How believing the cheater’s stories can create reactions that affect recovery.

By Linda

In case you were not aware, we are making it a regular Monday feature to re-run many of our older posts and/or comments.  Most will be especially appropriate and hopefully helpful to those of you who may be somewhat early on in your affair recovery.  However, they still can hold some value for those of you who are further along.

As a follow up to the one we posted a couple weeks ago about erasing the fantasies inherent in affairs, this one deals with how those fantasies caused me to react in ways that affected our recovery so that it took longer and was ultimately more painful than it needed to be.

Believing the Cheater’s StoriesDon’t Let the Cheater’s Story Become Your Story

We’ve talked a lot recently about the fantasies that are inherent before, during and after the affair. Today I want to concentrate on how the fantasy affected the way I dealt with the information Doug gave me during his emotional affair.

Basically, I made mistakes as to how I reacted, causing our recovery from an affair to take longer and be more painful. Hopefully, you can find some commonalities and can use this information to your benefit.

We mentioned in an earlier post about the importance of clueing in to the stories that the cheating spouse tells you about their affair. I will honestly say that while Doug was creating a story in his head prior to his emotional affair, I too had created a story to alleviate the pain I was experiencing in our marriage.

See also  Obstacles to Affair Recovery

As hard as it is to admit, in my story Doug died, and I found someone who could finally be everything that I needed from a husband. You know…my Prince Charming. He would have been everything Doug used to be before all the stress affected our lives, and he would show that he loved me everyday.

However when Doug told me that he wasn’t in love with me anymore, and there was possibly someone else, I completely forgot my story and began to believe his. I believed all the things he said that made me seem like a terrible wife. Some things were so trivial I couldn’t believe that he remembered them. You have to realize though, that he had been creating this story for a long time.

I took the blame…

I also believed that if he did find someone so perfect, I must have been wrong about my story and I must have been a terrible wife. So basically I took all the blame for the emotional affair.

I set out to make this right and to prove to him that I could be a good wife, and to do this I learned everything I could about working on a marriage and tried to be everything to Doug that (I thought) Tanya was.

I basically ignored that he had been a cheater, a liar and he betrayed our marriage vows. If I would have focused on that I wouldn’t have been able to be the perfect woman, because I would then have to be angry. So for months I carried the blame of his emotional affair, while Doug continued to have his cake and eat it too. I carried his guilt and validating his story because I never understood that his story was mainly a fantasy.

See also  We Were Just Like Roommates During the Emotional Affair

Eventually, I began to read more about affairs and began to understand that his emotional affair was not my fault. However, the blame was very difficult to let go of since I had been carrying that story around for a very long time. As a result, it had become my story too.

In order to remove the fantasy, some very hard and long conversations needed to take place between Doug and I. Conversations about what was happening to our marriage before the affair and admitting that we were equally at fault for the problems of our marriage – but the affair was all on Doug.

He needed to understand that my pain was justified and that trust and commitment will be a major issue for us. He needed to put in a lot of effort to gain my trust again and to be able to reassure me that this will never happen again.

He also needed to understand that it would take time for me to forgive him and that it will be something that I will never forget. It is something that we both have to live with even though it was his choice to have the emotional affair. We each have a heavy burden to carry, but to me it is worth it.


Have you had a similar experience?  If so please share your story.  Whether you are just beginning your affair recovery or have been at it a while, please chime in with your experiences and perspectives.  It sure helps everyone to share and respond to one another.  Thanks!

See also  Surviving Infidelity: Getting Past the Anger

Also, we spend a lot of time addressing the fantasy aspect of affairs with Marriage and Family Therapist, Jeff Murrah in the Affair Recovery Group.  You might want to check it out here to learn more:  The Affair Recovery Group


    23 replies to "The Problem with Believing the Cheater’s Stories"

    • Cozy

      I believed my WS about the “Madonna-like” (not the singer & not his words, my description of his words) OW, until I recovered myself enough to do a bit of investigating. He was fully invested into the lies she told and the picture HE painted. Just a couple of examples I found proof she had lied about her situation: She told him she was a victim of domestic violence, when I found her arrest record, she was the one arrested on more than one occasion for DV and her husband, who’s record I also looked up, had not been arrested. At one time I played some online games, my husband didn’t care for it, so I had stopped. He apparently told her about me playing and she said she never played games online, well, on her FB there is a mile long list of the online games she plays. Another interesting thing I found on her FB, she has liked or follows about 20 different places online about different ways to manipulate men to get what you want from them.

