Why Did You Chase a Cheater?

why did you chase

“Why did you chase a cheater?” is the Friday Challenge question. The pick me dance is doomed to failure, so why do we do it?

In yesterday’s post 8 Lessons Cancer Taught Me About Marriage and Reconciliation, Nancy said:

“Why was I fighting so hard to save a marriage to a man that wasn’t committed? Why did I want a man that didn’t want to be with me?”

Nancy

Well, it could be any number of reasons. Because they intermittently do want you. (Dance harder!) Because cycle of abuse honeymoon. Or because of sunk costs.

I wrote a whole post about the forces that keep us stuck with cheaters. But when you’re out from it, you wonder, whatever did I see in this person? Why did I chase someone so unworthy of me? It feels mortifying.

Don’t beat yourself up. To love is to invest, and when that investment is threatened, it’s natural to want to save it. But it’s worth asking ourselves why we’d want to preserve a lopsided arrangement.

So, CN: Did you chase a cheater?

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braincramped
braincramped
9 days ago

For those of us who are or were in long term marriages,chasing our cheater feels safe and familiar. Numerous D days with the “safety” of knowing the marriage will not end is a perfected dance of decades. The cheater says -I’ll never do it again, I never want a future with anyone but you blah blah blah, and that becomes the exhale after every affair ends. That is, until the next affair and the next d-day, Choosing to say “enough is enough” and changing your family history is hard. Looking back now I realize that staying tethered to a serial cheater and a prolific liar is ultimately far more painful and harder than leaving.

FuckWitFree
FuckWitFree
9 days ago

He chased me more but cheated in between most likely due to the brain chemical rewards that felt like those growing up trying to appease and please an overt narc father. Married for 29 years. You learn behavior patterns that feel safe and familiar even though they are destructive and futile. Then I stayed until DD was of age so I could protect her and not share custody as he had begun to exhibit inappropriate sexual behavior around her and her friends. After separating he was detained for soliciting minors.

Leedy
Leedy
9 days ago
Reply to  FuckWitFree

This was indeed a noble sacrifice. I’m so sorry you went through the stress and worry of having a husband who was unsafe for your daughter. I hope you’re enjoying your freedom, now that she is grown and no longer dependent on her father.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 days ago
Reply to  FuckWitFree

That’s something a lot of why-didn’t-she-leave-sooner bystanders fail to realize about these situations. The way most family court systems work, an abuser would basically have to be Freddy Kreuger to lose all custody so, upon separation, any children in the mix may be left– unsupervised– with the abuser along with whatever rough trade that abuser hangs out with. Plus the whole post-separation abuse thing, weaponization of children, weaponization of the courts and false “parental alienation” charges that can even lead to an abuser getting full custody.

It’s terrible but it seems some parents have to make the choice of appointing themselves “court-ordered visitation supervisors” by staying until children reach adulthood to prevent kids being left totally alone with abusers.

KatiePig
KatiePig
7 days ago

I feel this one hard. I’m sometimes grateful that I didn’t find out my ex was a pedo until our son was an adult so I didn’t have to deal with custody issues. Because nobody believed me. I’m very lucky he didn’t touch our son. But if we had divorced, what about his pedo friends? They might have. It’s horrifying to think about it. I would have had to stay to protect my son while trying to get my husband caught or I would have had to flee with my son and go into hiding or I would have had to kill my ex husband. What other options would I really have? Because letting my son get abused was not on the table. It is horrifying to think about.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
6 days ago
Reply to  KatiePig

Amen. Having a “tiger by the tail” is among the worst hostage crises. It’s far worse when bystanders don’t a) acknowledge the tiger is a tiger; b) don’t understand why anyone would cling to its tail– namely to prevent the thing from twirling around and getting you in clawing and biting range.

ChumpNoMore
ChumpNoMore
7 days ago
Reply to  KatiePig

Holy shit.

Archer
Archer
8 days ago

Quite insane and infuriating the family Court thinks cheating parents who are almost always scrappy parents are magically going to be wonderful involved ones post divorce

Hope49
Hope49
8 days ago
Reply to  Archer

This is SO true! My fuckwit left the state after I filed for divorce and refused to drop divorce proceedings. So in many ways I was luckier than most but I also had to do everything.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
8 days ago
Reply to  Archer

Maybe it relates to domestic abusers clustering in certain professions related to helping/rescuing and power/control like police. The role of judge ticks off the boxes though judges seem less likely to get convicted.

Archer
Archer
8 days ago
Reply to  Archer

Crappy

Mehitable
Mehitable
9 days ago
Reply to  FuckWitFree

Unfortunately there are times when staying seems to be the better conscious choice, and I’ve stayed for other reasons – my reasons were health and finance issues. I think you made a great sacrifice for your daughter, I can totally understand wanting to be in control of custody – I don’t believe an adulterer should have ANY custody legally. I completely support what I consider a noble sacrifice. Make sure she understands WHY you stayed in a marriage to this bad person so she can not only appreciate what you had to do and your concerns about her father but how sacrifices are sometimes necessary and appropriate to protect the vulnerable.

OHFFS
OHFFS
9 days ago
Reply to  FuckWitFree

You made a sacrifice to protect her. You’re a good mom.

LaDoctora
LaDoctora
9 days ago
Reply to  FuckWitFree

Yes, you had a gut feeling that your child was in danger. Me too. I couldn’t imagine FW being able to take care of my kids. He was so checked out. My kids can drive now, they don’t have to take his shit.

LaDoctora
LaDoctora
9 days ago
Reply to  LaDoctora

I hope the things are better now for you and your kids. Hugs.

One last time
One last time
9 days ago

Fear of the unknown. Sunk costs. Feeling of safety. Probably the biggest for me was I had programmed myself to believe her actions were normal. No marriage is perfect. I was far from a perfect husband so it was easy to convince myself that her (our) issues were mental health stresses, stress from raising a teen, normal life stuff. I absolutely believed in her Dr Jekyll / Mr Hyde dynamic. Unfortunately, Mr Hyde, who started out very infrequently, became the more prevalent persona as time went on.

Chumpedandconfused
Chumpedandconfused
8 days ago
Reply to  One last time

My situation was the exact same. I can’t count how many times Hyde popped his head out. I never wanted to ‘change’ him, I genuinely loved him and chose to believe that wasn’t his true nature. Everyone has issues. I thought being there for him and helping him through those times was what being a good partner was supposed to be. It was never reciprocated however. Eventually Hyde won, in the worst way and at a horrible time in my life. I’m just lucky we didn’t have kids and unfortunately I can’t have children now. I can still have a life though.

Chumped in KC
Chumped in KC
9 days ago
Reply to  One last time

It’s so strange to wake up one day and find that you are now living with a stranger, a person you don’t recognize at all. People with NPD (officially diagnosed by a professional) like my husband, just keep getting worse and worse because they won’t get help, which by all accounts, won’t do much anyway because people’s character and personality it really set in early childhood and changing take A LOT of work narcissists aren’t willing to do. So like any illness, it will get worse without treatment. This is what causes the Jekyll/Hyde phenomenon. The mask can’t stay on forever, it just can’t. In my case, his mask slipped several times over the years, I just didn’t know what I was looking at or what was going on. But anyway, they won’t change, they can’t. They are who they are and we either have to be willing to live with them the way they are, or move on. Moving on is the only way the pain and suffering for us stops.

Chumpty Dumpty
Chumpty Dumpty
8 days ago
Reply to  Chumped in KC

this is what happened in my case, too. Mr Hyde subsumed Dr. Jekyll. Thank you for the reminder that it is an untreatable condition that gets worse. I need to keep hearing it. And yes, it was clear to me on a gut level that I needed to protect the children from an evil. And that at the end of the day, my first obligation was to the safety of the children, and not the court and its officers that gaslighted and browbeat me.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 days ago
Reply to  Chumped in KC

My parents had a neighbor who suddenly turned into a dirty old man as he was developing what turned out to be a massive, ultimately fatal brain tumor. He was never abusive to his wife, just lost any semblance of a filter and would say the most inappropriate things. I remember being very surprised when my dad, who typically hated that sort of shit (not for religious reasons but because he was a radical feminist lol) and would go stone cold to anyone who did it, would instead simply look askance when Bob the neighbor blurted. My dad said he knew before the diagnosis that Bob was developing something akin to dementia so didn’t judge.

Consequently when I saw the presto-chango mask drop, I thought at first “Brain tumor!!” Apparently that’s a common reaction. But alas it was much worse.

Chumpty Dumpty
Chumpty Dumpty
8 days ago

we search so hard for a rational explanation ):

2xchump
2xchump
9 days ago

My xhcheater had bipolar disorder and I took him to his first psych appointment and he was on meds immediately. That was 15 years before D day and a steady decline in his filter and behavior I attributed rages, cycles of abuse, anxiety, inappropriate behavior and telling distant friends our private issues as part of the disease. D day was so awful it was even too much for a boiled frog who forgave everything except cheating.

Chumped in KC
Chumped in KC
9 days ago

OMG YES! I too, thought my husband had bvFTD (he was only 53 at the time of his cheating) and he even had a brain scan done because he was behaving so “out of character” and strangely. Rage fits, tried to strangle me, etc. Turns out he actually was diagnosed with NPD, not dementia. I was upset when the dementia test came back as negative. Upset! Really sad that me and our adult kids were all hoping it was dementia, and not him just being a rotten person. Turns out it was the latter of the two, unfortunately.

But it is a very common thing that us chumps go right to a brain tumor or dementia, because we just cannot understand or believe our spouse/SO would do something like that.

chumpdiddlycious
chumpdiddlycious
8 days ago
Reply to  Chumped in KC

I blamed it on PTSD and at one point, medication side effects. Tons of research went into those spackling attempts. It wasn’t until I started looking back pre- war and even pre- military (I met him when I was 15; 30 years married) that I can see the same behaviors. And I can agree with everyone who has said, it gets worse, more frequent, highs are lower and lows are devastating. Jekyl always loses to Hyde. So frightening.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 days ago
Reply to  Chumped in KC

Yeah, kind of hard for normal people to understand psychopathic image management. Not even veteran FBI profilers can flush these types out with any consistency.

