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Why Is He Angry at Me About His Midlife Crisis?

Dear Chump Lady,

Here is my story. Married for 30 years, two wonderful grown sons. He retires at 50, I am still working. Recipe for disaster. He is trying hot yoga, translation, exercising with 20 year olds in sports bras, he of the grey chest hair. Red flag number #1. Then the jogging club, and the icing on the cake, he starts having daily massages on my benefit plan. I should have clued in when one appointment was at 10:30 at night.

He sort of confesses that something has been going on when I come home from work and there is a message on the answering machine, a secretary thanking him for the wonderful job he did detailing her boss’s car and on and on. He comes in and I press play on the machine and say “explain”.

He sloughs it off, and reminds me that he was going to start a car detailing business with his friend and she just happened to be his first customer, and blah blah blah who cares. He then later confessed that she wanted him to come over and put up her xmas lights, but he hadn’t taken that big step yet.

I decided to stay home that summer and really look at my life while he continued his midlife meltdown, filling our new boat with the bikini-clad young girls at the trailer park, and coming home and telling me how they had bought him lunch.

I hung onto the dream that “this too shall pass” for five years until finally I said: “I’ve been to the lawyer, real estate is coming this afternoon, I will see you in mediation.” He was floored.

I left, got an apartment, had one chair, a meditation cushion and bought a blow-up air mattress. I never looked back. Took nothing from the house, just walked. Lived like a nun and was happy as a clam. Women think they can change men, and men think you will never leave, and we are both wrong.

I have huge divorce guilt I have dealt with, however, over these past years. Of course the affair blew up after one summer. I run into him now and again, we both moved out of the city, he is full of anger. I don’t get it. You would think I had the affair. Where is this level of anger coming from? I feel no animosity towards him at all. At my son’s engagement party, he was toting around his new girlfriend of three weeks and calling her the “love of his life” within earshot of me. So cruel.

I just wanted to tell my story to encourage other chumps that stuff is just stuff and you really don’t need anything but your own power back. One of my sons told me “Mom, you are handling this very well.” That’s all the reward I needed. I was 6 years older than he was. All this happened to me at the tender age of 62.

I love your advice Chump Lady, you have helped me tremendously. I have met nothing but Cluster B personality disordered men since my separation, have decided to buy a pet and forego and type of romantic entanglement from this point forward.



Dear Charmee,

Why would you feel divorce guilt? You handled that like a champ. He had FIVE WHOLE YEARS to come out of his “midlife crisis.” (Which isn’t a thing. Fuckwits are a thing.)

Do you feel bad because he’s angry at you? Don’t! Your ex is free to live his hot yoga dream.

I run into him now and again, we both moved out of the city, he is full of anger. I don’t get it. You would think I had the affair. Where is this level of anger coming from?

Satan’s arm pit? Harrisburg, PA? Who knows its source. We can only guess based on the behavior of countless fuckwits before him. (And why spend your time trying to understand the motivations of FWs when there are puppies to adopt, and a thousand other more enjoyable pursuits?)

But you asked, so okay, let’s untangle the skein.

He’s mad because you imposed consequences. Because you failed to be the chump he expected you to be. How we feel usually boils down to our expectations of things. Doesn’t matter how unreasonable those expectations are, if they are not met, there can be drama.

His expectations are based in entitlement, which is where abusive behavior comes from. You can extrapolate this to all sorts of shittiness — misogyny, racism, whatever. He expects deference. He expects superiority of his “needs” in all things. He expects a faithful wife appliance. He expects to not have to reciprocate. He expects your unconditional support whatever his actions. He expects those free massages on your benefit plan.

And you denied him.

Oh, one more thing — he feels entitled to his rage.

Now, because he’s a FW, he isn’t going to examine his ridiculous expectations. That superiority has been working for him for decades. He’s got a whole built-in incentive system, so his best bet is to find another sucker. But that’s not working out so well for him, as faithful chumps are hard to find. And to hook another victim, he’s going to have to salt the mines and make effort, and that sucks. Expending kibbles.

As it’s not working, might be a good time to examine those expectations again?

No! There’s Charmee at the grocery store — focus the rage on HER. How DARE she go about her life picking out turnips in the produce aisle when she could be providing sandwiches for his bimbo cruise! How DARE she take half of HIS stuff! (Forget that the law sees it as half your stuff, FWs deserve ALL THE STUFF. Did you leave the stuff? Doesn’t matter — you LEFT!)

His grievances understand him. Comfort him. They never question his entitlement.

And that’s great, because life can keep kicking him in the teeth. The important thing is, you’re FREE of him.

I have met nothing but Cluster B personality disordered men since my separation, have decided to buy a pet and forego and type of romantic entanglement from this point forward.

Well, it’s early days. Don’t damn a whole gender of people as FWs. Good people exist. And some ridiculous expectations are baked into certain generations (why did I have to take Home Ec class and boys didn’t?) — doesn’t mean we have to agree with them.

Part of fixing the picker going forward is going slow with people (not just potential suitors) and try and learn what their values are. If they reciprocate, if they’re respectful, if they’re kind.

But meanwhile, adopt that pet. Those free massages will be much more gratefully appreciated.

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.
    • Gosh, I wish I could come. For a long list of reasons this is not the year. I hope I can make it in 2024. (Because this is going to be an annual event, right?)

    • I am signed up and so looking forward to meeting this great nation of people that supported me and guided me as I navigated my way to a grand new life!!

      BTW – the hotel is already booked full but reservations can still be had at the Holiday Inn next door!

      • Hold off on those other hotel reservations. There seems to be a glitch. There will be more rooms opening up to us chumps!

    • I so wish I could be there! But I’ll be with all the chumps in spirit. Take a whack of that unicorn pinata for me!

    • I’d only love to come to Chumapalooza CL, but I can’t afford the airfare from Ireland and have to spare all my coin to move back to England. There won’t be any holidays nor jollies for me this year, but I’ll be there in spirit

  • I’m sorry, I know this isn’t the point…but what type of benefit plan offers daily massages, and especially the 10:30 pm type?

        • Haha, lots of good reasons to Canuck, but my excellent benefit plan only covers massages up to a certain dollar amount per year. And you have to have a doctors note.

      • Perhaps yours but my benefit plan covers about 6massages annually (and it feels like a lottery win when I can manage to book those due to pent up demand).

      • Ok, not all Can. policies….many have a max per yr….but time of treatment is irrelevant.

      • I’m Canadian and have an amazing plan that covers a good amount of massage. But only from RMTs! You have to provide their certification number! But that’s not to say Charmee’s FW didn’t find a certified therapist interested in giving 10:30 pm massages. One of my exes used to choose his therapists based on their willingness to be in his harem.

  • I also was a 4 year older wife in a 30 year marriage that imploded due to a narcissist emotionally immature man. I also divorced him quickly and then kept getting hit with the unexpected truths of a decade of his bad coping skills in lifes trying times.

    They dont like consequences because that requires them to look at themselves as the issue and they dont want to do that work!!! It took a while for me to see that he did me a favor. Our morals and character do not align anymore. It’s unfortunate that our kids suffer and I wasn’t able to have a one marriage life that I wanted, but now I have accepted it and also have stayed single for the past 2 1/2 years, because I am normal as are you. We have to process what has happened. We are doing that hard work to make sure we don’t end up here again!!

  • Thanks for this one, CL. The defining characteristic of my (female) FW is rage. Rage that prompted a divorce attorney to tell me they’d never seen anything like it in decades of practice. Rage that halted parenting therapy help. Yet when FW sees me outside of a confrontational setting, she literally twitches and adopts a look of fear. The same woman who cheated for years, lied up a storm, and thinks of herself as Muhammad Ali crossed with Esther Perel.

    I get the “no more kibbles” rage. But the sidecar of feigned victimhood? That still perplexes me.

    • “But the sidecar of feigned victimhood?”
      Act for the audience. Sad sausage routine.

    • ‘sidecare of feigned victimhood’ – that’s a great description! I get that as well. I think he thinks his sad sausage act will melt my chumpy heart but that will never happen with him again!

    • I think it’s a toss-up which is worse– abusive personalities who keep doing that aggressively “friendly” hoovering thing where they repeatedly try to trap you into chatting with them as if everything were hunky-dory-no-hard-feelings or the ones that stare daggers whenever you have the bad luck of crossing their paths. In any case, playing perpetual victim-to-their-victim is apparently a standard thing with psychopaths. It might also relate to something called “neutralization (of guilt)”– a sort of learned, compulsive self-talk that a range of serial offenders engage in to reduce the stigma of their ill deeds, part of which is demonizing and blaming victims. Here’s a very interesting paper on it which is also listed in this page’s resources (click “download” for a free read):

      Personally I’ve never found a better explanation for typical FW/abuser blameshifting and confabulation than the above. The part about it being learned suggests it’s passed down from one generation to the next in dysfunctional families. I figure the generational skill-building is why some have the tactic so polished that they can manage to selectively and thoroughly snuff empathy as if flipping a switch in their brains, deeply invest in and believe their own bs and the process is no longer even conscious. It’s such a bizarre and specific way of thinking that you have to guess that– like someone wouldn’t walk around with, say, a magnetic security tag remover unless they were planning to shoplift– people don’t harbor that mental quirk unless it was developed to cover up pretty heinous deeds. So you could wager that, buried in the family history of anyone who displays this are some really terrible secrets and that the stronger the tendency, the worse the secrets. Maybe Grandpa Joe was a professional torturer or Great-Granny Sofia procured children for rapey clergy, etc.

