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He Still Works with His Affair Partner

Dear Chump Lady,

I find myself at a crossroads again. My boyfriend of 14 years cheated on me for three years with the same woman that he works with. They had an emotional and a physical affair. They had a full-on relationship for two years, there were gifts and “I love you’s” exchanged. Three years ago I found out by an email sent by an anonymous person. He assured me it was done, but the mess that followed you’d never believe.

Fast forward and it’s now another three years later and a lot of heartache and I received a message from the same women. They still work closely and he hasn’t cut off contact… Though they’ve not had sex. The emotional affair has carried on. They’d made plans to attend weekend-long events that fell through, but ultimately the plans were there. She told me that he’s been going back and forth trying to decide between both of us.

She feels he’s been lying to both of us.

Is this worth saving? I’m sure his anger with her revealing everything won’t last.

Can this be salvaged? Why am I struggling to leave him?

Confused and Broken in Denver


Dear Confused and Broken in Denver,

It sounds like your boyfriend has had another girlfriend, probably as long as you’ve been together. (Paint me cynical, I get a lot of letters.) What do you want from this relationship? It doesn’t sound like you’re getting it, or you wouldn’t be writing the Leave a Cheater lady.

A commitment? He hasn’t put a ring on it in fourteen years. I’m not saying marriage is the only way to be committed, but oh hey, he’s not committed either! For, what, eight years of your 14, that you’re aware of, he’s also been mooning over his coworker.

That’s a very long pick-me dance.

She told me that he’s been going back and forth trying to decide between both of us.

It’s good to be King. Why would he ever want to “choose” when he has two (or perhaps 27) suckers lined up to serve him? And compete for the privilege! OF BEING AN OPTION. A chump! An STD vessel.

That’s the reality you’re in. That’s what he’s serving. You want that?

A guy you can’t feel safe with? Who’s planning his next sexual hijinks when he’s with you? Who has the attention span of a gnat? That guy? Him?

Do you have a renewable supply of years? Are you immortal? Is there an aging portrait in your attic?

Stop being so mean, Chump Lady!

Stop being so chumpy, Denver!

My boyfriend of 14 years cheated on me for three years

Let’s drive this home, Denver. He’s probably never not cheated on you, because a person who can conduct a long-term affair and lie to your face for three SIX solid years is not an amateur cheater. He is an experienced cheater. He doesn’t break out in stress hives. He’s not feeling anxious. He’s cooly going about his business…. cheating on you.

He assured me it was done, but the mess that followed you’d never believe.

Oh try me. This shit is sadly very common.

His “assurances” are worthless because he’s a lying liar who lies. There’s only time and character. You made that investment in him (with more time and work, his character will improve!), and surprise, surprise — he kept cheating.

Moreover, he kept working with her. That was your first clue he wasn’t serious about fixing this.

The therapists would chime in here that he didn’t do the work! Buy the magic formula and recommit! You’re probably Googling a bunch of those services as I type.

But the reason he cheats is the same reason he won’t do the work — HE LIKES CHEATING. He loves the power. He’s pickled in entitlement. It’s good to be KING. He arranges his life this way. It WORKS for him. Women fight over him. Why would he change?

Because he might lose you?

You’re utterly replaceable, because you’re not special to him. No one is special. Just him.

This is what his TREATMENT OF YOU says. You’ve invested 14 years of your life and he’s shat on it.

there were gifts and “I love you’s” exchanged.

The OW is replaceable too. Some “love” — he has another girlfriend.

She feels he’s been lying to both of us.

Oh, this is some OW solidarity bullshit. He’s wronged us both! Whatever. OW, you fucked him knowing he had a girlfriend. You’re not part of the Universal Sisterhood. Sit down.

Though they’ve not had sex

Right. This mistress calls you up to say a man she’s not having sex with is lying to her. About what? The price of tomatoes? Climate change? You realize that neither of these people are reliable narrators.

Stop comparing notes with his latest fuck d’jour. WHY ARE YOU WITH THIS GUY?

Is this worth saving?

I’m sure his anger with her revealing everything won’t last

So, you get crumbs of his attention when he’s on the outs with Schmoopie? Long may the anger last! You’ve won the turd!

You’re completely doing the pick me dance. Who cares if he’s “angry” at being outed. HOW DO YOU FEEL?

Angry? Fed up? Hurt?

Act on YOUR feelings. Quit looking to a fuckwit to make things right. Only you can save you.

Can this be salvaged?

Why am I struggling to leave him?

I don’t know. The gravitational pull of sunk costs? His really convincing bullshit? I have theories on why chumps stay here. My advice to you is spend less time analyzing and more time acting. Leave him, go no contact, sort out your feelings later.

You know enough. None of it is good.


Just an FYI — no new podcast today. We were set to record Dr. Simon when my power went out (storms!) and we’re trying to reschedule. Got some new guests booked. Will keep you posted when we drop the next one!

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.
  • Confused and Broken in Denver,
    You asked “Can this be salvaged? Why am I struggling to leave him?”

    I think you already know the answer to part 1. It can’t be salvaged. He’s been cheating at least 6 years — that you know of. You can’t win this. There’s nothing to win. The only choice is to exit.

    Part 2 is what you’re really asking. And I get it. It’s the hard part — making the decision to end it. You still love him. It’s hard to break it off. But this is where therapy comes in and you get help. Get the support you need to break free. Surround yourself with friends, family and anyone that will help you end this. It sucks. But you know what sucks worse? Staying in a relationship with a Cheater. He isn’t the person you think you’re in love with. He’s a fuckwit lying cheater. I’m sorry. But you can do this.

    • Thank you. I am honestly trying to get to that point. I am in therapy. It’s so hard.

      • Hi Denver – I promise you can do this. I know it’s hard. But you can’t feel better until you break free from him. He’s using you. And it won’t get better with him. When you’re free of him, everything will be clear. You’ll grieve and work through it… then one day you’ll look back and wonder why you ever put up with him! Everyone says the same thing — “I wish I’d ended it sooner.” Hang in there and stay with Chump Nation. We all get it.

      • Hi Denver! I know how hard this is, and how difficult it is to believe how great you will feel when you finally leave him, but trust it. I left a man after 27 years of marriage and five kids and I never ever thought it would be a good thing. I was terrified to leave him. But there is not a day that goes by that I wake up grateful I took the step.

        It seems scarier than it is. You deserve better. You have agency. Keep telling yourself that over and over.


      • This community is exactly what you need. Join the FB page and the Reddit page. It’s probably worse than you know and what you know is bad enough! You are worthy of loyalty and respect. Let the OW “win.”

    • Totally agree. Imagine investing another 6 years with no change. He’s shown you exactly who he is–a lying cheater. Please don’t waste your one precious life on that POS. So many of us here can assure you that life can be infinitely better without a cheater.

  • Denver, you’re roommates. He’s living as if he’s single. I’d suggest booting his ass and finding a new roommate to share expenses.

  • I’m confused. For three years, two work colleagues have a physical and emotional affair. For two of those years, it’s what OP describes as a full-on relationship, exchanging gifts and “I love you’s.” Some kind of relationship continues for three more years, including plans for week-long events (plural) together.

    OP says this is her boyfriend. OP doesn’t say that this is her fiance, that they live together, that they have any commitment. She doesn’t say that he’s told her he loves HER, that they are exclusive, that they go on week-long trips, or even weekends.

    Denver, maybe you have all that and didn’t mention it. If not, I have to wonder who is the AP here. It could be you, and you don’t know it, or don’t want to know it.

    You aren’t going to get a truthful answer from the guy who’s been stringing along at least two women for at least six years. But his behavior shows you that he’s willing to leave you in hurt and uncertainty while he carries on multiple relationships. Do you really want a guy who would do this to you?