Chumpty Dumpty
Chumpty Dumpty
8 days ago

it is inconceivable to people who have not seen it for themselves, which makes us so alone in our experience. I’ve given up trying to explain it to people, they simply cannot grasp it It gives me new empathy for people who claim to have had UFO encounters! That’s what it feels like. You are set apart and isolated by your trauma at the hands of these Jekyll/Hyde individuals. I tried to explain to all the marriage and divorce “experts” the situation brought me into contact with, but not one heeded what I tried so desperately to appeal to for help! And it’s fundamentally icky and distressing, so I was conscious that I was asking people to acknowledge something that they really would prefer not to know about. It was my hope that family law practitioners and marriage therapists etc would have come across these kinds of people and could shed light on what was happening. But I got no understanding, let alone help.

… until I found this blog. And that’s why I love Chump Lady.

Chumpty Dumpty
Chumpty Dumpty
8 days ago
Reply to  Chumpty Dumpty

On more than one occasion, therapists asked at the outset, “do you feel safe in this relationship”. And I thought, “thank God! Someone is checking on me!”, and I answered, “No! No, I do NOT feel safe!”. … and they ignored me! And we continued on in therapy, acting as though I hadn’t said that. So the remainder of those relationships with the therapists was pick-me dancing, in that I had to try to convince the therapists that I was telling the truth and my ex was lying, by being the more rational and ordered person in our couple. And guess what, they chose to believe the guy who came late to Zooms, chewed during sessions with his mouth open, ranted and cried, and called and texted them with grievances and sob stories between sessions. THAT was the pick-me dance, with the therapists/parenting experts/lawyers. And, ladies, it was a waste of time with them, too.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
8 days ago
Reply to  Chumpty Dumpty

You experienced what’s called the “second injury” of domestic abuse– encounters with shitty therapists. If you can get your hands on a copy (order it through a library because it’s expensive) of Frank M. Ochberg’s “Post-traumatic Stress Therapy and the Victims of Violent Crime,” read the chapter by Evan Stark and Anne Flitcraft on DV. It’s all about the damage victim blaming traditional therapy does to survivors.

Sometimes it boils down to geography. Do you live near a major metropolis or in a provincial region? When I worked in advocacy, we had to give caveats to survivors who sought individual therapy about avoiding blamey shills like the plague and it seemed like a lot of the time we were giving support to help survivors break free from bad therapy, not just bad relationships. It seemed survivors living near big cities with a hipster vein had more luck finding “feminist-oriented” therapists along with other woke varieties (LGBT allies and those familiar with trauma related to racism, etc.) while the Styx seem to often be unwoke deserts.

Chumpty Dumpty
Chumpty Dumpty
7 days ago

Thank you, HOAC. These are RIC people in Montreal, so you would think fairly progressive and sophisticated. (Including, I am sorry to say, the author of Runaway Husbands, who explaiined to me that she puts on a different hat in her role as marriage therapist — i.e. gives equal weight to both parties’ version of events and ignores the knowledge acquired through her research).

Chumpty Dumpty
Chumpty Dumpty
7 days ago
Reply to  Chumpty Dumpty

Yes, Vikki Stark gaslighted me. That was a bitter pill.

LookingForwardsToTuesday
LookingForwardsToTuesday
9 days ago

I didn’t engage in the “pick me dance” as a result of ex-Mrs LFTT stating – whilst denying that she was having an affair – that my choices were to either accept an open relationship (which she said that she doubted that I could make work as a result of my “emotional immaturity”) or that we would have to get divorced as she was not giving up on what she thought was her last shot at happiness. Not much point “dancing for her” when she made it clear that she wasn’t giving up her AP …. even though she denied that there was an AP.

I guess (and it’s a stretch but I’ll go with it) that I’m fortunate that her behaviour was so deranged, because I don’t think that it would have taken much to have had me dancing for her like I don’t know what.

LFTT

Spinach@35
Spinach@35
9 days ago

Didn’t chase because I left as soon as he told me about his nearly 3-year affair. Of course, that he said he thought he’d be happier with her made my leaving a given and not some heroic chump act.

Although I stormed out and told him he was dead to me as I dramatically yanked off my wedding ring, I did struggle with accepting that he truly sucks. And as much as I groused here about him, I did an odd post-breakup dance. Not exactly a pick-me dance, but a dance to get him to regret cheating on me and choosing her.

It took a while (3 years?) for me to truly internalize that I’m worth more than that cheating FW, to appreciate that he’s no prize and that their life together (yes, they married) is not puppies and rainbows (even though they actually did get a puppy 🐶), and that she’s not lucky to have him but rather stuck with him.

My self-esteem had really taken a hit after 35 years of marriage to someone who constantly criticized and, in the last few years (discard phase), treated me like shit (except when he wanted sex and/or decided to toss me the occasional crumb). Crazy how we can subsist on such meager emotional portions.

Happy Friday to my fellow chumps! Here’s to taking off our dancing shoes.

chumpdiddlycious
chumpdiddlycious
8 days ago
Reply to  Spinach@35

How did you get over the odd- post break-up, pick-me dance? That’s where I am right now. I do not want him back, but I want him to regret losing me. It still feels like too much influence over my life. I’m four months separated after 30 years married, and my oldest is graduating this month. Fuckwit is bringing his OW (who he moved into the house we built on the farm we owned) to events and the divorce isn’t even signed. I want to look my best, but it still seems like I’m doing too much of it for him. I want him out of my head.

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
6 days ago

Chumpdiddlycious,

Give yourself some grace. It’s only been 4 months.

I also don’t know that wanting to look your best is exactly “pick me” dancing. I mean, sure, the goal is meh and I suppose caring how you look around him is not very meh-like. But I think having to go to a public event where lots of people will be AND your ex and his AP are also going to be? MOST people would want to look their best as a type of armor. I think that situation would be hard for any of us and showing up feeling less than our best wouldn’t help.

So sure, strive to get to the place where you could show up in your bathrobe and not care, but 4 months out from a 30 year marriage? Wear the flattering dress and don’t be too hard on yourself.

chumpdiddlycious
chumpdiddlycious
5 days ago
Reply to  SortofOverIt

Thank you! I want so much to be OVER this crap. I am tired of him being in my head, tired of considering him when I make decisions, and tired of dealing with his decisions.

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
5 days ago

Chumpdiddly,
I hear that loud and clear. Admittedly, my situation has dragged on FAR too long. Some pick me dancing, some FOO issues, some fear. Fear of the unknown but also fear of hat he would do if I became the enemy. He did not want to legalize the divorce early on. He moved out, pays child support for our kids, and our loose verbal agreement is that I stay in the house until our youngest is our of high school. Then we sell and split the profit or I buy him out. I want to do that but unless something changes drastically I don’t think I can afford it) He is high conflict and scary, so I took this as a win. The current situation is basically the best deal I can get. And he is willing to give it to me. But it comes at a price. I am not legally protected if he changes his mind. And that leaves me in a position of playing the game HIS way. “Let’s tell everyone how close we still are. Let’s do many activities together as a family. Let me use your apparent friendship to show the world that I am not a massive FW” All while I deeply resent him for his affair and brutal discard. But I don’t SHOW it. I have been so afraid to move forward with the divorce because he can turn on me. So I didn’t. But much like you, I am over the amount of control he has in my life. I’m working towards getting things legalized. I don’t expect it to be very pleasant because he will know that it takes away some control from him and he will not like that. But all I am doing currently is putting that off. The sooner it starts, the sooner it can be over. I’m just fooling myself that this “easier” road I am on is better.

chumpdiddlycious
chumpdiddlycious
5 days ago
Reply to  SortofOverIt

That’s awful! I spent years making compromises in order to avoid worse circumstances. Appeasing doesn’t bring peace. He was scary as shit when he lost it- tried to break my car window with a hammer when I tried to leave once. Now- he filed for the divorce. After all that. I honestly don’t want him back. The first couple separations and Ddays were horrible. I was afraid of him and had no idea how I could care for myself. I’ve never been independent in my entire life, until now. I came across CL after this last one- left and never came home, just like the other times. No call, no text, and no explanation. A cheater is going to cheat. A faithful person is faithful, but a cheater is only looking for a good enough excuse. I didn’t want to believe that he was what he was. So much of my pain was self-caused through my own imagination and believing what I wanted to believe (he really does love me, of course we can make it work, I can’t just give up) instead of actually hearing what he said and watching what he did. Many of the things I laughed at as if they were jokes, I think now were simply him telling me the truth. It’s hard to forgive myself and even harder to trust myself.

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
5 days ago

I hear you. I hear you. I hear you.

It’s amazing the red flags that we can look back on now and see so clearly. If you look through the archives there are posts dedicated to things like “what was the biggest most obvious lie your chumpass believed in the moment?” There are SO many. It’s not just you who believed what you wanted to.

You can trust yourself. And you have to forgive yourself. We do the best with what we know at the time.

I get so frustrated with myself because as I have explained before, my situation has dragged out so long. And the reasons for that are various. DDay came in lockdown, there was nowhere to go. The AP was long distance, so even after the lockdown was lifted, the whole affair was taking place via his locked phone, I didn’t want any of this to be happening and it was easy to pretend it wasn’t a lot of the time. I was afraid to be angry to his face. I was afraid that if I became the “enemy” that things would be even worse. So I tried to go along with this charade that things were fine. And then the next thing you know… YEARS had passed and I was still here, scared and not in a place of real healing. Things ended with AP and he moved out anyway at my request. He started dating others. All of this seemed like a huge improvement. He wasn’t here 24/7. He was dating, but these were new women that met a separated man…not the AP that helped him cheat on me. That all seemed SO much better than what I had been dealing with.

But he still has so much control on my life. And his dating has gotten old. I don’t want to be aware of his dating. I don’t want to be the person still legally married to a guy that has an active dating life. Even if we are separated and it is not cheating.

And I know he won’t like it when I push for the legal side. And I am very scared. But I just need to do it.

chumpdiddlycious
chumpdiddlycious
5 days ago
Reply to  SortofOverIt

I read this book, Slay the Bully by Rebecca Zung and it helped. I know what you mean about being over the active dating life, and it IS adultery- you are still legally married. Same here. The fuckwit moved his latest into the house as soon as I left. And the worst part is he did it before and I moved back in on ONE MORE reconciliation attempt. It was awful. That particular one painted my walls purple. No kidding. It looked like a kid puked Koolaid all over the place. I thought I was doing good by not moving back in until he repainted the house. And that it was sweet when he painted I love you on the walls. But I knew within a month of moving back in that it was a horrible mistake. And it was. And now, five years later and at least one other affair (with the purple wall tramp) that I knew of, likely more, he left over Christmas and filed divorce. I know it’s for the best, and I feel free for the first time in so long. It was delightful to cook dinner and not have to watch for his angry ass coming around. I’m waiting on paperwork to sign, and I am hopeful that I will be financially solvent and really, honestly, free. And I’m skipping this state as soon as my youngest graduates Highschool.