      • This is such an interesting concept and without having read the paper (yet) I think it applies to my FW who learned the behavior from his FW mother. FW mother (bless her heart, she has truly been so kind to me since DDay) cheated on both husbands and had a whole narrative for me about why she was the victim, with talking points tailored to each of her marks. Of course all her drama happened before before my DDay so I didn’t really understand it. But she was laying the groundwork of current husband’s neglect long before she started introducing us to the OM. It really is a technique.

    • Ditto. Mine literally did exactly what he wanted. All. The. Time. What is he, you might ask? Angry. Victim. Quite perplexing. Just whatever. I have not even come close to being that angry. I don’t understand. Sigh.

  • I bet the farm that he was in midlife crisis but later learned that he fessed to that because it was WAY less than what he was actually doing (life long betrayal).

    I spent a TON of time untangling the skein and asking “WHY WHY WHY?” and it took CL to help me find the answer: He really did suck THAT much. If he had lived, he would have blamed me for all of it.

    • ” He really did suck THAT much. ”

      It really is hard to get to that conclusion isn’t it? We really did love them, and we thought they were pretty special. Accepting that we just weren’t to them what they were to us is so painful.

      At least it was for me. Because he was my sons father, I still have some pity for him for how he dentated his own life and he continued to do so after we parted ways. As for whore, don’t care one way or the other, she got what she wanted, sucks for her that he didn’t turn out how she expected. Not sure how she could have missed it; but then so did I so I guess it can happen.

      She knew up front he was a liar and a cheat, I didn’t.

  • Similar to my story. I filed for divorce at age 64 – it was my decision, but his actions gave me no real choice. We had been separated for over a year, leaving him the space to imply he hadn’t been involved with Schmoopie for years before that.

    I’m completely no contact, so I don’t know if he feels any distress at all. I do know he couldn’t begin to navigate the end of our 30-year marriage on his own.

    I don’t expect to ever be in an intimate or committed relationship again. The (male/female) odds don’t support it and I will not risk my safety/resources with on-line dating. I’m also aware that there is invariably loss of all relationships as we age.

    • I do believe that putting the energy into yourself rather than looking for a relationship is wise. I spent 4 years navigating dating apps (boy is it a learning curve). I had one 8 month relationship that was quite unhealthy and it set me back . I realized that I had done a lot of work on myself but was unable to incorporate it into a relationship at that time (I realized that I was still quite vulnerable and naive and he had a lot of internal darkness that became directed my way – he blamed me for all sorts of his feelings😳). I had a few dates with nice men where we just weren’t a match and a number of dates with men who obviously hadn’t dealt with their issues and it was quite disheartening and a couple of times frightening.

      For me the biggest challenge has been realizing that many of my friendships sprung from my neighborhood and my family unit. Once I was no longer in my neighborhood and the family wasn’t as intact it was super challenging to maintain those friendships (I tried but the pandemic certainly didn’t help). Creating friendships in my mid fifties has been challenging and I don’t have very many close friendships at this point (all my previous friends are still married and quite busy). I am doing my best to live my life and search out joy where I can. I will continue to grow, love, explore, and try to find joy in little things.

      Sending warm thoughts and hugs to all chumps who are trying to navigate their journey post chumpdom. May the power of kindness triumph 😊.

    • I’m 52 and I feel much the same way. Life is too short to be miserable.

  • Charmee,

    They say that the best form of revenge is a life well lived. You have clearly got your shit together and, while I doubt that you were in any way motivated by revenge, your Ex does not appear (as is the FW way) to see things that way. He can see you getting on and building a wonderful post-FW life, while his life is (in all likelihood) a raging dumpster fire of crap …. and he does not like it; in his mind, this is not how things were supposed to play out. This is all a “him problem” not a you problem.”

    You have nothing to feel guilty about; you coped with the garbage hand that he dealt you, and played it with real aplomb and to your benefit.


    PS – F*ck him and the horse he rode in on.

    • I think the FW mentality is one of outright projection or compartmentalizing. Someone else is always at fault. That’s why when they run off they believe it is their right to “finally be happy” because you are the source of their misery. It never crosses their mind that they created their reality with their poor choices and that the misery is INSIDE of them.

  • So many similar elements! My ex retired and had a major mental health crisis within weeks. We separated. He ended up in the behavioral unit of a major hospital center. I took him back. He quit therapy. He went to a “massage” therapist and spent hours a day on porn. He went downhill again mentally. He took off on a solo vacation “to think,” and I told him over the phone that we had to separate again. He made it long distance and soon began “reinventing” himself.

    During the divorce, he behaved so badly that the attorneys decided that I must be the rare “Mother Teresa who married Attila the Hun.” His attorney would tell mine to tell me that he felt sorry for me because my STBX was such a jerk and was truly trying to get it done.

    And all that was my fault, 100%. How can you work with that? You can’t. All you can do is move on.

    • Clarifying — the attorney was truly trying to get the divorce done. I’m convinced that my ex had no endpoint in mind because it required all kinds of drama to get it signed, and then my ex stretched out closeout as long as possible, trying to twist the knife yet more. Thankfully, there were no custody issues.

    • Oh I could write a book on the mediation meetings alone. One of them was on our 30th Wedding Anniversary, how ironic is that? His attorney had to reign him in a few times. I even tried some humour in the meetings to break the tension, he got mad at that too……..saying “See what I have to put up with” the lawyers just looked at each other.

  • FW’s will never forgive us for what they did to us. Mine even blamed me for things that happened before he met me. (Such is my power bwa ha ha ha.)

    • “FW’s will never forgive us for what they did to us.” haha Love this line!!

      • Yes, Spinach, your comment–““FW’s will never forgive us for what they did to us”–is one all chumps should commit to memory. It’s just too painful for the FW to face his or her own duplicity and the damage it causes. Or maybe (my own experience with FW) they can face it all for a few days, FEEL TERRIBLE AND REMORSEFUL, and then suddenly compartmentalize again (just to get away from the shame) and decide you’re the culprit for “judging” them or “failing to forgive” them.

    • They’ll re-write history & blame you for things that didn’t happen too!

      • Apparently early in our 26+ years together, I was rude to a store clerk – ok, so go ahead & fuck your subordinate.

        • Me too! I ruined the marriage on our honeymoon! My transgression? I second guessed his ability to figure out the transportation in a foreign country. 😱😱

          Funny thing is, he waited 7 years to tell me it was all my fault. You’d think if I devastated him on the honeymoon he might have mentioned it before that…

    • Perfectly said! Our chump power is the stuff of legend. We can move mountains and ruin FW lives as easily as we can reheat oatmeal. Yet there is one thing our power can never touch – fulfilling “unmet needs.”

      • Ug, his freaking “needs.” Everything he “needed” was right at the end of a hedonic treadmill set to sprint.

        Meanwhile I was providing the actual needs of life: food, safety, income, stability, healthcare, parenting, you name it.

        Since I provided all of those things – leaving him was “abandoning him with nothing.” A sob story he peddled to all his friends.

    • So true.
      Mine blamed me for not stopping her sexcapades. But she spun the web of lies and half truths that gave her cover and alibis.
      Don’t untangle the skein. Not only is it twisted up, they have tied knots and scattered landmines in it.

  • Congratulations on your new life!
    You are truly mighty by moving out and taking your life in a whole new direction. I’m in awe of your story. Wow!

    I see my ex at major life events (weddings, grandkids birthdays) and I always say hello and goodbye. Usually get a mumble in response.

    He’s angry. He’s living with her. It was the life he wanted so why the anger? Maybe because he realized he’s not the greatest, the most successful or the best? Maybe because now that he’s 55+ he realizes he’s an overweight, unattractive, pathetic loser who lost the love and respect of his kids? Who never became the financial success he always thought he was?
    Don’t know. Don’t care.

    It is definitely uncomfortable to be in the presence of someone who is so angry, especially when it is directed at you. BUT when you realize they brought it all on themselves, that their anger is totally their problem and their burden, it makes it easier. You be you, smile and be polite, remember it isn’t your problem, smile and move on!

    • Love this: “Maybe because now that he’s 55+ he realizes he’s an overweight, unattractive, pathetic loser who lost the love and respect of his kids? Who never became the financial success he always thought he was?
      Don’t know. Don’t care.”

      My FW tells our kids he made so many sacrifices for me and that he is right to blame me for not getting the life he wanted. I disagree. He made his life with his crappy choices. He just doesn’t want to take ownership. It’s easier to blame me. And not himself for sitting on the sofa these past 9 years. The years went by. The kids grew up. I got a doctorate. And he’s still a miserable old windbag.

