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Nice or Nasty? How Could She Be So Wrong About a 30 Year Marriage?

Clare called in and left a message for the Tell Me How You’re Mighty Podcast:

I have a question for you. I’m not sure if this is a topic you have covered I’m 55 and I seem to have a lot of friends, and friends of friends whose husbands have left after 30 years. I was recently Chumped by my husband 3 weeks before Christmas last year 2022 and that was my D day. He told me because OW gave him an ultimatum. I know everything is never Roses in a relationship that long, but the disrespect of being with someone that long and having grown children and investing in a life with someone was a real shock to the system and I just wish that he had broken up with me properly, but no, its not as fun that way. It’s more thrilling to creep around.

It’s like they just can’t stand to be faithful any longer and they want to give it a whirl!!! (The cheating – like its like “Hey I’m gonna try skydiving”) Mine said something like “OMG this is not me I’ve never done anything like this before! I’m actually a really good guy! I’m so sorry it ended like this, with you finding out about my Skanky cyclist girlfriend”.

So you’ll be proud of me I moved into a serviced apartment the next day and asked him to hurry up and move into an airbnb. It took him 5 weeks because its “So hard to work from home in an airbnb”……poor thing……..Eye roll.

I booked a mediator, sold my house and now I have a rental……. I’m getting happier but it’s still really sad how it all ended (Overmight) because we had some really great years lots of nice holidays with our kids, and I have lost his side of the family. We grew up together virtually! I met him at 25.

It was like coming off a very bad drug, because it was 30 years…….. I wanted to kind of throw the possibility around that someone nice can turn nasty. What do you ladies think?


We answered in the latest Tell Me How You’re Mighty podcast — Nice or Nasty?  which just dropped last night. (Patrons get it early. Thank you patrons!)

Have a listen — and please review and subscribe.

My jumping off point on the mind-bending issue of abandonment is that I don’t believe in changelings. That good partners are swapped out of their cradles with bad partners by evil, meddling fairies. I think there are shallow people and deep, committed people and we can project our values on to those we love.

Also, based on a gazillion stories on this blog, I also don’t think people wake up after 30 years of committed marriage and start cheating. Sadly, I think double lives are more common than we imagine and some freaks compartmentalize well.

Clare’s now ex-husband believes that he’s still a “really good guy.”  Good grief. They’re so quick to forgive themselves, huh?

I’m curious what you think — Nice or Nasty?

Meanwhile, hello from Denver! I’m at the Podcast Movement conference immersing myself in all things podcast and avoided the 100 degree temperatures outside by wandering around cavernous, air-conditioned ballrooms. Just done one day so far, orientation for newbies, and met some very nice folks. It kinda looks like Austin. Tech bros in flashy tennis shoes. But also earnest people who just want to tell their stories.

I sat next to a guy who is a Christian missionary in Japan. He has a podcast called Run with Horses, which I first thought was about large animal veterinarians. (But no, it’s a Bible verse.) We got talking about Jesus cheaters and sinister ministers — and he agreed that most organized religion really falls down on the job of supporting chumps. He did relate, however, a story in his parish, where he encouraged a woman to leave her cheating husband — by bringing five burly men to her house to help throw the jerk out.

Then I met a woman who does a podcast for kids, called Kitten and Clucky, about an abandoned kitty and a rooster with ADHD. And another group of Native American women from Arizona who are creating a whole podcast outreach for their nation. It’s all rather invigorating — creativity! content! and IT gobbletygook I need to wrap my mind around.

Thanks for giving me a few days off with reruns (except today, of course). We’ll be back in September with more podcasts and some great upcoming guests — Christina Pavlina of Jane Does Well, Dr. George Simon and Dr. Omar Minwalla. Stay tuned!

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.
  • Clare – I’m four years out from a 30-year marriage to a “good guy”. I think that a person who cheats on a long-term partner justifies it to themselves (and others) any way they can. Here’s what is clear. They stuck around with you for decades but couldn’t spend a few months on their own to sort out their own issues.

    Your grieving and healing process will uncover red flags and new understanding of old memories which will reveal character flaws. The deceitful actions which relied on their own family’s trust, the impact on children, the gutting of retirement savings are nearly sociopathic in nature.

    • Hi Stepbystep, yes I think this is more common than we think! Or is it a mid life crisis of sorts? Anyway it’s been 9 months now and there is no way I’m going back, plus I haven’t heard from him so I suppose there’s no chance anyway….. Clare

      • The “mid-life crisis” theory doesn’t hold up when we know that chumps go through the very same family issues and, likely, their own decade of hormonal changes without cheating and abandoning their family. Betrayal of that scale, in any other setting, is considered a crime. Not a stage.

        • I’m on the same timeline as you, Stepbystep, divorced for 4 years after a 30-year marriage, and I totally agree with you. Marriage is not just an emotional commitment – it’s also a financial partnership with a contract. When people try to minimize the fallout from divorce (whether someone has been married 3 years or 30 years), I’ll push back that they might look at it differently if they considered how this might play out for the FW if this was a business partnership instead of a marriage partnership. That level of theft and fraud would likely land him in prison.

        • Couldn’t agree more, SBS. It’s inexcusable. Full stop. Anyone who can do that to a partner they’ve been with 25-30 years, who, in my case, was literally the PERFECT wife appliance and nursed him through cancer, was (and still is) at best a narcissistic a-hole, and at worst, sociopathic. It’s not a phase; they were always that person. Shallow as a puddle, as CL says. I just didn’t see it. I projected my values onto him.

          In my case, I think ex-FW genuinely felt he made a mistake marrying me and knew it early on, but didn’t know how to get out of it (guilt, felt bad for me, etc.) But once he stuck around for 27 years, walking away (whether cheating or not -he was, BTW) after a life together, kids, shared finances, retirement plans, etc., is the very definition of cruel, sociopathic, or whatever similar adjective one wants to call it. Good people simply don’t treat others that way.

          • Good Lord, what possible “mistake” could he have made marrying you – you sound wonderful!

            • You’re too kind, and I was a huge codependent with very low self esteem. I think if you asked him, he would tell you he wasn’t really that sexually attracted to me. And I would agree it was more like friends a lot of the time, but still doesn’t excuse walking out so late.

        • I do wonder if this is something – abandonment after decades – that men do more than women. Do women just handle getting older better? I wonder if women, and I don’t mean to be “sexist” but I wonder if women just have more internal resources to develop and men just look for a younger model – GF or car, etc.?

          • Generalizing over here, but I don’t think most women would have the same options if they did and I don’t think they would receive the same forgiveness from their children if they blew up the family at that stage for purely selfish reasons.

          • Mehitable, In my case, it really felt like my FW who was approaching 50, suddenly started to really regret not having a more varied sex life in his youth. He started seeing someone very seriously when he was young, and when they split, he ended up with me and we ended up married. We didn’t get married right away, but for all intents and purposes, he was in serious relationships for all of his youth. He was very attractive and could have slept his way across 10 states had that been his focus. (Here’s a chump fun fact, he cheated on his previous gf all the time. Somehow that red flag was not heeded by my naive self) But even with the cheating, I think he didn’t go as hog wild as he could’ve if he was actually single. And he seemed to really have regrets around that. In some ways I think of it as being similar to the stereotypical midlife crisis we hear bandied about so often, because it seemed to become almost a “I didn’t bang enough hot chicks when I had the chance, and now I may be heading into the last decade where I could still TRY. ” (He’s still pretty attractive and being 46, he can still get “hot” women in their 30s no problem)

            I don’t really know the full timeline of how his affair that ended our marriage started, but think there was some aspect of him looking for the validation that playing the field can give a person. The problem was, he was married and that’s not really acceptable in a supposedly monogamous marriage. I think he was online flirting and “looking” and ironically, the woman he found? We are splitting because he fell in love and said she was his soul mate. (They are now split, but obviously, that she existed at all is a non negotiable for me) Had they worked out, he would have been jumping into another serious monogamous relationship. It doesn’t even make sense.

            • Sigh. I am so sorry to hear about someone who might not be a bad person in general being ruined by this one incredibly major defect. It’s so sad to see someone give in to this worst inclinations and desires….and then have that not work out either as it didn’t with his AP. His “soul mate”. Not much of a soul, eh? I’ve considered what you’re saying before, and unfortunately I think it’s part of our overly sexualized society where it’s been so heavily promoted for….2 generations now….and if people don’t have a lot of sexual experience, perhaps especially men, they really feel like they missed out. But if they go ahead and have these experiences, they’re gonna miss out on the bigger and far more importance experience of having a solid marriage with a great partner. So at what cost do you explore the transient experiences of having sex with various partners and then realizing ultimately….that didn’t work….and give up the thing that every says they want in life…..a solid marriage. That’s a poor trade-off to me. This is perhaps, where honesty comes in. If a spouse really feels this strongly….that I didn’t have the sexual experiences I wanted or think I should have had when I was young and I’m getting older and I just want to do this…..then the appropriate thing to do is to tell your spouse and get a divorce (I don’t think even a separation is adequate for that kind of experimenting) and then go off and do what you want. But they try to HAVE BOTH and they lie and deceive their mates, which is the worst of it. Many people could at least understand someone wanting to have these experiences even if they bitterly disagree and it hurts them, but the lies and deceit bury the relationship. You can’t continue a loving marriage which is based at its core on trust and respect, after the lies and deceit, they kill it. So they kill their marriage and run off and have their experiences and they find it’s not worth it, which is what people usually find with this kind of thing and the “soul mate” doesn’t last because there is NO such thing as a soul mate, there are only relationships that you believe in and work at that reach this level over time, and then what do they have. I do wonder, as I’ve said in some responses here if some of these people, especially the men, try to come back when they get old and the Schmoopsies don’t take care of sick old men… They may like the dashing exec who’s 15 or 20 years older and has built something because of it but when he gets old and effed up….he’s gonna be a hell of a lot less appealing and a lot more work. So I wonder how this ends up. Sorry to write so much but I tend to be verbose.

              Has your ex communicated to you since the divorce? Does he express any remorse? I know you’ve met your line in the sand, but does he regret what he did and that these sexual exploits were not worth the price of his marriage? Part of the reason I ask questions like this is because I would like to have object lessons for the next generation so they can see that….yeah, this is what the end result of doing this…..THERE IS A TRADE-OFF IMPLICIT IN MARRIAGE….you trade off sexual variety and experiences for stability and raising children and gaining property and having a deep relationship with one person that will last until you die. The trade-off doesn’t seem to be valued any more.

      • Oh Clare, I’m right there with you! I found out, confronted, and he left the next day to couch surf until it was a respectful time to marry the OW. (2 years, but 5 days after what would have been our 30th anniversary. Couldn’t they have picked a different month?) Thankfully you and I never had to go through a false reconciliation and my dancing skills are so bad that it was never “pick me” but all “f-you.” Looking back I’m sure there were other affairs; in fact one was referenced when I was reading his text messages with OW in the 3 days before I confronted. I’ve had the pleasure of giving that woman the cold shoulder when I ran into her and loved the look of slight confusion on her face.

      • Clare, when I read this line: “plus I haven’t heard from him so I suppose there’s no chance anyway” my heart ached for you. It is classic hopium. This is also a normal stage of grieving.

        Look at the Archives, then click on “Categories”. Read the sites for “Hopium” also “Untangling the Skein” and “Trust that they Suck.” You will see that you are not alone. Reading what these people have gone through, over and over again, will help you to push the poison out of your system.

        Lots of hugs to you.

        • thank you for writing this. I am fighting this very thing, still. thank you 🫶

        • Thanks Little Wing, maybe I did have Hopium, I did the pick me dance for 6 hours max. I know I could never go where his “lunchbox” has been….. anywhere near that OW. The hard part is that it ended overnight, and I really felt for my kids, well obviously 30 years means nothing to him so why would I even try…..

          • Clare: Create your very own “Team Clare”. Find your team members here in Chump Nation, and in your community. You need to find your support so that you can grieve the pain of realizing that your marriage has been a lie. That all of your good honest loving efforts were wasted on a lying POS.

            Nothing will change that horrible fact. (“so why would I even try…..”)

            Grieve. Scream. Rage. Howl and yowl. (“You gotta cry so hard and so deep than you end up gagging on your own snot.” is what someone once said to me.)

            And then, you let that RAGE become your sword and your shield. (Lots of good entries in the archives on how your Rage will help you to become Mighty. But do a word search – – there is not a category just for Rage.) (Yet.)

