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I Don’t Want to Be a Switzerland Friend

broken heartDear Chump Lady,

Been reading your blog for many years, after my own shitty relationships, but today my question is about how to support our chump friend.

This woman has been my husband’s best friend for over a decade, but she’s such a light in this world that when we got together she became my friend too, and so did her partner, who we also loved. This man has stayed at our house for multiple weeks, hung out with us, met MY family, and yesterday we come to find out he had been cheating on her all this time.

He’s been trickle-truthing and minimizing. We’re all shocked and my husband (usually the calmest man on earth) is apoplectic. We all live a fairly nomadic lifestyle and we work in a very specific industry so there’s really no way for her to get to an actual number of OW or the actual truth, there’s only his word, which, as you can imagine, is worth shit. The details we do know are truly gnarly and after my husband spoke to our chump friend, we realized this has been a pattern of behavior that she, due to shame and embarrassment, has been hiding from us for years so we wouldn’t think less of him. I cannot tell you how much my heart breaks for her.

We’ve flown her to our place so she has space to process and get back on her feet, but she’s going to have to go back and finish a work contract in another country soon, and we worry. How can we support her from afar? How do we help her see that obsessing over the truth and what “actually happened” is not useful to healing?

I also worry that they’ll reconcile, as happened before, and I don’t know how to respect her decisions while also respecting my own feelings. I’m so mad that I know, even if she forgives him, I never will.

Do we have the right to be this mad and hurt? The cognitive dissonance between who we thought he was and the truth has been wild. I don’t want to make things worse for her or disrespect her space, but I feel like he owes us an apology too because on one occasion this guy brought one of the OW to hang out with us on a night out, and thus made us complicit in his cheating (we obviously didn’t know, it didn’t seem suspicious at the time).

I want to yell at him so badly, but is that helpful? Probably not, right? We’re also the only ones in our friend circle who know and I kind of want to shout from the rooftops what this fucker has been doing and that he’s NOT A GOOD PERSON, but is this my place? (no, right?) It makes me sick to my stomach that my other friends don’t know his true colors. Would I make everything worse for her if I told them?


Not Swiss Friends


Dear Not Swiss Friends,

You left out how you found out about this. It sounds like she told you and I understand how you would not want to betray a confidence. But as you rightly point out, this FW has sinned against you and your husband too.

Your dilemma underscores why cheating isn’t just between two people in a marriage (and a third, or fifteenth affair partner) — it’s usually a much larger conspiracy. Cheaters press  people in their wider circle into their service of secret keeping and abuse of the chump partner.

I feel like he owes us an apology too because on one occasion this guy brought one of the OW to hang out with us on a night out, and thus made us complicit in his cheating

I’m sure he enjoyed the power trip.

Ergo, you’re absolutely within your rights to tell him exactly what you think of him and anyone within earshot. You DO have a dog in this fight.

I want to yell at him so badly, but is that helpful? Probably not, right?

Helpful for what outcome? Are you promoting reconciliation? How about he’s been a total shit to someone you care about and disrespected you and your husband by involving you into his tawdry double life and you tell him that?

I don’t expect he’ll be different, but you just made the cost of fucking with you much higher, and that’s a good thing. Yeah, you don’t pull that shit around us. Now, your friend might not be up to sticking up for herself yet, but you certainly can set an example here and let her know this is NOT OKAY.

This man has stayed at our house for multiple weeks, hung out with us, met MY family, and yesterday we come to find out he had been cheating on her all this time.

Hey, FW, you took advantage of our friendship. You enjoyed a level intimacy and hospitality that we never would’ve extended to you if we knew you were abusing our friend.

Does the world slip off its axis if you say that? What’s the worst thing you imagine happening? She defends him? She’s already been there. Maybe seeing him suffer some consequences would shift the perceived power balance and embolden her to leave? Anyway, it doesn’t matter — because you don’t control what she does. You just control you. (My most unsatisfactory advice, trotted out again.)

He pissed YOU off. He pissed your husband off. You’re allowed to express your feelings.

after my husband spoke to our chump friend, we realized this has been a pattern of behavior that she, due to shame and embarrassment, has been hiding from us for years so we wouldn’t think less of him. I cannot tell you how much my heart breaks for her.

Tell her this. “My heart breaks for you. This is NOT your shame to wear. We DO think less of him because he’s a cheating liar who has abused everyone’s trust. Please don’t defend him, because his behavior — risking your health, your home-life, mindfucking you — is indefensible.”

How can we support her from afar? How do we help her see that obsessing over the truth and what “actually happened” is not useful to healing?

Feel free to introduce her to Chump Nation. She can get on private CN Reddit and Facebook for 24/7 support. Understand that she’s going to obsess for awhile, because D-Days are traumatic and the talking and the skein untangling is a coping mechanism. It helps to have peer support.

Ultimately, what’s “useful to healing” is getting away from the creep and going no contact. But maybe let a community of chumps or her own therapist tell her that, while you and your husband just keep being her steady, supportive friends.

I also worry that they’ll reconcile, as happened before, and I don’t know how to respect her decisions while also respecting my own feelings.

You don’t control if she reconciles or leaves. You just control you. Let’s say she wants to talk about what a horrible person her husband is, but refuses to leave him — you say, “Friend, we aren’t going to discuss him. You know my feelings about this. You deserve better than a cheater. You’re making a choice to stay with him. What do you want on your taco?” (Deflect)

Then either decide you can’t hang out with her while she’s being self destructive, or decide you can hang out (if he’s gone and you don’t discuss him), but you just do neutral stuff together.

I vote for staying in touch, because FWs often keep their chumps isolated. But absolutely make your feelings clear — you love her, but don’t respect (and cannot abide) him.

Do we have the right to be this mad and hurt? The cognitive dissonance between who we thought he was and the truth has been wild.

Of course you have a right to be mad and hurt. You’ve also learned an upsetting truth about your friend — she’s been living in an abusive situation for quite awhile. If she told you, it may be because she wants to be accountable and not go back to him. She may be desperate for perspective and your anger at him may feel like validation. She’s probably been asking “Do I have the right to be mad and hurt?” and getting gaslighted with his minimizations.

We’re also the only ones in our friend circle who know

I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

and I kind of want to shout from the rooftops what this fucker has been doing and that he’s NOT A GOOD PERSON, but is this my place? (no, right?) It makes me sick to my stomach that my other friends don’t know his true colors. Would I make everything worse for her if I told them?

Why not ask her? Or tell her, hey, I’m not keeping his secrets, okay? If FW is bold enough to bring his mistress to your dinner parties, then you can be bold enough to point out she’s his fuckbuddy.

Who does it benefit to tip-toe around and not tell? Who profits by everyone in the friend circle not knowing? He does. I’m sure you’re not the only one offering hospitality to a FW. If it were me, I’d probably tell. But I’m a blabbermouth.

Look, Not Swiss, I think you and your husband have been wonderful friends. She’s very lucky to have you. So many people stay on the sidelines, or blame the victim, or feign neutrality — to have two passionate supporters is a blessing. I hope she realizes what gems you are, and leaves the cheater.

We’re here for her too.


Ask Chump Lady

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  • By the time all the fallout came after the trusted FW left the picture, he didn’t have one friend left. And, he was SO popular before it all happened.

