Are Affairs Addictions?

affair addiction

Dear Chump Lady,

Is an affair an addiction?

I realize the futility of trying to explain my STBX’s behavior, but still would like to know your opinion about the claims that all this cake eating is some kind of addiction. Although new to CN, I have lived with people suffering from addiction most of my life. With that said, I do have some opinions of my own on the matter.

For me, there are some similarities. The compulsive, wreckless behaviors can feel the same. The secrecy, frequent disappearances, missing money, excuses, and broken promises all remind me of the using and relapses I’ve witnessed.

I suppose there was even the possibility of cheating during some of his week-long cocaine binges, but it was lost on me back then. We both spent 10 years in 12-step recovery programs and I honestly felt we had worked hard on overcoming our own issues. I do think of addiction as an illness and see many of those behaviors as consequences of the illness. Much of it even seemed unintentional, since it went away during sobriety.

What is different, for me about his cheating is the whole devaluation process.

It is so intentional and targeted. He is directly out to cause me harm (so far just emotional and financial). The look on his face as he detaches from me and the kids and the incessant complaining about how awful everything is here, it’s like he’s removed from reality. Like he becomes a totally different person. It’s totally creepy and seems nothing like his using behavior. So I have trouble referring to this new abhorent behavior as an addiction.

What I’m really disturbed and apalled by is that he is using his years in recovery to pick up women who are new to recovery at meetings. I suspect he is masquerading as some enlightened hero willing to help with sobriety (in exchange for sex). Hopefully someone catches on and does something to keep people at their meetings safe from him.

In the end, even if this question nags on my conscience, I have decided I am not willing to live with someone who behaves like this. If this is a new addiction, it is not one I’m willing to live with. I filed for divorce and am doing my best to stay sane while I decide if I want to battle over the house or leave.

Thanks,

Scharklady

****

Dear Scharklady,

This is an untangling the skein of fuckupedness question. You’re trying to make sense of his self-destruction, selfishness, and downright cruelty. Been there, done that, give me the chip.

As someone who’s has had substance abuse problems yourself, the addiction lens is understandable. And there is a lot of language around infidelity that likens affairs to addictions. Cheaters are in the “fog.” They need to grieve their affairs partners, it’s like detox, etc.

I absolutely do not doubt that there are neurotransmitter issues in play — that affairs have addiction-like highs, that thrill seeking feels manic and wonderful, and that once you’ve brain-wired manipulative behaviors, they come quite naturally.

But I also believe in moral agency — that you know who you are hurting, but you just don’t care.

Addicts and cheaters do a cost-benefit analysis.

They weigh what they want (drugs, money, sex) versus your well-being. Their wants win out every time. Addicts are completely cognizant of this cost-benefit analysis, thus the secrecy, thus the lying, thus the anger and indignation when you confront and and try to take away their opiate.

IMO, what cheaters and addicts have in common is narcissism. MY pleasure is more important. MY pain needs medicating (who gives a fuck about your pain? Did I create more pain? Let’s not dwell on that, give me another hit!) And cheaters and addicts shove all the responsibility on to the chumps who love them. Hey, cheater/addict is checked out. Guess who gets to pay the bills, show up for the school concert, and watch the children? Chumps.

They are not available for a relationship.

Scharklady — I don’t know if cheaters are addicts. That’s a question for the professionals. Who knows what the Venn diagram is between addiction, personality disorder, and mental illness. What I do know from personal, painful experience with both, is that they are NOT available for relationships. And the healthy thing to do in these situations is DETACH. Detach with love, or without love, but SAVE yourself. Which is exactly what you’re doing. Good for you.

A couple more thoughts on this. First, the language around addiction and affairs bothers me because when we label things a syndrome, like “sex addiction” it gives chumps a framework of illness. Which seems to absolve cheaters of moral responsibility for their choices. Oh, they’re just sick. I need to stick this out! In sickness and in health! I can save this! We’ll just find the right doctor! They can’t help it! 

In my opinion, yes, they can help it. They choose not to help it. I think the addiction model can keep chumps stuck in helper mode.

Devaluing you is devaluing you.

If you think in terms of affair addiction, how do you explain the devaluing? Oh, they just get ugly when you threaten their kibbles? It’s not Bob who is insulting me, it’s his addicted brain! He doesn’t mean it! And if he were sober, he’d be nice again! (Or maybe Bob is an entitled asshole who will treat you like shit, sober or drunk? Faithful or unfaithful? Because Bob values Bob most highly.)

Second, if anyone is an addict here, IMO, it’s chumps.

Kicking a cheater out is like kicking a drug. I don’t know how it is for cheaters quitting affair partners. Maybe we share some neurotransmitters there, but I know that when I was going through it eons ago, even as I was doing the most insane things — taking him back, having sex with him, spackling over or just outright denying his ridiculous lies — I KNEW I WAS DOING IT. I knew intellectually it was wrong. It hurt like a motherfucker. And I did it anyway. I needed a hit from that hopium pipe. That validation from the person who was devaluing me. I needed the tiny, precious, kibble scrap he was throwing at me.

And when I got that tiny, precious, kibble scrap? It was HUGE. The high was so very high.

And the lows were so devastatingly low.

How did I break the cycle? With sheer mental fortitude and a lot of online and real life support. The big breakthrough, however, was no contact. I had to kick the drug. The person I was devaluing as an addict was myself.

You’ve filed for divorce. You’re kicking the cheater habit. I applaud you.

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Mr. CL
Mr. CL
9 months ago

Chump Lady has an addiction to Thaddeus Stevens.

DrChump
DrChump
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr. CL

I knew you were Mr CL

thelongrun
thelongrun
9 months ago
Reply to  DrChump

DrChump, are you referring to the possible clue that Mr. CL has the same icon as Nomar?😁

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr. CL

Sounds like a healthier type of addiction though I’m sure neo-confederate quacks could coin a science-y sounding psychiatric disorder out of it like (thump thump thump, running to Google translate)… “xypnisamania” (woke disorder)?

thelongrun
thelongrun
9 months ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Ok, I’m pretty sure he’s the one in the Lincoln movie that Tommy Lee Jones plays? Sad to say, but that’s my introduction to him. But he was a Vermonter! Representing for the state I transplanted to. Like that.😁

Juniper
Juniper
9 months ago
Reply to  thelongrun

Longrun, do you currently live in VT? Enjoying it? Would love to hear more. I’ve been eyeing it for awhile now.

thelongrun
thelongrun
9 months ago
Reply to  Juniper

I do, Juniper. Let me know if you have specific questions and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability. Hope all is well your way.

UXworld
UXworld
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr. CL

#PennsylMania #MilitaryPreoccpation #BirthOfAFixation

Dontfeellikedancin
Dontfeellikedancin
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr. CL

Mr. CL 😆
Came here to say “oh thanks for making me look up Thaddeus Stevens,” but maybe I shouldn’t for sobriety’s sake.

chumped48
chumped48
9 months ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

I grew up in Lancaster and never heard of him- just read up on him. (It’s a shame that the area is rife with Confederate flags these days.) I’m glad I know about him now- my late father was very active in the Democratic party in Lancaster (which was an uphill battle) and likely knew a lot about this man. Something to be proud of about my hometown.

Mr. CL
Mr. CL
9 months ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

#fangirl

Amiisfree
Amiisfree
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr. CL

😂

LookingForwardsToTuesday
LookingForwardsToTuesday
9 months ago

Scharklady,

Just because Cheaters exhibit behaviour that is similar to behaviours exhibited by addicts doesn’t mean that cheating is an addiction; there is whole “correlation does not equal causation” thing going on here I think. I would say, that Cheaters have agency and cheating involves the Cheater in making choices. I always suspect that anyone using the “addiction” excuse in this context is trying to avoid taking responsibility for their choices/actions ….. which in my experience, Cheaters tend to do a lot. That said, I’m no expert in any of this; just someone with a lot of (bitter) experience from getting burned by a Cheater who just happened to be addicted to alcohol.

Addiction or not, your Cheater is exhibiting behaviours that you do not find acceptable ….. and that is all that you need to understand in this context.

You’ve got this.

LFTT

thelongrun
thelongrun
9 months ago

Hmm. Maybe cheaters are addicted to entitlement? That would fit the FW XW, I suppose. Still not an excuse for her shitty behavior.😠

Garden Lady Chump
Garden Lady Chump
9 months ago
Reply to  thelongrun

TLR, good point!

