Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Don’t Break No Contact for ‘Closure’

ZombieclosureI once got a nice letter from “Chump Chap,” who wrote after he realized that he’d just gotten a non-apology apology from his cheating ex. But he didn’t realize it was a fake apology until later. And then it was GAH! She’s wasn’t sorry was she? Chumped again!

The non-apology apology is a whole separate post. What I wanted to write about was the grievous chumpy mistake Chump Chap committed — he sought out his cheater to ask her why.

It’s idiotic, but we all do this, Chump Chap. You aren’t alone wanting “closure” from your cheater.

Oh why oh why oh why did you do this to me? WHY?!

Logically, you direct this question to the person who screwed you over — the cheater.

Except it isn’t logical. They don’t have a good reason. And every reason they give you is going to piss you off.

“I dunno. Got bored I suppose.”

“He had a nice ass.”

It’s worse if the cheaters spent any time on infidelity boards. Now they have a whole new vocabulary to mindfuck you with.

“I was broken from my FOO issues. It was the toxic shame borne of hand bell choir and that ugly sweater my aunt knit that my mother INSISTED I wear — I couldn’t bear my uncoolness, and I needed external validation. Lots and lots of validation. So I learned very early to lie to get what I wanted. (A Somalian refugee stole the sweater. I’m allergic to hand bells.) I guess I never stopped. Fucking those strangers on Craigslist was a coping mechanism. But I never stopped loving you, Chump Chap. I suppose a part of me will always love you. But I’m involved with Nigel now — and it’s complicated.”

Why would you stick your head in that blender?

Ask a cheater why they cheated, the worst of them are going to blame you. “I cheated because you’re fat” or “You weren’t meeting my needs.” Or they’re going to wax poetic about their affair partner. “What Tiffany and I have is real. God, she’s so good for me. Look, it’s all for the best! We’re both in better places now!”

Resist the urge for closure, chumps. Relationship autopsies do not bring relationships back to life. And thank God, because imagine the Walking Dead nightmare that would be. (Actually, anyone who has experienced false reconciliation has lived exactly that nightmare.) These things are better left DEAD.

Because when you ask your cheater why — especially after they are your ex — what you’re really trying to do is keep the relationship alive. You need sparkles. Gimme a hit on the crack pipe of hope. You want validation from this person that they Really Didn’t Mean It and have a very good reason for putting you through this hell. You want validation from the very person who just invalidated you. Was I so bad?

Look, cheaters cop to needing “closure” all the time. “I just have to meet her at that hotel in New Mexico… for closure. It just isn’t right to dump her with a no contact letter. What we had, well, I owe it to her to do it in person.” We know what closure means — it means they can’t quit the kibbles.

With chumps though — it’s like we can’t quit feeding the kibbles. Because seeking them out, demanding an answer, is kibbles to the cheater. We are reinforcing their centrality in our lives. It is the opposite of meh.

We may think we’re seeking closure to shame them, or demand accountability. They don’t see it that way. They see it as kibbles. “Isn’t that sweet? Chump can’t get over me. They’re so broken up. God, I’m fabulous. I’m sorry there isn’t enough of me to go around. Well really, I offered you a piece but you wanted the whole thing. Too bad, so sad.”

Closure doesn’t exist. Well, not in the sense that they’re going to give you a reason that will make the heavens part and confer enlightenment. You do the hard work to heal yourself over time and find acceptance. It’s probably never going to make sense to you why they betrayed you. If you’re a good person, it shouldn’t make sense.

Why did they cheat? Because they could. Because they gave themselves permission to do it. They didn’t care about how it would hurt you. Not enough.

Ouch. There’s your closure.


This one ran before. Recording a new podcast this morning!

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.
  • In my mind, this is fundamental reading for this site along with the Cake article.

    I can attest to closure being a human desire, but not worth it. Mac used my anger as an opportunity to tell me exactly what he thought was wrong with me and my friends (then why did you say that you loved me, dickweasel??).

    • “…used my anger as an opportunity to tell me exactly what he thought was wrong with me…”

      Sigh, same. I caved after the first big suicide threat*, thought, since he was being so “raw” and “open” I would get my why, get the truth, get closure but in the end it was a shopping list of my flaws and the marriages. I should have known, apparently, when he was laughing and hugging me and telling me I was the best thing in his life that we were actually living Opposite Day, everyday 🤷‍♀️

      *side note: chumps, call their bluff, the very first time they manipulate you with a suicide threat call your suicide hotline and report them, wash your hands of that. If it’s a legitimate threat they now have help, if it was a emotional bluff they stop that shit really fast when the professionals knock on their door!!

      • Yes, Foghorn. Exactly. Great advice.

        My FW pulled that, and his therapist tried to make me responsible for him, telling me to remove dangerous objects from the home, etc. (We were both still in the marital home at this point.) The reason he was (probably legitimately) suicidal wasn’t over me or our son, it was over the OW dumping him. Talk about an abusive therapist on top of an abusive FW.

        So whenever he expressed killing himself, I called his sister to let her know so that she could decide if he was bluffing or call for a well check. Not my problem, especially given the reason he was suicidal.

      • Foghorn, absolutely right. Never cave to a suicide threat in any situation!

  • My ex said he “never understood how he fell in love with me since I’m not his type”! Apparently after marriage for 20 Yrs and 3 kids all those times I saw it in his eyes, his dislike of me…. It really was a mirage! Im 48 today, I’m just so happy to have worthy relationships in my life. I finally have peace and calmness I’ve never had before! No looking back ever again

    • Oh my goodness! 48! Happy Birthday and congratulations for attaining your freedom at such a young and vibrant age. I think you’re still in your prime. The fuckwit lost big time! I was 55 when I finally left my mirage. I felt old and unwanted. Thankfully, I rebounded. I’m even older now, but I’m not unwanted. I found that I’m actually quite loved and appreciated. May you have a wonderful day, and please toast yourself with your favorite beverage of choice. You deserve it!

      • What a perfect description “I’m actually quite loved and appreciated.”

    • Yes, happy 48th ! I was released from my marriage right as I turned 48 and my whole like changed.

          • Haha, 49 for me! I hope appreciation is out there — I am ready for it.

            And, two years into being married, I got the: I’m actually not attracted to your body type. I must have chosen you because a) you were wearing a long sweater when we met, so I couldn’t see what you looked like; b) I have an avoidant attachment style, so I picked exactly what I would eventually reject (your curvy/muscular body type — I actually like skinny women). Sadly, I stayed another 11 years.

    • Omg. Yes. My STBX said I never liked you. I never wanted to marry you. Ok dickhole—-when were you going to tell me? 3 kids and 28 years LATER?????

      • Same here after 28 years married told me he never even liked me and I forced him to marry me! What BS. Oh and I ruined his life even though most of our marriage I was the only one working supporting our little family.

        • My ex, who had pursued me relentlessly for several years before we started dating (and then wanted to elope right away), told me during the divorce that I “tricked him” into marrying me. Go figure.

          • Yes, mine too. I waited behind some bushes and then jumped out with my butterfly net!

          • ISawTheLight, at every wedding I’ve ever been to, including Catholic, Episcopalian, Baptist, not sure which denomination Christian, and civil ceremonies, both spouses were asked if they took the other person as their spouse. If they didn’t want to, that was the last chance to say so!