    • Same here. One of the most validating things was that a few days after dday he asked one of his friends to go golfing and he refused, said he just couldn’t be friends with someone who had treated me that way. (Ok I also think a lot of wives are not going to be happy with their husbands hanging out with a serial cheater)

      • “One of the most validating things was that a few days after dday he asked one of his friends to go golfing and he refused, said he just couldn’t be friends with someone who had treated me that way.” Love this! Kudos to these people who take a stand!

        I feel fortunate that the majority of our friends hopped on team Spinach and completely cut ties with my ex, which, of course, caught him by surprise. He thought he was a sniper, knocking out only me. Instead, he dropped a betrayal cluster bomb, which caused severe collateral damage.

        I’ll never stop being amazed by his cluelessness regarding all this. He actually thought that his adult son would want to meet the OW and hear about how those two just “fell in love.” Um. No. Just no.

        • I’ve probably shared this before, but my teenage son visited his FW father out-of-state one summer, shortly after D-day, and he told me that if he so much as glimpsed OW from even a distance during the visit, he’d beat her with a baseball bat. Fortunately, she wasn’t around, and I really don’t see my son EVER being violent, but it does underscore your point, that FW’s are pretty much clueless about how passionately negative many people (most hopefully) will feel about their betrayal.

      • My Cheater Narc Ex realized, I think, what would happen, and completely ghosted everyone we knew. He didn’t even go back to our dentist or grocery store!!! (Good move on his part, actually; I told EVERYONE. And dentists have power tools in your mouth.)
        I think it really shows how deeply these idiots bond (measured in microns), since it was clearly easy for him to never again have any contact with people who had supposedly been friends for years. Weirdly, he even ghosted the one friend he had when I met him, who was sooooo Switzerland. But I guess Cheater Narc wouldn’t know that; you have to be around people or at least around people who are around people, to know who is trying to be ‘neutral’ and who actually will rip your head off.

  • In my case, our friends were pretty separate and so we each kept our own friends. We did have one common friend, and she absolutely let him know exactly what she thought. When I asked her not to, she said “too late”. Her reasoning is exactly what CL has written: “He did not just lie to you. He lied to me too. He just told me (this was one week before discard) everything was great and you were going on holiday”.

    I do still feel sad that most of FW’s friends never even said a word about it, and that all of them are still friends with him. But I do think half of them would be appalled and they simply got a very distorted version of events.

  • My ex FW had heaps of conspirators which really hurt me. On the other hand he lost all of our mutual friends after DDay and he kept his asshole flying monkeys. We had a couple of Switzerland friends, which also hurt deeply. But at least one of those neutral friends later told me he now hates him but not because of the cheating per se (which he seemed to forgive!) but he hates him for his bad sportsmanship in their gaming world 🙄 but mostly he hates him because he doesn’t pay child support (a better reason to hate him). Most people in our world felt duped by the FW too. Having Switzerland friends really hurts when you’re the chump. I hope Not Swiss Friends find the strength to tell their friend’s husband to go fuck himself.

    • Xhole has many co-conspirators too. Birds of a feather flock together.

      Anyone who supports a douche who doesn’t pay child support is just as big of a douche. I look forward to the day of having an opportunity to all the flying monkeys that they are all douches and deserve each other in doucheville paddling their douche canoes.

    • Our boating community decided to be Swiss friends bc my ex FW took our big boat, but I kept the house on the water, with these Swiss friends. As CL says, this implies they believe either what he did wasn’t so bad (he exited our 35 yr marriage by getting “addicted “ to porn and sex workers. He then ghosted me aka no discussions, explanations etc) or they must believe I somehow deserved this treatment. That’s how I see it, and so I now have a big circle of neighbors but a small circle of close, real friends. It does hurt a lot esp when they are talking about boating weekends, , the life I planned and created for us.

  • Hey Chump Nation and Chump Lady,

    Thank you so much for the insight and for replying to my letter. Since DDay we’ve discovered many more instances of infidelity (including using sex workers and convincing mutual friends that their relationship was open so no one would say anything to our friend, etc), even though we still don’t have a full scope of everything, what we already know is unacceptable.

    We managed to help our friend postpone her work commitments to have the space to process and heal, and also schedule therapy. We’ve encouraged no contact, to varying degrees of success (sometimes she wants to call and scream at him or unleash her anger through text, which is of course normal) and I’ve tried to introduce her gently to Chump Nation. She has a bit of an avoidant/sensitive personality so some of the language and advice here was too rough for her, but I’ve been kind of acting like a conduit for CL until she’s ready to read it herself (telling her about trickle truthing, the ego kibbles, etc). Unfortunately, she got her hands on some pro-reconcialiation materials because the FW used the old “I’m a sex addict” excuse and she wanted to read more about it. My husband and I think this is absolute bullshit and have been pushing back on this idea that a) sex addiction is a thing; b) even if it was a thing, you don’t owe him staying through the recovery process.

    I think one of the low-key things that have been most helpful for her has been watching me and my husband react to the absolute fuckery this guy put her through. This man had her normalizing and excusing a lot of behavior that she can see on our faces is absolutely not normal. What you said about telling her the shame was never hers to carry has really resonated, because that has been one of the most important parts of the many very long conversations we’ve had in the week that passed. This was never her fault, or based on anything she did.

    It was also good that we encouraged her to speak to other friends and speak her truth because this FW had already been making the rounds and telling his side of the story to other people. Another couple friends told her that after the much minimized version he sold them the main takeaway was what a good opportunity this was “for [Chump Friend] to grow.” 🤢🤢🤢🤢 Luckily, these are normal, good people, and after learning the full extent of what was going on, they are shocked and appalled and they believe her.

    I’ve also asked my friend to share at least the basics with my friends that I had introduced to this FW on our city. At first she was resistant because she didn’t want them to think less of him (yeah) but I told her I don’t want this fucker to think he can come around to our city and message my friends to hang out and that we’ll keep his secrets and his appearance. He’s a dangerous disgusting person, and I know my people and know that they wouldn’t want to associate with someone like this. She understood and now we have a nice boundary around us/her, no one will continue being tricked by his fun guy façade.

    So that’s it this far. This is still early days of healing, there will be many more rough days ahead, and there’s logistical stuff to handle eventually like shared properties etc, but at least for now whenever she says “my life is destroyed” I remind her of the beautiful anxiety-free like she’ll build for herself next, and that no matter what happens, she at least won’t have to keep lying to herself or anyone else. I know that with that free space mentally she’ll build something so much better and more beautiful. And he’ll still be a 40 yr old dickhead partying every day and grossing out 20 yr olds.

    • Thanks for telling her about CN. My potty mouth is not nearly as offensive as screwing sex workers and risking her health. Hope she comes around.

      • Thanks for bringing this up.

        Sex working – worldwide – is a most commonly a form of enslavement and is a heartbreaking scenario.

        I would question sharing my life with someone whose moral compass allows support of human trafficking.

        Being a “John” is NOT ok.

        • This is why my name is UnLeashed, because FW put me into that world. They are boundless in their capacity to use others. He did this AFTER I had children for him. After I reconciled. He also used the “open relationship” tactic. Gaslighting. All of it. Most of the stuff I learned here was not aware at the time. DDay was during pandemic and I just left early this year. Working on custody–didn’t marry. Hopefully its fast. Can’t talk about it anymore until its done. Just filed.