    • We live and own a house together. Marriage isn’t his thing and I’ve been married previously and those also ended in cheating. We have no kids together. We don’t typically go away no.

      • My heart goes out to you Denver. I was once in the place you’re in. I thought I’d never ever heal after I kicked him out. It hurt like hell. But now I’m in my happy place and life is so much better.
        You are afraid of the pain. And yes there will be plenty. But to stay is to be in pain and fear continually. You don’t want that life. The pain of leaving ends eventually. The pain of staying never ends.
        Big hugs. X

      • Damn straight marriage isn’t his thing. But if you’ve lived with him this long and own a house together, I’m guessing there are some common law marriage laws in place. So get a lawyer. Know your rights (another tip from what I just went through. I live in a no-fault state and still had a lot of power in this divorce. But I would not have known had I not gotten a lawyer)

      • Ok so his previous marriage ended in cheating. I assume it’s from him cheating. So there you have it.
        Fish swim, birds fly.
        And cheaters cheat. It’s their nature, it’s what they are.

  • Denver, I also believed the ‘I’ve ended it with the AP and I never see her’ spiel. In fact he was seeing her MORE and they were planning their engagement.

    Spoiler: we were also engaged at the time so he basically had 2 engagements on the go….busy man.

    • Add me to the believers club, Denver and Morrychump: “I’ve ended it and don’t even know where she is.” (Meanwhile, chump dances even harder but allows herself to feel a tiny glimmer of hope and relief that it really was just a mistake to be fixed and her life might not be a dumpster fire, after all). Although there was no talk of engagement that I know of, just the same things FW was dangling before me: kids and the house we were building together. That I was his longterm partner who’d invested in all of this for fourteen years, and that they were each a decade younger with their own lives and futures and no legitimate claim to mine — that was a very bitter pill to swallow at the time. I pretty much lost my mind when the truth of this hit me.

      • I was a member of the believers club too! After the liar told me there wasn’t anything going on with AP any more, I believed him even though he had just showed me who he really was – a lying liar. Of course, he had continued with on with AP while I pick me danced with a blindfold on. It’s difficult when you’re in the thick of it to see it for what it really is – and it is as bad as you think. Denver, cut your losses now and get out. You deserve so much better.

        • Trust that he’s a liar and a cheater and that you can’t trust anything he says. Not a single goddamn thing. Liars lie and mindfuck you. If anything, your confusion should be your #1 clue that he’s the problem. Confusion signals you’re dealing with a manipulator.

          I’m so sorry.

        • Denver—he’s twisted your reality. But the truth is he’s a liar and a cheater and he’s making you miserable.

          It’s not about HIM, like CL said. It’s about you. How are you feeling?

          • Denver, I also live in Denver and just ended a 14-year relationship over cheating. It sucks. He sucks. I’m sorry.

        • There is only ONE truth here. He cheated and lied to you, repeatedly. He violated your trust and disrespected you heartily. Full fucking stop.

          I don’t even know you and I know you deserve better. Let her have him.

        • I am so sorry this is happening Denver. You deserve better. But you do know the truth, even if you are not ready to accept it and act on it. I can empathize, but the time period between discovery and between turning the key on my own place away from him with my stuff in moving boxes was the worst time. The time spent in denial, trying to fix it, blaming myself, time spent agonizing on how to tell him and move out.. all of that was harder then actually living without him.

          Once I was on my own I mourned, but I also had freedom to decorate and do whatever I wanted. I made new friends, went on hikes to the ocean, snuggled my cat. I met someone wonderful who is kind, brilliant, had a good career and who hasn’t for a moment ever made me question his commitment. We’re moving in together soon and he introduced me to his grandmother.

          It has been 14 years yes, but you have much brighter, safer and freeier years ahead of you if you are strong enough to swim for them with all your might.

          Doubt and confusion are not love, the sooner you can accept your inner truth and head for freedom the sooner you can rebuild and return to sanity. We’re rooting for you

        • I am so sorry this is happening Denver. You deserve better. But you do know the truth, even if you are not ready to accept it and act on it. I can empathize, but the time period between discovery and between turning the key on my own place away from him with my stuff in moving boxes was the worst time. The time spent in denial, trying to fix it, blaming myself, time spent agonizing on how to tell him and move out.. all of that was harder then actually living without him.

          Once I was on my own I mourned, but I also had freedom to decorate and do whatever I wanted. I made new friends, went on hikes to the ocean, snuggled my cat. I met someone wonderful who is kind, brilliant, had a good career and who hasn’t for a moment ever made me question his commitment. We’re moving in together soon and he introduced me to his grandmother.

          It has been 14 years yes, but you have much brighter, safer and freeier years ahead of you if you are strong enough to swim for them with all your might.

          Doubt and confusion are not love, the sooner you can accept your inner truth and head for freedom the sooner you can rebuild and return to sanity. We’re rooting for you

      • My husband left after we lost our child, then came back about a year later. He told me he’d dated someone in that time but it was over and he wanted to stay married to me and to build a life together again.

        Spoiler: He had an affair for 2 years after this point.

        Cheaters are liars. They never stop seeing their affair partners.

  • “He’s probably never not cheated on you, because a person who can conduct a long-term affair and lie to your face for three SIX solid years is not an amateur cheater. He is an experienced cheater. He doesn’t break out in stress hives. He’s not feeling anxious. He’s cooly going about his business…. cheating on you.”

    Time to GTFO. All chumps on the “more extreme end of the spectrum” (so… most of us) who haven’t yet trusted they suck should heed and internalize this message from CL. It’s what finally helped me see my ex for who he truly was. Even today, when self doubt—though NEVER regret—creeps in (Was he really as bad as I remember? Was it my fault, too? Do I have unreasonable expectations? Etc.), I remind myself that my ex was cold, calculating and dishonest enough to lead a double life at my expense for many years. No further rumination or dredging up of painful details required.

    • “I remind myself that my ex was cold, calculating and dishonest enough to lead a double life at my expense for many years.” <– And that’s the rub. He has no integrity since he’s able to do this. It shows that his entitlement far outweighs his concern for you. Even though he may show ‘remorse’ (only after you find out and are demonstrably in agony), he has none. How can you tell? Because he keeps doing it. Being in the mind-fuck blender only comes to an end when YOU decide to end it. As long as you’re with a liar and a cheater, you stay in the mind-fuck blender till you die. It’s not worth your piece of mind.

  • The whole idea that you can make any relationship a “good” one by trying really hard and being committed to it (while hanging cute love phrases on the wall like “love is not giving up on each other”) is terribly flawed.

    If you have a great partner who does annoying things (my subsequent husband has bought 7 butter dishes in the 10 years we have been together…CLs husband loves pinecone elves) you can work through annoyances, but sometimes people mistake stuff which belongs in the “DEALBREAKER” category for something less.

    You have NOTHING to work with here.

    • For the record, I love pinecone elves. Mr. CL loves… well everything else, judging by the contents of the snake pit/man cave. Willie Nelson pendant, Texas miscellany, hobo signs…

      • Oh I stand corrected. Texas miscellany and hobo signs might quickly push me over the edge but your tolerance is a picture of devotion and tolerance of the tolerable. I am down to 3 butter dishes in the kitchen and the earlier ones have mysteriously disappeared. Work tramps are another story altogether.

    • It’s a good point Uni and one that I, and I believe other chumps, got stuck on. None of us are perfect people, we all have foibles and quirks and things we would like to improve about ourselves. But these things are very different from character defects. I’ve told my children not to look for perfection in people but to pay very sharp attention to character. There is a world of difference between an unfortunate penchant for imaginary creatures made out of seedlings and being a lying liar who lies.