            I’ve also attended a Jewish wedding, but I was very little, and I don’t remember it very well. I’m not sure if it was in English, and I don’t know Hebrew. But I would guess there’s a similar moment. ( I remember the reception better. It was a heck of a party!)

            Your FW sure was a jerk, unfortunately. I’m so sorry.

          • ISawTheLight, at every wedding I’ve ever been to, including Catholic, Episcopalian, Baptist, not sure which denomination Christian, and civil ceremonies, both spouses were asked if they took the other person as their spouse. If they didn’t want to, that was the last chance to say so!

            I’ve also attended a Jewish wedding, but I was very little, and I don’t remember it very well. I’m not sure if it was in English, and I don’t know Hebrew. But I would guess there’s a similar moment. ( I remember the reception better. It was a heck of a party!)

            Your FW sure was a jerk, unfortunately. I’m so sorry.

        • Still a chump, I am sorry. You are a saint. You GAVE him a life and a family!!! You deserve the world!

      • DrDr, I’m so sorry. I’ve been chumped twice, and one of the things I can’t get my head around is that either of my partners–or any human being–would be willing to condemn their partner to years of “twilit” living, where the love isn’t really there but the truth about that is hidden. Stealing years of another person’s life–who would do that?

        • Oh Leedy. A terrible person with no conscience–that’s who.
          Let’s be glad to be rid of them!

          • Yes, no conscience (or, in the case of one of my two FW’s, a still-glimmering but grossly enfeebled conscience, such as you’d find in an addict). It’s all so weird to me, and so surprising given who I thought I was married to. Indeed, let’s be glad to be rid of them!

        • I hear you, Leedy. I actually believe my ex-FW made a legitimate mistake marrying me, from his perspective. He’s not lying if he says that, in other words. He always did, and still does, believe that he made a huge mistake, and I believe that he genuinely feels that way. The thing is, though, he knew it right away, and looking back, he actually knew it before we got married. The problem is he didn’t tell me or act on it until we were 27 years in (24 married). No excuse for stealing someone’s life like that.

          Maybe he was afraid to hurt me by telling/leaving, maybe he stayed so long out of genuine guilt, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. The result for me and our son was the same. He should have come forward way, way sooner.

      • On DDay FW said to me, “It’s not your fault. I just married the wrong person.” We were together for 4 years before we got married, married for 17, one child. He had never dated anyone before me. So who was the ‘right’ person for him to have married?

        Of course, he also used that old chestnut about not believing in monogamy. And then two days later bragged about how he’d been monogamous with his mistress to explain why he stopped being with me. He didn’t want to cheat on his MISTRESS with his WIFE.

        • Oh Conchobara! Word salad and mindfuckery. FW is living in his own private [delusional] Idaho.

  • Back around D-Day Ex-Mrs LFTT lied until she was blue in the face about what it is that she did …… and that’s just the stuff that I could prove prove beyond any doubt that she did, let alone the stuff that I didn’t and still don’t know about. Given her evasiveness about the “what?” there has never been any point in engaging with her on the “why?” As CL points out, did it because she could, because she gave herself permission to and because she didn’t care about the impact on the kids and I. As for closure, I got mine whine I realised that she was so dysfunctional that there was no point in discussing either the “what?” or the “why?” and that I was better off using my time and effort working out how to get myself and the kids out of the marriage and to start building a better future for us.

    If asked about closure now I’ll change the subject by saying”Isn’t closure something that happens when you buy a house?” But – funny old thing – buying and moving into a house for myself and our children always was part of the plan for “a better future.” The kids and I finally moved in 2 months ago; all the “closure” we needed, whichever way you define it.


    • Congrats on the new house!

      After five years (plus) of the apartment where I moved when I left my marriage, I’ll be closing on a new (old) house of my own next month. I’m going to adopt your take on “closure”: a new house for a better future.

      • Adelante,

        I am so genuinely happy for you. This is a HUGE step on the way to recovering from all of the BS that our Cheaters put us through. I hope that you come to love your house as much as my kids and I love ours.


      • Buying my house earlier this year felt like such an achievement. I had to sell the marital home in the divorce (and I decided I didn’t want it anyway, since the skank had been there a lot). FW said I couldn’t take care of myself and would find a guy to do it for me (his weird double pronged knife of telling me no one would ever love me and telling me I could just “wear a short skirt and trick any guy into having sex” with me). But I BOUGHT a HOUSE all by my DAMN SELF. I’m still single, loving it, and loving my new home which FW has never seen let alone been in (he died over a year before I bought it). It is mine only, and my son and we have been so happy and having a great time. We have cats, chickens, a big (big) yard with a swing, a garden, and I planted an orchard. We are surrounded by farmland, but only 10 minutes from my job and 5 minutes from town and from my son’s school. I sat down at closing and did it all by myself.

        • What a delightful paragraph to read! I’m not sure I could think of a single place to bring more peace than a swing at your OWN PLACE, well done!

          • Swing for the kid in the back yard, and a porch swing in front for me. 🙂

        • I love this so much. So happy you’ve made a beautiful home for yourself.

  • I might not have fixed all my problems yet, but I am cured of needing closure now thank goodness. In my last relationship after I found evidence of the cheating and confronted the FW and he looked so happy at my being so obviously upset by my discovery that I thought this is so bizarre, he is being made happy by my upsetness and jealousy. My reaction was caused by him hurting me very badly. The consequences of hurting someone should not make you happy – he must be one messed up individual, so finally FINALLY I have come to the realisation that if someone hurts you on purpose they are highly likely harmfully messed up in some way and it really doesn’t matter why, just get away from them, they are not quite right.

    • My husband of 23 years had several minutes of that right when I figured out that I was in the midst of D Day. He was so happy to have it all out in the open that it was almost like he expected me to be happy for him? He eventually went on the defensive, but at first was just giddy about it all. What a weird thing to experience, just the beginning of the mindf*ck. We share kids and grandkids, so while I know I am better off now and in theory I get that he will reach consequences without me, I do admit that I crave the ‘consequence kibbles’ and ‘I-told-you-so’ that occasionally comes via a conversation with him or one of his extended family. Training myself not to engage has been hard!

  • I forced myself to remain No Contact because everything I read said that it was the quickest way to heal. I’m glad that I did, else I would have remained in the mindfuck blender. I know I would have continued to get more lies and I would have just spent more time trying to figure out ‘is he speaking the truth this time, or is he trying to cover up another lie?’ If you’re new to Chumplady, listen to her advice. Those of us that have been here too long know the wisdom she touts as truth — sometimes we learned it the hard way, but it is truth. Fuckwits are all the same, they’re lying liars that lie. Good luck, CL, on another podcast. I’m glad you’re here!

    • Same AC, same. I didn’t share my tears & turned off the kibble dispenser right after DDay. Removed myself as “option”. Only way to move forward!

  • Ex pulled the “I need to see him for closure, every relationship I’ve ever been in had closure”. My response was except this one of 20+ years with the father of your children? 🤦‍♂️

    • Oh yeah my ex met up with his schmoopie to “give her closure” after I’d said (as a condition of our wreckonciliation) that he wasn’t to have any contact with her. The second he was out of my sight he met up with her. When I found out he said to me “I didn’t ask you if it was okay because you would’ve said no”. Like no shit!

  • When I asked Sparkle Dick the why question he actually told the truth. “To be vindictive.”

