the Pick-Me Dance

Copyright Jim Davis. Jim Davis, if you are reading, I spent many an evening at Fox Fire’s and spent lots of money there just to save my sanity from the hell that is that particular town. I also did you the courtesy of not bothering you at your house (located on you know what lake) even though I wanted to. So, that allows me to use Garfield as an example, right? Thanks for doing me a solid, Jim.  

By Sarah P.

Before I begin this post, I need to say something important. Even though the facts in this post are all true and the events unfortunately all occurred, the post itself is written in an extremely satirical style and contains quite a bit of sarcasm.

I have a bit of a problem when I meet truly egregious people who harm others.

When I tell their stories, which are very terrible, I naturally resort to satire and sarcasm just to keep my own sanity. I do this to help suspend a little bit of the reality of a situation and also do this so I can laugh and hope that others can laugh too. The only way to survive trauma is to be able to laugh.

If I wrote about these events in the dead-serious tone they deserve, you and I would be haunted. Truly. Take my word for it, because I am haunted by these experiences.

You need to be aware of these egregious situations.

You need to know all about these egregious situations so you can be wise, but you do not need to have them haunt you like they haunt me. So please realize everything in this story is factual and happened. However, I have had to resort to satire for almost  the entire post, just to get through it. Otherwise, I would be crying.

Also, if I wrote in the dead-serious tone these posts deserve, well, this blog would be so depressing that people would have to stop reading just to protect their mental health.

That is why I sometimes say outrageous things. It technically a form of “reframing,” however, I use satire, irony, and sarcasm as the way to reframe. I am not a mean or flippant person in real life. (Just the opposite).


The “Pick-Me Dance”

The “pick me dance” was a term coined by the author Chump Lady. I wanted to address the pick me dance, why it does not work, and why it may not be what you think. 

What is the pick me dance?

In essence, it is a behavioral dynamic that a wayward spouse masterminds so that he or she can get large amounts of ego feed and/or copious amounts of sex from both his or her spouse and the other person.

The pick me dance, when it involves one wayward spouse, a betrayed spouse, and the other person is in its basic nature an old-fashioned love triangle.

From Wikipedia: “Two main forms of love triangle have been distinguished: “there is the rivalrous triangle, where the lover is competing with a rival for the love of the beloved, and the split-object triangle, where a lover has split their attention between two love objects.”

The pick-me dance fits the definition of both.

But, the pick-me dance is big problem for the betrayed spouse, regardless of the fact that the pick-me dance can indeed transmit STDs. STDs can be a physical consequence of the pick-me dance.

Unfortunately, STDs may or may not be the worst thing about it.

We need to address the behavioral component of the pick-me dance and the consequences.

Here is possibly the worst thing about the pick-me dance…

If a betrayed spouse willingly participates in this dance, he or she is creating a dynamic that provides a wayward spouse with positive reinforcement.

Note: Willing participation means that the betrayed spouse knows their wayward spouse is actively seeing the affair partner and/or has not broken off the affair. Someone who does not know about their spouse’s affair cannot participate in the pick-me dance.

However, this post addresses what happens when people willingly participate in the pick-me dance. Garfield has kindly volunteered to serve as our example.

Still copyrighted by Jim Davis


Here is how it works: Let us imagine that your wayward spouse is Garfield the Cat. Garfield loves enormous amounts of food, specifically lasagna. At home, John makes epic lasagna that Garfield consumes in one gulp. This lasagna is mentioned a lot by Garfield because he loves it so much.

Imagine this…

One day, Garfield smells something delicious and follows his nose. This takes him to Carl’s house and Garfield jumps onto Carl’s open kitchen window.  Carl has a different lasagna recipe. John makes lasagna with beef, but Carl makes tantalizing chicken lasagna with a cream sauce.

Imagine Garfield sitting on Carl’s open kitchen window as Garfield sadly looks up at Carl as Carl removes his Chicken Alfredo Lasagna from the oven. Garfield stares up at Carl with tears in his eyes and acts as if he will just expire from hunger if Carl does not give Garfield the lasagna. Garfield manically points his hand at his open mouth to show Carl this matter of lasagna is urgent.

Carl gives Garfield a slice of lasagna.

After Carl gives Garfield lasagna, Garfield makes a half-hearted effort to purr and weave himself in and out between Carl’s feet to feign appreciation. Carl has been lonely and this giant, orange cat seems neglected. Maybe the cat belongs to someone else, but Carl does not care. So, Carl feeds Garfield more lasagna.