      My husband was immersed in a fantasy that he created and she fueled. It took about a week after I found out, for the fantasy walls to start to crumble. It was a week before he was able to tell her that I had found the text messages (they are co-workers and he was on vacation at the time … right up there with “worlds worst vacation” if ya ask me) When he did tell her, her response was not the caring, loving concern for what he’d been through for the last week, like he expected, instead she was livid that she looked bad and why was he so stupid not to delete her texts! … Hmmm, not very Madonna-like behavior if ya ask me.

    • fighting

      I experienced something similar as you, Cozy.
      He told me she was a very caring person, because she worked in an elderly home. She was a victim of a part-time drinker and that she was trying to get out of it.
      Of course I believed it. But then, my adult son sent her a message to stay away.He was quite explicit in the mail She immediately sent a message to my husband – a copy of the mail. My husband thought she sent it to him to let him know how muh his son cared about him. He could not see the logical flaw in that. But I did. So i began digging.
      She was working in a elderly home alright, but as a kitchen assistant. She was not trying to get out of a terrible relationship, she was kicked out. And she had moved all around the country in her persue of men for years.
      So my husbands little imaginary angel wasn`t so perfect after all. She could not compare with me in any way.
      He cringes whenever we talk about her and how easily fooled he was. She was nothing like she said. Nothing.

    • Strengthrequired

      Yep, my h ow too, abusive relationship she said, yet told me that she enjoyed going out with her h even though they were separated, she liked being his friend. Her h would pick her up, she would go out with him.
      What is it with these ow, using this as a way of getting a man. Surely if you were in an abusive relationship and you got out of it, you wouldn’t be jumping into the next relationship straight away, wouldn’t your trust in men be ruined? Wouldn’t you be worried about ending up in another abusive relationship? You would be enjoying the time to yourself, and later think about trying the man pool again, I just can’t imagine it happening straight away, maybe I’m wrong.

    • exercisegrace

      In my opinion, the most crucial thing to understand is the cheater has a co-author to their story, and that is the affair partner. Affairs happen because something is broken inside of the cheater and they are not emotionally equipped to recognize that and deal with it in a healthy manner. Their “drug” of choice becomes the attention they receive from the AP, who in turn has their own issues. Now you have two essentially crazy people grabbing shovels and making mountains out of molehills.

      No individual is perfect, and therefore no marriage is perfect. Once the cheater crosses the line, guilt begins to set in. They must justify their actions by displacing the blame to the spouse. They play the “if only” game. They magnify real or perceived faults in the betrayed spouse. The AP is only too happy to encourage tearing down the spouse, the marriage and the family because it builds the AP up, and they can justify THEIR behavior. They can genuinely believe the spouse was neglectful, and the marriage was essentially dead on the scene before the affair even started. So the cheating spouse and the AP are cool. They are on the same page, reading from a script they have written. The betrayed spouse falls into their lines with sad ease. They suspect something, an affair. They question, they doubt, they fear, they cry. This is interpreted for the cheating spouse by the ever-helpful AP as the wife being “controlling”, “having issues”, “being a nag”….whatever the script says.

      When the affair is discovered, the script is hard to put down for the CS. Because if what they have believed for so long is FALSE, then they are a total loser for doing what they have done. Their excuses don’t exist and they must look their guilt full in the face. Not an easy thing to do.

      • Cozy

        exercisegrace, Excellent post.

    • gizfield

      Fabulous comment, E G ! I have long felt that any defense a spouse makes of their affair or affair partner is actually a defense of THEMSELF. I decided this when my husband said his GF had “the highest morals of anyone he knew.” I knew them he was either insane or there was more to the story regarding what he was thinking. It then all fell into place.

      • exercisegrace

        Giz, exactly right! One my of husband’s “ah-ha” moments came when he said something about how poorly she was treated at home, blah blah. I looked at him and said….. Really? You still believe all that? MOST of what you told her about ME was either an outright lie or highly exaggerated truth. What makes you think SHE was truthful about HER relationship??? You could see the reality dawn across his face. It was not a pretty sight, and I’m not sorry to say I enjoyed seeing the realization kick in. He has a tremendous amount of shame now about believing the lies of a whore.