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 months ago

What stumps me about the equivocation every time is the fact that bottles, powders and pills don’t cry out in pain when consumed but human victims do. It would be like calling domestic battering “punching addiction.” Then why aren’t they all in jail for indiscriminately punching their bosses or armed cops? Why aren’t they holed up in gyms punching pigskin to the point of collapse?

If the kinds of abuses involved in sexual betrayal are “addiction,” they’re a darker, more criminal form, one that requires severely impaired empathy or even sadism from the get-go rather than the kind of slower progression towards callous behavior that most substance addicts undergo as dependency increases and the substances literally melt their brains. Seeing the film “Shame” by British filmmaker Steve McQueen– as excellent and compelling as it was– didn’t change my thinking on it. I still feel there’s something more “wrong” and fundamentally dangerous about people who harm others in the name of sex than with substance addicts.

It’s what DV experts say about the overlap between addiction and battering: batterers don’t batter because they drink/use, they drink/use so that they can batter. I think the criminal mentality in it has to be preexisting and that the need to abuse is the fundamental, underlying “flaw.” There’s a great quote from the old series “Six Feet Under” when the boyfriend (ironically played by Justin Theroux) of a serially cheating character rejects the latter’s claim that her behavior is an “addiction.” He says, “Oh blah blah fucking psycho bullshit. It’s not sex, it’s betrayal– that’s your fucking addiction.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llxkHYBiKx8 What if, like with battering, the “substance” being sought (maybe subconsciously) is other people’s pain in being betrayed or the sense of power to cause that pain? Where would we draw the line in defining behaviors like that as “addiction”? Would pedophiles and serial killers qualify as well?

Conchobara
Conchobara
9 months ago

I totally agree with you Hell of a Chump! I don’t buy the cheating=addiction thing because, as CL points out in her response, FW literally told me that he knew exactly what he was doing, he just didn’t care. That right there tells me that it was a choice. He felt entitled to cheat and steal and lie and chose to do it while maintaining a facade with me for almost a decade. Someone with a substance addiction doesn’t (that I’ve heard) have the wherewithal to maintain that facade for long once the addiction is full-blown.

I think instead it’s like Looking Forward to Tuesday says above, there is a correlation/causation thing here and calling cheating an addiction is an easy out for cheaters. I do think the ‘addiction’, if there is one, is to the power and the high that they get for ‘pulling one over’ on us chumps. That’s why the sneaking and the double life is so intoxicating and they try to maintain it as long as possible.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 months ago
Reply to  Conchobara

“I do think the ‘addiction’, if there is one, is to the power and the high that they get for ‘pulling one over’ on us chumps.” Amen. What you’re describing is “criminally disordered,” not addiction as in “mentally disabled.”

One of the reasons I flinch a little over the popularity of terms like “narcissism” is because giving anything Greek or Latin labels implies some kind of disability when, in a nutshell, it’s really just on the spectrum of criminality. Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel isn’t having any of this “pathology” crap regarding criminals. Regarding Bernie Madoff, Wiesel said, ‘Psychopath’ — it’s too nice a word for him…’Sociopath,’ ‘psychopath,’ it means there is a sickness, a pathology. This man knew what he was doing. I would simply call him thief, scoundrel, criminal.”

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
9 months ago

Hell of a Chump, I’m not a professional in psychology or psychiatry. However, it’s my lay opinion that not everybody has a diagnosable condition. Some people are just as—–s. I’ve reached that conclusion about a close relative of mine. Unfortunately.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 months ago

Because pathology means “disease,” one of the implications is (to oversimplify) that this entails weird, rare and unusual conditions. If everyone has a diagnosable mental condition/disease, it’s no longer a “pathology” but a trait or “norm” of the species.

I can see where diagnosing everyone and their brother with some mental pathology probably profits commercial psych, RIC and the pharmaceutical industry but it doesn’t make it so.

Viktoria
Viktoria
9 months ago
Reply to  Conchobara

“I do think the ‘addiction’, if there is one, is to the power and the high that they get for ‘pulling one over’ on us chumps. That’s why the sneaking and the double life is so intoxicating and they try to maintain it as long as possible.”

—- 100% agree. (Said to them: )..Might as well face it, you’re addicted to— lying, deception, power, control, and possessing secret knowledge (thus power), and betraying your unaware spouse.

MichelleShocked
MichelleShocked
9 months ago

LFTT, I agree. It’s very nice and pat to label cheating an “addiction” — it limits a cheater’s responsibility. And (I’m no expert either) but if psychologists instead labeled cheating as “stunted” or “immature” or disordered behavior — in that full grown adults revert to toddler-like lack of self control — that they take what they want when they want without regard or empathy for others… that they revert to child-like narcissism where the world revolves around them and just make bad choices as if they have lost executive functioning. They lie about everything. Maybe that label would make it clear that FWs are unable to have adult relationships and it’s unchangable — NOT FIXABLE. Therefore, the courts should allow chumps to be free of FWs without issue: “oh, she married an undiagnosed man-child (or a male chump married a woman-child). Please give unwitting chump a fair divorce and settlement and full custody of the children so they are not unduly influenced or harmed by a FW selfish asshole. The FW now must identify as unfit for relationships, like the sex offenders they are.”

thelongrun
thelongrun
9 months ago

MicheleShocked,

I like this. I would have loved to have had the FW XW labeled as a woman-child and gotten full custody of the children by the court because of that. Backing up the fact that their mother made a shitty, abusive life choice that affected everybody in the family adversely. Except for her; the one that’s further along the sociopathic spectrum than I’m willing to tolerate anymore…

LookingForwardsToTuesday
LookingForwardsToTuesday
9 months ago
Reply to  thelongrun

TLR,

If you haven’t already read “The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, then you should do. It gives some excellent guidance for dealing with people like our FWs.

Both of my now-adult daughters have read my copy and both found it an eye opener for sure.

LFTT

thelongrun
thelongrun
9 months ago

I’ll have to look into that! Thanks for the heads up, LFTT!😁

Shadow
Shadow
9 months ago

Yes, well said MS! Especially as research is showing that cheating has such damaging effects, physically as well as emotionally, on the betrayed. It is abuse and the Law should class it as such!

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
9 months ago
Reply to  Shadow

Shadow , and I can add from my own experience that cheating also has long term effects on any children of the relationship.

The Ex-Mrs. Sparkly Pants
The Ex-Mrs. Sparkly Pants
9 months ago

As the daughter of four generations of cheaters (that I know of), I can second that, Daughterofachump

Apidae
Apidae
9 months ago

I am very over the current fad to medicalize bad character.

hush
hush
9 months ago

“The big breakthrough, however, was no contact. I had to kick the drug. The person I was devaluing as an addict was myself.”

💯 No Contact is the path to a sane, peaceful, abuser-free life. No Contact includes: avoiding the abuser’s enablers, centering yourself for the first time in maybe forever, doing group therapy to heal your betrayal trauma, doing your childhood pain recovery work, becoming much wiser about red flag spotting, especially practicing dumping someone as a friend/lover/associate the very first time you catch them lying to anyone. Hugs to you, you’ve got this!

Leedy
Leedy
9 months ago
Reply to  hush

Well put! I agree, in every detail.

Orlando
Orlando
9 months ago

I always appreciate the nuggets of insight & boots on the ground reality that you bring to the table, Chump Lady. My ex also acted like an “addict”and treated us like dog 💩. It’s not that he was an addict, it’s that he only cared about his dick being in someone’s hole (sorry for the visual) & therefore, his “care & concern” became laser-focused on his new target & not for his wife & kids. Plus, it absolved him of responsibility (loyalty, love, etc) for his wife & kids that I’m sure he was happy to be relieved of. I realize the mistake I made back in the beginning mistaking his lust/romancing me as love.

Leedy
Leedy
9 months ago
Reply to  Orlando

Yes: “Plus, it absolved him of responsibility (loyalty, love, etc) for his wife & kids that I’m sure he was happy to be relieved of.” In my FW’s case, I think that that very feeling of moral responsibility gave him unbearable guilt and shame after D-Day; and so he pretty quickly solved the guilt and shame problem by strategically reorienting his “laser focus” (as you say) toward online dating. But I keep thinking, what sort of person can dispose of their feeling of moral connection to others so easily? It’s chilling.