 Then, Garfield goes home to John.

John wants to know where Garfield was and Garfield brags about Carl’s Chicken Alfredo Lasagna. Garfield tells John that maybe he likes Carl’s lasagna better.  After all, it is new. 

John just does the same old meat lasagna and that can get boring for a cat of exquisite taste like Garfield.

So, Garfield goes between Carl’s house and John’s house all day long. Each man attempts to make his lasagna better than the other person’s lasagna because he wants Garfield’s company.

Garfield knows he is using both men to make Garfield tons of lasagna and he chuckles. For as long as these two cat fanciers are caught up in the lasagna competition to win Garfield’s attention, Garfield will receive positive reinforcement.

Garfield has discovered that if he goes elsewhere to eat and brags about it to John, John will give Garfield outrageous amounts of the very thing Garfield wants: more lasagna. When Carl learns John is going to greater lengths to make more lasagna, Carl will continue the rivalry by giving Garfield even more outrageous amounts of lasagna… which is the very thing Garfield always wanted.

Yes, you are right. Jim Davis still owns the copyright. Just like Garfield owns lasagna.


Until someone kicks Garfield out on the street and closes the kitchen window for good, Garfield will be receiving enormous amounts of positive reinforcement. This positive reinforcement will cause Garfield to do more of the thing John and Carl do not want Garfield to do: go between each person’s house all day long.

Carl and John want Garfield to choose one of them and believe they can make Garfield choose one of them by giving Garfield more of the thing he wants.

Garfield has learned that by being a non-monogamous lasagna connoisseur, he gets more lasagna.

This causes John to bang his head against the wall wondering why Garfield will not choose him.

So, John continues to create more elaborate ways to please Garfield.

As John pleases Garfield more, he is teaching Garfield to do the very thing John does NOT want Garfield to do.

Everyone knows that you reward pets for the behavior you want to see and withhold treats when the pet does not do what they want. Pretty soon, the pet does more of the behavior that earns him treats.

When people get caught up in the pick me dance, they are providing treats for the very behavior they DO NOT want.

The pick me dance is very bad. If you are willingly and knowingly involved in the pick-me dance, you are providing your spouse with positive reinforcement while expecting your spouse to NOT do the thing you keep rewarding him/her for doing.

Once again, think that through. If you engage in the pick-me dance by choice and provide sex that is more exciting, change your appearance, beg your wayward spouse to stay, and devote your life to serving his every need, he or she will keep cheating.

You have unfortunately taught your spouse that cheating gets him or her goodies.

Yes, Jim Davis still owns the copyright.  Jim, I bet you never thought Garfield would be used in an infidelity blog. But, that’s okay because none of us married people ever expected that we would be used by cheating spouses. Capiche?


However, I do NOT blame you for the pick-me dance.


Because when someone is losing his or her spouse to another person, engaging in the pick-me dance appears to be the right thing to do.

Most wayward spouses will give a betrayed spouse a bogus list of all the things the betrayed spouse did not do that caused the wayward spouse to cheat.

Remember, betrayed spouses cannot make a spouse cheat.

However, most betrayed spouses fall for the bogus list and start doing all those things that did not cause a spouse to cheat.

And I do not blame these betrayed spouses because they are trying to keep a marriage and family together. Hello! Their marriage and family is so important to them that they are willing to move heaven and earth to keep their family together.

And they are right in trying to move heaven and earth to save a family.  It’s what normal, unselfish, and moral people do.

Betrayed spouses just do not realize that engaging in the pick-me dance will not get them what they want. (And this is exactly why I am writing this blog post).

The wayward spouse will certainly encourage the pick-me dance because he gets more of what he wants.

Important Note: There are as many female cheaters as male cheaters. Sometimes I rely on the word “he” because otherwise I end up saying “he and she” in every sentence. When I use the word “he,” it is a universal word for humankind. If you are a betrayed man, read the word “he” as “she.” However, I will still be aware of trying to maintain gender neutrality.

Dr. Argentina and His Menagerie of Women

This brings us to Dr. Argentina and his menagerie of women. When I heard this story from an eye-witness who saw it unfold, I thought part if it was funny in a gallows’ humor sort of way.

I also knew some of the players.

However, I never thought what was happening to the wife or child as funny. It was just about the most unfunny thing I had ever heard. The most unfunny thing I heard involving infidelity also involved guns and people getting killed. So not funny.

I had found what happened to several women who made up the menagerie of women as funny because it was the kind of thing that only happens on sitcoms or soap operas. I thought real people knew TV was fake and they were not supposed to use soap opera characters as role models. Obviously, I overestimated them.