        That’s probably one of the lures of an affair. You can BE ANYONE you want. Because your AP will never meet your friends, your family or anyone else that really knows you. Because it is all conducted in secret, and often via text and email, it’s more about buying into the illusion than forming a relationship with a REAL PERSON.

        • Strengthrequired

          Ahhhhh, those ah ha moments the cs has, I have to say It does feel good when the cs has them about the ap. I had to lol when I read your coment about the time your h had his ah ha moment, and how it was not a pretty sight, yet you enjoyed seeing this. I have to say, I’m right there with you, as finally having all what we told them about their ea finally making sense to the cs, does feel good, they never believed it before, so to finally have the penny drop, is a good feeling.
          In a way it proves to us, that no we weren’t the crazy one, we weren’t the one that had all the problems, we were actually more sane than both of them put together.
          My h for the first time not long ago told me that he doesn’t understand why I have so much love for him. Why I asked? What have you done? He said nothing, I guess I don’t know why I deserve it after all I put you through.
          Hmmm,… Maybe all those pennies are still dropping.
          So it’s true when time moves forward how that clouded judgement the cs has while in the throws of an ea, and even for a while after the ea, becomes so much clearer, and we the bs get to witness it. Maybe not all at once but at different times too.

          • exercisegrace

            SR, so true! Two years past d-day, and his vision has returned to 20/20! As crazy as it sounds, the first emotion that flashed through me when the affair was revealed was a weird sense of relief. Two years of being told I was crazy, paranoid, I needed medication, I needed help with my “issues”, being accused of trying to ruin his business with my groundless fears, blah blah……. FINALLY. I was vindicated. I had been right all along, in fact the TRUTH was even WORSE than what I had accused him of!!

            • Jeddy

              Exercisegrace,I could have written the same thing. My h cannot believe he had any attraction at all for the hillbilly – I saw the ah ha moment too. It was when he realized that he had not been in control during the ea, but had been manipulated by the ow. He, big CEO, being used by an unsophisticated rube. He also realized he wasn’t her first ea. it was immensely satisfying, especially after hearing him talk about how good a person she was. Lying cheating wife= good? No. At the moment the fog lifted, he was almost physically ill. Oh it felt good, since I had vomited for 10 mos while he lied to my face. He was emotionally abusive to me during the ea, he would agree. We sat in therapy during the (still unknown to me, but suspected) ea, me saying I wanted the marriage to work, he lying about this other woman. It cost a lot of money to go thru that week after week. He felt nothing for me during that time, I could see it. They never loved each other, and they didn’t fantasize about running off together, but he definitely felt nothing for my pain. That’s my hurdle to get over – that told him I had never felt so isolated and lonely in my life, cried for our marriage every day on the shower floor, and he did nothing but lie to me, when the truth could have helped me. He had the power and control to help me and actively chose not to.

            • exercisegrace

              I was physically ill through most of my husband’s affair as well. It is astonishing when you tally up the costs of the affair. We know the emotional costs but the monetary costs are staggering. The doctor visits, procedures, medication runs in the thousands I am sure, and that is just for the ulcers I developed and had to have treated!

            • Holdingon

              When I found out about my wife’s EA it made me black out and bust my head open, my wife found me on the floor in a pool of blood, all she could do was scream what have I done. I couldn’t control my emotions for a long time after that, she broke my mind and I didn’t think I was coming back. She said when she saw me laying in that pool of blood that she realized how much I meant to her. I also tried to kill myself,with a shotgun, the only reason I’m still here is because it misfired, and when you do shit like that it’s like an out of body experience, in my right mind I would never do anything like that, I went temporarily insane.

          • Christine

            Thanks for letting me know this is happening for you, it’s what i pray for and stay hopeful for everyday. My husband still hasn’t stopped contact with the OW and right now i’ve asked him to stop promising no contact when i continue to see that he hasn’t held up his promise. I get the usual “we’re just friends now”. We talked about how wrong and twisted it is for him to think she’d in any way have our best interests at heart but that I’m done with him lying to me. We are working on things at home, are very physical and still love each other and i keep hoping that despite the hold she has on him, that he isn’t able to leave all that we’ve built. I was just talking to a friend this morning about how things are going and verbalized that one of the reasons i was so trusting with the two fo them being “friends” (before the affair came out) was 1) because she professed to be my friend and care about me over and over again while this was going on and 2) because i really felt she was not the kind of person he would ever choose to be with. Because i was so close to her, i saw her faults CLEARLY. Constantly complaining about her husband and life, flirting with men everywhere we went with them, bad mouthing her other “friends” to us behinds their back etc. I remember talking to my H at the time about my concern that she talks badly about us to others as well?! It is such a classic example of how someone showing you attention and validation makes you overlook who they really are when in an affair.