    It was the first time he didn’t lie to me. But he’s still a lying liar that lies.
    I’ve been no contact since.

    • Every once in a while they tell us stark truth and we need to watch for those moments.

      I asked my Catholic husband how he could reconcile his faith and his actions and he said “Im going to burn in Hell” …if he had died that minute, he likely would have been right.

      • Yes, those unvarnished, stark truths sometimes slip right out of their mouths. Years ago during the OW#1 years, after he moved in with her and I was on my own with my babies, I asked him (sobbing, of course), “Did you ever really want to be with me? You asked me to marry you. Why did you marry me?” He bluntly said, “You were there, attractive, available, and nice. I didn’t think I could do better so I took a good opportunity when it came.”

    • Mine told me, “because I deserved it.” He later said it was because, “you don’t load the dishwasher properly” and “you treat me like a roommate or a brother” and my personal favorite, “you treated me like a favorite old sweater.” LOL

  • Back in the early D-days, I wanted closure or to know why. My ex withheld that because that’s what he did when he knew I really wanted something. And because I know him so well, I’m sure he would enjoy telling me now because he’s figures I no longer care.I don’t & therefore, won’t give him the satisfaction. He could bee-line up to me & I would walk away in the other direction. He can feed his GF bullshit now as he’s not getting access to me anymore to do that. I hope this post is pinned as newly chumped need to read this right away before they get on the closure go-round.

  • “Why did they cheat? Because they could. Because they gave themselves permission to do it. They didn’t care about how it would hurt you.”

    I made many mistakes – some of them for LONG periods of time – and the “asking why” error was one of my doozies.

    The way my mind works, there simply HAS to be a logical “why” so I kept digging. What I came to learn is that asking why is like loading a gun, handing it them and instructing them to shoot you. It gives them license to say whatever stupid shit is wallowing in their mind that moment.

    CL is right in what she said above…they do it because they want to, they can and it doesnt matter if it hurts you. That truth was so inconceivable to me early on that I didnt even consider it a possibility. Mind you, in that era, I was trying to figure out why he was in an “emotional affair” with Susan of Seattle – I had no idea he had been fucking coworkers for years.

    I try to imagine what my reaction would have been if DDay 1 had been a full discovery of all of it rather than the tip of the ice berg …I imagine myself being strong and mighty but more than likely, I would have thrown up and fainted.

    • You can do both barf and be mighty. D-Day comes with a lot of barfing in my experience.

  • Nearest I got to closure was when he said his brother couldn’t believe I started divorcing him so quickly, I said, well actually I shouted, ‘you were cheating on me!!’ He said ‘yes, but you didn’t know that then’…..🙄
    finally I had it…then he tried gaslighting me by saying he never said that…..never got any proper reasons why, just the same as everyone else, I didn’t make him feel special or pay enough attention, after 25 years, 2 children, he wanted to try new things as he said he hadn’t done much before we married, he was 38 when we married…such a Twat….pathetic excuse for a man.
    However, I’m finally free, living in a new home that he knows nothing about, grown up kids want nothing to do with him…life is very good.

  • Here’s what I got two weeks after D-Day.And, yes, it wasn’t helpful. What I understand from this is that he’s the real victim. I spewed “venom.” [Note: he’s a physician. Wrote this 3 years ago when he was 62 and had just retired.]

    ” [Spinach} you know that the jig is up for me. I’m sitting here wondering what I have done. The kids hate me and have disowned me. I have lost all credibility and integrity with you and I wonder if I’ll have to go back to seeing patients in the future. My sister talks to me sparingly. The die is cast. I can’t reset the clock. It’s a case of the chickens coming home to roost.

    Of course, I anticipated that much of this would happen. I’m not surprised. I talked about it seriously with my therapists. But when it happens and the venom flows and history is distorted, I have difficulty bearing it.

    I do take ownership of my actions and decisions. I did allow this relationship to continue and blossom. [AP name] made a concerted effort to move away and end this. I take full responsibility for what happened, but the question of why it happened is more difficult. I’m not trying to avoid culpability, but the roots of this are deep. There is a soft voice of defiance in me that keeps me going. It may be irrational and indefensible, but, if I didn’t have it, I’d be lost.”

    That’s what I got. “Soft voice of defiance.” If anyone is up for UBT-ing this, be my guest.

      • Yep. Maybe even “you’re not the boss of me, Mommy, I’m a big boy, and your rules are stooooooopid.” (Followed by incomprehensible whining as he stomps to another room and slams the door.)

        • Yes! I find the angry teenage boy energy is a recurring theme for FW. Last laugh is on him, tho. He’s back living with his mom!

      • “Soft voice of defiance” might equal “It’s not fair that I have to face consequences for my actions …. why can’t I be the victim and have people feel sorry for me?”


        • In the months before D-Day, he started to toss around the expression: “feet of clay.” According to that mean “a weakness or hidden flaw in the character of a greatly admired or respected person.” That’s how he saw himself–greatly admired and respected.

          His own “hidden flaw” was his secret affair. It was, for him, his “defiance.” I think he saw himself as bravely breaking free of societal chains. Furthermore, he thought that all his married friends wanted to do the same (fuck younger women) but that they were “too respectable” and “cowardly.” I’m not speculating here. He told me this.

          So “soft voice of defiance” = “brave rule breaker”

          Or it’s just some psychobabble BS that he tossed out there instead of saying that he was listening to his “soft (I mean hard) you know what.”

          • Spinach,
            When he said “that all his married friends wanted to do the same (fuck younger women) but that they were “too respectable” and “cowardly” the joke is on him. If he wanted to fuck younger women, the BRAVE thing to do would be to leave his marriage and go live the life he wants. I mean, I am sure you wouldn’t have taken that news with a grin. Break ups are hard. But cheating is so much worse. Anyway, I digress, my point is, living a secret double life and cheating on your spouse isn’t the big, brave move he thinks. It’s the very definition of cowardly.

            • Yes, of course his logic was 100% off base. He was just trying to justify his actions. He even tried to get one of his friends to sink into the mud with him, which I think is especially awful.

              Anyway, his respectable friends remain…well…respectable. My ex? Not so much. Consequences are a bitch.

    • “soft voice of defiance” = a giant middle finger pointed at anyone or anything who doesn’t feed his narcissism. That’s what keeps him going. Without it he’d be lost. And he has such “difficulty bearing it.”

      Poor poor man. Doesn’t it make you just want to throw him some kibbles? (And the cycle repeats . . .)

    • “Soft voice of defiance”– reactive attachment disorder, masked dependency? I always think these “I needed to rebel” claims smack of that, especially because chumps are typically mystified about what FWs were even rebelling against (garbage duty? Squeezing toothpaste from the bottom?) and mystified about why FWs act as if they’re exacting “revenge” for some deep offense that never actually happened. But it could be that FWs are all rebels in their own minds– rebelling against their own internally generated fuckedupedness.

      I’ve written about “masked dependency” before but will repeat for newbies: Something observed in more lethally violent domestic batterers is that intimate relationships seem to trigger pathological, infantile dependency towards the partner which feels so catastrophically shameful and vulnerable to these effed-up walking abortion types that they respond with rage, resentment and paranoia towards the “power” they imagine the partner has to abandon and destroy the batterer. In that light, cheating could look like an attempt to “break” the “hold” a partner supposedly “deliberately wields” over the abuser as well as to “dilute” this internally generated dependency by spreading it around to more than one person.