But, now I am married and I have children and cannot laugh. This is a very unfunny story. Still, I need to write it through the lens of satire.

This is a true story that happened over twenty years ago. It was such a scandal, everyone in the entire small city knew about it. I left that small city long ago and far away.

However, I knew a married woman who had the unfortunate experience of working with Dr. Argentina himself. She was very moral and paid close attention to the terrible things she witnessed. She had to off-load them because she was in disbelief.  Her reaction was normal and she was in a very abnormal situation.

She was a friend at the time and told me about how it unfolded from beginning to end. (She is still a friend but lives far away and is busy with career and family.)

Still, I have changed names and identifying details.


The identities never matter; it is the actions and the dynamics that matter.

Note: One of the reasons I have never participated in the #metoo movement was because even though I had many of those experiences as a much younger woman, I am not the kind of person who outs people so that they can be shamed.  

If I have an issue, I bring it to the person.

Of course, this blog is an exception since I write about my own story of betrayal from my perspective, but I will never out the identities of the people involved (even though there has never been even the slightest bit of recognition on their part as to the harm they have done. Quite the opposite.).

In fact, I tried to talk through this issue with my ex who continually denied there was no such thing as “the other woman.” She was just a mass-hallucination of some kind. He had no idea why a 100 people had hallucinated her.

Even when the truth was out, even when they were living together, he pretended as if she was a mass-hallucination of some sort and that hallucination gave me cervical cancer. That’s quite a feat—I must be the only person who contracted cervical cancer from a mass-hallucination who was living in my house after I was not living there.

In other words, I never had the opportunity to talk this through with my ex because he was so invested in the idea that he was absolutely perfect, he refused to acknowledge what everyone knew, saw, spoke to, and attended parties with—that would be “the other woman.”

So, I went to my ex, tried to talk it out, but he was so invested in lying and gas-lighting that I never got the chance to talk it through. So, here I am blogging about it. That was a bad move on his part.

Note: Wayward spouses, talk it through with your betrayed spouse. All of it… even if you are the most evil person in the world because of what you did—please talk it through with your betrayed spouse. Then you may not end up on a blog. Just sayin.’

My ex and his OW are a couple of malignant narcissists. Trying to make a malignant narcissist understand what they have done is like sending a scorpion to see a therapist to ask it to stop stinging. We all know that will NEVER happen and taking on such a project would be absurd. 

Scorpions do what they do what they do. There is no rhyme or reason. No one will be able to reason with a scorpion about what is in its foundational nature.

If the scorpion were to even understand that the person talking to the scorpion was asking it not to sting, the scorpion would say: “Well, why don’t you sting? What is wrong with you? You are crazy for NOT living your life stinging every person you meet.”

Then, that would create a stalemate that could go on for eternity. Both scorpions and malignant narcissists sting. It is what they do.

All a normal person can do is walk away from a scorpion because a normal person and a scorpion have foundational ways of living, being, and perceiving that are diametrically opposed to one another.


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Onto the scorpion named Dr. Argentina

Dr. Argentina, a male doctor, with his own practice, was married to a female doctor.

I will call her Dr. People Pleaser and she worked in a large hospital. She was a doctor and found time to stay physically fit, she was nice, she was really pretty, and she took great care of their disabled child.

Dr. Argentina thought his physically disabled child was a real bore and also a real chore.  So, he spent most of his time at work in his own practice separate from the hospital.

Are you getting the picture that Dr. Argentina was not a nice person? I can assure you he was NOT a nice person. This was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how not a nice person he was.

Dr. People Pleaser had to figure out how to raise her/their disabled child with a father who chose not to be around his own disabled child.

So, Dr. People Pleaser hired a nice nanny to help care for their child when she was working part-time. In fact, even the nanny’s mom would drop by to help her daughter (the nanny) care for the disabled child of these two doctors.

Sometimes the nanny would go on vacation and so the nanny’s mom would kindly take over during that time. The nanny and the nanny’s mom became part of the family since they were the only support Dr. People Pleaser had with her child.

Dr. People Pleaser worked hard at her job and spent almost all her free time with her disabled child.  Dr. People Pleaser knew that as an adult and as a mom, she had certain responsibilities.

Dr. Argentina did not see life this way even though he was a husband and father.

The Pick-Me Disco

Most people make the assumption that the pick-me dance includes a married man, his wife, and the other woman. In many cases, this is true, so it is a fair assumption to make. (It can also include a married wife, her male lover, and her husband.)