Stepbystep
Stepbystep
9 months ago

I left a 30-year marriage three months after I stopped drinking. Some of it was to maximize any chance of reconciliation (I owned every problem in the marriage), some of it was knowing I’d need my wits about me to pursue divorce and some of it because I no longer was self-medicating away the gaslighting.

Notice how I took responsibility for my behavior? I began attending a 12 Step program, but largely used the tools to recover from the cheating – understanding what I could and could not control, staying in the present, doing the next right thing. Still sober.

You know what doesn’t fly in a 12 Step program? Accepting on-going poor behavior because of addiction.

The original letter writer was in that precarious phase of untangling the skein which too often leads to tipping your hand.

Unicornomore
Unicornomore
9 months ago

From the letter writer:”the incessant complaining about how awful everything is here, it’s like he’s removed from reality”
OMG, my Cheater could complain like no other. Every day with him was like a long car trip with a 6 year old who was hungry, Saw no benefit in the trip being undertaken, and had to pee. He way overspent on a lovely house on 2 acres with beautiful trees, birds singing, etc.

He often attributed his misery to location and this nice place was no different, but after 25 years, I was finally wise to it. One day he said “this place is a Hell Hole of Horror” and instead of taking the bait as usual, I said “the Hell Hole of Horror is between your ears”.

From CL: “Their wants win out every time.” My Cheater was an oddball who often veered off the script, even the Cheater Script. I think there were times when he did find the conscience to not fuck someone (he told me of 2 women in our neighborhood – both strikingly beautiful – who hit on him and he claims he resisted them). I think he really believed that not fucking those 2 was something he saw as truly noble…he likely thinks that it made up for the other fucking. I think he cycled with his cheating and made up internal rules to control himself which is one reason he got away with it for SO LONG.

Dontfeellikedancin
Dontfeellikedancin
9 months ago
Reply to  Unicornomore

“2 women in our neighborhood – both strikingly beautiful – who hit on him”

Allegedly….

He sounds like a miserable SOB, he must’ve been gorgeous if anyone was actually hitting on him unprovoked.

Glad you’re rid of that piece of work and can enjoy life without his commentary!

Apidae
Apidae
9 months ago

That was my thought, too. They probably said hello and in his mind that meant they were hitting on him.

Unicornomore
Unicornomore
9 months ago

I wouldn’t have believed him except that I saw both women acting very strangely. One of them acted very chummy towards me…more that was normal for the setting. I think she was trying to get close. I think he had a rule about not sidefucking near home . He was military and he insisted that always lived FAR from his work, out in the civilian community (where he would never see a coworker).

This era was when he was like 40 and still had his looks. He aged a lot in the last few years of his life and wasn’t the looker he was before. Im glad that marriage is over but I wish my kids still had their dad…he was a sucky dad a lot of the time but occasionally had a sparkly spurt of parenting that the kids seemed to appreciate.

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
9 months ago
Reply to  Unicornomore

Unicornomore , I also wondered about that story. It pinged my BS detector as either fiction or that he actually did cheat with them. However, I defer to your knowledge of the situation.

I’ve worked as an auditor and heard a lot of things that weren’t true, or only partially true. I often took information conditionally if you know what I mean.

KatiePig
KatiePig
9 months ago
Reply to  Unicornomore

Yep, mine bitched all the time but also accused me of bitching all the time. Nothing was ever good enough for him. He bitched through vacations, the tree house we stayed in wasn’t the treehouse of his fantasies. He bitched about restaurants, if the food was good then the ambience was lacking or vice versa.

I remember our last day out before the discard, we spent a day out as a family and I wonder if he planned it that way. But we went to a restaurant I really liked that he hadn’t been to before and he ordered a dish with eggs and tomato sauce and mint in a bread bowl. I remember feeling a moment of panic and asking him, “are you sure that you want that, it has tomato sauce and mint with eggs?” because I knew he didn’t like eggs with any tomato anything and I knew he wasn’t going to like the mint.

He got angry with me and said, “you’re always saying I should try new things and then when I try you complain.” I don’t remember ever telling him he needed to try new things but ok. The dish came, he took a bite and made a nasty face and then picked at his food and complained that it tasted like mint. I told him yes, it said it had mint in it and I warned him of it. He got mad again and said, “I know but I didn’t think they’d put enough mint in it that you could actually taste it. This is disgusting!”

…so I picked a bad restaurant and ruined his meal. I don’t miss that shit at all. I’m three years out and nobody does this shit to me anymore. I forgot how happy I am naturally. I’m happy all the time. I walk around smiling. My best friend tells me, “yeah, that’s how you were, that’s why people wanted to be around us all the time.” It’s so nice not to get kicked in the teeth for it anymore.

Dracaena
Dracaena
9 months ago
Reply to  KatiePig

I dreaded my fuckwit’s birthday every year. It didn’t matter what I did, how much money I spent, how creative I got– the day always ended with tears and accusations. “You don’t love me! You never remember my birthday! I never get to do anything fun!”

Fuckwit couldn’t even be bothered to remember MY birthday, naturally.

KatiePig
KatiePig
9 months ago
Reply to  Dracaena

Oh my gosh, I can relate to the birthday issue. I remember once we were visiting friends at his birthday and their daughter’s birthday was the same weekend. I had ordered him a cake and a gift and we sang happy birthday to him but the child got a whole birthday party at the park. He actually was upset with me and told me it wasn’t fair because he felt like her birthday had overshadowed his. I was just like, “she is three…” A grown man upset because a 3 year old had a birthday party. It blew my mind. I’m so grateful to never have to deal with that shit again.

And yeah, my birthday was basically nothing. I would make my own cake for myself.

TheDivineMissChump
TheDivineMissChump
9 months ago

I have spent a good deal of time lately with a dear friend who has spent the last several years dealing with his son’s drug addiction. I have found in his stories many similarities to my experiences with my cheating bastard ex. Theft … in his case money and credit card fraud. In mine: agency, intimacy, and time. Lying is also the huge common denominator. It has caused me to consider addiction akin to cheating in that it robs you of an honest relationship with the addicted person.
I have advocated a no-contact approach because I see a similar trauma bonding pattern every time a crisis arises that is so similar to how I reacted when in the throes of dealing with my ex.
I’ve taken screenshots of CL’s post today to share with him as her analysis is spot on.

luckychump
luckychump
9 months ago

Cheating is THEFT. My POS FW spent at least $40K on trips to Mexico, Vegas, Costa Rica, and every nudist resort he could find. Not to mention prostitutes everywhere, couples massages, (a misnomer if you ever see it, it’s a massage with 2 masseuses) and many, many dinners out with male and female APs. Cheating is theft, most definitely, of both money and time. For any chump in a divorce proceeding, please look at the Diminution of Marital Resources. The amount will be much higher than you ever realized. Take the time to figure it out. It is an amount that the FW should have to pay on their own, and Chumps should get that money back. The longer you were married, the higher the number might be.

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
9 months ago
Reply to  luckychump

luckychump , I wish my mom had done this. But I don’t know if this was something done in divorces in the mid 80s.

Although knowing my dad, it was probably just dinners at less expensive chain restaurants and motel rooms. He certainly never bought my mom any expensive gifts.

Tornup
Tornup
9 months ago

I think the mindset of thinking you can save anyone but yourself keeps us chumps stuck. It did me for so long. He was such a good man. What happened to him? If I just love him more?? The truth is. People change. Make bad choices. Some bad choices change their character and maybe thats why they affair down. No one of value will believe them or glance at them in king on a pedestal way anymore. I think we all want to make sense of the nonsense and you can’t. Were they so great? For me I think an avoidant seems like a wonderful man. Instead he was emotionally immature man harboring grievances instead of being a partner in life. Then left without discussing them in detail or willing to. These men are emotionally immature avoidants. They move on quickly because they cant be alone with themselves.

OHFFS
OHFFS
9 months ago
Reply to  Tornup

Tornup, this is true. The cheater avoids dealing with his/her emotions by just swapping out partners when they feel discomfort, boredom whatever. The cheater blames his/her negative feelings all on the chump. Instead of talking to the chump, he/she gathers up resentments into a huge, swirling mass and releases them through aggression, cheating being an act of aggression. That was my FW, anyway. The AP gave him next to nothing. The thrill of it was in the abuse of me.

thelongrun
thelongrun
9 months ago
Reply to  OHFFS

OHFFS,

Thanks for pointing out it’s not just men. That description you gave fits the FW XW. The difference for her is she picked a new partner and (w/in reason) molds herself to fit her new host’s needs/desires, at least until she gets the material support she’s after (money status, etc.). My new nickname for her is The Tick.

