Crime Theory meets Cheaterspeak.

What is the difference – ethically speaking – between a common criminal and a man (or woman) who cheats on their spouse? I’d argue very little.

Human values are formed by internalizing social norms, which is how we each come to decide what makes us a good – or intrinsically valuable – person. These norms are shared among the people within a society and become the basis for laws and ideals about appropriate human behavior. For example, I think most people who favor fair play and integrity would agree that defrauding widows of their life savings is wrong and never okay. If only there were such a hard and fast rule about marital betrayal and robbing a family of one of its most vital members.

Alas, adultery is casually glossed over as being little more than a nebulous or murky part of the nuances of adult love relationships. It’s not. It should be called out for what it is: a violation of a person’s sacred honor, and an egregious breach of the most personal of human covenants. The harm that it causes is so monumental and far reaching that no single part of the victim’s life remains untouched by it.

In my studies, I’ve learned about a little-known crime theory called ‘Neutralization Theory’ (NT). It aims to identify and define what kind of justifications criminals use to rationalize their bad behavior.

As soon as I read about it, I realized that it also fit the behaviors of cheaters like a glove. So what is the commonality between criminals and adulterers? Rationalization of unethical behavior.

Rationalization of bad behavior is necessary, because without it, offenders can suffer from what’s known as Cognitive Dissonance (CD). CD describes the mental discomfort that takes place when one’s actions don’t meet up with their words or beliefs (unless you’re dealing with an a-typical mind, such as someone with anti-social personality disorder…they could care less).

But, the typical human psyche craves consistency. The mind has a hard time maintaining a belief about being a’good person’ while their actions reflect that of ‘arsonist’. So, criminals ease the discomfort that CD brings using excuses in order to neutralize that dissonance.

This is where Neutralization Theory comes in. It lists the most common rationalizations that criminals use in order to excuse or minimize what they’ve done, and goes on to describe what can happen if these justifications are used in the long-term.

So here they are, in all of their splendor. Follow along as we seamlessly segue between ‘criminal’ and ‘cheater’…


Changing the narrative starts with changing one’s vocabulary. Fill that lexicon to the brim with flowery euphemisms, because you’re gonna need ‘em!

Criminal: Yes, it’s true that I broke that guy’s arm because he owed money to my boss. That doesn’t make me a felon! I’m just a mischievous scamp.

Cheater: I won’t argue that I banged my son’s teacher on school grounds. That doesn’t make me a bad guy! I’m just a free spirit following my bliss.

Condemnation of the Condemner:

The offenders maintain that those who condemn their offense are doing so purely out of spite, or are shifting the blame off of themselves unfairly. After all, who do you think you are to play judge and jury? You’re nothing but a hypocrite. Everyone’s got skeletons in their closet. Judging me is soooo dark ages…

Criminal: Yah, so I collected on the debts for my boss. But everybody’s on the take, even the cops and the judges. You’ve probably done the same thing, or worse!

Cheater: Yah, so I lied to my wife and told her I was working when I was actually in a hotel room with a high-priced hooker on our marital dime. Everyone does it, and you have no right to judge me. You’re no saint. For all I know, you’ve done the exact same thing, or worse!

Metaphor of the Ledger:

That terribly bad thing that I did was balanced out by that really good thing that I did. Everyone’s got some plus’s and minus’s in the columns of their ledger, I mean am I right?

Criminal: Yes, I shivved my cell mate, but I gave Crazy Larry all the beans off my lunch tray. It balances out.

Cheater: Sure, I cheated and gave an STD to my wife, but I sponsored that girl scout troop last year so they could all go to camp. It balances out.

Denial of Responsibility:*

The offender will propose that they were victims of circumstance or were forced into situations beyond their control. When arrested emotional development takes place at the age of 13, they’re 13 forever…

Criminal: Downloading a few terabytes of pirated music is a victim-less crime, so why should I have to be carted off to jail over it? It’s not as though anyone got hurt.

Cheater: Get with the times, y’all. Everyone has affairs, and if they say they don’t, they’re lying. Why are you trying to shame me? H Dubs and I didn’t plan on falling in love. I’m not responsible for how that made you feel.