  • Sorry Denver. The AP to my FW was a friend. FW had me convinced I was the problem and we had marital problems. I was pregnant with twins and we had 2 kids. I did the work. I contacted those closest to him and asked to a ton of questions and wanted to see why he was isolating me and how I can help. Most of them (didn’t know) wanted to help us through these ‘marital problems’. (We were together for 16 years and had a ton of mutual friends including the AP). When I contacted her (hadn’t hit dday yet) she said ‘good luck in your journey. I’m just not in a mental space to be able to work on our friendship right now.’ Little did I know when I sent that, FW was with her. And they calculated that response together. Dday was 2 mo later. Those lying liars. Don’t trust the AP or FW. GTFO. We are here for you.

    • I struggle with the fact that I think/thought he was such an honest good man and this was just a big mistake. I realize how stupid that feels now.

      • Hi again, Denver. I know. I actually am still healing with grief over this. I thought he was decent—I had no idea how bad it was! And I’m sad for the loss of what I thought we had, but clearly didn’t. I get it. But staying with him won’t change things.

    • What a snitty, bitchy, dried-up schoolmarm response she gave you. I’m envisioning pursed lips and a smug glare. I have a dear friend who lived in the same town for generations while I was a newby. In the throes of doing local activism together and to explain why certain residents might be raging against and obstructing common sense improvements (like vetting school staff for histories of abuse towards children? Hello??), she began telling me backstories. Wow, so many cheaters. It seems cheaters can never do the right or brave thing or rattle any kind of cage because they’re dirty themselves. And the most remarkable thing is that they were always either going-to-seed bozos or bone-dry ciphers whom you could never imagine having sex. It matched my observations working in a harasser/cheater-heavy industry. What gives?

  • Denver – Your letter focused almost solely on their relationship. As though you’re invisible to yourself. Ending this relationship is likely the ONLY way to reclaim your future as a self-sufficient adult who makes healthy choices and reaps the benefits. You deserve far better.

    • What a great point! I wish someone had pointed this out to me when I was in the shitstorm. Please pay attention to this Denver.

  • My FW also had a work AP and I’m here to tell you, they ARE having sex and it will not end. My FW was actually this person’s boss and when I confronted him and gave him a second (and third, and fourth) chance to NOT ruin our 27 year marriage—now is our time for enjoying our grandchildren! Now is the time for us to travel!! You could get fired for sleeping with direct reports!!! Plus, she was married too—he kept seeing her (at fancy hotels during the day, using a secret credit card that was completely subpoena-ble in our ultimate divorce). And when I finally quit dancing, and left him, he acted mystified. What??? But I STOPPED!! We aren’t sleeping together!!! I love YOU!!!

    The official day of our divorce, he called and cried and still insisted he hadn’t been sleeping with her since I confronted him. It’s almost like he believes it. But he did. While also sleeping with a ton of other women too, less we believe in Twu Wuv.

    So, my advice? Run.

  • There are a bunch of CN in the Denver-metro area. I am to the south, but more than willing to meet you downtown. Feel free to reach out to me for in person support: [email protected]

  • I’d bet a bazillion dollars the “anonymous person” is schmoopie, and yes, they have been having sex. She’s trying to get you to make a fuss so he will leave you, but without admitting the full extent of it. He likes dangling the carrot of possibly leaving you for her, but he doesn’t leave you because then he’d lose the power to make you both do the pick-me dance. You are being used as a buffer so he doesn’t have to commit to her, and vice versa. He’s not trying to decide between the two of you, he has decided to let this go on as long as possible. Schmoopie wants you to confront him and make him decide, thinking he will choose her. Don’t play her sick game and let her take your agency away. You need to be the one to decide. You need to decide to dump him immediately.

    In answer to your question; no, this is not salvageable, unless you like pain. This guy is no good. No question about that. Please stop wasting your life on him. 14 years is way too long to be with such a dreadful person. Don’t wait another day to get free of his abuse. Accept that it’s normal that it is hard to leave a relationship, then leave it anyway. It will only be hard short term. If you stay it will be long term, inescapable misery.
    Ask anyone here who left a cheater. Yes, it was hard, but none of us regret it. We only regret staying so long.

    • Ding ding ding! “None of us regret leaving. We only regret staying too long”. This times 1,000!!

      Run fast, run far, run likes he’s trying to kill you, because he is.

      • OMG yes!!! “None of us regret leaving. We only regret staying too long”. This needs to be a tee shirt. Or a sign in our bathroom. Or a bumper sticker. Or a tattoo.

        Someone here once said “Women think men will change. Men think women will never leave. Both are wrong.” I thought that was brilliant too. I keep showing it to a friend who is in an abusive relationship.

  • Don’t assume he will always come back with the “it’s over” and “you’re the one” assurances. He could turn on a dime and leave YOU. Then where would you be? — with no power whatsoever, that’s where. You cannot trust him not to leave YOU, Denver. If it suits him, he will.

    You cannot trust a demonstrably untrustworthy person. Protect yourself.

    • It’s an illusion to believe he won’t choose to leave you. Yeah, there’s very little chance he’ll decide to commit to you AND change his ways. There is a very good chance he’ll dump you. What can you KNOW? Well, you KNOW he has NOT truly chosen you for 14 years. How much more time do you need?
      I know this sucks, as I was with a FW who stopped choosing our marriage about 10 years into our 35-year marriage and has not seen me or our adult children in 6 years. Hard to believe (& embarrassing) that I stayed that long.
      Learn from our experience. Spare yourself yet more pain & reclaim your life.

  • In the words of Kenny Rogers,
    “You got to know when to hold ’em,
    Know when to fold ’em,
    Know when to walk away,
    And know when to run.” Your partner was in a whole other relationship for three years & then continues to be around her for another three? What’s keeping you stuck isn’t your lousy boyfriend it’s something internal. Otherwise you would of dumped his unworthy butt! Maybe it’s money keeping you there (then you need to plan) or FOO issues that’s causing you to have an anxious attachment, or something else. If you can access a therapist to help you uncover why that would be great. If you can’t, I would learn about anxious attachment as a start, as I know that’s what kept me stuck in a lousy one-sided relationship.

    • “What’s keeping you stuck isn’t your lousy boyfriend, it’s something internal.” <– This was keeping me stuck. Yes…, I was first stuck because I believed that I married for life. But when I finally resolved to divorce his ass, the biggest thing that kept me stuck in the head — even after I divorced the prick — was the belief that I had no value. “Who’s going to want me now?” I finally got unstuck when I realized that I am a worthwhile human being and I’d rather be alone than with a prick that didn’t value me. And then I became mighty.

  • Your struggling to leave has more to do with your relationship with yourself than with him. He’s disrespected you and lied to you and you are still there? Maybe check out an ACA group and work on building self love. That is not love, you are being treated like a doormat. Sorry, hugs, you can do this.

  • If our writer had written this after the breakup asking for advice about how to get through and let go of this deceiving cruel person, I’d say the thing I’m going to say now. In this case, I’m prompted to say it early.

    So first, lots of great advice above!

    And second, liars build an illusion, and for a long time, that’s who we see. After a while, we love the illusion, and we don’t want to stop seeing it. But this person isn’t who he claimed to be.

    The person our writer is clinging to doesn’t exist. That person was always an illusion. She’s not clinging to him, she’s clinging to what she wishes he was, what she thought he was. He showed her something he had calculated that she wanted, and that’s the empty doll she’s grieving. And it’s hard to leave a thing/person you deeply miss behind while you’re grieving it/them.

    This is the same thing CL says, really, just in a different way. I think sometimes when we speak the grief aloud, it can help motivate us to see how we’re grasping at a ghost.