            You are on a journey. It really really sucks. But you have come to the right place to become Mighty.
            You are amongst fellow Warriors.

            With Blessings for having all of the grace and support you deserve….

      • Clare, it’s not any kind of crisis, as they are not in distress. They’ve discovered who they really are and are actually pleased as punch with themselves, no matter what fake signs of remorse they attempt and crocodile tears they shed. We just didn’t fit into their plans for a selfish, hedonistic lifestyle. We weren’t useful. That’s really all it is.

        Much later, they may find out how dumb they were, because they’ll probably die alone, having never found real happiness. Just let him screw up his life. If he ever does contact you, block block block. All he’s going to do is lie.

        • Yeah, I wonder how many of these guys try to come back when Schmoopie won’t nurse them through cancer or dementia or some other issue they get. I can’t see Schmoopies as caretakers somehow.

          • If there’s a big age and usually financial difference, the nitty gritty of caring for an old man will be outsourced. Home care aides. Quote from the show Modern Family “Can I help you with something that isn’t disgusting ?” said Phil to his even older aunt in the nursing home. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

            • Wow, that’s true, I hadn’t considered that, but Schmoopie won’t be taking care of Old Romeo. Old Romeo will have a lot of aides that probably won’t care too much about him….unlike a loving wife.

        • YES, all that.
          They are surface lovers. They will die empty.
          Shellfish and truly lacking in empathy.

      • Just because you caught him “midlife” doesn’t mean this is the first and only time he’s cheated on you.

      • Our lecturer in demographics explained to us that around 30% of marriages divorce after 30 years. So, it’s very common.

      • I’m with Stepbystep. I don’t believe in a mid-life crisis. If life sucked so bad (and it did for me with that fuckwit), then why didn’t I go out and have a fling? I was at mid-life just like the fuckwit. It’s like CL and CN says, it’s a character flaw. (By the way, I divorced 1 month before my 30th wedding anniversary.) The reason he started getting blatant about his dissatisfaction at our 30-year point, is because he weighed his choices and I wasn’t ‘shiny’ anymore. A friend of mine likened me to a new car. As long as the fuckwit could impress his friends with his shiny new car, he was going to keep it. But once I started getting a few dings, and his friends were no longer impressed, it was time to get rid of me. That was at a time in our lives when our sons were grown and out on their own. He retired from one job and was doing part-time teaching. He figured his retirement check was good enough, and he didn’t need me to put a ‘happy’ face on his life and the kids anymore. He said, ‘my kids are going to love me anyway’, and ‘I have a right to be happy.’ Too bad he was such a coward that he didn’t tell me 15 years earlier when he first started screwing his skank. 15 years earlier I was still young and attractive. But back then, I served a purpose as I was a good wife appliance. Back then he weighed the pros and cons and it was better to stay married and secretly keep his skank on the side. (Oh, I have no doubt he told her that he was getting divorced, but he didn’t tell her it wouldn’t be for another decade or so.) 15 years later, he weighed the pros and cons again and the cost-benefit analysis was not in my favor. So that’s when I found out that he was unhappy, and had always been, and he didn’t want to buy the house and only did it because I wanted it, and he just gave up, and on, and on, and on. What a frickin’ loser. There’s no such thing as a mid-life crisis. I was just married to a dick. I lost my shiny-ness and his dick and thrills were more important to his vows. Besides, as he put it, ‘that was a different time.’ Apparently, vows are only good at the time the you say them. What it all boils down to is… that’s who he is. I just didn’t know it. But I have no doubt, that’s who he is with his skank as well. She’s still shiny…, for now. I know it’s hard for you right now. I know you’re probably devastated, but trust us, he did you a humongous favor. You’ll realize it eventually. In the meantime, enjoy doing everything without the coward in your life. — Oh. The lying liar lied to you again when he said, “OMG this is not me I’ve never done anything like this before!” Yes, he did. You just hadn’t caught him at it, else you’d have gone through this sooner.

        • I agree that the story about never having done anything like this is usually bullshit. It just feeds their fantasy that the other woman is so spectacular and she’s the one blah blah blah.
          In reality, if they haven’t actually physically done anything it’s probably because they didn’t have the opportunity or didn’t yet act out what they really wanted to do – and did do eventually.
          It’s also a moot point because whether or not the Fuckwit ever did anything like this before – he’s clearly doing it now, so who cares!

    • I agree that a defining characteristic of cheaters is the ability to justify to themselves whatever lying or cheating behavior they want. I’ve seen many, many examples of this with my XW, from the affair itself (“I had an affair because you were financially abusive: you paid the bills without bothering me with details”) to settlement (“I should have gotten more money during the divorce, so shouldn’t have to split the cost of kids’ piano lessons”) to custody (“You said no to a new request, so it’s OK for me to reverse an agreement from three months ago”). It doesn’t just show up the one time – it’s a character trait that permeates the person’s behavior.

      In the case of my FW, it’s a combination of her feeling very strongly that what she wants is what she deserves, and her inability to truly understand that other people’s needs and wants (mine for sure, but also our kids’ and her professional colleagues’) are as valid as her own. This leads her to conclude that whatever she wants is morally justified; because she is a very smart person and the world is complicated, she is always able to find some detail that (to her) voids her obligation to obey the law, her promises, or generally accepted ethical standards. It’s pretty tiring because I can’t trust anything she says without independently verifying it, but a lot of her claims (“I need you to take the kids next week because I have an important work trip”) are impossible to evaluate without being unhealthily up-to-date on the details of her life. I usually only find out she is lying retroactively when I refuse to do something that she says is essential, and then it turns out (after a couple of rounds of vitriol from her) that she manages to find a work-around so apparently it wasn’t essential after all.

      • 100%….. entitlement “it’s a character trait that permeates the person’s behavior.” BOOM

  • Yes. I believe I projected my gold onto FW and saw all of his potential instead of who he really is. People here have said don’t marry potential. That’s what I did and now I’m divorcing potential! I was 25 when I married and I’m 53 now. We have 3 young adult kids. My kids and I are in a lot of pain. My husband now claims he never wanted to marry me. LOL!! He’s a victim. And I’m the villain. Anyway, did he become an asshole or was he one all along? I think he was one all along and I just didn’t/couldn’t believe it. When I finally caught him lying to my face, I suddenly saw him differently and then I just felt disgust. I kicked him out soon after that turning point. I literally couldn’t stand to look at him anymore. The mask was off. It hurts so much to be fooled and to allow yourself to be fooled for the better part of 30 years. And then to wake up one day and realize that you invested your whole life and created children with a two-faced worm. And now my kids and I have only each other. My husband was just a ghost. The “family” was never real. It is really rough. It’s worse than if he died, because then he would have a good excuse for being a ghost.

    • I can relate to ALL of this. Also, my ex said the same thing to me about not wanting to marry me in the first place. I guess I must have had the AUDACITY to mesmerize him him into a trance and TRICK him into legally promising me loyalty! MWAHAHA. At the time of discovery and abandonment, the shock I was in prevented me from recognizing the blame shifting. But you nailed it. He could then be the victim and I was extra, EXTRA vile. I’ve been divorced for almost 6 years now, and never really thought about the discard like that. Thank you. Just helps to remind me of the weight I lifted from my life. Cheers!

      • My exFW also said something similar: “I never actually wanted to marry you; I just did it because you were a good catch and I never thought I’d do better.” Huh, and here I married him because I loved him. He was using me from the very beginning.

        • I never understand how “doing better” is better than your wife of 30 years, your heart, your best friend, ally, mother of your children.
          “Better” is what you think you appear to whom???? Better to your adolescent mind?
          Is Better just validation from someone new?
          Talk about a devalue, that FKER.
          Sorry this happened to you ❤️

      • WiseCracker, same. I caught my husband with a butterfly net! (NOT!) But basically that’s what he’s saying. I somehow “trapped him” and “used him.” That’s what he said!!! Not “thank you for giving me a life, a family, a home with food and bills that are magically paid for every month.” That’s when I said: GTFO!!!!

    • I joined a support group for [christian but it doesn’t matter for the comment] women leaving a covertly abusive marriage, and our leader comments exactly your last point – the grief – she says it is a complicated grief, much more complicated than if he died. For one thing, if he died, we’d become the grieving widow. For another thing, its a onetime bang of grief. Instead, there’s the condemnation of others looking down on us, and the grief reactivates daily and lives on and on. Anyhow, i really connected to your comment there.

      • That explains why I keep having the thought that it’d have been easier had he died. I don’t wish him dead, I just feel it’d be easier because then I wouldn’t feel so shamed, humiliated and rejected. I could allow myself to remember happy times and be grateful for having him in my life instead of wishing I had never even met him.
        I feel really bad whenever these thoughts come into my mind and have been pushing them away, for fear of thoughts like that being a sin, so thank you for posting this as it helps me feel a bit less bad about it, and helps me understand why I sometimes wallow a bit in the rage and contempt; it’s because they’re less painful than the heartbreak, humiliation and sense of being so invalidated!
        I’m a bit down today, and very tired. Perhaps I’m entering the depression phase of grief? Oh goody!

        • Sending you hugs Shadow. If it helps, I’m raising my hand as another Christian who feels the same way – that it would be easier if he’d died. When I finally got the courage to voice this to my counsellor, expecting her to be horrified and explain all the ways this was wrong, she nodded as if this was totally normal, and explained about complicated grief. The person I thought I knew has died. And instead, I must continue to deal (and co-parent) with someone who looks just like him.

          This is a hard time. Be gentle on yourself. And it’s ok to feel that way. I promise.

        • I distinctly remember saying, “It would have been better had he died.” I felt guilty for saying that. Him, I’m positive he wished I had died and he wouldn’t have felt guilty for wishing it. The difference is, I have a conscience. I felt guilty for saying that because if life progressed where I was a widow because my ‘loving’ husband had died, I would have gone through a true grieving process mourning the love of my life. But instead, I went through a grieving process mourning what I never had. That was a mindfuck all on its own trying to figure it all out. I was betrayed, and yet I internalized it as ‘there was something wrong with me’ and that’s why he left. Nope. Almost 9 years later, I know for a fact that there was nothing wrong with me. I was a good wife and mother. The fuckwit just wanted his freedom to do what he wanted to do. He stayed married, got his kids through college, and now it was “HIS TURN”. It was all about him. When you’re feeling devastated, recall that Jesus knows exactly what it feels like to be betrayed And he was betrayed with a kiss on his cheek; now how’s that for a slap on the face. So ask Jesus to help you through your devastation, because if anybody understands and can help, it’s him.

          • Jesus suffered and died on a cross. For sure, he knows the pain of betrayal. The agony of a slow death. When I confronted FW and he laid all the blame on me, I sincerely asked Jesus what to do and he said: You don’t deserve to be abused. Let him go!

            God/the universe/the higher intelligence did not make us to be abused. We are here to experience joy and love too!

        • Hi Shadow, I totally feel this: “shamed, humiliated and rejected.”

          I especially felt that in front of my kids. If their father could leave me after a lifetime, what kind of garbage person must I be? To drive away my own husband?

          BUT….I decided to own it. I said, dad doesn’t want to be married to me. OK. I ACCEPT that. He has a right to live how he wants. And I have a right to not be with someone who treats me badly. Who is emotionally abusive and dishonest. I have a right to be safe.

          When I did that, it helped me. It shows that I have power too. I don’t have to stay with someone who doesn’t respect me. We all have free will. That is the lesson I want my kids to have: Don’t stay with someone that doesn’t want you!! Keep walking!

          Also, consider the source. If FW does not want me it’s because he’s an IDIOT. I don’t want him in my life being a coward covert narc on his phone all the time texting who knows who and lying to my face. When I told him to GTFO it was one of the most satisfying moments ever!!!! So fuck all the shame, humiliation, and rejection. I LOVE myself and I CHOOSE myself. I don’t need a FW hanging around acting like I have him chained here. Move along, buster! I’m a QUEEN and I deserve a KING. Not a FW. LOL.

          I read this book recommended by my therapist, who is a man. It was a worthwhile read. King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine
          by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette.

        • I feel the same exact way!!(except I would be somewhat pleased if my FW did die.)
          I never had the best self esteem but the total discard really did a number on my psyche. I felt, and sometimes still feel, so powerless and insignificant.