*Abdication of responsibility is especially unattractive in the male species, and justifications of this kind may cause the injured female party vomit violently in response. Just sayin’.

Denial of Victim:

The offender believes that the victim deserved whatever action the offender committed. In other vernacular, she pulled my hair first!

Criminal: It’s true, I firebombed ACME surplus for the insurance money, but they got paid too so they actually came out ahead. They’re a big greedy outfit anyway, and they’ve got it coming to them. Besides, they’re not going to go under because I burned down one measly little warehouse…

Cheater: People get divorced every day. No damage was done to her. What is everyone making such a fuss about? Look, right there. See? She’s upright and breathing in and out. She’s fine. Leave it to her to be dramatic and use phrases like ‘soul rape‘ and ‘PTSD‘. Give me a break.


An offender will deflect blame for their actions by rationalizing that they deserve to ‘reward themselves’. Narcissism is at the heart of entitlement mentality.

Criminal: I work hard, and I needed a reward. No one else is going to look after me, so I’m gonna take the cash from the cash drawer and use it on a much needed vacation for me, myself, and I.

Cheater: I work hard, and I deserve to be happy. So I will sacrifice innocents at the alter of my ‘happiness’, and firmly tuck this mantra into my bonnet: I have the right to be happy, to insist that I be happy, and no amount of pain foisted upon others shall stop me from finding my ‘happy’. Amen.

Appeal to Higher Loyalties:

The offender suggests that his or her offense was for the greater good, with long term consequences that would justify their actions (such as protection of a family member or friend).

Criminal: Yes, your honor, I WAS the robber at the Allentown Bank that day, but I HAD to shove an AK in the teller’s face and make my way to Fiji with $800,000. You see, my dad is sick, and his insurance won’t cover a life-saving operation. You can’t get mad about that, can you?

Cheater: Don’t you understand? Yes, I lied to you hundreds of times and put you at risk for STD’s and abandoned our kids and spent marital money on another woman, but it wasn’t my fault. You see, I did it for true love. You can’t get mad at true love, can you?

So…what happens when you spend the bulk of your adult life using justifications like this? Read on…

There are so many things that the betrayed suffer through, but none so profound as the anguish that results when coming to grips with the truth that, NO, their spouse is certainly NOT the good man or woman they believed them to be.

Actions, not words, reveal the true character of a person. Risked my health? Lied to me thousands of times? Duped me, abandoned me bodily and financially, and abandoned your kids to fatherlessness? Those are NOT the actions of a ‘good’ human being.

But then, to add insult to injury, it’s as if the cheater hasn’t gotten the memo.

They sleep without struggling at night. They happily engage in the adoration of a new partner. They gaze upon themselves in the mirror with pride. So, how is it that they can know that they’ve done these despicable, egregious things to the most vulnerable around them, all while laboring under the delusion that they’re a real swell guy?

It’s easy to leap to the conclusion that they are a sociopath, but that may not be it at all. As I said before, the psyche craves consistency. Cognitive dissonance is only eased by rationalizations; those rationalizations don’t go so far as to allow the mind to believe two diametrically opposed truths (I’m a dirtbag AND I’m a swell guy).

Here’s the answer: a LIFETIME of excuse-making can result in what’s known as ‘Doublethink’. They’ve used justifications and rationalizations for so long and in so many circumstances that the psyche finally does adjust to believe both realities.

For those of us lying awake at night wondering how it is that he could pilfer our entire 401K, or take out a second mortgage and buy the affair partner a condo, or cease contact with their 7 year old child AND STILL APPEAR HAPPY AND CAREFREE IN DOZENS OF SELFIES ON FACEBOOK, we may now have the answer.

He’s spent the entirety of his life making excuses so that everyone around him would buy into the ‘good guy’ narrative, while simultaneously doing despicable and disgraceful things. After years of conditioning his mind, it’s happened:

He’s finally bought into his own crap. 