But this weekend is my eldest’s graduation, and he will be there, with her and her daughter. She is not in my class. I want to mean girl her, but that would let him think that he is still getting to me. I want to be above it all so badly.

sitting on the fence is the most uncomfortable place to be. Moving on is scary, and you have to have a plan that will work and a good lawyer. He could be screwing you over with money, and more time won’t help if he’s actively seeking herpes. Most important, you have to be safe!!! 🙏

Spinach@35
Spinach@35
7 days ago

Oh, it’s early days for you. Give it time. You won’t always feel this bad

He’s an ass for behaving as he is. I mean, moving the OW into your house and parading her to family events is despicable behavior. Don’t let a FW like that be the arbiter of your worth. He’s no prize.

You’ll eventually internalize that message and stop dancing. ((Hugs))

chumpdiddlycious
chumpdiddlycious
5 days ago
Reply to  Spinach@35

Thank you, Spinach! It is despicable. I needed the support. And I just want all this shit to be over.

Leedy
Leedy
9 days ago
Reply to  Spinach@35

Spinach, I don’t know you of course, but on the basis of your comments on this site, I love you! And I’m so glad you’re now where you see that you’re “worth more than that cheating FW.” But yes, as my own experience too attests, the subtle effects of years of depreciation by one’s spouse can linger for a long time. So, note to self: keep an eye out for that tiny, almost imperceptible pang that comes when I happen to see myself once again through the eyes of my ex. (And then, remember to step away from that feeling.)

Last edited 9 days ago by Leedy
Spinach@35
Spinach@35
8 days ago
Reply to  Leedy

Thanks, Leedy ❤️

kim2003
kim2003
9 days ago

I think much of this mentality is rooted in women’s competitiveness with other women. We frame in as the whore winning and thus being better than us, but if we work really hard we can make him see that we’re better and thus we win!

The key is to realize said cheater is not a prize and we’re not losing anything of value. The whore might think he has value but flies think they hit the jackpot when they find a pile of shit so that’s a matter of perspective.

Then factor in that having your day to day life blow up is scary and it’s easier to stick with the devil you know.

I know that once I realized my ex brought nothing to my life it was easy to get rid of him. But it was still overwhelming and a lot of work to uproot my life, buy my own house, handle all of the details (he didn’t want a divorce because the married suited him), and help my two teenage boys (not his) deal with it.

But in the end we were all much happier. By us I mean my kids and i…..don’t know about ex and don’t give a shit. I do see him from time to time since we live somewhat near each other and he looks like shit, but not my problem.

Mehitable
Mehitable
9 days ago
Reply to  kim2003

I don’t know if women are that NATURALLY competitive with each other. I’ve always thought that you could take most women and drop them into almost any culture on earth with another group of women, and we’d soon be talking about our kids, what we make for dinner, how the jobs suck, etc etc. I see a lot of competitiveness coming from the males and I think the patriarchal systems we have seen through history (and I am NOT a fanatic about the “patriarchy”) frequently put women in competition with each other through polygamy and poly relationships in general, which I see as incredibly destructive to individual women and to society. We can see both in history and in texts like the Bible that polygamy and “sister wife” bullshit has always put women in direct rivalry with each other over some asshole, both for him and to push our own children forward over another wife’s. This is true in every polygamous society and the end of polygamy was one of the great achievements of Christianity, IMO, especially with the general status of women. It raised us out of the “herd” level.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 days ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Raise the Red Lantern was a brilliant film on that theme. The most recent addition to the harem, wife #4, was basically forced to marry by her stepmother and is pretty much grossed out by old Master Chen at first. But after experiencing the brutal systematic “operant conditioning” of rewards and withdrawal of rewards that deliberately pits the wives against each other, Fourth Wife finds herself fighting the other wives for favor with tragic results.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 days ago
Reply to  kim2003

Just a thought: considering that men kill men at 8 times the rate they even kill women, that “male sexual proprietariness and rivalry” are statistically prevalent motives for the latter and considering that the reason Betty Broderick type cases get so much fanfare is that they’re relatively rare, I’m not sure it’s really fair to especially highlight women’s competitiveness with other women. One could say that our species is generally prone to intrasexual rivalry with men taking the vast lead.

I also think there are other factors at play in what is perceived of as chump “jealousy/proprietariness”– particularly for she-chumps– that don’t get enough recognition. When women are abused by partners and sense that the only thing “inspiring” an abuser to show bits of mercy is the victim’s sexual “usefulness”, the specter of being sexually replaced naturally brings with it the threat of escalated abuse, even lethal violence. Considering recent research on the prevalence of post-separation abuse and the fact that women’s risk of being killed increases 80-fold within two weeks of attempting to leave an abusive relationship and remains quite elevated for several years after a successful escape, it could explain why some victims may put on their dancing shoes in an effort to mitigate the danger. Couple that with a shitty justice system and inadequate public understanding of risks and this is another bar on the cage.

I know it seems a bit hyperbolized to apply that principle to chumphood but I think deep down in all our lizard brains is a hardwired understanding of how easy and common it is to die at the hands of a partner, especially one who’s already demonstrated “empathy deficits.” Consequently any woman seeing that empathy deficit in an intimate partner, even if they have not yet experienced violence at the hands of this partner, is going to get a deep chill and some lizard brain flares that could prompt both fawning and freezing as well as a panicked campaign to avoid being replaced.

I don’t think it’s that farfetched to imagine this can play a role in a lot of chump responses, possibly even for male chumps depending on how disordered their FWs are. As we all know, cheating is rarely “just” cheating and mostly comes with– at the very least– serious emotional abuse, some of which can border on coercive control. Then if you consider that coercive control has been shown to be a significant statistical harbinger of eventual lethal violence, that women’s risk of this at the hands of men is far higher than men’s risk at the hands of women (male victim statistics are sometimes conflated with same sex domestic homicide) and that up to 60% of domestic homicides were not preceded by earlier reports of violence, I think it sort of complicates the analysis of “female rivalry.”

But the confusion over it is understandable because, due to the same gender disparities in violent capacity listed above, women are the safer butts of resentment and blame so we do hear a lot of sidechick bashing in the culture. But it’s mostly hot air whereas intrasexual rivalry between men is statistically less about blather and more about bloodshed.

HunnyBadger
HunnyBadger
9 days ago

I think you’re right, that our lizard brains understand something we can’t consciously grasp. Maybe that’s where the Black Eyed Stranger becomes so disturbing. Suddenly we are looking into the eyes of someone we don’t know, and deep inside we feel a horrified rush of realization: we’ve been seeing this stranger right beside us for some time, but didn’t dare address it. Yes, if they can betray us in this way, they can most certainly decide one day that we might end up the victims of ‘an unfortunate accident.’

Lacey Peterson comes to mind. The woman and her little girls in Colorado a few years ago. The list of cheating men killing their wives and children in order to start again with the new side chick is absolutely chilling.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 days ago
Reply to  HunnyBadger

Yes, so many, many ways that a close partner — oops– can shorten one’s lifespan even just from neglect or oversight. But in regards to deliberate violence, millions of years of parallel evolution from the common ancestor of the rapiest, battering-est apes in existence has probably wired us all with some intrinsic knowledge of specific risk factors. Oh noes, monkey man dragging branches and grunting more and more. Monkey man want fresh pussy buffet. Ergo monkey man might kill. Plus it’s turning out that enforcing one-sided monogamy may be a significant driver in DV: htttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583221/

I thought it was very telling that “Jennifer’s Law” in Connecticut –which became one of the few states that enables victims of coercive control to get orders of protection– was named for two murdered chumps:Jennifer Farber Dulos and Jennifer Magnano.

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
9 days ago
Reply to  HunnyBadger

I definitely worried that I would become one of those statistics early on. He had never been physically abusive, but he was abusive in many other ways.

At one point it became clear to me that he wanted to move on but was SO incredibly worried about how it would look and how our kids would handle it, that I very much felt like he saw me as nothing more than a barrier to everything he wanted. It terrified me. And inexplicably, I froze. Rather than trying to figure out how to get away and do so safely, I pick me danced, hoping to stay in his good graces.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 days ago
Reply to  SortofOverIt

Sometimes pickme dance = groveling for amnesty from perceived murderous tendencies.

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
6 days ago

Exactly. It was a mixture of fears for me. Sometimes I was just afraid of what he might be like if I tried to cut things off. He could be so mean even in our marriage when I was doing everything he wanted me to do. So I was afraid of what things would look like if he actually perceived me as “the enemy”. I was afraid in a very abstract way of that. I had already spent decades on eggshells so that kind of living in fear of his moods was ingrained. Logically, it wasn’t that scary. It’s not like his rages through our marriage resulted in more than me FEELING scared and uneasy. But my FOO issues also played into this. So I was just trained to avoid his displeasure at all costs. It wasn’t logical.

Then post D-Day it became clear that he felt incredibly stuck. He wasn’t willing to look like the guy that leaves his wife and kids for a younger model. But he very much wanted to leave me. And I think he realized that the kids might not be so willing to go along with it either. It was really bizarre. He told me about the affair. I was blindsided. He didn’t have to tell me then, but he did. But it became really clear to me that he hadn’t thought of how any of it would work. She had teens. I pointed out that our kids were not likely to want to live with strange teens. And I SAW his face, I saw the wheels turning in his head, he had not even considered that.

What was scariest for me was how stuck he looked. I could very much sense that the fact that I existed was in the way of what he perceived as his happiness. I stared to realize that if I was dead, things would be easier for him. And it scared the shit out of me.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
6 days ago
Reply to  SortofOverIt

I relate so much. I’m stupidly easy to scare. Even if I didn’t have any FOO issues that fed into my baseline sense of fear, I’d had so many experiences of harassment and intimidation since high school, college and a career in a narc-laden industry that I think my tendency– for all my bravado and will to resist– was to “freeze” if not fawn.