      • It’s not so much the potty mouth, but more the “calling a spade a spade”. She’s very empathetic and understanding, so she’s uncomfortable calling him abusive (even though his behavior is…) uncomfortable seeing things as black and white etc. Me, I’m a bit of a bitch, so I have no problem with it and I’ve told her “don’t worry I’m holding your rage until you’re able to feel it”. Hopefully she gets there soon!

    • NotSwiss,

      I am going to be bold and offer my website ( as a gentler version of chump advice. Inspired by CL’s work and my own journey in an evangelical, Christian world through infidelity discovery plus divorce from a cheater, I created my website. It is particularly dedicated to dealing with the spiritual abuse around these matters. Not sure if faith is an element for your friend in this traumatic experience or not.

      -Chaplain David (aka DM)

      PS I hope she is able to come around to ready CL herself someday. We all start at different places on this grief journey through infidelity.

    • He might be a sex addict, but what it looks like he is, is a sociopath. He has no concept of guilt and he’s certainly not empathetic. Pretty much signs of a sociopath.

    • Not Swiss– I agree with others here in wishing every abused person had friends like you and your husband. As a former advocate for domestic violence survivors and as a survivor of coercive control in my marriage and past workplace harassment/stalking, I wish it was more common for bystanders to have solid principles and do the right thing. But I’ve found what a Holocaust survivor famously said during testimony at Nuremberg to be generally true: “Ten percent of people are always merciful, ten percent are always cruel and the remaining eighty percent can go either way.” You’re that blessed ten percent and it’s a wonderful thing that you loom so large in the life if your friend because it’s a reminder to her that there are more out there like you. That alone is going to weaken the coercive grip that this FW wields over your friend since, for better or worse, “bystander response” often determines whether survivors of abuse are able to break free of abusers’ dismal, hopeless, distorted view of the world.

      If that brainwashing went on for many years, it can act like a barbed wire spider’s web and induce “captor bonding/Stockholm syndrome.” So if your friend ends up disappointingly attempting to reconcile, it might help if you understood why and how abusers manage to ensnare their prey and the specific psychological tactics they use. It could help in the sense that you’re not blindsided if the latter happens and don’t get too frustrated or blame yourselves and can also help your friend because, even if she succumbs to manipulation this time, most domestic abuse survivors make about 7 attempts to escape before finally succeeding. If you know what’s going on and know what noises to make to your friend, she’ll know she has someone to reach out to later when she makes that final break.

      For that level of understanding (outside resources like CL), there’s really no better source than research on domestic violence and domestic abusers. It skips over all the RIC “blame-sharing/takes-two-to-tango” bs and “sex addiction” nonsense and gets down to brass tacks: abusers are deeply twisted manipulators who are diabolically tireless in their efforts to control and coerce partners and tend to confabulate facts, rewrite history and selectively forget their own misdeeds to the point that they believe their own BS. Furthermore, their deep investment in their own BS makes their lies and threats that much more spellbinding and paralyzing to victims because victims understand that, regardless of the truth, abusers tend to have great influence over social contexts (research reports that domestic abusers tend to channel abnormal amount of psychic energy into “image management”) and this gives them the power to socially destroy their victims in ways that can impact employment, parental rights, social support and being able to move on and have positive relationships in the future. That fact and the abusers’ ability to successfully evade consequences most of the time are what make abusers “criminally disordered” more than “mentally ill” since the mentally disabled wouldn’t have the organized wherewithal to manipulate victims and bystanders to this degree. These skills and the self-exculpating/victim blaming mental processes were usually learned, honed and polished across several generations within abusive family structures and are so ingrained that almost nothing will redeem or “fix” them. Even with therapy and prison time, recidivism is about 97% and worse without either intervention.

      To the extent that most cheaters seem to operate from the same mindf*ck playbook as batterers, all of the above applies all too easily to cheaters as well. Frankly I don’t see much difference between the tactics and psychology of typical batterers and typical cheaters give or take contusions and broken bones. New research on “coercive control” brings out even more overlaps between DV and typical cheater coercion methods. Related studies report that even victims of extreme violence still count the psychological and emotional abuse to be the most paralyzing and devastating even beyond physical assault. Cheaters typically engage in precisely the same kinds of psychological and emotional abuse in order to facilitate their cheating which makes sense to me personally because, in the years I worked in advocacy, I never met a DV survivor who wasn’t also cheated on. It got to the point that I believe battering is really nothing more than the violent enforcement of sexual double standards and one-sided monogamy (total freedom for perps and zero freedom for victims). Furthermore, because batterers tend to operate on a “beat by need” basis and prefer less legally risky methods of paralyzing their partners, the most skillful abusers may never have to lift a finger to that end.

      Those are just the broad overlaps but there are more specific overlaps between battering and cheating (Dutton writes about “masked dependency” which is mind-blowing– the idea that abusers are always seeking to “prove” to themselves and the world that they don’t have wormy, pathological, infantile dependency on their own partners to the point that they feel compelled to a) foster dependency and paralysis in victims so they don’t escape while conversely b) betraying and rejecting these partners as part of the campaign to prove they’re “big kids who don’t need mommy/daddy”). For more “overlaps,” CL lists books and studies related to DV in the page’s resources. If just out of personal interest in the subject and its many applications or because you’ve embraced the role of “pre-chewing” certain information in order to feed it to your friend, the book, “The Batterer” by criminologist and researcher Donald Dutton was sort of the behavioral bible for the advocacy network I worked for. Understanding abuser psychology gave advocates an instant edge in getting new clients genuinely engaged and perhaps one step closer to escaping. Rattling off a list of typical abuser personality traits and (mostly psychological) tactics was usually the first thing that advocates would do when talking to a new client. Most survivors would go wide-eyed and ask, “Have you actually met my partner??” But it wasn’t meant merely as a parlor trick to mesmerize and “hook” survivors in. It was often to “prime the pump” and get survivors talking about what had been done to them, things they might not otherwise mention out of (not unreasonable) fear that listeners wouldn’t have any reference to such bizarre and freakish incidents and behavior. And, last but not least, since all these traits and tactics are described in clinical literature on abusers, it was also a way of letting survivors know that there’s a whole world of people– sometimes people with fancy degrees and posts at major institutions who have the power to impact legislation and policy– who were on their side and weren’t going to fall for the abuser’s lies.

      It helps in sawing away at Stockholm syndrome/captor bonding to let survivors know there are untapped legions of supporters “out there” which, in turn, provides hope for being able to build a new and better life. You and your husband simply being supportive and unbending goes a long way towards delivering that message.

    • Sex addicts… even if it’s a thing- and I do see how using the addiction recovery tenets could help a person reform, because it involves ritualized habitual sobriety and a circle jerk of commiserating supportive cohorts… it still means he’s an addict, with tendencies to be a selfish asshole in it for himself, and he will be having to teach himself all over again how to tell the truth and be a non douche canoe…. Real talk: there’s a reason they tell addicts to be sober alone for at least a year before getting involved. Because you’re a shitty person when all you’re doing is trying to not be a shitty person. She needs to get tested, get a big dollop of ‘I deserve ice cream and love, not gaslighting’ and spend a hell of a lot of time with you folks. And … anyone who uses sexworkers in many many countries is likely contributing to human trafficking. Drug addiction. Underage coercion. I don’t care how pretty and chipper and mature they all seem. Yep I know there are happy hookers and I live in a place where sexwork is a profession that’s legal, but -It’s. Not. Common. And it’s often not a choice. She needs to stay away. Its not failure. Its change.