So be vigilant, dear friends. Be mindful and alert. Sometimes we lock our door so the bad guys can’t get inside, but all the while we’re sleeping next to one. So be listening, but most importantly, be watching. Behavior – not words, not justifications, not excuses, not rationalizations – will always tell a truth that nothing else will.



This post ran previously in 2016 Later additions and revisions have resulted in as many as 12-15 total neutralizations being associated with NT. The 7 that I’ve detailed above are those that are the most interesting to me personally.


The new phonebook’s here! The new phonebook’s here!

I got my first letter from a reader asking for advice. And it only took 2 years of blogging!


Anyway, I got a letter from a reader who (unbeknownst to me) has been reading my blog from the very beginning. I wasn’t even aware I had any of those! She gave me permission to share. Here is what she wrote:

Dear Ex-Wife,

Love your blog! The only thing I don’t like about it is how long I have to wait for the next one to come out. I imagine you’re a pretty busy single mom so not a slam, just love your way with words and how you make me laugh at things that aren’t normally funny.

I wish I had your way with words because I want to slam my ex so bad for what he’s about to do to our son who is 4 and adores his daddy. He (the ex) left us out of the blue when our son was not yet 2 (which is how I found your blog when I went online looking for advice about abandonment). Mine didn’t move away like Honey did but it was still out of the blue and yes there was an affair. He was like Jekyl and Hyde and this was so devastating me to because I thought we were happy. I can’t believe I didn’t know who I was married to. I was supposed to immediately just be okay with everything and when I put up a fuss he would remind me that he ‘keeps record of all of the crazy things I say for court.’ I was never crazy or threatening just angry and I had a right to be.

He never tried to take me to court for custody he was fine being a weekend dad. The woman he left me for broke up with him and kicked him out recently. Now he says he’s moving to Texas for a job but I know he has a side chick he’s going to move in with there and that’s the real reason. He doesn’t know I know about her but we have mutual friends who told me they’re already engaged. He needs someone to mooch off of and getting a job and his own place here so he could stay in his kid’s life is just too hard apparently. 

I guess my question to you is how do you deal with the unfairness of this every day without losing it? How can men just move away and leave their kids like that? I’ve had a few weeks to process it and I’ve already had some heartbreaking questions from my son I don’t know how to answer but you’ve had years. I’m so scared about what this is going to do to him. I know his dad will rarely visit. Are we going to be better off in the long run?

Thanks – Amelia 


Thank you for your kind words. I’m honored that you’d ask me, but so deeply sorry you’re in a position to need to.

Yes, your son will struggle with this. Not gonna lie to you. It’s going to be hard on him. And, based on how much you clearly love your son, this is going to be hard on you in ways you may not have yet considered.

But there is some good news for both of you, if you can stomach reading through to the end. Please do stick with me here.

I want to first prepare you for the reality of the kind of things you might hear from your son, and what to do when these breath-takingly painful moments are upon you, usually with little to no warning. You may already have had a glimpse of what you’re in for, since you said he’s already asking some heartbreaking questions about the departure.

These are some of the things my children have said about Honey leaving that have brought me to my knees…

Looking at the empty 4th chair around our kitchen table, my daughter said “Why do we have 4 chairs at the table? Dad’s never gonna come here. He’s too busy with his new kids.’

My 6 year-old son, at bedtime one night, said ‘My heart has been broken since my dad left. I’ve never not had a broken heart, mama.’

When he was around 5, he asked ‘Why did Dad move so far away? So he could be with his new family? Aren’t we his family too?’

From the backseat of the car, with innocent astonishment in her voice, my tiny 4 year-old daughter said ‘You know what, Mom? I don’t think Dad’s ever coming back here to be my dad.’

My daughter and I once sat on the couch crying and holding each other tight for ten straight minutes when a show she was watching depicted what a ‘daddy-daughter date’ was, and she realized she couldn’t have one.

Sadly, there are many more to list, but you get the picture. And let me tell you, each one of them hurt as deeply as the next. But in the end, you’ll get through these kinds of conversations, because you’re the mom…and there’s simply no other choice. You’re it. Fair or not, you’re it.