  • To the letter writer, I get you about not bothering with the dating scene anymore and it’s not early days for me anymore; I’m over ten years out and I still can’t stomach the idea of being in a relationship again. It truly feels like FW burnt those crops and salted the fields. So, I’ve no interest in moving over to another field and planting some more crops; in fact, the thought makes me feel scared and ill. I’ve discovered, ten years plus of living my single-mom, life-rebuilding life that freedom and independence is what thrills me.

    Yesterday my daughter (after talking about all the boys she’d like to ideally date or that she has crushes on) asked me point blank if there was anyone for me or any kind of person I’d ever be interested in dating. I didn’t knee-jerk respond; I took a few moments to think and then responded, “Truthfully, no. I’ve no interest in anyone or dating at all really.”

    I’m pretty busy with life rebuilding and building, my career, my parents, and my children. We have cats, fish, and hamsters. My life is full. My kiddos will, within the next few years, spread their wings and leave the nest. I plan on getting a dog when the nest empties out. Sure, there are plenty of good men out there but I can’t even entertain the thought without wincing and flash backing to depression, rock bottom, food banks, abandonment, lost hair/weight, my husband feathering his love nests while I was at home, and sexually transmitted infections that the man I loved told me that I must have somehow gotten myself in the hospital having our daughter because “those places are full of germs.”

    Naw, I’m good, thanks. It’s not in me to chance any of that ever again. I’m really looking forward to publishing some more books and getting that dog.

    • Fourleaf, I echo everything you say. And it’s not just the salted fields issue, it’s that you realize in our misogynistic society men have been raised to have expectations of women that I have zero interest in meeting. It’s the entitlement. Sometimes they don’t even realize they have those expectations, but they have been ingrained in them nonetheless, and they color how they interact with me. The mansplaining is the worst, I had a doctor who runs his own practice try to tell me about the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. I am an employment lawyer of 35 years. The effort required to try to find that 1 needle in a haystack (the non sexist male unicorn) is not worth it. I have a full life with my friends, travel, charitable organizations, and my cat. It’s a great life!

      • Amen. We must acknowledge the intensely misogynistic pool we are picking from. Otherwise it feels victim-blame-y to me. Cluster B’s are very hard to spot bc they’re master manipulators. Aside from fellow chumps and widowers, single men thrown back into the pool at 50-60s are likely bad actors.

        • This.

          My family and friend circle are full of wonderful men, but it doesn’t change the fact that I can’t remember the last time I went on a date where the guy wasn’t a creep, didn’t try manipulating or insulting me as a control tactic, thought I had to “earn” his respect, or felt entitled to my time or body. And these were strangers I just met!

          I agree it’s 100% victim blamey not to acknowledge what women face as we date men (most of whom hate us). We’re not the same.

    • There too. Being sixty-something, I really don’t want to start over with that. Plenty of asks though. My younger brother says that I’m stunning and fun (LOL). He’s biased though.

      I have lovely friends, both older and younger than me. The two adult kids actually like me, and so does my dog. Life is good.

      • If your brother says that, it must be true! Brothers don’t tend to hand out compliments. I am so happy that you are enjoying yourself!! You are a queen. 🙂

  • If he’s still angry, I bet it a lot about losing the house and financial cushion you provided that enabled is early ‘retirement’. And the fact that you’re doing fine. Most of the dudes are yes, that shallow. He had it all calculated out til you just omg filed and left. You probably haven’t felt the pinch since you’re still working. He’s on a fixed income in his mid 50s. Now he’s got to find a new mommy but dang he likes his dumb airhead 20 somethings. They’re broke.

    • Yep, so easy to spend that extra cash on young flesh when a clueless chump is underwriting it.

      Even though my ex’s whore wasn’t significantly younger than him or me, I bet she was surprised when we officially separated and the nooky cash flow dried up. He didn’t need to keep her quiet anymore, and quite frankly I think he would have been relieved if she had bailed; but nope she earned her meal-ticket and she was getting it. Since she was his direct report and an ethics complaint had been lodged, she had (to echo George Costanza) “Hand”.

    • FW is SO angry at me. I genuinely believe he hates me and would like to see me de@d. His settlement “offer” at our first conference wouldn’t even leave money for food for me and our daughter. He’s trying to take everything from me and somehow it’s all my fault.

      Sure, he cheated for 7 years and stole and spent all our money but how dare I be upset about it STILL! It’s been 8 months, why am I not his friend?!

      I think he’s also mad because together we lived a decent life AND he could spend 1/3 of our income on his cheating. Somehow he thinks he can continue that lifestyle on just his income, marry the child mistress and never make her work a day in her life. I hope the other shoe drops like an anvil on both their heads.

      And yes, she’s 22. He’s 48. Idiots, the both of them.

      • I agree. He sounds like a moron. Good for you that you and your daughter and getting your freedom! Maybe talk to a financial adviser about ways to plan for your daughter and protect yourself. My prayers are with you!!

        • I have lots of plans if I can just survive the divorce! A financial planner to figure out how to manage the meager money I will have, getting a new job, etc. We will prevail over FW and the child mistress.

      • What the bloody hell do these very young women SEE in our FWs, when so many of them are nothing only burdens; personality disordered, no property, no prospects and aging badly because their hedonistic lifestyles have caused damage to their health, oftimes their mental health as well as physical? Do these child-Schmoopies want to end up wiping the ould FWs’ shitty bums for them in a few years time or what?
        I thought that very young women who fancy middle-aged men fancied the successful, mature, together types of middle-aged men, and my FW is the opposite of that yet it turns out that the Schmoopie he was betraying me with was only 18! FFS!
        I can’t fathom what she could possibly have seen in him. My mate reckons she was some gullible little fool or a dog-rough little slapper. Anyway according to him “She’s out!”!
        Too late, Mate ‘coz so are you! Out of my house, out of my heart and out of my life!

        • The young ones are too inexperienced to know better and easily dazzled with small amounts of wealth. Boys their age are even broker and without the sophisticated skills of manipulation.

        • This might not be a satisfactory answer, or a particularly PC one, but in my experience, young women who go for older men have daddy issues, no self-esteem, and/or mental instability. (Usually all 3.)

          I’m 40, so maybe I’m younger than most folks here. But I remember even 20 years ago, my girlfriends and I were disgusted by the old men sexually harassing us. And yes, we considered it harassment and thought the old men doing it were pathetic. We didn’t know any girls our age who were dating older men either. Everybody we knew was dating college boys. We thought 25 was too old for us, so we were baffled that men old enough to be our fathers thought they had a chance!

          I knew a 22-year old who had an affair with a 40-something married man and then went on to marry him. From what I know, she had no self-worth and a terrible relationship with her father, so crumbs were acceptable to her.

          I’ve since met a few other young women like this and none of them had good self-esteem or stable mental health.

          BTW, this isn’t an indictment of mental illness. Mental illness covers a broad swath of things, and I have a PTSD diagnosis myself. I’m simply noting that I’ve never seen a young woman go for a much older man who was in a good mental place herself or who had any standards.

          • So poor, unloved, gullible little fools with little self-worth then!
            Apparently Schmoopie “…understands my situation” according to FW ( although “she’s OUT!” now according to him. I wonder has he found another one yet??), so he must have given her a Sob Story- himself as victim and me as the wicked old witch who “weren’t giving him the love he NEEEEDS!”
            When I read all his carry-on and guff back to myself, I just can’t believe how pathetic he’s become! It’s sad really!

  • Applause, applause for CL’s gif game!!! 🤌 Cracks me up every time.

    My ex is also full of rage. He had the affair. He told me about it and said he wanted to marry the AP. SOooo, I left and filed immediately.

    But somehow…somehow…he turned it all around to make ME the initiator, me the bad buy, me the one who, in his words, “got everything.” He said that I was “sitting pretty,” 100% insensitive to my pain. I wasn’t sitting pretty. I was trying to stay vertical; I wasn’t eating; I wasn’t sleeping; I was crying ALL the time; I was trying to pick myself up from the wreckage.I despaired. Meanwhile, he was with schmoopie, the love of his life. I didn’t get how he could be such an insensitive jerk.

    But then I realized that over the years (35 to be exact), it was always about HIS pain and sadness. Being the saddest person in the room has been his go-to state. Oh, sadness and RAGE. CL nails it when she writes, “His grievances understand him. Comfort him. They never question his entitlement.”

    I guess he felt entitled to my care and attention even while he carried on with the AP. We talk about how the affair was the 2 x 4 we needed to extricate ourselves from the relationship. For some FWs, our leaving is a 2 x 4 across the head; they couldn’t conceive of such a consequence. A never-ending supply of cake from all quarters seemed a God-given right.

