A Look Inside The Mind of a Cheating Wife Who Filed For Divorce

A woman recently posted a very candid and honest story on the “Divorce” section of the super popular website Reddit. In the post, she outlines the conditions that led her to question her marriage and eventually have an affair. This coeherent chronological breakdown gives us a rare and unfiltered look at what goes on in the mind of a cheating spouse. I thought it would be interesting to break her story down into pieces and give my thoughts as the story unfolds.

In my case there was no abuse. We were together for 8 years that was mostly good and we have 4 kids. Right around 5 years I got a promotion at work and i got it in my head that my XH was dragging me down, or at least holding me back from more success and a better life. We never had a lot of money but with my promotion I was now making more than he was.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this scenario. There is a reason she started her story with her job promotion. This was the switch. So many infidelity stories start with some “switch” that breaks down the cheaters boundaries and gets the cheating machine whirring along. For many women, the simple act of making more money than her spouse starts the process. Why? Because her respect for her spouse just took a major hit. She WANTS to look up to him. She WANTS to brag on him. She WANTS to be able to see him as the super lover-provider combination that every woman dreams about. Since he’s a husband and a dad, his Lover qualities probably went out the window long ago. He was a Provider… now he’s not. What’s he left with? Nothing, other than an angry wife who grows resentful.

There is a phenomenon known as “hypergamy”. The terms refers to the trend of women marrying across or UP their social food chain. Women CEO’s tend to not marry garbage men, in other words. The opposite tends to not be the case for men. The male CEO will gladly marry the secretary, school teacher or cashier.

Before everyone writes me with, “Nuh uh! I’m a stay-at-home dad and my wife is a doctor and we’ve been married for a million years!” … Great. That’s awesome. I wish you were the norm. You’re not. You’re an outlier.

Back to the story…

I started working longer hours and at the same time his hours were cut so he was at home more. I really began to resent him because he was home and because he got to spend time with our kids. Most nights when I got home they were already getting ready for bed if not already sleeping. After a few months of my new job it was clear to me that things were not going well at home without me there. Some nights the dishes weren’t done when I got home or the kids hadn’t eaten or whatever else I could think of to be mad at him about. It really didn’t matter. He kept saying that he would try harder but that it was hard being home all the time. That always made me really mad.

She’s jealous. She’s angry. She is not happy being Mrs. Breadwinner. It creates a great deal of resentment in her. THIS is not what she envisioned when married. She points out that the house is not clean enough… but the truth is there’s nothing he could do to make her happy in this situation. Absolutely nothing. It’s over at this point.

For the next couple years things kept getting worse. My hours weren’t any shorter and his were on and off fulltime. There was no convenient time for him to be working full time because of my hours, but we also needed the money. Whenever he would tell me that he could get extra hours I would always complain and the less hours he worked the more I complained that he wasnt bringing in enough money. Whenever he brought up the contradiction I would tell him that he needed to figure it out. I knew that it would bother him so I started saying that a lot and for everything that I could.

Here is where she starts bluntly pushing him away. There is zero he can do to make her happy. She’s not going to tell him, “There is nothing you can do to make me happy, so just divorce me already.”  She is following the common cheating wife pattern of treating the husband with such disrespect that she actually gets more angry if he doesn’t stand up to her and divorce her (as she wants).

I really started to resent him and I pulled away from him. I knew that it was hurting him but I didnt care. If he didnt want to be hurt then he would at least try to make me happy. I used that same thing to justify when I started to talk to another guy at work. I thought he was just a friend but talking at work turned into texting at home and then pictures and videos and then trying to sneak some alone time with him. I knew that it was wrong but it made me feel so alive, and my husband had not made me feel like that in years. I was tired of being unhappy and I was doing this for me.

And here it begins. Didn’t take long. The “Must find new and better mate to procreate with” programming is off and running. The rationalizations come out in full force. I was doing this for me.”

The worst was the night that I came home at a reasonable time and found that he had cleaned the whole house, cooked the whole family dinner and picked out a movie for all of us to watch together. This would have made me swoon a couple years earlier, but that night I couldn’t even look at him and I pretended to be sick. I spent the rest of the night in bed while he waited on me and checked on me and even made me different food and brought it to me in bed. It made me feel terrible, and then it made me angry that he made me feel that way and by the end of the night I was texting with the other guy.

See? There’s absolutely nothing he could do to stop the machine from running. Nothing. This is why reconciliation and trying to “win” your wife back is so fruitless. He would be much better off if he got a head start and began the process of self-care and rebuilding. He’s wasting months and years he can’t get back.

Over the next month or two from that night it did not matter what he did. He was wrong just for breathing most days. He would get so upset with how I was treating him and I would just wait and egg him on into losing it because i knew it would happen eventually. After most of the fights we had he would apologize for whatever I told him he did wrong if there even was something, but I never did. I would usually find a way to make him feel even worse. I knew that I was right because he was wrong and that was all that mattered to me.

She’s pushing and pushing and pushing him away. This is the equivalent of kicking him in the balls and hating him for wincing in pain. She will do so until he either dies or comes to his senses.

I even pretended that I didn’t care when he found out about my relationship with the guy from work. It really destroyed me inside to see him holding back tears, but I wasnt going to let him see that. He was at his weakest and that was when I chose to tell him that I wanted a divorce. I could almost hear his heart shattering inside his chest. He talked and fought and said that we could work through it together. I really wasnt interested in fixing our marriage, but i mostly ended things with the other guy but only because i knew i could get it back if I wanted it.

The brutal coldness of the cheating wife is always astounding. In her mind, there is no human lower than the man she has deemed as, “No longer worthy of being my partner”. Their history together means absolutely nothing.

