to have a philosophical conversation with a bratty four-year-old, no exaggeration.

  • Get the divorce. Nothing says “I’m taking back my life and my power” like serving a FW. And he won’t like it. Why? Because how dare you? FW was used to taking advantage of you and doing whatever he wanted — and you were supposed to sit there and take it…. Again and again and again. FWs are entitled twits.

    And who cares what he says? What you know for certain is that he is full of shit and has been gaslighting you. “I would never hurt you”?!! Seriously? That’s up there with “I’d never cheat on you” or “I’ve changed.” Cheaters just spew shit and continue to expect you to obey. Stop obeying.

    Get the divorce. Get through it… Get as much as you can in the settlement… and then you will feel the awesome PEACE of being free of a FW. The happiness follows. First — get the divorce

    • Michelle he loved the confused and sad guy mode as it worked well for so long. If you found twu-luv, you would just go. But no, most of them are still around for the cake unless we go NC. The cake is much better than an ap alone.

      • HorizonWhite, FWs leave and discard too. FW left me and never looked back. But what contact were had, I was clearly full of disdain and not leaving the door open. I served him within 2 weeks of discard. The only reason a FW thinks he can stay with an AP and get cake from a Chump is if the Chump keeps letting him. You have to go fully no contact — to stop him from bothering you and to get your focus back. No contact means no contact. And divorce him. There is no cake if you don’t give it to him.

        It’s hard but you have to stop leaving the door open in any way

        • Michelle I admire your strength. You served him within 2 weeks, I never had that courage. It took me really long to stop the pick me dance. I regret it all. Next week, I have an online meeting with a lawyer I talked a while ago. The first time was a stressful experience for me, and following that I continued pick me dance. I have more questions now. Other than obvious differences, I am not sure what other differences exist in between a legal separation and divorce, and I don’t know why legal separation is a better option for some (maybe for insurance purposes or religious reasons?) but I will find out the details.

      • Get divorced or at least legally separated to protect yourself. You can always get remarried if he turns out to be a unicorn, right? That’s what finally made sense to me, and I filed. Oh – and he wasn’t a unicorn. They never are.

  • I couldn’t tell if the letter writer is still living in a different continent. Did they move back home?
    How does that impact where the letter writer files for divorce?

    As others have pointed out, no one can begin to move forward until the divorce is DONE. Much less not even started! My advice is to start finding out where to file and move forward from there.

    Chumps are always a writing and asking about meh…can we please get a tee shirt or mug explaining that meh/peace/singing walls/new life cannot even be contemplated until the divorce is OVER?

  • He could have a billion dollars, but he is still unworthy of being her husband

    She deserves much better than a lying manipulator !

    She’ll see this in time. There really are plenty of better men out there

    Enjoy the good memories and accept that he has low character

  • You may have left him after 2 years, but you’re still in limbo after another full year, and still giving mental real estate to the thing’s he’s said. No contact ISN’T about not speaking, it’s about DISTANCE. You done right to leave and create physical distance, but you’re still struggling with gaining EMOTIONAL distance–which is why happiness is faked, why you’re still putting weight into his words, and why you’re still ruminating over perceived losses.

    Give yourself grace, emotional detachment take an enormous amount of time and it’s NORMAL to have good days and bad days throughout that process. But like Tracy said, getting to the other side of the emotional quagmire–where losses DO become gains–IS ‘hard won’. So hard that at times, you feel like you won’t ever get there. But if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you WILL get there. File. It’s a great first step.

  • HorizonWhite, your husband isn’t really thinking about you, or your marriage, at all. In his mind, you and Schmoopie are just supporting characters in the Great Story of Him. He, the angst-ridden protagonist, is torn between the Faithful Wife representing stability and comfort (that’s you) and the Sexy New Mistress representing excitement and the uncertain future (that’s Schmoopie). He’s not going to choose because that would mean YOU have agency instead of being a prop in his life.

    Please decline to keep playing this role in his boring-ass story.

    • I wouldn’t say he is ‘torn’ I’d say he is happy that the financial consequences of his cheating have not yet come home to roost, as he has not yet had to divide assets or pay for his adultery.

      • He is – but the story he is telling himself is that he is a tragic protagonist “torn” between his dramatic choices, as if he was living out some middling MFA dude’s literary novella, right down to the shitty self-critical dialogue.

        Captain Awkward really has the final word on dithering FWs who think they are “torn” (bonus fun for the FW in this letter slowly realizing that maybe Schoompie doesn’t love him back anymore):

        • See, also, “Too Much Love Will Kill You” by Queen, about Brian May being “torn” between his wife and his AP. Gag.

        • Apidae, I loved captain awkward, I will read more. The letter writer sounded so dull that I felt sorry for his wife. But cheaters think that their story is unique and special. They use the same repetitive lies and gaslighting. There is nothing special about their secret lives.

    • This is an excellent description.

      I once watched a video on narcissism (forget who it was) where he described these guys as the directors of the movie of their lives. They expect everyone to follow the script (but never give us one), and they are certainly the main character. You (and everyone else) are merely playing a role in their lives. This is how they can so blithely “recast” us with another “actor” when we stop doing what they want us to. FW simply placed someone else in the role of “wife” and moved on without a hitch, like in a soap opera when they replace an actor, but no one ever comments on the fact that now Judy is a tall blonde now instead of a short brunette or what have you. It was quite eye opening to hear it put that way. It’s funny, because FW WAS a filmmaker, so it really fit. FW just couldn’t understand that people had their own lives and that he wasn’t the center of them. I remember him being so angry when people/friends/actors wanted to work on their own projects rather than helping him with his (or even that they might want to take a paying gig over working for him for free), or when people weren’t as devoted to a project as he was. He also couldn’t believe that I wasn’t just sitting on a shelf waiting for him to come back. Or that I might actually be able to live without him. He eventually tried to come back (after OW walked out on him) and I was like “haha, no”.