      Most batterers also cheat and maybe one day researchers will get around to pinpointing the MO but for now it seems kind of obvious. If there is a strain of “masked dependency” in subviolent abuse like cheating, then it would follow that cheaters mask dependency even from themselves and asking them “why” is only going to bring up reverso explanations that are the most comforting to cheaters– ones that depict the chump as “suffocating” and the abuser as “central” and “sought after” like a princess in a tower being chased by an ogre rather than framing the victim as potentially “abandoning” because the abuser can’t cop to the dependency and the inferior, needy position they feel this puts them in. In a million years, they’re not going to admit to deliberately stoking jealousy or territoriality in partners as a means of displacing those feelings away from themselves. The dependency could also explains why so many FWs refuse to bugger off and keep circling back around to hover, hoover, torment or haunt.

      • Wow! Hell of a Chump, for so many reasons that I won’t get into here, your explanation resonates with me. It’s spot on! Thanks!!!

        • I think it resonates with a lot of us. Before being chumped, I thought the idea was “theoretically interesting.” It certainly resonated with DV survivors but the personal SMH moment only came after my own chump experience. Now I’m waiting for clinical research to catch up to what advocates could see plain as day on the front lines, which is that batterers cheat. It would be the first step to figuring out that cheating may be a central tactic of intimate partner abuse and control and from there some might start asking why and what coercive and controlling purpose it serves. Now that research has finally figured out that violence isn’t due to a “loss of control” but is a very controlled and controlling act, someone might guess from there that cheating and other abusive subviolent abusive behaviors are also not due to “inadequate self control” but the reverse. Once that particular rabbit hole has been entered, a few stalwart researchers might even start noticing that, while not all cheaters are overtly violent, more than average will eventually become so. Then finally someone might figure out that things like “masked dependency” which were formerly ascribed mainly to the most violent offenders apply pretty universally to the whole spectrum of domestic abusers. From that point, researchers might start applying other things mostly ascribed to batterers– like the fact that they universally lie or confabulate about motives for abusing– and start applying these principles to cheaters and stop taking cheaters’ stated alibis (blaming victims, “rebellion from control,” rhapsodizing about unfulfilled needs, etc.) at face value. And then, at long last, maybe helping professionals will figure out why domestic abuse survivors– potentially including chumps– tend to statistically skew somewhat towards higher than average pre-abuse self-esteem and independence: because they were likely initially chosen as shiny, magically protective and nurturing mommy/daddy figures by oversized abuser-babies. Then– sunshine and lollipops– helping professions might stop blaming victims, life on earth will be paradise and all wars will end (kidding. But things might suck less).

      • Hell of a Chump, your comment really resonates with me too! I’ve made a screenshot of it, so that I can read it again and continue to ponder it. The idea of “masked dependency” helps to explain so many things about the peculiar aggression that would burst out of my FW at the oddest moments.

        • There seems to be a remarkable number of overlaps between very specific, peculiar behaviors of batterers and cheaters. The concept of masked dependency lodged in my brain since I first read about it in the book The Batterer by DV researcher Donald Dutton who observed the trait in incarcerated batterers and spouse killers decades ago (before he sold out trying to be a media figure. Early work = mind blowing. Present work = meh). Now I see where it could be applied all over the place but can’t find the reference to the concept anywhere else. That might not be because it isn’t apt but could have to do with the sketchy politics of social research in general and domestic abuse research in particular– like the fact that any purveyor of junk science who blames victims gets TED Talks (cough, Perel, cough) but any theory circling too close to the beating heart of abuse of power tends not to get funding (gosh, could that have something to do with who rises to power in our dog-eat-dog world??). I don’t think the concept was originally Dutton’s coinage but cited from other research. I’ll have to reread the entire book to find the reference and original author to see if I can dig around for more explanations.

    • “Soft voice of defiance” might have been him minimizing the size of his character defect, even though it was those impulses he ultimately acted upon.

    • Fukk that noise. You did the deeds. You get the consequences. You didn’t know there’d be consequences? Life us for learning.
      Your “soft voice of entitlement” is trying to pin your behavior on others. Time to sort it out.

  • “… cheaters cop to needing “closure” all the time . . . We know what closure means — it means they can’t quit the kibbles.”

    I caught her waiting for the Carrot Singer — in the middle of the day, in our home — for a “before the girls get home from school” fuckfest.
    I confronted both of them in the driveway, in full view of the neighborhood.
    After CS drove away, I screamed at a cold, dead set of eyes for more than an hour.
    I told her we were moving up a scheduled appointment with our couples counselor, since clearly we were getting nowhere as things were.

    As we sat outside the counselor’s office — our home and family in tatters, she said: “I really feel bad about how I left things with CS.”

    They can’t quit the kibbles. They can’t quit the kibbles. They can’t quit the kibbles.

    • “Can’t Quit the Kibbles”

      Good song title, UX!

      p.s. I’ve been thinking (probs overthinking) this kibbles business. My ex was/is a kibble addict, and I think it not only contributed to his willingness to cheat but also colored how he functioned as a physician. If patients gave him praise, he was more attentive. He even gave one patient $$. The nurses were SO impressed by his generosity. More kibbles!! Must have been such a rush for him when one of the younger and very attractive nurses started to flirt with him. “Is it just me, or is she giving a lot of attention to you, too?” he asked his partner.

      • I don’t have proof, but I think my STBX also got some lady attention at work and it was enough to make him emotionally discard me and our kids. I was not working and our kids were little. He was ready to dump us. I think his parents told him, no you can’t do that. Then my dad died. FW stayed but was a dead partner and dad for the next ten years.

        He’s a coward covert narc. Looking for attention and praise anywhere he can get it. Dumbass!

        • DrDr, your phrase “coward covert narc” is perfect. My FW is one, too, and recognizing the cowardly underbelly tells a lot about their tactics.

      • I was a nurse in England for nearly 20 years and quickly learn that not all nurses are “angels”! Some of them are actually not very nice people at all, and some are even right, thundering bitches/bastards; some are bullies when they get some seniority, some are cold-hearted, some are lazy, some are cruel and a few have low sexual morals and do indeed go after married colleagues, or are married themselves but try it on with colleagues, and sometimes succeed. At the most extreme end, some are murderers, like the foul creature called Beverly Allett, who murdered several babies and toddlers and attempted to murder others but was caught, and is now in Broadmoor Secure Mental Hospital in England. May she never, ever be released!

        • Preach Shadow ! I’ve met some nurses who are nasty pieces of work. On the level of a psychopath.

          • They likely were psychopaths! I will always remeber something our psychiatric nursing tutor told us once. He said “Be aware, that psychiatric nursing attracts psychopaths, because of the power they can weild over vulnerable people!”
            I’ll never forget it and I did come across a few too many who I ended up suspecting of having Cluster B PDs. I also think his warning applies to general nurses and indeed, ANY profession or occupation (or situation such as marriage and parenthood!) where one can obtain power over the vulnerable and those who trust and/or depend on those who claim to care for them!

    • “As we sat outside the counselor’s office — our home and family in tatters, she said: “I really feel bad about how I left things with CS.”