          • Your feelings of powerlessness and insignificance are normal. Don’t be hard on yourself. It. Is. Normal. Take the time to learn to love exactly who you are, warts and all. When you finally know that you’re perfect just the way you are, that’s when you’re ready to know you deserve better than a fuckwit in your life. They’ll be easier to spot and you’ll pass them by. And you won’t keep having a trail of fuckwits in your life. You’ll also find that you’d rather be alone the rest of your life than ever have a fuckwit in it again. As for me, I still have occasional feelings of low self-esteem. But they’re occasional, and I still would rather be alone the rest of my life with low self-esteem than to ever have a fuckwit in it again.

          • Kim,
            I hear you. It’s hard to have your own back. I have no siblings, but I have two cousins who I am close to and they celebrate me. I have friends who have been though some serious shit and I can count on them to lift me up! Please take a moment to celebrate you!!! You are a miracle. You deserve love, safety, support. Give it to yourself, Queen!! Hugs!!

      • And don’t forget the financial implications. When they cheat and walk off, they take half the money (generally). I personally am in a much worse financial position than I would have been had he died, and so is our son. He has to worry that his FW father may disinherit him in favor of a gold-digging schmoopie, even if accidentally. I feel so bad for him. I hate to sound mercenary, but it’s the financials for myself and my son that add to my stress every single day.

        • $ is a reality. The loss of it really affects the kids. And they see where FW is putting it.

      • It’s not easier if they die. My ex committed suicide when I wouldn’t get back together. My 19 year old son found him. The questions, guilt and anger don’t go away. My kids have been traumatized.

        • I am so sorry for your children. I hope they’re able to talk it out with you, or someone else. One thing that you might be able to tell them later is, ‘that’s more of an indication that it was all about him. If he had thought of anybody other than himself, he would have thought about you and the devastation he’d cause to kill himself. But instead, he could only think of himself.’ There’s no easy answer, and they might have to gain some maturity and some tough living before they’re able to process it in the mindset of an adult. I hope they’re not angry at you. I hope you’re able to tell them that his killing himself was his issue. It was not your issue. And I hope you’re getting peace as well. There was something truly wrong with him. Don’t place any blame on yourself at all, else you’ll make yourself sick.

        • Them dying creates different problems. My kids have really suffered with him dying.

        • I passively hope my ex dies before the term life insurance expires, but you are right, he would probably fuck that up too.

          What kind of narcissistic asshole commits suicide in such a way that their child finds them?! That is worse than anything my FW could have done to me. I am enraged! I’m so sorry.

    • I hear you DrDr, I really do think we were the glue that kept our families together and accepted crumbs. Much love Clare.

    • One time I spontaneously described my younger family as “me and the kids with the ex-FW orbiting around us when he felt like it”. It’s a phrase that has stayed with me. I could live with that framework because, as CL says, we were a complete family without him. I had so much fun with the kids when they were younger and now we are very close. It helps me to think of it that way. When I think how it “should” have been, or could have been, I can get very angry. I try to focus on what was real. The kids and I, that was real. He’s still a hot mess living in his own reality.

      • Omg, Fern, that was exactly my situation! FW never wanted anything to do with our family, so it was just my son and I together all the time. Son is 20 now, and we are super close, and FW, the narc that he is, can’t seem to figure out why our son isn’t close to him like he is to me. What an idiot. I tried to warn him he’d regret being an absent father some day, but of course he didn’t listen.

    • this rings true, drdr. and the bit about the ghost? so true. i used to say that my X’s dysfunctional family haunted us in the form of addictions not talked about, unhappy marriages not talked about, conflict not dealt with, but now i think that going through the divorce is the real haunting. and the ghost is vindictive.

      that said, i’m divorced and it’s a good thing. my adult kids are struggling but figuring it out. we stick together and work together–that’s what family is all about. the communication model is healthy and we muddle through.

    • 25 year marriage – 4 kids, pets, homes, shared law careers, businesses….. he also said he “hated every minute of it.” Trued to tell me I “made him” do xyz… bullshit! If I had that power, I’d “make” him stop abusing me and kids— absurd.

      • You wanna know what mine said? Said I was a witch and cast a spell on him to love me!! 30 years together and 25 married. If I had witchy powers I would have made him nicer, would have cast away the manipulation and the gaslighting. I would have cast away his assholery. All the wishing in the world didn’t fix it. In the end he said I made him do all these things like marry and have kids and live a regular boring life. He’s the boring one. I have great fun now without him!

      • My STBX also tried to pin his shitty attitude on me and my son tried to do the same. I said ok, if I’m so powerful how come I can’t force you to graduate from college and get a job?! Shut him up immediately. Lol.

    • Re: was [s]he an asshole all along?:

      My XW is perfectly charming as long as she doesn’t perceive you as an obstacle to her desires. For close to 20 years I was useful to her: we were a team, so I considered that what was good for her was good for me. Then she found someone who could better advance her goals and swapped me out for him. So far so good and up until that point it was actually pretty unacrimonious. Unfortunately, once she jettisoned me I stopped saying “yes” to everything she wanted and I discovered a side of her that I had no idea existed. Our relationship now makes our marriage (even in the worst days of the discard) look like paradise.

      So IMO their characters don’t change, but under the changed circumstances previously unimagined facets of their characters may be revealed.

      • Yeah, that scenario is really familiar to me. I remember a friend asking me what the big deal was, was it really so bad? And I said that for 20 years I based every major decision of my life on what was best for our family and our marriage while he only had to worry about what was best for him because he knew the marriage was fake. She shut right the fuck up.

        But yes, the temper tantrums when I stopped prioritizing him were shocking. He even threw a fit in our kitchen because I was no longer grocery shopping for him. It seemed like he became a completely different person but that’s just who he was all along.

    • On D-Day I got, “It’s not your fault. I just married the wrong person” said in a gentle, consoling voice. As though I would go, “Ohhhh, ok, then! You’re forgiven!”

      I was his first girlfriend (at 25), first kiss, first everything. Who, exactly, should he have married? I was the only one who saw that golden potential in him! With me, he moved from a dead-end job to a career as an RN. He rose in the ranks to a very senior position. He is widely respected amongst his peers. I curbed his worst behaviors publicly and made him seem like the greatest guy around. I

      I didn’t realize how much I was spackling and in exchange, I am told I was just a mistake. Like, “Oops, I accidentally lived with you for four years, proposed, married you, had a child, and stayed married for 17 years. My bad.”

      • Too bad you can’t undo any of that by letting people know what he’s really like. I hope he does that on his own now that you’re not there to run interference.

    • FWs are ALWAYS the victim and chumps are ALWAYS the villain. (Barring that one exception in the Plesitocene era.)

    • I know everybody probably says this but I think it’s true… least you have your kids and I bet they are pretty great too. So that’s some jewels that came out of the pile of turds.

    • It was real to you! And that’s what matters, IMO. I’ve said this to my daughter (and myself) many times over the years since D-day and divorce. I loved with all of my heart (and then some) and had a child with a man that, at the time, my heart was full with love for. My daughter was born in love, and that’s a fact. Maybe it was just my love for him and for her, but love is love. I too married potential, and I regret all the time how much of my energy went into trying to build him up (emotionally, career wise, etc.). If I had spent that energy building myself up, I would be absolutely on top of the world right now. As it were, I do all right. But divorce and mid-life professional reinvention come at a cost. I’m decades behind because of my misplaced resources. I warn young women about this all the time. I’m a product of my generation, sadly, and it’s lovely to see all of these young women becoming products of their generation and prioritizing THEIR careers and education and emotional lives. Invest in, and rely on, yourself first, is the lesson I teach my daughter.

      • Damn, I could have written this. It was the way we were raised and what was expected of us. You were told to basically set yourself on fire to keep the husband and kids warm. Then when your flame doesn’t burn as brightly you are discarded. Off to go find someone else to fuel their ego.

        I’m so glad my daughters are different. They both saw what I went through and they made the decision to live a different life, one in which the prioritize themselves.

    • Someone asked me which I thought was worse death or divorce. I now think divorce because death does not include betrayal and lies and STDs. You might have had true love, UNLESS your partner dies and you find the betrayal late. That has to be awful

    • They are lowlifes on so many levels. The fact that they can play the victim when they are the one abusing their family……
      Sooooo many of them claim they never wanted to get married 😂. Then why did you loser wimp?
      Interesting that they pull that card years after the fact but they never say that they didn’t want to have children! They are so full of shit. Sad sausages.

      • “Sooooo many of them claim they never wanted to get married” I bet they don’t say that to Schmoopie.

  • My first D-day came after 22 years of marriage and two sons, and I wondered to my psychologist “when it all went wrong.” I was trying to salvage “the good years” so I could hold onto them in my memory. It was then explained to me that the character traits that allow someone to live a double life, telling lies daily for decades that would make an ordinary person’s head explode, develop in early adulthood (17? 20?), and not in a person’s 30s or 40s. What’s far more likely is that she was always like that, always cheating and lying, and that she just got away with it because it’s easy to mislead someone who adores you and trusts you and projects their values onto you. As time passed and more secrets came out, the truth of this analysis only became more and more clear.

    In short: a cheater can hide their character far easier than they can change it.

    • “A cheater can hide their character far easier than they can change it.” This this way, I suppose, sociopathy is like a character tramp stamp. 🤔

    • Im with Nomar.
      One of the very first thoughts that entered my head whenI found his cold and lifeless body on the floor of our house was “I hope I wasn’t to hard on him” with regard to his single affair and how it unfolded.

      I gave him a hero’s funeral and tried to keep lingering questions of why he was so mean and unpredictable at bay. In a few weeks, I found gifts from his GF and photos of her – but we moved houses after they broke up, right? Then there was more and ~2 years later, the bomb of “the first affairs were about sex, it was that last one that really got him” when I learned he had cheated all along.

      The real answer to this question is that probably some do lose their minds and have their first affair at 50 (or whatever) but most likely cheat all along and get really good at hiding it.

      • I’m so sorry you went through this. I hope things are better and you’re doing well.

      • Yes, either that or it was IN them all along to cheat! This is what I suspect about my FW now anyway, after stepping back and looking at the entire 17 years I was involved with him, even the 13 years when he appeared to be devoted to my son and to me.
        I have come to the conclusion that cheating was always a possibility for him and perhaps the only reason he may have been faithful before, was not out of love for me nor integrity, but simply lack of opportunity!
        It’s a horrible suspicion to have , but must be even worse when you find out it’s a reality, so I’m not digging any further. I know enough!

        • Shadow, I feel the same way exactly. I saw signs FW was susceptible. I rarely said or did anything about it, not unless it became totally unacceptable (e.g. “no, my grad school classmate who’s looking for an apartment cannot come live with us, because – I never said anything at the time but – clearly you were flirting with her, took an unsolicited picture of her at the Christmas party, and ask about her way too much”).

          So, he didn’t have EVERY opportunity, because I’m not totally naive, but definitely had some, and he himself surely recognized that the potential was there. He in fact wrote a list at one point after DDay of all the times he COULD have cheated but didn’t (one random in particular, from like 5 years before DDay that he still remembered – the reason he didn’t cheat was “but I didn’t find her attractive.” Well bravo, here’s your bitch cookie!)

          So Shadow, I think you are spot on. They always had it in them. And not that it never occurred to me that I could cheat either (we were separated a lot due to work) but I sure didn’t keep a damn tally, nor take photos of them 🤮

    • Part of the complicated grief is not really being able to salvage “the good years,” because what you thought was good at the time … wasn’t. In my case his double life (brothels and gay bathhouses) was for over half of the 22 year marriage. It started when the youngest two kids were 3 and 24 months old, three years after our daughter was killed in an accident.

      My oldest has said all our memories are poisoned, because we thought we were a happy family, but he was lying all that time, and we weren’t enough. And then, skipped off to new horizons, shameless and blameless. So yeah, as DrDr and Nita say above … worse than if he’d died.

      • Very true. I gave myself permission to never have to struggle to find those good years

      • Once my ex-H unexpectedly died of a heart attack about 18 months after our divorce, his death made it a little easier to remember some of the good times. However, infidelity just adds a layer of slime to all memories and has a way of wiping out everything. Although we were married for nearly 14 years and together for over 20 years, I didn’t get viewed as the widow but the bitter ex-wife. The only silver lining was that I had a jump start on my grief when the marriage ended and I could be there emotionally for our 2 young kids.

      • MamaMeh, I am sorry that you and your kids went through that.. It’s not a reflection of you. It’s totally a reflection of your EX and how he had no respect for himself. He would have lived an honest life and not dragged any innocent people into the mix if he could live with integrity.

    • Hi Nomar, It’s so weird I know I had wonderful times with my husband when the kids were little and I was so happy just going we have so much in common and it felt so right….. I really don’t have any dirt from the past that is why it is so sad he could give it up all so easily in our 50’s. Clare

      • I am so sorry you’re going through this.