    The person I met and thought I loved never existed. The person I got was sadistic, cruel, willing to tear my heart to shreds and destroy my body for a kibble.

    I was already grieving him because he was already gone. Realizing that helped me turn the corner and let him go.

    • Very well articulated. So true. I not only loved the illusion, but as it was intermittently given to me (the good side), I was always dancing to get it back. Always trying to bring back my good, loving guy (fake), instead of the “bad” side, the mean jerk who tore me down or kept so distant and cold. Wanted the elusive, illusory one. Veil was lifted from my eyes on him, but on so many other illusions since then too. This is an illusory world in fact. I love seeing things for how they really are now.

    • Very well articulated. So true. I not only loved the illusion, but as it was intermittently given to me (the good side), I was always dancing to get it back. Always trying to bring back my good, loving guy (fake), instead of the “bad” side, the mean jerk who tore me down or kept so distant and cold. Wanted the elusive, illusory one. Veil was lifted from my eyes on him, but on so many other illusions since then too. This is an illusory world in fact. I love seeing things for how they really are now.

  • Re: “the theories on why chumps stay”
    For some reason, this line from that post–“You have to bludgeon hope with a fencepost and start operating with total lucidity.”–cut through all my defenses and into my chumpy brain. It was a phrase I repeated to myself often as I struggled to kick the hopium and put down the spackle.

    • I remember that post well although it was long after I had been left. I don’t recall that exact awesome phrase but I do remember the sentiment and I’ve shared it with others. Let your mind (and your anger) be in charge of your actions and you can mend your broken heart when you are in a safe space and NC.

  • Dear Confused and Broken in Denver, this was hard to read and it is very hard to understand, even to the biggest chumps, I believe. I would understand your confusion and being high on hope, if this was your first D-day. But now you know for sure that this guy has been lying to you and betraying you for almost half of your relationship, and that is a very long time. It was probably more, as everyone else pointed out. He’s literally done nothing to get better or to show you that he’s trying hard for you and your relationship (or at least you didn’t mention it). Why are you still confused? You wrote that the years following the first D-day were “a mess we wouldn’t believe” and there was a lot of heartache. Why would you want all that to continue? Why don’t you love yourself enough to leave this shitshow? There is nothing to discuss or untangle anymore, the only way is to get out, go no contact and to work on those 2 questions for YOURSELF and YOUR future.

    • Ask yourself (probably best to do it with a good therapist), what drives you to stay in this painful relationship and what makes you “want” the heartache (subconsciously). It’s usually something from our childhood or something our parents modelled to us…that you somehow don’t believe you deserve or can get someone better who will truly love you. Either way, it’s much better to be alone and free of the constant pain and betrayal, even if it gets lonely sometimes. Get angry and take back your power.

      • There’s a line from the Terence McNally play, Frankie and Johnny and the Clair de Lune where Frankie says something like (roughly) “Why do people always think it had to be something that happened in childhood?” Sometimes the scars are from childhood, sometimes later. In other words, if families of origin fail to sufficiently instill doubt, there are always plenty of scary people and abusers around to pick up the slack. I suspect it’s not so much self doubt but “lack of esteem for the world” that can really entrap a lot people. That lack of trust in humanity, belief that anyone will help them if they fall or hope for anything better are typically systematically instilled in victims in all sorts of diabolical ways from the beginning of an abusive relationship.

        • Well, not necessarily. And I’m not even saying something bad had to happen or there were necesarilly scars.. But those are the first relationships and attachments we all form and kind of judge the world based on those later.. I ALWAYS went for emotionally unavailable men, because my dad was like that to my mom for 20 years, he was also away all the time for work. She didn’t seem to mind (on surface of course) and she loved him anyway. And you grow up watching that relationship, soaking everything in and I guess it just feels normal, familliar, acceptable. Now, when I look back, each and every guy I was very attracted to was emotionally unavailable and many of them also phisically unavailable (situationships, long distance, travelling a lot, one was a soldier, haha..). I don’t think these type of people would attract somebody if this pattern wasn’t somehow instilled in them earlier.

          • I don’t think it’s a childhood ‘trauma’ or attachment, so much as… that’s all you know. My dad was a dick and a wife abuser. When I picked my fuckwit husband, I knew I didn’t want anyone that hit me. And it’s true, the fuckwit never struck me — with his fists. But as you say, he was emotionally unavailable. I’m fairly sure the reason my 30-year relationship didn’t seem odd, and the reason that I kept putting up with him, was 1) If I picked-me-danced, he’d be sweet and nice, and 2) It’s all I knew. I didn’t know a relationship should be different because that’s the kind of relationship that was modeled to me, i.e., dysfunctional. Denver is living in a dysfunctional relationship. But until she realizes that she has value, she will continue with fuckwits. She said this is the third cheater relationship. She needs to love herself before she expects anybody else to love her. Once she learns to love herself, she will see that she doesn’t need anybody else.

          • I’m not arguing that FOO issues can’t create certain obstacles to escaping abuse, just making the point that updated statistics in “victimology” don’t find any particular common denominators– by family background, psychology, socioeconomics, etc.– amongst victims. In other words, many abusers seem to be so epically skilled in entrapment that victims don’t really need “preexisting vulnerabilities” in order to become entrapped since anyone– statistically speaking– can become a victim regardless of background, FOO dynamics or preexisting psychology.

  • Ask yourself, is this okay to you? Is this how you want to live the rest of your life? If it isn’t this woman it will be someone else.
    He’s a loser.

  • “She told me that he’s been going back and forth trying to decide between both of us.”

    Christ on a cracker!!! WHAT????

    It is beyond galling that cheaters feel, as CL writes, like “kings” who GET TO CHOOSE. My ex failed to see anything wrong with telling me on D-Day that not only had he cheated on me for almost 3 years, but he also ALMOST decided to choose me over the AP. Apparently, I “lost” the pick-me-dance that I didn’t even know I was in the final days before D-Day.

    But, hey, lucky me!!!! I got to the semifinals. Almost won!! In his effed-up, entitled-to-the-max mind, I should have been SO HAPPY. Quite an accomplishment. Where’s my silver medal?

    p.s. Turns out he’s not the prize he thinks he is. I won the real gold medal, which is given chumps who leave cheaters and are enjoying their new FW-free lives. 🥇

    • typo: Apparently, I “lost” the pick-me-dance (that I didn’t even know I was in) in the final days before D-Day.

  • I like what you always say, Chump Lady: “Is this behavior acceptable to you??”

  • Dear Denver… I’m firmly in the camp of this guy is a cheater. And, I think you are too… but want you want to hear is that if he picks you that “you win” and he’ll stop cheating.

    Not. Going. To. Happen.

    He may pick you (especially if the OW dumps him)… but that only leaves an opening for a new OW. This guy is hardwired to cheat because he feels fully entitled to do so… and to do so WHILE IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU. Why wouldn’t he feel this way, you’ve already proven to him that you’ll stay and accept this behavior (please know – I’m not shaming you – I am you – but people treat us the way we let them treat us).

    If you’re here writing to CL, you already know the answer. You need to leave a cheater and gain back your life. But I get it, it takes time for it to sink in. I was a voyeur here for almost a year before I had the courage to start sharing. I read through ALL THE ARCHIVES… I googled things like NPD; gaslighting; cognitive dissonance. And, all the while I was pick me dancing with my husband who had moved out to openly pursue the OW – yet didn’t feel the need to file for divorce (I had to do that). So I empathize, the conviction you need to find within your heart and mind happens over time – and for me, it happened better with grey rock and no contact after he moved out.

    It can be done – many of us chumps here started with the belief of fixing the cheater instead of leaving the cheater. You can do it too.