I could see that he was trying and occasionally i would let him know, but for the most part I kept being a huge bitch to him for any and all reasons that I could think of. I’m not sure how much more the man could have done to make me happy besides finding a job that paid enough for me to not have to work at all. He said that he was looking, but looking and finding are 2 different things. It was around this time that I discovered this group and a few others. I started posting things about him, from my perspective only, and I got so much positive feedback for how I was feeling that I knew I was right. The more I posted the more validation that I got. It wasn’t just me who knew that XH wasn’t worth keeping around. I had the whole internet telling me how terrible he is. I started saying awful things to him and even outright ignoring him. I was so confident with mine and everyone elses opinion that I contacted a lawyer and within a couple weeks had filed for divorce. I continued to use this site and a couple others to validate my feelings and for encouragement to go through with it, and finally it was done.

For the cheating wife, there is no shortage of validation and “You go girl!” sentiment from her friends and strangers on the internet. She can do no wrong. This drives the husband completely crazy. It’s just human nature.

It went pretty smoothly. XH didnt ask for much besides to not get divorced and to try to work it all out. I didnt care about that though. He was broken, but I was free. I could do whatever I wanted without having to feel any guilt or answer to anybody. It was an amazing feeling of freedom. It didnt last long though. In the first month after he moved out I missed garbage day 3 times. There was also rarely a single clean dish and the laundry sat in piles so long that I had to start doing the sniff test to see if it could be worn again. I also never saw my kids more miserable. My oldest had seen some of the messages from the other guy months earlier and she knew that XH still wanted to try to work it out. It didnt take her long to stop talking to me at all except to say that she wanted to go to XH house. The others all told me that they wanted to live with XH too. I did my best to try to make them happy, but I ended up just buying them toys all the time and the happiness only lasted minutes. I also was having a lot of trouble with work. Being alone I couldnt work all those extra hours that I was expected to. I finally gave in and starting calling XH to watch the kids. He would always come over as soon as he could and he always asked me if i needed anything. When I would get home I would find clean dishes and laundry and even dinner sometimes. He would never say too much after I got home. He would just say to call him if i needed anything and leave. One night he took out the garbage and brought it to the curb because it was garbage night and I forgot again. He always looked so sad when it was time to go.

Oh, God. This poor guy. This is a conditioned man. He’s been kicked in the balls and spat on for so long… and yet he still believes she is his one true love. Can you blame him? He’s been told his whole life that this is the ONE thing he was to live for. In his mind, he failed. He failed at providing and maintaining a relationship. Everyone in the world is telling her she’s “the bomb”.In his mind, everyone seems to be conspiring to tell him how worthless he is. He has to improve and NICE his way out of this… otherwise he is in fact the scum everyone is making him out to be.

Finally after a couple months my friends convinced me to go out on a date. It was for dinner and a movie and I was excited and hopeful, but at dinner I started getting a feeling of overwhelming guilt. It got so bad that I ended up not even going to the movie. A week and about a million tears later I was on a therapists couch. I told her everything that had happened starting with the promotion that I got at work. She did not agree with me or with any of the encouragment to divorce that I got. I ended up in her office 2 and sometimes 3 times a week, and the more that I talked to prove that I was right, the more that I started to see how wrong I was. It was truely heartbreaking. I dont know if I cried as much in my whole life as i did in the first month in her office.

I had a therapist tell me once, “I can’t tell you how many times cheating wives have cried on that couch telling me that they couldn’t believe what they did… that they were acting completely out of control. Those same women were the ones that ended up doing it again and again.”

After about 2 thousand dollars of therapy sessions I learned that my XH had his faults, but I figured out that mine were so much worse. I did so many awful things and said awful things that I wouldnt want to be with me, but he did. I still remember him asking me in the meeting with the lawyer to please not go through with it. I did go through with it though, and then later I bragged on here how great it felt. I was so wrong, and now I can see it.

It took $2k of therapy to elicit feelings of empathy. This is not a good thing.

A couple weeks ago I went outside with him when he was leaving the house. I asked him about getting back together. When he looked at me his eyes were full of tears and a couple went down his cheeks. He told me that he didnt know if he could. He said that the pain has been too much for too long and that if we got back together that I might just turn around and do it to him again. He said that he always thought that I would realize how much he loved me and stop up until i signed the divorce papers and let out a big over exaggerated sigh of relief. He said that hurt him more than anything else and that he doesnt know if he can ever trust me again. I dont blame him. I destroyed a man who looking back was a great husband. I deprived my kids of having a great father in the house with them and I took his kids away from him. And me, the one who pushed for the divorce expecting happiness and a life of freedom, spend all my free time sitting at home or sitting on a therapists couch.

Good for him. He’s right. There’s no way he can take her back… because he’s not sure if he can survive another heartbreak, and he knows it won’t be the only time she has feelings of doubt and ends up cheating again.

It’s in her nature. She’s a cheating wife.

Interview With A Real Dad Starting Over – “William”

This is the second in a series of interviews with REAL dads and dudes starting over in life. From each of these stories, we can learn a great deal from each other and see that we are nowhere near alone in our quest to start over.

“William” is the an example of a VERY common scenario:

  1. Little experience with women before or after his ex-wives.
  2. Comes from a broken home with an absent father figure and strong attachment to mom.
  3. Strongly attracted to women from broken families, histories of abuse and has an intense need to help them.
  4. His kind/pushover nature eventually backfires on him as he is taken advantage of the worst way by predatory women.

DSO
So, if you could, tell us your name, age, number of kids

William
William. Age 48. I have three biological children and then two who are bonus children.

DSO
Bonus children… step kids?

William
One former stepson who I am still close to and one who I discovered was not mine, but am also close to.

DSO
Oh wow. Sounds like you do have a story to tell. And what ages are the kids?

William
30, 28, 27, 24, 23. The 30, 27, and 23 year olds are mine. Yes, it’s quite a story. 23 year old is the only girl.

DSO
That poor girl! That’s a whole lot of testosterone. Married how many times?

William
Twice. Quite a story with both.

DSO
Well let’s go with ex #1, how did you two meet?

William
We met in high school. I was a basketball player and she was a track/basketball athlete. She asked me for a ride home from practice every day and one thing led to another. The 30 year old son was born my senior year.

DSO
Started early! And how about her family life? Broken family? Abuse?

William
Her parents divorced due to her father’s infidelity. There were rumors of abuse between her father and her sister, but it never went anywhere. None between my ex and her father that I’m aware of.