        He “gave it up so easily” because he’s shallow. These people don’t form attachments, which is why they can pull up and vanish so easily.

      • Here’s the thing, Clare. I’m pretty sure my FW’s AP was having wonderful times with my partner too….all paid for by me. We had everything in common, never fought, never argued – these people are masters of disguise.

    • “What’s far more likely is that she was always like that, always cheating and lying, and that she just got away with it because it’s easy to mislead someone who adores you and trusts you and projects their values onto you.”

      Exactly this! This what I did! I could not imagine betraying my spouse and family just to follow a wandering **ck. It was totally unbelievable to me; later, I realized just how much I projected onto my now ex-husband, and how that blinded me to the truth.

      Thank you for saying this.

      • I didn’t just spackle, I wall papered over black mold. I projected my kind heart onto him. He never cared about anyone but himself. I just refused to see it.

    • This is what I tell people too…..they were always like that, you were just to nice to notice.

  • Much like Nomar above, my Dday came 21 years after being together. It was out of character for her and to this day many don’t believe she did it.
    I too was told that it was always in her nature. She had had a horrible childhood that involved abandoment by father, suicide by mother when she was 12 and more than likely molestation, although she denied it. She seemed incredibly normal for that type of upbringing and that we were both 37 at time of marriage I thought she had overcome everything and was the strongest person I had ever met. Sadly I was wrong.
    I believe now that the character trait was always there. The trait, like an oncogene, lays dormant until a specific external or internal incident activates it. In FWs case I believe it was going from struggling to survive and being over looked for her 37 years to having everything she needed to survive and more. My thought is having what she thought she wanted wasn’t enough and it activated the FW gene to cheat.15 years into relationship. I wonder if she had continued to struggle and work would the trait have expressed itself

    • Don’t wonder anymore. Whether she had a poor childhood or a privileged childhood, that’s who she is. We all try to untangle that skein, but in the long run, it doesn’t matter. She didn’t have to cheat as she was trying to deal with her bad childhood. (Lots of people have worse childhoods and don’t cheat.) If there was something that activated trauma from the past, she could have gone to therapy. She gave herself permission to cheat due to self entitlement, not because of a traumatic past. So don’t look for that elusive reason. In her mind, the reason could have been because you left the toilet seat up, or you didn’t dump the coffee grinds. If you need an excuse, any excuse will do. Don’t waste your time coming up with a plausible excuse. Be glad you’re no longer dancing to her tune.

  • O, my, goodness!!!! This is exactly my story. My husband abondend me after 25 years of marriage, 30 years together, for Schmoopie. I just couldn’t understand it. I always saw him as a good man. How could this good man do this? Do this to me? Do this to his children?
    Now I understand.
    Thank you Sarah and Tracey
    I just love the podcast!

  • “First, do no harm.”

    Part of the Hippocratic oath, and a good principle for all to live by, and if adhered to, the primary indicator of a genuinely good person. IMHO.

    Con artists, cheaters, side pieces, Bernie Madoff, serial killers, child predators, and other criminals use the Good Guy/Gal mask to disguise their double lives.
    It is the ABSENCE OF DOING HARM that is the evidence of an individual’s

    I was honest about what I thought, what I felt, what I did, and who I was doing it with for 27 years. With a therapist in a front row seat the entire time. He wasn’t. He was probably cheating the whole time.

    I just learned he is telling our daughter that I am a narcissist, that he is the victim of narcissistic abuse and parental alienation, that he never loved me, that there was no love in our marriage. That he met a woman he loves (who we also know he has cheated on). All this, says the Nice Guy who abandoned not just me but our daughter, who became a ghost in her life overnight and moved away without even telling her, who lies like he breathes to everyone about everything.

    The ABSENCE of this kind of behavior is the tell tale sign of the genuinely good person.

    • TYPO:

      “It is the ABSENCE OF DOING HARM that is the evidence of an individual’s
      good character.”

      (Someday I hope to be able to edit comments here…..)

    • “that he never loved me, that there was no love in our marriage. ”

      This is what gets me. My ex said the same thing “I never loved you” Do they not see how ridiculous it is to blame a betrayed spouse while mouthing this. What kind of person marries a person they don’t love, lies at the alter? Then think it makes perfect sense to blame the person who did love them and who was faithful. I actually don’t have the words to explain what I mean, but hopefully this makes some sense.

      • @Susie you may remember the letter I got from my FW 5 days after the divorce was finalized (it’s in the CL archives, from May 2018).

        In a bullshit attempt to appear sensitive and concerned about my well-being — how are you? Are you seeing someone? Does she treat you well? — she says this: ““Has your new love made you question whether you loved me at all, whether you even knew what love was when you gave it to me?”

        That’s a projecting non-admission admission. She’s letting me know that she’s not sure she ever really loved me. How could she, when she never knew what love really is? “Hey, not my fault! I know we got married and had two kids and spent 15 year building a life together, but how was I to know that wasn’t really love?”

        No matter how it’s expressed, it’s all deflection and a cover-up for being a gargantuan asshole.

      • I got the I never loved you after 36 years and it shows what a fool he’d been to himself.

        • That is so true. What kind of dummy stays with someone he doesn’t love for 36 years. That’s a statement of his stupidity if it were true. That would be my answer: At least I loved you. What kind of dummy are you?

    • “I just learned he is telling our daughter that I am a narcissist, that he is the victim of narcissistic abuse and parental alienation,”

      FFS. I hope she doesn’t listen to his projection.

      • OFFS, she laughs in his face and doesn’t believe anything he says. She and I see our family therapist, who has been on board in her regular front row seat since I was pregnant. Traitor Ex lied to her too. I thought all that time and money in therapy with him was wasted, but it’s turned out to be an invaluable investment. She is a living record of the facts and the truth and has become a verified place where his campaign of misinformation and history rewriting is vanquished and our sanity is saved.

    • “I just learned he is telling our daughter that I am a narcissist, that he is the victim of narcissistic abuse…”

      Holy projection!! Yeesh.

      VH, you deserve so much better than this FW. I’m sorry you continue to have to deal with him because of child and work connections.

      By the way, based on your postings here, I’m confident that your daughter is well aware of which parent is a narcissist and which one is sane and supportive and will always have her back. Rock on!💪❤️

      p.s. Glad you’re back. I’ve missed your insightful comments.

      • Spinach, to be fair IDK how sane I am. I feel scattered and very unmighty a lot these days. Healing is an up and down zig zag….confounded by ongoing new landmines of lies about major things which concern me and daughter… list of legal Things To Do….infidelity is the gift that keeps giving when you have children and business ties (for now)….feeling grounded and centered is elusive and takes energy and effort I don’t feel like I have.

        I think I got slammed here recently and got no response to my request for clarification, so I thought I better exit.

        I am cautiously putting my toe back in the waters today.

        • One toe, many toes, entire feet….it’s all welcome in our waters here! 💦

        • Oh Velvet. I’m so sorry to hear you felt slammed. I read every day but sometimes miss the comments. Your posts are the ones I always look for. Funny, insightful and a very special insight into the mind of a badass momma bear who is keeping it together for her cub and herself. It sounds like you have overcome many challenges in your life and have generously share your hard win wisdom.
          Not everyone has to agree and sometimes in a place like this emotions can get sloppy in the comments. I hope you haven’t taken someone’s slop to heart. (I don’t know which comments were tha slamming. ) But I do know, even if you never comment again, you have made major contributions to the discussion here. I’m way ahead of you on the divorce timeline and still your attitude, your way with words and acronyms, and your overall fierceness have been helpful examples to me.
          Welcome back and please, please, please keep coming back.

          • I second that Fern! VH, you are a major positive contributor to this site! Your posts are inspirational and powerful, I will always read when I see those two red hearts aside your name. I have copied and pasted countless numbers of your posts to my notes and I reread them when I need inspiration anew. Solid material! You are a true giver and it’s obvious, a
            kind and loving person. Little Hammer is very fortunate to be exposed and learn from your braveness and love and know with 100% certainty you will always have her back. That is so powerful!! It makes me smile when I hear how lovingly you talk about her.
            You take great effort to compose your posts, read others with genuine shared empathy and always come across as someone who very much is always looking to self improve, sharing personal experiences with kind, loving generosity with the desire to help others down this really really difficult road.
            I get feeling very sensitive about comments or how you’re perceived some days. I’m sorry you sensed you were being slammed one day, I’m not sure what post, since my reading the last few months has been spotty with lousy unreliable internet where I am.
            Some days I feel super strong and mighty myself, then others, I feel weaker, frail and easily hurt and very vulnerable to perceived slights or thoughtless comments by many times, well meaning ppl, that I may even be misreading from whatever current emotions I am swirling in.
            But they feel pretty threatening and I’ll withdraw for a bit to protect myself. I get all that emotion. I’m in and out of it all the time too!
            Might be a part of the healing in the chump process I’m thinking.
            This experience of being chumped is the most terrifying thing I’ve even gone through in my entire life and I’m still not even sure what is on the other end of it. Like a horror movie, someone we loved so deeply could turn into something unidentifiable to us.
            It’s completely surreal. So there’s great vulnerability and self protection at play. If the one person I counted on in the entire universe to have my back for the last 44 YEARS is a fraud, can I count on anyone or anything at ALL to be safe in my life?!? It’s a lot to deal with!! I don’t even have the full answer to that.
            I’m thinking we all have the capacity to get triggered by comments that we read sometimes and maybe some ppl feel like they have to respond to that, as a defense move, maybe self preservation for them? Hard to know what ppl are experiencing fully by just reading posts, we can’t share everything we feel and go through and we all know, it’s all a LOT!
            We can’t know what the person that may have slammed you was going through, maybe it was inappropriate or maybe it was coming from hurt themselves. Who can say. I think most of the time it might not be fully meant to be directed at the person they attack.
            What I know for sure in all this is that you are a very bright beacon in chump nation! You put into words things hard to describe and share your well earned wisdom from a cheater’s abuses, from years of knowledge in therapy and from your heart and I really believe you have helped many people with your generosity of spirit, who look towards your very solid inspirations.
            I know you feel overwhelmed right now with all fresh attacks on you and your daughter from your exFW. It really does feel like it will never be over sometimes. It’s a lot to deal with!
            I’m 5 years out too and I still get such distress to read an email from my exFW, takes me weeks sometimes to open it. The anxiety can consume me and it’s a battle to get by.
            I’m in the process of buying him out of our long planned retirement dream home. The financial numbers are intimidating and I am not fully sure it makes sense for me to even keep the house, since I live in another state closer to my kids and this is a 1600 mile distance from that. It’s pretty overwhelming to me right now and I feel very alone in every decision, even though I know there are ppl that love me.
            Things that come up with these jerks again and again, just reopen our wounds and make me wonder if the pain will ever be fully gone.
            I’m sorry times are extra rough for you right now with it all. It is depressing to feel like it never goes away and then the fallout I see cast on my kids from his fuckwittery, it feels debilitating and there aren’t many ppl, outside of CN that fully understand at all. It’s a long road to heal.
            Well, that’s a lot of words to tell you how valuable a resource you are and how much I want you to get to a better place too! AsI know you want that for everyone here, that’s very much felt.
            Glad you’re back! We will all get to a better place someday. It’s all a grueling process and far from a straight road.
            And if pain actually makes you stronger, than Chump Nation must be the strongest mofo’s on the entire planet!!😊💪🏼💜🏋️‍♂️

        • If you have an opinion, chances are someone will disagree with it. They are entitled to have their own opinion, but IMHO, no one here should slam someone else. Just respectfully disagree!

          To be fair IDK how sane anyone is, including me, and you might get a different answer on different days!
          Sometimes people don’t come back for clarifications, either. You and I often use illustrations in our observations. Today I talked about predators, including wolves. Once, long ago, you and I had a conversation about wolves and their true natures. The thing is logically I know wolves must eat to survive and have some other great habits concerning their “pack.” But in literature and fairy tales they often get a bad reputation. Without predators, the herds will overpopulate and starve. But for my illustration, the wolf was the bad guy in the story. So, on different days, some folks may misinterpret my message because there are other contexts where the “bad guy” may be perceived in a different light. I have been called a bitch before, when in my mind I was just standing up for my rights. In that case, I take the term as a compliment, because I consider the source!