  • Run like your hair is on fire!!!! Save yourself! If I’m understanding this, you’ve known for 3 or 6 years that your BF is a cheating liar. You’ve wasted precious time you could have been doing anything else. I hope you didn’t lose your fertile years over this con artist. There’s a lot you don’t mention such as do you live together?, share assets? If so, he’s likely defrauded you financially too. Do you have a co-habitation agreement or property agreement? Time for a kick ass lawyer. This is going to cost you a lot. Another reason to leave… this will only get worse as you age and invest more in this fraud.

  • Just for research (as FW has been gone for over two years), I went to the whores site and all she posts are those stupid memes. Her latest one was how whore hates liars and can spot them a mile away, and how sweet and kind whore is etc. I laughed.

    These liars likely have little to no sense of self, and if you spend your life blaming everyone else for your life choices, I guess that is the outcome.

  • This part of Chump Lady’s response resonated within me:

    “Who cares if he’s “angry” at being outed. HOW DO YOU FEEL?
    Angry? Fed up? Hurt?
    Act on YOUR feelings. Quit looking to a fuckwit to make things right. Only you can save you.”

    Denver, start paying attention to yourself. Yes, your needs are as legitimate as anyone else’s needs. You deserve better than a cheater, a liar, a sicko boyfriend who plays one person against another.

    You can find a way to kick him out or leave him, and work on getting to know yourself as a person of value.
    You are not being treated very well by the boyfriend.

  • LW asked if this relationship is salvageable. Only if she can pretzel her self into a way where she accepts that this is who her husband is and he is going to always have a side piece in some form.

    As for why she can’t leave him, she’s either trying to beat the other woman out, or she’s trying to please (fill in the blank: her parents, ideological beliefs, her friends), or she believes she deserves this kind of treatment.. Or perhaps she hasn’t sat quietly, and tried to visualize a future without her husband in it, and the peace it might give her.

    I think LW should seek individual counseling to figure out what is going on with her, because she can’t change her husband.

  • Denver:

    I found out 15 years in that FW had had an affair. He knew my sole dealbreaker was infidelity and if he cheated, I would walk. But when I took a minute to survey the landscape of my life and reality sunk in — I had 6-year-old triplets at home, I made just $30,000/year and he wasn’t doing much better, and we lived more than 2,500 miles from my family — it didn’t seem like leaving was the smart thing to do. So I stayed. He promised to reform, and he did everything to make it appear as if he was serious. He went to counseling, was always available whenever I called, came home every night in time for family dinner, spent every evening and weekend with me and the boys, and even changed his language to include lots of “men’s work” buzz words to convince me he was totally enmeshed and happy to be living a faithful lifestyle. I stupidly thought to myself, “When would this man even have time to cheat again?“

    Flash forward 23 years.

    After almost 2 years spent juggling his full time job and getting his MBA, we’d drifted and needed to reconnect. FW was the one who suggested marriage counseling, and I agreed. But just a few sessions in, it was apparent he had a very different agenda; instead of wanting to reconnect with me, he was hoping the counselor would help him to divorce me. In an effort to drive the wedge between us even deeper, he decided it was the perfect time to come out of the shadows and air his dirty laundry.

    He not only admitted to having a current affair with the Married Howorker in the office next to his (they worked for a well-known religious organization!), but he also admitted to:

    Having all night sex with a fellow coed while we were exclusively dating in college; she’d left his apartment just 15 minutes before I arrived to go on a breakfast date with him.
    The affair from 23 years prior? That had actually been 10 different affairs, all but one with married women who had children… women he worked with, women in our social circle, and women we vacationed with (with their husbands present), women who served as the team mom for our boys’ sports teams that FW coached, women we took into our home to rescue them from their abusive husbands, and yes, even our babysitter (she was 19 and the only one who was single). All of the APs were women I knew personally and all knew me and our children, and not one of them ever said a word.
    There had also been at least 3 other affairs before and after these, for a total of 13.
    The “layoff” that had occurred at his job 15 years earlier wasn’t a layoff at all; he’d had an affair with a subordinate, but when she changed her mind and he wouldn’t stop pursuing her, she accused him of sexual harassment and he was fired and was practically unhirable, causing incredible financial damage to our family.

    Then he wrapped up his gory confession by saying he wanted a divorce. It took 3 years to finally get rid of that sicko. When all was said and done, I’d invested almost 41 years of my life in him that I can’t ever get back. And there’s nothing quite as much fun as finding yourself single again at 60 with just half the assets you’ve worked your whole life for. Meanwhile, the Married Howorker divorced her own unsuspecting chump, got a gigantic settlement, and married FW; I’ve heard through the grapevine (I’m zero contact) that they’re happy as clams living off her money in a $1 million McMansion, taking their boat out on the lake every weekend, going on cruises and driving fancy $125K cars. After significantly trading up financially, I’m sure FW is beyond thrilled with his choice. I just hope Married Howorker realizes that the side chick position she once occupied is now open and available.

    Denver, don’t be like me. GET OUT NOW before your 13 years turns into 23 or 33!

    • Wow, that is some asshole. I’m sorry to hear that. On the other hand, it reminds me to be thankful that I found out “only” 6 years and one child in.. about at least 18 different women, maybe more..

    • I’m so sorry. What a total ass. And how utterly upsetting that the FW and his slut are living the high life. If you’re like me, you still wait for vengeance to happen but subconsciously fear it will never happen. The FW that I was married to, married his skank after I divorced him. And supposedly, they go on trips to Mexico and live a glorious life. But I’m 8 years out now from my divorce, and I’m at peace. I may never see his downfall. There may never be a downfall for him and his skank. But I’m at peace. I (for the most part) content myself knowing that he’s not my problem anymore. His gregarious and dynamic person-hood was a facade in our marriage and it will always be. His character is flawed. People don’t change. I really believe that (people don’t change) even though a lot of super religious people say that they’ve seen it happen. I haven’t seen it happen at all. I content myself knowing that two cheaters married each other. They weren’t happy people to begin, and since people don’t change, they never will be “truly” happy. He’s making snide comments to her and she’s pick-me-dancing so he’ll be nice to her again. Now, instead of mindfucking their chump spouses, they’re mindfucking each other. I’m not playing that game anymore. I’m happy because I’m content.

  • “…they’ve not had sex.”

    Bwaaaaaa haaaaaaa haaaaaaaa. Of course they’ve had sex. This is not the kind of guy who doesn’t have sex. This is the kind of guy who has sex with you, with the long-term other woman, and also with random other women. Or maybe he has a second affair partner. She’s probably freaking out because he seems cold to her because of the third woman. She sent you a message because she’s afraid he’s “cheating” on her with you, and she’s trying to get you to leave him.

    This is not the kind of mess you want to be involved in. This is the kind of mess that you extricate yourself from and go no contact. Get checked for STD’s and run like your hair is on fire.

  • You are asking the wrong question. You’re asking “Is this worth saving?” {The obvious answer is no.)
    Your question should be “Do I see myself (my SELF) and my one precious life as worth saving?”

    So far, your answer is no.
    Why is holding on to a relationship in which you are lied to, abused, and cheated on so important to you?
    When did keeping this one guy, of all the men and women in the world, become more important to you than your health, your dignity, your peace, your self-respect, and any chance at a truly loving relationship?

    Sit down and make a list of what you have to work with: a job? money coming in? friends and relatives? access to counseling or therapy (which is clearly indicated here)? a spiritual advisor? a place to walk or run? a gym? hobbies? books?

    If you don’t live with this guy, just change the locks and go no contact.
    If you live with him, what you do next depends on whose house or apartment it is. Start making a plan. Kick him out if it’s your house. He has a place to go, right? If it’s his place, start apartment hunting or look for someone who wants a roommate. Make plans for securing your money, your stuff and your self.