When you were given that job title, it meant that you would be subjected to intense worry about the physical and emotional wellbeing of another person for the duration of your life. It was in the fine print on the mom contract, right next to ‘you will need to perfect the lilting of one eyebrow to convey displeasure at being asked for a snack right after dinner’ and ‘no matter how old they get, they will always walk up and just hand you their trash.’

But our job as parents is to protect our children from this kind of deep emotional harm, right? Well, I knew Honey had utterly failed them in this area, but what was worse was that I was sure I’d fail them for not being able say the right things in the aftermath. I felt helpless that my words of comfort weren’t penetrating their wounded little minds. And I was absolutely panicked that my efforts to make it better were not only futile, but that I might inadvertently make it worse.

On that upbeat note, here’s the good news I promised…

You can help mitigate the loss.

Our job as parents is not just to do what we can to protect our children from this kind of deep emotional harm, it is to have the wisdom to realize that we will not always succeed at that. And if they do come to harm, we absolutely CAN mitigate the damage by simply being the stable, solid parent that they deserve.

Your son will mourn, and you need to just let that happen. That’s the mind’s natural mechanism to deal with loss, and to circumvent it or try to hurry it along or put a bandaid over it will only compound your son’s grief. The stages of grief are identifiable, though they rarely arrive in a logical sequential order. Kids are raw emotion with no filter and little sense of perspective. Just sit with him in his anger or his sadness and reassure him that he’s safe, it’s okay to feel his feelings, and that you’re not going anywhere. This is where your value is. This is where you will find strength you never knew you had: smiling while wanting to string up your ex for hurting your baby. Your blood may be boiling beneath the surface, but your voice is calm and full of reassurances for your child.

Just love him through it. And watch for signs that tell you he may need more help than you can give, like threatening to hurt himself or others. If he’s not processing the grief in a healthy way, you will know. Do your best to get him into therapy if that happens, even if he’s still really young. Keeping the lines of communication open is critical. Once they shut down about it, they can internalize things and blame themselves. So keep ‘em talking.

Struggle breeds greatness.

I hesitated to even write that sentence, because it is not meant to be used to trivialize the severity of a child’s pain or their need for a father to be present in their life. If anything, I’ve gone so far to the opposite extreme at times that I’ve mentally doomed my children for being denied this critical parental relationship in their lives.

But I’ve slowly turned a corner, and have widened my perspective on this one a bit. I know the bleak statistics surrounding kids growing up in fatherless households, and since you have read my blog, you know how outraged and indignant I’ve been at Honey’s nonchalance on this issue. I suspect you feel the same outrage in your circumstance.

But adversity, even adversity in children, can set up a life-long pattern of the fighting spirit. It can breed greatness. Unchecked, it can go the other way toward lifelong debilitating emotional issues. Which direction will your child go? Which direction will mine go? I don’t have a crystal ball here, but as for me and the role I play in the lives of these incredible little people, I’m gonna do anything and everything I can to help them propel themselves towards greatness. I’m going to foster that spirit in them as long as I have breath in me. We must choose to fight against the doomsday scenarios, stop being nihilists, and do our homework. There are excellent resources all around us with great ideas about how to do exactly that. Here are a couple. Search for more.

Red flags are your friend.

If I can give you one practical bit of advice above all others, it’s this: avoid the mama-bear rage pitfall of sending a blasting text or email to your ex when you see your child in pain over their dad. The person on the other end isn’t who you believed them to be, remember? You wrote “ I can’t believe I didn’t know who I was married to.” Well, that was by design. You were deceived on purpose by a person whose station in your life was designed to elicit trust. He played on that trust and then silenced your well-deserved outrage with the threat of a custody battle…by using his own son as a weapon to shut you up. What a peach!

He uses information like a weapon. He’s already said so, so don’t give him any. I sent many texts to Honey about the pain I’d just watched pour out of his child, but he had no ‘port’ in which to receive it. That part of him doesn’t exist. So save yourself the disappointment and pain and unfulfilled expectations, and send that blasting text or email out into the ether in some other way. Write it down and burn it in the fire. Use a proxy or stand-in to unleash it all on, like a chair or a voice recorder. But don’t reach out expecting that the person capable of walking away from parenting their own child will suddenly be able to receive your outrage in a meaningful way. Take it from a person who has already suffered the pain of this mistake. Repeatedly.