      I HATE how they frequently want to tell us about poor Schmoops. Mine did this, told me how badly he hurt her, how he said the most awful things to her (he didn’t specify but he can be extremely cruel so if HE says they were awful things, they were), how she was such a kind person. In the meantime, he was seemingly nonplussed about how he was hurting ME. Pardon me if I can’t seem to drum sympathy for your affair partner who has been a willing player in your infidelity for years, unbeknownst to me.

  • Or they never admit to the affair no matter how much evidence you have. 100% gaslighting denial. That’s a fun one.

    • Or they try to blag you that they only started seeing Schmoopie after you kicked them out, but by trickle-truthing , give themselves away and let you know for certain that you had it right- they WERE doing the dirty whilst they were still with you, thinking you were too daft, or too trapped and ground down, to do anything but put up with it!

  • If I had to hear or read “we need to fix us” in an apology greeting card or marriage counseling session, I was going to lose my freaking mind.

    US wasn’t running multiple personal ads on sites like AFF, Ashley Madison, and Tinder.

    US wasn’t responding to personal ads on Craigslist and Yahoo Personals and places I had never heard of before I began marriage policing.

    US wasn’t skipping family events and leaving family vacations early with lame excuses (or no excuses).

    US wasn’t withholding monthly bonus checks from the family budget to spend on hotel rooms and hookers (sorry, massages).

    US never booked a counseling appointment.

    US never used a picture from his son’s baptism day AND his wedding day in a personal ad.

    But this is what cheaters want US to believe. And here is the thing, I know I had faults and I was willing and even eager to improve and work on my marriage… but you cannot negotiate with a hostage taker. There is no “US” in the mind of the entitled and NPD fuckwits.

    Read everything you can on Grey Rock and No Contact and parenting software… and then put it to use. Do not believe for a minute you will ever find closure talking to a cheater… YOU CLOSE THE DOOR, there’s your closure.

    • I’ve started telling my soon to be ex I will address “his issues” as I see fit, and he always tries to correct me: “our issues.”

      I feel like Marcellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction: There is no me and you. Not no more. You leave town tonight, right now. And when you’re gone, you stay gone, or you be gone.

  • I get the desire for closure, but no, you won’t get it from them.

    When he called to say that he wanted a divorce (I had to agree), my ex’s apology was, “I botched up.” Well, it was bigger and more catastrophic than that. He got also got miffed when I didn’t believe him when he said it would be quick and easy. I knew him better than he knew himself at that point. It was a mess.

    I also noted that he did that by phone, not in person. That was fine by me because I could mute the phone, laugh, and yell for my own benefit, but breaking up a marriage of several decades by phone isn’t exactly classy. Years before, he had made a big deal about how he had failed a previous girlfriend by not breaking up with her in person. I know that he had issues with coming back here and getting triggered, though, so maybe that was it. At that point, I barely cried.

    When I shared that detail with my attorney, he said, “A classic sign of guilt.” My ex tried to control the process and play lawyer with his lawyer which backfired big time. Thankfully, we got it settled without court. The attorneys decided that I had to be a saint to have stayed so long, so that was my closure.

  • The only closure I got (and the only closure I decided I needed) is that I will never understand why someone could do what FW did, because I am NOT like that. I could never lie to someone I supposedly loved for YEARS, nor could I deliberately hurt or abuse ANYONE the way he did me, even if they weren’t my spouse. We were completely different people with completely different character and ways of being in this world. Once I saw that we were completely incompatible, I stopped needing anything from him. That included an apology of any kind. I realized that an apology wouldn’t change anything in my life. I was moving on and making a new life without him, regardless of how he felt about any of it. He did write an apology (of a sort) in his suicide letter, and it meant nothing to me. It didn’t make me feel better or worse. It just didn’t matter at all. You’re aiming for meh, not closure.

    • That’s a good point. An apology really doesn’t do much in these situations anyway.

      A friend of mine has her final divorce hearing in another state in September and said something along the lines of “If he was just sorry for how bad he treated me.” I told her that seemed like an unrealistic expectation, but I think we need to say that apologies for these huge injustices really don’t begin to make them better.

      We make them better by finding meh and living our best life.

      • An apology from a liar has no meaning. Why would I even think he was being sincere THIS time?

        I got a non-apology from OW too, after she dumped FW, and I didn’t bother to respond to her. Because again, it was meaningless and changed nothing. She took no responsibility for her part in it, and only “apologized” after FW abused her and she left him. Had her little delusional fairytale continued, she would never have sent me anything. I think she was looking for validation, a salve for her conscience (if she has one), and some sort of camaraderie in “our” suffering at FW’s hands so she could feel like less of an absolute asshole (and a fool for being taken in by him). I don’t owe her anything and it isn’t my job to make her feel better about herself.

  • Closure is a Hollywood illusion. It’s the part of the story where the protagonist confronts the angry ghost with the narrative “I know why this happened to you” plot bomb. After this story beat, the confronted ghost stops snarling, his face and the camera filter softens, and he fades away with a small, introspective smile. “He’s finally free,” the protagonist will say to the sidekick or, perhaps, the camera. “We’re both free now.”

    We’ve had this version of closure (of varying degrees and descriptions) drummed into us ever since childhood. Closure, like the steps of a fairytale romance, is a story beat that’s expected, if not desired, so the story can be understood. But our lives aren’t stories, they’re just lives. We don’t get to be given the cheater’s script and character description so we can resolve the unfortunate narrative arc we’re in because we’re not in the middle of a story.

    Worse yet, as discussed already here, the cheater uses the desired idea of closure as a either a carrot on a stick or another way to wound us because we’re hoping for a magic pill that doesn’t exist: storybook closure.

    Closure doesn’t exist; not in the way we hope for. Or, as said earlier and said best, closure is a closed door.

  • FWs should beware as well since closure is a trap where they put all sorts of heinous, hilariously vain, juvenile, self-pitying, self-aggrandizing, crotch-centric spew in writing justifying affairs and it can very well end up getting passed around in court as evidence of their heinousness. If the FW doesn’t happen to look like a centerfold– which most FWs don’t– it will draw sneers and full anatomical reviews of physical flaws. If there are tween or teen kids in the mix, at least one (usually girls as one psychologist explained) will have been suspicious of an affair even before the chump was, has gotten into a habit of sleuthing adults’ devices, will possibly read the FW spew and, being a witness to family dynamics, knows full well the chump parent wasn’t the monster being depicted and may harbor seething anger at the FW forever.

    My wealthy relative’s second wife was a gold-digging cheater with a criminal history who gaslighted and mistreated his kids and physically abused her own nieces and nephews. Her twelve year old niece discovered the FW’s sexts with multiple men on the cloud and showed them to my relative’s son who showed them to his dad without saying how he’d gotten them. The FW’s paroxysms following D-Day all remained visible on the cloud, from bitching and lying to her schmoopies and friends about her husband to heaping blame on her husband for cheating on him. The younger gen gleefully collected this stuff and it all became evidence in a fault state. The experience was so humiliating for the FW that she actually started groveling to the poorer relatives in the family she’d previous snubbed hoping to wheedle some support.

    FWs would also do well to heed the “if it feels good, don’t do/say it” principle, especially because what appears to “feel good” to FWs is to use language that maximizes the impact of the blows against the self esteem of chumps in order to wallow in the gory centrality as chumps bleed out. But while this might blind a chump with pain, those who weren’t the targets of it seem to read it with different eyes. It makes the issuer seem all the more sick, hideous and contemptible.