      • Yeah, I see what you mean re:sex work. I’m pro sex workers rights, and at least one of the countries he used their services in it’s legal and very regulated (when it comes to protection trafficking etc) but he did it in other places where it’s definitely not. And just because something is legal it doesn’t mean it’s not exploitative.

        We went to get tested today actually! I say we because I went for support and ended up doing it too. We’re in the clear for the big life altering ones, and just waiting on the results of the rest. One more thing off the checklist, although she’ll need to get retested in 3 months because we can’t know for sure when he last exposed her. Still, that was a huge win!

        • She is so lucky to have you with her. I moved across the country to get away and I hurled into a garbage can after my first Pap smear in new town because I was certain I would find out I was riddled with terrible things because I felt like I was rotting from the inside, just a wreck. A good friend by my side .. I can’t imagine how much safer that feels.

        • The sex worker who has sex with someone who is in a committed relationship is an affair partner who is getting paid, and just as guilty of harming a chump and involved children as the kind who volunteer.

          A chump is the adult whose consent is denied.

    • NotSwiss – I wish I’d had friends with your gumption/spunk/righteous rage to stand up for me in the aftermath of my shitshow. Really, really wish I’d had that. It cheers my heart to know there are friends like you out in the world.

  • Can you imagine if people wrote Dear Abby: ” My good friend was assaulted and robbed. Should we invite the assailant to our party and is it appropriate to mention the crime? Do we need to let our good friend know her assailant will be there?”

    Why is holding cheaters accountable so controversial?

    • Such a great point ICST! WtF do people say ‘not my circus’ or ‘that’s none of my business?’ Maybe they never considered that a character defect? Maybe they’re bought into whatever narrative. Don’t they want FW to be happy too? F That! Tell all, Swiss. Be her voice. She probably lost it a long time ago. Reminder her that she’s your friend and you won’t accept him treating her that way. Period.

      • One of our friends actually said to me, “Just because he lies to you, that doesn’t mean he lies to ME.” I heard she was outraged when he got arrested for being a pedophile. Golly gee hon, guess you aren’t some super special superior woman that liars don’t lie to.

        • Hubris sucks. It’s the same hubris that a lot of APs have. It overlaps with “hybristophilia” or “prison groupie” syndrome where certain people are drawn to befriend or even marry convicted criminals out of this idea that it makes them “extra super special” if someone who is generally evil to other people “spares” them. It’s its own category of weird and twisted pathology and I steer clear of people who think like this.

    • When the average abuser has more power than the average victim, social convention somehow develops in such a way as to protect the abusers. That’s why abusive bosses were so well protected for so long, sexually older, more powerful men who sexually harassed, physically abusive parents and spouses, abusive priests, racist randos ….

      This is changing in many areas, slowly but surely, but not enough people see cheating for how abusive it is, yet. Hopefully we’ll get there, Chump Lady and Chump Nation in the forefront! Refuse to wear that shame! Refuse to be polite when that means disrespecting yourself and other victims! Refuse to keep silent when that is advantageous to the abuser! And don’t be ashamed to say you ARE a victim. We are far more than JUST victims, but we actually are victims.

      • I was told to ‘tell everybody!’ I did! I was angry and FURIOUS! But I must say, initially, my first instinct was shame. I was so ashamed to have a man that didn’t love me. And I felt not very worthwhile. It has been 8.5 years since I divorced the Fuckwit. In that 8.5 years, it took me at least 4 years to understand that it was never me. Then it took at least 2 more years to feel comfortable in my own skin and vow to myself that I would never put up with such nonsense again. I’m at peace. However, I have found myself in conversations with people that also know the Fuckwit (my son’s in-laws and their friends) and I’m reluctant to say anything bad about the Fuckwit. Why? Because it will make me appear bitter and that I ‘haven’t gotten over it yet’. I did not intentionally bring up the Fuckwit, but in normal conversation about my son (with his in-laws), I discussed where we lived, and quite honestly, 30 years with the Fuckwit was almost my entire adult life. How does one refer to a Fuckwit that you don’t want to discuss? Why do I worry that I ‘haven’t gotten over it yet’? I kept any mention of the Fuckwit on the outskirts of my conversation. I also didn’t say anything bad about the Fuckwit. That’s their son-in-law’s dad, they know what he did to me, they know why we divorced, and they know that the Fuckwit’s wife is the OW. I’m absolutely positive that my son pulled no punches in the telling. But they do have to interact with the Fuckwit on occasion as they’re my son’s in-laws, so I know that they’ll be respectful. I’m now 63 and they’re in their 70s/80s. They’ve certainly been around the block and they know Fuckwits for who they are; I’m sure they’ve had interactions with Fuckwits in their own lives a time or two. I guess you have to decide on your audience on just how much to tell. That, and where you are in your stage of healing. Also, just how old you are probably makes a difference as well. (I was 54 when I divorced the Fuckwit.) Someone young in their 30s and 40s has not lived through as much bullshit as someone in their 70s/80s. Unless someone has lived under a rock, then when you tell someone in their 70s/80s, they probably don’t need to hear everything. But it depends on where you are in your healing. If you’re young, you probably have to vomit out all the ugliness and most people in their 70s/80s would understand the need to talk, they’d let you spew it out, and then they would counsel you appropriately. When I was vomiting out my ugliness to a younger woman (right after DDay), her comment was, “Wow! You’re so bitter!” I immediately knew that she wasn’t safe to talk to. When I was vomiting out my ugliness to an older couple in their 70s, they were very consoling.

        • Amazon – our timelines are similar and I share many of your concerns. I am completely no contact – no children together. I suspect that most people are not interested in hearing anything other than “It was a painful divorce”. In some cases, it may be necessary to add “We do not socialize together”. It’s not even about keeping secrets, people just aren’t that curious.

        • Good luck to that idiot who branded you as “so bitter.” It’s a sign of fatally flawed thinking.

          I’ve talked about this before: I worked in a notoriously toxic and competitive industry where harassment and worse were commonplace and I end up feeling like my life was basically lab research on human nature. I saw or experienced every kind of victimization and also saw what happens to negative participants in the long run. Consequently, I’m here to say that people who make those “bitter” kinds of comments in response to learning about someone else’s victimization never end well. In fact, because they’re so terribly afraid of sounding “bitter” or “neggy,” at the very least they don’t stand up for themselves or others when they should and, D’Oh, they typically end up eating so much shit in their lives that they end up very, very, very bitter. Worse, many may naturally graduate to facilitating the victimization of others if not becoming outright perps. There’s no redemption for people like that, particularly if they’re part of some marginalized social group themselves. It’s self-negation and has terrible effects on people’s mental health. I have so many stories.

          I was really relieved when some enterprising psychologist came up with the term “toxic positivity.” As a concept, that was way overdue. I always remember the Thomas Hardy quote, “If a way to the better there be, it exacts a full look at the worst.” For me, the clear path to relative peace and happiness is being able to make reality-based choices. You can’t do that if you’re blocking out reality.

        • Amazon,

          Would you ask one of us “Why aren’t you over it yet?” I highly doubt it. Treat yourself with the same grace.