I’ve tried to involve Honey by phone to get him to help mitigate the harm. He is firmly committed to believing that there is no harm, and blithely dismisses any conversation about their struggles as soon as it begins. So I eventually stopped trying to tap that empty well.

I suspect you might try to tap that well, too, believing that words of comfort or an apology may be forthcoming from your ex to your son ‘if he only knew the pain he’s caused our child!’ I don’t know your ex, but based on the narcissist red flag extravaganza I saw in just a few paragraphs of what you wrote, he seems rather indifferent to the pain he’s caused to other innocent parties thus far, so…I wouldn’t get your hopes up that he will be a resource for you or your son. In fact, he may say or do things that make it worse.

You are armed with the truth about this man now. The red flags are your friend. They help 1) give you the ability to spot these deficiencies/disorders in other people so you can run screaming in the opposite direction, and 2) helps you to know what you’re up against in the long-haul job you now face as a long distance co-parent with the aforementioned peach. I’m a firm believer that the truth – even if it is ugly and awful – is better than being deceived. There is a simple dignity in being given the truth. Cheaters either just don’t get that, or don’t give a crap about your dignity (or anything else, for that matter).

How do you deal with the unfairness of this every day without losing it? You know, unfairness and I have come to a fragile peace. I acknowledge his right to exist but we disagree about the frequency of his visits. Basically, I use just ruminate on the problems in the world to remind myself that as much as I suffer, others do as well – and often by a much greater margin. Perspective doesn’t make my situation less unfair, it just changes its ranking on a global scale…and I guess that’s the best any of us can do to mitigate it I suppose.

How can men just move away and leave their kids like that? SadlyI will never be able to answer this, because it surpasses my comprehension as a human being and as a parent. It’s inconceivable to me, and yet I witness it happening day after day. It is a shameful and dishonoring endeavor to walk away from parenting one’s own child. And yet, people do.

Are you going to be better off in the long run? Yes, you will be. And maybe even your son. But he’s not going to feel that way now or any time soon. He just wants his daddy, and that’s the real heartbreak here. Find like-minded single moms and form a tribe. Find support for the both of you, remain connected to sites like this and others, and just love one another through it. You can do this.

– Ex-Wife

Divorce Surprise Party!

the way they leave you

My awesome hubs decided he’d throw me a surprise party for being such a kick-ass wife and mother to his babies. Except at this party, instead of punch and cake, there was more, like, crying and confusion and me asking ‘why does it feel like my soul is being ripped apart and set on fire?’

For gifts, he got me a lifetime supply of inequitable parenting work, emotional trauma, and an endless sense of injustice that I’m not aloud to voice to him. Oh, and a scarf. A really nice scarf.

There was even a surprise announcement that my husband had a new baby on the way! Not with me, you know. But hey, new baby!

And instead of music and friends, there was like this soundtrack of lies coming out of his mouth and a cavernous tomb of empty silence when he took his packed bag and left us stranded in a state with no family and no help.

But, you know. Other than that, it was super fun.

No surprise party like a surprise divorce partaaay! Woot woot!


And for spare parts, we’re broken up…

There are literally hundreds of gut-wrenching songs that I’ve ambled through in the last three years as I’ve processed what’s become of my life after Honey’s departure. Most are now attached to such acutely painful moments that I can no longer bear to hear them; they’re imprinted with too much suffering now.

But there is one song – literally only one – that I have never tired of. It is my anthem. It’s not a song that inspires or uplifts. It’s a song that just says ‘it is what it is’ in the most profoundly comforting way, even though that may not make sense to you initially upon hearing it. It merely acknowledges how messed up and unfair things are with no other pretext, and for whatever reason, that is exactly what I love about it the most.

It is best listened to, loud, with your full attention through a pair of good headphones. Oh, and because there’s this one teeny tiny other little issue, um…he says the F word, like, a bunch of times. If that’s not your cup of tea, please kindly move on. Nothing to see here!