  • Hi Chumps, I think we expected our partner to love us completely and in many cases, they PROMISED to do so legally and before witnesses!! It is devastating when they take it back and don’t inform you. It felt like my own parents had abandoned me at an airport as an infant. It was that painful. I felt like I would die and I hated him but also wanted him to embrace me and comfort me. I felt BOTH things and once. And I CAN’T live like that. No one can! Or should!

    At that time I had already discovered his secret double life online and had confronted him only to be told everything was my fault. So you’ve been a checked out father and partner for 10 plus years because I’m annoying and pushy? You have a secret online life and that’s my fault? Ok asshole.

    Chumps, it took me about 6 MORE months to kick him out. For those 6 months I thought I could repair the marriage. (By myself????) HOPIUM!

    Meanwhile, he was still making his secret phone calls and texts. And acting like a pathetic victim. Refused to go to therapy. Suddenly started doing chores and making dinner—stuff he had not done in a decade!!!! All of it was a mindfuck. So he could stay comfortable by giving me some CRUMBS. By then I could not stand the dead mirage I had been living in for decades.

    The person I trusted and respected most in the world was just a covert narc dickhole. (People, steam is still shooting out my ears as a I type this.)

    Now I am finally in the divorce process. Hallelujah! I am moving on. The only CLOSURE I need is a signed divorce decree!!!

    Ps I’m in the Facebook group and I find that really useful. Thanks!!!

    • I imagine the protection racket part of it also deepens the trap. Abusers tend to diabolically set themselves up over time as the only ones who can “comfort” their victims for the injuries the abusers themselves cause. I had this cat who used to go into military mode and wrap himself around my arm, “mock bite” me, then groom the imaginary boo-boo. Except FWs use claws and teeth. Part of it is just the dynamics of marriage. Comforting is a rather intimate thing and we’re supposed to reserve this role for partners. But I think part of it also involves systematic isolation through a million and one gestures and methods and messages and yanks.

      In any event, congratulations on getting closer to liberation! In your wake is a mountain of broken shackles, chains, padlocks and barbed wire that you busted out of. Others might not be able to see them (the added mindfuck of this kind of abuse) but we all know they’re there, that your general fabulousness means you likely had loads of extra chains, razor wire and shackles pinning you down and we know what it took to break free of them.

    • Congratulations on getting the lawyers involved. That was a relief for me because I immediately felt like someone was finally in my corner for once. He wrote a reasonable agreement based on my ex’s cringe and my notes and took charge, telling me that he recommended no contact. Had to be.

      • Yes. Money well spent. I got a lawyer and so did FW. That’s fine. Let his lawyer explain to him what he legally can and can’t do. I am done being his parent and managing his life so he can spend all his free time online with his lady friends.

    • The person I trusted … most in the world was just a covert narc dickhole.

      In a nutshell.

  • There’s no logic. If only I’d know that years ago I wouldn’t have forgiven and invested in a bumble of a spouse.

    There was one truth he shared while infatuated with the final ho. He gleefully said it was always about the thrill of the chase. SHE wouldn’t like it if he had contact with ME.

    Well the duping was delicious on my end. I hired a powerful attorney, showed up to court with a briefcase full of newspapers. He hid money and had no idea of the contents. I put the idea in his head that perhaps if it didn’t work out in a few years we could get back together. It was never going to happen.

    I kept the only asset I had. Years later I was told he would talk to me; I’m nine years no contact. He’s stuck with it, broke and miserable at 66. Basement surfing suits him well. Closure is being free.

    • Meh is the best closure. Ah, counter-duping, lol. I don’t care if it involved “stooping,” it still cracks me up when I remember a few little stunts I pulled (and got away with) and I’ll probably live longer for it. 😀

  • Today I agree 100%. It’s been 9 years. But when I was a new chump, it was HARD to hear this. I had so many excuses for contacting X… but they were excuses standing in the way of moving on, caring for myself. Trauma bonds is the only thing that explains my irrational behavior at that time. It makes sense now.

  • My ex was and still is abusive. He would go in rage filled rants, yelling and screaming, being generally intimidating. However in those rants, there was usually a confession.

    For example, when asked “Why her?” His rage filled response, including multiple insults and curse words, he said “Because she does what I tell her to.” My response, “Of course she does what you tell her to! She’s an employee!”

    Now, when he goes on a rage filled rant or carries on about how wonderful Howorker is…I always reply, “Thank you for reminding me of why we’re no longer married.” And I walk away. Do not try to understand, view it of an extra reminder of why you are no longer married.

  • I had a lot of unresolved anger from an early age. I could not explain it, but I instinctively knew what dysfunctional meant, and what deceptive behavior was. I had trouble defining what being loved was, because in my FOO providing food and shelter was considered love, AND restricting talent and interest “for your own safety” was also considered love. “The children” were to be quiet, polite, and well behaved. If we dared to question authority or be inquisitive about other ideas or people not from our tribe, we were punished. Punishment was part of love, too. Confusing!

    I was also told to forgive and forget, but I couldn’t seem to do either. In my mind forgiveness meant what they did was ok. In my mind, how do you forget a miscarriage of justice, especially when it happened to you?

    Many years and experiences later I learned new terms which made more sense to me. Closure may come in a story where you are privy to the character’s mind and experience and can see how that determines choice and action. Acceptance comes when you realize you may never know, and hopefully eventually won’t even want to know, someone else’s mind or the extent of their actions and choices. Acceptance comes when you realize YOU CANNOT CHANGE THE PAST.

    We may all be created equal in God’s eyes, or (in theory) under the Law. But we are not equal because we are unique, with different strengths and weaknesses. Some of us have empathy, some of us have character and values. Some are empty shells of people, perhaps attractive on the outside, but empty on the inside. Some people are authentic. Some only know how to mirror behavior in order to be “acceptable” to others. Some of us look at life as an opportunity to build and create a pleasant future. Some of us live only in the moment. Some of us understand delayed gratification and controlling destructive impulses. Some will grab all the kibbles, gorge themselves until they are sick, and hide the rest from all others. They will never share or show compassion.

    If I had truly understood what love was at a young age, I may not have married, or made so many mistakes. Maybe. But YOU CANNOT CHANGE THE PAST. My life is the totality of my experiences, I was not born fully formed. I lived, and fortunately I was able to learn. I happen to possess empathy and have developed character and values. I am still in process. I accept all this, and know I made some unfortunate connections with people who were not what they seemed to be. I believe that there are consequences to all actions. That is my acceptance.

    I hope this helps someone else to find CLARITY. Life gives you many stories, bit life is not a storybook story with closure.

    • Thank you portia for your eloquent description! I resonate so much with what you wrote. Clarity indeed 😘

    • Yes, excellent post Portia! I also think that the only closure we really need is to know that WE would never behave like FWs do, nor treat people we claim to love ( nor even a dog on the street!) the way they treated us, so that means they are unworthy of us!
      In some cases that I’ve read about on here, the FW isn’t even fit to breathe the same air as the chump and their children!