          Don’t be afraid to dip your toes in the water and try to give others the benefit of the doubt you may not receive. We all learn from each other here; we all have different perspectives. Your opinion or experience may resonate with someone here who needs to hear exactly what you have to say! I don’t get to read everyone every day, but I generally feel I learn something positive from your posts, when I do read them.

          Keep your hammer ready, Velvet! It always drives an interesting point home.

        • Velvet Hammer, I’m glad you’re back. Your posts are delicious food for thought.

        • Happy to see you’re still here VH ! I value your experience, strength and hope 😽 Your daughter is lucky to have you as the sane parent.

          Fun Friday Challenge-sharing words, expressions etc. coined by fellow chumps. For example, VH’s “cheating cohort” instead of the breezy “affair partner”.

    • I find this just so sad for the kids to hear parents say these things. By bending themselves into a word salad pretzel to justify their actions, is just so wrong. “I never loved your mother”–who the fuck says that? It is further proof that they have black holes of suck and it’s best to be completely out of their vortex. Easier for chumps with adult children, very hard for the kids.

      After the initial DDay #2 in April 2017, for a few months when every other word out of my mouth was “whore”, I’ve stopped disparaging Asshat and his HoWorker/Wife. In fact, I never mention HoWorker/Wife after the excellent piece of advice from my son in November 2017, “treat her like she’s dead”. My daughter was over this weekend and was asking questions about Asshat’s family which I answered dispassionately. I have no idea what is being said at Casa Chez Cheater’s, but it seems to not be a warm and inviting place for my son to want to visit.

      I’m finding it all just so very sad.

      • My (12yo) daughter told me that her dad (FW) told her that he realized he didn’t love me “like a husband should love a wife” when she was in preschool but he didn’t want to upset me so he stayed married to me. Then when he met his “girlfriend” (child mistress) he fell in love and couldn’t help it, he cheated because the love was so strong. He told our daughter that he was so sorry he hurt me but glad that he could be honest now.

        I was gobsmacked. I try not to get into details with her so I found this wildly inappropriate but I had to clarify a few things. I said to her that a) he should not be telling her these things, b) if he realized that he should have talked to me and if we couldn’t work it out, we could have divorced a long time ago, before he started cheating, c) even if he did fall in love with someone else while married, he should STILL not have cheated; love doesn’t give you permission to ruin other people’s lives; we could have divorced and THEN he could’ve been with her, and d) that he has never said sorry to me, so please take it all with a grain of salt.

        I didn’t tell our daughter that the child mistress is the 6th or 7th that I know of in a long line of affairs (all discovered since D-Day; I was totally blind and unaware before then). That he didn’t just ‘meet’ her; he went searching on the seeking arrangement site specifically for a sugar baby so he (essentially) bought a totally willing 18yo se# toy who traded se# for trips, shopping sprees, spa days, etc. That he has not been faithful to her either. That his current roommate is one of his playthings to whom he was giving money as recently as last year.

      • I love the quote, “not my circus, not my monkeys”. I’ve seen it used in the group before and it always makes me smile.

  • No they don’t change overnight. I would bet on (if we could get the real truth) that 99.9 percent of them have been cheating a lying for years and just finally either got caught or decided they finally found the right whore and want a D.

    Whore is the right word and they come in all genders. “you can’t shake the whore tree and expect an angel to fall out” anon. A person getting gifts and cash prizes for sex is a whore, and hush money is expensive and there is almost always a paper trail.

    • I want to start a campaign to bring back WHORE….it’s a perfectly good Anglo Saxon word that describes a type of person who is always for sale in one way or another and capable of doing anything for an advantage. It’s not quite the same as hooker, or prostitute….a whore doesn’t need to be paid cash….he or she can sell out for many other things.

  • They all think insist they are great guys/gals, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
    Nice people don’t suddenly turn nasty at mid life, or at any other point. It’s just that they are those whose idea of a relationship is making use of another person. They might even be decent partners to their chumps during the relationship, simply because they do not want to lose somebody so useful to them, so they dare not let the mask drop. That means that if you are deemed no longer of use, the real person can then emerge, and that person is an asshole. When they meet an AP they think is more useful than you, you pretty much cease to exist to them.

    I suspect it’s more common that fuckwits let the mask of normalcy drop much earlier on, or at least partially drop, as soon as they’re sure the chump is hooked. The stories here certainly seem to bear that out. If a FW figures out you won’t leave, he/she just lets the freak flag fly and treats the chump like garbage.
    My cheater was one of those whose mask dropped sometimes, but he would always have some explanation for his “out of character” behavior to keep me from seeing who he really was. Then when he found his twu wuv the mask dropped permanently.
    He is nothing like the person I met all those years ago. This is who he really is. Accepting that was difficult. It’s a mind bender to see somebody seemingly transform into a monster. You keep thinking the FW must have lost his/her mind or lost him/herself somehow, but no. The FW, in fact, has found him/herself, the true scumbag he/she always was. I believe this is a freeing feeling that FWs find intoxicating, so it adds tp the excitement of cheating. Then when the FW gets caught, you get the “the affair isn’t a reflection of who I am” and “I’m really a nice person” lines. No, it’s exactly who they are.

    • Nice people don’t suddenly turn nasty at mid life, or at any other point.


      It’s astonishing to me how brazenly open shitty people are about their ugliness too, especially once you know how to recognize red flags. A while ago I was talking to a guy who shit talked his new girlfriend up and down. He said she was a convenient doormat who did everything for him and that he viewed her as a starter wife.

      I was stunned at his audacity and tried to find her name and a way of contacting her, but was never successful.

      • That certainly is audacious, Cam. Or it is to us, anyway. However, to trash of his ilk, it is “normal” and to be expected. They think nothing of it and probably don’t understand why people find it objectionable. He sounds like he is soaking in a warm bath of male priviledge up to his eyebrows. Gross!

      • those red flags are waving in 20/20 hindsight.

        recently my kids told me their dad informed them that he likes firing people, that he’s good at it. i believe it, having being ‘fired’ by him at the end of our marriage, but that’s another story. i even got a performance review. anyway, i was married for 32 years to the guy and he used to fire lots of people, it was his thing when he worked in HR, and he used to joke to me about it then say he hated doing it. but people were scared of him in the lift.

        there were several incidents over the years that i now recognize as massive red flags, but each time i bought the explanations my X provided. “it’s a complicated issue” he would say when, for instance, Bob refused to speak to my X, took a 6-month leave of absence, returned to accuse my X of “shafting” him. of course, my X fired him. there were lots of examples over the years, i now realize.

        i suspect that my X set up people in the workplace to fire them which is fucking machiavellian.

        • They love having power over people and manipulating them. It’s a key element in many cheaters.

    • FW had the audacity to say to me that he thought he was a good guy and had been a good husband “apart from the affairing”. Literally, his words and phrasing.

      Even in the darkness of the early days post-D-Day I had to laugh at that. SERIOUSLY?!

    • Mine would also have “out of character” behavior and when I would question it he would cry and claim stress. LOL

      • #1 red flag for me now are pity parties. They’re the calling card of sociopaths. They’ll slap you with one hand and beg for sympathy with the other.

  • Cheaters don’t change. I’m 40 and until a few years ago, I spent my whole life around abusive people (family of origin and friends, then got sucked into a cult, then dated abusive assholes who cheated on me).

    So, I think I’m qualified to tell you people don’t get character transplants. I’ve never seen a terrible person become good. But I’ve seen plenty die miserable, destroy their lives, or wind up in prison.

    Abusers con people. They’re shamelessly manipulative. I fell for it for many years until I escaped and went to trauma therapy. They fool victims and enablers alike. Some people see through them and avoid them, but you never hear about those people because they disappear. If a person claims to have a bunch of “crazy exes” or “ex-friends who were jealous of them”, that person is a sociopath trying to poison the well on any potential witnesses.

    A few years ago, I paid $20 for one of those online background check services and for laughs looked up my cheating ex. It was a clusterfuck! I found liens, evictions, and lawsuits going back 15 years. I found dozens (DOZENS!) of traffic violations going back to the 90s. This guy was a complete idiot long before I knew him – not that I knew it when I met him! Now everything makes sense, from the way he treats people to why his life is still a trainwreck. He was always this way.

    Here’s another one: My family coddled my uncle for years, even though he was a pain in the ass. I didn’t realize how bad it was until my grandmother was on her deathbed and my uncle started a family war to try to steal her estate. Stalking, a lawsuit, total nightmare. I was really afraid he’d show up at my father’s door with a gun. I didn’t shed a tear when Covid got him.

    In hindsight, none of this should be surprising. My uncle was a bum all his life, never worked, partied hard with bad people, mooched off others, and never contributed to anything. I never saw him reach into his own pocket to pay for dinner, and he never came to us kids’ dance recitals or sports games growing up, even though he lived on the other side of town. He claimed he was broke and couldn’t contribute anything, that he was “going through bankruptcy.” He claimed he was going through bankruptcy for 30 years.

    Recently I looked him up in court filings and discovered he did indeed go through bankruptcy… 30 years ago. The court discharged the debt in 1994. My parents were so upset when I told them. Years and years of turning the other cheek with my uncle, lending him money, finding him jobs, and it was just another con.

    Sociopaths are out there, and unfortunately they hurt everyone around them. We’re confused by it because normal people can’t understand the disordered. I’ve reached the point where I actually feel a lot of closure in understanding people don’t change, this is just who they are. It was never personal.

  • Clare, I hope you’ll take the time to listen to the future podcast with Dr. Omar Minwalla. (Kudos CL for getting him on the podcast!)
    And if you haven’t already, read his work on the secret sexual basement. I think you’ll begin to recognize subtle behavioral changes and other characteristics that will help you identify that your ex’s cheating didn’t come out of nowhere.

    I stand firmly in the camp that a cheaters true lack of character is there from day one in the relationship. Some are very, very good and clever as to how they mask it. They very much require the public persona of a solid member of the community with a loving family others can admire to mask their true selves. Sadly, we fall victim to believing that is who they truly are until we discover it was nothing more than mirage all along. It is covert abuse in it’s highest form.
    I left after 36 years and celebrate being divorced two years ago today. Sending warm thoughts to you for being mighty!

  • In my ex’s case, I think he was, excuse me, bored as fuck, was unhappy with himself & didn’t know how to deal with it in a constructive way. Some call it a mid-life crisis, some think it’s an excuse, but I also had my own “mid-life” crisis too. Whereas, I had the insight & wherewithal to deal with it by doing an advanced degree, take an occasional interesting class, connect with friends, change jobs….he just seemed lost. I had noticed & tried to help, but he wasn’t interested in my suggestions. He chose having an affair instead. It really comes down to choices. He chose to blow up a family for him. He thought it was worth it & it was the answer to his unhappiness & feeling like he didn’t achieve all that he thought he could. He actually thought he was being a “nice guy” because the OW needed him too. I guess his good guy moniker was up for bidding to whomever provided the most excitement for him. Now after all that initial excitement of living with the OW, apparently “his issues” have cropped up again. Who would’ve thunk huh?

    • “Now after all that initial excitement of living with the OW, apparently “his issues” have cropped up again. Who would’ve thunk huh?”

      Yep, they think they are leaving the “old man” behind, but they take him right along with them.

    • All of this. Feeling restless or bored or ‘what do I do with the rest of my life’ can have a lot of constructive solutions. Cheating isn’t one of them.

  • ‘ he’s still a “really good guy.” Good grief. They’re so quick to forgive themselves, huh?’
    As are their families, as is society in general! Sucks!

  • Chumps are like Little Red Riding Hood, walking through the forest with a basket full of food for Grandmother. We don’t expect the “big bad wolf” to be stalking us or trying to outwit us. We do like to believe the “handsome, strong woodsman” will come to our rescue. We do not live life trying to steal things from others, we like to believe others will come to our rescue when we are in distress. The moment “the wolf” is revealed, we look for the “woodsman” — if he does not come, we are faced with the fight or flight dilemma.

    We are “doing our duty” cheerfully bringing comfort and security to our loved ones. We are not prepared for all the wolfs, weasels, or other predators, because we do not think that way. Yet, we blame ourselves for not being prepared to defend ourselves when we find out the world is a wild and scary place. What’s a chump to do? Stop believing in fairy tales.

    Fairy tales, mythology, and stories of origin are merely tools to teach values and try to prepare children for life. They are helpful, but the characters who populate that world are too one dimensional. People are really complex, and we all have different belief systems to guide us. I believe we should strive to be dutiful and loving, but we should also be prepared for betrayal. I raised my sons with healthy doses of ideals and reality, fed to them through a variety of sources every day. That was my dutiful, loving side. With other people in my life, including ex’s, I had to learn many lessons the hard way. I did not expect to be lied to, robbed, or cheated on. But I had to learn the ways of the human predator. I learned a lot more than I really wanted to when I was trying to understand “WHY?” I had to become a bit “wily” myself, to find out what I needed to know.