    Not so fast, FW. 🎂

    p.s. I’m put off by aging guys who think they’re hot shit with women who could be their daughters or granddaughters. 🤮

    • “p.s. I’m put off by aging guys who think they’re hot shit with women who could be their daughters or granddaughters. ”

      Agree, and vice versa. I see old men with 20 somethings and I can’t even imagine it when I was young. It used to be just “Hollywood” types, but now it is pretty common. I blame Viagra. 😁

      • Susie lee, My daughters tell me that is changing. They and their friends have nothing but contempt for women who go out with older men, they think it’s bordering on pedophilia, and since women can now make their own money, girls who have something going for themselves don’t want to put up with the sagging flesh and outdated attitudes of older men.

          • I could NEVER understand that! That message was constantly pushed at us from when I was very young and I just could NEVER see it. The idea used to turn my stomach and as I got older, my boyfriends actually got younger and it was THEY who would pursue ME including my now FW! He wouldn’t leave me alone and he was a hench, sexy bit-of-rough then, with the body of a Greek god!
            Not so anymore! His child-Schmoopies are welcome to him and his hairy back and beer belly, not to mention his cocaine addiction and lack of property and prospects. I reckon I got his best years and he’s nothing only a wreck of a man now.
            Out of the 2 sexes, it’s my observation that so long as us women haven’t been subjected to such abuse that we are totally submitted and lost ourselves, it’s us who age better, not men. Even then, it’s amazing the way some women can sort of “come back from the dead” once they get free and stay free of an abuser, as all FWs are! We just have to make sure that a man is meeting our needs, or get rid of him and decide to start meeting them ourselves. Start looking after ourselves, and loving ourselves rather than the FWs!

        • I’m 40 and distinctly remember my girlfriends and I finding it disgusting when WE were in college. We thought the gross old men sexually harassing us were pathetic and didn’t personally know ANY women our age dating older men. We were all dating college boys our age.

      • Viagra is no friend to women. I read a statistic recently that claimed 26% of men in their 70s were engaged in infidelity. Sickening.

        • Children born to older fathers also have higher risks of certain birth defects. The upsurge in autism diagnoses in children has nothing to do with vaccines and everything to do with men having children later as well as better diagnostic procedures. All because some men are too vain to accept that their sexual prime is past. Viagra should be banned IMO.

        • Ugh, bleurgh! Sickening is right!
          WHO is shagging old blokes in their 70s though?I mean even their wives don’t usually want to at that age! Blimey!!!

      • Yep – I think ex-FW was given viagra by the OW. Her husband was dying and didn’t need his rx anymore, I guess. Explains an odd increase in our sex life which somehow didn’t feel loving.

    • I got the same words verbatim – “got everything” and “sitting pretty.”

      Oh, lucky me. I forgot to remember how lucky I am that he wasted 20 years of my life – and that I should be grateful I got to keep all the the money that I earned while he was un or under employed for decades.

      And yes – all of my single male friends in their 40’s are dating girls in their 20’s. The last guy who hit on me said his last date was a 25 year old from Tinder, totally as a flex.

      NO thanks. I like my life too much to let anyone in to reap chaos.

      • I remember my ex telling me about a 50 yo divorced friend of his who complained to a group of guys that all the woman his age just aren’t “as fit.” Oh FFS! Really? You’re such a specimen and not ONE woman in your age cohort looks as young/fit as you? Give me a break! This is not true of all men, of course, but so many aging dudes see Brad Pitt when they look in the mirror. (My ex falls into this category. Umm, no. Just no.)

        p.s. Al Pacino’s gf is pregnant. He’s 83.

        • On the news last night I learned that Berlusconi’s girlfriend at the time of his death (at 86) is 20 years younger than his daughter.

          • Yuck, Adelante.
            Berlusconi’s the same guy who, when caught fucking underage prostitutes, uttered the deathless line; “At least I’m not gay!”
            Say that with an Italian accent and it sounds hilarious.

      • I got “T’is well for you! You have this house and X ( my adult son’s name)! ”
        Well, he had my son as your son and my house as his home until he betrayed me, so tough! I didn’t take them from him, he threw them, and me, away! Why is he surprised we don’t want him back? CAKE, obviously!

    • This is what mine did too. Dumped me brutally, told me how he had been fantasizing about killing me and trying to come up with ways to do it, told me he never loved me, never wanted to be with me, told me he couldn’t wait to go out and start his own life. Wouldn’t even speak to me except to insult and threaten me. I’m so old, I’m so ugly, it’s such an embarrassment to be seen with me, etc.

      So I filed because it was all killing me and I was terrified and there was no hope there. He wanted me dead. And he immediately went victim mode. He got all the support. People invited him to holidays, not me, because the poor man lost his family and everything else. It must be so hard for him. He was already living with a girl our son’s age. He took this child to events we used to attend. I wonder if they seated her at the kids’ table.

      It was like he beat me into the ground and then everybody we knew walked over my battered body to go hug him and talk about how hard all this must be for him. It was unreal. But I had the same realization as you, he always tried to make his pain first. When I had a rough pregnancy, he had terrible sympathy pains. If I was upset or sad, he would cry and I would have to comfort him. It wasn’t new, I just didn’t realize how evil and insidious it was. I thought the asshole was just sensitive. LOL

      • OMG. He is trash. You are better off without him. Two buckets of crazy.
        You deserve love and respect.

      • KatiePig, I LOVE your comments. Your EX sounds pathologically cruel, and dangerous too. So glad you are free of the monsters in your life.

      • My therapist once told me: “He wasn’t sensitive, he was touchy. There’s a difference.”

        I think about that comment a lot.

    • Ha ha…I know a 60 something year old guy….has a little money but not enough to balance how unattractive he is….who wants a 30 something but would “settle for a 40 or 50 something”. I told him no quality woman would be ok as plan B so good luck.

      So far no takers. Lol

      • Ex FW went on to marry a woman who wasn’t born when we married – we were married just shy of 25 yrs (she’s not the OWhore). I figured she was about 28, 29 to his 52, 53. He is NOT Brad Pitt but a dorky, pudgy, grey haired engineer with a good job & a history of BMWs. My brother’s wife is 10yrs younger & FW on more than one occasion asked me what they talk about. Now if I ever think of ex FW, I just chuckle thinking of the intellectual hot bed of a life he has now.

    • Sounds familiar Spinach. Although the FW was the one who blew our 25 year marriage apart, somehow all the cheating was my fault. Mainly because I wasn’t putting out the type of sex he “needed”. He got what he wanted, a new thing. Yet he was so angry at me and was certain I somehow got the better deal. He actually ended up screwing me over financially too and moved cities. I still don’t know how he believes he was so hard done by.

    • Yes. He’s got more hair in his ears and back than on his head. Good luck on Tinder!

  • You’re a BADASS, OP! ❤️‍🔥 I totally love how quickly you got out: “finally I said: ‘I’ve been to the lawyer, real estate is coming this afternoon, I will see you in mediation.’” BOOM!!! ❤️‍🔥❤️‍🔥❤️‍🔥 I bow down to your mightiness!

    “Women think they can change men, and men think you will never leave, and we are both wrong.” 💯 Yup! Some things are just truer than true.

    • You gotta have a good parting line with no wiggle room. I will never forget the look of shock on his face, never. Rear view mirror………see ya!!!!!

      • WOW. And in acting so decisively, you spared yourself what might otherwise have been years of despair and heartache.

  • I think our ex’s remained mad afterwards because we did not fall apart, and starve, and creep off into a corner to die. When we succeed without them, it proves we are, and always have been worthy of respect and love, and when they don’t succeed it proves they may not be as perfect as they believe they are/were. The evidence provides a narrative they cannot change.

    My son’s dad always put down my income as insignificant, compared to his. He had no idea how much a personal assistant/housekeeper/nanny was worth on the open market. He took everything good in his life for granted. He never saw my true value, although he did enjoy a good wife appliance!

    As for dating, I did try after him. It was a disaster. I was looking for love and companionship, and material things were not my worry. This made me vulnerable to the vultures and thieves. Fortunately, it did not take me long to figure out I had made a huge error. I was separated and divorced within 4 years. I learned a valuable lesson, or two, from that experience. I do not require someone else to be whole, or happy. I can take care of myself. It does not mean I would not enjoy companionship. However, I will not trust blindly. If I ever am involved again (not likely, but not impossible) it will be after a slow process of discovery. Men I meet do not seem interested in slow progress, or my refusal to take over the more annoying tasks of their life. I do not want to clean, cook, do laundry, and grocery shop for someone else. I don’t even want to share my treasured alone time, or privacy, or my bed all the time. I also want someone who has their own assets and enjoys their own independence. I had to turn off my caregiver inclination switch and turn on my protect my assets switch. My entire life experience in dating was formed when I was a teenager. I am a mature woman, and I don’t really care that “Johnny is so cute!” I care that Johnny is a mature, independent, thinking person who doesn’t want someone to care for him, but would like for someone to care about him. I care that Johnny wants to practice reciprocal love. If I cannot have that, I still can appreciate my life is pretty good in spite of some of my chump inclinations when I was young.