  • “I promise you, not every one of your friends thought your love story was precious. A few of them probably thought your husband was a phony, or had bad dandruff.”

    This is so true. I seriously thought my XH and I had a sweet love story, and I thought everyone agreed. After the divorce, I found out that plenty of people disliked him, thought he was a loser, and thought I could do better. Even my mother (who died 5-6 years before our break-up) thought he sucked but didn’t want to say anything because she knew I loved him.

    You’ll be surprised what people say when the divorce is final.

    • This was so true for me. I especially remember one time when my aunt told an older woman from my home church that I was divorcing FW (after 20 plus years) and the older woman responded “it’s about time.” Turns out that early in our marriage FW had hit on her 16 year old daughter but she had never said a word about it.

    • This is SO true! So many of my friends told me that they never liked him after I kicked his cheating ass out. I thought he was a super likable guy. Turns out, not so much. In fact, quite a few were creeped out by him. Wish they had told me back then!

    • This is true. I lost pretty much all of my friends and family over the divorce but one of the two friends I got to keep told me he had creeped her out with facebook messages once about a decade before. She showed me the messages (after the divorce) and it was nothing that looked like anything untoward but it gave her a bad feeling. Bad enough that she talked to her sister about it and her sister said just stop responding to him. But there was nothing to really tell me. He didn’t do or say anything “wrong” but it felt like… fishing? to her. Like he was testing to see what kind of response he would get. She felt bad for not telling me but there was nothing to tell. He was asking her about my birthday and seeing if she could come out for it to surprise me. I would have thought it was nice and wondered why it had disturbed her. But knowing what I know now, yeah, he definitely had other intentions.

      An acquaintance I ran into about a year after the divorce also shared that he creeped her out. And that he actually creeped quite a few women out. But never enough for anyone to be sure of anything or have anything to tell me. It was all very discreet as he searched for potential partners. The women who got off feelings about him just stayed away. I think of all the times I felt cut off or ghosted now and I get it. I actually thought people disliked ME. I never realized it was him.

  • Perhaps you are missing the dream you had about the life you wanted to live rather than missing him. Is there any part of that dream that you can do either on your own or with friends? If so, go do that.

    From what you have written it sounds like he did a lot of gaslighting and that makes people nuts. He loves me, but he loves this other woman, isn’t that sweet? You have to realize that he’s not a nice man. That’s a hard one to get around because you thought he was the one for you.

    I hope you realize that he did not change. That is who he is. He is the puss in the pimple in the but of a wart hog. That’s who he is. Wherever he goes there he is.

    • Every CN commenter is on fire today, but thank you, Letgo, especially for this: “he is the puss in the pimple in the butt of a wart hog.” THAT.IS.GOLDEN.

  • Our impressions and memories of the “good times” when we were younger and “in love” are all foggy. We were living in what we thought was “the dream” and moving toward “our” future. We learned our mythological dream when we were very young, from our FOO and culture. We never had a reason to question its veracity. Then one day, harsh reality knocked on the door, and once opened, we would never see things the same way again.

    Giving up on who you thought you married is hard. You don’t have to forget good times entirely, but you classify your memories like the one you may have of prom night when your sweet high school boyfriend showed up all dressed up, with flowers. It was a nice night, but it was just one night. Did you break up with him? Did you go off to college and meet another seemingly nice young man? Were you a monster if you married someone else? Did your plans change? None of that changed that one nice evening.

    The person you thought you married was like a hologram. Not really present. Yes, it’s confusing, heartbreaking. You trusted the wrong person. It takes time to get over his lies and cheating and stealing. Give yourself time. Meh is not a destination, actually, it is a condition where you no longer feel pain for the bad times of the past. You get to choose the things which bring you joy, and no one ruins your peace or happiness. You may never look at life the same way you did when you were dreaming, because you woke up. You are alive, and thriving, and you found your way to this state of being on your own. No fog. No acceptance of a “dream” others devised.

    Meh is also not a race. There are ways to facilitate your progress, like No Contact, and a good lawyer who gets a good settlement and your divorce decree. But the timetable is different for each person. If you cling to the past or go pain shopping by following the exploits of the FW’s of this world, you will slow your process. Don’t even compare your progress to that of other chumps. We are a diverse population, with differing strengths and weaknesses. I believe Chump Nation is strong because we all survived a traumatic experience, but we did it in different ways. We adapted and survived. We prove it can be done because we exist. Welcome to Chump Nation.

  • HW, Of course you are still sad but he wants to use you as a Plan B. You deserve much more than that! You are still in limbo. Don’t listen to a FW. File the paperwork needed and get divorced. You have nothing to work with and your healing will not take place until the divorce is complete.
    I am not sure where you will be getting divorced but I know if you can get a good accounting on what FW spent on Schmoopie you should be able to get that back. In my case, I got all of it back but as I understand it you may be able to get at least a portion back. ExFW spent a huge sum on Schmoopie for various things. I got it all back and the money he spent on vacations with her is now in my vacation account. I will use it to pay for a luxury vacation I am planning in 2024!
    All of us heal differently but no matter what you need to channel your sadness into getting your divorce completed. Yes, it is not fun and it is draining but it does not last forever. That needs to be a focus for you. Once you can settle (most FWs will settle when their antics are known because of image management) and get divorced then you can really focus on healing. I probably healed more quickly than most because the process took a long time for me (just shy of 2 years). At the very start of the year when FW had to pay me the last of the setttlement money, I received a scathing email from him going into detail of all my faults, flaws and general suckiness. He got no response so he sent a second one. That prompted a response from my lawyer after which he desisted rather than go to court for harrassment. The second one was also a true FW classic. I laughed at both of them for days and then finally decided to get my friends together to do our own UBTing over wine and snacks. We had a blast (a couple of chumps, a friend who never married and a happily married friend)! I don’t think I ever laughed as much! It was healing for me. Afterwards the printed emails were placed in the firepit and burned (my attorney has the emails for the record).
    About 2.5 months ago I started dating a fellow chump. I am now seeing what reciprocity is as well as real monkey love. You will heal too, and you may even find someone who can put a smile on your face. I was not looking for a relationship but it just happened out of the blue. Please HW, file and once it is done work on gaining your best life. It is not easy but CL and CN are here for you. Good luck and hopefully we will soon hear how well you are doing without a FW.