          If you are afraid of sounding bitter, young people’s opinions notwithstanding- I did not know my head from my butt when I was 25. You’re right that older people have seen it all and some are more accepting.

          You can speak about it in a neutral tone, very factual. For example: “FW broke his vows in a very serious way”
          “His behavior in our marriage was a dealbreaker”

          It you are talking to a safe person you can go into more detail.
          I say “I fled the martial home because he was/is abusive in every way” very matter-of-fact.
          I was flabbergasted by how many people had abuse stories of their own.

          Sometimes when I fill out forms for the doctor or whatnot, I check “single” and write in the margin “ I dumped him and got away from his abusive ass. Go me!”

          OK so that sounds a little hokey. But each time I told my truth I got bolder and bolder.

          If FW didn’t want me to talk about his behavior he should have thought about that before he stole our money, made me homeless, gaslighted and repeatedly sexually assaulted me.

          I’m working to normalize talking about abuse. My mom’s generation would say “he’s not very nice to her”. Everyone knew it was code for abuse. But I’m glad today we can call a spade a spade outright.

  • I honestly never knew for sure for years who still hung with him and whore wife and who didn’t.

    Some of course worked with him, and a couple were her friends and I am sure they propped the two pigs up.

    I do know that our closest friends didn’t stay close with him, they had been duped right along with me; and it hurt them a lot. Then the husband of that couple got sick and their life changed for that reason too.

    I will never know in our community how folks would have acted around me, because I immediately took myself out of that life. That life was built around his career and his wants, I had to get away from the whole sordid mess to survive.

    Luckily I worked for the Fed Govt and for the better parts of most days I was locked away in a compound where those worlds never collided.

    I did find out a lot of things years later and his life was continually crashing and burning, mostly due to his own continuing bad decisions.

    I am confident that he tried his best to prove to the world that he didn’t just shit all over his life and self destruct; but there was no evidence that he fooled anyone but himself, if even that.

  • Its true that this friend has proper rights to be mad at the FW for causing them to (unknowingly) be involved in the abuse of the Chump. I do suggest the writer checks to make sure that a proper verbal berating of the cheater would not violate a confidence and if not the case, then give him some verbal shit and a metaphorical throwing out of the city gates.

    I hope that the friend sticking up for them is empowering for this Chump

  • Do not keep secrets. Sick families keep secrets. They produce people who keep secrets. Cheaters and side pieces lie and defraud about a lot more than who they are secretly f**king. Affairs are tragically socially acceptable instead of seen as the glaring warning signs of character rot.


    (Check out Dr. Phil’s podcast episode of the same name.)

    Truth is power. Integrity is power. Good character is power. Being civil and decent is power. Staying on the high road, keeping your side of the street clean is power. This is the winning team. Stick with the winners.

    Lying and cheating and stealing and deceiving and defrauding is the behavior of the weak. Don’t align with them and keep their secrets.

    In my own world, another land mine went off and another big secret Traitor Ex has been keeping is about to blow up in his face.

    When he left in 2018, he claimed he was living in the buildings where our business is located. About a year later I discovered he was really living in a rented apartment with the primary Schmoopie, and stealing money out of the business to pay the rent. That led to the discovery that he had hidden almost 300K during the course of our twenty year MIRAGE (not marriage, as I believed).

    Last week I discovered he bought a condo where he has been living with the same primary Schmoopie since the beginning of 2022. He deeded half of it to her last November, around the same time I discovered the GPS device he had been tracking me with for who knows how long. She’s made quite the upward move financially since they met. Looks like her blow job technique is paying off.

    He went to great lengths to hide this real estate transaction, even going to another state to establish trusts for both of them.

    But Velvet Hammer has a black belt Ninja warrior Jedi Higher Power who brings her important information when the time is right. It’s going to be a very interesting business meeting later this morning and I am looking forward to seeing the look on his face. I wish I could be at the condo when Schmoopie gets the scary letter from my lawyer about her violations of the divorce agreement.

    I recently bought a first car for our daughter. It was the first car of my mechanic’s daughter. Traitor Ex sent me an email asking me to let him know if he could help pay for it. I emailed him the total for his half and had heard nothing back. Post condo discovery on Friday, I re-sent the email and he replied, saying he is now “thinking about it.”

    He does not yet know I know about the 700K condo he bought and deeded half to
    primary Schmoopie. I have a feeling he may have been having discussions with his co-homewrecker about paying for the car.

    So far I am not in prison and I do not intend to qualify myself for it. But you can imagine how I am feeling right now.

    I have not yet said anything to our daughter about his latest deception and where he truly resides. I am awaiting a callback from our very wise beloved trusted therapist.

    Do not keep secrets for losers. Or associate with them. And give everyone you know the priceless gift of informed consent so they can make decisions with facts instead of fiction.

    • Oh, Velvet, the (s)hits just keep on coming. Did he steal the money for the 700K condo, too? And insult to injury, to give OW half. And establish out-of-state trusts for them. Because he went out of state, does any of that rise to the level of a Federal crime?

      I can’t imagine your strength to not only co-parent but also to have a continued business relationship with this awful, awful man.

      These are truly wise words: “Do not keep secrets for losers. Or associate with them. And give everyone you know the priceless gift of informed consent so they can make decisions with facts instead of fiction.”

      You give us so much wisdom. I’m so sorry he continues to do these horrible things. On the plus side, you know what he’s done, and can take action. I hope you get some justice. Good luck with your business meeting.

    • Darling Velvet Hammer, you are too pretty for jail! Oh to be a fly on the wall later today while they bemoan their stupidity. Stand steady!!!! Sending you strength and encouragement.

    • Velvet!! He’s a cheating fool, and you’re a brilliant badass 💪 ! Good luck!

    • May your lawyers get his testicles in a vise so tight he sings soprano in the prison choir.

    • You are mighty, VH! How did you find out about the condo and the out-of-state trusts? Good detective work!

  • I would say remember to call or text her occasionally to ask how she’s doing. It would have meant a lot to me if anybody had done that for me but nobody did. Eventually, like after a year or so, I just blocked everybody’s numbers because fuck them. If they were going to decide to reach out, it was too damn late.

    • It sounds like your entire social context was controlled and curated by FW. You’ve mentioned that he had pedophilic inclinations. According to clinical literature and my own personal experience, people like that tend to channel far more energy than normal into politicking and controlling others within social contexts. The uglier the secret, the more they try to control others. Before he died, a former boss was accused by more than a dozen women of having sexually harassed or raped them, mostly when they had been minors. The really notable thing I remember about that creep is that he kept an incredible death grip on employees and also spun a lot of elaborate Byzantine intrigues to divide everyone, probably to keep coalitions from forming against him. He seemed to have some preternatural nose for anyone who might act as whistleblower against him, which– if you think about it– would probably be a necessary skill set for pedos.

      I imagine the experience might left you with the feeling that you’re not very “good with people.” But maybe you’re so good with people that that asshole had to work double time to prevent you from winning over the crowd. The fact that you’re blowing the whistle on him now suggests he probably always smelled that potential in you and, accordingly, turned people against you or chased away your potential supporters. Just something to consider.

      • “It sounds like your entire social context was controlled and curated by FW.”

        Mine certainly was. FW found ways to alienate and isolate me from my friends and family (and his own family), often by saying disparaging things about them. We hung out with the people he wanted to hang out with (his flying monkeys and sycophants).