Honestly I didn’t fawn very much. I hated being intimidated.

I ended up concluding that I was born a lover, not a fighter. I really wasn’t suited to the age-old, general sexual dominance battle that’s been going on since humanity swung from the trees.

cbanks1985
cbanks1985
9 days ago
Reply to  kim2003

I just want to add that women have always been pitted against each other and treated like second class citizens which is why we are constantly doing this.

susie lee
susie lee
9 days ago
Reply to  kim2003

Your post reminds me of one of my favorite sit coms on TV. “Mom”; Cristy is beside her self when her ex meets and marries a rich woman. Her mom says, I know I know, but lets remember that the prize is Baxter.

susie lee
susie lee
9 days ago
Reply to  kim2003

“I think much of this mentality is rooted in women’s competitiveness with other women. We frame in as the whore winning and thus being better than us, but if we work really hard we can make him see that we’re better and thus we win!”

I think there is a lot of that in it. Though we don’t realize it at the time. I didn’t do any pick me dancing after he left, and before, up until the last month ish I was just confused and scared.

I consider myself fortunate that someone dropped a dime on him, and he had to start the scramble to save his job. In all that he left me in the dust. By the time the dust cleared a bit, the scales had dropped from my eyes. I just saw two pitiful nasty people scrambling around to save their asses.

I like to think they both finally got the spouse they richly deserved.

Mehitable
Mehitable
9 days ago
Reply to  susie lee

Your situation makes me think that the power behind the throne is probably the one who should be sitting on it. We do so much unappreciated work for FWs, I know I did.

susie lee
susie lee
9 days ago
Reply to  Mehitable

I think we do in general. It doesn’t make us wrong, I don’t regret wanting to do for my husband; it is well and good. He is responsible for using my gifts against me.

I was just so busy doing and committing to the marriage, it was easy for a con artist to use. Did he marry me with that in mind? I like to think he didn’t. We were only 18 (almost 19) when we married. Maybe he intended to be a decent husband, but he couldn’t be long term what he wasn’t. Who knows.

I know how his life played out, and I am convinced that his happiest years were the years our son was growing up. It seems once he started the downward trend of bad decisions, he never regained control of himself again. Or maybe he never had control and was just gifted at hiding it.

Doingme1
Doingme1
9 days ago
Reply to  susie lee

I believe the cheater sets up the competition. He was so wonderful these women threw themselves at him. I fell for that for many years.

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
9 days ago
Reply to  Doingme1

Mine told me that his AP was jealous of me because I was the one that was living with him and there for him through thick and thin. I was the one that got to take care of him and support him, not her.

I can’t wrap my ahead around it. I was all those things because I didn’t KNOW I was married to a cheater. I didn’t yet know I was a Chump, but SHE did. She was jealous of my chumpy ass? Absolutely crazy. But who knows what he told her. Maybe very early on he got a sense of her jealousy and completely used that against her.

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
9 days ago

Chased? I was chased. My exFW is a predator. Looking back at how we met, when I was vulnerable from a breakup and she swooped in; at the time you feel special that this person is paying attention to you. In hindsight, she has a base instinct of identifying the weakest fawn in the herd and pouncing on it. After that, I settled into a relationship and invested in it, because that’s my nature. With every instance of cheating, I felt like the marriage and the investments in our life that we had made were worth protecting, and so I tried to look past it. After a while, I just realized: she’s a predator, and she takes what she wants without feeling. She stayed with me because, well, why not? Cake at home, cake in the workplace, cake at happy hour, cake on a work trip – the world is her buffet.

HunnyBadger
HunnyBadger
9 days ago
Reply to  ChumpDchump

Mine FW chased me from the very beginning. It never really stopped until he started cheating, and even then it just cooled a bit. Looking back, he had every single red flag of narcissism and competitiveness — what FW wanted, he got. Period.

rw
rw
9 days ago
Reply to  ChumpDchump

An abusive predator.  That’s the answer I have settled on most recently to the age old question of “who does that?” FW was in my family’s orbit for 20+ years.  She was on my doorstep targeting me the night my mother died.  She hit on me the very next day. Who does that? Even people pleasing no boundaries me actually told her that I did not think that it was a good idea.  Her response, “How do you know if you don’t even try.” To this day, my biggest regret is not that I had married her but that I did not drop that same line on her when she said the marriage wasn’t worth saving.

She’s someone else’s problem now.  I couldn’t give her the things that she needed to be happy, not that I believe that she is even capable of ever being happy. Who knew that the things missing from her life preventing her from being truly happy would turn out to be herpes and an alcoholic.  

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 days ago
Reply to  rw

Hey, don’t knock herpes and alcoholics until you’ve tried them. Gag.

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
9 days ago
Reply to  rw

“Who does that?” I ask that question a lot. Ultimately, it’s like asking the shark why it ate the smaller fish. My FW (and maybe yours) was no more concerned about how others would be impacted by her actions than a shark is concerned with the feelings of the fish it’s eating. It’s eerie being around someone who lacks empathy. Maybe that’s why we “chase” … or stick around at least. Ultimately, we find it hard to comprehend that another human being can be so indifferent to the welfare of another, especially one that they say they love.

LaDoctora
LaDoctora
9 days ago

I will take “chasing a cheater” to encompass what I did, which is wait more than a decade for things to “get better.”

When FW first started up his discard, my dad was dying, I was not working and had three young children.

Plus, once my dad died, my mom moved in with us. I could have walked then, but I would have had to take my mom and kids and go live in a van. So, I hung in and worked on myself. I went back to work and got my doctorate. The years flew by and I was so busy proving my worth, that I didn’t have time to worry about him. So he had time to craft his secret life and we were basically parenting roommates.

Now my kids are young adults, my mom passed away. My salary is slightly higher than FW and I am going through the divorce.

I could not have co-parented with him. He’s a passive-aggressive poor me sad sausage and it would have been HELLLLLLLLL.

Either way, I can’t go back in time. I miss my parents immensely. But I sure as hell don’t miss FW. He was a user and a loser. He has to live with himself, which probably sucks. And I get to live with myself, which is hard, but at least I have peace now.

Each of us has our own set of circumstances and we have to make our own calculations about how much pain we can take and how our kids and parents will be impacted. There’s the emotional cost and the financial cost. I did not have the money or emotional reserves to leave sooner. And he totally knew that. He knew I was vulnerable so he took the opportunity to be a giant asshole and was cruel to me in front of my kids. Privately, he threatened me and put me down and was just a complete you’re not the boss of me DICK. When I finally confronted him about 2 years ago, he got physically abusive and that was my wake up call to get the hell out!!

Looking back, I did the best I could. Let’s give ourselves grace. We’re doing the best we can! Hugs.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 days ago
Reply to  LaDoctora

“I did not have the money or emotional reserves to leave sooner. And he totally knew that.”

Nobody knows the stakes except the survivor in the bind. And even then so many people who endure abuse aren’t on their own sides and end up internalizing the shame of feeling trapped. When I worked in advocacy for survivors of abuse (we called it abuse on the letterhead, not DV, because we also openly welcomed victims of emotional abuse) we used to respond to all new clients with a spiel about why it was virtually impossible for them to leave. Basically it was “Here you are, facing financial woes and social fallout, retaliation by your abuser, little support from the justice system, few social safety nets, fears about the welfare of your children” and on and on and then once the litany of challenges had been addressed, we commended them on daring to face them. It wasn’t intended as reverse psychology like “Oh if we tell these people all the reasons they can’t leave their abuser then they’ll feel challenged to do just that.” It was more like giving credit to mountain climbers for the size of the mountain they were about to brave. It would be insulting to pretend they were trying to climb a little hill in Scotland when they were really risking their lives to climb Mt. Kilmanjaro.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 days ago

(posted too soon) And climbing Mt. Kilmanjaro, not to mention Everest, requires special preparations, training and equipment much like trying to leave an abuser. Minimizing the feat would be failure to warn or, at the very least, a failure to recognize courage.

OutButNotDown
OutButNotDown
9 days ago

I didn’t exactly chase my cheater, but after I separated from him upon D-Day #2 and he suggested divorce (5 months later) I panicked and resisted it. I fought against divorce at first even though I didn’t miss him and deep down didn’t want to be with him anymore.

Why? Three big reasons I think: 1) trauma bonding from a 27 year marriage to a covert abuser 2) being part of a Christian system that for decades has preached that divorce is the ultimate sin even when completely necessary for a person’s well-being, and 3) utter fear of trying to make it financially on my own when I had been out of the workforce for 25 years.

Eventually I pushed past those things and then it was me who initiated divorce. Painful, yes. More importantly, it’s very liberating. He was NOT worth staying hitched to. I am worth being free from an abusive cheater.

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
9 days ago
Reply to  OutButNotDown

First of all, congratulations on your mightiness in removing yourself from that person!

Second, and I really am asking with due respect for you and for people’s faith: does organized religion do anything besides prop up abusive patriarchal systems anymore? I ask this as question about organized religious institutions, and completely separate from a person’s desire to have faith and believe in a higher power. I saw the church shun my mother from the community, but basically do nothing to the abuser. I see it over and over and over again among chumps. It is cruel and inhuman for a religious community to demand that a person either accept abuse or be an outcast from their support network. Frankly, I am sick of it. Occasionally a Chump chimes in with a heartwarming story about a caring congregation, but I feel that the accounts are 10 to 1 in favor of religious communities that say “boys will be boys, but it is worse to get a divorce.”

OutButNotDown
OutButNotDown
9 days ago
Reply to  ChumpDchump

Thank you! I am very happy I got out.

The narrative is changing in many church circles, I would say, even the evangelical churches (vs. mainline denominations). The narrative changing is thanks to the pioneering efforts of those who teach on narcissistic abuse, and in the Christian world Leslie Vernick, Natalie Hoffman, Gretchen Baskerville, and more. Gretchen wrote “The Lifesaving Divorce”. She has a great podcast episode showing the variation among different church groups in terms of being a welcoming place for divorcees, according to research. (I can’t remember the title offhand but it was from 3 years ago).

I myself am currently doing well in a mainline denomination which has a female divorcee chumped pastor who is rocking being a single mom. The congregation couldn’t be more caring. No plans to return to the more patriarchal evangelical church systems for this girl!