    • “I think our ex’s remained mad afterwards because we did not fall apart, and starve, and creep off into a corner to die. ”


      My fw didn’t show any real interest in me until I went on a date with someone. Then he was at my house the next day telling me the guy was too old for me, that he just didn’t want me to get hurt. This was after he had been gone six months, and never once called to see if I was ok. I in a nice way told him to fuck off and then he called the preacher and said he wanted to try again. That didn’t work either. After two more tries, and me not crumbling to his charms, he called me and said he and whore were jetting off to Las Vegas to get married. I said “why are you calling me?” he said “I didn’t want you to hear it anywhere else”. I said “ok bye”. I assume he was hoping to hear a muffled sob of agony. I just rolled my eyes and went on with my life.

      He had absolutely no interest in getting me back, he just didn’t want me to “survive him”.

      Until he and the whore caused the upheaval in my son’s life, I rarely ever thought of him. That was just a few years ago, and when I found CL while googling narcissist’s.

    • Amen! This describes my own situation and belief perfectly! 10 years out after 30 years married and 10 years courting. Should have never married him though wouldn’t have my amazing kids if I hadn’t!! 🤷‍♀️

    • “I think our ex’s remained mad afterwards because we did not fall apart, and starve, and creep off into a corner to die.”

      Yep… so much THIS.

      FW wanted to break me. He freaking called the police to pick me up as “suicidal” on DDay and stood there with shark eyes while I was cuffed.

      He said repeatedly and laughed that I’d never get a job. He told everyone (including his attorney) that I was still madly in love with him…. Even 2 years after the divorce and dealing with custody. I had to bring my boyfriend TO a custodial meeting just so I could show FWs attorney that FW is full of shit.

      FW was pissed when I got a job and righted my ship straight away.

      FW soooo badly wanted me to fail. It makes their story work much better. It pisses them off when chumps don’t follow their gaslighting script (the one told to friends and family that chumps are failures and the reason they “had” to leave). Boo the fuck hoo

      • Good gravy, MichelleShocked — I thought I was the only one whose FW tried to coerce into letting him call 911 for a mental health hospitalization about 5 seconds after he announced he was leaving. So sorry yours managed to actually make the call. Sounds as if you’re flourishing like a boss now, though. Brava.

        • OMG FKA Gray Rock Novice, you too? FWs are truly abhorrent evil soul-less assholes.

          Yes, the night of DDay FW called the police and I fell apart. He showed up from APs house to watch and then take our son from his bed at 1am to a hotel. They took me to the mental health unit and had a doctor meet with me…. After making me wait in an office on a chair — still handcuffed — for 2+ hours. I was in a tshirt with no bra and pajama pants.

          The good news is that the doctor met with me and immediately apologized and said I was just traumatized and he asked the police to take me back home.

          FW tried to use it against me with his attorney but it only backfired because I said “please, look it up. FW had me cuffed and taken — he did it to be abusive. The police record shows that there was nothing wrong with me and there was no further follow up.” Dead silence and his attorney didn’t bring it up again

          • I finally snapped when FW’s AP called the house, asked for him, and sassed me on the phone. I read her the riot act, told FW that I was done, and the next thing I knew, FW and my mother (who was visiting at the time) were tearing up a towel to tie my hands and preparing to call 911 to get an ambulance to have me committed. I ran out of the house and hid at a friend’s place, so I’ll never know whether the doctor/police would have believed me or not.

            And yes, my own mother sided with FW. He was in law school, you know, and came from a somewhat well-off family, so I was more than stupid for throwing all that potential money and status away. It was all my fault, of course, for working 2 jobs to support us (while he spent his money on AP) and being so tired all the time. And I sometimes left dishes in the sink after dinner. And I didn’t dress well enough. Um – no money and no time or inclination to shop, not to mention that I have always prioritized comfort over fashion. The upshot was, how dare I make him so miserable (the unwashed dishes! the jeans and T-shirts! the afternoon naps between jobs!) that he needed to cheat with a classmate? When I was finally able to manage a permanent escape, necessitating my calling the cops to get him out of my new apartment where he had followed me (he’d been stalking me) and pushed his way in, how dare I embarrass him that way?

  • “I have met nothing but Cluster B personality disordered men since my separation, have decided to buy a pet and forego and type of romantic entanglement from this point forward.”

    LOL!!! Me too! Except I’m a 63 year old man. In fact, my fuckwit was my second marriage – definitely Cluster B but I was smitten and bamboozled. No pet for me though… 😂

    • Oh there is no gender bias when it comes to cheating……..both sides for sure. Never knew what a ClusterB was until I went into the living hell realm of online dating. No thanks….maybe I will get a fish.

  • My ex bought an airplane thinking it would make him happy. Next he quit his high paying job because it didn’t make him happy. Then he moved us across the country because he wasn’t happy living where we were living. I went along with all of that hoping that this time he would be happy. I guess at that point he looked around and said “I am still not happy what’s left? Ah, must be the wife”. So he went out and had two affairs, leaving me for Schmoopie 2.0. When I asked if he might possibly be having some kind of mid life crisis he said “no, that would imply that there was something wrong with me. I was just really unhappy in my marriage that’s all”. Sigh, not my problem anymore. It is so freeing not having to live with someone who is just never satisfied and doesn’t know how to be happy.

    • They just never figure out that happiness comes from within. If they aren’t happy, it must be the fault of something external.

    • “It is so freeing not having to live with someone who is just never satisfied and doesn’t know how to be happy.”

      Yes, this.

  • CL, Hope you are feeling better!

    Charmee, his rage probably comes from that he can’t keep it up naturally anymore, yet, he is trying to prove to young 20 somethings that is not the case.

    Talk about way to set himself up for failure. Anyone trying to win that battle would be royally pissed and full of rage! Could you imagine the commentary???

    Smoochie – “Why is your junk so soft?”

    Him – “My pills haven’t kicked in yet”

    Smoochie – (Yawns) “My arm is getting tired”…..growing frustration kicks in and she decides to leave bc it’s exhausting trying to please an unpleasable person (physically, emotionally, mentally).

    And who best to take it out on, YOU! Why? Because it sounds like you have been somewhat “nice” to him through all this. You put up with his shit for 5 yrs before setting consequences, yet, you left him with everything. I get it. I did something similar and my FW was a royal twat because he felt entitled to everything (and, sadly, I teed it up that way). Good for you for getting out of the abuse – just keep in mind that abusive people ALWAYS feel they have entitlement over those they have controlled/abused before especially when those victims haven’t set hard boundaries and taken them through the ringer. My therapist told me that people like this view victims like us as weak. If we had sicked the hounds on them and sucked them dry then they would have respect for us and not take their rage out on us. It fucked up and twisted but from what I’ve experienced – accurate. So your indifference is vile to him bc most likely in his eyes it’s a weak boundary and one it sounds like he has crossed numerous times (you waited for 5yrs thinking “this too shall pass”). So, he instead he tried to provoke you and get a rise out of you….to see if you still care. Why? Because when you care, show emotion, or engage that is when they sneak in to gain control over you again – it’s a game to them. With that in mind, there is a hint of you caring because you wrote in about it. He is picking up on your caring vibes. Hence why he brought the “love of his life” and he was shouting it out at the top of his lungs bc he wants to get your attention to get a reaction – and I say it worked! The good thing is you brought it here vs. to him or others. Narc, cluster B, toxic people can smell niceness, caring, and kindness a mile away – just like a shark can smell a drop of blood in water. They pick up on your body language, your eye movement, your breathing, your words……so, whatever caring, kind, and well to do vibes you are putting out there for him – shut it down with Meh and indifference. Trust he sucks! He is an abuser, cheater, and a predator (mid 50’s man going after young 20’s women)! You should be sending every vibe of absolute disgust and indifference into the world about him. Believe it or not, they pick up on those vibes too. And, I would take some time to love yourself and heal that “nice, caring, kind” heart of yours with a good therapist who gets it. Why? Remember when I mentioned that Narc, cluster B, and toxic people can smell nice, caring, and kind people a mile away??? You mentioned those are the only type of suitors you have found post divorce. Unfortunately, they see you as an easy target. Heal yourself so your body language and words reflects that healing.❤️ That is when you will find a like minded, caring, loving partner bc like attracts like. Big hugs. I’m glad you came here vs. releasing your concerns elsewhere.

    • Thank you for these very wise words. They apply to a family situation I’m dealing with. Since going NC, I’ve been bombarded with dozens of texts making awful accusations and worse threats. This explains why.

    • Thanks for your kind words. It was like watching a train wreck really, and even sadder for my sons who didn’t know what the hell was going on with him. Its not about what life will throw at you, but how you handle it that counts, lots of big lessons learned. Biggest one of all is that I can take care of myself and rely on myself and that is good news……

  • “Women think they can change men, and men think you will never leave, and we are both wrong.” Truth!
    Congrats on handling your exit with such aplomb. Impressive.