DSO
And your family life?

William
My dad was an abusive alcoholic to my mom. I witnessed a lot of it. They divorced when I was six. I was not abused, but I have heard rumors that my older sister was. We’ve never discussed it. We are very close though. My mom is a saint.

DSO
Looking back on the early “courtship”, did you feel a bond with your shared family “issues”?

William
Not on a conscience level I don’t think.

DSO
So senior year, your son is born. How do you cope with that? Family help?

William
Yes. I quit basketball and started sacking groceries full time. I stayed at my ex’s house and got up with the baby on weekends. My mom and my stepdad were upset at first, but extremely helpful financially and emotionally. I got a job out of high school working in the billing office at a hospital and things went okay for several years.

DSO
College?

William
I took night courses at the local Junior college. Got my Associates degree in four years. Started at the University level about the time the first marriage fell apart.

DSO
So, “went okay for several years”, when did the wheels start to fall off?

William
We were married for five years. I came home one night after running in to my childhood sweetheart at a convenience store. I came home and told my wife about it. Shortly after that she insisted that we move. We did. As it turned it we were living caddy corner from her boyfriend’s apartment. At the time, I had no suspicion that anything was going on.

DSO
Oh, so the prompting for the move, in your mind at that time, was your surprise meeting with the childhood sweetheart?

William
Yes and no. I feel she used that as a justification in her mind, but she was already planning to set herself up with Plan B (him) in case Plan A (me) didn’t work out.

DSO
She was already in the middle of an affair with Plan B by that time… and for how long at that point (the move)?

William
I feel that it had been going on for several months before the move, but I have no proof. The fact that we moved in so close to his place was not a coincidence in my mind.

DSO
Oh… so not only did she want to move, but she had the specific place already picked out… right across from Plan B. Gotcha.

William
Yes. Again, just a theory.

DSO
Well that was ballsy of her. So when did you discover the affair?

William
After the move, she insisted we should separate. I moved in with my mom with the idea that we would work it out. She would give me no reason for the separation, just needed “space”. I went back to our place and discovered a note to him on the door. I don’t remember what it said, but the implications were clear. I started moving my stuff out that night.

DSO
Sorry to hear that… and pretty textbook. So now you have a son and a cheating wife. Was divorce pretty soon after?

William
Oh that’s where it gets crazy. We had two sons at that time. She came to me a week after I moved out and told me she was pregnant. I told her I thought it wasn’t mine. The state of Oklahoma would not allow me to divorce her while she was pregnant. They also told me that I not only had to prove the baby was not mine, but I also had to prove whose the baby was or I would be held financially responsible for it. I was not allowed to divorce her because the baby had to remain a product of the marriage in case the true father was not found.

DSO
Oh, no way. Wow. Are the laws still the same to this day in OK?

William
It took a year and a half for all the prelim crap to get done and the divorce to be granted.
I don’t know. I live in Colorado now and haven’t been married for 16 years. Doubt I ever will again.

DSO
So eventually you prove the child is not yours AND you find the father?

William
Yes. It didn’t take too much detective work on my part.

DSO
I know I’m getting into specifics here… but this whole “state forcing the non-father to pay” thing always amazes me…. What was the process for proving the paternity? Did the suspected father have to go through testing? Or did he/they just confess?

William
I had to subpoena the blood from the baby as well as the suspected father. The fact that she was able to just keep the truth to herself and hope for the best has always stuck a burr in my saddle. She was not asked to testify or anything.

DSO
She knew she had the state on her side. Okay, so… two bio kids, one that is with her lover, and you are divorced. Does kid #3 have a relationship with bio dad?

William
Yes, but he always came over to my house with his brothers. Birthday parties, sleep overs, etc. He is currently getting his PhD and will be married in May. I’m invited to the wedding. He says his father is a 50/50 bet on whether he will show up.

DSO
Well, good for you and him both. Sticking with wife #1 for now. Looking back… any red flags through the short relationship?

William
Yes. She was my first, but she was known to have slept with a lot of boys in high school. I had some friends who warned me about her, but I didn’t listen.

DSO
You’re not the first and certainly not the last with that story. If you didn’t get her pregnant while in high school, would you have married her?

William
Her best friend got pregnant about the same time she did too. I think that was part of the plan.

Definitely not. I was trying to “do the right thing”. I wish I’d have been told by an older male role model that I didn’t have to marry her. Don’t know if it would have changed my mind, but it would have made the divorce decision come a lot faster.

DSO
And how soon after was kid #2?

William
Kid 1 was born 1987. We were married in 1988. Kid 2 was born 1991. We split up in 1993. Kid 3 (not mine) was born 1994.

DSO
Was #2 another “oops”?

William
No. He was planned. Maybe just a “trying to do the right thing” thing again. I am very close to my sons though. We have a lot of fun together.

DSO
That’s great. Did you have a fair co-parenting/custody sharing plan from the beginning?

William
Yes. But I was very busy working full time and going to college so I didn’t get to see them 50/50. That as used against me when it came time to calculate support, which makes no sense. I was doing my part when I had them.

DSO
And how has ex #1’s life gone since your split?

William
She married and divorced the guy she was sleeping with. She has just been released from the county jail and into a halfway house. Her and her new boyfriend were convicted on trafficking meth through the mail.

DSO
Wow. I’d say that’s a pretty low point in life. So how long after #1 did you meet #2?

William
I was sitting in a class in 1993 thinking about the aforementioned childhood sweetheart from before. All I knew of was where she worked, Wal-Mart. So I left class, drove to Wal-Mart and sure enough, there she was working the front. She took a break and I filled her in on my situation. She showed me evidence that her husband was physically abusing her. I told her that I didn’t want to wreck her marriage, but that if they broke up, I would like to give us a try. We began an affair, and she became pregnant with my daughter. There was and is no doubt that the child was/is mine.

So I guess it was only a matter of three months or so.

DSO
Wow. You weren’t wasting any time. Ran right into the arms of another broken one. Also not uncommon.

William
Haha. Oh ya.