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
8 days ago
Reply to  OutButNotDown

That is great to hear that you have found a welcoming community!

OHFFS
OHFFS
9 days ago
Reply to  ChumpDchump

I’m not a religious person, so maybe I just don’t understand that drive to connect with others in a spiritual way. I have seen countless stories of chumps being abused by their churches, and usually all they do is change to another church. However, the problem is systemic, so I don’t get how another franchise of a toxic institution changes anything.

OutButNotDown
OutButNotDown
9 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

I can understand, OHFFS. There is significant variation in the teachings and leadership structure among the different denominations. I happened to grow up in a very patriarchal one which set me up nicely to marry an abusive cheater. But the kind, non patriarchal ones are also out there, just like CL says there are good, invested prospective spouses out there (though I wouldn’t recognize one if I saw one I’m afraid, not yet).

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

Reading Chris Hedges’ “When Atheism Becomes Religion” helped me (a lifelong, third gen agnostic) understand that what your describing can exist in existential cults as well while not all forms of faith or styles of practice necessarily promote it. But it’s certainly indicative of any cult (as it turned out after the organized atheist collective calling themselves “the Skeptics” exploded in a massive rape, harassment and abuse scandal).

I really recommend the book just for that key clarification of the difference between cult and religion though the bibliography is rich pickings too. I ended up reading a lot of the books on philosophy, social science, political analysis and literature Hedges’ quotes.

OHFFS
OHFFS
9 days ago

Thanks for the recommendation HOAC. I remember the scandal you are referring to. FW is an atheist, so one can assume that plenty of them are creeps just from that alone. It was definitely like a religion to him. He was touchy about it and intolerant of my agnosticism. He wouldn’t admit that in his own way he was as close minded as his fundy relatives.

GrandmaChump
GrandmaChump
9 days ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Churches are institutions, and the first job of any institution is to keep itself alive. Enforcing marriages facilitates that. Single people have needs, and the church sees them as potential drains rather than contributors to resources. This is not how “Jesus” conceived His Church; it was a voluntary gathering of those who believed what He taught, and though leaders evolved, Jesus did not want any “ecclesia” (layers of authority.)

“Jesus cheaters” love to point out passages where the wife should submit to her husband, but ignore the reciprocal verses where the husband should protect and support “the weaker vessel.” Where there is “no male or female, no Jew nor Greek (gentile) in Jesus’ calculus.

To Jesus, a church was any two or more people who gathered in His name (speaking/teaching/enjoying the Word of God. I’ve enjoyed “church meetings” in taxis, with a neighbor,…seldom in a building. I’ve spent years studying the bible and its geography, languages, etc., and I support a few individuals who do useful podcasts.

I consulted with no one before leaving my narcissistic cheater husband. I stayed until I had a viable plan, I worked the plan, I left victoriously. I felt a little guilty that my response when he died was: “I win.” That was many years ago; I’ve been living my best life ever since I left him, and I’m happy. Very happy. But the scars do remain.

OutButNotDown
OutButNotDown
9 days ago
Reply to  GrandmaChump

Love this, GrandmaChump! Well articulated.

OHFFS
OHFFS
9 days ago
Reply to  GrandmaChump

That’s an interesting take, Grandma. I like the idea that a church can consist of two people.
You winning is just a fact. You have nothing to feel guilty about there. It was his choice to be a loser. Ultimately, the chump always wins because a FW’s life is inherently an empty one due to their shallowness and inability to form deep attachments.

2xchump
2xchump
9 days ago

So I have to add this note to staying with a cheater..for me both cheaters did not tell me they were involved with others, nor did I suspect until just before D day. So I was handing out cake when I didn’t know there was a party and I was of use and being used. But both had demeaning behavior, rages,intimate abuse in the bedroom, devaluing and the cycle of abuse was getting shorter and faster. I was doomed. 35 years ago with first cheater, I didn’t even think of STD or STIs so did not get tested. I was pregnant for all of that time.But second cheater I sure did immediately. So I didn’t stay long with either cheater but both were having sex with others for years and came home to me. Get suspicious with repeated infections that dont go away.. i wss not because I TRUSTED a 30 yea marriage!!!My only contribution today is that I did some research and those that stay knowingly with a cheater need to get STD and STI checks regularly and I am adding that you may need to ask for Oral swabs and any other part you offered to your cheater. Plus ask for HPV checks which may not be offered in the standard labs. I went back the next year after exposure and did the full panel again after my divorce was final. So far I’m good. On D day my husband told me he was going to a urologist and the urologist said he was clean. NEVER NEVER NEVER BELIEVE A LIAR.

2xchump
2xchump
9 days ago
Reply to  2xchump

Oh and as a PS ..and why I adder my STD STI HPV note is that I had an STI that I could not get rid of for 2 years. My Gyn did not know or even suggest what might be the issue!!! 6.months after NO CONTACT my STI disappeared..never again to emerge. That’s my story. Protect yourself 24/7 if you stay. I do not recommend this dance..it is a no win for you and a 1000% win for them. They get to keep.it all.

Adelante
Adelante
9 days ago

Why did I fight so hard to save a marriage that wasn’t worth saving because my now-ex didn’t care to save it?

In no particular order:

Because I had over 30 years invested in my marriage.

Because I had worked hard for my plans for retirement, which depended on two incomes.

Because I was so beat down that I had internalized his devaluing of me, which primed me for the next point–

Because I wanted to win the pick-me dance.

Because I didn’t want to lose my family.

Because I loved him.

Because we shared a profession (and worked together).

Because I was afraid I couldn’t make it financially on my own.

Because I was afraid to be without a safety net (even though he was a terrible one).

I’m sure there are others, too.

It took me three years to see that leaving was the only option and convince myself I could to it. It’s been six years since I left him, and I know I made the only right decision.

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
9 days ago
Reply to  Adelante

Adelante,

Pretty much all of those applied to me too. Also add that he is a very angry person (he never got physical, but was very abusive verbally, mentally and emotionally), I very much feared how bad it could get if I was no longer “on his team”, so to speak. So I danced to remain on his “good side”.

DDay was early in lockdown/pandemic and his AP was across the country. So when I first found out, there were two big factors.

  1. I was isolated with him. I was scared for my future. Scared of him being mad at me. And had no support as I was too afraid to even tell friends.
  2. His affair seemed almost “not real”. He couldn’t see her. He was connected to her with his phone but I had no access to that and so it was out of sight, out of mind. It was almost like I didn’t want this to be happening, and under those circumstances was easy to pretend it wasn’t. And I am mortified to admit that I just went along like nothing happened. He had his true love to deal with in his phone, and I was still his wife appliance in every way.

Then the pandemic lifted, and he had no access to her as she was so far away. And then they started having some issues. They became off and on. I wasn’t entirely sure where they stood on any given day, but occasionally I would be made aware. And time just dragged on and on. By the time he agreed to move out, they were over. Fairly certain that she waited until he seemed to have good and truly ruined any chance with me, and then she dumped him, but he wouldn’t admit that. Even that was not helpful for me, because then it was a hard press from him for reconciliation. He already had a place leased and I was afraid he’d change his mind and come back home. He didn’t, but he sure did throw a fit about how I wouldn’t fight for our marriage. (The utter audacity after all he did)

jomarch
jomarch
9 days ago

My upbringing taught me that I could not survive without a man to take care of me.
It took a long time to overcome that conditioning and realize I was much better without him than I was with him.

PrincipledLife
PrincipledLife
9 days ago

Because you are trying to get your old world back.

The world you had before: before your hand closed over the lump, before you heard the brakes screeching and ran outside your house to see your son’s bicycle crumpled under the car, before the phone call that Dad has had a massive stroke, before planes hit the towers…

You want your simple beautiful life back, your family laughing and talking at the table,

And then the vultures and hyenas of the reconciliation complex come sniffing around and whisper promises that you can have your old life back…or one even better. Yes, it will be a challenging journey, with pain and sacrifice, but at the end of the day: your old world. Safety, security, family saved!

Your poor muddled brain wants so much to believe, and for the pain to stop. Your love is genuine and battered, but still there. And frankly, you are not thinking very clearly because you’ve been disemboweled emotionally and you are trying to keep your guts from spilling onto the sidewalk. Your spouse mumbles all the right words about wanting to change. You don’t yet know about integrity disorders, and unicorns and the real truth about the chances of successfully mending a marriage. You don’t yet realize your old life was a mirage.

<<Enter stage left>> Dancing.

chumpdiddlycious
chumpdiddlycious
8 days ago
Reply to  PrincipledLife

You nailed it.

Beth
Beth
9 days ago

Oh Lord, I was a champion chaser/pick-me-dancer after DDay #1. He had a list of things I needed to do to make him happy (happy enough to earn his love, I guess) and I did them all. Now that I’m almost a decade past the divorce, I’ve managed to block out most of what was on that list except for one humiliating thing I will never forget. He wanted me to drop whatever I was doing and greet him at the door when he came home from work. Like one of our dogs – tail wagging and excited to see him. Ugh. And I did it too, for four years until DDay #2 happened and I realized that 4 years of subjugating my happiness to his had absolutely no effect other than ruining my mental and physical health. I finally realized that I was concentrating on the wrong person’s happiness. Both of us had been trying to make him happy. No one was concerned with my happiness (or my health, or finances or anything about my wellbeing) so I was going to have to step up and take care of myself and my kids. That was the end of my chasing and the beginning of my LACGAL journey.

Ruby Gained A Life
Ruby Gained A Life
9 days ago

I chased a cheater. I got married at 21 — not my best choice and clearly I wasn’t as “grown up” as I thought I was. At 22, I graduated with my nursing degree and went to work in a hospital, supporting him while he finished an accounting program at the UW. After two years, he was graduating . . . and several days before graduation, he threw a major tantrum. “You’re too fat, you’re too ugly and I deserve something better. I’m leaving, goodbye.” He was gone for about a week, and then one morning when I came home from an overnight shift, he was there. I was just grateful to have him back. (Why? It is not like he ever contributed anything to my life except, possibly, chaos.)

The day before graduation, I came home from a night shift and heard a familiar voice coming through the open bedroom window of the woman downstairs . . . .