    I personally don’t believe people just suddenly change who they are, transcend from good to bad, in a moment. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think people who are missing basic components of humanity learn very early how to mask their true natures. They produce their public persona in a way that is acceptable to others, mirroring what are perceived to be acceptable behaviors to get what they want. I also believe Greed grows inside, like the monster it is, until one day the mask slips and the true nature is revealed. People who resent whatever talents and abilities others have, who want the results of others hard work, without the work, are the ones who decide their desires are more important than anyone else. They try to take whatever they want by whatever means is necessary. They are the liars, thieves, and cheaters who decide the ends justify their means. It does not mean they do not understand the difference between good choices and bad choices. It just means they do not care about anyone but themselves.

    We cannot change the way the world is. We can try to explain it, but the truth is we have to adapt to reality in order to survive it. We can uphold our belief and value systems, but we have to be prepared to do battle to defend those beliefs and values. The reality is the predators will always be out there, waiting for an opportunity.

    • The original fairy tales were more cautionary in general beyond teaching specific moral values. It was Disney who brought in the fake scenario where everyone lives happily ever after the problem is resolved. Speaking of Disney…ever notice how “The Prince” has one girl in a forest hut, another in a middle-class home with stepsisters, etc. “A girl in every port.” And each of the girls goes all in, believing every word or kiss of the love bombing, secure in the happily ever after story line.

      • There was a comic, many years ago, that I cut out and hung up over my desk in college. In it, there are two mountain paths going off into the distance, away from the foreground. Each is on a narrow piece of land, culminating in a castle. No way to get from one castle to the next except to cross that piece of land to the more secure ground closer to the viewer and then turn down the other path.

        In the foreground are two princesses (clearly Cinderella and Snow White) and SW is saying, “But my husband is Prince Charming!”

        I thought this was so funny because it caught something that had been overlooked in the Disney stories–which was obviously the intent. But to us Chumps, I think the whole premise is a lot more sinister.

    • “Maybe I’m wrong, but I think people who are missing basic components of humanity learn very early how to mask their true natures. ”

      I absolutely believe this and I think it’s an incredibly powerful statement. I once had a cat who obviously did not have a normal upbringing as a cat (I got her in her young adulthood). She never seemed to know how to do cat things, as odd as that sounds, but I had another cat, and she would try to copy her in learning to do cat things. I think many people are like this…..they don’t really know how to behave like a normal human….but they try to copy behaviors they think are successful even if they don’t really understand them.

  • Clare, I had a 25-year marriage and five children with a “fine, upstanding Christian businessman.” It was a lie. It was all a lie. Sometimes I remember odd moments and odd things he said and wonder what was really going on. The rest of the time I realize that it’s not worth dwelling on.

    I’ve been out for over 10 years now. I know he’s not a good human. He and his family of origin think the picture you present to the world is the most important thing, not what’s on the inside. He totally disconnected from our children during the divorce which I found shocking. He acted like he cared about them during the marriage. It was a lie. They are all adults and don’t see him any more. Like many chumps I wondered if he had a brain tumor. I eventually figured out this is who he really is. I’m so happy to be away from the fake life I didn’t know I was living. That world was all a lie.

  • Clare, I hope you don’t waste time thinking there is a reason why they do what they do. Cheaters cheat because they can and they chose to. I think it is really that simple. They don’t think that each choice and each lie is wrong. They just aren’t wired to do that.
    I was chumped at 27 years of marriage and it took almost two years to get divorced (because really all the assets should belong to him, right?). I fought and got a very good settlement (more than I asked for at the start). He had to pay back all the money that he spent on OW, a chain of hookers and a sugar baby as well. I now have my own home that is paid for, my son and I are still close (he is NC with his father and is active duty in the Navy) and I have a fellow chump boyfriend. The FW has himself and the woman he cheated with and a rando because OW doesn’t live in the US.
    I have the better deal and well he has what he has but I certainly would not call it love.
    My BF and I talk about our chump experience every once in a while. He has been a meh for about 15 years but like all of us he still gets triggered now and then. His latest trigger was when his son talked about his mother and how she never really loved his father and how she could not have a full life without butterflies and roses. She deserved to be happy, etc. My EXFW said the same thing, that he deserved to be happy. Wow, they just have completely different views of happiness. They seem to think that the newness of something is love. My definition of love is that both parties are at heart friends, lovers and that they face life challenges together. There is acceptance in the relationship that things will not always be perfect or wonderful but that the good always outweighs the bad. There needs to be trust and the ability to communicate and express your views in a healthy way and then solve problems together and maybe even compromise on things. You cannot have that kind of thing with a FW. Sure, you have some good memories, but I bet most of the good times were as a result of what you did and what you projected on to the FW. He was never really nice, that was just a mask. They only experience anything when they are central.
    Don’t have any regrets about getting rid of a cheater. You can make new memories and they will be real and authentic. They may not be perfect, but they will be absolutely real. Trust me, life gets better on the other side when you realize that now what you are experiencing is authentic and true and you no longer have to deal with lies.

    • “My EXFW said the same thing, that he deserved to be happy. Wow, they just have completely different views of happiness. They seem to think that the newness of something is love. My definition of love is that both parties are at heart friends, lovers and that they face life challenges together. There is acceptance in the relationship that things will not always be perfect or wonderful but that the good always outweighs the bad.”

      ChumpedForANewerModel, this is the exact convo I had with FW on D-Day. Before he told me everything, he told me that he wasn’t happy and was no longer attracted to me. This was because he no longer had the butterflies and excitement that we had at the beginning of our relationship two decades ago (duh!). I said that love changes and evolves over time, that it is about friendship and having each others’ backs, and being a team. Loving each other but also knowing that it won’t always be fun. He said that he didn’t want that, he wanted fun and excitement. And his constant refrain in those early days was, “Don’t I deserve to be happy??”

      Still waiting for an explanation of why his happiness is so much more important than mine or our daughter’s….

      • Their happiness is essential and should be a priority to everyone. That is what I observed after DDay. I don’t know if he is happier now that he has his freedom, and I just don’t care enough to find out. He is just another narcissist that I encountered in life.

      • My XW also said the same thing (“I deserve to be happy”).

        My response was “Yes, but why can’t you try to be happy with me first?” This was before I knew about the affair so I was mostly just confused about how she could know she wanted out of a marriage that she had literally never complained about ever. I was pleading with her to try marriage counseling – just once, for our kids’ sakes – before giving up on the marriage.

        XW swears that what I actually said was “you are only allowed to be happy with me”. She went around town telling people that I had threatened to kill her if she tried to leave. I know I never said that because (a) I remember and (b) that’s not even something that I believe. Luckily no one who actually knows me believed her, but she successfully positioned herself as the brave spouse fleeing domestic violence in the new neighborhood she moved to.

          • I think they just lie so much, including to themselves, that they end up “believing” their own lies, but they have to reinforce those lies to themselves constantly, or reality bites them on the bum.
            I suspect that’s part of the reason they have to swerve or even dump their betrayed spouses, because we are constant reminders of the Truth, and that makes it too hard for them to convince themselves of their own lies.
            Of course, their “belief” in their lies is only shallow; they know fine well what the truth is not so very deep down and that’s why, even once they’ve left or been kicked out, sooner or later, reality bites them on the bum anyway! Serves them right really, doesn’t it!

  • Hi Clare. I was also with STBX for 30 years when his serial cheating was disclosed to me. He presented as, wait for it, the complete opposite of who he actually is. I, for one, don’t believe for a second that these “people” turn into anything other than who they are. It took me a very long time to internalise that. I just could not accept that he was not who he pretended to be. He had been so utterly convincing. I asked myself one day, if I gave it everything, 100% effort, could I do any of the things he had done to me, to him or to any other human being? Answer, of course not. I’m not built that way. I can’t change who I am at my core, nobody can.

    I believe your STBX has always been a lying POS, he just pretended he wasn’t. You mentioned in the comments section that you haven’t heard from him since you left 9 months ago. That one sentence tells you all you need to know about whether he is nice or nasty. A nice person who is fully committed to their spouse/partner and is wholly invested in that relationship, simply cannot cut off all contact. Its not what a normal person does. It’s what a nasty person does, because they’re nasty and always have been. They can’t change from being nasty to nice so they have to pretend to be nice, otherwise who would surround them? At the same time, they can’t not be who they are, nasty, so they lead double lives. Internalise his nastiness. Trust that he sucks.

  • I have real doubts that they hit the 20-30-40 year mark and suddenly decide to cheat. After Dday, when I looked back (and I looked back obsessively), I could see multiple times from the very beginning of our marriage when the situation was suspicious, when his stories seemed unnecessarily detailed, when his behavior was illogical and not consistent with fidelity. I think cheaters hit a point in their deception when they think “my partner is so blind/stupid/oblivious/trapped” that “I can do anything”. At that point, the chumped partner makes the unpleasant discovery. I think the dirtball was hiding inside the cheater all along.

  • Not a 30 year marriage, but 7 (13 years together total) with a small child. People were shocked at first, but I realize it’s because I had been hiding all of his other crappy behavior! (And lying to myself about what his actions really said about who he was). His dad had left his mom after 26 years of marriage, I didn’t know the man prior to the split, but I certainly found him shallow & insufferable when we met.

  • “Clare’s now ex-husband believes that he’s still a “really good guy.” Good grief. They’re so quick to forgive themselves, huh?”

    Beyond that, FWs are also delusional and straight out gaslighters. If a FW says it, it must be so. They’ll keep repeating bullshit to alter your reality. If it’s repeated enough then it must be true. Maybe they try to convince themselves too.

    It’s just so hard to reconcile that the people we married in good faith and with honest love — that they just weren’t ever who we thought they were. I agree with CL… there was no switch that flipped. They were always shallow and crappy. I think Chumps (me too) just kept wanting to see them in their best light. We want to will them to be better than they are. And once their mask falls off, there’s no way to ignore that the Wizard of Oz is really just a shitty mean poser behind a curtain.

  • Clare – I’m sorry you’ve been hit by this late in marriage land mine. Not that we have pain contests here, but 30 years of investment (v. my 11 years) does give one pause. And, I agree with CL (always)… it isn’t as likely to have been his first foray into cheating… he was given an ultimatum (that sounds like a healthy relationship) and he punted. Let her win that “prize”.

    It is frustrating that these fuckwits walk amongst us. Case in point… went to my HS reunion recently at a local bar. While ordering drinks, an age appropriate man took up a conversation with me and later came out to my reunion area and invited me to join him for another drink. Later, he escorted me to my car and we exchanged numbers. We texted for a week and I then asked him if we were going to talk or see each other… poof, ghosted me. SO… using my old marriage policing skills, I was able to discover that he was a month away from celebrating his 35th anniversary (on Facebook)… note: this is why cheaters usually get burner phones that aren’t traceable, this fuckwit used a published work phone number and last name (insert face palm).

    I know where you are at is hard right now – but trust that it is better. Keep the memories you want from your 30 years together but don’t linger in the past – you’ve got a bright, cheater free future ahead of you.

  • The dumping of relationships decades in the making seems to be a theme today, and I wonder if it’s the dearth of kibbles that makes the cheater discard the mask. The kids are more or less grown, becoming adults, so whatever kibbles the cheater gets from them is dwindling. And the partner appliance is now old kibbles, not as tasty, also they don’t need the appliance for child-rearing anymore. So they walk. Fewer kibbles and stale kibbles just aren’t worth it anymore. The hunt for fresh kibbles is on! There probably have been nibbles of kibbles over the years, but the kibble supply at home had been adequate. But then it’s not, so it’s hasty la vista, baby. PS: VH, you were missed!

    • Also, at several decades of marriage, the cheater is no longer married to a starry eyed teen or twenty something, but to a battle hardened veteran, LOL, someone who’s been through a lot of life and isn’t the same fawning person they might have been 30 years before. Middle aged people don’t have time or patience for bullshit (and that only increases with age) and cheaters need a LOT of bullshit to stay happy.