    I suspect your ex is angry because you pulled the cake rug from under him. He enjoyed the stable comforts of a relationship AND he got to hang out with the bikini-clad gals. He had a ready excuse if they wanted more, a commitment, blah, blah. He was “married”. The bikini gals loved the challenge so they stuck around. You ruined all that. Meanie.

    Enjoy your ClusterB-free life with your soon to be adoring pet.

  • Charmee, you sound awesome. I love your attitude. I also gave my X (25 year marriage) a year after Dday to get his shit together (I kicked him out 18 weeks after Dday and when he wanted to come back I demanded a post nup, lie detector tests for a year…. Of course he refused) and then filed and divorced. I repartnered, got a much better job then an even better job, bought a boat and then a better boat and learned how to paddleboard and wake surf at 53! I have excellent relationships with my 4 kids and their partners and they choose to spend their free time and vacations with me. I’m mostly no contact with X but at the rare kid events (e.g. grandson’s gender reveal, graduation) I am polite “hi, how are you..,”I don’t otherwise say anything to him. He doesn’t try to speak with me and I never look in his shark eyes. I can feel his simmering rage that I am doing good, though. Yuck.

  • It occurs to me, that, for narcissist men at least, they externalize blame for their problems because they don’t want to face self-examination. I think this even connects to ‘sex addiction’ because while drowning their sorrows in sexual pursuits and porn, they don’t have enough blood flow to the brain for thinking.

    I’m not sure what the parallel for women narcissists would be as I have much less personal experience with them, but I’m guessing it’s external validation of their desirability and attractiveness or something. If they can get enough appreciation for the outside, they don’t have to worry about what’s on the inside?

    • I can speak to the narcissism women. Both my mother and her sister are/were extremely narcissistic. Aunt Bitch is a demon wrapped in sugar and spice and everything nice. She wraps men around her little finger and is on husband number 3 at age 85.

      Aunt Bitch is the perennial damsel in distress. She is always the victim, and plays the “Poor Me” card constantly, even though the messes are of her own making. She is deeply socially aggressive and thinks other’s pain is funny. She is also dishonest and lies about anything that doesn’t make her look good, and or that will win her more pity. She is vindictive and jealous, and that plays out by her withholding support from you or ignoring her accomplishments. She also does what she wants and is demanding and always right.

      For example, one year she and her family arrived at our house 2 days early for Thanksgiving. (They lived on a farm a day’s drive away). They were supposed to arrive on Wednesday afternoon and showed up at 5am on Monday morning. My parents still had to work on Monday and Tuesday, and I still had school. While my parents were at work, she rearranged all the furniture in our house.

      True story.

  • You are bad ass.
    You protected yourself from a FW.
    This is inspiration to us.

    • Hey, I didn’t look back its not the direction I am going in. You can’t ever go wrong doing the right thing. I have no regrets.

  • It is very difficult to have romantic love as an older person statistically speaking. Its my opinion that those on dating apps and who are actively pursuing dating are more likely to be Narcs, simply because they NEED supply. Yes we all want connection, they need it. Fill your life up with family, friends, pets.

    • Thats what I intend to do and am doing. What you say about online dating has been my experience. Most men want their recliner, their can of beer and a remote rather than having to shave, put on a shirt and go out the door. I haven’t met anyone I a remotely interested in online, they are looking for a nurse with a purse at our age.

  • Charmee… this, SO this…
    “Women think they can change men, and men think you will never leave, and we are both wrong.”

    That’s a quote for the ages. Thank you.

    And spot on AGAIN, CL, as always. 🙂

  • charmee, we learn from you. thanks for sharing your story. i think you’re doing great and a dog is a perfectly fine companion. i wouldn’t worry about re-partnering–if it happens, it happens. at least, that’s what i tell myself. i’m also looking at getting a dog.

    i still have adult kids at home with me–with this current cost of living crisis (#1 daughter) and a job search after graduation (#1 son), we all live together. it’s good. we’re doing well. but i know that soon the house will be empty and i’ll need to make some decisions. a dog will be good!

    recently i ran into a member of my community, a woman i hadn’t seen in a number of years, and caught up with her. she had a disastrous first marriage and it took her a long time (years) to get over it, TBH. she worked hard on herself. then she met a guy and too quickly embraced him. you guessed it, he was a jerk. so much so, that he broke her arm in a violent assault. i was aghast. she threw him out as soon as she could and is regrouping and doing all right.

    i don’t know. it’s a lot to take in. the fakery and false charm. the cruelty and aggression.

  • Charmee, I agree with CL, you should feel zero divorce guilt over what you were forced to do.
    No way you should tolerate being back burnered for five long years, continually working hard to support his tube top life style and let him trip the life fantastic without you, on your dime. WTF?!
    That is massive devaluation, disrespect and outright abuse of you, his entitlement rules the land. ( and seas I guess)
    Congrats to you for taking your dignity and agency back and dumping his “dally massages” ass off the first available cliff. Your sons have to be super proud of you, CN certainly is. Good for you!
    I get that it sucks majorly to lose the secure structure of the family you thought was bonded with gorilla glue forever, but you were given no other options.
    Your ex decided to load a two ton nuke onto your new boat with his posse of bikini bottomed bimbos carrying little brown lunch bags and then he detonated it, selfishly taking out everything within a 50 mile radius. His own choice, no one made that happen but him. He assumed he would always control the narrative, but found out pretty quickly what was done was done, no redos and consequences of actions are the bitches of all bitches.
    I can so relate to your “Lived like a nun and was happy as a clam” line. I took over the lease on my son’s one bedroom apt when he changed jobs and cities. My ex retired and left with his long time (unknown to me) schmoopie as we were selling our primary house to move to our new beach house at the time. ( 1600 miles away from where I am now)
    I am a couple of hours and more from my kids or anyone I know at all really in this apt and I’ve been here for over five years now.
    It’s been a solid place to grieve and continue my healing life sabbatical. What I’ve discovered about who the FW was and wasn’t has scattered my view of absolutely…………..everything.
    95% of my forest has been scorched to the earth, I have 5% left to rebuild and I’m now 68 years old. There’s been little green shoots popping up every day though and the sun is warm with great promise. I’ll bloom again but on my terms and schedule, no one can rush me or destroy me again, such a strength in knowing that.
    I have great gratitude for surviving the worst catastrophe I’ve ever been through and not giving up on better days showing up again.
    I started out with the tiniest Walmart special cot for the first eight months before I bought a queen bed and felt like I was sleeping in a castle that first night, I actually cried for the wonderfulness of it.
    I have a deep appreciation and gratitude for the slivers of joys that can show up in every single day on so much deeper a level now than I ever remember feeling before. ( hummers at my feeders, long walks with my soul mate doggy, rainbows on my walls each morning from my many prisms, comfy bed to sleep in)
    In this space I have discovered a deep inner peace, remembered who the hell I am ( really solid and not at all deserving of the treatment I endured for decades!) and reintroduced myself to me, someone trampled and unseen identity lost in the shadows of a FW’s overpowering self proclaimed greatness and magisty.
    The freedom from the years of unforeseen abuse at the hands of my 38 year marriage to this narcissist can make me sigh 20 times a day with such a deep feeling of relief. Free at last!
    I’ve also discovered how little you actually need to be okay, as you have. So little! Feeling safe trumps possessions any day of the week.
    My ex FW is married to his mistress now since 2020 and he’s still super angry about all assorted dramas he stirs up with either the kids or I. Doesn’t look like the happily ever after he envisioned from our prospectives. It’s kind of pitiable and sad for us all to take in honestly. To see someone you dearly love fu*k up their life to that degree isn’t inspiring or enjoyable for us to watch. Just another guy that actually did have it all and never fully appreciated it, a family and friends that loved him so much, health and financial security.
    He trashed it all for the greener pastures he thought he saw out there in the distance, the ones that are now slowly burning up from such a severe drought of integrity and locust destroying selfishness and entitlement. Burned to the earth pastures where nothing good will be able to grow, that’s his chosen retirement plan.
    The bitterness and anger we see in them is from their piss poor life choices and the consequences of their actions manifesting in anger.
    Consequences they only saw for the little people, someone else’s problems, not for extra special people like themselves.
    I guess cashing in your soul for dreams of the perfect adoring partner creates way more anger than any degree of joy they envisioned receiving.

    • That’s shattered my view, not scattered. I guess it was completely scattered too, lol.

      • Thank you for your response. Many have walked before us and many will walk behind us. I got my strength from my mother who left an alcoholic, and took 3 small children into the future, with no job skills, nothing and we all became self sufficient, somewhat sane adults. Children will model what we do, no lectures required. Simplicity is the key to happiness, not stuff. I am so grateful I can rely on myself to carry me through.

  • In addition to a pet, get a BOB… battery operated boyfriend. Pet food and batteries are all that is required for them to be eternally loyal!

  • Re “women try to change men while men hope that women never change” that wasn’t true in my case. When I got married I weighed 125 lbs. GG preferred heavier women. Once the ring was on his finger he really ramped up his efforts to get me to gain weight. If a heavier woman was what he wanted, then that’s what he should have married rather than trying to fatten me up. But of course a slender wife fit his parents’ standards for beauty better (he was 27!).

    Meanwhile I hoped he would remain the same sweet, lovable man I married. But once the ring was on his finger it was like he morphed into someone else. The criticism started on our honeymoon.

    • Rigid sexual predilections are kind of like Seuss’s “Sneetches”– so arbitrary, objectifying and soulless. For a while I also suspected I married a chubby-chaser. But his narcissistic, quasi-anorexic mother and their social strata viewed fat as some kind of moral flaw so he married skinny and then picked away at me over it, feigning concern for my health (which had always been fine). I was raised by feminists and refused to morph myself to please anyone but myself, something FW feigned admiration for, at least until he started cheating. Then the needling about my appearance ramped up, especially when the stress from his gaslighting during his cheating spree whittled me down to skeletal remains.

      Even worse, the nitpicking turned to crazy-baiting as FW began to imply I was an unfit mother because of some eating disorder (a mysterious one where I ate normally and never purged). My family doctor attributed it to sky-high cortisol and warned me I could die from adrenal collapse. In that sense, D-Day was a relief and getting the truth probably saved my hide. A couple office whistleblowers sent me a heads up and some grainy photos of FW with the AP. I called a lawyer the same day and hired a PI to get more solid proof (fault state). I was so pissed off yet, surprisingly, my cortisol levels finally went back down and I gained a bit of weight back– not enough to “please” a taste for pudge but enough to keep me alive. Lies kill and the truth saves.

      After I confronted FW and while I quietly got ducks in a row, FW did the frenzied genuine naugahyde reconciliation dance and quit drinking, dumped the AP and posted a mass of “happy family” pix on social media which the AP apparently stalked. Some of them were taken during the affair when I looked like the Corpse Bride and had a three inch thigh gap. While my lawyer was figuring out whether to subpoena the AP, he sent me a link with her new work bio and pointed out that she’d lost about 40 LBs in eight weeks compared to earlier surveillance photos. It was shocking. She went from chunky to a grinning, dried up skeleton. She had also radically changed her hair in a way that looked suspiciously like mine. My attorney worried she might be losing her marbles and going bunny boiler and urged me to get a security system installed. But when nothing happened, I started to realize that, more than having a specific physical fetish, FW demanded that– like his mother– women being willing to do serious harm to themselves for pervy approval. I guess the AP assumed I’d “won” the pickme death match and so she thought starving herself to death would win the “big prize” back.

      How can anyone compete with that, huh? And why would anyone want to? And how could anyone expect that from someone they supposedly loved? For anyone who felt physically devalued by a cheater on any arbitrary grounds, consider the sick and twisted source.

      • “she’d lost about 40 LBs … It was shocking. She went from chunky to a grinning, dried up skeleton. She had also radically changed her hair in a way that looked suspiciously like mine.”

        This happened with the AP in my case too. Though it wasn’t because FW and I were back together. But I suspect FW gave her backhanded compliments and compared her with me and she felt like she had to compete. It was weird. He definitely preferred “tiny” women, but AP was not tiny at all. And when she lost all the weight, she just looked sick. She had had super short hair for years, but once she got with FW she started growing it long and dyed it the same/similar color to mine. She also radically changed the way she dressed. I wasn’t the only one who remarked on the fact that she was turning herself into me. Chumps aren’t the only ones who pick-me dance.

  • The anger! I used to take it personally until one day I happened to see a funny meme about toddlers. Then something clicked, and I realized that FW rage is almost exactly like a toddler’s meltdown.

    It’s incredibly disorienting when the mask slips and we realize that the adult with whom we’ve had a 30-year marriage actually has the emotional maturity of a 2-year-old. He was just playing grown up. I suspect what we think of as “midlife crisis” is the phenomenon of adults who can no longer sustain the charade.

    FWs are angry at Chumps the same way young children rage at their parents. It’s not a reciprocal relationship. They don’t see us as people with feelings; rather, they are the center of their universe and we provide all the caregiving and emotional labor. Whenever they don’t get what they want, they perceive it as a cosmic injury. And what greater blow to the narcissist than being denied centrality?

    • My lawyer actually compared FW with her 2-year-old son. She told me to view him as a toddler throwing a tantrum (I also have a young boy) and to just “step over him” and keep going. It really helped put things in perspective.

      “we provide all the caregiving and emotional labor” – yes! And once he was gone, my life got SO MUCH easier.

  • I’m glad you’re doing well but I sincerely hope you didn’t really leave the marriage with nothing while he got to keep a house and a boat for his fuck parties with young girls.

    • Oh no in Canada its 50/50 no questions asked. He kept his pension, and I kept mine. But mine is indexed……LOL

  • Charmee–

    I would recommend getting a security system and avoiding being alone around that freak. There have been too many cases of cheaters who were never previously physically violent who seem to spiral into psychotic rumination if forced to face consequences for their behavior. Fotis Dulos comes to mind. His murder of his ex-wife inspired Jennifer’s Law, which allows victims to file for orders of protection and child custody in Connecticut on the grounds of a pattern of coercive and controlling behavior by the perp but not necessarily physical assault.

    As far as “midlife crisis,” that stupid buzz term unfortunately normalizes what I think is really just a “bubbling over” of narcissistic hysteria when cheating abusers find themselves getting less attention on the rando meat market as they start to age. I think it’s every narc’s fantasy to be able to just stand still and do nothing and be glazed like a nonchalant ham with slathering attention from fuckable others like a celebrity getting coffee in a Starbucks but that fantasy starts getting more unattainable and absurd by midlife. As the hair thins and the neck wrinkles form, they suddenly find themselves having to do more and more attention-grabbing antics, working out psychotically, making more sweaty effort, getting spendier and going into debt to display wealth in the hopes of luring in hustlers. All of this leaves a trail that chumps are more likely to find though the MO has probably been there all along. They also start facing more rejection or outright revulsion (young targets getting the “ick face” in response to some oldster ogling them) which causes so-called “narcissistic injury” and probably increases the tendency to blame their married status for turning targets off (“it’s that damn ring chasing away the hotties, not my sagging jowls!”) or blaming their partners for not slavishly boosting their egos (“S/he told me to pick up my socks and get a colon check! S/he is always tearing down my self-esteem!”).

    I also think that narcs’ downgraded meat market status increases the tendency to drink or use substances, partly from the stress of increasing rejection, partly due to the fact that they pretty much need beer goggles to stomach the progressively less and less attractive and more and more desperate and seedy types who’d even be willing to take up with some fading horndog and partly due to the fact that the only willing prospects are usually barflies or pill-hos.

    So much for mid-life crisis. If a sexually compulsive narc experienced sudden disfigurement from an accident or disease, they’d have the same “crisis” at any age.

    • Well he did dip into the world of online dating, that would be living hell enough in my estimation. I am not afraid of him, he holds the same level of anger for his sister, for another reason than he does towards me. He is living happily in another town with his new squeeze. It all started when he retired and started going to the gym where the young personal trainers are “paid” to boost these old geezers egos for $’s. The men are thinking they still got it all going on and lap it up like old dogs. We women are so superior.

      • Yikes, do they have to give these trainers combat pay for the extra yuck factor?

        I think you’re probably right that male egos are generally more prone to bloat. They’ve done studies on body dysmorphia where even women who fit some kind of modern Instagram “ideal” have lower appearance self esteem than the average dad-bod dude. But there are many male chumps here who describe their she-cheaters going through the same ridiculous sweaty preening antics. And there are other studies of female “mate poachers” describing appearance-contingent self-esteem, delusionally elevated self image and a tendency towards self-destructively competitive appearance-enhancement behaviors. So I’d just conclude that FWs in general are a big scary mess.

      • “The men are thinking they still got it all going on and lap it up like old dogs. We women are so superior.”

        Ummm…wtf is this? Are you serious?

    • This made me laugh so hard!

      (“S/he told me to pick up my socks and get a colon check! S/he is always tearing down my self-esteem!”).

      • Saying someone needs a colon check is equivalent to calling them old, after all. Those are fightin’ words lol.

  • I love this: “Your ex is free to live his hot yoga dream.”

    Yes. If he’s so wonderful and you were such an impediment to his happiness, why isn’t he happy and living it up? Because he no longer has his emotional dumpster.

    This is my FW through and through. He’s mad he doesn’t have me to point to and say: my life sucks because of HER. Meanwhile, I’m moving on. I have peace and I will have joy because now his lazy lying ass is gone baby gone!

    • DrDr,

      “Yes. If he’s so wonderful and you were such an impediment to his happiness, why isn’t he happy and living it up?”

      This was something that I fixated on for a loooooooooong time. The end of our marriage has been so dragged out – 3 years- and for most of it he was so angry with me and consequences had not even started yet. He was in love with AP, told me so all the time and I simply could not understand why he wasn’t running out the door to go live his dream. I still don’t know for sure. Prob a fear that it might not work out with AP*, fear of actually living the financial consequences, combined with a love of cake.
      *that was a valid fear, they broke up and he did a hard press for Wreckconciliation. No thank you, I am no one’s back up plan.

  • Midlife Crisis is just code for “This is who I’ve always been, but now I can afford to show it.”

    It will s also nothing more than refusing to look at the costs, (divorce, heartache, unhappiness, loss of assets) before choosing to indulge. Exactly like a former junkie returning to heroin or an alcoholic returning to drinking, it all just seems like a good idea when the urge strikes.

    So to the original letter writer who asks “Why is his rage directed at me?” I offer this answer: Because you’re the grand buzzkill in his otherworldly de perfect life.

    Well, you and Reality are.

    As they grown (and are grown) I’ve made a special point of explaining life to each of my six kids in a way that makes sense: Whenever we cross a road on a crosswalk, I remind them that we pedestrians have the legal right of way, but an oncoming car can still hurt or kill us…because laws are there for prevention and dispute, but the law of Physics ultimately prevails.

    Translation: promises and vows are there for a reason and are to be taken seriously, but ultimately selfish choices have very real consequences.

    Original Writer, you’re doing great. Long live Reality!

  • Try a thought experiment. Imagine a kid, one who isn’t that bright and isn’t appealing to the cool kids he wishes he could hang with. They think he’s a loser. The only thing he has that he truly appreciates, that makes him feel good, is his playhouse. He has action figures he keeps there which represent friends to him. So he lives in a fantasyland of great adventures with them, and to him, this is happiness. But there’s a problem- he always needs more action figures. Other kids steal them, he loses them, gets mad at them and burns them, whatever. So his solution is to take money from his mother’s purse to keep buying more. When she notices the money is gone and asks if he’s taken any, he lies. He feels powerful when his lies are accepted.
    One day, she catches him in the act. He tries to tell a new lie, then to make excuses when that doesn’t work, but she’s not having it. She grounds him and puts her purse out of his reach. Since he’s grounded and can no longer protect his playhouse, somebody tears it down and carts off everything in it.

    So who do you think is going to bear the brunt of his rage? Is it himself, for feeling entitled to that fantasy, to those action figures and for stealing to get them? Is it the cool kids he still admires and wants to be with, even though their rejection made him feel so unwanted that he took refuge in the action figure storylines that made him feel he could somehow be cool in his own way? Or is it mommy, for thwarting his entitlement and being a catalyst for the destruction of his fantasy world?

    • Good analogy.

      I do remember in our early years that fw told me some stories of how he lied to him mom, and she believed it. I do think it is very possible he transformed me into his mother figure and got off on the deception. It was likely part and parcel of him feeling 17 again while sneaking around behind my back.

      They just really aren’t that complicated. Yes he went on cheat on whore multiple times. My daughter in law just told me recently that he had told her he did, but she (whore) always caught him.

      My daughter in law said she thought it was odd that he would tell her that, as they didn’t have a great relationship, but this was early on when he and whore were first married. Eventually he got so nasty, she refused to be around him or the whore, who was equally nasty to her.

      I think fw turned to heavy gambling for his thrills when his health got so bad. Likely he couldn’t get it up anymore, and even if he could he no longer had the uniform to catch the low hanging fruit.

      • “I do think it is very possible he transformed me into his mother figure and got off on the deception. It was likely part and parcel of him feeling 17 again while sneaking around behind my back.”

        Yes, I’m convinced this dynamic is at play with almost all cheaters.

        • Agreed. FW’s mom got a divorced his dad, married an abusive asshole, got cancer and died. He never dealt with it. He never came to terms with it. He never made peace.

          Through his weaponized incompetence he turned me into Bad Mommy. I bore the brunt of the anger he could not express to his actual mother, because you can’t be mad at your mother for dying.

          So many layers of fuckedupitude.

      • Your comment about your FW transforming you into a mother figure resonated with me because that’s exactly what I think my FW did to me! Without my knowledge nor consent he cast me into the role of mean, controlling Mammy and himself as a “free spirit” whom I was trying to hold captive. I reality he’d just regressed into a deceitful, self-absorbed, self-pitying, vindictive adolescent, running away from his adult responsibilties towards me, our little family and our home to pal around taking cocaine with”The Bais” whilst all I was doing was getting justifably sick and tired of not getting what a wife has the right to expect from her husband i.e. honesty, integrity, being his priority AND his being an adult human male, not a bleedin’ over grown child in a middle-aged man’s body!
        Once I realised this, I resigned and as I can’t leave my own house, kicked him out instead AND then emailed him I want a divorce and an annulment!
        You want to be a single man, crack on boy! On yer own! You want to be a teenager again, go and live with yer actual mother, ya muppet! I’m not his Mam, nor his nurse, nor his anything anymore except his STBXW! Then, once the annulment is granted, I won’t even be that anymore!
        I will admit, it does hurt sometimes and I do grieve, but for the adult human male I THOUGHT I’d married, not the deceitful, treacherous, broken, deluded drug-addict he’s become

  • FW’s blame their spouses because they refuse to accept any responsibility for their own unhappiness. They are blamers. It’s truly mind boggling.
    I would add to CL’s great advice, beyond being kind etc…….see if future partners take ANY responsibility for prbs in past relationships.
    If they have anger towards a nonFW former spouse, could be a red flag.

    • True, but honestly I think it is rare for marriages to break up unless infidelity, or some other substance abuse has occurred. And most abuse covers the gambit of theft, lies, verbal, emotional and financial. That creates anger.

      I know it happens, I just think it is rare. I would be more suspicious of a person who waxes poetic about their former marriage/relationship. As in, oh we just grew apart etc.

      Who knows. Can be a mine field.

      • I mean the reverse anger. These FW’s do the damage and then say things like ‘I just wasn’t happy’ and display anger or contempt towards their ex for no understandable reason.

  • Do you know I read CL every day and cry when its over? Why can’t you write on Sat and Sunday too?? Ok so let me say I am with my 35 year old daughter who lives out of state..visiting my new grandson…
    and she is telling me things about my STBXH( not the first cheater who was her dad). How my STBXH had been awful to her!! He was a creep and a terrible character all the time, as was the first cheater. I spackled with cement so blinded by fear of being alone and failing again!!I feel so embarrassed for staying with this #2 cheater so long and taking so much. My daughter asked me how I could take all that abuse while I trained her not to. How? I ask myself the same question. I blamed mental illness, my inadequacies, my failures and never him. These people are entitled and arrogant and I was a helper and chump. I’m embarrassed I’m front of my family but thrilled just thrilled to be alone!!! I am 70 and had a protection order!!! Divorce is almost final. I guess I can start over and tell my daughter to do better than I did. The truth is these cheaters lack Character and CL and CN are right!! I will do better now that I know better. I hope the rest of my days I can model strength, courage and resilience. No more instability for me.

  • FWs are so greedy. All of them. Sex, money, power… they want it all and feel entitled to it all. Anyone who they are forced to split anything with is the enemy.

    I had the good fortune while getting my ducks in a row to discover notes FW had made about his research into how things would be split. You can read how he was seething with rage, trying to sort out how to screw me over. Grasping at straws.

    The game is afoot, chumps. I talked to my attorney and paperwork is in motion. Wish me luck!

  • Charmée, you’re my hero. I hope today’s response and comments obliterate any shred of remaining guilt.

    CL, you’re brilliant. I love this post. Thanks for all you do for us chumps!

  • I have noticed that comment at the end of the post by CL…
    about expectations being ‘baked’ in to generations. This tickled me for two reasons. I’m GF- so baking for me is a different process from beginning to end since we have to use some science hacks to recreate the actions of powerful glutens in baking.

    Also because I am from the generation where our Home Ec class was required for ALL genders. It was mandatory. So was the counterpart. (I actually think we had to take WOODSHOP or METALSHOP as well)

    So… this made me start to realize these kids are now in their 30’s and I’ve dated more than a few of these men that have had their nails painted. Not ‘goth or alternative’ necessarily but it’s just funny considering some of these men could sew, and cook and do their own laundry–one ex insisted doing my laundry due to dog hair allergies we roomed with. I’ve also dated some men that insist on staying home while I earn… this is where it goes haywire for me.

    We both need to have CES skills and we both need to live for a purpose beyond our walls, and hopefully that purpose isn’t 100% volunteer. Hopefully it come’s with compensation for your time. I do not have a problem with altruism in a partner, it is preferred, but only after basics are taken care of. Non-profit work is something I’ve done before but I still had a wage to cover basic needs.

    PS Now I’ve heard that home EC isn’t even being taught to several of my cousins growing up now. I’m one of the oldest in very large family. All of my cousins have no idea what this class is. I really think this is 101 survival. Sewing, working with machinery, cooking, cleaning, chores and learning home ‘economics’ or how to function at home should be required in school–especially if that child is in a less than healthy environment and isn’t learning those skills there. This gives them a safe space.

  • My FW was angry because I should have loved him unconditionally.

    blink blink

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