    You’re wasting your precious life on two people who don’t value that life—your “boyfriend” and YOU. You can rebuild a life from the ground up. You can’t get back the time you waste trying to have a relationship with a guy who isn’t in it with you.

    • Wonderful! Your clarity of Denver’s lack of self esteem, and your advice are both spot on. Thanks!

  • NO, it is not worth saving!!! You have wasted enough time on someone who does not value you. The only way you can “win” at this game is to quit. Leave, run, go NC and find your worth. You can do better than a lying cheater who cannot decide between you and the AP.

  • Dear Confused and Broken,

    I’ll bet you haven’t focused on self care in years, that you have trouble sleeping and your anxiety is through the roof. If you want to know whether cheating is genuinely a form of domestic abuse with physical effects, go to the doctor and ask that your cortisol levels be checked, then read up on what happens to the body from sustained high levels. Then think back on the past fourteen years and write down every single negative thing your bf has done and said to you to get you to this place. The following list includes things I learned while working as an advocate for DV survivors, online polls, CN, lists published on Reddit, forums for survivors of coercive and control and, of course, personal observations (please, everyone add their own red flags or cues of abuse):

    Every dismissive gesture, every tantrum while driving, every time he yawned while you were talking about yourself or your feelings or interests, every little verbal putdown, eye roll in your direction, times he didn’t defend you in front of others, times he gawked at other women in front of you, lied to your face, raised his voice, touched you with anything other than love, made threatening gestures, waved his hands around while angry, accused you of things you hadn’t said or done or even slightly mischaracterized these things, smirked at your pain, threatened to harm himself or “die” due to vague causes if you left, stared blankly with dead eyes as you cried, pretended you were screaming when you had only been emphatic, criticized you “for your own good,” suggested you’re a social misfit, acted like you were “lucky to be with him,” future faked things he never followed through on, kept repeating behaviors that you’d asked him to stop, didn’t pull his weight around the house or financially, reminder you he was the greater money earner, responded to your complaints with long rhapsodies of self pity, peppered his daily speech with self pity to induce fear/obligation/guilt in you, made you feel afraid to ask him for something, ignored your sexual requests, made you feel like an object, made you feel inferior, questioned your intelligence, questioned your honesty, made you doubt your attractiveness, compared you to other people, talked about other women’s sexual attributes, slunk off to use porn, left you out of social events, acted like he wasn’t really with you at social events or in public, gave you negative feedback in a way that made it seem like he was rehearsing what he would say to others behind your back, walked out on a discussion or disagreement, wasn’t loving enough, wasn’t kind, acted cold and distant, withdrew affection, acted tense and “white-knuckled” for no reason you could discern and made your heart rate shoot up as if he might explode, acted chronically disappointed in you, only tells you what you do wrong when you ask him to change his behavior instead of responsibly and kindly setting boundaries like normal people do, flirted or went “gaga” over random females in front of you, suggested you were paranoid, questioned your sanity or stability or competence, accused you of “suffocating” or controlling him, brought up painful issues from your childhood or past in anger or in a critical way, suggested that your feelings towards his behavior are actually based on traumas from your past, told you you were “too sensitive,” suggested you lose or gain weight, made you doubt your femininity, masked an attack as a joke, winced or smirked at something you wore, pointed out a physical flaw with disgust or mockery or coldness, punished you with coldness or anger if you took time for yourself or went to see friends or family without him, refused to attend social events that were important to you, kept his social life separate from you and your social life or else “cultivated” and took over your friendships, flirted with or overly charmed your friends or coworkers, lied about you to others, shared private personal information you don’t want shared, mocked or criticized you in front of others, reminded you of your age or otherwise made you feel “old,” ignored you when you were upset, told you how attractive or cool or smart or fit or “young looking” other people think he is, acted like your “victim” after victimizing you, threw sudden scary cursing fits over minor inconveniences, gave you the silent treatment, interrupted you repeatedly, talked over you, seemed embarrassed if you talked in front of others, treated you more or less affectionately in front of others than he does at home, goes passive and blank and acts like your teenage son in front of others, frequently seemed bored or distracted at home, used work to avoid dealing with you at home, complained a lot, pushed you away during his mysterious “depressions,” cried or emoted a lot but was cold if you do the same, encouraged you to get drunk or criticized you for drinking, frequently drank too much, acted differently when drinking, used “violent” words like “push” or “shove” or “force” or “stab” to describe your behavior when you’re merely being nonviolently assertive, patronized or spoke down to you, acted “exasperated” as if you chronically wear on his patience, chatted on about trivial things when you were clearly suffering, seemed like he was building a “case” against you and accuses you of things you did more than a decade ago when he’s angry, “decontextualized” accusations or criticisms (talking about the time you yelled at him and leaving out the fact that he yelled first, etc.), seemed dissociated and distant during sex as if he were miles away or locked in fantasy, avoided you or became angry when you had health issues or had suffered personal loss, embarrassed you with sudden mood swings or anger in front of others, frequently seemed “checked out” and not emotionally present, frequently talked about food and bodily needs when there were far more important things to discuss, avoided deep emotional discussions, put you in a time box around his schedule, looked at the time a lot when your talking, refused to stop on road trips when you wanted to, frequently got impatient if you wanted to stop at a store or something that interested you while walking anywhere, picked fights or went into terrible mood swings before important events or on special occasions (“spoiling” behavior) or otherwise sabotaged events that are important to you or meaningful occasions for the relationship, shrugged and acted like he didn’t care when you threatened to leave or went into a diatribe of accusations…

    That list could go on and on and on. Add your own cues and behaviors and write it all down.

    I think in a healthy, equitable, loving relationship, someone would never see any of the major transgressions like physically threatening behavior, threats of self harm or cruel comparisons or attacks on personality, appearance, competence. At most they might see a few of the lesser behaviors once or twice in twenty years and it would usually have mitigating factors like their dog or parent just died or they hadn’t slept in 72 hours or had a reaction to medication. Very importantly, the isolated events and the mitigating circumstances would stand out in memory forever because of the novelty. A healthy person would quickly feel deep remorse for uncharacteristic transgression and wouldn’t be ready with a series of polished counter-charges. But if there have been serious transgressions or so many “lesser” or “mid level” transgressions that you lose track of when they happened and the frequent response to being held accountable is counter-accusations rather than remorse, it’s chronic abuse. If you frequently felt nervous, afraid, had trouble sleeping, consumed, irritable, numb, “dead inside,” and found yourself more and more socially isolated and disinterested in things you formerly loved, if you stopped taking care of yourself or exercising or following interests or hobbies; or if, whenever you’re doing something for yourself, you find yourself feeling a sense of dread that you shouldn’t be doing it and you should instead be attending to your partner– those are the effects of abuse. If your partner has somehow become the only person who can balm you wounds and trauma after they hurt you, then they’ve arranged things so that they’re playing “fireman” to the fire they themselves set. Classic abuse “protection racket” dynamics.

    If it’s abuse, then the love we think we feel towards an abuser is not actually love but “captor bonding” and a reaction to being entrapped. It’s like having a “tiger by the tail” who will unleash negative consequences (violence, self harm, character assassination or financial ruin– something bad) if we let go. The threats, whether stated overtly or indicated covertly, are usually “bespoke,” meaning the abuser will tailor their threatening cues and behavior to the particular fears of the survivor, play on their sensitivities, etc. Whether the abuse ever becomes violent or not, when we’re boiled like frogs through a sort of chronic gesture warfare by abusers, it’s pretty much a hardwired human reaction to start groveling for amnesty by displaying more loyalty to the source of the threat. Because abusers are almost telepathic in sensing when their victims are starting to rebel, the captor bonding only “works” to inspire temporary mercy if it’s felt on a cellular level– meaning we have to believe the ruse ourselves. This is helped by the fact that abusers typically commit “perspecticide” over timee, tearing away at the victim’s world view and perspective on life, themselves and other people and gradually replacing it with the abuser’s twisted, nihilistic and hopeless world view.