    • Yeah, the kibble supply at home had been adequate, until… I started going through menopause and I got sick and tired of always being amenable. I finally stopped kissing his entitled ass and said, “No.” Oh my gosh! Months and months after my divorce, I thought, ‘oh, what if I could go back and be amenable again. I’d still be married!’ But years later, I think, ‘geez, my marriage would have been over much sooner had I got sick of his shit sooner.’ And that’s part of being in a long-term committed relationship. My ‘true’ spouse would have stuck by me. I didn’t have a true spouse. I was married to a fuckwit. Thank goodness it’s all over.

      • Sounds like ex wanted a servant instead of a wife….or he thought those two things were the same.

  • Years ago, a friend of mine told me about her friend who was engaged to a guy and they had a child together. This young woman had admitted to my friend that she didn’t love the guy and had no intention of staying with him but she was going to stick around and have another child with him because he was a good father, had a well paid job and would be a good provider and she wanted both her kids to have the same father – in short, she was just using him.
    I told my friend that I thought that was absolutely disgusting. The story stayed with me as I really struggled to understand how she could justify hurting someone and her children like this this to herself.

    Fast forward to finding out about my own XH cheating and lying etc. for years and it struck me that there are so many people who go to sleep each night next to someone who isn’t committed to them, doesn’t love them and is justifying using them.
    They have their fingers crossed behind their backs the whole time.

  • Mine legally ended at 33 yrs in. 26 of those married. When I joined this, I wondered why 25/26 seemed to be the number of years that it collapses. When I left, I was in survival mode and not looking towards a shiny future. Luckily I have gained one and can plan ahead. But damn those disordered abusers wreak havoc without remorse.

  • Oh Clare, I am so sorry. I am constantly amazed at how big this club is. A club that we never wanted to belong to. Good for you for not doing the pick me dance, unfortunately I did and I regret it so much. I think the saddest part is how this rewrites our past. I look at my memories through a different lens and realize that he was never in the marriage as I thought and I wasted so much time defending him. Best of luck to you and may your future be bright.

  • its apparently quite rare a fw will cheat just once, u will never know the truth, because they feel they dont have to answer to you, live u life will, the ow wll want a baby, soon

  • In the introduction to his book The Drowned and the Saved, Auschwitz survivor, scientist and historian Primo Levi quotes another camp survivor who testified at Nuremberg who said (roughly), “Ten percent of people are always merciful, ten percent are always cruel and the remaining eighty percent can go either way.”

    For me, life has become about sticking to that better ten percent, mostly because I’m sick of dealing with all the shit that happens around the morally inconsistent majority. In fact, the only times I’ve ended up entangled with the epically evil 10%, the latter were let into the fold or enabled and defended by the “wishy-washy 80.”

    It’s not that easy to apply a social filter like this. Most people want to believe that “most people are good” and regard it as unpardonable cynicism to suspect that the majority are somewhat questionable. I agree that, if most are never put to some kind of moral test, they could go their whole lives without participating in anything terrible. But the problem I have is that my life has managed to supply a series of “moral tests” and then I’ve been left seeing the depressing “penny drop” moments when people around me turned out not to be good enough for the occasion. At the very least this is a drag and at most it can cost lives. So I ain’t playin’ anymore.

    It’s also not easy to determine who is who at first because– due to cognitive dissonance, image management, self deception or simply leading sheltered lives– most people believe themselves to be morally consistent just like narcissists typically go around telling everyone that they’re “empaths.” The difficulty of predicting who will do what when push comes to shove prompted researcher Stanley Milgram to devise an entire social experiment to identify what Milgram called “agentic personalities”– those who could, under a certain amount of social pressure, participate in atrocities. As most probably know, Milgram became obsessed with how the Holocaust could have happened and how average people became accomplices to evil. In his experiment, average Joes and Janes would be compelled by research assistants to give shocks of increasing intensity to other research assistants whom study subjects were led to believe were fellow study subjects. The shocks weren’t real and the “victims” were acting but study subjects didn’t know this. Without being threatened or coerced, some would deliver what they believed were enormously painful or near fatal shocks in response to verbal instructions from minor authority figures. Milgram’s findings varied a little from the conclusions of the Nuremberg witness. In his study, a reported 15% refused to deliver any shocks at all while 85% agreed to deliver some shocks and a whopping 65% went to the maximum 450 volts.

    I’m not sure whether FW in my case is evil in his own right or “agentic” but I’m not sure anyone knows where that line is drawn except in the most extreme cases. For one, I suspect “agentic” people aren’t genuinely neutral parties any more than Switzerland turned out to be really “neutral” in WWII. At the very least, agentic people are “fluid,” not static characters and that many ultimately skew towards bad if only because they tend to be cowards, evil tends to be more coercive than “good” and the cost/benefit ratio will often tip them in a negative direction. Then, due to general squashiness of character, they’re more likely to eventually internalize negative influences, develop a taste for the payoffs of siding with the latter and even adopt the latter’s rationalization systems, eventually becoming evil themselves like the plot line of the famous film “Mephisto.”

    I’m even starting to believe that narcissists are really just “agentic” people on various points on the same road to hell. The main problem with narcissists might that they’re raised to be agentic– lack solid character or the courage to maintain it. Some learn to opportunistically remain squashy so they can align their value system with whomever wields more power in any context. But without solid character, one cannot genuinely love anyone else or believe in any higher principle– the very things that give life meaning and make it worthwhile. In the absence of love and higher principle, agentic people end up filling the gaping holes in their souls with toxic, empty kibble (flattery, attention, empty sex, whatever) just to feel like they’re alive. It’s not the best analogy but I think of them like those people who are allergic to dietary protein and are forced to supplement with synthetic amino acids which eventually cause brain inflammation and organ collapse. Except the budding narcissist develops the “allergy” to genuine love gradually and becomes sick and goes mad in a different way– they become addicted to the empty kibble and start serving it up to others. Doing this is always a disaster so they ultimately become consumed with existential terror, rage, etc., and from there can become more sadistic and start to do real harm.

    Or something like that. Just my clumsy personal theory-in-progress. Otherwise, I don’t see life in terms of black and white morality. Decent people can make mistakes and get off track but, in terms of overall patterns, I know there are solidly decent, genuinely well-meaning people in the world and there’s a big difference between the latter and the morally blurry types.

    • HOAC – I now recognize the red flags were when I resorted to asking him how he would feel if his daughter were the victim of road rage or misogyny. He seemed not to have developed a conscious beyond how behaviors might impact himself or his own offspring. And, even then, he would accuse me of wishing them harm by making the comparison. This happened with greater frequency as he aged or became entangled in his own lies.

      • It’s funny how people tend to think “empathy” is always a good thing. Is it good when it’s not expressed equally? Is it good when it’s misdirected and enables evil? It’s like people never heard of “sympathy for the devil.” Primatologists even make the case that it originally evolved as a predatory impulse in our ape ancestors as a way to read intentions in opponents or prey the better to defeat them. These days the psychobabble buzz term for predatory empathy is “dark empathy” and it’s treated as a pathological anomaly among humans when, in reality, it may be the root expression of it or factory standard for the species.

        Regardless, I think it’s generally a good thing that modern humans have come to value the updated, kinder-gentler evolution of empathy, though even that can also have negative connotations if it’s not applied with a sense of justice. For instance, though it’s normal for people to be most concerned about those close to them, it’s not so great in the extreme where one doesn’t give a rat’s ass about “outsiders.” I think that would be regarded as “selective empathy.” That’s what you’re ex was expressing and the ramifications aren’t pretty. It’s apparently an element of caste systems and various “isms” –racism, classism, sexism, etc.– where people see “me and mine” as somehow better, worthier and more human than “them and theirs.” Selective empathy is also a thing in Cluster B personality disorders like narcissism and borderline (so-called “splitting” behaviors– either idealizing or demonizing others). You can easily see how it fits with narcissism since, in order to feel “superior,” one naturally needs to designate certain other people or groups as “inferior.”

        So your ex put his kids above the rest of humanity. What a prize.

  • Today’s blog hits super hard for many of us. I wish I could see the podcast too, but I’m at my beach house still and I need to drive 10 miles up to McDonald’s for internet. ( will do that later for sure!)
    That’s quite the lineup you have coming down the pike, CL, can’t wait to listen to all of them! You are killin the game out there!!! Good for you!!

    I do believe there is something about the ‘30 and out’ cheaters, it is way too common an occurrence. I have two very close friends in the same boat myself and countless others here at chumptown USA.
    I think they actually believe that they have earned the right to keep the “ good guy” image intact and act completely flabbergasted that we don’t also respect that bogus narrative.
    They could have left sooner, in their own eyes, but unselfishly kept the family intact as long as they could possibly stand it and then just needed to move on for everyone’s sake. How noble they are!
    They are the heros in that narrative. They bailed and left for the good of all.

    Just can’t fathom why it never got to the “ let bygones be bygones” delusional visualization stage they predicted, the one that turns them into the victim of the fallout from your inability to buy into that claim.
    He just wants to stay friends, after-all, and maintain the happy ‘fake family facade’ while also marrying the long term (unknown to anyone else) mistress.
    He sees nothing whatsoever wrong with that perspective either, which is pretty damn fascinating. Those that don’t see that, in their eyes, are holding grudges, bitter and just unforgiving.
    Mine was a 38 year marriage, with additional 6 years of dating him before that. In essence, my entire known life.
    He just wants to live an “honest life” now, he told me, though. He deserves to find his happy. He’s worked hard for decades to provide for our family, don’t I realize that, and now he just wants HIS happy. Why could I possibly have a problem with any of that?!?🤷‍♀️
    Yeah, I’m in the camp it is deep in their DNA to be these narcissistic sociopaths. They just saw the benefit of keeping it under their hats for 30 years, if possible, with their mind blowing ,Einstein level compartmentalization skills.
    Then they will blow it up at their own convenience. Just move on with dignity and honor in their own warped views of reality.
    I think your husband isn’t so shocked this happened to him at all as he hopes you will buy into.
    I’d bet a whole lot of money, it’s not his first rodeo, just as it wasn’t my FW’s first cheating soirée, irregardless of the view he’s trying to get you to swallow.
    We just grew apart, I’m very different now than the man you married, I need change in my life, I want to experience more things and life is short, I’m easily bored, etc and so on. The excuses are the most shallow on this earth, just like they themselves are.
    I think 99% of these FW’s didn’t just find that one amazing dream person dropped in from a cloud at their feet one fine summer day, fell madly in love and sadly have to leave you now.
    No, they have been cheating and devaluing you in some form or another for the entirety of those 30 years. The devalue/ discard phase has been in progress for a really long time before they pull the plug.
    We just thought perhaps they had a brain tumor, a stroke, were bipolar, had uncontrolled anger issues, stressed at their jobs, FOO traumas? Spirals with the death of their parents, fear of aging, retiring, don’t want to be obsolete, health issues? The way overused crushing midlife crisis that just consumed them( mine had ‘ midlife crisis’ issues from age 25 to 65 on the regular).
    We try so hard to justify their very abnormal and very entitled, bizarre behaviors as best we can. This too will pass, marriages are hard but worth it, for better or worse perspective.
    We don’t ever want to admit that they actually just SUCK !!! and we need to GTFO.
    It’s just who they are. Nothing is going to make that change, ever, ever, or ever!
    Entitled, needy, shady, deceitful, morally absent, lying, scamming,integrity deficient selfish A-holes.
    The nasty in them can’t get washed away with our love, commitment, decades of giving and desperately sacrificing our very souls to help them become a better person. We tried so very hard to save them! We saw the good in them and want to get it back.
    But was it ever really there or our great wish to believe they were a better person than what they were projecting.
    But, it is not and never was within our control to alter their self launched trajectories. We can’t love them out of their really shitty character disordered selves.
    They don’t want to grow old with an aging spouse when they can secure the clueless young model. Their adult kids are in stable secure jobs now, that’s boring to them, they don’t get to hitch their wagon to their children’s accolades over the years anymore, gaining perks for being the great parent who raised them.
    Retired from high profile jobs, doesn’t get the kudos daily of “ look at me everyone, I’m really successful!” or the family to clap daily for your greatness as you walk through the door every evening.
    No one can tell you about your greatness every second of the day, not even schmoopie they will soon discover.
    They have to find the ppl that will be super impressed with them on the regular and be in awe of their greatness and achievements, feeding them those life sustaining kibbles of admiration, ALL THE TIME!!
    They just need a whole new fan base is all and since the bond to the last one was shallow, that’s an easy change up for them.
    The being known as a great dad, great husband, great employee, talented artist doesn’t cut it any longer for them when it’s just the same old ppl telling him that, it just loses the sparkle he NEEDS it to have.
    Superficiality trumps intimacy and deep connections any day of the week for a narcissist.
    I believe deep down they know they are disordered and mentally unsound, they know what they are doing to you is not at all right. They don’t care enough to change it though.
    They are so unique and special, no one could possibly understand them and they deserve more than others in this life because of that specialness only they possess. They fully believe that to be true.
    Ppl are fully replaceable, there is no deep bonding, intimacy, attachment to anyone on the planet for them.
    Thus the ease of discarding spouse, children, friends, family. They were never genuinely connected to any of that anyway, it was always a game they played for the outcome they needed.
    They projected an illusion of genuine caring, it doesn’t come from within them. They are completely hollow inside.
    They flit through life with zero empathy, so they get to destroy lives with complete impunity and still have a grand ole time of it, no guilt, no worries.
    I don’t believe they morphed into this nasty unknown creature you see before you. They just exposed it when they were done with you and ready to move on to the next victim.
    Trust that they suck is the only genuine truth to be gleaned from 30 years with an entitled narcissist.
    Divorce him and move on, no contact. The picture he painted for you of the happily ever after with him so make times was never within his ability to give to you or anyone else.