Meaning of ‘Black Swan’: an unpredictable or unforeseen event, typically one with extreme consequences….


Please comment and let me know how you’re doing in your journey, and what you thought about Thom Yorke’s ‘Black Swan’. I’ve also got a break-up playlist you can peruse with lots of other gems. Click this link: Let’s Get Low.


Album Credit: The Eraser

Artist Credit: Thom Yorke (lead singer of Radiohead)


The HomeWrecker Games.

The HomeWrecker Games

And so it goes, my classy home-wrecking friend,
I’m here, late at night, checking out Facebook again.
I hope you’ve been practicing for ‘HomeWrecker of the Year’…
They don’t hand that title out to just anyone, my dear.

Let’s see. Wisdom about cheaters, or tacky stripper shoes?
(Not that you draw distinctions about whose is whose)
Let’s see if you can maybe get the judges attention:
Perhaps a meme about morals is something you could mention.


A good start, H Dubs! But award worthy? It is not.
You’re not gonna win until you find that sweet spot.
Just stay in your wheelhouse, and do what you do well.
Be ironic. Post crazy. Show ‘em you can’t spell.


Excellent form, HomeWrecker, pulling this from the back of the deck.
(And you can’t blame me for looking, your life’s a sordid wreck).
Plus, the winner’s never crowned on mere cruelty alone.
They need handwritten lovenotes from married men on your phone… (more…)

The Pros and Cons of the Increased Awareness of Narcissistic Abuse

Lessons From the End of a Marriage

Narcissism has gone from the relative anonymity of Latin mythology or the contents of the DSM to mainstream headlines. Much of this increased awareness is helpful to those who have been affected by narcissistic abuse, but there are some downsides to be aware of.

The PROS of the increased awareness about narcissistic abuse:


Helps You Find Your Community

“I’m not alone,” is usually the first response when somebody first finds others have a story as twisted and crazy-making as their own.

I know I felt that way. I was certainly no stranger to divorce when my ex left, but the template followed by other parting spouses was meaningless when applied to my ex. He not only disregarded the rules, he kept making up new ones at every turn.

I felt so alone. So isolated in my experience.

Until I first stumbled upon a community taking about sociopathic behavior. And I…

View original post 1,284 more words

With all due respect…

You know when someone says ‘with all due respect’…and then they follow it up with a comment that leaves you wondering how on earth that could ever be considered ‘respect’? On that note, I know this reader may not have wanted to sound condescending, but I just have to wonder how some of these questions could be taken any other way? Nonetheless, their questions appealed to me as great conversation starters, so here is my response to a recent comment made on one of my posts. Cheers!

As a preface, I don’t want to sound condescending. I have a few general inquiries about your situation, and would like to hear what you have to say about it.
I’ve read in your explanatory sections how, in hindsight, you would have done things differently, &co.
In your testimony about Honey, you said that he was previously married. You mentioned as well that you personally knew the estranged woman. I am assuming as well that you two had known each other for quite some time before that as well, judging by a passing reference of going on vacations together.
In another section, you also emphasized that you believe in the permanence of marriage.
So, my questions are:

What is it exactly that you regret?

I regret thinking that love meant unfettered trust without objective skepticism. I trusted Honey and every word he spoke. I trusted he had grounds for divorce from his cheating wife, and that his claims about her affair were true. It’s only now that I’ve learned he’s a pathological liar that those claims from so many years ago become suspect in my mind.

Was he telling the truth? If true, I still regret that I didn’t wait to date him until after his divorce was final. I was young and naïve, and felt entitled to because he had solid grounds for divorce. I should have waited regardless because it was inappropriate – something that could only be learned with time and maturity in my life and in my walk.

Was he lying? If a lie, I became an unwitting accomplice in his cheating and was the ‘other woman’. Will I ever know the answer to this? It’s unlikely.

I detail more about this in the post entitled HONEY.

Did the previous wife’s infidelity and subsequent divorce make it, in your view at the time, okay for him to leave her for you?