My mother said I’d made my bed, now I had to lie in it. My father said cheating is no big deal, everyone does it, and I should just get over it. The priest said marriage is a sacrament and I need to suck it up and forgive him. The counselor said that marriage is a commitment and I needed to figure out what I was doing wrong and fix myself so that Greg “doesn’t need to cheat anymore.”

I sucked it up, tried to forgive him and worked really hard at trying to fix myself. I left my job, my friends, my family and moved with him across the country so he could take his dream job at a Big Ten accounting firm in Boston. Greg did nothing whatsoever to work on our marriage or to contribute at home. He never even deposited his paychecks in the joint account, leaving me supporting us while he spent “his” money on toys for himself. Then came the day I unexpectedly ran into his mistress on the subway . . . despite his insistence to the contrary, he was still cheating.

The marriage counselor we were seeing asked me, in front of Greg, what I wanted from the marriage. After considerable thought, I said I wanted honesty, loyalty, trust and a real partner. The marriage counselor’s reply was, “He’s a pathological liar. He’s always going to say what you want to hear and then do whatever he wants to do.” It took me about four weeks — way too long, but I was young and stupid — to “get it.” And then one day when he said he’d be late coming home from work because he was going for beers with “the guys,” I understood that I was never going to know the truth from him. Whatever he was doing, he wasn’t having drinks with the guys because if he was having drinks with the guys, he would have told me something else. That’s when I was done chasing, done pick me dancing, and done with Greg. When he showed up that night, late, I told him he would be moving out over the weekend. Where he went and with whom was not my problem.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 days ago

I imagine you unfolding glistening wings as you flew away!

Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
9 days ago

A deadly cocktail of denial, fear, low self-esteem, pain, and disordered thinking and beliefs about infidelity.

I will never forget the moment he told me he was having an affair. He was sitting on the couch and I was standing up, with his phone in my hand open to an email to someone asking her “do you want to come?” on a business trip.

There was an actual visible sensation of him turning into a stranger before my eyes, like a special effect in the movies. I had been with him for twenty-seven years at that point.

It is so utterly disorienting on every level that it defies description, so naturally it took a very long time to reconcile who he is with who I thought he was.

I have a few voice messages from him with our daughter on it from when she was little. I keep them because of her, but they also remind me that there was nothing wrong with me for staying with him. He sounds like a sweet and kind wonderful guy. It chills me now, and snaps me back into reality of who he is, to think of what he was doing while talking and acting so sweetly to me.

Velvet Hammer
Velvet Hammer
9 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

To clarify, he kept dealbreakers very well hidden. In hindsight doing the marriage post-mortem, I see things that indicated I should have left long before DDay. Lying is the big one I excused because it was about “little” things, never thinking as I do now that a lie is a lie is a lie; if they lie about little things there’s no reason to think they’re being honest about big things.

I was watching a documentary about the Watts murders this morning. One of the psychiatrists interviewed said that psychopaths problem-solve with antisocial behavior.

Psychopath diagnosis aside, it’s a good way to describe how cheaters think. I do know a lack of empathy is required to participate in an illicit relationship, whether it be cheater or side piece, and how can people who lack empathy profess to know what love is?

KatiePig
KatiePig
7 days ago
Reply to  Velvet Hammer

YES! The little lies! I work with several much younger women, they’re in their early 20s and I’ve talked about my ex husband with them. One of these young women has a bachelor’s in psychology and she asked me, “If you had to tell the top sign that he was a psychopath looking back, what would it be?”

I thought it was a great question. And it didn’t take me long to say, “The stupid little lies about nothing. Lying about the color of t-shirt you bought at the mall or saying you went to McDonald’s when you actually went to Burger King or lying about the flavor of coffee you like. Normal people lie for reasons. They might lie to gain something or hide something they’re ashamed or embarrassed of, or to avoid a disagreement but there is a logical reason.”

My ex husband lied even when the truth would serve him better. Even if it was easier to just be honest, he would lie. But the lies were so stupid that if I caught him in one and talked to anyone about it I’d get an eyeroll and a who cares if he bought a green shirt instead of a blue shirt, why does it matter? It made me feel crazy and I couldn’t figure out why he would lie about such stupid little stuff. That’s the big one, looking back. I told those girls, if someone is lying to you for no reason, just for the joy of lying, run. It doesn’t matter what the lies are about, it’s the pattern of lying for no logical reason.

One last time
One last time
6 days ago
Reply to  KatiePig

This has really struck me also. Just the little “inconseqeuntial” lies that she alwasy told. I asked myself why would she do that. Then I thought, well its just something little, its no big deal. Now I realize that if they can rationalize lying about what they had for lunch, the respect and value they should hold for you is gone, and for some its not a big leap to lying about bigger things.

Chumped in KC
Chumped in KC
9 days ago

I also feel the longer the relationship, the harder it is to let go. Like Tracy says, sunk costs and such, but also from an emotional standpoint. It is hard to let go of the shared fantasy, which you both agreed to and signed up for when getting married. It is the dream of this life together that you spend only with each other, have the same dreams and hopes, have kids, buy a home, take vacations, etc., and all of that makes it so much harder to let go of that person because they are the one that helps tether that dream to you as a couple. It takes two to make that dream work, and then suddenly one person abandons you and you are left holding nothing and going “what just happened and why?” It is suck a shock that it takes a long time to get over it and for some, could be years or decades to get past. Cheating is such a cruel form of abuse, just mind boggling how mean and devious it is to betray someone you claim to love. So what are our options? Go off licking our wounds alone, or try to hold onto something, anything? Most of us choose the latter of the two, because it’s the lesser of two evils. No one wants to be with a cheater, yet most of us do for a time, out of fear or sorrow, not wanting to let go of what we thought we had. It’s a mess, and the worst thing a person can go through in life.

One last time
One last time
6 days ago
Reply to  Chumped in KC

Its been almost a year since D-Day for me. We’ve been very low contact for a couple of months, so I’ve been able to work on my emotional disengagement. This weekend she texted to discuss summer vacation plans for our daughter. This turned into a phone call to discuss issues not outlined in our custody agreement. No problem. Then a second call, turned into rehashing the past, went to hell in a hurry. Then a third call, got over disagreements, but we started reminising and discussing how things were going, opening up unnecessary stuff between us. This turned into meeting for a couple of hours the next day, “catching up”.
Now I’m back to asking myself why did I do this. 30 years together. Mentally I know she sucks. I will never trust her again. Emotionally, when I have contact… that small voice in the back of my head starts screaming “maybe this is the time”. I’ve just got to stay strong and be firm with LC/NC, until I completely detox.

Elsie_
Elsie_
9 days ago
Reply to  Chumped in KC

I agree that the longer it goes, the harder it is to let go. As my ex approached retirement, I couldn’t imagine that we wouldn’t go the distance that way because that was my dream and the life I pictured. I ignored all the evidence that we were a death spiral.

I had an older attorney who celebrated his 40th anniversary during my divorce process. He and his wife had founded the firm from scratch, and she remained very involved in the business decisions. It was very healing to hear his little comments about how much they valued each other and had weathered the storms of life as true partners.

I didn’t have that kind of relationship, but life on the other side is lovely. Truly.

Divorce Minister
Divorce Minister
9 days ago

Yes, I did. The sunk costs, harmful religious beliefs, and financial vulnerability to her at the time kept me stuck. It didn’t help having a hopium high on wishing to be the “miracle” couple either. One of the worst things I did was tolerate changing of subjects from the cheating so that she could attack me in counseling. I was so scared of losing her that I didn’t hold her feet to the fire. Now, I am so grateful to be free of my Cheater and in a so MUCH better life!

Elsie_
Elsie_
9 days ago

I stayed because of religious guilt and sunk costs. I was mostly a SAHM and knew that if we divorced, it would be horrible. He had held that over my head for years and even had a pitbull attorney picked out. Then I was overly optimistic that his retirement would allow us to finally come together in a meaningful way as a family.

Nope. Two separations and a lot of mess, and we divorced after he retired. Waiting so long did mean no custody issues, so there was that. I had a tough time becoming financially self-supporting after so many years of part-time work and being older, but no regrets.

Rarity
Rarity
9 days ago

My XH does this thing where, when there is a new and shiny object that he wants, he is extraordinarily affectionate and attentive. He has the perfect response to everything. He makes you believe that you are the center of the universe. Dinners, flowers, gifts, compliments, help with projects, endless assurances that he will never let you down. Basically, love-bombing. It was how he reeled me in back in our early 20s when we started dating, and as we were going through the divorce, he started doing it to his exit affair partner.

And I’m watching him love-bomb her and treat her the way he treated me once upon a time, and I started thinking, well, if he can do it for her, he can do it for me again. That is when I began asking for reconciliation and chasing him and doing the “pick me!” dance.

Of course, it was all a mirage. He was already bored with me, plus we had young children together, and that was a drag on his new party lifestyle. He was never going to be Mr. Wonderful for me again, or if he did, it would be extremely short-lived and then it would be right back to the neglect and the chasing tail elsewhere. (In fact, part of the reason he was able to spend so much time with the exit AP was because he did minimal visitation and basically made me his babysitter. I was never going to get the same quality time with him, because we were poor and I had no one to give me free babysitting.)

Now, ~10 years later, I know he’s a one-trick pony, and I’ve seen his one trick.

THAT is why I chased a cheater. Never again. “Never make a priority someone who makes you an option.”

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
9 days ago

Though, until FW began drinking heavily in the time before the affair, there hadn’t been that many flaming red flags, I can look back and see bits of spackling over infrequent flares of borderline shitty behavior on FW’s part but not a ton of pickme dancing. I didn’t have the time or energy to “dance” after leaving the workforce to raise and homeschool kids with serious health conditions and one with a disability.

Of course then it was my lack of pickme dancing that became FWs alibi for cheating. In hindsight it’s clear that, about six months into his fuckathon, FW began trying to incite a pickme dance competition with his child-free, greedy, groveling suckup AP by ripping me to pieces over my failure as a wife. But, having been raised by feminists and never having intended to be stuck in the role of tradwife, even in my shocked and stunned state I thought his expectations were ridiculous considering the overall circumstances. Rather than dance pretty, I pulled a Norma Rae tirade (in case anyone missed Sally Fields’ classic turn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhTSWChvG5U ) so flashy and epic that FW backed down and watched his p’s and q’s for at least another six months.