    • Mabe

      I found their disgusting texts about a year and a half ago. He lied about who it was but good use of search engines solved the mystery. He was involved with his former mistress. They had lived together before he and I were married. They had 4 babies together…all of them cruelty aborted.
      When my husband and I were first married, she kept calling him. I changed our number three times! Now twenty five years later and equipped with cell phones, she had found him on Facebook. Although, it turned out they were only out of touch for five years. I know this because she proudly posted this information on Facebook !
      Well, lied and lied. I cried and begged him to end it for months. I tried everything to be the perfect wife. Then I realized he was the one who should be trying. I got an attorney , took back my maiden name and he could see it was over. He told our children about his dearest friend, the light of his life ( yes, he called her that).
      Then he saw that his children were not buying his explanation. He stopped talking/texting her. He gave me all of his passwords and we have a very strained relationship. I don’t think I will ever trust him. I am the bread winner and I believe he stays with me for my income. I am so sad and so angry but I am trusting the good Lord to help me make the right choices. Maybe we will work things out. Maybe not. But I know I expect him to change his way of thinking about me and our marriage. I know I have changed my thinking about us.

      • Jeddy

        Mabe, you are strong. And if the marriage doesn’t work, you’ll be able to support yourself. if it does work, you’ll be proud of how you handled yourself. I’m thinking of you and know you will get through this. On the good days we see our strengths so clearly and on the bad days we feel so weak. But you’ve made rational choices in the midst of this mess and that will be your saving grace. Having this forum really helps me so much. I feel like the writing and venting takes some of the sting away from us and back on the cs and op.

    • CBb

      Mabe, I read your post and how sad that we end up having to push our H to end it. Like you, my H had an EA for a few months and then ended it. Told me about it in the summer. Went back to her after 2months apart and that lasted another 3 months. Finally it is over after he ended our marriage twice and within the same day begged me to take him back.

      My self-esteem was in the tank for 6 months. Tried to be the perfect wife. When I finally called the O W and found out from her they had been together, that is when it ended. Why do we end up becoming like their mother? And they act like a 2 year old who got caught.

      Suggestion: you are doing everything right. When I finally acted like I was kicking him to the curb, he “got it”. But I know how it hurts when you feel like you are not together for love but for some other reason. Therapy can help you deal with this.

      My therapist says to move forward you gave to fully forgive. Everything. Details of the affair no longer matter. It does not matter if there is/was 1 text or 1000 texts or whatever happened, move past the details of the affair. then you can start to heal. We are 2 months past and I am doing better than ever. I am carving out my own life, own $ and if for some reason things do not work out, I can move forward prepared.

      It is not as easy as I thought but the affair was his choice, I had nothing to do with it. When he was telling me the second time around how great we were doing AND still seeing the OW, it changed everything for me. I no longer had any role or blame in this. And I told him this.

      And I now expect the same level of communication he had with her. Witty, charming, funny, deep, interesting. Not an option. I saw what he was capable of and now I expect to see that.

      My final Q? How do you get the OW to stop trying to win him back? We had another go around of this last week. This 30something tattooed, foul mouthed, drama queen, needy, psycho with a bad past and suicidal tendencies just keeps “reaching out and trying to get closure” (her words not mine). My H has not responded to her in 2 months. Yet she keeps trying. Everything is blocked – cell phones, all emails except 1, not on Facebook, etc.

      • Jeddy

        Maybe the 3 of you can agree to meet – let her say whatever she needs to say to him in front of you. She may think youre keeping him from her, that he still wants her and just cant express it. She needs to see contempt and disgust in his face in front of you. If you two are a united front, she will look and feel like a big fool. She clearly isn’t feeling that now, she seems to think she still has power over you both. Her fog hasn’t lifted. Can you tell i’m fantasizing about making her feel lower than low? Sometimes I think all this ea bulls–t is about power and control from weak individuals. They know they don’t have any true strength and intelligence in their lives so they manipulate other lives – both the cs and the affair partners. It’s so unbelievably immature and self sabotaging to avoid the problem at hand by making larger more dramatic problems. I’ll tell you, the ow hillbilly would never meet with me face to face because I could verbally crush her from my high horse lol. I’m not going to argue with dumb and ugly and lose. Everything they had in their ea was based on lying – to themselves, each other and their loved ones. I say “bring it”.