OHFFS
OHFFS
9 months ago
Reply to  thelongrun

Oh hell yes, TLR, lots of women are highly conflict avoidant in particular. They don’t speak up about things that bother them, preferring to be passive-aggressive instead. Cheating is one of the ways they release aggression. What your XFWW does is the same as my XFWH- the mirroring of the new supply and molding herself to the supply’s requirements, all in order to get kibbles. In my FWs case, it didn’t even work, but he still kept trying to please a cold bitch for years. For us, the FWs would never do any of those things because, not being novel sources of supply, we had no value to them.
Fuck ’em all my friend.

NotAcceptable
NotAcceptable
9 months ago

D-day was right before Memorial Day 2023.
At first I listened to the sad sausage and how the shame he was feeling made him suicidal. He couldn’t explain why he needed porn, and cam girls, and sugar babies and then the shame and need would build up so much he would have to see the hooker. Which made the terrible shame cycle even stronger and more compelling.

I spent half a day reading about call-girl fetishes, could that explain his obsession?
Since at 60 years old he is seeing his regular prostitutes (the two women shared the apartment he would visit during the work day) and having sex with me every 2-3 days.

But then I remembered that his actions are not acceptable to me.

I may be understanding, loyal, supportive, Good, Giving and Game, but I have a teeny tiny bit of self respect remaining. It’s the part conferred on me with my medical degree. I am a board certified physician and I am licensed and qualified to give him a diagnosis: he is just a creepy old man who is obsessed with his Dick.

luckychump
luckychump
9 months ago
Reply to  NotAcceptable

Thanks for the laugh, NotAcceptable. I have been thinking the same thing. This adolescent-type fascination with their Dicks seems to be one of the descriptive traits for male FWs. No offense to male Chumps, I really hope all men are not like this. My POS FW was going to nudist resorts, (all this for an at least 40lbs overweight 40-60 year old man) and going to “men’s health clinics” for Viagra and injections into his Dick. The Dick obsession is just one more red flag for super-ego, narcissism and delusional disorders.

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
9 months ago
Reply to  luckychump

luckychump , off topic, I’ve always heard that the people who go to nudist resorts…aren’t necessarily the people you would want to see at nudist resorts. IDK because I’ve never been to one.

Unicornomore
Unicornomore
9 months ago
Reply to  NotAcceptable

NA, Im really sorry this happened to you. I hope that your STD/ STI screenings were clear. Please keep a tight hold on your self respect as you journey through this Suckfest.

All the different scenarios here are awful but for some reason, I find the idea of a dude spending marital funds on prostitutes especially horrifying. Purge this creepy dude.

NotAnymore
NotAnymore
9 months ago
Reply to  NotAcceptable

Your mention of GGG made me shutter! My ex was definitely went to he-who-must-not-be-named’s online school of “reasons it’s totally fine to cheat”

Name Changer
Name Changer
9 months ago
Reply to  NotAcceptable

I so relate to this but more in the employment sphere. Years before the divorce I knew I was capable because of the Chemistry degree.

portia
portia
9 months ago

It really doesn’t matter to me if the “addiction” is mental or physical. The behavior is destructive. Everyone makes mistakes in judgement; the difference is what you choose to do when you realize the mistake. Do you own it? Do you try to shift the blame? Do you choose NOT to do that again?

If we follow the chump path of pick-me-dancing and spackling, we are prolonging our pain. Maybe we have to hit some type of “bottom”, some point of no return to realize we have agency. We can choose to terminate the relationship, go no or low contact, and start reconstructing our lives without the person who never believes we are more important than his/her next high. I had to convince myself that I was strong enough to live my life without a husband. I had believed from an early age that I was supposed to marry and have children, as well as become educated and employed. All of those things were components in what I believed was a happy life. When I finally realized I was very capable of being happy without a husband who always caused chaos and dragged me and my children down with his compulsive destructive choices, I was on the right track. I had to overcome my addiction to “the dream” and learn to live my life relying on myself and my altered concept of what a family was. I became very choosy about who I shared my precious time with. I changed my concept of what a friend was, too.

The point is, he chose to continue his life of chaos and chasing “new” women. He continued to fuel his addiction to alcohol. He searched for new sources of money and security, women who still believed that he would “change” for them, and they could “live the dream” with him. I believe they were always disappointed. He was never satisfied. He never owned his own bad choices, or believed he had to change his destructive behaviors. The other point is I had to go thru another bad husband experience, marrying someone with the same bad habits, before I accepted that MY PICKER HAD TO BE FIXED. It wasn’t that my dream of a happy life was wrong, it was just my thinking I could not have it without a husband that was wrong, for me. I did not give myself enough credit for being able to handle life on my own. Now, I know I am quite capable. I am not closed to companionship, but I am closed to dependence on another person to make me happy. I choose happiness. I avoid those who choose chaos and addiction to alcohol or other substances. I chose to discard the belief system I had which told me bad actors will change if you love them, and you have to accept your partners bad choices, if you love them. You don’t have to accept bad behavior. You can choose a different path, one that leads to MEH.

None of this is easy. I don’t believe in “happily ever-after” either. I believe you have to make tough choices every day, and work to maintain your boundaries every day. But now I know I am worth all the effort it takes not to be dependent (addicted) to someone or something else.

Grandma Chump
Grandma Chump
9 months ago
Reply to  portia

You can indeed live “happily ever after,” you just have to define what that is and update from time to time. I too wanted marriage and kids, and got them, twice…and did what I thought was right as I reared the kids. I drafted out behind the last one, and ever since have been living and traveling (solo) and as long as my health holds out, I’ll rejoice in living happily ever after. and looking forward to whatever’s next.

Granny K
Granny K
9 months ago

Maybe there’s some impulsivity overlap with cheating on one’s partner and addiction, but I suspect they are different things. I’ve known a few addicts, who never cheated on their spouses. Sure, the marriages crashed and burned because the other spouse couldn’t live like that, or got sober themselves and had to leave to keep their own sobriety.

Hippie chump
Hippie chump
9 months ago

I’ve spent years in the co- and Al-anon 12 step meetings, even within the “sex addiction” realm and left it when I realized that in the preamble to every meeting there needs to be “We also acknowledge that what you may be experiencing is abuse and that maintaining your safety is important”
For all it’s valued and platitudes, actual safety is often outright dismissed

susie lee
susie lee
9 months ago

“I KNEW I WAS DOING IT. I knew intellectually it was wrong. It hurt like a motherfucker. And I did it anyway. ”

So familiar. I remember standing there in my kitchen while he was railing away at me for running out of salt, and I knew I should flee; but I didn’t.

Elsie
Elsie
9 months ago

This: “Their wants win out every time. Addicts are completely cognizant of this cost-benefit analysis, thus the secrecy, thus the lying, thus the anger and indignation when you confront and try to take away their opiate.”

I learned that at some point you need to walk away and end the dissection of their thinking and your pleas to be trustworthy and honorable. It’s a character issue in them that you cannot control.

Ironically, church people are some of the worst when it comes to believing that a loving spouse can turn around a character issue. Or they believe that God will work a miracle that will turn it around if you have faith. We accept that sometimes people we pray for die of cancer, and sometimes they get well and live to enjoy retirement. But church people think that every marriage can be healed?

I’ve shared here before that I have a former friend who is still praying years later that God will turn my ex around so we can remarry. She can pray whatever she wants, but I wouldn’t take him back if he showed up claiming “healing.” Sure a miracle is possible, but statistically, it’s not at all the norm. I asked my therapist one time (a churchgoer with secular training) what the chances of that were from her professional and personal life, and she said less than 1%. I’m going with the 1%.

UpAndOut
UpAndOut
9 months ago
Reply to  Elsie

I agree with you about “church people” praying to make the situation improve or disappear. Sadly, I know some very faithful women who found out their husbands had a marriage-long habit of porn & other outside marriage sexual activity. The couple goes to the priest and is given advice for the husband to stop the behaviors and the wife to pray for him and “stay close to the church.” The wife sees any little effort (going to Mass or saying the rosary with her) on the husband’s part as progress and the hopium increases.
I’m so cynical at this point, I see those efforts of the husband to be very small and just enough to get the wife to stop counseling and to stop considering a separation or divorce. And he goes further undercover and becomes stronger in his ability to live a double life.