DSO
So, the first red flag is obviously “I was abused” and “I am willing to have an affair and get pregnant”… what other red flags did gal #2 have? How about her family life?

William
Her mother was a mean bitch. I remembered it from my childhood. Nothing had changed in the years that followed. She was a tom boy and an athlete from the time we met, age 13, all the way through high school. She actually told me after she divorce her first husband that she never wanted to marry again. I was so happy we were together that I didn’t mind. We were living together and we had a daughter. My two sons, my bonus son, and her son were with us most of the time once I finished college. We were making the blended family work. She never initiated sex though. I thought she was submissive, but as it turned out she was hiding a deeper secret. Queue suspenseful music…

DSO
So… in hindsight do you feel she grasped onto you as a way out of marriage #1?

William
Yes. I also feel that she knew she could get away with what she had planned next because of what had happened in my previous marriage. I may be paranoid, but that doesn’t make me wrong.

DSO
So, she gets pregnant… how long after did you marry?

William
She approached me two years later in 1997 and asked, “Why haven’t you asked me to marry you?” and I said, “Because you said you didn’t want to get married.” and she said, “Well, we might as well. I mean, look at all these kids in our house.” and I said, “Okay”. Shortly after, I called the kids into the living room and I proposed to her. We eloped to Colorado and were married on Christmas Eve, 1997 in Aspen.

DSO
And after marriage… how long until the big bomb drop?

William
June, 2003 she told me she was leaving me. She didn’t say why at the time. We had just made our first payment on a new house.

DSO
Wow. What was the process after that? Did you start investigating?

William
I take that back. She told me she was leaving in April and the truth about why came out in June.

I helped her move into her own apartment. I told the landlord I needed a key since I was on the lease. When she took her son to the movies one night, I went to her apartment and found a journal. In it, she confessed her love to her new girlfriend who lived two states away and she revealed her plan to move there as soon as she could.

DSO
Wow.

William
It was shortly after that she admitted she was gay. She never told me of her intention to move. She intended to abandon us.

DSO
You were helping her move into an apartment that she planned on leaving soon?

William
Yes.

DSO
And her plan was to leave you and the kid?

William
Yes. and my stepson with his father.

DSO
Oh wow. How did she meet the girlfriend?

William
Work. The GF had moved away in order to prevent wrecking our marriage, or so the story goes.

DSO
I see. Did the wife later admit she always KNEW she was gay, or this was something she discovered later in life?

William
She said that she had always known she was gay. She said no man was ever going to touch her again and that her whole life had been a lie. She was celebrated for now “living her truth”. The fact that she had discovered it at the expense of so many lives was swept under the rug.

Maybe not discovered it, but verified it. Found the courage to admit it to herself. However you look at it.

DSO
And she has remained in the new lifestyle since then?

William
Yes. She has a GF now that she met when she was 45 and the GF was 17. Also something for which she has never been held accountable.

DSO
WOW. Well, this is usually the case in these relationship dramas. The damsels in distress will get the adulation… You’ll just go crazy trying to understand it.
So, how soon after the bomb drop did you divorce?

William
It took four and a half years. When I would go to court, the judge would give her additional time to appear even though she had left the state. Once I got Oklahoma DHS to start garnishing her paycheck for child support did she finally show up and the divorce was granted. She also got custody arrangements changed and once she paid her back child support, I had to start paying her. I raised my daughter for five years without help from her and then she came in and got what she wanted.

She moved back to Oklahoma and started playing “supermom”

DSO
Wow. That seems to be the them for this story: “Wow” She moved back to OK… and the kids went to live with her?

William
Haha. I’m 16 years out and I still can’t believe it.

By the time she came back, my daughter was 13. She wanted to know her mom and asked if it was okay if she lived with her. I helped my daughter move. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her. it is a fact that if not for her, I wouldn’t be alive. We are very close today. So part of what the gay ex got was what I allowed her to have for the sake of my daughter.

DSO
And she stayed with her for all of her teens?

William
Yes. But again, I would meet her for breakfast before school and I would have her and her friends over when she wanted. My gay ex knew I would do anything for my daughter too, which of course she used to her advantage.

DSO
And her relationship with your daughter today?

William
They are good. One year after I left OK for CO, my daughter followed me though. All of my biological children have left OK and moved closer to me, much to their mothers’ dismay I’m sure.

My daughter and her mother visit occasionally. I have no contact with her mother. We haven’t spoken in years.

DSO
So after the second divorce… have you had any relationships? Dating?

William
My first relationship after the gay ex (both wives were my first and second) I had an affair with the minister’s wife. She divorced her husband to marry me, but I told her I wasn’t going to marry again. That ended our relationship poorly. Had a GF for about three months in 2007 or so. She broke up with me because I told her I didn’t plan on marrying again. I don’t date at all now. I work hard and do my own thing.

DSO
There does appear to be a pattern here… not to play psychologist… and I don’t mean to overstep my bounds.
1. Being attracted to broken women
2. Ignoring red flags and jumping into serious relationships with broken women.
3. Pursuing relationships with women who are already attached to others.
Sounds like you nipped #2 in the bud and stopped the marriage train.

William
If I had to self-psychoanalyze, I’d say that I have a bit of a hero complex after seeing my mom take some hellacious beatings and not being big enough to stop it. I did not grow up to be an abuser. But instead I grew up allowing myself to be used. I didn’t stand up for myself. Now I do. I am fine on my own. I’d love to meet someone who would love me, but it is not a priority.

DSO
Did you have a close relationship with your mom? Almost a surrogate spouse to her?

William
Yes. She is a retired nurse and an absolute hero.

I’m about out of time. I wanted to plug the Straight Spouse Network. It is a support group among those who may have married homosexuals either knowingly or unknowingly. They are at www.Straightspouse.org. They have been very healing for me over the last couple of years.

DSO
Thank you for sharing your story!

William
You’re Welcome. Keep up the good work.

You can’t trust yourself. Take time to heal.