  • Dear Chump Chap (if you’re still around), personnally I found the answer in the eponymous book by Lundy Bancroft “Why does he do that”. Many thanks to Chump Nation for mentioning that wonderful book, as complementary read to the indispensable LACGAL. I totally avoided putting my head in the blender, and any further pick-me-dancing. Lundy Barncroft’s revelation, in a nutschel: because they want control. And then so many weird behavior made sense! That’s how I rapidly realised I had nothing to work with. So I gave up on the mariage, before any DD (lucky me, I guess?). Took me a year to realise I most probably was a chump (a Schrödinger chump? Is that a thing?). The book lists different types of FW and how to recognize each type. Oh dear! They were all there: FW, my parents (both of them!), my sister, quite a bunch of friends, so many past employers… I started cleaning my life like Ulysses washed Augias stables, and work on myself to stop being such a doormat. It’s been three years and I am still a work in progress, with trials and errors. But no pick me dancing. No skein untangling. Many thanks Chump Lady for the daily booster shot. Proud to be a Patreon! 😘

    • My attorney recommended Lundy Bancroft, but I didn’t really get it until a second read during closeout. I had too many voices in my mind until that point.

      His book “When Dad Hurts Mom” confirmed that I had to be a balanced, caring mom foremost and that they would likely figure it out in time without me saying anything. Thankfully, they were older, so all I had to say is, “Your relationship with Dad is up to you. I will never get in the middle.” And indeed, we got it worked out. I realize that not everyone is that fortunate, but there is a line where you can’t manage other people’s lives at all.

  • I know it is a waste of time to ask for closure. There will never be closure for me. I asked why and FW just started telling me about all my flaws (of course he IS perfect). At first, I actually gave thought to it and self-reflected but then I realized that he was just a liar who was projecting his shit unto me.
    After we finally settled and I got the last payment from him, he sent two nasty emails just telling me what an awful human I was and how I just sucked as a person and so much more. I just started laughing at the crap and then decided to do something about it. So I went out and bought wine and snacks and invited my girlfriends over where we drank wine, had snacks and went through the FWs emails. It was a great time (several of my friends are chumps too). Once the amusement was over, I sent copies to my lawyer in case he decided to send more and we could go for harassment and burned the copies in the fireplace. It was a great experience and healing because I knew he was just trying to get a reaction and my only reaction was to laugh at his efforts.

  • My STBX was actually euphoric to have the Truth set free. And expected me to be happy for him. Wanted us to rejoice together.
    He says he is now open and free. But somehow unable to answer questions like “how much money did you spend on Sugar Babies?”
    He only let me know he had been seeing hookers for the entire 35 year marriage bc he had a positive STD screen—which turned out to be his mis-reading the lab report. Had he read it correctly I would still be trapped catering to grumpy man. And having mediocre sex 2-3 times per week (at 60!)
    He has been going to AA for 2 months, self reports he hasn’t seen a sex worker “recently” and so booked a beachside hotel for our Wedding anniversary over Labor Day Weekend. To celebrate this new found Truth.
    My attempts to ask him any questions have him glare at me, or look like scared bunny and them he stares into space and “dissociates.”
    His FOO issues are from having wealthy parents who plied him with things but not love—although his sisters say he was spoiled and feted at home. I would have more sympathy with the “dissociation” if it didn’t turn into him looking at his phone as soon as I leave the room.
    I hope to have a legal separation before the end of the month.
    I hope to learn enough from everyone here to not ask questions, to stop looking backwards and accept that the only answer to “why” is “because he wanted to.”

    • My ex, too, booked us an (overly) expensive hotel for our 35th anniversary (the first time he ever did a damned thing), after I had already consulted an attorney (without his knowledge), knew I wanted out, and decided that this would be the absolute last anniversary I would be married to him. What this “special celebration” meant to him I have no idea. I think it was an awkward attempt at love-bombing, the only one of the three narc channels with which he had the least acquaintance.

    • NotAcceptable. Your STBX reminds me of my XH, who also had a 35 year history of porn, hookups, prostitutes, and I don’t know what else.
      I left him because of “knowing enough,” and because of “not knowing what else.”
      He too was happy and relieved when he started working with a counselor & “told me everything.” But he didn’t tell me everything. I found out more afterward. He never became accountable for how much money he spent, or what he did with his time.
      Living separately is wonderful. I feel like the lights turned on and illuminated how much he fooled me in the past, with the excuses he gave, and how little he contributed to our family emotionally and physically. I didn’t miss him.
      The divorce was final 9 months later. I do not see him, correspond with him, or wish to ask any questions, because I know fully that HE IS NOT TRUSTWORTHY. A memory came back to me in the 2 years that I’ve been divorced, that he told me a long time ago (like a few years into our marriage) that he just answers people’s questions with whatever he thinks sounds good at the time! Yet I couldn’t believe that back then He seemed so sincere with me. Well, I believe it now.

      I hope you can separate easily & the lights shine on you!

  • I have a different view of a “relationship autopsy.” I see I as analogous to a real autopsy–where an expert on your relationships (you) drags the carcass of your relationship life onto the equivalent of a steel table and you look at how YOU got to the point where you feel snakes are crawling through your brain. Along with reading the full archives here, learning about the relationship patterns of narcissistic people, and committing to not dating for a minimum of two years, taking a long look at my feelings, beliefs, actions, and choices about “romance” and relationships from my earliest years changed many things about my life. I can remember thinking as early as age 9 or 10 that getting married would end the loneliness I felt as a child. I saw romance and marriage as things that would save me. I had no idea (even as I pursued college and grad school) that happiness and security was something I could provide for myself.

    I could see how many times I dated men for years because they were kind to me in a moment (geez–I was a walking target for lovebombing). I could see how I speckled huge red flags–you say you don’t pay taxes? Or support your child? Oh….maybe I can help you change that….

    That’s not at all the same as wanting an apology, an explanation or some other form of “closure” from someone else. What I came to see was that was just another way of putting my mental health, happiness and life in the control of someone who didn’t care about me. By all means, take a long and hard look at how you got tied up with a cheater. Look clear back to how you felt emotionally in your family of origin. I felt ALONE and vulnerable and afraid and “less than” well past college. Marriage and relationship didn’t change any of that. I brought that baggage to every relationship in the hopes that this next person would fix what my parents broke. That is not the purpose of marriage or romantic relationships and led me to reliving the old trauma because (as is so common) I kept picking people like my parents in order to make things come out all right “this time.”

    CL tells us to fix our pickers. That means that something is going wrong in how (and maybe why)m we choose partners. Cheaters can cheat because they have poor character and don’t care about others, including their partner. That’s the answer to “why.”

    • “Cheaters can cheat because they have poor character and don’t care about others, including their partner. That’s the answer to “why.””

      Yes. Also “why is it so” for them is not my answer to seek either. I have my own answers to seek and resolve. Maybe those answers lead to a deepening of compassion for myself and others. That doesn’t mean invite the offender into the sanctuary.
      For me, it means I need not carry their actions as offenses.
      I let them go.

  • I look back on Chumped me 8 years ago and the “why” was killing me. I needed closure. I still remember feeling so off balance and confused. One minute I had a husband who I thought loved me and we were together 14 years and had a 9 year old boy…the next, FW is walking out on me, his son and our house for his homely coworker and her 2 kids and acting like an ape. Of course I wanted to know WHY. I thought we had a good marriage. I thought I did what he wanted and needed. I thought he loved his kid. And the only person that could answer it would be FW. Except he wasn’t answering. I just thought it I was the problem. And surprise and trauma of DDay only magnified it.