But then FW’s entitlement continued to metastasize and the APs suckuppery managed to fluff FW back into full blown tyrant mode and– prank!– my little Norma Rae tirade naturally became part of FW’s distorted grounds for a renewed DARVO campaign that verged on coercive control. He began not-so-subtly implying he could take the kids away based on my supposed “craziness” if I did anything he didn’t like, including trying to leave. At the time I didn’t know anything about the “reunification camp” phenomenon or the fact that these heinous camps existed in our state or that family courts were taking payola from them but on some level I must have intuited that the kids and I were at serious risk.

At that point I can’t really call my behavior pickme dancing, more terrorized temporary compliance. But even in the depths of inert despair I think I managed to maintain a little shred of what is called “double mindedness” in civil rights lingo– where one appears to play along with the bigoted dominant paradigm while maintaining a separate perspective and quietly working against it. I started reading material on coercive control which was a new concept to me. Then I finally reached out to an ally for support and eventually sleuthed out the affair and turned the tables. After D-day, it was FW who put on dancing shoes for awhile because, once exposed to the light, what he had done made him look like the biggest creep and the worst father. Suddenly I was the tiger he had by the tail.

And then… maybe I danced. Sort of. There was the RIC debacle for a few months. It was still a bit double minded because I was consciously playing for time in order to put financial and tactical ducks in a row. But, sort of like undercover DEA agents having to snort a few lines to earn the trust of the drug kingpin they’re trying to sting, it was hard not to inhale the hopium. But is it really a game when you’re genuinely and perilously entrapped? Are you dancing or ducking blows and hopping over landmines? Frankly I felt like Persephone in hell.

Anyway, other than urging others to keep an eagle eye on joint finances, I can’t really lecture anyone in the same boat not to do what I did in hindsight because there were few options and not enough money at first to even cover the out-of-pocket medical costs for the kids’ health issues. I wouldn’t have been able to keep a job that paid enough to cover childcare or for home help with the 24 hours a week of food prep required for the kids’ allergy/medical diets. That’s even if I could find a safe placement for my disabled son which was virtually impossible. I could only do work that I could drop at a moment’s notice to play wack-a-mole with various health crises or manage the periodic stretches of time in which my son was up all night and I was stumbling around on two hours sleep. What work I did do ended up being in trade for the $30K+ worth of lawyering that it took to fight back against the school’s protracted campaign of legal retaliation.

But I can say that, had I not delegated financial dealings to FW and had at least kept track, I would have known he’d suddenly begun earning far more than he pretended and that, even before the affair, had begun throwing a ton of money around buying booze and grub for a little office barfly harem which he tried to mine for dumpy fuckbuddies. By the same token, I would have known how much he was suddenly drinking in secret as well instead of spending a year completely baffled about his nasty weekend withdrawals and running all over hell and gone to find resources for his fictitious “depression” or “low t,” etc. After his first DARVO attempt to paralyze me and keep me in my box, I would have known there were resources to hire a PI and, if I had known this was an option, would I have been quicker to suspect or even conceive of the idea that FW’s sudden abusive behavior related to cheating?

I’m currently reading Jennifer Freyd’s (coiner of DARVO) Blindness to Betrayal in which she creates a kind of algorithm predicting that victims will spackle (be blind to betrayal) in direct proportion to their financial and social vulnerabilities. That was the case in my situation.

But, yeah, keep track of the money no matter what. Don’t let yourself get socially isolated. Be suspicious if a partner locks their devices. But some of the rest of it was arguably beyond my control unless I could magically have cured the kids health issues when they were little or forced an abusive school district and corrupt state DOE to magically reform. The fact that I eventually did manage to largely reverse my kids’ health and behavior issues and the fact that they’re now excelling academically means I can’t really second guess the sacrifices I made to get them to that point even if it put me in a terribly vulnerable position with a FW. The biggest dance I ever did in my life was to save my kids and I can never regret it, especially since they know it and we’re close.

OHFFS
OHFFS
9 days ago

I didn’t chase, but I can see why people do it. Chumps are love bunnies. When we love, we love hard. Disengaging from that is brutal, even when the person is unworthy.

Last edited 9 days ago by OHFFS
JeffWashington
JeffWashington
9 days ago

On a deep, primal, and personal level, it was some combination of sunk cost, fear of being alone, and not wanting to lose everything I had worked for/built for us from a strictly behavioral economic standpoint. I’m not getting any younger and already got a late start(and the transition into middle age hit my physical health like a truck). We can add “fear of starting over” to that list.

The rest of it-the bigger, more important component?

I loved the idiot.

I loved her until it broke me and my dumb ass took any table scrap she shuffled my way as reciprocation.

I wanted so badly for it to work and for her to keep all of the promises and have this happy life we had been talking about. The brain damage that the hopium addiction caused seemed to divert all resources to the “pick me dance” part of the brain-when she asked for the open relationship I told myself she was “sowing her wild oats” before finally wrapping up school and then we could buy a house and begin perpetuity. My dumber, in love self was ready to handwave that if it meant I still got what I wanted. That there would be a transformation and everything I worked for would come to fruition.

That all of the pain and sacrifice would pay out and my love would win the day.

Because my dumb ass thought I could actually win.

“You can do everything absolutely perfectly and still lose. That is not called failure. That is called ‘life’.”

It’s like Global Thermonuclear War with these people. The only way to win? Not to play.

Have a Fuckwit Free Friday!

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
9 days ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

By way of clarification: I did not verbally consent to the open relationship-she opened it up anyway as she was already cheating. Most of those thoughts were my rationalization when I realized that she was lying/had already been cheating.

Elsie_
Elsie_
9 days ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

Yes, life lessons, indeed. I learned when people go their own way, there may indeed come a time when you let them go.

I’ve applied that so very many times since.

Last edited 9 days ago by Elsie_
DeconstructionJunction
DeconstructionJunction
9 days ago

Yes i did. Because pastors told me “it’s just online cheating, it’s ‘everyman’s battle’, if you were more attentive to his needs this wouldn’t have happened, let’s keep this small, blah blah.” Looking back, the signs were all there that it wasn’t just online. But i felt that looking through his phone was wrong and he would have flipped out on me, so i never did.

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
9 days ago

“It’s just online cheating.” To hell with your pastor! The words on the slab from the Charlton Heston documentary do not have an OnlyFans caveat.

okupin
okupin
9 days ago

This is a great question. I’m honestly not sure why I chased my cheater b/c he exit-affaired and discarded me, and at no point did he seem even slightly interested in trying to reconcile. I did lawyer up right away to protect myself (b/c he was off spending marital assets on the OW), but still through that whole process I persisted in trying to get him to engage and even to reconcile. I think I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that the man who had sworn to love and protect me till he died, who even two weeks prior to the discard was going on about how lucky he was to be with me, had suddenly morphed into this monster who could only say cruel things and couldn’t look at me without disgust written all over his face. I think I just wanted to see the “old” him again, even if just for a second. So I chased and chased. Finally my sister managed to convince me that the safest thing for me, since he’d turned into a monster, was to divorce; then later if he turned back into a human, we could always reconcile on new terms. It was a smooth move on her part b/c unlike me, she knew he had always been a monster. I was the only one he’d managed to fool for 20 years. And now with five years’ worth of No Contact under my belt, I have the clarity and hindsight to see what everyone else did–that there were serious signs of monstrosity even from the beginning that I spackled over in my belief that we were equally committed to maturing into good partners for each other. We were not.

Conchobara
Conchobara
9 days ago

Once I knew about the cheating, I was done. I was never going to try–not that he wanted me to. He was very clear that he was done with me and our marriage. But I realized that I was dancing for years before I knew about the cheating.

I can look back and pinpoint when he changed (cheating started) and that’s when I gave up everything to try to accommodate him – I worked two jobs because he always complained about us being broke; I did 99% of the parenting; I took my daughter and went away to my parents’ house alone because he no longer wanted to go visit (freeing him up to do we-know-what for a whole weekend); I planned dates and family getaways; I gave up my hobbies in case he decided he wanted to do something with me or our daughter on those nights (he didn’t). Or just to be home in case he actually wanted to spend time with me (he didn’t).

In the beginning, immediately after DDay, I was humiliated that I did so much to try to spackle and make my marriage better while I got nothing in return. But thanks to CL and CN, I know that there is nothing shameful about loving someone and trying your hardest to make things work.

I agree with what so many are saying here, too, we were comfortable and we thought we were doing the right thing. I don’t judge people for trying to make it work even when they know about the cheating. It was my clear line in the sand but I put up with a lot of other things that I shouldn’t have, so I totally understand. The fear of the unknown, sunk costs, a feeling of safety, and having had my self-esteem shattered by him, too, all played a part in why I didn’t call him out on everything before DDay.

Last edited 9 days ago by Conchobara
Mehitable
Mehitable
9 days ago

I chased a cheater because I thought he was the best I could do. I didn’t have much self respect, after a bad upbringing, and he was handsome, charming, smart, talented, and physically, like catnip to me. I looked the other way constantly and to be fair, he never lied directly to me (and I never asked). I found out about his activities, through his friends, acquaintances and came to see they were right, of course, but he never lied to me directly. I just had such low expectations. When the end came, he ended it by just up and leaving one day, with no notice to me, to another state to be with another woman. I never saw or spoke to him again. I don’t know if I was doing a particular pick me dance, I think the entire relationship was a pick me dance and one I did because I had so little self respect and I adored him. Once I knew, I realized that probably a lot of women did, he was one of those types.

Last edited 9 days ago by Mehitable
Mehitable
Mehitable
9 days ago

Ya know, a lot of times I think we dance because at that point we just think they’re worth it. Many FWs are attractive, charming, fun people – my first one definitely was all that and more. And a sex bomb to boot, LOL. Unless you’re clear in your own values and what you think of yourself and what you want, you’re probably gonna keep pursuing that because it looks like a pot of gold – very desirable on a lot of levels. It comes down to what you want more, sometimes. Not all the FWs are obviously horrible subhumans with BO and pot bellies, LOL. Part of it is why people pursue anything that ultimately is not good for them – because it looks good and in some ways, it makes you feel good. Sometimes they’re a drug too.