While I was married to my first wife,  I used to cherish the rare moments I would get alone. During those quiet moments, I was able to re-calibrate and get a sense of self that I couldn’t have with three screaming kids, a nagging wife and all that work. A day to just sit… and do NOTHING? Awesome. Thank God.

 

It wasn’t until my “married life” reality was taken away that I realized how conditioned I had become. While I may have been alone and enjoying peace and quiet for a day, I always had the crutch and foundation of family and marriage to lean on.

Divorce peeled the scab back and exposed wounds that I never knew I had.

After the ex left, “What do I do now?!” was never in my vocabulary. I just turned into a post-divorce robot dad and was moving on auto-pilot. I was king of the to-do lists… and three kids made sure those lists were always full. Finding something to DO was not an issue. After a while, I would say my behavior bordered on “obsessive”. Lots and lots of cleaning. Lots of organizing. Trying to create order out of chaos. Avoiding the hard stuff. Avoiding the truth.

I had my fingers in my ears and yelled “LALALALALA!! NOT LISTENING!” as the harsh reality of my world was hitting me upside the head. As long as I stay in my little enclosure, I didn’t have to deal with it.

In hindsight, I would say I was suffering from some post-traumatic stress. I am stopping short of calling it full-fledged PTSD because I think we should reserve that diagnosis for guys that experience combat, death, and truly malevolent human behavior firsthand.

My wife just got caught fucking another guy and divorced me. In the grand scheme of things, that’s peanuts.

But still…. traumatic in its own way.

Divorce is what the kids call a huge “mind fuck”. Reality altering. For me, it was so very sudden. One moment I’m boring dad on the beach with my nag of a wife and our three energetic kids… and the next moment I’m alone in a house looking at online dating sites drooling over 20-year-olds. I had put myself into that “dating” world with the same obsessiveness and tunnel-vision that I applied to house cleaning and organizing the kids’ lives.

Fingers still in ears. Making order out of chaos.

Looking back, there is one overwhelming question that comes to mind when thinking of my immediate post-divorce self:

“WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?!”

I can now, after years of contemplation and hindsight, answer that question.

I wasn’t THINKING. I was FEELING. I was “broken” in every sense of the word. The brain was randomly firing, looking for a fix, and I was acting out.

I just wanted to feel good. I wanted some kind of justice.

“Hmmmm… maybe if I assemble a group of young, horny 20-something sex-addicted college co-ed commandos to carry out a raid and murder my ex and her affair partner.”

When I get messages from guys, you can always tell the ones that are new to the game. They don’t even have to tell me all the details. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that their behavior is strange and emotion-driven, and they are ALMOST completely blind to it.

Every situation is different but still the same.  For some guys, it takes just a few months of hell and the fog clears and they are back on the path of normalcy. For others, it may take years. They keep living in denial and kick the can down the road again, and again, and again.

They are too scared to face the truth.

I remember a guy I met at the gym years ago. I don’t remember how we got to chatting, but we worked out together once. Really good guy. He’s what I would call a naturally good-looking dude. Tall. In really good shape. Still young. A little stand-offish. Not the most confident man in the world. He, his wife and two kids just moved into town from out of state. He worked IT for one of the local companies.

After that one workout day and a few messages here and there, he disappeared. I found out later that he ended up moving to a neighboring state to be closer to her family (that sounds familiar).

Then outta the blue, years later and about a year after my own divorce, we started chatting on Facebook. His life had changed dramatically. The wife went crazy, took out lines of credit in his name, racked up debt …AND she cheated on him. Very typical borderline personality behavior. He had admitted to having numerous warning signs/red flags throughout their relationship. He ignored for the greater good of the family…. and now he was paying the price.

She was moving in with her new guy. My friend was fighting for custody of the kids. He eventually ended up getting full custody due to all her issues and the identitity theft.

A story like that wasn’t anywhere close to being new and shocking to me. I had already heard from a dozen other guys just like him by that time… and had also read countless stories just like his online.

What WAS new to me was seeing his immediate post-divorce/infidelity behavior. It was, I would say, a little concerning.

He had drafted a very long and detailed letter that he insisted on giving his ex-wife’s new boyfriend. He just HAD to warn him about her and her BPD ways. He must save this man and get back at her!

This was Nice Guy “save the world” behavior, plus a need for justice and revenge. Not good.

I told him he was asking for trouble. The letter will just kick a hornet’s nest. He was in the middle of trying to get custody of his kids and sue the ex for stealing his identity. Reaching out to her new boyfriend was not a good idea.

He vehemently disagreed. We went back and forth on this for quite a while.

I never did find out what happened with that letter… maybe he gave it to the guy and the ex-wife never found out about it (he is still alive, after all). Maybe he came to his senses and realized that nobody gives a shit and he needs to move on to more important things in life.

Regardless, the strange behavior continued.

Next thing you know, he is posting videos of himself online, shirtless, singing songs he wrote. From what little I knew of him, he wasn’t really the “look at me, I’m shirtless and asking for attention” kinda guy. He was a wallflower when I met him.

Then he wrote strange poetry and shared it with everyone.

Then he started frequently posting photos of himself and his kids on Facebook. He did this every day. Multiple times a day. He needed to remind everyone “I’m the good parent here! Look, no wife in the picture!”

  • Petty revenge behavior
  • Posting photos and videos for attention
  • Patting himself on the back about what a great parent he is
  • Denial of reality

Hmmmm… Almost sounds like typical divorced single mom behavior. But I digress…

It was all just very odd. He was mentally broken.

He was looking for attention. Admiration. He was looking for confirmation that he WAS doing everything by the book his whole life and that SHE was batshit crazy.

“Would somebody PLEASE recognize how great I fucking am, already!?!” 

Nobody gave a shit.

The truth was that he was on his own. He’s always been on his own. The wife was not his, it was just his turn.

The truth was that in his 30 some odd years on the planet he never put the hard work and time in that he needed to develop his SELF. It finally caught up to him.

He was dependant on a severely broken woman to give him a sense of completion. With her out of the picture, he went off the rails.

I see this more often than I would like.

Maybe not “take your shirt off and sing for Facebook” levels of weird, but I see very emotional and irrational behavior from guys out there ALL the time.