    • “Entitled, needy, shady, deceitful, morally absent, lying, scamming,integrity deficient selfish A-holes.”

      In a nutshell.

    • Bravo, Chumpasauras45! Bravo. You nailed it completely. I fully agree with your point of view. That’s who they are. Trust that they suck and move on.

  • Long marriage also means the kids are out of the house!
    No need to have shared custody and no need to pay child support.
    It’s easier for a man to marry again…Supply and demand on the way society views women as they age.
    Men often go a lot younger and have a whole chance at a second life once they’ve used up their wife!
    I know women are fuckwits too and the female cheating partners are Fuckwits, but a lot of chumped women end up alone when they are dumped in their 50s and over, whereas the men end up with partners pretty quickly and younger partners at that.
    And the FW will tell everyone that age has absolutely nothing to do with it – they just happened to fall in love with somebody 15 years younger!

    • Yeah, a friend told me her own father TOLD HER he waited to divorce her mother until she turned 18 so he wouldn’t have to pay child support. What a prince among men.

    • There’s a lot of truth to this but those Schmoopies have a surprise coming as do the FWs…..when you are with a man who is 15, 20 years older….he is 15 or 20 years OLDER and he starts having health problems and all those things that can go wrong with someone as they age….and Schmoopie is NOT going to enjoy taking care of FW in his old age. My mother, who was NOT a Schmoopie, but a very unhappily married woman (marriage was a big mistake for both) married a man who was 15 years older and went through all the health stuff (she married him when he was about 45 or so. A dedicated wife of many years may be willing to go through health scares and traumas and financial upheavels…..Schmoopie…..not as much. I bet a lot of these guys try to come back as they age and Schmoopie zones out or leaves.

  • Five years out from a 35 year marriage. While I was married I was invested in the narrative that he was a good guy whose less good qualities and behaviors were a result of his FOO issues. I spackled and excused a lot that was hurtful, puzzling, and dubious. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, which is what I thought you do in marriage.

    D-day happened when we’d been married 32 years. It took me three years to leave. After D-Day, and in light of it, seeing through a new lens, his earlier behavior that I’d excused or spackled over came into focus and began to look different. I saw lines of continuity and patterns of behavior that I hadn’t seen before.

    For me, it isn’t so much that my ex was a good guy gone bad, but a man with tendencies of long standing that got worse over time.

  • “For me, it isn’t so much that my ex was a good guy gone bad, but a man with tendencies of long standing that got worse over time.”
    I def agree with this Adelante. It got progressively worse, until it was not tolerable.

    “And the FW will tell everyone that age has absolutely nothing to do with it – they just happened to fall in love with somebody 15 years younger!”
    Lol, Zip! Nothing whatsoever to do with it!!🤣
    I think also, when they involve themselves with much younger partners, they can imagine themselves being so much younger in life than the old used up spouse they left.
    And the new partner will give them more respect for the extra years of “wisdom”under their belt. More like extra years to refine their manipulative con game is more like it.

    • Honestly I think most of those younger women are selling themselves for money and benefits, and the old coot is buying. They both know what they are after.

      My fw’s whore was only five years younger and she was rode hard and put up wet; but I have no doubt she was after a meal ticket (he was not her first married man rodeo) and he had to know she was after a meal ticket.

      She got fooled though, he gambled them into the poor house and left her in deep debt. Easy street didn’t last long.

  • “But he’s really a good guy”. Nope. A far better description is “he is very good at the ‘good guy’ facade.”

    I used to be a realtor, and there were far too many times when I would take clients to see what appeared to be truly wonderful homes…only to discover upon closer inspection that they had mold growing in the insides of the beams, or basements crumbling with rot, or old asbestos siding, or lead in the paint. I have been in otherwise splendid homes where the roof went so to hell that bad weather found it’s way through to the attic, the staircase, the main floor. I’ve shown houses that should have been perfect but we’re saturated so badly with mildew that you got a migraine just breathing the air.

    What looks great from the curb and from the descriptions …is actually just a nightmare.

    I think this is also a great analogy of a cheater. They always think highly of themselves, too highly really, and market themselves as being absolutely great…with maybe that ‘one little slip up.’ They will tell you they were a good provider, we’re nice to stray animals, never beat their children.

    But at the core their wood is termite infested and rotten, sunlight never comes through the closed (secretive) windows, and they have faulty wiring throughout. These people are death traps to anyone who shelters in them

    All the fresh exterior paint in the world won’t cover up what they’re hiding inside.

  • He did not turn, his mask was just really good and well developed. Mine held the mask for over 20 years and laughed at me and literally said “nobody’s going to believe you.” when he dropped it for me. And he was right.

    Look at how the asshole in today’s column expertly ducks accountability, “this is not me, I do not do things like this.” as he literally does it. That’s a fucking psycho. He’d be stabbing someone and saying “so sorry, this is so not like me, I don’t stab people!” And the person being stabbed would be hysterically thinking, “this guy is a fucking nut job, he’s fucking stabbing me while he talks about how he doesn’t stab people, wtf?! I’m going to die here, this is a total fucking psycho!”

    I think part of the reason they do that is for their own benefit. While he was harming his wife, he was reassuring himself that he’s not the person who does the things he is doing. That makes him feel better about it. He absolved himself of any responsibility. They do it constantly. It becomes second nature to them. Anybody who was married to one of these people, any time they brought up something “someone else” did and said how they would never do it, this is why they did that. They did all those things they would never do. They were talking about it to relieve themselves of accountability for it.

    • My fw, especially in the last few years was constantly talking about how Bob did this, or Phil did that etc. Ass wipe was confessing and I was just too stupid to see it.

      • Mine did it too. He would come home and tell me about the messed up things random people from work were doing and how it was terrible for their families. It was all him. He had a story about a woman he worked with screwing in the portapotty at a construction site that was just horrifying and I realize now he was the one screwing her. It makes me sick to think about. They were all confessions. He got off on telling me about it.

        • I agree, I remember a couple of the stories towards the end, one was about his best friend screwing around at a family reunion, the other was about some guy screwing his girlfriend in his office. When I looked at him, he had the weirdest look on his face and he was standing very close to me. Not in normal conversation space.

          Once in the year of discard he said someone had accused him of messing around with his best friends wife, he said “I would never do that to my best friend” that time I responded “how about not doing that to me?” He just kind of mumbled something like yeah that too. I was pretty much on to him by then, I think I was just hunkering down for the final blow.

        • Yes, mine had all these stories about the terrible people at work and the things they were doing. I’m sure he was talking about himself. Even asked me what my views were on it. He certainly presented the perfect image of himself for 22 years until the mask finally dropped. I ignored my gut and red flags many times over the years and I see that now retrospectively.

      • I’m about 98% certain my FW did the same thing previous to the Dday affair. A younger co-worker, a business trip, (legit), and returning home to talk about others there who were cheating “and everyone knew it.” It was the fascination in his voice rather than horror.

  • I think a lot of these people (and I do tend to think this is more guys for some reason) were cheating all along at different points but covered themselves well. Like CL I don’t think people change overnight. I think spouses overlook a lot of red flags over the years or are just naive and can’t imagine spouse doing this because they would never do it. When you don’t lie and cheat, it’s hard to imagine it in others. I bet this guy has a history she doesn’t know anything about & maybe it’s just as well she doesn’t now. There might be some people who reach an age where they think….this is my last hurrah before I get old and die so I’m gonna go…like she says “skydiving” or climb Mt Everest so they can feel like they’re still alive or young or vital, etc. I wonder how that plays out….if they have a younger Schmoopie, probably not well unless they have a lot of money. I bet some of those cheaters try to come back when they run out of steam. If I were her, I’d just start up a new life with as much fun as I can on my own, even if you end up with another old guy….at least it’s a different one, LOL!

  • 36 yrs married here. In the end, he said he didn’t love me, never did love me and was never romantically attracted to me. Sort of like he rehearsed it and said each comment over 3 days. The latter comment was obvious. This shows how shallow he was to passively blow up the entire 36 yrs.

    • Oh, and in summary one fine day, he listed this in order.
      I don’t want to lose my house, my dogs, and I don’t want to disappoint my mother.
      I said, how about your ugly wife?
      (He quickly lost everything)

      • Mine said he didn’t want to lose his garage ,his motor cycle and trailer nor his dad’s money. It was never me, after 32 years. I don’t believe now that my XH had the ability to love from his heart. Ever. It was ALWAYS if people were of USE to him. The moment I retires and stopped working and earning, I was out. When my first cheater found the best paying job of his life, I was out. It is sad to note I was only of use as a good wage earner and appliance, not even as a mother was I of value. Only for what I could do for THEM. I really need to let that sink in and never miss the love I didn’t have.

  • I asked my partner who had cheated on me after 20 yrs “Is this what people who love each other do to each other?”

  • A few chumps wrote that they feel guilty for wishing it had been a loss due to death rather than cheating. If I had ended up alone because of my former H’s death rather than being discarded due to cheating, I would have had money (which really helps with self care and lessening all the stress of being alone now), tons of understanding and support, support, support, the home we owned together, my memories, proper closure, the feeling that I had been loved, my children wouldn’t have been traumatized, I would still have my entire former family…..I could go on and on.
    Who wouldn’t wish it had been death rather than cheating? You’re thrown to the wolves financially and emotionally and suffer in silence when your marriage ends this way and nobody gets it ….. you have to try to educate people that cheating is abuse. And you watch your FW sail through it all. Oh and unlike a death in what you thought was a happy marriage, cheating makes you very sceptical about meeting anyone you can trust in your future – it just robs you love so much. Please don’t feel guilty for wishing it had been a death!

    • I do want to say that my heart goes out to anyone who has suffered through a death of a partner – especially a traumatic death not from natural causes. I can’t imagine.
      I was just trying to say that among other things, society gets that it’s extremely hard on the ones left behind when there’s a death, but the trauma of the abuse and financial loss that is cheating is not well recognized and I think it makes the loss extra hard. My therapist said the same. But I know it’s not a competition- I just don’t blame anyone for wishing that.

      I’ve also seen it in my family. My mom was chumped years ago and was left with children (I was one of them) to raise and a FW ex-husband (my dad who did damage to all of us emotionally over the years ). Her best friend lost her husband to a sudden heart attack at a young age. My mom and her best friend have had very different lives – they are both in their 80s now. My mom had to work until 70 years old, her friend didn’t work at all because she had her husband‘s pension, the family home and savings. Even now in their 80s her best friend is very comfortable and doesn’t have to worry about a thing. That’s not so for my mom. Her best friend’s kids and grandkids have all thrived – the whole family has done amazingly well. My mom had a much more difficult time raising her children with all the damage my dad caused and single parenting etc.
      Not one of FW’s kids has a relationship with him now. We are all in our 50s now realizing that incredibly chaotic childhood
      did a lot of damage.

  • 27 year marriage- also met him when I was 25. But you rocked it by moving out and onward! I played the pick me dance for over a year before finally coming to my senses.
    Mine had a double life for 10 years – Tracy’s right- they just don’t wake up one day and destroy their family. My ex’s included one long term (10 yr) mistress; one short term mistress (3 months); and multiple threesomes, one night stands, prostitutes, phone sex, etc. He left for the short term mistress because, in his words, “she’ll do an open marriage and you won’t.” They are married and it is open I believe.
    Anyway…. yeah, he thinks he’s wonderful. He’s not.

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