I saw Honey as the VICTIM. I didn’t see it as him leaving her for me at the time at all. Rather, I saw us getting together as a byproduct of what he’d presented as fact: his wife was cheating, admitted to loving this other man, but then minimized Honey’s feelings of betrayal and announced ‘well, we can just stay married I guess’, as though that was some great gift to him. When he walked out on her, I saw it as a pre-emptive strike against what was already coming, and his absolute right. Again, all of this on the presumption that what he said about her affair was true.

Do you still consider Honey yours even though you two have separated because of an infidelity?

No, I do not consider him ‘mine’ in any way. I divorced him and he is remarried. The honorable person I believed him to be was not real, so I mourn a figment of my imagination anyway. Furthermore, I would never tolerate that in a partner, and would divorce any partner if infidelity were confirmed because I believe cheating is about a lack of impulse control, poor character, and is abusive…and I would not knowingly subject myself to abuse in any relationship.

How far does permanence of marriage go for you? Do you believe sex before marriage is morally wrong as well?

I believe it’s permanent in that there’s no such thing as biblical grounds for ‘irreconcilable differences’. However, adultery and abuse are grounds, so I do not hesitate to counsel others that these abuses should not be tolerated under the guise of upholding their end of the marital covenant. Counsel, fix, and reconcile, or divorce…but never tolerate. And yes, I believe sex is designed to be best within marriage. The version of me from 20 years ago who was fine with living with a man is nothing but a memory. I have grown and changed in my lifetime due to my beliefs, and have been humbled by and learned from choices I’ve made in the past. I am abstinent by choice because of my beliefs and if by some miracle I ever felt inclined to get remarried, I would wait until marriage. This may not be for everybody, but it’s my personal decision. Would you also like to know the results of my last MRI or the contents of my private journal? I feel like there should be a 2-way mirror here and a chain-smoking cop with a plate of donuts.

Lastly, have you ever thought that this situation may be happening to you because of the decisions you made in the past concerning Honey? That you are reaping what you had sown? (Galatians 6:7-8) You’ve explained in great detail what Honey has done to you. I just wonder if you think about how you might be responsible for this as well? (In that, you will find the release you seek.)

If you are asking do I feel as though I’m getting what I deserve for trusting someone who turned out to be a pathological liar and sociopath with no empathy or remorse, the answer is no. But did I wonder about how I may have been responsible for this? Oh Lord, yes. I spent months lying in a heap sobbing, wracking my brain trying to figure out what I’d done to ‘cause’ this. So yes I did, but I don’t anymore. Because, you see, I learned that that kind of thinking is exactly the problem here. It’s called victim-blaming. It’s the same as asking ‘What did you do to cause your husband to beat you?’ We don’t compel people to abuse us, as Chump Lady says. No, I don’t believe in that notion at all. There is nothing a spouse could do to ‘cause’ someone to cheat on them, because cheating is about entitlement and selfishness. There are counselors and lawyers by the truckload on this block alone – take me to counseling, or divorce me. Be an adult and open your mouth and speak of your ‘unhappiness’. You do not have permission, no matter what type of spouse you think I am or am not, to abuse me.

But what I do seek to do is learn about where I missed the red flags, give myself grace for those failures, and to use that knowledge to empower me in the future. The goal of this site is to share this kind of story so other people victimized by these sub-humans will not go around blaming themselves for trusting their spouses, either. I also seek to empower similarly victimized people (who were victimized but who are NOT eternal victims) to flip the narrative on those who would shame or blame the victimized. For example, a person such as yourself suggesting that I should consider that I’m ‘reaping what I have sown’ either hasn’t read my story in its entirety, or has, but presumes that nice, innocent people don’t go around getting themselves cheated on and that I must have caused it somehow. Either way, I implore you to read on, or to go to Chump Lady for a rock-solid education about cheaters, or both. In that, I’m certain you will find the release that you seek.

With all due respect,


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A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

Shannon Lell

When we are our authentic selves, we give others the unspoken permission to be the same. In Truth, there is freedom.

Leave a cheater, gain a life

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