  • Dear Horizon,

    Please adjust your expectations for healing. This is massive trauma. I don’t know if you’ve ever suffered any other more natural and understandable significant loss, like the death of a parent, but I can tell you that the death of my parents took years to assimilate and heal from. It was also a cakewalk compared to being betrayed by my former (fake) husband.

    You can’t control the healing timeline any more than you control the healing timeline of a physical illness or injury or disease. You do control your expectations and the first aid you apply.

    Healing from trauma and grief is a LONG and winding and up and down road and many people are resistant to that fact. I’ve never met anyone that meets that news with joy.

    Loving and caring for myself, doing the next right thing, one moment at a time, one day at a time, practicing staying where my feet are, is the way through.

    I was a rock climber in the 90’s. Outdoors, in Yosemite, in Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas. You don’t climb by looking at the summit. You keep your attention on the move you’re on. Forget about how long it takes to heal. It’s unknowable and unnecessary. What’s necessary is to practice keeping your attention on what do you need to do right now, today, to promote your healing. To love and care for yourself, and any involved children.

    I don’t care why he did it, and I don’t know how long any feelings I have will last. (I’ve never known that about any feeling. I do know I’ve never had a feeling or a situation that was permanent). It’s better to spend my mental energy on assessing how I am feeling and determining how to respond to it in a loving, caring way.

    • So very wise, Velvet. I’m going to keep this one to re-read and re-read.

  • Horizon! I don’t know what it is but my first cheater, as soon as he got a better job started having affairs.Now that I wasn’t supporting him fully he didn’t need me? I was no longer of use? Was that it? We could live happily and have a family, then we start a beautiful family and he leaves me? Does security help them to believe they are now entitled to more?We were 35. My next cheater always had my financial support but as soon as he got a better job and could flirt at work, he started to be more brazen and starred emotional and later physical affairs. He once said that if he wasn’t a mechanic when he met me ( I was a nurse) he would never have married me. Those were signs I plastered over with thick spackle. Look back for those signs, they were there. Write them down. Write all the lies down, write the places he went, things he did, lies he kept telling. How he had sex with her and then with you and told himself he deserved both of you or all 6 of you. Numbers do not matter. Once you write them down, file and plug your ears and your eyes. Believe what you have experienced and believe he is an awful man. This DID NOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT. It took years of mentally cheating before he put it into action. As CL said, it DOES NOT HURT HIM TO HURT YOU, NOT at all. I’m sorry. Once you Believe that this is NOT love, you can create a new life with honesty and the truth. And get checked for STDs. My husband said he could lie because ge kept me safe by getting checked ✔️ out by his urologist for STDs so ge would not infect me. I still had an STI for 2 years until I left him. 6 weeks later it cleared up, no more antibiotics.! Believe nothing, get up and cry all you want but take care of you!!!!

    • Sorry! This is 2xchump🚫again. I hit send too soon!! Sending prayers for strength 💪 horizon white

    • This. They want a free ride, or a chance to better themselves on your time and dime, but then when they’ve achieved their goal, you realise they thought they were better than you all along and it wasn’t you that they wanted, it was your competance to monkey branch them to a better position in life. Once they’re there, they are so shallow, they ditch the person they needed at the time to fulfill their dreams for them, and go for the ‘trophy’ that they think they deserve, whether that is someone who will indulge in shallow pleasures with them, or someone who flatter and shower them with the attention that they think they deserve.

      • I used to joke that I was FW’s “starter wife” and that he’d leave when he got successful. He’d go “no, that will never happen.” Yup. That happened.

        It’s ironic, because he used to rail against his family saying that since they weren’t there for him when times were hard, and hadn’t been in the trenches with him, they didn’t deserve to celebrate the good things in his life. And yet he had no problem discarding me (who had poured my blood, sweat, and tears into helping him achieve his goals and weathered all the hard times) and celebrating all his achievements (that I helped him with) with OW on his arm. He took HER on the red carpet at his film premiere, while I sat at home. She went to all the conventions. She was in the interviews and photoshoots and went to the parties. It bothered me so much that she just waltzed in when he was successful and even pretended she had something to do with it. Truth was, she knew nothing. The films were already made when he met her. She never had to have faith in him, or work for anything, or put up with him (he was such a PITA when he was making a movie), or turn her home into a set for a year, or spend countless hours alone while he was editing or what have you, or invest time and money when there was little hope of a return. She just ate up the attention he got. But in the end I let that mindset go. Because objectively my life was anything but good – full of abuse and criticism and his short temper and wild mood swings and discontentment and… She wanted my life? She got it. And realized quickly that HE wasn’t the reason things had gone well for him. It was me all along. I provided the stability. Once I was gone, it all fell apart very rapidly. She had no idea how to deal with him, because she was as unstable as he was.

    • O.M.G. – to all of your comments! I can endorse all of your conclusions from personal experience.

      Looking back on my FOO, it was clear that my father turned into a massive Rectal Orifice once the family business started making the BIG bucks.