Unicornomore
Unicornomore
9 months ago
Reply to  UpAndOut

Speaking of addiction, I was somewhat addicted to the Churchy “my husband changed into a great guy and now we are so happy” stories. There was a tv show on EWTN (hosted by a couple who reunited) which showed nothing but good, happy-couple endings. I prayed for my then-husband without ceasing and went to daily Mass for the better part of 7 years. Finally, in prayer to God, I released husband to go wherever he wished in pursuit of happiness, I could not fight that fight any longer and within few weeks, he dropped dead.

Seasoned chump
Seasoned chump
9 months ago

Thank you Chump Lady, this hit home for me. I’m 5years out from 2nd DDay (now at blissful Meh) tho i still lurk here daily to keep my FW armor strong. Ironically 1st DDay in 2016 before I found you. After 13yrs married and in my 50s, I was desperate and had subscribed to Michele Werner’s RIC on how to win back a “wasbund” (wondering husband). She advised chumps to “drink copious amounts of the STFU juice,” don’t challenge their truth, write apology letters, focus on improving yourself physically/emotionally so that they will see that you are pleasant to be around and realize what they’re missing (and pick u). and the WORST of all?!?!? …. adopt the motto ..”I may give up, but NOT TODAY!!!!” 🥹🙏🤞 It worked the 1st time and less than 2mos later he asked to come back. I thought WOW! I saved my marriage and I can control this!!! 😁👍 but alas it was short lived. Less than two years later I caught him (constant marriage policing his phone) with a different AP. I immediately pulled out my trusty Michele Werner RIC playbook and went right to work…. except this time I had an epiphany and realized during those 2yrs of ‘wreckoncilation’ nothing had really changed, my FW never really stopped being an entitled FW. I was sooooo happy and high that I had won him back I never stopper to consider whether he was worth having in my life?? That’s when thank God I came across Chump Lady and this blog. I remember reading a quote of hers ” NO CONTACT IS WILLING YOURSELF NOT TO ENGAGE WITH CRAZY”!! I wrote that on sticky notes and put up them all around my house and work (after 2nd DDay FW didn’t want to be married anymore but instead BFF (with benefits). No contact was one of the hardest things I ever did because I loved my husband. But it really saved my life. Instead of focusing on him, I needed to focus on me because i deserved better!! Chump Lady gives us the tools and encouragement thru humor and snark…(God I 💓 the snark) to help us change our perspective and reject the cheater narrative once and for all. Promise chumps, you too will one day reach MEH. Stay the course.

Unicornomore
Unicornomore
9 months ago
Reply to  Seasoned chump

“I was desperate…I thought WOW! I saved my marriage and I can control this!!! … this time I had an epiphany and realized during those 2yrs of ‘wreckoncilation’ nothing had really changed, my FW never really stopped being an entitled FW.”

Immediately after Dday, I spent almost no time really considering if reconciling was best, I just went for it with everything in me. It never occurred to me he would crawl back home with nary an explanation or apology…he just pretended like nothing ever happened and he had no accountability for anything. Him coming home and not acknowledging how much he hurt me actually caused me to feel like it was being done to me all over again and it hurt about 80% as much as Dday itself.

Shadow
Shadow
9 months ago

I agree that addiction and cheating are choices, not illnesses!
No one ever wilfully and with intention set out to get cancer, nor even a cold. Unless groomed or coerced into taking addictive substances though, addicts have, at the beginning, made a conscious choice to start partaking of the the thing they become addicted to. They aren’t always gullible teenagers either; my STBXH was middle-aged when he decided that indulging in cocaine was a good idea! Plus, even teenagers have access to information about the dangers of Class As and other addictive substances and activities these days, so an adult has no excuse IMO! He has a serious childhood trauma, but so do I! Mine is a different sort to his but it was very traumatising and I am still suffering from the damage it did to me psychologically. I never degenerated anywhere near as badly as he has though and I would never have cheated on him, even if the most gorgeous man in the world got down on his knees and begged me because I would never have chosen to do anything I knew would hurt him like he’s hurt me! He chose to start shoving that filthy stuff up his nose knowing full well how destructive and dangerous it is. He did know better but did it anyway because he wanted to! He chose to go fishing for strange and to do the dirty on me when a little slapper took the bait!
They have agency, they’re responsible for their actions, they know it’s wrong, wicked and evil, which is why they lie!
There are no excuses!

OldDogNewTricks
OldDogNewTricks
9 months ago

Hey, Thaddeus Stevens is totally worth a late night or two! Cheater scum not so much …

KatiePig
KatiePig
9 months ago

They seem the same because of the entitlement. Cheaters and addicts both have unbelievable levels of entitlement. That’s why they seem similar. It doesn’t mean cheating is an addiction.

My dad was an addict. I’ll relate a story from my childhood. He went on a trip with friends and asked to borrow my fishing pole. I didn’t want to give it to him but I really had no choice even though it was mine and I had bought it with my money from my jobs. When he came home, he did not have the fishing pole. He told me that his friend had broken it but it was ok because his friend gave him a brand new child’s life jacket. I said, “ok, I guess I can try to sell that so I can get another fishing pole…” and he called me a stupid fucking bitch and asked why I would get the life jacket. “He gave it to ME! It’s MINE! Why would you get it you greedy bitch?!”

That’s the entitlement of an addict. Their behavior can seem similar to cheaters because they are also incredibly entitled. But cheating is not an addiction.

OHFFS
OHFFS
9 months ago
Reply to  KatiePig

I agree, KP. A serious addiction requires the person to become entitled because it’s neccessary to run roughshod over others in order to feed the addiction. FWs, otoh, were always entitled. The cheating might increase it, but it didn’t create it.

The story about your dad is heart-wrenchingly sad. That must have hurt you badly.

PrincipledLife
PrincipledLife
9 months ago
Reply to  KatiePig

I’m so sorry, KatiePig. Your story hurt me in my soul and it was neither my fishing pole or my father. I am so sorry you had that experience from the man who should have protected and supported you as his sacred mission on earth. Hugs and blessings to you, precious one.

PrincipledLife
PrincipledLife
9 months ago

We chumps have the addiction. Gulp. How did I miss this article before? It is extremely painful and exactly what I needed to hear.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 months ago

I agree with every word of today’s post except the bit about casting survivors of any kind of domestic abuse as “addicts” because it was one manner by which helping professionals and the public justified inaction against domestic battering for ages. It’s an idea that can end in death when taken to logical extremes.

A lot of clinical skein untangling went into the view that survivors behave like addicts– except that it only created bigger knots. So I think untangling the botched untangling is probably called for– looking into an alternative argument for the seemingly addicted behavior of victims, particularly the chapter on DV in founding psychotraumatologist (coiner of Stockholm syndrome) Frank Ochberg’s “Post-traumatic Stress Therapy and the Victims of Violence.” The chapter is written by current spearhead for coercive control legislation Evan Stark and his wife, fellow veteran shelter movement advocate and forensic psychologist Anne Flitcraft. The chapter tackles the traditional view that victims are “addicted” or otherwise necessarily have preexisting psychological issues that “draw” them to abuse or prevent escape. I think the authors’ main point they make is that the latter view arises from a “misapplication of contingency”– the assumption by helping professionals and bystanders that the effed up, dependent, confused states that victims often appear to be in following abuse must have been what these people were like before abuse, ergo the effed up state caused them to be drawn to and entrapped abuse in the first place. Stark and Flitcraft describe the “preexisting damage/psychological deficiency” view of victims as “seductive” but statistically wrong and accuse helping professionals of throwing good money after bad by refusing to admit to the harm this theory has done for generations.

I think part of the trauma of abuse is what one expert called “perspecticide”– the systematic, relentless “cult-like indoctrination” way in which abusers destroy the previous perspectives of victims and insert their own grim, nihilistic views. The blurring of “before and after” can make people emerging from abuse particularly susceptible to buy into claims by helpers and bystanders that they must “always have been like this” and that this previous damage must have played a role in entrapping them. That might ring truer to someone who actually had survived previous trauma prior to an abusive relationship but, since this doesn’t statistically apply to all or even most survivors, making the automatic assumption is faulty. At the very least, the assumption blocks consideration that certain forms of abuse and systematic breaking down of agency and independence are sufficiently damaging to turn a healthy, independent person into a stumbling, bewildered mess.

Stark’s more recent book, “Coercive control,” untangles the “skein” of the extreme, nearly universal effects of systematic coercion and control– whether violent or “subviolent”– in fostering dependency and paralysis in survivors. At least the takeaway from this kind of untangling is the total reverse of the view that abusers are sad sausages who just need help and understanding but instead posits that even abusers who may never lift a finger are far more dangerous and damaging than society currently perceives.

Doingme
Doingme
9 months ago

Excellent post, Hell of a Chump.

OHFFS
OHFFS
9 months ago

I agree with you HOAC. I just want to make note of the fact that acknowledgment of an addiction does not necessarily presume there are preexisting psychological problems. A great many addictions grow out of pain management for entirely physical problems.
However, since being supposedly addicted to a cheater would be an entirely psychological addiction, it presumes there are psychological problems. This is why I do not think chumps are necessarily “addicted” to a cheater.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 months ago
Reply to  OHFFS

My parents gave me a copy of Susan Faludi’s “Backlash” when it came out. Faludi rips the guts out of the entire codependency philosophy and identifies it for what it is– new fangled victim blaming with a deeper, even scarier undercurrent of anti-activism which must have been welcomed with open arms by various criminal corporations and corrupt government officials at the time. That book was probably the best inoculation against the self help drivel which was all the rage back then. There was another “corrective” book that a friend found called “Men Who Can’t Love” (more recently updated to include women who can’t love) which was written by two psychologists as a direct retort to Norwood’s “Women Who Love Too Much.”

Those books were good protection for entering the dating arena at the time because every douchebag was spewing coda lingo. I’m not exaggerating. Predators seem to have a real alacrity for picking up on trends that help them predate and it seems the coda thing was really handy in that sense which suggests right away that there’s something wrong with it. At least in NYC, creeps would give themselves away by trawling around to find evidence of “abusive/emotionally unavailable daddy” issues on first dates in the hopes of finding your “control panel.” One guy friend from the Bronx started laughing in amazement when my friends and I describing these tactics. He called it the “fuck ’em up and reel ’em in” method. My friends and I even had stock pranks we’d pull on first dates to foil this stuff (like showing a piece of expensive jewelry and saying, “Oh, my dad got me this” whether this was true or not). Douches tend to mutate like viruses and PUAs like Andrew Tate apparently have updated “neggy” methods to get laid but the coda stuff was standard practice back in the day.

OHFFS
OHFFS
9 months ago

Yeah, I remember Backlash well. I was amazed by how most of it could be deduced by common sense, yet it seemed to be new information to so many people. I always thought the codependency model was fundamentally sexist. Rarely are men ever labeled as codependent, even if the behaviors are the same as women who are deemed codependent. While there is a grain of truth in that some people do have more of those tendencies in their personalities than others, mostly it’s just victim blaming horse plop.
I am so glad I am not out there dating. It must be scary.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 months ago
Reply to  OHFFS

The whole codependency model makes more sense if you think about it as part of a wider backlash against things like the civil rights movement, ecological movement and, say, Kent State protest/antiwar movement. Feminism was only one of the targets of the “status quo” and corporate agendas in the 70s and 80s but it made a sexy, juicy, vulnerable target for a ready-made patriarchal/traditionalist opposition.

Dracaena
Dracaena
9 months ago

“Their wants win out every time. Addicts are completely cognizant of this cost-benefit analysis, thus the secrecy, thus the lying, thus the anger and indignation when you confront and try to take away their opiate.”

This has not been my experience with addiction. I experienced addiction as a loss of control that made me unable to stop, even though my own behavior scared me. There is some science to back this up.

I don’t doubt that there are many twisted people who choose to use substances destructively because they don’t care about (or secretly love) the damage they’re doing to loved ones, but I don’t think that describes a true addict.

I think that cheaters comparing themselves to addicts is like pedophiles comparing themselves to gay people (“I can’t help it! This is a sexual orientation!”)– they want free reign to do what they want and if they can soak up everyone’s pity at the same time, that’s a bonus.

However, I am completely in agreement that if you are the person being hurt, it doesn’t matter WHY you’re being hurt. You have every right to protect yourself and distance yourself from the chaos.

Doingme
Doingme
9 months ago

It is so intentional and targeted. He is directly out to cause me harm (so far just emotional and financial).

Isn’t that enough?

MightyWarrior
MightyWarrior
9 months ago

I continually told myself that the ex would behave better towards me if he drank less alcohol. This was before he left me and I discovered the affair. My excuse for all his bad behaviour was that he was either drunk/hungover or ‘stressed at work’. I had a much harder, higher-profile and stressful job than him, but I never made the ‘stressed at work’ excuse for myself. Rationally, I knew for much of the 26 years we were together that, he was often arrogant and obnoxious and that he didn’t love anyone much except himself. Emotionally I could not make that break, but I kept trying harder and harder to please. Therapy has helped hugely with the emotional side, but I am a work in progress! I was in no way ‘addicted’ to the ex. My childhood defences, developed in trying to manage a chaotic home life, were instrumental in keeping me in the relationship. And that’s where I think there is a similarity with some of the causes of addiction.

OHFFS
OHFFS
9 months ago
Reply to  MightyWarrior

MW, I get the reasoning behind the hope that quitting drinking would help. It will help if the person is basically good, but just has a substance problem. The problem with cheaters is they just aren’t good people, and getting free of their substance abuse won’t change that. My cheater blamed his shitty behavior on alcohol as well. So after Dday he stopped drinking, but was still an asshole. He just refused to admit it. “I quit drinking!” was his cry whenever challenged about his glaring character defects. He claimed he was quitting porn, but I’m certain he has never done so. The porn was actually more of an issue than the booze. If only one “addiction” had to go, keeping the booze would be preferable for anyone in a relationship with that bastard. Porn use made him markedly more abusive, whereas alcohol did not. I could track when he was using porn more heavily by the amount of cruelty he displayed. The correlation never failed, so I think that establishes causation as well. I don’t think either were ever really addictions in his case. They probably aren’t in a lot of cases. They’re just bad habits FWs don’t want to give up. Not every habitual behavior is an addiction. Jerks like our cheaters, who claim to be addicted to behaviors, would like people to believe they are helpless and deserve sympathy. If the person is otherwise decent, then okay, I’ll buy that it’s an addiction, and that person needs help and is likely to benefit from it. However, if the person sucks, it’s probably just one more manifestation of the suckage, so nothing will help. Except for a bullet in the brain, that is. Unfortunately, the legal system is very narrow minded about that treatment modality. 😉

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 months ago
Reply to  MightyWarrior

One thing was clear from doing advocacy: not all addicts use for the same reason. Some use for diamatrically opposite reasons. For instance, battering victims may drink/use for far different reasons than abusers drink/use. The latter tend to use as a deliberate way to disinhibit themselves so they can do the thing they most deeply want to do, which is to be violently controlling towards a partner (like those who commit violence as part of mob, batterers reportedly often seek a “gratifying” state of “deindivuated rage.” It’s like a totally twisted form of “meditation” for stress management where they “lose” themselves by committing violence). They will also use because it’s a handy alibi (“demon whisky made me do it”) and a way to assuage their consciences. The same has been found to be true for militant terrorists like the Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivek who admitted in his diary that he deliberately took steroids and a drug cocktail for purely pragmatic reasons: to snuff empathy and ramp up his own violent impulses. But those MOs and behaviors have less than zero bearing on addictive behaviors of trauma survivors who may self medicate just to keep from falling to pieces.

Garden Lady Chump
Garden Lady Chump
9 months ago
Reply to  MightyWarrior

MW, I can so relate to this. 26 years of marriage (both of us 2nd marriages) Let alcohol run his life whether working or retired; Exactly, arrogant, obnoxious, self-involved man-child behavior alot of the time. Better during dry out periods, so I kept trying and hoping, until last summer. He was laid up at home after surgery for fractured fibula (alcohol related fall), wasn’t drinking during recuperation. Developed a penchant for Eastern European dating sites and porn; actually tried to go to Europe just after Christmas to try to meet up with someone, went there, but came back after 10 days, probably scammed, blew alot of his/ our retirement. ( I figured all of this out about a month after). Somewhat remorseful but kept returning to the sites and porn, continual lying. ( I have all the proof.) In therapy weekly since returning from Europe but still threatened to try to go back there, His therapist says this was all caused by alcohol or lack of it. He is a binge drinker, and his therapist doesn’t feel AA would help him. Fast forward to Marriage counseling as a last resort, where more details revealed, went on another dating site that weekend. After all that I was done. We’re recently separated, waiting on the paper work. Felt like he left me no choice. After that says he stopped all of it, just like that, but couldn’t before? So was it addiction or just his entitlement that led to his poor choices. Of course he now has the sadz. Doesn’t like his new situation, started up smoking and drinking again within a month, NA beer with a shot on the side at times. Doesn’t make a lot of sense. It is sad to see just how far someone can fall; I know I can be ok without him eventually, but not sure he will be. That’s been the hard part, he’s needed a lot of hand-holding to separate from me, my grown kids and my grand-children, and our home however he was ready to discard all of it when he tried to blow up his life last December. I need to get back to my therapist so I can get through this and have less contact. I did go for a few months, which was very helpful but it became apparent that I just needed to take steps to get out of this abusive situation.

chumpedchange
chumpedchange
9 months ago

My first marriage was to a beautiful funny intelligent alcoholic. I left him after attending al-anon. Ten years later I married a narcissist cheater liar. this book https://www.amazon.ca/Getting-Them-Sober-Separations-Healings/dp/0961599510. … this book is a lifesaver if you are dealing with addiction and cheating as well. It’s short and for the kindle price you can read it in one go. It’s like advice from chumpnation when chump nation didn’t exist yet. Soooo many narcisisstic behaviours parallel addictive behaviours!! It took me years and years and years to understand it, because the cheater narc did not drink or use drugs, and was such a great liar. After years of Al-Anon for recovery from the alcoholic marriage, I thought I was immune to addiction and addicts. But oh the charms of a narcissist… and he knew I would pick up the pieces for practically forever (20 years)… If you are with either of these types, just get out. hugs, good luck, trust the that you’ve got to leave

Garden Lady Chump
Garden Lady Chump
9 months ago
Reply to  chumpedchange

CC, one of those high functioning alcoholics, I get that. My first was a raging Narcissist, now that I know what that is, closet drinker, married to for 16 years. My second, a covert Narcissist, I have now determined, also a high functioning alcoholic, married to 26+ years. Yes it has taken me years and years also. Multiple problems, 1st fw: AP was his HS student who babysat for us, now years ago, wouldn’t get away with it today; verbally and emotionally abusive. High conflict divorce and custody battle. Huge age difference, they eventually married, had a child. Said child has NC, and one of my 2 children is also NC with him, the other tolerates him/them on her terms.
2nd fw: Recently separated after ongoing issues with alcohol, DUI’s, dating sites, porn. Denied physical cheating; if that’s true the intent was still there (see comments to MW). But at this point I may not know what I don’t know, but I know plenty and I’m done. I’ve never gone to Al-anon, knew of it and probably should have.

Cam
Cam
9 months ago

Even addicts have the choice to seek help and not hurt their families – and if they do, that’s on them. It’s never excusable and you don’t have to tolerate it.

This question sounds like the stage of bargaining in grief. I assure you the answer doesn’t matter.

UpAndOut
UpAndOut
9 months ago

CL, you wrote: “I don’t know if cheaters are addicts. That’s a question for the professionals.”

I had to laugh because – the horror stories on this blog about working with professionals!

It seems that the so-called professionals are divided on the topic. With chemical addictions the diagnosis is easy- the person has physical signs of withdrawal. With alcohol and cannabis some people often don’t even have measurable signs or symptoms of withdrawal. With behavioral addictions such as gambling, shopping, and porn, I think they make a best judgment based on what the addict or the addict’s family members tell the “professional.” Many don’t accept that a sex addiction is a true addiction, let alone an addiction to an AP.
I like Omar Minwalla’s terms: “integrity abuse disorder”and “deceptive sexuality.” Sounds more professional than liar, cheater, or porn addict.

Garden Lady Chump
Garden Lady Chump
9 months ago
Reply to  UpAndOut

U and O,
All of this… depends on which professional you talk to. Seems like there are many versions on the addiction topic.

UpAndOut
UpAndOut
9 months ago

Exactly! That’s why I was chuckling. I think CL is a such of a professional as my one else, minus credentials, & she has too much integrity to claim anything but her own experience & the letters that come in to Chumplady.com.

GLC, I read your posts above. You stated all the facts of what you’ve been through & I know how painful it really is. Hugs to you -it sounds like your husband was self centered from the start. I hope you can separate & remain no contact. And protect your finances.

I went to AlAnon for years & there was something off about it for me – later I found out he had a long time habit of getting prostitutes on business trips, but he didn’t claim alcoholism until he was caught out for the cheating. The meetings helped me in small ways, to carve out a life for myself, “regardless of whether he was drinking or not” but his character issue remained. I decided I didn’t want to be with someone who lies.

Garden Lady Chump
Garden Lady Chump
9 months ago
Reply to  UpAndOut

Interesting, and the lying, yes. Zero trust there. Thank you for the support. I started working on financial protection a few months ago. Just got the separation papers today; hoping that getting them signed will not be a hassle. Didn’t want to pay for an attorney for himself, we will see.

Ginger_Superpowers
Ginger_Superpowers
9 months ago

No contact is the key. That’s why I feel during divorce, many Chumps get screwed. If I could go back and change one thing in my life, it would be me going absolutely no contact the minute Asshat handed me divorce papers and wanted sex. I kept hoping the man I thought Asshat was would finally show up. I didn’t realize that I was covering for his bad behavior for decades. What I got was a covert narc psycho sociopath. Pick an addiction, he has it.

I’ve been divorced since 2018, after almost exactly 25 years. No contact since 20019. Just today, there was a letter to my son from Asshat in the mail. My son has been living with me since 202, when he graduated from college, a safe landing where he can figure out life. Apparently he barely speaks with his father, which I only know because my daughter relayed the sad sausage narrative to me. Anyway, my son is in his first week of a three week camping trip, which I’m sure his father knows. Asshat always does this, using the mail as an obvious means of hoovering. To my great satisfaction, I didn’t care less when I saw his handwriting on the envelope. I put it on the table with the rest of my son’s mail. Meh.

Stop untangling. There’s nothing there.

Sandyfeet
Sandyfeet
9 months ago

As I reflect on our life together, I recognize FW always had an addictive personality. He didn’t drink alcohol at all due to FOO issues. Sometimes he couldn’t get enough cinnamon bagels, soft pretzels or buns. He thought he needed steroids for workouts in the mid 80s. He wanted to run, couldn’t just run 5 miles, had to be marathon, which involved lots of training. Next he tried his brother’s bike & had to do triathlons or biathlons. We got paddle boards and would go out with neighbors. He had to enter races. He and neighbor both were old guy surfers.

FW hurt himself, wouldn’t get surgery because self employed healthcare provider. I believe that’s when his addiction to pain medicine started. He had friends that were physicians, as a chiropractor he had patients that were disabled, and would sell him, I believe, opioids. Then he was tired from the opioids, and I believe that’s when he must’ve started using stimulants, and some time in that time frame, he began cheating with a part time worker in the office.(33 years younger).

I was guilty of thinking that if I could just get him off the drugs, he’d be the guy he used to be for decades. Just kept thinking if he would just come to his senses. After I started attending Naranon meetings, I realized I was the one that needed to come to my senses. Thank God I found. LACGAL. I also had spoken to a pharmacist that said it was very unlikely a late life addict would be able to kick his addiction. This man that had been all about no debt for us, and getting the children off to a good start with prepaid College and their first cars and help with down payments became someone I didn’t know any longer. He stole money out of my wallet, he stole jewelry, he stole from the business. I was guilty of the in sickness and in health turmoil. I truly hoped he’d go to treatment when he was served with divorce papers. He started NC first due to young AP not wanting him talked into treatment. He broke into house 4 months later to try to steal silverware sets we had amassed for adult children.

It’s all so heartbreaking. He has 0 relationships with the children or 4 young grands. Addiction sucks but they do have agency. So glad LACGAL stresses lawyer consult. Divorce took 2.5; years. I’ve been divorced 2 years. So glad I didn’t wait any longer to execute a plan.

This is written for someone deciding what to do. TAKE ACTION, GET DUCKS IN A ROW, LEAVE if necessary

Leedy
Leedy
9 months ago

Chump Lady, thank you for rerunning this post; and Scharklady, thanks for writing it in the first place. This is one of the most helpful, most brilliantly incisive posts and replies I’ve read on this remarkable site.

“The look on his face as he detaches from me and the kids and the incessant complaing about how awful everything is here, it’s like he’s removed from reality. It’s like he becomes a totally different person.” Wow, yes. This bizarre DETACHING is what’s breaking my heart right now. My husband started detaching from me soon after D-Day, once his two weeks or so of convulsive remorse (and his pleading to stay together) were over. It’s as if our relationship of 20 years, which I know he was very grateful for, has vanished from his mind. Within all this, it’s not that I want him to come back to me; in fact I’m relieved to be able to start my life over again, as a single person. It’s just that the weird coldness that’s emanating from him is blowing my mind, and making the process of grieving more complicated for me.

TuesdayDreamer
TuesdayDreamer
9 months ago

NO.
Please read “Why Does He Do That?” by Bancroft.

The book’s research says that cheating is not an addiction. Cheating is an abuse problem on its own. The book also confirms CL’ s statement that it has something to do with narcissism. In the book, it was explained that cheating is rooted from the sense of entitlement, ownership and control.

If you attended 12 Steps, you must also be aware that there is cross-addiction. All addicts can choose what type of addiction they can have, even shopping can be an addiction. The fact that addicts can choose means “addiction” is not related to cheating, because addicts can choose NOT TO cheat while addiction is an uncontrollable illness. Plus, self-diagnosis of sex addiction after cheating does not count as addiction.

Just like CL, I also think that cheating should not be easily covered by “sex addiction”. I am a recovering sex addict because I was raped several times when I was younger and I grew up in a very dysfunctional family. So, I can tell you that cheating is a whole different world from sex addiction. I know for a fact that I am a sex addict even without a partner. So please stop equating my illness to something that is totally done by choice (i.e. cheating). It is already hard enough to recover from sex addiction alone, how much more when people keep making lame excuses that they cheat because they are sex addicts. No, they cheat because they CHOOSE TO cheat.

2xchump🚫again
2xchump🚫again
9 months ago

IDK! I’ve been in Alanon 13 years to deal with my 2xcheaters. It was some alcohol but truly it was unacceptable behavior I was accepting.
So I TRIED to straighten myself out for years! The truth was, it was time to stop changing myself to adapt to disordered behavior and excusing it under the guise of addictions, mental illness or immaturity. When I put cheater under addictions there was a problem because he was treating ME like a vending machine and abusing me personally and demeaning me to my bones. Alanon says they are unhappy humans and to pay no attention to such meanness. But tucked away in alanon books is a note on unacceptable behavior and THAT is the key as CL says over and over. I lowered the bar and accepted anything for the price of peace until I was almost committed to a locked ward. I had to wake up and hug myself and get out to save myself. Cheating is ALWAYS unacceptable and until I realized that and gained my self respect back..I finally filed and freed myself from STIs, lies, demeaning, entitlement and abuse. Im so thrilled our writer today is saving herself too. There is no other way but out.

Redneckhippiechick
Redneckhippiechick
9 months ago

There is a term for that..The act of “13th Stepping” is when a more experienced member of a 12-Step group – man or woman – pursues a romantic relationship with a new group member. It’s not cool and when the relationship with the vulnerable person fails it often triggers them back into relapse.

HunnyBadger
HunnyBadger
9 months ago

I did almost a year with the RIC after my FW bailed on me and our sons, so I can speak firsthand on what they try to teach people about cheating: They say it is an addiction because the brain is firing up mass amounts of dopamine, causing that thing we know as ‘limerence’ and rendering a FW incapable of doing anything but seeking another hit of it with the AP. The dopamine studies seem to be true, (think of it as the body’s natural heroin) but what the RIC isn’t addressing is the bigger picture.

We are ALL around other humans and some of them are attractive and charming and wonderful. We are ALL susceptible to rushes of dopamine and adrenaline. So why do some people cheat while most people do not? And THAT is what truly requires observation and study.

A FW cheats because he/she feela entitled to. They cross that line in the first place because they choose too, not because they are hapless victims of their own brain chemistry. They started looking at other men/women because they wanted to, they carried those fantasies farther because they wanted to. They could have poured themselves into a hundred other rewarding activities and hobbies that wouldn’t leave a trail of victims in their wake, but they chose to cheat. They didn’t look up across the Starbucks counter one morning and get hit by a lightning bolt — they flirted with the idea and then pursued it. And frankly, THAT is all you really need to know about a cheater’s character.

My FW is addicted to alcohol, drugs and porn. While I believed he had totally given up the opioids before I ever met him, (because he told me so), I didn’t know to look for the other symptoms and so I was largely unguarded. Juwt the same, I can now look back and clearly see the red flags of personality disorder and entitlement waving from the very beginning. His behaviors utterly destroyed the things which should have been our best memories, (wedding, births, etc). I spackled like crazy even while I was hurting inside. But it was always there: No matter what else was happening in the world or how it would affect anyone else, FW made sure he got what he wanted.

His foray for two years into AA (after getting caught cheating and everything else) resulted in him being convinced by his sponsor to abandon me and our sons. True story. The sponsor had done that to at least one other person too, because helping the addiction was ‘more important’ than saving the family. AA, by the way, is based on disproven hokum and non-scientific BS created in the 1930s by a grotesque serial cheater. Statistically speaking, a person has as good a chance of staying clean and sober if they just quit cold turkey as they do by following AA. But that 13th Step is a doozy, and a whole lot of them find new partners to hook up with at the meetings. Welcome to the cult.

Neither the RIC, or AA, or any sort of people who deal with addictions looks at the reality at the core: Free Agency. These people have a choice. They may be drawn to chemicals, but they CAN say no. They may want to cheat, but they CAN say no. No one is holding a bottle to their lips, no one is jamming a pill down their throats, no one is making them have sex with someone. And as long as these industries/cults continue to excuse horrific choices, the REAL trouble with it all is going to continue to destroy spouses and families and Chumps.

My year with the RIC was another hard lesson. I had been victimized by FW so many ways, and there I was being advised to grovel and crawl on the broken glass of a shattered life and raw, gaping wounds of emotions — “just focus on being a better you! Get physically active! Take up a hobby! Give it time!”

All that hopium did was slow me down when I should have been lining up my artillery and flamethrowers. It denied me a chance to be angry and left me hopeless and broken while I was super nice and waiting.

To anyone out there who is naively still engaged with the RIC, I would offer this wisdom: Their numbers don’t correlate to the reality, and if by some miraculous chance your FW decides he/she is willing to come home and settle for you and play house again, you’re still going to be married to someone who didn’t think twice about utterly destroying you before. Trust me, who the FW is at the core is who they really are. Maybe they really will get their sh*t together and not cheat on the next person, but they absolutely WILL cheat on your again. By staying you are proving that you will always be there no matter what, and for the returned GW, that’s just license to do it again.

Addiction? Does it matter? FWs are selfish, cruel and messed up. Don’t ask for a second helping.

Chumpasaurus45
Chumpasaurus45
9 months ago
Reply to  HunnyBadger

All so true and well said, Honey Badger. They will not change, not for you or the next victim, it’s who they are.

“You have to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served. “( Nina Simone) 🌷

HunnyBadger
HunnyBadger
9 months ago
Reply to  HunnyBadger

I would like to add one more thing:

The RIC, which espouses the idea that cheating is an addiction, does not advise the faithful spouses to stick it out with harmful alcoholics and addicts. If your FW is becoming abusive to your children, they will advise you to take the kids and stay safely away, maybe save the marriage later. (They gave me that advice). The RIC would tell you that if you suddenly found out your spouse is robbing banks or other horrible things that you should step away quickly.

So I wonder why they feel cheating is an ‘addiction’ worth waiting through?

Daughterofachump
Daughterofachump
9 months ago

Off topic: Chump Lady, I read the Wikipedia entry on Thaddeus Stevens, and yes, he was quite amazing. I can understand your interest in him.

Leftbehindlily
Leftbehindlily
9 months ago

I wish the world would stop “medicalizing” bad behavior. Read “PC MD” if you want an insider’s look at the process. Most “addictive” behaviors are just bad behavior, period.

exofanaddict
exofanaddict
9 months ago

As the es of a sex “addict”, i will say that his blue eyes turned black, and after 35 yrs together i no longer recognized this man. we separated after DD and the few attempts at discussion were flat affect, emotionless, no remorse, no guilt only “I’m sorry” but when asked for what exactly he was “sorry” blank dead fish eyes. call it addiction or acting out it changes the brain and the subsequent trauma to the spouse and kid also changes the brain!!