        “I imagine the experience might left you with the feeling that you’re not very “good with people.” But maybe you’re so good with people that that asshole had to work double time to prevent you from winning over the crowd. The fact that you’re blowing the whistle on him now suggests he probably always smelled that potential in you and, accordingly, turned people against you or chased away your potential supporters. Just something to consider.”

        This is actually encouraging. FW would always tell me I was socially awkward (I am, I’m autistic and always struggled to fit into groups or make friends, even as a child, so he was definitely preying on that fear of mine) and that people (particularly his friends) thought I was weird and didn’t like me. However, most people who know or meet me now think I’m very nice. I have a best friend who thinks I’m “supremely cool”. FW’s sister likes me, my coworkers like me, my bosses like me, etc. I’m sure FW spun a lot of lies to our social circle, since they all sided with him (most of them were in the arts, and FW could “offer” them a lot more than I could, due to his reputation, so they welcomed OW after knowing her a matter of months, and excluded me after knowing me for over a decade, which goes to show how shallow they were). But he likely did that to get ahead of me and create the narrative, because to him, reputation was everything. When AP dumped him, she was not quiet about his abuse – she told everyone, including his friends, his employers, their landlord, etc. It was when that happened that FW decided to take his own life, because coupled with my divorce petition for cruelty and all the evidence of his abuse that I had, his reputation was seriously threatened and he saw no way out and no point in continuing.

    • KatiePig, same. NOT ONE person from our mutual “friend” circle ever checked on me, asked if I was okay, or asked my side of the story. They all welcomed AP with open arms and excluded me from events, etc. A few of them stalked my social media and sent screenshots to FW (who was blocked). I ended up blocking every mutual friend because I didn’t know who I could trust and like you said, fuck them.

      At FW’s funeral, I ran into a bunch of them, and so many people said “we haven’t seen you in ages, we should hang out sometime!” But not one person ever reached out after that. At this point, even if someone did, I wouldn’t respond. Too late.

  • Most friends claimed to be Switzerland friends. The woman I considered one of my best friends went along with her husband (my ex’s close friend) and even allowed him to live at their home after he assaulted me on DDay 2. They are no longer my friends.

    Lots of disappointments, but one wonderful surprise. For years, in pursuit of fame in his side gig, FW paid a friend a significant monthly income. FW’s cheating came out right before COVID. This man and his wife became a significant source of support to me and to tween, giving him a safe “bubble” to visit. Unknown to me, this man severed his business relationship with FW, losing a significant chunk of his income at a time when it couldn’t be replaced. When I found out, more than a year later, he said there has to be integrity in all parts of life. This couple are absolute gems.

  • “How do we help her see that obsessing over the truth and what ‘actually happened’ is not useful to healing?”

    Wait, so this can be VERY useful to healing, yes? I mean, it’s not like she can just snap her fingers and forget about that kind of betrayal without processing it. She wouldn’t really be human if she weren’t trying to find the truth about her own life. Let her heal on her own time and in her own way. She may be better served by doing all that with a professional, but as a friend I wouldn’t presume to tell her how she needs to heal.

    • Yep, I didn’t find out some of the truths of what happened behind my back for some time.

      We need to try to find some truth in our past, I can’t imagine just blowing it off as oh well, that is what cheaters do. “No Biggie”. Wrong, “Huge Biggie”

    • That’s very true and helpful to keep in mind! Because of travel/work stuff (and the kind of infidelity opportunity he had – no texts or anything required), I believe some of it may never be uncovered. Of course it is easy for me on the outside to see wondering about it as a futile endeavor when she already knows what she knows. But of course it’s easy for me to speak, and maybe I’m being insensitive by pointing this out.

      • I had a girlfriend who became inpatient with me for “going on” about it, trying to make sense of 15 years of my life, and asked me to stop because it was affecting her, that she didn’t like him, but it’s better to just move on. Just spent years having my feelings dismissed … what’s one more person? See ya.

        So, it took me a long time, by myself, with no one to bounce things off of, to research narcissism, cognitive dissonance, splitting, and apply it to every goddamned event in the past 15 years … nothing was how I thought it had been, everything had been a lie. The research was fascinating, I learned so much and in the process fixed my picker. How can you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been? Tracing it all back to my childhood … fascinating. Then another ah-ha moment when I recognized those traits in the wretched woman he preferred over me (whom I had known for those same 15 years, a woman who baffled most people, but no one could put a finger on why she was so difficult) were the same traits he has. All practical knowledge to have, fascinating … but emotionally devastating in the lonely late hours of the night.

        So I told my girlfriend, after a few months, and me still a wreck but a whole lot smarter, “Don’t worry, I won’t be talking about it because it upsets you, but just for fun, look up narcissism, look up “When Love is a Lie”, look up the effects on a person when they discover it’s all been a lie.” She did, she was mortified, and she called and said, “Oh, my god. You have PTSD” and I said, “Yup.” From then on, she became open to discussing it.

        Imagine how much it would have helped from the get-go if my girlfriend could have helped me with the practical side of things. She could have helped me with my research, listened to, “Oh, so when he did this, he was actually doing this”, or “When we were in this group together with him, was he doing this?” Validate or disagree. She didn’t have to be involved emotionally … she just could have helped me see it sooner what I eventually found out for myself. It’s actually empowering to have discovered all I did, and to make sense of it, and to protect myself from it happening again.

        Sometimes you have to unravel the skein, and it’s always easier to unravel a skein when a friend is there with open arms.

  • “We DO think less of him because he’s a cheating liar who has abused everyone’s trust.” This is what so many cheaters can’t seem to grasp. They seem to think that an abuse of the spouse’s trust won’t affect any of their other relationships. It’s like hitting one of your kids and expecting the other kids to remain completely loving and trusting of you.

    Even if this guy hadn’t lived with them for weeks or brought the OW to an event, they have every right to be pissed at him for hurting their friend and are justified in never trusting him.

    In my case, upon hearing about my ex’s multiyear affair, his best friend said, “I feel betrayed, too.” But, alas, he never cut ties with FW, which, gotta say, pisses me off. I think he’s weak and conflict averse. He’s a go-along-get-along guy. Head in the sand. Swiss all the way. I’m good friends with this guy’s wife who is supportive of me and NC with FW. It’s a delicate dance.

    • I have this same couple friend. My STBXH friend Bob was a serial cheater too. So he talks to my husband on the phone. I love his wife who has been so supportive of me. I don’t know how to keep them both because they are a close couple. Never one without the other. How do you handle that.

  • This advice is perfect. My first thought was sending her here to read the archives. If that doesn’t stop her from reconciling, nothing will.
    If she starts making reconciliation noises, gently but firmly make it clear to her that you are done with him forever and will not have him around. There will be no couple nights with him and he is not staying with you. Tell her she is more than welcome to stay and to go out with you and your husband, but he is not only not welcome, you don’t even want to hear anything about him until she’s ready to leave him. That might mean you lose her as a friend, but probably only temporarily, as he will do it again and she will need support. Make sure she knows that door is open, but stand firm in not tolerating fuckwits. If you don’t stay true to your values, it will make you miserable long term. You may need to explain to her that it isn’t fair to you to expect you to do that.

    Good on you for being a true friend. I hope she doesn’t reconcile with this prick.