The timeline is usually like this:

  1. I’m so devastated. This is terrible. How could she do this? I don’t understand. I did everything right (lots of crazy behavior here).
  2. I really need to focus on getting better. I can’t go on like this. I’m a mess. (more crazy behavior but the fog is beginning to lift)
  3. I realize I have some deep issues that have caused bad things to happen to me over the years. That eventually led to where I am today. It’s sad, but I’m glad I have the clarification now. It’s all uphill from here! (the fog continues to lift)
  4. Oh, look! A woman! She likes me! I’ll proceed to ignore everything I just learned because she makes me feel REALLY good right now! Yay! It’s almost as if all that bad stuff never happened! What’s that? A red flag? BAH! It’s nothing. I can’t always walk away from this relationship if I have to. I mean… I’m not marrying this woman tomorrow or anything! (back to crazy town)
  5. I would totally marry this woman tomorrow if I had the chance. Jesus, she’s perfect in every way. How did I get so lucky? I’m going to bend over backward to keep her around (he’s deep in crazy at this point).
  6. Oh. Never mind. It’s over. Fuck. What was I thinking?? Ok… where was I with this self-improvement thing again? (fog lifting again)

It’s on step 4 that they usually stop talking to me (too busy with their new girl.. and they’re ashamed)… and step 6 is when they come back with their tail between their legs.

100% of men I talk to jump into relationships too soon. 100% of them wish they would have waited a while longer.

Jumping into a relationship too soon is a sign of being broken. A rational person sits back and recognizes their need for help. A rational person realizes that bringing other human beings into their broken world will not end well. It’s not fair to themselves, their loved ones, or the new “girlfriend”.

Men I talk to often qualify their new girlfriends to me. They know they’re not mentally firing on all cylinders just yet… so they need to convince me that “It’s ok… This one is different!”

“Oh no… we’re just casually dating. Nothing serious. She’s fun. Are we dating other people? No… we both agreed not to. I took her to meet my parents last week. They love her.”

“So far no red flags. She’s really very normal in every way. She has two kids from a previous marriage. We already talked about what it would be like to blend our families. We know it’s too early, but we’re tired of being single and we’re awesome together.”

“She’s going to move in with me. She’s going to school right now to get her Phd. She’s really driven. I’m helping her out so that she doesn’t have to work so many hours and can concetrate on her studies.”

Everything is great, casual and fun. Nothing serious. Except that they are only dating each other, she met his parents after week #2, he’s already met her kids and he’s paying for everything.

Everyone outside of the relationship looks at them, shakes their head and says “This won’t end well.” They recognize the crazy manic state he is in. For the guy… he’s in too deep and in love. His brain is firing away with all those feel-good chemicals. Rationality is out the window.

He is now officially open to make a huge number of life-changing mistakes that he can’t see yet. The fog and confusion of love, lust, and happiness blind him. This could get really bad in a hurry.

When the fog finally clears, he discovers that the woman cheated on her last husband, she has borderline personality disorder (medicated) and she is still actively texting three other guys. Soon after finishing her Ph.D., she leaves the relationship and has a new guy immediately.

That’s when I get the email.

“Dude… things are really fucked up right now.”

So, where did he go wrong?

Where he went wrong is that he never fully erased the programming he had from all those years of marriage. He never removed the crutch of marriage that he leaned so heavily on all those years. The “strong” foundation of marriage that was always there was comfortable… but at the same time limited his development as a human being. Having that wife to fall back on was a safety net. Once it was taken away, it made everything a hell of a lot scarier.

He falls flat on his face. Time to get a new net, right?!

The healthy way of looking at it is saying “Do I really need that crutch? Why do I need it? Can I operate to my full capacity in life and gain happiness by being alone?” If the answer is “no”, then he has issues he needs to address.

After a man realizes true happiness on his own, he realizes that the fickle nature of love, romance and women isn’t the foundation of life… but just a really nice accessory.  Romance is the heated leather seats in your new SUV. It’s great to have and it makes things nicer and more comfortable and puts a smile on your face, but you don’t need it.  You can still get from point A to B without it.

There’s nothing wrong with love and romance. Most of us WANT a long-term romantic relationship with just the right woman. We LOVE being in love and having that person to go through life with.  It’s an amazing feeling. The irony is that you won’t find that love until you don’t need it. It’s the great cosmic joke.

Find happiness within yourself. Concentrate on YOU. Tear down those safety nets and kick away those crutches… and the world of normalcy opens to you.

Her: “I have two kids and want to pursue my PhD while you pay for everything. Sound like a plan?”

Mentally Healthy Guy: “It was great meeting you. Take care.”

Her: “Wow that was some great casual sex we just had. I would like to date exclusively now. Can I meet your parents next week?”

Mentally Healthy Guy: “I can appreciate the sentiment, but I’m not interested in jumping into a serious relationship so fast. I hope you understand. You were great. Let’s keep in touch.”

Mentally Healthy Guy (MHG) knows his worth. He knows the PhD and Needy Girl have something off about them and he doesn’t want to waste more time being around them. It was fun… but no thanks. They are literally two of about 500,000 women in his demographic that he would be willing to date. Maybe one of those 500,000 end up being a really great match and she is worthy of settling down with.

Chances are that won’t be the case… and he knows that. He’s cool with that.

My typical reader doesn’t know that. They are broken. They CAN’T see that right now. They have no true sense of worth. They’re in a very confused state. They see the monogamous long term relationship as the finish line because that’s all they’ve known all these years.  If they happen to hit that finish line in week #2 of their divorced life… great!

Take time. Step back. Reflect. Work. Think. Work more. Be honest with yourself.

The women aren’t going anywhere. That ONE girl is not THE ONE. Trust me. If she is your perfect one-in-a-milion match, she will wait for you. She’ll understand, back off, and be a friend.

That’s what good, healthy people do.

Chances are, with time and distance, you will realize just how much she is NOT the one and just how broken she also is. See… when in a broken state, you tend to attract other broken people. Mentally healthy people recognize your brokenness and avoid you. They’re the girls at the bar who look at you wide-eyed and say “Okay… well, it was nice meeting you.”