HunnyBadger
HunnyBadger
9 days ago

Honest answer: I chased mine only very half-heartedly because I was genuinely disgusted by finding out who and what he really was. Cheating was only one of his many serious problems. At the same time I found out he was also an alcoholic, drug addict and has a diagnosed personality disorder. I observe people, truly observe them, but FW was and is a world-class liar and hider — every single person who knew him was utterly shocked by the news of all this… So it’s not like I was blind or detached. Like so many FWs we read about here, mine was simply capable of leading a completely double life.

The only chasing I did had more to do with not destroying our little boys’ lives, (I’ve been previously divorced with four older children), and because I had no idea what I would do financially to survive.

Within a week of Dday, I recall looking at him and thinking, “Where is that man I loved with all my heart? Who is this stranger? What was it like to trust him?”

And equally shocking, “What the hell did I ever see in him??”

If God Himself had come to stand directly in front of me and say, “Not only will you survive financially, you will thrive! And your little boys will be sad but far more settled and have a consistent, secure and happy childhood”…. I would have shoved FW out the door and gotten an attorney the first week.

Chumps are already survivors, we already have a strength we didn’t know we had. Speaking from experience, there is no reason at all to chase a Cheater. They cannot offer anything — not safety, not security, not the comfort of the familiar, not financial stability — that we cannot secure for ourselves.

Quite the contrary: Most FWs seem wholly incapable of taking care of themselves or acting like functioning caring adults after they’ve been exposed. Chumps, golden, loving, faithful and true, have been holding most cheaters’ lives together for a long time.

Irrelevant
Irrelevant
9 days ago

I chased–for emotional reasons at first, but then out of abject fear. I purposely chose to stay in a lopsided environment for several years after dday because after 40 years together, nearing retirement, and getting to the point where everything in our life had finally begun slowing down–staying put for the shorter last chapter together felt like the lesser of bigger evils I began to face. In short, I couldn’t financially survive without his help anymore.

The day that overrode that financial fear for me was was a weird realization moment that I could feel all over my body. It traveled from the top of my head to the tip of my toes and literally made me sick.

My FW been suffering from clinical depression and after years of my trying everything I could think of to get him to want to seek help–he finally decided to do it. We’d come out of the building where he’d just been officially diagnosed and prescribed a pretty extensive course of treatment. He paused in the vestibule for something, so I walked ahead to get the car. When I pulled up front, I saw him ripping up all the treatment paperwork and prescriptions they’d given him. The smirk on his face, and weirdly unhinged look in his eyes when he defiantly tossed them in the garbage in front of me–became an AH HA moment.

You’d think it would have dawned on me there and then, but it didn’t. I think I was in utter shock. And it wasn’t until later that day, when I caught myself minimizing both the incident and the toll it had on me, when realization finally struck. The feeling that coursed through me was much bigger, and more sickeningly profound than all the other fears I had combined. It was the day I finally admitted that everything I’d been fearing and feeling had boiled down to that one single defiant action of his, and the one single choice it left me: it was him, or me.

I picked me.

EZ
EZ
9 days ago

After D-Day 1, FW said it was a one time thing, and he only had sex with his junior ho-worker because we had a fight. I begged him to stay because I thought that he was wanting to work on our relationship. And I took his “confession” as a step in the right direction. I didn’t know about CL, so I didn’t realise he was quoting from the FW handbook, and his only aim was to keep eating cake.

The reason I worked so hard to make him stay during wreckonciliation was that I thought that I couldn’t do it on my own. Life was so so hard living with him, and I thought it would get even harder if I were a solo mum of a 5 year old. I had no energy and thought I was entering early menopause. For some reason I thought my husband was helping me, and if he left I would have to do so much more on my own.

Turns out, I was primary breadwinner, did all the childcare, and kept the household running. And on top of that, I was trying to satisfy an unsatisfiable FW. When he left, I was absolutely destroyed. I was screaming in pain. But somehow life also felt easier. I’m 4 months out now, and I’m still an emotional wreck, but my life is actually much easier. My baby is happy and settled. I have so much time and energy, even though I have full custody and no one to help me look after my kid.

I put up with an unacceptable relationship for a very long time because I was scared of what would happen if he left.

Nemesis
Nemesis
8 days ago
Reply to  EZ

You are mighty, EZ! Only 4 months in is VERY early days. I was 55, had been married 29 years and had just retired early (at his urging). Three months later he rented an apartment and moved out with a massage parlor girl. I was a wreck and could barely take care of myself for the first several months. I’ve always thought how exponentially more hard it would’ve been if I’d had young children to care for during that time. I really admire you.

Congratulations on getting rid of a FW relatively early, and not giving up decades of your life like I did. You are doing great!

EZ
EZ
8 days ago
Reply to  Nemesis

Only 12 years lost – and I think I would have stayed married to him for another 40 years until I died of old age. I am so lucky that discarded me and didn’t look back.

susie lee
susie lee
9 days ago
Reply to  EZ

” he only had sex with his junior ho-worker because we had a fight.”

Gee, I bet he didn’t give you that option after a fight. These guys are turds.

It is scary most times to D, but I think when there are young children; it has to be so much worse. I mean I was even thinking that I could live in my car for a few months as long as I could pay for a decent car; but you can’t even imagine that with a child.

I did get a decent late model used car, and yes I had a trusted male friend help me find it, and check it out; because I knew nothing about cars. I didn’t have to live in it; but I lived on a shoestring for several years. Still better than it would have been had we “reconciled”.

My ex actually said he would help me find one, but I said no thanks.

EZ
EZ
9 days ago
Reply to  susie lee

You are right, somehow I never knew there was an option to opt out of my responsibilities and fuck strange for a bit of an ego boost. Funny that huh?

Well done you. Life without a cheater is sweet even when it’s hard.

I’m right at the start of my journey, with a mortgage that is almost too big for me, but I didn’t want my son to move house until we were ready to move.

SandyFeet
SandyFeet
9 days ago

I felt like if he hadn’t become an addict, he wouldn’t have become this person I no longer recognized. The sickness and in health part of the vows played on me. If he could get into treatment I’d get to keep the life we had built.
Alas, he wasn’t about to quit the young AP or the drugs. 42 years together, 36 married.

The advice to see an attorney from LACGAL upon discovery was priceless.

Should Know Better
Should Know Better
8 days ago

Denial. If my cheater really isn’t an irredeemable FW, I don’t have to face the reality that I threw away 20 years of my life on her. I can pretend that I’m not so blind that I was married to a narcissist for so long and somehow didn’t notice.

The really stupid thing is she’s the one that wants the divorce. Our marriage had plenty of real problems before, but I firmly believe that those could be fixed, or at least could have been. Somehow the affair gets pulled into that pile and becomes just another problem to be solved, instead of a deal breaker to walk, no run away from.

thelongrun
thelongrun
8 days ago

I think I can answer this. For one thing, I was in complete shock. I was also in a major depression, and then I confronted her coldness of the last three plus months via a carefully worded email (I tend to get too emotional when upset w/those I love and don’t do my best job of communicating my feelings and ideas well in person, I think, so I thought this was a good way to start the communication and get out my thoughts, without getting too worked up emotionally).

And got D-day, where she admitted she was in love (yeah, right) w/another man, and that man was…her fucking rich, 15 years older, 40 years married (not well married, mind you, because he was a cheating asshole for probably at least the last 20 years of his marriage, according to people I later met that knew things about him) boss!🤢🤮

After going incandescent w/anger, but keeping it in check (because I DO have some good character), I flipped after a couple of hours to feeling completely gutted by her actions, as she announced she was leaving me for her boss in 13 days.

After I stayed up w/my younger daughter all night crying and trying to reconcile my mind to my new reality (and failing miserably), and after talking to some older friends the next day on no sleep (who were my first introduction to Switzerland friends).

Can’t choose sides, but we’re not crazy right now about her AP, they told me (as if he alone had caused all this, and the FW XW was powerless to stop it all). Ugh, how fucking pathetic they were, and a poor choice to pour my heart out to.

I started to look into what I could possibly do to “save” the situation, and convince her to come back to me. Because this was the woman I loved w/all my heart, and wanted to spend the rest of my life with! That I’d had and nearly completely raised three children with! Surely she’ll feel the same way, once I present my case to her?

Yeah, I was in serious denial, and majorly projecting how I felt on her. Not a good idea.

She’d left behind a few boxes of old pictures of herself and her family at my house (wasn’t thinking it was just my house at this point, but it was). Why don’t I do her the favor of digitizing them by taking smartphone pictures of them w/my iPhone? Then she’ll start to realize that I care about her more than her scummy AP and boss!

Can you believe that idea went down in flames? Well, I sure couldn’t see that outcome until it happened. I think that’s was the painful beginning of me really starting to understand that she was completely abandoning me, and I wouldn’t be getting her back.

Which was a good thing, looking back, but I couldn’t see it then. It forced me to continue down the path of realizing that this was a person of such little character and morality, that she could abandon a loving husband in such an abusive fashion, w/little to no care as to what happened to him now.

Thank God I learned from that. It’s SO much better to have that (those?) nitwit(s) out of my life. Chumplady came a few months later, and I realized she was giving words and logic to what I thought and felt about the FW XW and the situation she created.

Over seven years later, five of which are set in complete divorce, I’m a much happier man.

Wishing all the chump mothers a happy Mother’s Day weekend. Y’all are great, and your former significant others are the true losers. Lots of love to everybody.😊

Cam
Cam
8 days ago

Unresolved abandonment trauma from childhood. I blamed myself for the chaos exhibited by the adults around me and thought it was somehow my fault. I thought I was inherently flawed and needed to prove my worth to others before anyone would love me. The love of course never came.

Predators seemed to smell this on me, and in adulthood I kept finding the worst people. It’s weird to me now how much I cared so much about their opinions when they never deserved MY respect.

Last edited 8 days ago by Cam
ChumpNoMore
ChumpNoMore
7 days ago
Reply to  Cam

I hear you. I feel you. Huge hugs.

Blue Bayou
Blue Bayou
8 days ago

The greatest mistake of my life! I firmly cemented my place as her bitch by doing just that.
I wound up with the 5th place trophy…

Cloud
Cloud
8 days ago

For two reasons:

1. I knew that we were just trading one set of problems for another set. I was right. No money. He hadn’t been to see the kids since before the pandemic and the kids are struggling.
However, these problems are not as bad as the problems in the marriage obviously.

2. I was afraid of being alone. Again, still not as bad as being married to a FW. But still hard.