      • exercisegrace

        Personally I think the less contact you have the better. I would not give her the attention of meeting in person, and the chance to blather out hurtful details that you don’t want or need to hear. Most of it would probably be lies anyway. She needs to know clearly that she is a nobody in his life and no longer has an impact in your life or marriage.

        Think about what YOU need. Do you need the closure of having him send a no contact letter? Maybe written and signed by both of you? A phone call with you on the other line, where you BOTH tell her to stop contacting him or face a restraining order? Or are you comfortable knowing she is blocked, and he will not respond if she finds a way in? I would probably set a time limit. if at the six month mark she is still being very persistent, I would consider sending out a joint letter, spelling out what action will be taken if she persists in harassing him.

        • jeddy

          e.g. – I think your solution is better than mine – I really have this fantasy of running intellectual circles around the ow, who views herself as a big city player in her industry. I’ve seen her once and she looked like a horse that’d been ridden hard and put back wet. A mousy ugly little thing. Nothing near my h’s strike zone. I’m also in a different situation completely, where there is really no contact (other than work emails) and neither party wants to revisit the affair. CbB, that’s a whole other fresh hell. I’m sorry that you can’t get the clean (for lack of a better word) break you so deserve. We all deserve.

      • Strengthrequired

        Cbb, my h ow still tries 2 yrs after day, and 1 year after he told her that he was not leaving his family for her. He stopped complete contact from that day, yet she would keep trying to call in the hopes he would pick up, she would have driven pass his work in the hopes he would be there etc. we moved from our home so she doesn’t know our new place, it is also a couple of hours away from her too, his work is not.
        This persistent ow, I believe is still trying to weasel her way back into his life, yet as he has not responded to her, ignored her, she has dropped how often she sends her msgs, and the loving msgs have come down to good morning how are you?
        I believe the not responding to her is working, and it actually gets the cs annoyed because he just wants to forget her. My h blocked her number from his phone, yet how easy is it for her to call on a different number? We can’t change his number because of business, and also if he moves his place of work, she can look him up.
        I have told my h that if his ow does not stop then I would expect him to deal with it legally by placing a retraining order, however it hasn’t come to that just yet. I think it has helped that he doesn’t respond or answer. Think about it, if you were ignored by your another person, after them telling you they wanted nothing to do with you, then you would give up, you and I probably would have given up the day we were told to leave them alone, yet I know we are not dealing with normal people here, yet I am hoping that eventually both our ow in our lives get the picture and latch onto someone else, and let go of our cs.

    • Mabe

      CBb, I don’t know how you can stop her. I finally realized she isn’t the problem. My husband knows right from wrong. He chose her time after time. The next time… I will kick him to the curb. I am not going to spend my life dealing with his problems. I am too old and too tired. Our kids know what he is. He will have to sort his own dirty laundry.
      I am glad you are thinking about your future and taking action to be sure you will thrive with or without him.

    • Prov31gal

      I am only 3 months post D-day, and I can relate to all the blame and guilt and shame, which led me to live in crisis mode for the first few months. But as more info trickled in about the character of the OW (and my husband’s state of mind), I can say I have had multiple moments of clarity as well as my hubs. Sadly our in your face ah-ha moment came at the expense of the OW sending our oldest (15 year old) son a message on social media to try to reveal his dad had cheated. We had agreed from the beginning that our children did not need to be aware of the affair, so this was a time for us to show the united front we were re-building and hunker down deeper into recovery. Any remaining positive notions my hubs or I had about her were officially gone. Anyone who could bring a child into an adult situation; well God have mercy because I’m not able to right now. As hard as it was I am actually thankful to God for breaking that vision of her even in such a painful way. My new mantra that helps me has been to say thank you to the OW/AP but it looks like this:
      Thanks for showing my husband that what he thought were fantasies he was able to live out with you were truly nightmares, and that I was his dream come true.

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