  • So many great comments already and I won’t duplicate those. I think this one doesn’t… But apologies if someone already said it and I missed it. 😊

    The chump friend can’t help but obsess. Having your whole life and all your hopes and dreams explode in your face has that effect on a person. Her timing is her own.

    So, I suggest skipping attempts to distract her and interrupt the obsessing, and use those times instead to remind her that she’s obsessing over wishing she still has the illusion she believed she had — the person the cheater acted like he was — and not the cheater she actually does have — an actual abusive cheater.

    I think so many of us have had the experience where when we realized we were grieving some ghost that lived inside our heads but wasn’t real, it became easier to let go of the cheater and our hopes and dreams, because we could see they never existed.

    Like that old cruel study where they gave some baby animal a spiked indifferent facsimile of a parent and observed its suffering, we eventually find that loving a cheater is an ongoing series of desperate attempts to bond with a spined poison stone, because we’re driven to bond, and the cheater feels like the only option because the cheater is… well, there, I suppose.

    So when she’s hurting, validate her grief for what ahe wished existed that never did. Her cheater was a skilled con man and cult-level manipulator. She, in time, will come to grieve the time lost and sunk costs and lost dreams and see the person as the creator of those losses — one who is better lost than loved.

    At least, it might go that way. Every individual grieves their own way. But it’s worth a try. (And even if she can’t see the cheater that way, you sure can, and already do, from what I’m reading.)

    • “I think so many of us have had the experience where when we realized we were grieving some ghost that lived inside our heads but wasn’t real, it became easier to let go of the cheater and our hopes and dreams, because we could see they never existed.” I spent months, maybe years, trying to process the reality that the man who had been my friend, my boyfriend and then my husband over a span of 35 years, had fooled not just me but my entire family and all our friends into believing he was a good person. It was devastating and traumatic. It took time, a good therapist, supportive family and friends, and a lot of willingness to sit in the discomfort to get to the realization that the man I thought I knew and loved never existed. You’re absolutely right, Amiisfree. That realization, as painful as it was, is what set me free to divorce him and rebuild my life.

  • Never ceases to amaze me! I had a similar situation, my very accomplished best friend came to live with us after she was tossed for OW. Couldn’t believe it when I ran into mutual friend at Costco, she defended the fat slime ball. I informed her that she broke the “girlfriend code”, that he was a bad guy, that I had broken lard asses dinner dish months ago! He was to never cross my door way again! Needless to say she skulked away in horror of my statement. My friends are my friends because we hold the same values. When friends stray from those values, they should be called out! Also fat slime ball wanted to talk to me about the whole situation, when he had the chance, he ran like a big fat man baby, I was ready to put him on blast face to face also! He was afraid of all 5’5” of this first grade teacher! CN call these cowards out who do not live by the morals they claim to have.

  • dear NSF,

    your friend is lucky to have you, as i found most people disappear after the big break up. it’s been 2 1/2 years and i have no contact with couple friends. i have my own friends, of course, and for this i am thankful. it makes all the difference to have their love and support.

    one of the biggest sorrows is the realization that my X never loved me. i understand he has limited emotional capacity but it still stings. it’s weird. so, love from friends and family mean a lot. it’s a steadying and necessary force.

    just last week i received an email and phone call from switzerland friends asking to catch up this summertime when they’re in town, and i ignored it. i have no interest in wasting any more of my time with insincere folks who are curious and want to report back to my X. i have better things to do with myself.

    i’ve only had one friend whose marriage ended due to infidelity, and we were work friends. my recollection was that she was quite embarrassed and, when i tried to get in touch with her, she didn’t want to stay in contact. it was awkward. i get it. we were peripheral friends and embarrassment happens.

  • I had two friends like these. Two. Out of dozens of acquaintances. I will never forget their kindness and decency. It made a huge difference.

  • Dear Not Swiss: Consider giving your friend a print-out of your letter to CL and her response. Your friend needs support and a shoulder to cry on, somebody to hold her hand. I also understand why she kept things under wraps – God knows I did that for many years, when my gut was screaming something was wrong – in spite of the FW’s denials when directly asked.
    I didn’t say anything to my close circle for nearly a year after DDay. I was afraid they would think less of me if I chose to stay with him, and that his relationship with them would be damaged.

    But here is the thing – at least 2 people in our “close circle” were aware of his cheating. They certainly weren’t Swiss friends to ME, though I imagine they think they were. They have, in my life, been reduced to the rank of “acquaintance”. No heart to heart conversations, period. They have shown me they cannot be trusted, and yes, I get how it was a horrible thing he did to them, trusting them with his dirty secret(s). But they chose to keep the secret(s) and, in doing so, are IMO complicit in my HPV diagnosis.

    However, I also get that you don’t want to be perceived as a gossip. Talking about something your friend told you, which was probably very difficult for her, with other people, may cross the line.

    I know that telling my friends and co-workers was really, really hard. I cried, they were absolutely shocked since FW was so good at pretending to be a good husband. But they rallied around me. I requested that they be civil to him at least until I figured out what I was going to do. For one of them, it was VERY difficult. I love her for that, BTW.

    Your friend is the one who desperately needs support. Encourage her to talk to her other friends. She needs people who will circle the wagons around her.

  • I’m loving all these stories of non-Swiss people in the lives of chumps. Those people are gold.
    I had two of them. It was one of my kids and one of my siblings. The rest still buy FW’s nice guy act. He dropped out of the lives of anyone who was primarily my friend or my family, making it clear they meant nothing to him. Yet most of them they still think he’s just a misunderstood nice guy who “made mistakes” but is basically decent. FW cultivates that belief so well that even when faced with irrefutable evidence that he sucks, they refuse to give it up.
    Some of those people I went NC with. A couple of them I do see and talk to out of a sense of duty, because they are not well and have nobody else. However, I have not forgotten how they treated me when I was at my lowest. I’m not sinking to their level of callousness towards somebody in need, but I am much more detached from them than I was before.

    Infidelity destroys relationships, and not just the marital relationship. The cheating tentacles have a long reach. It’s like a one
    kiloton nuclear detonation, instantly killing anything within a relatively small perimeter, then showering toxic dust over a much wider area.

  • First – please be patient with your chump friend and understand that based on how you describe certain things she has done, his abuse sounds much deeper than cheating (example: she hid the truth from you bc she didn’t want you to think less of him). Understand that because the abuse goes much deeper, that the trauma it has created over the years is much greater than you realize, therefore, how she handles it may not be the healthiest unless she goes no contact and gets out for good (which she may or may not do). With that in mind, it may take longer for her than you wish or she may even stay with him. Either way, how CL suggested to handle all of this is healthy. May I add that calling him out on his shitty behavior because he made you an accomplice is healthy as you are setting boundaries with him and being a good role model for her knowing that she needs to do the same. The only time when that is not suggested is when there is blatant physical abusive (which please ask her if there has been). Be aware that physical abuse may look a little bit different than we realize. The obvious is hitting but it also is pushing, pushing the victim into objects, throwing objects at victims, hitting objects around the victim but not hitting victim directly, hitting or kicking animals/pets. If this is happening it is best for you and your friend to not confront him and instead go no contact as she is in danger! She should use any evidence she has to immediately seek a protective order and stay away from him. You said she lives a nomadic lifestyle and has to go to another country to finish her work contract. To me, this is evidence that he has been isolating her which to me is worrisome because that means he is probably higher up on the abuse scale than you/she realize. So, before she goes back please have these difficult conversations with her. If it is in fact a dangerous situation, please encourage her to set boundaries, go no contact and get out. Also note that in cases of physical abuse a lot of contracts can be broken while keeping the victim in good standing. Keep that in mind when you are helping her. There are ways out, she will just need some guidance.