    According to veteran experts in DV and coercive control, most survivors of battering describe this kind of emotional abuse as the worst and most paralyzing aspect of DV even beyond physical assault. Most abusers also cheat and it’s finally being recognized as a component of coercive control and can increase the unbearable sense of suspense or threat that victims experience because– aside from risking sometimes deadly STDs, suggesting character assassination (as the abuser “triangulates” against the victim with APs which carries a potent threat of “social ruin”) and almost guaranteeing more financial abuse (considered a form of violence in clinical DV arenas)– cheating cues that the abuser– who may have shown a little bit of mercy when they still had “sexual use” for the victim– may now withdraw that mercy and become more punishing, cruel or dangerous upon finding a “sexual replacement.” Personally I’ve come to see DV as nothing more than a coercive or violent campaign of enforcement of one-sided monogamy and sexual double standards whereby the abuser can do whatever they want sexually and the victim is prevented from doing the same or even protesting. In other words, cheating is not only abuse but is built into the primary motive to abuse intimate partners. I could go on and on about how cheating addresses abusers’ root pathology because it can act to “dillute” abusers’ sense of pathological, infantile dependency on partners but that’s more skein-untangling. The first step to getting free of this torment is to accept that we’re victims of abuse in the first place.

    The good news is that, as much as “captor bonding” feels like actual love, it fades rather quickly along with the sense of grief and loss once a survivor starts feeling genuinely safe from abuse. Feeling sad about loss of time. energy or missed opportunities might linger for awhile but, years later, survivors may feel less than nothing towards the former abuser and wonder what they ever saw in them. It doesn’t mean the survivor isn’t a deeply loving person, simply that abusers are essentially unlovable. That’s one of the reasons that NC is so critical to recovery since the tendency to captor bond will only fade once a survivor is fully out of the abuser’s orbit and out of their reach.

    I wish you strength, safety, peace and a bright future filled with love and kindness moving forward.

      • Lol, thanks. When the youngest starts college, I’m going back to get a degree related to criminal psych and will go from there. I’m mostly interested in writing about politics and policies related to domestic abuse but, in an age when laws are often founded on scientific theory (whether sound or not), science-related certs can’t hurt as battle armor.

    • Wow, just wow… I went through your abuse cues list going “Yup, yup, yup…”. Even after many years have past and the XFW is pushing up daisies in some forgotten corner of a cemetery, I can still feel so sad and outraged for that lovely young woman (me) trying to understand what “she had done wrong”. Your writing never ceases to astound me. Thank you!

      • I forgot the thing of being unable to walk in tandem– always walking several paces behind like a Geisha or ahead like point man on military patrol. A lot of people report that one along with the angry driving thing.

        Like they say, a continuous drip of water can cut through rock over time. Being subjected to constant gesture warfare is ultimately going to take a toll. It always amazes me that when survivors of abusive relationships end up prostrate, blown apart and not knowing which end is up, more people aren’t questioning whether it was the methods used and relentless determination of the abuser that explain the fractured state. It’s not like we’re getting trained in abnormal psych as preparation for dating in adolescence. This shit is outside most people’s pay grades and past generations didn’t even name it.

        • Oh holy hell. Walking ahead. Small but huge. You don’t matter. FW walked so fast and far ahead that I would lose him. He’d get on the Metro in a foreign city and he’d be gone. Always my fault for not running along. Never mind the crowds he’d push through. I was so over it that I got to a point that I’d just stop and watch him escape. Wish I’d done it sooner and more permanently.

    • IMO this is your best one yet, HOAC.
      I hope Denver takes it all on board and leaves.
      As soon as I left my FW the captor bonding started to fade away. Now he’s just some guy, a nobody.

    • Good lord, you just wrote a full-on description of my relationship with FW. This is excellent information. I could have checked off about 90% of these behaviors or more in my marriage. Ugh.

      “The good news is that, as much as “captor bonding” feels like actual love, it fades rather quickly along with the sense of grief and loss once a survivor starts feeling genuinely safe from abuse. Feeling sad about loss of time. energy or missed opportunities might linger for awhile but, years later, survivors may feel less than nothing towards the former abuser and wonder what they ever saw in them. It doesn’t mean the survivor isn’t a deeply loving person, simply that abusers are essentially unlovable. That’s one of the reasons that NC is so critical to recovery since the tendency to captor bond will only fade once a survivor is fully out of the abuser’s orbit and out of their reach.” I can vouch that this is 100% trued.

    • This is what I lived! Oh my gosh, to include having to tell him to slow down whenever we walked together. Every. Single. Time! Thank you. I’m keeping your list!

  • If you don’t make the decision, he will make it for you….probably when you begin to develop middle aged spread, or your hair grays, or he spies a newer, shinier model being processed in by Human Resources. He’s not committed to you; he’s using you as a housekeeper appliance. He’s living like he believes in polygamy – and you are letting him. You deserve better! Wipe him out of your life like a spider web you’ve strayed into in the dark.

  • Too much admin, too much fear for what the unknown looks like. You deserve more, you deserve better. Better and more are on the other side of your fear.

    Take action! It’ll never be what you had before he cheated. And once you’ve extended your boundaries to accepting cheating that’s what you’ll get. Even if this woman gets binned, 1 year, 5 years or 10 years from now there will be another one. Trust me!

  • Yup my FW had 2 work AP. When I brought up changing jobs got rage charm rage. 1- I am not leaving you, I love you, I want to grow old with you 2- Do you like this house? I can leave my job and you support us, how am I going to get a comparable job at my age, who will hire a 53 yo male? Do you want all this to go away? Do you want a divorce?
    Its a coercive control tactic. Keeps you prisoner, keeps you submissive.
    They go underground, hide it better. They may cool it with AP but never really end it. My FW had 2-3 women on back burner. One finally got a BF and seemed to wiseup. They will reach out here and there to AP to make sure that they still respond to them. They want to have them on back burner for kibbles and to keep their options open. Sends AP a message hey Im still here, I still am thinking of you, if it werent for my wife we could be together. Keeps AP hanging on with the hopium. These AP are such a cliche falling for the cheaters BS! Didnt their moms ever teach them anything about men? They lie to get in your pants. Oh my marriage is over, Im staying for the kids, we dont have sex! Oldest lies in the book. Shows you what a piece if shit AP is by actively engaging, they enjoy the wifes pain and take pleasure in ruining childrens lives. Theses people are all kinds of fucked up. There is a whole movement today to excuse AP and say its really the cheaters responsibility. I call BS. Homewrecker is the correct term and still applies. AP do infact bear responsibility. Thank god this person is not married to them!

    • Clinical research on “mate poaching” and dark triad personality traits isn’t any kinder to to mate poachers than FWs. In fact, it seems “poachers” skew more towards psychopathic/antisocial than FWs who are found to be predominantly narcissistic. So call it a toss up between two flavors of shit.

  • I would tell you how ridiculous it sounds to even ask if this is salvageable–but I did the same. I was with my bf for 6 years when I found out he had been cheating the entire time. I broke up with him briefly, got back together and married him. Trust me. You. do. not. want. that. to. happen. I think some chumps are genuinely in love with these partners—but in my case—I know now it was not love. It was living with someone who has made you so small you are practically erased. You have no sense of self because his self is taking up everything. You need to remove yourself from that environment. It’s like when someone is kidnapped and after 10 years, they are walking around freely, with the kidnapper, and nobody says anything, so they just go along with it. Everyone else is wondering why they don’t leave—thinking it must not be that bad. It is that bad.