    I think it took a lot of learning about disordered behaviors. FW wasn’t charming by any stretch… how could he be a “narcissist.” Ohhhh there’s “covert narcissists.” Gaslighting? Lying? Once all of that was made clear, it was easier to understand that I didn’t do anything wrong. And FW’s mask was off — so I realized he wasn’t someone I could ask. It takes time to reconcile that the person you thought they were (who you could talk to and ask questions) had revealed himself to be someone else entirely.

    And one day I realized that asking a FW why they cheat or abandon families would be like asking your violent attacker why they did it. Who cares? They are fucked up. Just get free and get out.

    • Yes, I remember the day when I realized that I had to ignore the “sunk cost” of several decades together and realize that the marriage was irretrievably broken. I could stop digging into the history and why’s and just go on with my own life apart from him.

      I was still very mixed-up and unsteady, but I was headed to a good place.

      • Elsie, I agree the marriage was broken… but I look at it more as FW is broken. Once I realized he’s fucked in the head (lying cheating gaslighting as his way of life)… then I could walk away from that trainwreck of a human.

        • Exactly. As my attorney said many times, “Only a fool is friends with the person who burned down their house.”

          I struggled with the line but ultimately decided that there was nothing left of the marriage for me.

  • Win-win for chumps! Grateful for the podcast and this rerun. So much gold. Wish I’d read this post when I was mightily, but messily, fighting my way to the same closure conclusions. Close the door was such a powerful image for me that it felt literal. Even though it felt like facing a void, it was the not way out of the cycle of abuse.

  • My XW blamed her ongoing affair on her FOO issues, which I had triggered. Apparently they rendered a 40-year-old woman with a career and a family devoid of free will and decision-making abilities.

    Divorced her, she moved in with OM with whom she continues her life.

    Two years again he caught her having an affair on him. Guess what: it was those darn FOO triggers again!

    He promptly took her back. I’m sure he sleeps with one eye open. You never know when those issues will possess her again!

  • I don’t understand why anyone would want to know “why”. You are not going to be happy with whatever feces your FW pumps into your ears. Nothing good can come of asking. Accept that FWs are the cuckoos of the human species, the parasitic worm to your butterfly, and the nastiest fraud you will ever encounter. Accept that, shut your mouth, and move on. You’ve had the marital equivalent of a fall into a septic tank. Don’t go back for a second dip.

  • For me it’s simply that if he’d wanted to say why, he would have.

    Anything else is a conscious attempt to keep in the dark.

  • Fantastic advice, thank you.

    Great timing too since I’ve been a wee bit tempted lately to go there.. to ask him “why”? I know that besides the fab points you made here about the realities of being on the asking and asked end of the “why” question, in my case “why” is irrelevant and not logical for another reason. He is in complete denial and insists that he did not lie and cheat on me for decades, though I have proof. Nothing but gaslighting and denial. One would not be expected to give ANY answer to “why” for something they “have not done”, right? (rollingeyes)

    Great timing also because this is my 1 year anniversary of my D-day… big milestone for me, congratulate me as I’m kicking ass with no- contact, survival, self care and working on healing. It was a really hard year. Thank you CL and CN for all the wisdom and help thus far.

  • I tried untangling the “why” skein for ages. Way too long. But thankfully it mostly occurred after I kicked him out. My FW still wants me back. He actually takes full accountability and knows that I am not to blame for his cheating, so it actually makes it easier for me to call him up and yell at him about “why”. I did that for months, if not a full year after we separated. He would always give me therapized answers that he has learned in SAA and therapy. “I was needy.” “I didn’t know what I was doing.” “I have an addiction.” “It was my coping mechanism” On and on just canned bullshit. I don’t know how or why, but one day Tracy’s words “Because he felt entitled to” finally sunk in. I stopped asking. I stopped screaming. I just accepted it. He did it because he could. That’s why. That’s enough for me to know.

  • Missed this post the first time it was up. This is so important to hear. You are spot on and everyone who goes through this would benefit from learning this.

    “It’s probably never going to make sense to you why they betrayed you. If you’re a good person, it shouldn’t make sense.”

    This writing is brilliant.

  • This is timely.

    I just sent a letter to my ex-SIL’s explaining the reason for the divorce and asking that they or their children notify me of FW’s death when it occurs. He is in his 70’s and my “no contact” has been so complete I will not be informed any other way. Unless Social Security actually successfully tracks down former spouses.

    I haven’t had any contact with his family or mutual friends in years and reached out only because I knew I could handle/ignore any response from them. I don’t expect one. They’re lovely people, but “blood is thicker than water”.

    • Ironically, I’ll know because I get part of his pension, and they’re tied into Social Security. So assuming that the death is reported, the amount will drop to the survivor amount. Then I’ll call Social Security to ask about survivor benefits. I asked about that when I was calling on something else related to the pension, and that’s what they told me.

      Some of his family had put some distance there last I knew, but I doubt that they’d call me anyway. Several years ago, the oldest kid said they’d go to their dad’s funeral when the time came, but recently they said no.

      • Elsie, I was no contact with my father for the last 20 years of his life. I wouldn’t have gone to his funeral except that my mom was still alive then, and she expected me to. She also attended; she said it was to support me.

        The only other relatives that attended were my dad’s only sibling, his older brother, and 2 of his children.

        I’m not in touch with wives #2 and #3, or I would have let them know he was dead. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have wanted to attend the service.

        He was a member of a church, and many of the other members, who only knew him the last few years of his life, attended. They of course had no idea how he’d treated me, my mom, and wives #2 and #3. I didn’t bother telling them. Probably they wouldn’t have believed me. I think the pastor had an inkling though. She did know he was an alcoholic.

        The church ladies were kind enough to serve a nice meal after the service. I guess that makes sense because he left his estate, which turned out to be only a few thousand dollars, to the church.

    • My advice to you would be to call Social Security and apply as a divorced spouse. You do not have until he pass to receive benefits. I am a claim’s specialist for SSA. Hope that helps

  • Let this be a warning to anyone who is considering reconnecting in any way. I stayed away for two months. Two! Stopped by thinking maybe he had or would come to his senses.
    I got a lecture about everything I would need to do if I wanted him to take me back and a bucket of dirty mop water dumped over my head when I didn’t comply.
    You’d think I’d be sad or mad but nope. I actually laughed all the way to my Mom’s, my home.

  • My former husbands response to my crying for answers post D day? Listen, I’m 61, my equipment is failing, I’ve been with you for 31 years, my first wife and I were teenagers but now I know what I want. I have to use my failing equipment as much as possible with as many woman as possible before its too late. I’m tired of you and you aren’t putting out like others have. My time is short, I’m getting older, I need other experiences.I have felt like a priest with you. Monogamy is over rated anyway. I need to be free. Closure, BAM. No contact since October 2022. Divorce final July 2023. I can’t remember being happier and more at peace. NO CONTACT helps prevent more of these post mortem reviews. The relationship is dead, any more answers only bring hearts
    Break. I always remember CLs words..IT DOES NOT HURT THEM TO HURT YOU. Closure is more pain that makes the cheater feel very pleased with themselves…they all want me!!! I’m. Such. A . Gift to the planet. I’m central!!!!! Not for me.ever again. NO!

  • “If you’re a good person, it shouldn’t make sense.” I love this and may get it as a tattoo. (Not really but I will try to tattoo it on my brain.)

  • Closure is available for the taking. Why would I seek confirmation from the cheater of my ability to perceive the reality of the situation?

  • >
    %d bloggers like this: