How to Leave a Cheater in 7 Steps

How to Leave a Cheater

No one knows how to leave a cheater in the immediate aftermath of discovery. It’s a sucker punch. You’re in shock. You might spend some time in the reconciliation trenches. You might decide an abusive jerk isn’t worth your one precious life and go.

Leaving a cheater is an intimidating process. It’s not like you want to blurt out to everyone in your life, “Hey, Bob won’t quit cheating on me. Do you know a good divorce attorney?” And anyone close to you who knows, like your father, probably will not give the best advice. Mine would have preferred to steer me away from the legal system entirely and straight toward the shotgun he keeps in the front hall closet.

So how do you do it? Here is your step-by-step guide on how to leave a cheater.

1. Do NOT tip your hand.

This is the first rule. It’s so tempting to flounce off to a lawyer and announce it to your cheater, expecting, boy they see that I really mean it this time! And half expecting them to do some Hail Mary maneuver to win you back. Bad move. When you tell your cheater that you’re seeing a lawyer, all this does is kick them into high gear to hide the evidence, fuck you over financially, and get to the biggest pit bull attorney in town first before you do. They’re probably doing that at the VERY SAME TIME they are trying to throw you off the trail with “remorse” and “needing time” and booking trips to the marriage counselor. Hide the payment to the attorney as well, by whatever means necessary.

2. Do not think “Oh they would never…” 

Oh, they would never ask for full custody. And they would never hide money. Nor would they ever throw me out of the house. Yes they would. Anyone who would fuck around on you and expose you to STDs and gamble with the well-being of their children is certainly capable of all sorts of things. Your cheating spouse is not your friend. These are acts of aggression and you need to protect yourself accordingly. How to leave a cheater — treat this like you are severing a business relationship. Detach. But do not ever for one second think that this person will treat you fairly because you shared a life together.

3. Gather your evidence.

Whether you live in a fault state or not, evidence is important and your lawyer will know what to do with it. Back up copies of everything, put on a flash drive, email stuff to yourself at another account — store it away safely.

4. Prepare your escape with a good family law attorney.

If you’re married, you need professional legal help. Make sure they specialize in family law — martindale.com is one resource. Superlawyers.com is another good place to look, these are the top professionals in their field recommended by other attorneys. (I have no affiliation with these groups.) Hiring a lawyer is expensive, but you can do a lot of the work yourself, such as copying and research. Do ask them how you can help make this affordable. A good experienced lawyer will usually get you a much better settlement and will push the process along faster. Remember, your lawyer is not your therapist. Save your emotions for people who don’t bill in six minute increments.

5. Move the money.

Talk to your attorney first, but you may be able to move half of all cash and liquid assets into your own account that only you can access. Cut off all credit cards you have in common. Check your credit report to look for weird charges. Any money spent on an affair is marital money you can ask for back in a divorce.

One way to discover secret funds, credit cards, PO boxes is via a credit report on the cheater. (Some chumps have done this via free online credit checks — this is a gray area legally or illegal depending on where you live). Usually cheaters have slush funds to hide the evidence of their cheating. In divorce discovery INSIST on a credit report from them. (People with nothing to hide, hide nothing.) If you don’t want to be an amateur sleuth, hire a forensic accountant. (Remember, talk to an attorney. I’m a lady with a blog, and this isn’t legal advice. It’s BTDT, and a bazillion people on the the blog have been there too advice.)

6. Go no contact.

How to leave a cheater and announce you’re divorcing is a very personal decision. You might just want your cheater served at work. Or do it in the therapist’s office. Or if your cheater is volatile, be VERY careful and just get out safely. Don’t be afraid to seek the services of a domestic abuse hotline.

Whether you remain separated but living together (pure hell, don’t do this unless you absolutely must), or one of you moves out, don’t talk with your cheater unless it is about kids or finances. Preferably do ALL this communication by email so it is documented. It’s easier to be less emotional this way as well. No contact means no new hurts. Don’t get sucked back into their drama. Don’t tell them how you hurt (they don’t care, and if they act like they care, it’s to further manipulate you). Now is the time for crickets.

7. Stay strong.

You’re going to get wobbly. It’s entirely human. You will doubt that you’re doing the right thing sometimes. You’ll fear for your children. Stay the course. If your cheater is sorry, they will do the hard work and be sorry regardless of what you do. If a cheater tries to derail the divorce, it’s because they don’t want the consequences for themselves. That isn’t remorse. It’s self interest. When you feel weak, it’s good to look at that evidence again and let the anger fuel you forward. Focus on yourself. What kind of person do you want to share your life with? What are your values? Divorce from a cheater is terribly painful, but it’s also birthing pains to a new beginning. The pain is finite. Push past it. There’s a good life here waiting for you.

***

An earlier version of this advice appeared at Huffington Post. It’s been updated here.

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Annabelle
Annabelle
11 years ago

Great advice! I especially like number one. Waywards do not give us a heads up when they are cheating, we should not give one to them when we file.

JEFF
JEFF
11 years ago

Love your blog! I hung in limbo for 3 months waiting for her to make up her mind. Then she announces she’s moving in with her AP. Started divorce the next day, I have the house, my daughter, and my money. She’s got a 58 yo alcoholic stroke victim with high BP and ED. “Divorce from a cheater is terribly painful, but it’s also birthing pains to a new beginning. The pain is finite. Push past it. There’s a good life here waiting for you”. You have no idea how those few sentences have helped me. Thank you for this blog.

RioFaline
RioFaline
10 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Double WOW…..seriously,what’s your lawyers number 😉

Jeff
Jeff
11 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

I at least had the clarity to kick her out, otherwise she and him would be living in my house. I had the opportunity to expose the affair to his wife, and also have a long conversation with her. All three of his adult children don’t speak to him, in fact they helped their mother change the locks on the house. My wife is a quite attractive 43 year old Asian, and in her words he “adores her”. Look up histrionic personality disorder, that’s my wife. Bottomless pit of validation, and he’s feeding it now. Good luck to him, he’d better be on his game. Thanks again for your insights, at this point I’m looking for real advice that slaps me up side the head 🙂

CallMeRed
CallMeRed
11 years ago

This post is superb. I read it a month ago and it’s remained in my head. Yet somehow I was already putting most of it into practice instinctively.

Chasing Waterfalls
Chasing Waterfalls
11 years ago

I read your Huffington Post blog today and it lead me to your website. I FREAKING LOVE YOU!!!! Thank you sooo much for your no nonsense attitude towards infidelity. In my situation, I met him 4 months after I had lost my late husband suddenly to an asthma attack. He was charming, attentive and “understanding” of my grief process. For 9 months, we were talking everyday but only during certain times of the day. Since I was not in a rush a be in a physical or sexual relationship , things seemed off, but i was happy to just have a confident. When I started to develop feelings for him, I finally started probing into the gaps his stories and life events that didn’t make sense. That’s when he finally came clean and told me that he was in a 13 yr marriage and had 2 kids including one that was conceived weeks after we were first intimate. The wife did not know and he didn’t want to tell me because he loved “what we have”. He wanted me to continue to maintain this relationship and “didn’t want anyone to have me” and I was his “soul mate”.

I developed the courage to cut off contact with him and now left to mourn 2 losses. I felt so stupid for not being as alert as I usually him. I hated the fact that I loved and cared for him and the betrayal is so painful. I am so happy that he is no longer a part of my life. He told me that he told his wife, but who knows. Either way, I feel bad for his wife and his 2 daughters who have the unfortunate misfortune of having such a lying, cheating, controlling and manipulative excuse of a man in their life. Karma is a bitch and I hope that the universe has mercy on him because there is no way that someone can go around and ruin people’s lives in the way that he did without it catching up to him. I did nothing to him, or anything to deserve this and I hated that he came into my life at all. UGHHH….

Mehitable
Mehitable
2 months ago

I know this is a really old post but the story is always current and I hope this lady has mended and had a happy life since. The “man” she had the misfortune to run into is a PREDATOR and we always have to be wary of predators, people who smell vulnerability and seek to make it useful. I also think it’s a good idea to check out anyone you start becoming serious about and even do background checks because as people move around the country and we don’t know their background, or family or friends personally….it’s easy to lie and amazing how many people will. Especially around relationship issues. Always pay attention to red flags and try to check things out beforehand if you can before you get too serious.

Chasing Waterfalls
Chasing Waterfalls
11 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Hi Chump Lady, I actually would not even know how to even contact his wife. After the revelation, I went into self preservation mode and did not want to get involved in his life drama because the outcome might be worse for me. What if she is one of those wives that is in Denial? What if she doesn’t have the support to handle that news? What if he in turns make my life a living nightmare because knows so much about me, where I live, where I work etc. Those were answers that I am not willing to find out. For me he is not different than a psychopath with no conscience or remorse. So I am running far away in order to avoid becoming one of those tragic lifetime movies.

RioFaline
RioFaline
10 years ago

Hahaaaa…..RUN is right,swiftly at that!! Smart,strong & dignified….good for you.

Phoenix
Phoenix
5 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Oh my. You nailed SO many things in this reply. You have such clarity, I’m going to live and learn and remember. I’ve had one of his friends and one of my grown kids blame me. Something I would never think of doing. In the meantime, being an honest loving person who trusts IS NO CRIME. Learning to attend more to actions than words is a great thing to learn. Thank you for more well thought out wisdom to take home and save.

Baker's Dozen
Baker's Dozen
11 years ago

Followed the breadcrumbs the same way that Chasing Waterfalls did (through HuffPo) – OH how I WISH I could have read this blog four years ago!! Even two years ago! Would have saved me so much time and pain. I eventually figured it out, but why learn from your own mistakes when it’s so much faster and easier to take someone else’s good advice?! Keep fighting the good fight, CL – you’re doing a lot of good 🙂

Lynn
Lynn
11 years ago

Ditto the above comments. 6 years ago I was scrambling to find some information and advice like this. In my case, we were married for 28 years, together for 31 and I thought we had a great marriage. And yes, I really did NOT know that he was asking women in our social circle for sex and flirting behind my back and no, I’m not stupid or in denial. I simply didn’t know. This went on for years and years. The women he approached never told me because ‘I was so sweet and loving’. He purposefully approached only certain types of women – those who had low self-esteem and who were unhappily married. That way, he knew they wouldn’t tell me or their husbands. I felt doubly betrayed because these “friends” should have told me. I don’t know half of what he did because he was such a skilled liar/omitter of certain truths. Later I found out he was also on a site where he could set up threesomes with other couples so he could indulge his bisexual desires. All the while, he was this great Dad, loving and adoring husband, coaching our kids sporting activities and a civilian member in our Police Department.
His attitude over the next few months was he was sorry(he was caught) and let’s put it behind us. I was in such pain and so angry and he minimized it so efficiently, accusing me of trying to make him feel bad while I was trying to process this devastating information. I left after several months. The same week-end I moved out with our son, he met someone and she slept in our house.Within 2 months he had divorce proceedings instituted. Cold, distant, detached. Who was this guy? After such a loving partnership that we had, he moved on so quickly it was astounding. Your posts are so spot on I am blown away. Wish you were around then!

walkbymyself
walkbymyself
2 months ago
Reply to  Lynn

If I could request just ONE gift from Santa (a day late), it would be to never hear of a faithful and trusting spouse dismissed with the phrase “in denial”. Ever. You have no idea how hard my Wasband had to work, day in and day out, 24/7, year after year, just to keep the lie going. You wouldn’t believe how many different lies he had to keep track of!

I was never “in denial”. I was and am a decent person who believes that others are treating me the way I treat them.

kb
kb
11 years ago

Great post!

I discovered 2 months ago that my husband of 16 years was cheating on me with one of his former staffers. I’d tentatively brought up the OW (“Do you think X is in love with you?”) just out of the blue. He denied it and went into his study, but left his iPhone on the counter. It hadn’t yet locked, and I saw him post on fb, “my wife just confronted me” followed by her response, “what did you say?” I then googled infidelity resources and came across your blog. I stifled my desire to confront him. After all, 24 hours earlier, he’d still been a cheater. I just didn’t know about it. Now, at least I knew. I also made an appointment with a family practice lawyer, who gave me good advice and recommended three other lawyers in town I should speak with. She also offered recommendations for therapists that her clients had found helpful while dealing with the process.

I can’t leave my cheater. Yet. I’m too financially dependent on him. However, I’m looking for another job, and I’ve calculated how much I’ll need to live independently, pay my student loans, buy a (used) car, and care for my dogs (thank goodness we have no children).

In the meantime, I’ve been able to watch bits and pieces of the affair. I’ve seen him tentatively break things off. Two days later, he’s arranging for a hotel rendezvous. About 3 weeks later, he’s still trying to break things off (“you deserve someone full-time”), but he’s getting ego kibbles from her (“I believe we are soul mates. I think we can make things work.” Two days later, he’s making hotel dates again. There’s no “This is wrong. I can’t do this any longer.”

He’s having an affair with a woman who’s been married and divorced twice. She’s had numerous affairs with married men, and has had one-night stands after late night bar hopping. However, this isn’t about her. I agree that she has her own issues–going after married men is symptomatic of deep issues with commitment–but it’s his choice to sleep with her, to text to her, to betray me for her. He’s also likely picked up at least one STD from her. Condoms aren’t foolproof against HPV, after all. I am relieved that he doesn’t have the sexual stamina to keep two women satisfied.

So in the meantime, I’ve been gathering evidence. I know he’s sending her money (and even in my no-fault state, the courts will love that, and it will likely help mediate a better settlement for me), and I know how he’s doing so (yay for electronic records). I plan to rent out a storage locker and start “cleaning” our house, i.e. moving things that I brought into the marriage into a locker, where he can’t destroy it when I leave him and where the moving van can come pick it up.

Thanks for this great post. I am still hurting from the betrayal, but I’m also very angry. Whenever I start to waiver, I just look at the screenshots of his facebook chats. I deserve and will get better. But until I can afford to leave, I have to keep my cool, and your posts help me do that.

Rubiesque
Rubiesque
6 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

STD’s…
I was totally oblivious until one day, I had chlamydia. And get this…omg, you’ll laugh when you hear this…claims the Dr. told him “anything is possible when it comes to contracting this.”
I guess I’m just stupid, as well as all the other Dr’s and scientists and Communicable Disease specialists…
However, I am planning my exit strategy. I have 4 kids with this man. I have been a sahm for the past 15 years, and am continuing to look for SOME type of job that would help financially in any way. He just got hired perm from a temp agency, so I plan to get moved into a new house and then file for legal separation/divorce. I have invested so much time into this prick. I owe it to my girls, to show how a strong woman acts. Except I have no idea how to.

kb
kb
11 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Thanks for the support. I don’t plan on staying in limbo for longer than I can help. Pretty much it’s a case of lining up a job while “cleaning” up the house to make for an easier exit. My field has steady openings, but it’s competitive so I realize I will have to keep my cool for perhaps a few more months. In the mean time, instead of screaming at him, I’m trying to channel my anger into planning both my exit strategy (my divorce lawyer emphasized the importance of a plan) and a settlement that we could both live with.

I will definitely need counseling or some other sort of support. Not having someone I can confide in IRL is huge. Once my ducks are lined up and I’m on my way out, I don’t plan to be silent–I’m sure that the secrecy is a huge bit of the allure for my STBX. This is a smallish sort of town, and word gets around. His reputation will be in the dirt, especially since the OW has such a lousy reputation in this town that when word came out that she was in a serious automobile accident a few days ago, some of the people where they’d worked (she was a former staffer) said that they wished she’d died. He was horrified and angry. I bit my tongue from suggesting that that kind of sentiment is generally reserved for people who’ve harmed other people in a major way. When it comes out that he has had an affair with her, it will very likely have an impact on both his current employment and his chances at future employment.

That’s another reason not to stay in limbo.

EnoughAlready
EnoughAlready
9 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Just found this website a few days ago, but feel like I’ve been introduced to a branch of my family I didn’t know was there, family that gets all the punch lines.
Find myself reading and thinking, “Wow! I did that! I rented a storage unit and moved most of my stuff out! I bought a house and moved into it!”
My situation was different–this man is verbally and emotionally abusive, and physically abusive with the kids. Spent years trying to fix things, protect kids, mollify, walk on eggshells. But the whole `you are crazy, I’m a good person, you’re not’ stuff sounds just the same as with the cheaters.
Lacking a similar site for my STBX’s kind of crazy (and mine), so I hope you don’t mind if I hang around for awhile.

ThrewHimOut2
ThrewHimOut2
9 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Nato Air Strike for sure! I was in limbo for 5 months (couple of those playing pick me ugh) and I’m so not the “pick me” type. I was just devastated at what was about to happen. I got all my duckies in a row and waited until April (tax time) to get some extra money. I filed and served him while he was on business. I’m sure he was shocked as hell. I gave him a kiss goodbye before he left on that trip and I said, “I will miss you.” I was a stay at home mom for 20 years so luckily this smart girl stashed away thousands for this rainy day. I always thought if I never get divorced we will go on a great vacation…well…he did.

Jennifer
Jennifer
11 years ago

It just became 2013 and I found this website. Love it! I was not married to my cheater but we were together for 10 years. He did the I hope we can be friends. I said I was your friend. Even with low self esteem I was at least clear enough to know that I was not going to eat that sh-t sandwich. I did not call him or try to see him or ask him to come back. The damage was done. I bump into him from time to time and he trys doing his snake oil act but it does not matter how much perfume and lipstick you put on a pig, it’s still a pig. And I already know I can’t trust him so what would be the point. I sure would have loved to find this site at that time. I am just now looking at dating again, it’s been about 3 years, however I am in much better shape and a lot wiser. He is a control freak so he thought I was going to pursue him. He would call me and ask why he had not heard from me. I just let the machine pick it up. I thought, well the OW got her karma, cause this jackass can’t be alone for 5 minutes. Strange thing, he’s ex wife cheated on him and he bitched about it forever. Then he turned around and did the same thing.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
10 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer

Jennifer…going through almost the EXACT same scenario only my cheater was using escorts, massage paroles etc along with standard infidelity bull. The getting my ducks In a row so I can get gone is killing me. My horses are being moved next week and I will be a lot more free to speak my ind and put an end to this. I did we’ll not answering for 2 days after the last major lie, then caved. It is hard to stay angry and resolute when anxiety creeps in and screws you all up. I feel super alone and confused, sociopath narcissists really do a number on you after so many years….nice to find a place where people are going through the same thing….

jennifer
jennifer
10 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Elizabeth… The thing I did that was helpful to me was noticing how I felt after any contact with him and I always noticed I felt worse. When someone is a liar, you have to decide if you can live with that because, it is NOT going to change and if you put up
with it, you are just giving them permission to behave that way with you. I cannot be with someone that I cannot trust. What’s the point?
My father was a liar, a charmer and a pedophile. My saving grace was doing some inner child work. It helped me see that sometimes the upset came from the child part of me and at other times it was the teenage part of me. The child will always love them no matter what so of course it is hard to stay angry. I had to learn how to re parent myself. That is how I learned to stand my ground and be straight with myself.
It is an ongoing process but as time goes on it does get better. Now I look back and go WTF was I thinking? I would never choose him now, I have a very good life and I don’t have to put up with his crap. I actually wake up happy!
Things get better sweetie but not without some work. Get some help and some new information so you can reinvent yourself. It changes things when you start to love yourself.

moda
moda
11 years ago

CL – Great site! I’d just like to add one thing. IF your cheater is also someone who has been physically abusive or who has frightened you enough that you think he potentially could become abusive, take every precaution in the first few months. Someone with this potential who loses control of you is apt to do something particularly violent in the weeks or months following a separation. This is the most dangerous time for a woman.

Wantogetout
Wantogetout
10 years ago

A very long story. I met my wife when I was 19. She was my first sexual encounter. Moved in after about 3 weeks, we were having sex after 1 week. We didnt date as such, it was very sexual. My wife had been sexually assaulted numerous times before I met her. When she was 14 she was raped by a teenager aquaintance.

She then was also raped by a boyfriend quite a few times during a abusive relationship, through their time together of about 3 years. Another time she was raped by an older man, when she stayed at his and his wifes house. The wife left for work in the morning and he raped her. She claims she was too afraid to stop him.

Another time she says she went home with a couple of guys after her 18th birthday, and you guessed it the guy raped her. Another time she was physically touched and this is the only time she laid charges, and the man was sent to jail. So a lot happenned to her before we got together. She never got much support from her family etc. or counselling to help with this.

We got together and it was all fun and such. She told me about her past problems, and i was fine with it. She was always extremely touchy, and edgy. One little disagreement and she would go off, many times punching and hitting me etc. Getting on with this we got together in 1995.

Around 1998, i went away for a weekend to my parents, and she didnt come because we had one of those little disagreements before. So she stayed home, we had a male flatmate. I went away and came home. She was so happy to see me. But very insistent in going to new years where this flatmate was. We got there, and that night, she said she wanted to break up. So we kinda did, but not really, and we had new years together with the flatmate at a few nightclubs. We came home, for a few days before the flatmate came back. Over the next few weeks we got back together. About a few weeks later the flatmate moved out.

Fast forward to 2000, and my wife became pregnant with our first child. She suffered a lot of depression, i was working long hours, and no support from her family. We had our second child in 2003, depression really bad after this as well.In 2004 we had our first (really second problem). My wife went with friends and their 15 year old nephew away for the day, as I couldnt get babysistting for our child. She came home and over the next few days behaved weird and got many text messages on our mobile, but wouldnt show me.

At the third day I came home. And she told me to sit down. She had been caught out by the 15 years old sisters who read his phone and told their mum. The mum told our friend that if my wife didnt stop what she was doing she would tell me. They had basically been sexting each other to the point where she was organising for him to leave school at lunchtime and meet at our house, whilst i was at work and the child was in babysitting. I was shocked and heartbroken. Didnt know at the time but I was too weak,and she really didnt get any consequences for it. A bit later we were having a fight, and she blurted out, no wonder i didnt tell you about me and the flatmate sleeping in his bed that night you went to your parents. She claims she was upset, and needed someone in the bed. She claims nothing happenned. Her version of events is he tried to get her drunk, so guess what she slept in his bed, but they didnt touch each other. She didnt even like him apparently. I rang this guy, and he said nothing happenned that night, but they did have sex later. When I said to him, he better not be lying, he said he has nothing to gain from telling me lies. She has continually denied this. Okay another thing to give me nightmares over. How the hell can you do that, again i really didnt give her consequences. I do know they never communicated again after he moved out.

We never really got going properly again. I always mulled over everything, occasionally just bluring out stuff about this to hurt her at times. She was still very depressed, on and off medication etc. Still physically abusive etc to me.

2009 she begins a emotional affair on facebook with another guy(45 year old) from overseas. Goes on for about 3 months before i had enough of her spending all her time on facebook, and i installed a spy program, and got copies of all her conversations. I hit her with it and she went off her head even to the point of saying she would hurt the kids. I rang the police and they took her to hospital for an assessment. They said she was fine and wouldnt hurt the kids. I sent her packing to her parents and she stayed there for about 3 days before she came home, and we sorta swept it under the carpet. She has over all this time quite a few times threatening suicide, been admitted to hospital a few times. We did have marriage counselling for about 6 months after this. Dont know if it helped, but I felt better for it.

Late last year she needs to go to here aunties place to help her female 14 year old cousin who has been sexually assaulted. Her cousin was going to court. I began to feel funny when she acted weird on her text messages etc. She rings me on the day before she was coming home, and says she was bringing her 17 year old male cousin home for a few weeks. i say no, i just lost my father, i dont want anyone here. She in the end says ok, i wont bring him. Next morning she rings, and says he’s coming i dont care what you say.

Well they get here and over the next few days , not much, just feeling uncomfortable as they seem to be way too touch feely for cousins. On the wednesday night, she tells me she wants him to move in, as it would be much better for him here as he doesnt like it at his mothers. We fight, and i say no way. Next night i go into the computer room , and find him on the seat perched behind my wife. I go off, but she just says i am being silly. He stays for another week, i dont know why or how i let him stay, but nothing major, but small stuff that cousins dont do . REMEMBER i was at work during the day but who knows.

Also whilst he was here i kept saying to her , that what looked to be going on wasnt right, and she kept saying you are being silly. You need help maybe you need to see a shrink, you are going crazy. Long story short, she does tell me whilst she was at her aunties, the cousin (who has autism, and is a drug user etc, dropkick) told her he wanted to sleep with her. She said she was feeling attracted to him (apparently they have an emotional connection) but told him she couldnt because she was married and she was her cousin. During this time they were still talking on phone and texting. Also i told her mother about this and his mother, but they dismissed it. My wife even made me apoligize to him and his mother for suggesting this stuff was going onBeen a year now, we have done some counselling etc, but nothing really going there. She hasnt had any contact with him since. Says she doesnt even think about him. She says how silly she was, and doesnt know why i stay with her.We are just going through the motions. I always ponder over whether she has had sex with the cousin, or the flatmate. She has always denied this, even at points where she is so broken down emotionally she is going to kill herself.

I dont really know what to do. I do love her, but always in the back of my mind is all this crap.

I need help to leave and get out of this

Mehitable
Mehitable
2 months ago
Reply to  Wantogetout

I know this is a really old post and I hope it worked out for him but the lesson here is the same: STOP THIS WHEN IT STARTS. When you first find out about cheating behavior….that’s when you get out. It never gets any better, you just either find out more about the past and/or more stuff happens in the future. DON’T IGNORE OR EXPLAIN AWAY RED FLAGS. You have to get out when you first find out about this stuff. Don’t be a literal or figurative punching bad for a disordered person. It NEVER gets better and you can’t change or help them. Don’t be guilted out – save yourself and your kids. If you can’t just leave right away….make the plan with a lawyer and set a time limit for yourself.

Last edited 2 months ago by Mehitable
Traffic_Spiral
Traffic_Spiral
5 years ago
Reply to  Wantogetout

Find a lawyer and start making arrangements. She’s not going to change.

TennisHack625
TennisHack625
10 years ago
Reply to  Wantogetout

Wantogetout,

My STBXW didn’t have a history of this but it came later. It sounds like she has BPD, borderline personality disorder. You need to get away from her. If you don’t have a pre-nup then see if she’ll sign a post-nup. Then divorce her. It’s just that simple.

Psychologically and spirituality it’s the best thing you can do. Financially it’s the worst. Take over the finances as well. She’s not the person you thought she was. Unfortunately in America the constitution protects infidelity but doesn’t protect marriage. That’s why the divorce rate is so high.

Be strong and get away from her.

2ndTimeFool
2ndTimeFool
10 years ago

Thank you, am grateful to have found your website. 2nd time for me. Was involved with a socio-path, lying, cheating porn addict for almost 4 years. Finally divorced and moved on. Found out a year ago that the guy I currently am involved with loved the porn and craig*lst bull as well. Found it all on his phone. He apologized, said it would never happen again, blah blah blah, you know how the story goes. Two weeks ago, 900 number calls his phone. Now, you must be a pretty good customer for them to be calling you? Regardless, I demanded full discovery out of him (after reading your blog, know this was a waste of time). Found out he never gave up the online casual encounter link and has called 900 numbers for the past year and long before we ever were together. It hurts. This is the second go around for me with a cheating liar. Thank God I didn’t marry this one. My heart is breaking, and have pretty much come to the conclusion that I must attract whack jobs. I knew a year ago what he was doing, looked the other way I guess or just wanted to believe he had stopped it all. I am a fool for sure.

KarenE
KarenE
10 years ago
Reply to  2ndTimeFool

2ndTime, there’s a useful book out there, called ‘How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk’ that gave me lots of food for thought about what to look for as a relationship progresses, in order to not keep making the same types of mistakes. I sure wish I had read it before meeting my ex!

Nena
Nena
10 years ago

That sounds like my good friend. He grew up in a very happy, trustworthy family, so he was like “My ex would never do X,Y,Z,P” I told him what you said here about assuming that the person will destroy you without blinking an eye to save their asses. She wound up stabbing him when she found out that he started to withdraw assets. Her ass was in jail for assault, but my friend has a nasty case of PTSD.

He still underestimates her evilness and it frightens me. Their divorce is final in a month. He has a protective order out on her. 🙁 I fear for his life more than he seems to fear for his own.

And yes, I was a victim of attempted murder from my serial cheater ex. When I announced I was leaving, he beat and strangled me. We weren’t married. He is still wanted by cops.

Please, please please trust your gut. Always assume you are in grave danger when dealing with people like this. It is better to be over cautious than injured or killed. 🙁

Lala
Lala
10 years ago

I should’ve read this sooner. I f*cked up #1 🙁

RNE
RNE
10 years ago

Thank you so much for everything you do on this site. I’m sitting in the dark bawling my eyes out because my husband of 10 years told me about another woman today and that he wants to have a relationship with her. We’ve been together since I was 14 (so 16 years total 10 years married) and I’ve supported him through his career in the military, stuck by him through three year long deployments to Iraq, and stayed home with the kids, giving up my chance at a career as I moved all over the world where ever he was stationed. Im devastated. I felt so alone all day and didn’t know what to do, but your blog has helped me to see that this isn’t my fault. I hope I can get over this, it seems like a long road ahead, but you’ve given me the fuel to keep driving on. Thank you.

solander
solander
9 years ago

how do you move half the money, cancel credit cards, check past purchases etc if you were at home for 25ish years with the kids while he worked and you traveled to countries with him while he followed his career and you kept the family together thus preventing you from getting a full time job. how do you move money when he gives you 3 days notice AFTER he gets back from climbing Mt Everest. then moves into his new downtown apartment and buys a new car and new furniture with “his” money.

Mehitable
Mehitable
2 months ago
Reply to  solander

This is why people need LAWYERS – because they can advise all this and I understand you can frequently get the other spouse, the cheater with the money, to pay for it ultimately.

Esthellar
Esthellar
9 years ago

Hi! I need your advice. I found out one week ago my husband was cheating on me sexually and emotionally (the worst)
I have evidence, I filed for divorce, I threw him out if the house. But I don’t know what happened, he cried apologized, promised things, I didn’t give in but I don’t know when I failed. We are going to couples therapy, he said he was willing to go (but I found the therapist), he’s back in the house, acting like everything is awesome. And telling me “everything is going to be ok, we will get through this”.
All the evidence and actions from the past tell me to leave him. I think is HOPE and FEAR (I read your 5 things make you stay with a cheater) but where do I get the strenght ???? I am miserable I know I can’t trust this person again, every time is see him I see lies… I wake up with pain. But I don’t know how to say enough is enough. I keep trying to find more evidence, as if what I know and found wasn’t enough. Please help!!!!

Traffic_Spiral
Traffic_Spiral
5 years ago
Reply to  Esthellar

Firstly, kick him back out and stop talking to him. Listening to him just gives him the chance to manipulate you and makes it harder for you to heal. Also, “we will get through this?” WE? WE didn’t cheat. The fucking nerve of him, acting like this a a mutual goal that you both have to work for! Just tell him you need more space and that he has to go for a bit.

Secondly, go back to the lawyer and re-start the divorce work. Don’t tell him you’re going it, just do it. He can find out when he’s served.

Thirdly, accept that it will suck but it’s necessary and you will recover.

Regan
Regan
9 years ago
Reply to  Esthellar

I can’t tell you how much this site is helping me. But I am still struggling to decide what to do. My BF of 2 1/2 years has been regularly texting and possibly seeing at least 4 or 5 people. He denies everything. The only thing he will cop to is that he went to the fair with one of them.But that was only becuase I found a text on his phone from her saying that she had a dream that they got caught in bed together. He says it was just conversation, along with all the rest of the text messages where he was saying and getting very intimate and suggestive texts, even about hooking up with these people. So he denies, denies, denies. After the Fair Lady thing, now he is saying that he “knew all these people BEFORE we started talking and that they are JUST CONVERSATIONS.” Says that he never meets them, has not been with anyone but me. But I am pretty sure he is lying, and has been lying. But now he is crying, saying he loves me, that we belong together, and calling me, trying to convince me to stay. I almost feel like this is making him feel so good to have me so weak and confused and crazy feeling. Bringing me flowers, buying me groceries, telling me things he NEVER did until I caught him red-handed. He says now that we can make it through this if we just keep trying…but I keep going back to the fact that if I had not found out about the fair lady, then he would have kept doing all that he has been doing. And really, only dating for 2 1/2 years, and already this is what I get???? None of these were one night stands, they have been ongoing since BEFORE we met. HELP!!!! WHY can’t I leave his lying, cheating ass? Oh, I actually think part of it is the sex, which is the most amazing I have ever experienced. I think I have become addicted to him….and I hate myself for it. If I were my friend, I would tell me to dump his sorry ass……AAARRRGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

trying2fly
trying2fly
9 years ago

I feel your pain Esthellar. How much more do I need to see before enough is enough? I don’t have any physical proof of the cheating, the ones I had years ago I destroyed thinking it would only depressed me more to keep it around.

SB
SB
9 years ago

Just wanted to point out that AnnualCreditReport.com is the better one to use. FreeCreditReport.com is much more scammy. 🙂

KAN
KAN
7 years ago
Reply to  SB

SB, true, there are many scam websites on the Internet offering “free” credit reports. Do not use Google search to find the right site. Scammers use similar url names and copy the credit bureau logos for their sites so it’s hard to tell which one is legitimate.

Instead, go straight to the Federal Trade Commission’s government site to get the correct link: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports

mirad
mirad
9 years ago

Hey what if you own property together? Both houses have both names and one loan has both our names. if it were just cash it’d be easy to split.

LadyStrange
LadyStrange
8 years ago
Reply to  mirad

Mirad – I am in the same situation. We own 2 houses, but only one mortgage with both our names on them. You need to get an appraisal done for both properties. Figure out how much they are worth less the mortgage. If one house is worth less, than whoever moves to the ‘cheaper’ home needs to be bought out from the party receiving the more expensive home – assuming the debt covers the amount of equity in the ‘more expensive’ home

mirad
mirad
8 years ago
Reply to  LadyStrange

Thanks Lady Strange. One house is in another state, so neither of us can really move their unless my husband returns to his old job. I need to extricate myself from our financial ties. At least we don’t have kids.

Kaya48
Kaya48
8 years ago

Hi
I just divorced my cheating husband of 20 plus years. I did exactly as this advice. I went no contact, hired a really good make attorney, took him to court and hurt him where it hurts the most. Financially. I had enough of his lies and betrayals. He is a cop and has an affair with a young female cop. Now his child hates him. He destroyed everything. Whores come and go but family is for ever. He just lost it all. As for me, my life is good now. She can have him. Please who wants someone who is capable of doing such harm to his family. He is a coward and a loser. Thank you, little minion for being my replacement. You saved my life. It’s peaceful and sane now and the best of it. He has to pay alimony for the rest of my life.

LadyStrange
LadyStrange
8 years ago
Reply to  Kaya48

Kaya – you seem to be in a better place. I can relate to your situation (20+ years of marriage). I can only hope my attorney is as good as yours and am able to recover (financially) what he has stolen from me. Although I can never recover (emotionally) the pain he has caused. I’m happy for you and am glad you are able to move on!

LJP
LJP
8 years ago

My Gay husband met a man on Craig’s list and viewing gay porn for years. married 25 years; house paid for; I was a home maker and home schooled our two daughters for 9 years. in my case (the gay thing) would it be better to have a female attorney or does it matter. I sub teach and make about $5,000 per year. He makes $52,000. My heart is shattered but it has been a while now and I feel stronger and realize it is time. We live separately in the house. Any thoughts?

Traffic_Spiral
Traffic_Spiral
5 years ago
Reply to  LJP

Male or female attorney isn’t important – you need a smart attorney.

Ian Dubito
Ian Dubito
7 years ago

May 2012 Chump Lady:

There are so many good people in the Chump Lady archives. To anyone reading this email, Chump Nation needs you.

Could you spare a few minutes to help drum up support for Tracy’s new book? Go to this post and see if you have anything to add.

https://www.chumplady.com/forums/topic/advocacy-for-chump-rights/

If nothing else, could you come over to the forum, start a thread, and give us new Chumps an update on your Gain a Life goings-on?

BeenThereandWasAChump
BeenThereandWasAChump
6 years ago

I have worked in law offices. Chumps, depending on the size of your city/town/area, go to the top three divorce attorney offices for an ‘initial consultation’ – some of those will be free and some will not. You do this even if you cannot afford those attorneys. What you are really doing it creating a conflict of interest for those law firms so your Cheating Ex cannot use them. It was one of the best things I learned while working and saw it used several times against Chumps who ended up with less than the best representation or who had to go out of the area to get a decent lawyer because the Cheating Ex did this. Let me tell you an attorney that is not from the area will fare far less than those that are from the area. The legal system is a ‘good old boy’ fraternity. Hope this helps at least one person.

Traffic_Spiral
Traffic_Spiral
5 years ago

Yup. Always shop around for the lawyer. You get a good feel for who you like best, and you hamstring the other side – it’s win-win!

Warren
Warren
5 years ago

Now it’s my turn .my wife is a a ceriel cheater and a sex addict ..talked to a lawyer today and was going to wave it in her face …glad I read your post first .changed my mind …keeping my cards close

Doingme1
Doingme1
2 months ago

Often times a cheater will make a move, hide assets, and isolate a spouse which puts them in a more favorable position in splitting assets and custody. If you’re in this position I’d suggest setting yourself up closer to family prior to filing. Con the conman, set up residency, and then file.

LovedAJackass
LovedAJackass
1 month ago
Reply to  Doingme1

This is particularly good if someone has younger kids and can then show family support for child care.

susie lee
susie lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Doingme1

I think anything you do legally and safely is fair game when fighting an abusive cheater. Give them the same heads up that they gave you.

susie lee
susie lee
2 months ago

Mine would have preferred to steer me away from the legal system entirely and straight toward the shotgun he keeps in the front hall closet.”

Love this, my sweet dad told me that he was likely lucky to be several states away, as he would have likely gone after him and be in jail now. And my dad started hunting to feed his mother and sisters when he was about 12, he wouldn’t have missed.

Stepbystep
Stepbystep
2 months ago

Ah, back to Chump Nation roots. Perfect post for navigating the holiday week and planning how to leave.

Chumps need to remember the deliberate and planful nature of a cheater’s infidelity. Don’t let them continue to plan YOUR future.

Every step is necessary, so it is important discover the power in disengaging and putting your energy where it will do you some good.

Caroline
Caroline
2 months ago

This is SUCH good advice. I only wish I had followed it about filing with no warning. If I had, I might have been able to keep my house. As it was, I gave him plenty of warnings, and it gave him time to talk to a lawyer, who told him he should stay in the house and fight for the assets. He had initially been inclined to walk away from it and leave it to me and the kids. Part of the problem for me was that my church refused to approve my divorce until I had proven that I had attempted to reconcile multiple times. I am now working for change in our denomination on that.

Bruno
Bruno
2 months ago
Reply to  Caroline

I got similar advice at church, but I had one pastor tell me otherwise. His wife had cheated as well. He told me he would support whatever choice I made, but his experience was it was best to end the marriage quickly and rebuild your life without the added trauma of trying to reconcile with a cheater. I wish I had listened.

DrChump
DrChump
2 months ago

Perfect advice. I was a mess but by the grace of God and Good friends I was guided to follow all of this.
I found a love note at 2:30 on a Monday Afternoon and was blindsided. I was a babbling mess. I Was able to get call off to my financial guy, who I found out later on was taking advantage of me as well, but he gave me the advice to take out half the money immediately. I didn’t want to because I didn’t believe it but did. He also told me that day “she is now your enemy, trust me on this”. He was so right. She tried so much bullshit it was ridiculous.
Rugby buddy who is brilliant lawyer got me my awesome, badass attorney. He would also check up to make sure I was t doing anything stupid. Told me to always have recorded going when near her to avoid false accusations.
Lawyers told me not to tip my hand, keep all knowledge to myself and them. This was tough.
It all worked out great

Bruno
Bruno
2 months ago

Please get an STD check, but consider carefully whether to go to your family physician if you share them with your spouse. Mine was also treating her for depression and more serious psychiatric problems and I am quite sure was filling his head with what a terrible person I was. When I asked for STD tests he actually discouraged me until I told him I had proof of her multiple sex partners. I found a new physician. If you have a good relationship with your doctor by all means use them, but be aware that they can be played by cheaters too.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  Bruno

I think that’s sound advice even though the family physician in my situation, on learning about FW’s cheating, clearly demonstrated what side she was on when she suddenly cut off FW’s Viagra prescription. But I was lucky and I can think of past family doctors who might have sided with the perp.

Bruno
Bruno
1 month ago

I remember your comment about this. Glad you had a savy Dr.
Pastors, counselors, kid’s teachers, neighbors and family members can all be conned by the FW. Even when you show them proof they frequently can’t let go of the lies they have been told.

Mehitable
Mehitable
2 months ago

The sheer amount of practical sense and wisdom in this post is mind blowing. I have a friend who is currently going through a horrible situation with his cheating wife and I don’t think he’s done a single one of these things. Nearly 30 years of marriage/dating, 2 adult kids, a big home and a business they shared and she tried to do the exit affair with another guy who ended up calling my friend and telling him to PLEASE take her back. I don’t think exit guy knew the truth about her marital status either. She ended up stealing several hundred thousand dollars from a joint account w/o husband’s knowledge (because he never stopped access or divided resources) and since her exit affair failed spectacularly (after at least 2 years in it) she wants to come back. We keep advising him to at least get a good divorce attorney but he hasn’t even done that because of the “cost”. Well, there’s an old joke – do you know why divorces are SO expensive? Because they’re worth it!

The best defense is ALWAYS a good offense and ALWAYS PROTECT YOURSELF AND THE KIDS EVEN IF YOU DON’T THINK YOU NEED IT.

MotherChumperNinetyNine
MotherChumperNinetyNine
2 months ago

This is pure gold. Dday was 9 years ago on 12/27/14. 25 year marriage. 4 kids. I was totally blindsided. XH is the covert-narcissist with Bpd/psychopath tendencies (diagnosed during the 18 weeks of HELL of wreconciliation). XH was a very high wage earner and once the mask slipped he was hell-bent on destroying me and our kids. I was literally terrified. I hired who I thought was a pit bull, but he was also a narcissist who turned on me, blameshifted, gaslit and “fired” me on my birthday. My terror intensified. I found attorney #2 after many calls. He is known as “the” family law trial lawyer. We had two failed mediations (XH wouldn’t agree to anything approaching 50/50 split). We went to a 9 day trial, 13 months after I filed. Judge awarded me full custody, 82% of all assets, 82% child support allocation (because of BS schedules that cap out at $12k of income/per month — XH earns $90k/month) child support was $1200/kid)…. Six months of maintenance, no debts. Judge said he wished he could have given me more. I’m in a community property state. Unequal distribution based on unequal earning power. I was a SAHM for 8 years after a successful career, which I’ve returned to. After the divorce, I refinanced our home and paid off my lawyer. Got a new job, then another and another. Repartnered. Raised my kids. Recently bought a horse property where my son and his family live next door. XH has devolved further. Not my monkey not my circus, thank God! Tracy, you made all the difference in saving me from this monster. I cannot thank you enough. Merry Christmas!

LovedAJackass
LovedAJackass
1 month ago

You’re a role model for all of us!

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago

What a wonderful story– love the turnaround where you ended up in the advantaged position. Regarding the lawyer who fired you on your birthday– how to say “I’m secretly a cheater/abuser myself!” without actually saying it.

Mehitable
Mehitable
2 months ago

One thing I would add as I’m seeing it come up again in my friend’s situation, is to make sure that you not only go no contact (once you’ve set your ducks in a row) but that you record or witness ANY contact you have to have with your spouse. Our friend’s cheating wife made noises a few months ago about how “she was afraid to be alone in the house with him” which I interpreted as her possibly setting up a DV accusation (which would be entirely untrue). Now that her AP dumped her she wants to come back, but our advice was also to not let her back for anything unless you recorded the con or had a witness. I know it’s not necessarily legal in all states as court evidence, but I have no objection to telling them they’re being recorded. I think it adds that extra layer of protection in case you HAVE to be together at some point. Don’t think your STBX won’t pull DV or other charges against you – it’s a pretty common tactic and your X is not your friend. Ever.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Totally agree about recording. It was the #1 tool that the DV victims’ advocacy service I worked for recommended for survivors to prove that abuse was happening in order to get protective orders and convictions, not to mention social support. Last I checked, it’s legal to record without all-party recording consent in all states except 11. But even in states that technically require all-party consent, there are often loopholes (except in Massachusetts– really bad state for battered women, disabled/bullied students, victims of police excessive force and workplace harassment victims because stealth recording is a felony and even “public interest” loophole is almost never upheld) where stealth recordings can be admissible evidence on discretion of a judge or if the tape catches a crime happening. The latter are admittedly weird gray areas which is why it helps to both check statutes and ask a local lawyer how these things work in the courts.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago

This is why I say I’d probably just tell them openly that our interaction is being recorded and I’d record that statement at the start. You may not get the authenticity you would otherwise, but that can be a good thing when someone reaches for a knife or bottle, no joke, I’ve seen both. Or have a witness there but at minimum ALWAYS record interactions with an enemy. Massachusetts sucks, btw, LOL, lifelong inmate hoping to escape some day.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago

I would recommend– in my completely unlawyerly opion– to always record risky encounters even if it’s not technically legal because it’s better to have the recording and find out later that you can’t use it it than need it and not have it and then discover there’s a little discretionary loophole.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago

I 100% agree!

Stephen
Stephen
2 months ago

Great post. My favorite line: “ Your cheating spouse is not your friend.” Amen!!!

2xchump
2xchump
2 months ago

All of Tracy’s advice is gold. My #2 cheater was doing the cycle of abuse so I got chocolates and flowers on my car. But CHEAP flowers and chocolates. Hint of my worth to him. Emails to me showed it was ALL MY FAULT and that he had 4 sessions which cured his sex addiction but I was the cause. I had to lock him out and go No Contact for my stability from physical, emotional abuse. I.would have had to go into the hospital if I stayed in the same house while I filed and served him. So.a protection order was Initiated. I went to the police and alerted them after he called the police to tell them I could get suicidal. I have never been suicidal but I wasn’t playing mental health roulette with him. I did lock him out after serving him. Filing and getting a protection order comes before locks. See a lawyer for the right steps or your husband or wife could break into” their house” and you are out because you had nothing legal to back up your lock out. Get advice, legal advice and don’t play games with crying wolf and threatening divorce. They get much smarter and you could be in deep trouble in all areas. Please be smart and get your act together before you file. It will save a boatload of regret and tears. My first cheater left me with a newborn and kept the upper hand. I had no idea of all this. He moved in with his AP so I was actually safer than with #2.
Extreme caution. Praying for all new chumps. It will get better

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  2xchump

You’re making great points. In my personal experience in convicting a violent workplace stalker and also from the experiences of many of the DV survivors I worked with, I got a technicolor illustration of why “Thou shalt not bear false witness” is a very important part of the Ten Commandments: because one of the absolute worst and most ruinous thing that various perpetrators do is to either reverse blame or simply deny the crime they committed because of what this does to the credibility of victims. It can ruin lives, destroy the lives of children or even end in death.

I wasn’t raised with religion I think at least five of the Ten Commandments are basic common sense and endure for a reason.

chumpedtoomuch
chumpedtoomuch
2 months ago

Cannot stress number 2 enough. I would’ve sold my right hand and not expected my ex to do all the lousy things he did. And I saw it happen to three others I know. They turn so quick when they realise you are serious about leaving it gives you whiplash

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  chumpedtoomuch

I think it’s that primal animal instinct to self protect. They don’t seem to grow past the most basic instincts.