  • the gravitational force of sunk costs is strong, obi-wan.

  • Tracy, my sister’s in VA and her power got knocked out last night. Hope you, Mr.CL and Monty get your power back soon. My sister said she got her’s back this morning.

    As for this poor woman? If he hasn’t made a real commitment to you in fourteen years (it doesn’t sound like it), and he’s been fucking around w/the side piece for a significant part of that (it does sound like that, and as CL says, that may be the only one you know of), HE DOESN’T REALLY CARE ABOUT YOU. He’s at best phoning it in. Which nobody deserves. All he cares about is himself. Is that the type of partner you want in life?

    Get away from him, now. As a man, I’m offended to have people say we share the same gender. He’s not a man. He’s a little entitled baby who wants everything his way. Guess what? You can put a stop to that by removing yourself from the equation/triangle.

    You deserve better than this treatment. Everybody that honestly loves and cares does. Get away from him pronto, go no contact (there was no mention of you two sharing a kid), and find a better person to be with. Or don’t. Maybe take some time to figure out who you are, and what you’re deserving of.

    Many of us chumps will tell you it’s a lot better than where you’re at now. It’s not easy, but rarely is something good for you also easy.

    You’ll be surprised by how good it can feel not to have to deal w/all the bullshit you’re currently dealing w/when it comes to him and her. Let the fuckwits do what they will. You don’t need to be a part of their shallow, stupid lives. Build your own happy, rewarding life. It’s very doable. Not easy, but doable.

    We’re all here if you need us. Lots of love, support and best wishes from all of us here at CN.😊

  • I think an alternate title for this one is “He’s still with his affair partner”. They’re not just working together. We get it Denver, it’s hard to leave. But you gotta. This guy is a piece of shit. Let him go.
    Oh, and for CN…I’m divorced! As of yesterday. I know some of you will want to know. xoxo

    • Doesn’t it feel incredible!!! Mine was early last month and I love getting to call him “The Ex” instead of the STBX husband!!!

      • That really does feel good! I used the term “ex-husband” for the first time today and it made me smile!

    • Congratulations, MollyWobbles! Odd as that may sound, to you, CN and me (ok, mainly me!😂). I never used to think divorce was a good thing. Now I know better. When you’re dealing w/someone who doesn’t actually love you, and treats you w/so much disrespect, divorce is a good thing to have in your back pocket.

  • Denver, this may sound harsh, but it’s what I wish someone had said to me during my six years of earnest, goodhearted chumpiness: The issues you write about are things that are between you and your boyfriend (and the OW). The one part that is BETWEEN YOU AND YOU is the regret you’re signing on for if you stay in this relationship. Speaking personally, the subsequent regret for lost years can be very, very painful. Please try to take this in, and act on it. So many of us have been there.

  • Denver,

    You might look at this in terms of “Every second that I spend trying to make this relationship work – and it won’t – is a second that I won’t get back.” I’d suggest that your time is much better spent working on a better future for yourself; a future where this individual does not figure.


  • Oh, and each and every one of us needs to watch “Betrayal: The Perfect Husband” on hulu. It’s based on a podcast by a chumped wife who discovered her husband had truly remarkable stamina…

  • It seems to me Denver that once you dump him you can feel very good that you’ve removed yourself and said “no more”. Rather than thinking of the loss, think of the gain to your sense of self. He is lying to you, she’s lying. You don’t need to know the details of their lies but a boundary will feel so good ❤️

  • “Can it be salvaged?”

    Yes. BUT… So can the Titanic, ultimately, but if they bring it to the surface what remains will be the crumbling, globby, rusted and frail metal remains of something that took on water and sank over 100 years ago. Even if they salvaged it, the Titanic is no longer a real ship nor does it have functionality. It is not fit for passengers and will sink again and again.

    Your relationship with Mr. Super-Liar McSociopath will too.

    The question you realllly need to ask yourself is this: What the hell is worth salvaging there? 14 years are gone, wasted, invested in someone who DID NOT INVEST IN YOU. You know exactly who and what he is. Investing 14 more on some pipe dream of resurrecting your romantic shipwreck really isn’t going to bring you either happiness or love.

    Swim away and don’t look back.

  • Hi Denver – since you said in one of your posts that you were married before and there was cheating involved and that is why you didn’t marry the dude you’re with now I suggest you read this article that is on this website:

    There are several versions of how to fix your picker out here too. The best part of these articles is Chump Lady doesn’t really solve your problem for you. She asks you to solve it on your own but armed with important questions: Question 1: is this relationship acceptable to you? Question 2: what do you want out of a relationship? Question 3: what are your boundaries that you consider deal-breakers in a relationship?

    Also, buy the book! “Leave a Cheater Gain a Life” and get it on audible too so you can listen to it while you are driving around running errands. You will need the constant reinforcement of your decisions.

    Bottom line. This shit is hard, it is a test, you will not get support from many if any of your friends or family. You’ll get support here. Keep going through this website because you will be shocked to see the patterns and the fact that you are not alone.

  • I never ever get tired of CLs Analysis and interpretations of the ways of us chumps. It is so predictable, crying over a man or woman who is using us for bait, for sex, for cooking, for money, for a house…whatever it is we are of use. I get so irritated and yell at the daily stories…I say, can’t you see what he/ she is doing? It is so very clear to me …NOW! But when I was of use, I believed I was loved. It was an ILLUSION. I had to believe I was loved, but I was not. No one who has 2 or 3 or more fish on the line can love. I was enabling my XHs sex/ porn addiction, his spending addiction, all his illnesses and entitlement….I supported him thinking he needed and loved me. But HE. DID. NOT LOVE. ME. I was of use. I’d tell this writer she is in the middle of a life time pick me dance and the music never stops. I’d never go back. Ever. Thank you CL for never getting tired of us chumps. I needed your kick in the pants to get Divorced and free.

    • I read “Never Go Back” by Dr. Henry Cloud. I hadn’t yet found Chumplady when I was going through my divorce. His book helped me immensely.

  • We tell ourselves lots of things during this phase to avoid leaving because we still love them and have hope. I did this as well. I didn’t want to leave, I loved him. I hoped he would snap out of it. I also was being so manipulated that I was worried that if I left and made him angry, he would never love me again and I would blow any chance of saving my marriage. I was afraid to upset him in any way for fear of losing him. Its so abusive the way they manipulate us abd confuse us. Its normal to be afraid. I’m not going to lie here; it is gut wrenching pain to go through what you are experiencing, but it doesnt last forever. The triggers, the flooding, the nightmares, all thr betrayal trauma symtpoms ecentually lessen. The endless crying will lessen too. I will tell you though that once you leave, things come out about him that you would never have known had you not left. You have plenty of information to work with to make a decision. In my case, I had less info than you, and it didn’t come out until after I left just how deep the deception was. My cheater planned his exit for years. The whore was in the picture long before I initially thought. And we won’t ever know the truth. When you leave, he will do more stuff that will shock you and you will come to realize that the man you love doesn’t really exist. After I left, all the things my cheater told me about the whore were total lies. He didn’t stop seeing her despite his claims otherwise. He went further underground with the relationship, and three years later, she is still around and he seems to have amnesia about all the lies. You deserve, and are worthy of a person who won’t do this to you. Remind yourself that you are loveable and worthy of that love. His cheating says way more about who he is than who you are. He will keep stringing you along until you put a stop to it. Keep reading here everyday. I am three years out from DDay and with time, it gets easier. I’m glad I left my cheater. No more abuse!

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