      Not only did he feel entitled to lots and lots of ass kissing, he became resentful that his precious ass was not being kissed enough.

  • When I saw the title of this one I grabbed a cup of coffee and got comfy. I knew it was going to be one that I would copy and paste pieces of to put in my journal. I was not wrong. My STBXFW says the same damn things. I feel you Horizon. Deeply. And it’s so hard when they are gaslighting you like this. But please, get away. Get away as fast as you can. It won’t be easy. He’ll keep telling you he’s changed and that he’s not a bad person (my FW’s catch phrase is “I’m not a villain”) but TRUST THAT HE SUCKS. He’ll try to reel you back in. Don’t fall for it! No more pick me dancing. I kicked mine to the curb 18 months ago and he is STILL trying to get me back, but I’m free. The divorce should be final any day. You will get there. Be strong. We’ve got your back!!!!

    • My ex would repeat, “I’m not a monster.” I never called him one. It was always in response to me standing up for myself or sharing my feelings. He also sobbed, “Do you think I’m a bad person?” when he was being a sad sausage, then next day flipped to rage: “I’m not a bad person.” Ok, FW.

      • My ex was constantly saying “I’m not a deadbeat dad!” while he refused to pay child support. I never called him a deadbeat dad. But apparently asking him to give our child his medication, or send home only clean clothes (or just return the things I sent rather than “losing” everything), was an accusation to him.

  • Oh, that gaslighting. I do not miss that shit at all.

    I remember once when I was very ill, just after getting misdiagnosed with schizophrenia when I was actually dying of pernicious anemia, my ex husband and a couple of his friends were gaslighting the hell out of me. I can’t even remember what had happened but I remember the circular argument and being reduced to tears by the insanity of it. Then being told I didn’t understand because I was sick and needed to take more meds.

    Basically it was, “I know we did X but we’re not the kind of people who do X, you need to understand that.”

    Me: I don’t understand that. You did X so you are the kind of person who does X.

    Them: No, we did it but we aren’t that kind of people who would do X.

    Me: Then who the fuck is the “kind of person” who does X? Someone who never fucking does it?!

    Them: You just don’t understand because you’re sick. Did you take your meds?

    And it went around and around and around. For fucking weeks. While I was struggling to function and think clearly and keep my full time job. May they all rot in hell. People who gaslight are monsters. It’s such a fucked up type of abuse.

    • good example of gaslighting KP
      pretty much sums it up in fact

  • Horizon – You did not give details about where you are living, if you have children or whether your own family is nearby. Is he currently paying your bills and do you have shared assets like a bank account or a house?

    I don’t believe any culture accepts the behavior you’ve described as being consistent with marriage. If you’ve been apart for a long period of time, you should not have too many hurdles to divorce.

    By the way – he knows what he is doing hurts you. He just doesn’t care.

    • This, there is no confusion. He is delaying things so he doesn’t have to pay out, and living his life with AP.

      • Exactly Stig. This is more or less a form of cake eating… but it’s not so much about having both women, though sure, he probably loves that centrality. It’s more, he gets to DO what he wants, (which is the AP) while not having to deal with the icky aspects of divorce (the work involved in navigating a divorce, lost assets, “what will people think?” etc ) As long as OP lets him, he will let her live in limbo bc it benefits HIM. (I know bc I am currently in the same position, I am seeing a therapist to help me work on the issues I have that have allowed me to accept such treatment. FOO issues don’t help matters but I am getting there and this site has a LOT to do with it)

  • Why do cheating fuckwits always make the Chump have to file? (Rhetorical question). I promise you – you will feel a stirring in your soul, the beginnings of MIGHTY, when you do though. My XFW discarded me for the OW, but for the first year whenever they weren’t together, he was coming back to me and spending time with me and my son. One day, after finding CL and CN, I realized I was pick me dancing and he was cake eating… and I said Hell to the No. I filed pro se to save money and when he ignored it, I hired a lawyer… that got his attention.

    It took almost a year to divorce, but by the time we did I was No Contact as much as possible when co-parenting. Yet, as my son got older and parenting software got better, I found that I could actually go No Contact for real (limiting any contact to email so I’d have a paper trail for anything that might arise back in court.)

    Step 1: FILE.

    As for the telling of your love story, I also agree with CL. It is time to put that away. It isn’t serving you, it is holding you back. Neither of you is the person in that story anymore. And, you will go through many more love story phases in the future… with your new first one being falling in love with yourself – knowing your worth – discovering who you are and what you want from the future without a fuckwit.

    I say journey because you have so much yet ahead of you! After the discard, I redefined myself as the “mighty, spurned, single mom”… it became my armor, my tool of defense. I loved that woman because she was fearless. She filed; she dug in and was the sane parent; she protected her son and gave him a safe place to grow up where resiliency and kindness and being trustworthy were the cornerstones of home.

    Now, I’m moving on from her… my son will soon be going off to college. He doesn’t need my protection anymore (at least not in the same way!). I’m scared… what’s my new mighty going to be/look like. I don’t know anything except that I need to move forward. Onward.

    So I get it… you don’t know what is out there without your fuckwit, you just know it doesn’t include him. Start there. Don’t get mired down in your righteous anger to the degree that you miss your next love story discovering yourself.

    Step 2: BLOCK HIM

    Keep coming back here – we’ve got your back. You can do this.

  • I’m telling you, I dreaded Divorce with a passion and now that I’m officially divorced from FW (yay!!), I’m here to say that while it sucks to go through one, it felt empowering to basically say, “Here’s how it’s going to be, dude…”

    I wake up every single morning grateful I’m not married to him anymore. It never gets old.

    You’ve got this!

    • “Here’s how it’s going to be, dude…”

      And that’s how you take your power back. No asking, explaining, negotiating. Congrats on the divorce, Redkd!

  • Leave, horizon, leave! You will so much better when you set foot outside shifty purgatory….
    I’m not even that far out and it is unbelievable how much happier I am getting. Week by week, better and better.

  • ✨A Thai masseuse rubs my blubbery bits ✨

    Thank you for always speaking truth to bullsh*t! Yesterday I was listening to the Dear Therapists podcast, episode “Scott’s Wife’s Affair.” While Lori Gottlieb and Guy Winch started out by saying having an affair is never an acceptable way of dealing with problems in a marriage, they then went on to basically blame and gaslight Scott. I got so triggered I had to scream, shut it off, and go for a walk. I couldn’t listen through to the end.

    I hope Scott finds his way to CL/the UBT and CN!

  • ” … ‘I will leave her when you give me a chance’ …”

    Because heaven forfend I should go for a single day without having a warm, squishy place to receive my manhood.

  • This is the sentence that got to me the most: “I regret what I did, give me another chance. I will leave her when you give me a chance.” He doesn’t say, “I’ve left her.” He is not sorry at all.

    • Sorry quickly signs a generous post-nup, files a legal separation, or offers a more-than-fair divorce settlement. Heck, they can always try to win you back if they are that motivated.

      But they never are. They simply don’t want to lose a dime, and if you have kids many are perfectly happy with you handling all the parenting without any legally mandated child support.

      I think it’s easy to put too much weight on “he hasn’t filed for divorce, so he must still love me!” When in reality the likely reason he hasn’t filed is mostly he can’t be arsed and is too busy living fancy free.

      • I also think they don’t want to file, because they want to be able to say Chump kicked me out, so whore and I will be starting our brand new luv story.

        My fw tried to get me to file, but I told him nope you want a D you file. It took him about a month. I had already talked to my lawyer, and had he not filed soon, I would have had to.

  • He showed you the real guy. It’s okay to believe your eyes, ears, heart. It’s okay to let him go now.

  • “He even tainted the places we discovered together and loved. It hurts so much that he disrespects our shared past.”

    Mine too. I suspect they all do it. It’s a way of replacing the memories they had there with you with memories of the AP. They are also lacking in imagination and originality.

    Take CL’s advice and file. Give yourself time, after going either no contact or low contact and grey rock. If you let him keep talking to you and sending these stupid messages, it will take longer to heal. Block him from your phone and regular email. Create a separate email just for divorce related issues. Send him a message from that address, telling him it’s your new email so that he doesn’t catch on. That way, you can open that email only when you are feeling strong enough. If the message does not appear to be divorce business related, delete it immediately. We can all promise you it gets better, but the healing starts when you no longer let him get in your head. I’ve been able to keep minimal contact with my FW and still heal, but my understanding is that it’s not common, and that NC is neccessary in most cases. It sounds to me like your cheater’s bullshit still hurts you, so I think it’s time you stopped giving him the opportunity.

    For additional mirth to that of the unfailingly funny UBT, I have changed your FW’s messages to better reflect his true thoughts, as well as to correct his grammar. You need lots of cheering up.

    FW says;

    “I regret you finding out what I did. Give me another chance. I will pretend to leave her when you give me a chance. Otherwise, my amazing swizzle stick is all hers. Do you really want that to happen? Three inch dongs shaped like cashews don’t grow on trees, you know. Hmmm…do cashews grow on trees?”

    (FW stares blankly off into space.)

    “You trusted me and considered me the King of the Cashews more than anyone else, right? I did these things to you that you made me do. So stop making me do things. Hey, can you ask Siri if three inch cashews grow on trees for me?”

    ”I did not do these sluts to hurt you, I would never hurt you. Except every day, but only a bit, not enough to count, and twice on Sundays. Sunday is designated as hurt the wife appliance day. Every guy does it. What’s the big deal?”

    “Do you think I am happy with myself? I never felt so depressed in my life. Getting blowies from gold-diggers has been the worst experience I’ve ever had! 😭 I mean, sometimes I can feel their teeth. Can you imagine?”

    ”I have been the happiest with you as my appliance. I miss your ignorance of my activities. I also miss banana flavored popsicles. They don’t make them anymore, and that hurts. Please don’t be like a banana popsicle. I just couldn’t take that happening again.”

    “Are we going to have to talk now? I hate talking when it doesn’t result in talking a chick into doing anal.”

    “My brain hurts when I think. My one brain cell is at full capacity. It’s kind of like you’re Captain Kirk and I’m Scottie. I keep telling you it’s overloaded and you don’t listen. You just demand more and more.”

    “Yes, I spend the money on sluts. And….? It’s my money and they are my sluts. I can do whatever I want with the things I own, including you. Get with the program or lose the cashew.”

    ”I am not a bad person, in my own mind. My brain cell does not think so. Who am I to argue with my brain cell? His name is Herman. Are dumb brain cells ever named Herman? No, they are not.”

    • 🤣👏😂Good stuff OHFFS, lol!
      CL is def rubbing off on you, in all the right ways!

    • Do you think I am happy with myself? I never felt so depressed in my life. Getting blowies from gold-diggers has been the worst experience I’ve ever had! 😭 I mean, sometimes I can feel their teeth. Can you imagine?”

      Hahaha. FW 33 yrs younger AP still had metal braces on her teeth 🦷 I said bet that made for painful BJs. He says she didn’t do that, then he paid orthodontist to remove them according to business bank account because you know? That’s a legitimate expense for Howorker or a bonus.

  • I’m focused on the “not-a-bad-person” quote – seeing echoes of my narcissist ex-husband. He was constantly saying “I’m not a bad person” – only he usually phrased it as “I’m [or I’ve always been] a good person.” In my mind, I can still hear his whiny voice! I submit that if you have to explicitly say that you’re a good person, you really aren’t – and if you say it more than once it immediately becomes a red flag.

    • I agree, AP kept sending FW texts “I’m not stupid you know”. She also called granite- gran-night.

    • sleepyhead that “I’m not a bad person” or my favourite “I’m not a monster” (said in response to asking a question like whether the rubbish had been put out) is designed to do a few things (eg Darvo) one of which is to elicit sympathy which makes the victim vulnerable to further attack
      Whilst the victim then spends days or weeks stewing about whether they are the sort of judgmental nasty person who calls good people bad, or hysterically calls decent men monsters, the FW is getting his rocks off elsewhere (and has to put the rubbish out)

      • “or my favourite “I’m not a monster”
        Mine does this, but it’s even more sociopathic. He says “oh yeah, I know, I am a monster” in a self pitying way that expects me to respond “no, no, you are not a monster.” Spoiler alert: he is a fucking monster.

  • It takes a while to feel better, but you will make leaps and bounds of improvement once it’s all final. You can deal with some things while in the legal mess, but most of the healing will come later.

    My ex made the divorce wild and crazy. Thankfully, I had a “grandpa with an iron rod” attorney who was steady and firm. He talked like a therapist at times and kept it all moving until we got it signed. I thought that the worse was over, but my STBX started winding up again even before the judge signed. He made closeout slow and messy even though everything was pretty scripted, but I was wiser as were the attorneys.

    Two plus years total after only dividing retirement assets and a few other things (no custody, no real estate, and no business interests), I had what I was due, and we closed the legal file. My attorney pointed out several areas that my ex might ping me on and told me what to do. He dictated two responses that I could use, which I saved.

    Only then did my healing really take off. My ex did ping on one issue that my attorney predicted, but I handled it with the response from my attorney. It didn’t even phase me. For now, peace.

    • Another reason to get an attorney, they’re seen it all and can advise accordingly

      • Yes, I had an outstanding legal team the whole way. People talk badly about lawyers, but I had nothing but praise for everyone involved in my case.

  • Your horizon is going to look amazingly clear once you get the hell out of there!
    I agree with “ I’m not a bad person” being a really big red flag. He knows he IS a bad person or he would have no need on earth to even say it. I very frequently got the “ I’m a good person” lines thrown in to some business correspondent email from FW. They are trying to sell it to themselves more than you and they also know the answer. No, he is not a good person.
    Granted you can do 800 amazingly positive and generous good acts in a year, but then you murder someone in cold blood on New Year’s Eve and you just blew that perfect year to smithereens. ( and your life too!)
    What’s the line from the Warren Buffet that says:
    “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
    Yeah, FW’s just want the superhero images, but they prefer to live their lives as villains. Doesn’t work out too well for them in the long run.
    I fully get how you are so traumatized and overwhelmed by what is happening in your life and it’s really difficult to get out of the ball you are mentally in on the bathroom floor. Yeah, we get that! We’ve been there!
    My ex FW had his dream schmoopie so he was in a really big rush to file and get on with his happily ever after. I can honestly say, I think if it were left up to me to file, I’d still be married to him and he would be on his new dream schmoopie arrangement continuing to spend all our money and treat me like shit ( and it sure the hell is your money and he’s pissing more away every day to continue to let him get away with it) Get mad as hell!!
    Listen to all the incredibly brave warrior chumps on here that would no longer tolerate that shit and filed, dumping those losers out the door with their mouths wide open in disbelief. Who knows how much money he may be socking away, realizing the situation between you two in untenable, but he’s snow balling you in the meantime with his lies lies lies and gets to drag it on. Someone that loves you does not cheat on you and screwing someone else is not the only way he is screwing you, that’s just the smoking gun of abuse.
    Don’t listen to his words, his actions are the truth you need to pay attention to.
    You are going to be okay, none of us thought we could make it out and we all did. You will too.
    Keep coming back here, five years out and it’s still so comforting to log in here and know there are ppl in the world that get my pain.
    It’s all horrific and so scary, but survivable. We promise you that’s true and we are way the hell more trust worthy than that good for nothing cheater that KNOWS he is hurting you! As long as he can carry on, you do not matter one bit to his plan, he is conning you.
    Just take the first step, get a lawyer, and know that none of what is happening has been caused by you and your FW does NOT have your back, he is playing you as long as you let him.
    Try journaling, I found that helpful to see in words what my eyes wouldn’t allow me to see. There will be a lot to discover.
    Good luck with it all, I’m sorry you have to go through any of this, but you will absolutely be glad you got away when it’s done all done, he cannot be fixed.
    Your life is way too important to be saddled with a deceitful lying cheater forever more.
    Get rid of him, peace and joy is waiting for you on your horizon when the fog lifts.

    • “Keep coming back here, five years out and it’s still so comforting to log in here and know there are ppl in the world that get my pain.”


  • “A Thai masseuse rubs my blubbery bits”- the visual is still haunting me CL, lol! 🤣
    Nice job UBT, I love that there is a highly functioning and accurate machine that calls out any and all bullshit that wanders its way. Damn, that’s beyond value!
    Would it, per chance, be interested in working w/e’s at the White House?!
    Can pay any fee whatsoever it asks, since our nations’ debt dwarves the cumulative total of EVERY other nations’ debt ( not an exaggeration sadly!) and we’ve got plenty of paper to keep printing bills! 😱
    Thank you UBT, for keeping me hopeful that the truth can still be uncovered by ppl with high scruples that are still out there in the world. 🌷☮️💕

  • I tend to think lingering pining over an abuser is due to not quite grasping that the abuse was categorically abuse and the abuser was really, really an abuser. It’s like pining is the default when you can’t call a spade a spade.

    Sometimes that inability to call a spade a spade comes from a lack of consensus on what constitutes abuse. There is a lot of pop-psych psychobabble out there coddling abusers and minimizing abuse and urging victims to take “partial blame” for causing “mere dysfunction.” More than just being dangerously misleading, this can be intimidating, making it seem like we’re facing off with the world to call things what they are. When normal people have been deeply frightened and have had their security torn away, they become more sensitive to what the “majority” thinks because, if they find themselves thinking or speaking out of line with the “majority” and courting social disapproval, they could potentially end up even more isolated and at risk. I remember how, when I was working as an advocate, survivors seem to be drawn to clinical material on abuse written by world class experts and authorities. It wasn’t from snobbery or out of conformity but because, if anything, what abuse does is impinge a kind of “law of the jungle” sense of the world. It boils everything down to primitive subsistence through fear. And if you’re a caveman living with danger at every turn, being ousted from the tribe feels like certain death. So basically the “voice of authority” can act like defibrillator paddles to jolt people out that terrible fear that identifying their experience as abuse would make them misfits and outcasts because, voila, big fancy people with tenured university posts, publishing deals and millions of devout readers can say this stuff!

    Obviously that effect is double edged when the fancy data is victim-blaming, abuser-coddling bullshit. But fortunately the bullshit is mostly spouted by hacks and the real voices of authority say something quite different– generally that it’s not the victim’s fault, that abusers have all sorts of diabolical, uncanny, ornate strategies for taking control and collapsing the self-esteem and independence of victims to entrap them, not all of which– or even the worst of which– involve overt violence. Furthermore, the truth has a certain unmistakable ring that the victim-blaming, minimizing nonsense can never imitate. In short, credible big shots very credibly call it abuse and it doesn’t make us misfits to call it that.

    By that token, if just to “defibrillate,” I’d recommend reading some of the material listed on the resource page of this blog, particularly books like Donald Dutton’s “The Batterer” because there are a lot of stark overlaps between batterer psychology and “cheater” psychology. In fact, the two things are virtually identical (give or take broken bones) which makes it possible to extrapolate the 97% recidivism rate of batterers to cheaters. In other words, they don’t change and you’re right to leave them– officially right to leave them. There’s also Evan Stark’s “Coercive Control” on the campaign to legislate against sub-violent forms of psychological abuse which survivors list as more paralyzing and destructive than even assault. There’s a paper in resources on how cheating is increasingly being viewed as coercive control which is increasingly being outlawed.

    How’s that for a voice of authority? In Scotland, doing all the “little” things that cheaters typically do to facilitate cheating– DARVO attacks, gaslighting, financial abuse, blame-reversing rages, etc., etc.– can land offenders in jail for up to 15 years. That level of enforcement is only spreading slowly but I think it helps survivors’ sense of perspective that people think psychological abuse is wrong to the point it’s being criminalized somewhere.

    One of the first steps to really getting free is to call abuse abuse and call the abuser an abuser but this is a genuinely terrifying thing for many people to do, particularly following a major life trauma. This forum is a safe place to do that and, if anyone needs more proof that their perspective will be validated, there’s a lot of important clinical writing on it.

    • Thanks HOAC, it’s so validating to read your post. And encouraging that the world may be gradually catching up to what we all know in our hearts to be true. Cl has quite the nation behind her, I’m immensely grateful for you all and your contributions to this site.

      • I share your gratitude for this forum. The more people who understand certain issues, the safer we all are and the safer the world will be for our kids so my motivations aren’t entirely unselfish.
        {{{{ HUGS }}}}

  • WhiteHorizon, I could have written that same back and forth you describe with your ex, almost word for word. It wore me down and I had multiple ddays as a result. Even after I left for good and knew I wanted no more to do with my ex, I continued to engage in those kinds of insidious, cyclical conversations with him from afar. It was literally killing me, and I became so depressed, anxious and unstable that I finally knew there was no possible way out except to cut contact. It feels like facing a void, but shut that door. Engaging makes you feel like shit and keeps him central, when you should be focusing on yourself and what matters. It also gives him kibbles and options. He’s nobody to you, now. Then, after going NC (or grey rock), just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and if you slip up just reset, and eventually you’ll be clear and feel dismayed that you gave the pathetic FW so much of your time and energy. You won’t feel ashamed of how you “failed”/got cheated on. You’ll just have to struggle with the shame of what you “put up with” and the frustration of how much of your life you threw away on an abusive jerk who didn’t care about you. Eventually the sadness will begin to lift and you’ll start to regain control and settle back into a person you can recognize. I’m still sad, but I have a very different perspective on what I’m sad about, and it’s not that same 24/7 heavy sense of doom and detachment. My nervous system has chilled. Time and space is the answer, as frustrating as that is to hear when you’re at rock bottom and need to feel better, now. But, hopefully it helps to hear that we were all where you are, and I don’t think there’s a chump here who regrets going NC and who doesn’t (after a time) feel better as a result.

    • bread&roses, thank you. I read your message a few times. I do not want anything to do with him either, but I am still making those conversations in my head with him like he is sitting next to me. I feel depressed, anxious, sad, just like you said. I didn’t get a closure so I keep asking questions in my head but I know that questions are useless. I have to trust that he sucks. It is especially difficult for me because he was not a lazy at all, he worked hard. He was an easy going, cheerful person. He was never violent or angry, he never swore. He was calm in traffic despite crazy drivers. He looked like the perfect guy. But the mental violence I experienced these last years erased all his good qualities. I feel particularly upset because I did not divorce him right away, I was scared and I didn’t trust that he sucked. I did not have the courage to speak with a lawyer again until now. ( I have an appointment this week). I was avoiding looking into mirrors perhaps not to see myself sad like this. But recently I saw how tired I looked in the mirror. My eyes had lost their shine. The divorce is not so scary anymore and it will help me go grey rock because we will not have to communicate about the money or the condo we have. All will be sorted out and I feel better thinking about it. Infidelity needs to be considered crime universally. Because I felt like my soul was killed over and over again.