They’re not playing hard-to-get… they’re running away. There’s a big difference. They have a finally-tuned “broken guy” meter.

Take time. Lots of time. Enjoy life. Discover yourself. You will very quickly slip and fall and find yourself right back on Step 1. Then you’ll go through the process again. Then again. Then you’ll find you’re not slipping anymore.

You’ll be failing a lot over the next few months/years. No need to exponentiate the suffering with a quick new wife replacement.  You can ride the rollercoaster by yourself.

You’re a big boy now.

You’re free?! Divorced?! Forget about women for a while.

A recent email exchange with a reader reminded me of something. The most often asked question I get by guys who have discovered infidelity and see divorce on the horizon:

So… what’s dating like?

These poor guys are so conditioned to having a female by their side that the knee jerk reaction to losing one is to immediately look for a replacement. While some may say they just want to have fun with ladies while playing bachelor… they secretly all desire to find “the one” and get comfortable again.

My advice to them is always the same.. and it’s always ignored. Always.

“Forget about chicks for a while. Focus on you.”

I see men jump right into dating, get crushed, crawl back to their cave and say “Yeah… maybe I should give dating a rest for while.” Over and over and over again.

I know… I was one of them.

I am now with a genuinely GOOD woman. That is NOT because I bounced around for a while in online dating, worked my network of friends and neighbors and eventually connected with somebody I had a lot in common with. No… I just got lucky. Seriously. It had nothing to do with my repaired emotional state or doing everything by the book. No… I just happened to find a good woman who was going through much of what I was going through… at pretty much the exact same time. She was there through my annoying three year post-divorce emotional journey, and I was there for hers. We both agreed that we were dating way too soon.. but did it anyway. This could’ve ended in a catastrophe of epic proportions. Thankfully it didn’t.

In spite of doing everything wrong, we got it right.

Don’t do what I did. Just because I hit the lottery doesn’t mean you should go out and spend your next paycheck on Powerball tickets. Just because Jimi Hendrix did drugs doesn’t mean that you can be an awesome guitar player by shooting up heroin. You get the idea.

Oh yeah, I did some dating. I’m familiar with that world. As I’ve often said, 90% of the single women out there are not long-term relationship material. Have fun, go out every now and then, do your thing.. but realize that the chances of finding somebody worth calling your one girl are very very low.

YOU HAVE TO BE OK WITH THAT.

Hearing somebody tell you that you will probably spend your remaining years casually dating and enjoying the single life should put a big fat smile on your face. It’s shouldn’t make you sad. You’re a dude. FREEDOM is everything to you.

Don’t quite feel that way? You’re conditioned. You’re broken. Don’t start dating yet.

When you are in a super vulnerable state of being shit on and dumped… you tend to want to remedy the extreme anxiety as quickly as possible. Some of us figure out that you just have to power through it slowly and occupy your mind with stuff like the gym, work, hobbies, reading, writing, friends… but most of us look for the quick fix. That touch. That physical feeling. That warmth. A WOMAN.

Hey, it all sounds good. You go about doing all of those things that come with new found freedom, and you have NEEDS, so why not casually date? Well… I agree with the sentiment… BUT recognize that you will most likely set your progress back a little (or a lot) by jumping into bed with women right away. Recognize that it will whip up all kinds of feelings. Recognize that you may very well start falling for girls REALLY quickly. Recognize that you CANNOT TRUST YOURSELF right now to make the most rational decision. You cannot trust yourself to do what is right for YOU RIGHT NOW. What you can trust is that you are hurting and you will want to fix that hurt right away. You will ignore red flag after red flag if it means you feel good again.

Your feelings are perfectly valid… Your conclusions and remedies are not. You cannot trust yourself right now. You are an addict looking for a fix. “I can stop at any time. I’m cool. Don’t worry about me.”

Another way to look at it: You are an adult. You are probably a dad. You have an entire world of work, home, and family that depends on your to keep your shit together. Don’t run out there and jump on the first woman that makes you feel good again. Realize that you have a 1/10 chance of finding a good one… which means the remaining 9/10 are varying degrees of broken. They are cheaters, liars, depressed, angry, abuse-survivors, abusers, borderlines, bipolars, manic depressives… you name it, you will run into it. You want to risk bringing THAT into your world? You’re willing to risk having a crazy woman show up at your door on Taco Tuesday night with the kids,  screaming “WHY HAVEN’T YOU TEXTED ME BACK, ASSHOLE!? IT’S BEEN TWO HOURS!!”

You’re better than that. You’re a man. It’s ok to hurt. It’s okay to want it to all go away. What you don’t do is look for the easy way out. You work through the pain. You work through the anxiety. You work on yourself. It’s introspection time. It’s time to pick apart yourself and rebuild. It sucks… but it sucks worse to be sitting at the kitchen table with your head in your hands saying “God dammit… I did it again” as you find out your new girlfriend gave you the clap.

 

 

 

 

 

Post-Breakup Man Roadmap. Step 1: I NEED SEX!

I went through it. Every man I know who was cheated on and later divorced has gone through it. EVERY ONE.

The rabid sex stage. The “I will fuck anything that moves” stage. Right now divorced guys everywhere are reading this and saying “Hehe… yep.” We humans are such predictable animals.