    As for your mental well-being during this shitstorm, being there for a friend is healthy. Setting boundaries with assholes is healthy. Being a good role model is healthy. If you have to set boundaries with your friend because she decides to stay with said asshole, just remember setting those boundaries is also healthy. Big hugs❤️. You got this!

    • “To me, this is evidence that he has been isolating her which to me is worrisome because that means he is probably higher up on the abuse scale than you/she realize.”

      Great catch. That does put another light on the situation.

      • Thank you, sadly I lived through a similar kind of hell where cheating was just the tip of the iceberg. What myself and others didn’t see was the other abuse….I didn’t see it because I was desensitized to it. When something off came to a head I was programmed to hide it, just like this chump as been doing. Once I finally fled for my life and got help, I realized that part of the escalated abuse was isolating me through work.

    • Thank you so much for your concern and for taking out the time to type your comment. There was definitely more abuse than any of us realized, but so far all emotional. He’s more the kind to cry/do the poor me routine and make her mommy him, than to break stuff, that’s part of why it took her so long to see this as abuse and manipulation because she’s an extremely empathetic person.

      Re: the traveling/nomadic lifestyle, that’s just a part of the industry we all work in, and was already happening before he came along (and will hopefully continue when she’s ready). Me and my husband were also traveling full time until the pandemic, when we kind of changed gears and stabilized a bit, thinking of having kids, etc. That’s also why we’re the ones with a home base for everyone to crash at when needed. Even though it wasn’t part of the abuse as you meant it, all the traveling the job demands certainly helped the cheater get away with so much. It’s easy to be a shit person without your friends noticing if you don’t stay in the same place for long. It also made it easier to isolate our friend and skew her perception of reality.

  • I had one very close friend who felt my former husband was abusive to me from the start. She dropped me because she couldn’t deal with a friendship with someone who stayed in that kind of relationship. Meanwhile, my best friend, a real true friend, allowed me to live my life as I saw fit, not imposing her laws of what’s right and wrong onto me. We’ve been friends since kindergarten and she always has my back and supports me even in my mistakes. I like that. The other friend now wants to be friends again with me, now that I’m no longer with the wacko. I don’t trust her, although I can enjoy her company and enjoy things about her. My best friend, the one who always stuck by me, is a real friend. I don’t tell my friends what to do, nor do I appreciate someone else forcing me to move through my own growth faster than I naturally go. I think the letter writer and her husband should be supportive of wherever their friend is even if she doesn’t live up to your ideals. Because that’s what going on here. You want her to be you, but she ain’t. Can you stop trying to run her life? I don’t understand all these phrases like “we’ve flown her over” or “scheduled her therapy.” Is she your offspring? It sounds like you think she needs to be saved by you two. Let her figure things out. She’ll get there.

    • Hey Emma,

      Because of the life we live/industry we’re all in, there’s just a lot of traveling involved in this story that I couldn’t get into.

      I agree she should make her own decisions, but supporting someone who is stuck dealing with all this in hotel and buses surrounded by strangers doesn’t seem so weird. Idk, maybe it is. She knew she wanted to leave in that moment but couldn’t handle the 3 trains and flight to get out, all in a different language. As with therapy, same deal, she wanted to schedule the therapy but didn’t have the executive function to look at a bunch of profiles and make an appointment. I see this as helping with logistical/practical concerns in a moment of crisis, not pushing an agenda.

      She can choose reconciliation if she wants to, I’m not breaking up with him for her. Your comment/perspective is exactly why I was asking “is this my place” throughout the letter, so thank you for that!

  • When my ex had an affair with his married Howorker (he was the boss, and when he left she got his job), I saw texts on his phone from his HoWorker’s work friend supporting their relationship. I was completely dumbfounded that others would support that kind of behaviour – and wondered how many others in his workplace knew about their relationship and supported it. Can other chumps please tell me if these affairs are generally accepted and supported by other coworkers?

    • Likely different depending on the orginazation.

      My fw was humping his direct report. But, though I am sure there were some who knew, I don’t think they let the brass in on it until another co worker called in an ethics report on him. That is when his life turned to the shit pile he had created.

      I think depending on the place there are likely folks who know but keep it to themselves until they can use it.

      So many crappy folks out there.

      • My STBXH said EVERYBODY at work was doing it so he felt out of place unless he joined in! Like that

        • Yep, per my daughter in law he told her that he told her that it was his ego, that Susie was attractive and we had a great sex life yada yada, but everyone else was doing it and he thought he was missing out.

          That was a lie too; first of all no everyone else wasn’t doing it, too many were I am sure (police officers), but it was just him blaming them for his crap character, when I was no longer there to blame.

  • Remembering my own journey of trickle truth or rather trickle lies. .I first told the secrets to my Alanon Sponsor of how my STBXH was treating me behind closed doors. Turning me into a pet or an object in our intimate life. The abusive comments, the gaslighting that every man was like him and i better comply. Veiled threats of being substituted. Lovely trips out of town, motorcycle rides on his Spider,folded in between put downs and constant verbal abuse as to how inadequate I was. My Sponsor kept listening to me but shook her head and said…this treatment I did not deserve at all. I believed I WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH, WHY? Because he said so and I could be replaced! Fear of abandonment, fear cold and icy. Alone!! Forever. Next step was a call for free counseling, a one hour session with FOCUS ON THE FAMILY. The counselor, a Christian therapist listened to my story and told me that what my husband was telling me was BULLSHIT! That what he was doing was gaslighting me. What is that? I wanted to know. When a man of God says Bullshit you have to sit up and take notice. Shock effect. And finally, my last therapist whom I still see, told me to Get A Lawyer STAT and get a restraining order. This therapist told me people who have multiple partners do not value relationships and debase their partners. You are of use to them that is all. That this behavior WAS NOT LOVE. He told me unless I protected myself, he could not see me in his office again. Not to come back because I was volunteering to be a VICTIM and to be treated as an object to be used. I was shocked but he was right. Devaluing on a daily basis breaks down your mind. Validating friends, therapist, lawyers anyone who says you are being hurt. They helped me make a painful but necessary decision. I was derided in church, the pastors let me down. But I had ME and the people who stood with me. I am alive today and a few weeks from divorce. I am so grateful to that community that gave me a spine to leave. ASAP. I NEVER LOOKED BACK. I read CL every night and still do.CN Also with your opinions that matter. Yes the language used set me back but it is real and it touched me to know how much Tracy cares about me(us). And if she does, and you do.
    ..there’s my team!!! Thank you friends for supporting us chumps when we cannot see and are paralyzed by fear. Nothing feels better than freedom. Nothing.

  • I say DO shout it from the rooftops. Just make it clear to your chumped friend that it’s what you’re going to do and gauge a pulse so as to not upset her further. But I would make it clear that it’s where your heart is at, like Chump Lady said, it’s likely to embolden her to see her own rage validated. We’re fans of “getting angry for the Chump” here!

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