      • Try not to be too hard on yourself. No matter how hard I tried to change the channel, the rumination you describe was a constant in my life for over a year after I left. Fifteen years is a long time to spend with a person. I, too, would find myself having conversations in my head with my ex, although I realized even those imaginary conversations never went anywhere good! The predictably bad interactions even haunted my dreams (and very occasionally, still do). I remember driving in my car and bursting into tears, screaming, “GTFO of my head!” I hated that this loser who had stolen so many years from me could still make me feel so rotten, even months after I’d left him and cut contact. I hated myself for it, and I wondered if something was permanently wrong with me. I was distracted and detached at work, with my family, on a walk, watching t.v., even getting a massage! Everyone suggests you do the things that make you happy and find new hobbies, but I already had plenty of hobbies yet couldn’t summon the interest or effort to engage in any of them.

        At first, I had a hard time trusting he sucked and letting go because I’d loved my ex for many years and while he was far from perfect, and our life wasn’t easy, there were many seemingly special and unique things about him and the life we had together (although after learning he’d been leading a double life, that made the “good times” I remembered even worse than the bad). Now, I see him for the abusive, manipulative phony that he was — and although I still struggle daily with the consequences of that relationship, it’s no longer the inescapable, nearly unbearable focus. I woke up and fell asleep with the sense that something was terribly wrong. That has lifted, along with my mood and my outlook.

        I’m not judging, and based on my own similar experiences and what I’ve seen here, I think it’s normal for chumps–but if you reread your comments, you’ll see how much they focus on your ex’s issues. You fell in love with his potential, and the abusive dynamic conditioned you to put him first. When you leave to Gain a Life, he will inevitably become less central, and it feels so good to release the burden of someone else’s fucked up skein and make your own life central! His skein is irrelevant and a waste of your precious life, which your ex has already stolen way too much of. So glad you have an appointment with your lawyer and are no longer scared to divorce. You were frozen for a time, but now you’re moving into action and it will make your life better. You give yourself closure: he sucked and you have agency, and you’re now taking control to care of and investing in yourself. Use the “trust he sucks” mantra when you start to waiver, and put on your bitch boots if you need to. Do the things, keep coming here for validation and counterstories, and the rest will come.

  • Thank you, thank you Chump Lady and Chump Nation you are all amazing. I am reading the comments now. Chump Lady’s responses are so true that it feels like she was in our house while these were happening. I also burst into laughter, thank you!

  • CL has laid out the problem of a chump expecting to be “happy” when after years of cheating and separation, there is still no divorce. HorizonWhite says they have been “no contact” for a year but talks about messages from the FW in the present tense. And even if there isn’t actual contact, HorizonW’s hopefully STBX is living rent-free in her head. CL’s advice to her is spot on.

    What I want to add is that HorizonWhite can take huge steps toward “happiness” by understanding that it is not a destination and not a constant state of being–“why can I not get over this and be happy?” is just the wrong way to think about it. I don’t think we really ever “get over” the worst things that happen to us. We go through the big pain, the losses, the anger at the cheater (and ourselves), the regret–all the negative stuff. We study and learn about the difference between good character and poor character, about the relationship cycle and the 3 mindfuck channels and what genuine imitation Naugahyde remorse it. In doing so, our sense of what an acceptable relationship changes. And as we tackle the challenge of living alone and learning to trust and value ourselves, we can also work on learning that “happiness” as an emotional state can be developed by living in the present moment and cultivating gratitude for what we have now.

    My capacity for happiness increased when I stopped hungering for what I thought I wanted and needed (a relationship with a man, a nicer house, etc.) and focused on loving my work, my friends, my pets, and the things I love to do. It’s an inside job, happiness. HorizonW takes about “pretending” to be happy when she’s really under a “dark cloud of sadness.” The better strategy is just to feel the sadness when it comes up–and pay attention to the little moments of happiness that come up. A sunny day, a good book, lunch with a friend, music. Eventually, with the divorce and time, and if we confront it when ir bubbles up, the sadness will dissipate. And we can learn to be grateful for the good things in our lives.

  • Beautifully said LAJ,I’m saving that one!
    I fully concur with your assessments. It’s the internal searching and the gratitudes for the daily joys that show up for you that get you to a more peaceful place. The pain doesn’t disappear, it just gets worked into the mosaic of your life. None of us are getting through life unscathed, but how we manage it can be a source of our strength.

  • Horizon, please listen to Chump Lady. You can’t get to Meh if you haven’t even filed for divorce. It’s unfinished business; he is an albatross around your neck, pulling you down. The No Contact is vital, but so is cutting the ties that bind. Find your anger, it’ll help spur you on to action, to filing for that divorce and being able to fully move on with your life.

  • Joint marital assets — this was a term that bit me in the butt during my divorce. I was contributing heavily to raising a granddaughter after her mother (my daughter) suffered a permanent brain injury and would need institutionalization for the rest of her life.
    The father was someone who wanted to raise the granddaughter but he had limited assets (minimum wage jobs, not even a GED).
    I discussed with hubby and paid for childcare, karate lessons, clothing, tutoring, speech therapy.
    I had to repay 50% of that to hubby during the divorce because I did not have it in writing. 8 years of such things was about $100,000, so yes, I had to repay him $50,000.
    The mediator actually apologized to me and turn to the hubby and his 3 attorneys and asked if they wanted to reconsider because of ‘how this looks to an outside observer.’

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