It’s an interesting phenomenon. A man is betrayed in the worst way, and he of course goes through the normal five stages of grief:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Shoehorned in there somewhere between #2 and #3 is the “fuck like your life depends on it” phase. It’s as predictable as the new gym membership. I think guys do this for several reasons:

  1. Wanting to be literally “touched” again. It’s therapeutic. Most divorces and affairs are precipitated by months if not years of a dead bedroom experience. Cold spouses who don’t give you loving attention. You may have attempted to bargain or work your way into your spouse’s heart… only to be denied again and again or maybe rewarded with “Oh fine, if it will shut you up” sex. A new start with new women means that this biological need for human touch and affection can now be experienced again. Hooray! I remember the first time another woman other than my ex-wife touched me in a “more than friends” way. Wow. That was electric. The euphoria. Like I was lying in a warm bath after a 5 day hike. A lot of negativity melted away when the woman squeezed my arm and lovingly stroked my back. And the first kiss? Forget about it. I was in heaven.
  2. We love the chase. I think most men will agree that human touch and eventually sex are awesome and necessary… but there is something really great about the chase. Seeing a woman, saying “I want that” and going for it. Playing the mating game. The push and pull. Having several numbers on your phone and texting several women at once. Setting up back to back dates. This whole experience makes many guys feel electrified.
  3. Prove that you are a man. There are several things in a man’s life that can make you “feel like a man”, and none of them are more powerful than being wanted by attractive women. Taking it a step further, nothing puts you further up on the man pedestal than actually having sex with these attractive women. It’s a very innate “conquering” type of feeling that you get. I saw it, wanted it, got it. Earned it. RAAAR!! Let’s do it again.

Immediately after this stage comes the “Ew… what was I thinking?!” stage. Not all of these women will be of substantial caliber. They may look the part, but they end up being crazy… or  even a few IQ points shy of being considered “special”. More baggage than O’Hare.  If you come out of this phase relatively unscathed, you are really lucky. You could have caught a disease, been stalked, experienced major drama, hooked up unknowingly with a wife, got one of them pregnant…. the list goes on and on. You’re in a nutty stage in life and you are NOT looking out for red flags. You’re looking to get laid. This sets you up for a whole slew of bad experiences.

BE CAREFUL. Recognize what this time period is: a crucial and normal step towards rebuilding into the new you. It’s one dip in the roller coaster. There are many more to come.

The Post-Divorce Dating Primer

You’re newly divorced. You’ve joined a fraternity of men who spent a good chunk of their adult life with one person…. but now find themselves where they never thought they would be: Deep in the crazy world of single people.

It can be surreal.

Scary.

Wondrous.

Evil.

Mind-Blowing.

In short, dating today is really very much NOT what you expect. Not at all.

Prepare yourself, my son. This is a crash course in what the dating world is like for the divorced adult man.

I HOPE YOU LIKE TEXTING

The primary means of communication is now texting. Your dates will expect you to text at any time of the day. Since you’re a busy guy and can’t spend all day typing away at your phone… you will drive her nuts if you don’t reply right away. She’ll accuse you of playing games. This actually works in your favor. Nobody said the dating game was mature.

People today, especially young women, are now addicted to little doses of validation that they get from texts, Facebook posts, Twitter replies, etc.  So, don’t be thrilled if that hot thing from the bar carries on a 990 message long conversation with you about your awesome arms. They all do that. Just try and keep it short, sweet and polite (ha, good luck).

Oh, and look up Emoji. Install it on your phone. Get used to using funny face icons. Congrats, you’re 8 years old again.

DON’T BE THAT GUY. THE DESPERATE ONE.

Women are bombarded by men. If they’re online, they’re getting hundreds of messages. If they’re at the bar, they’re getting hit on every 20 minutes. All of these women will tell you that the vast majority of these guys are NOT guys they would date seriously. BUT… a lot of them will tell you that they may be guys that they string along for free stuff. They sense the desperation and take advantage of it. Meals, presents, validation… nobody provides all of that better than the desperate guy. He thinks all this pushover behavior may one day end in a relationship (sex). It never does. Don’t be that guy. Everyone is repulsed by him. You know she’s not interested. Be honest with yourself. Don’t waste your time or hers.

DON’T LET THE BAD APPLE SPOIL THE WHOLE BUNCH. WARNING: THERE ARE A LOT OF BAD APPLES.

You’re divorced, so your past notions of “Women are angels and not at all evil like us men” have probably been squashed long ago.  Don’t think that dating will help bring those old positive feelings back. In fact, you can easily slip into woman-hating mode if you allow it to take over.

If you play your cards right, you will be involved with a lot of different, attractive women. You will also witness a lot of horrible things:

  • Wives hitting on you.
  • Engaged women sending you nude selfies .
  • Bible-thumping, church-going women telling you that they want to fool around with you because they’re bored with life and their husbands “work too much”.

If you have the gift of gab and women find themselves frequently “opening up” to you… prepare yourself for the mindfuck. Many an evening with single women have left me with me with a semi-permanent shock face. I led such a sheltered, boring married life. I had no fucking idea.

These women are not the rule. They’re not necessarily the exception, either. They’re just broken human beings. Listen to them, take it in, learn, move on. Up to you if you want to be intimate with them. You will end up hating yourself and them more if you do… but that is your call. Sometimes we are slaves to our balls. I get it.

SINGLE WOMEN TODAY ARE HAVING A LOT OF SEX. WAY MORE THAN YOU THINK.

Unless you have specifically stated this as a firm boundary in your relationship, don’t assume that the women you are dating is being monogamous and loyal to you. She’s most likely screwing around. A lot. She may have banged a guy that morning and then met you for drinks at 4:00. You have to be cool with that. If not, your dating pool just shrank down considerably. This is the new reality in the dating world.

Condoms are your friend. Use them. STDs are rampant.

YOU WILL NOTICE PATTERNS AMONG THE AGE GROUPS

The young 20 somethings are VERY picky about the men they sleep with. They tend to like the bad boys and aren’t interested in settling down at all. They are BRUTAL when it comes to the pushover/desperate guys. They hate these guys. They are approached every day by them. This group is where the “just be an asshole” techniques work the most, unfortunately. Ignore them…and they will come running after you.

The single 30 and 40 somethings are way more open and not as picky about who they date. Why? They’re ready to settle down. They’re way more loving and emotional.  Some may say it’s because they aren’t as attractive to the bad boys so they settle for the nice guys. Or, they’ve learned from life and now know what is valuable in a relationship. Might be a little of both.

Dating can suck. Hard. It’s enough to scare away decent guys who are just looking for the one soul mate in life. For those of us with an abundance mindset, and armchair psychologists like me… it’s actually pretty damn interesting.

Approach it like a game. That’s exactly what it is.