But, not Dr. Argentina—he excelled at nastiness and he managed to create his own “pick me disco” right under the nose of his wife, his employees, and the nanny and her mom.

Dr. People Pleaser, who could not fathom the concept of infidelity, could not see or recognize the thing that she did not understand.

Infidelity existed so outside of her own worldview that such a concept occurred in a galaxy far, far away that Dr. People Pleaser had never even heard of. Neither have many astronomers or astrophysicists—only douchebags have heard of the cheater galaxy and cheaters from the cheater galaxy come from all walks of life.

Dr. Argentina had heard of such a concept because he came from that galaxy far, far away, but decided to masquerade as a moral earthling who understood the foundational beliefs of the Western Judeo-Christian value system: specifically the idea that you get married and stay loyal for life.

He was really great at pretending to be moral. (Except when alone with someone female who was not his wife.) He was also a great manipulator. But, these are fundamental traits of aliens from the cheater galaxy.

Dr. Argentina was an evil alien, not a nice save-the-world type of alien like Superman.

Oh and Dr. Argentina was American along with his wife, Dr. People Pleaser. They were both Midwesterners. I gave him that name because of a nickname that others gave him that vaguely related to Argentina in a very round about way. (Hint: Of course it related to women.)

But, while Argentina is a fabulous country, Dr. Argentina was a very un-fabulous person. So, I do not mean to insult the fabulous country of Argentina.

And when I refer to Dr. Argentina as an evil alien, I am talking about any one of the bad guys in the Marvel Universe. Take your pick. My pick would be the Marvel alien race called The Brood.

Copyright Marvel Comics. Member of The Brood. Doesn’t he look like the most Charming dinner guest?  


The Brood is parasitic in nature and they move from planet to planet destroying everything in their path and using whatever they can. They have sharp teeth, wings, and they only move on after there in nothing left to siphon off another being, planet, or galaxy.

Really, I think this is also a great definition for all spouse-poachers because they do the same thing in both physical and metaphorical ways.

Note: Not all “affair partners” are spouse poachers, but some of them are spouse poachers. The ones in this story are certainly spouse poachers.

Dr. Argentina was a married predator-like being who is and was thankfully not the norm. (Or so I hope?)

However, I have become so cynical that I believe more people would do what he did if they had the ability to do so.

Dr. Argentina had only had several criteria for hiring nurses, medical assistants, receptionists, and/or people to answer the phone.

Here was how Dr. Argentina viewed employees and women in his mind to see if they could work in his office. Dr. Argentina asked himself:

  • Is she female?
  • Does she have a pulse? (If not, there are defibrillators).
  • Is she remotely hot if I drink two glasses of beer?
  • Do her legs open on command when I appear in the room?
  • Is she a gold-digger?
  • Can she keep a secret?

If someone passed this test, they were hired to work in Dr. Argentina’s office. He only employed women. Also, the woman I knew who worked there was sent by the hospital as part of a rotation. She was one of the few competent people.

Meanwhile, Dr. People Pleaser (Dr. Argentina’s wife) was too busy working, taking care of their child, and ensuring the nanny and the nanny’s mom were doing the right thing for Dr. People Pleaser’s child.

The Dancers

Dr. Argentina was successfully having affairs with five different women. Can you guess who they are?

Well, I am not going to tell you because one of the interesting points of this story is seeing how it unfolded.

Dr. Argentina had a long-term and discreet nurse who was his affair partner. They were both married, they worked together, and they were excellent at keeping their secret.

This was fine for a while, but ultimately Dr. Argentina realized he had the ability to get more dancers. Women thought he was becoming very wealthy and all of his female staff admired him.

No one knows for sure how long he had (also) been dating two medical assistants who both worked for him. He started giving each medical assistant the impression that their relationship might be going somewhere. But, it needed to be their little secret because of his disabled child, yada, yada, yada.

He was still continuing his long-term affair with a married nurse who was his employee. Now, he had added two more female employees as affair partners. He was making small promises to all of these women, but he told them their relationship could only survive if they kept their secret. So, they all believed they were the only ones.

He especially gave hope to the two different medical assistants, who had no education and made minimum wage. Each one was entertaining dreams of being a doctor’s wife: it was a kind of polyamorous Cinderella story with a married man. Each woman saw herself as the Cinderella (to a married Prince) but did not know of the two other contenders: the other medical assistant and nurse.

There were also the others I have not mentioned yet. Five women in total were keeping a secret, all thinking they were the only lover.

One day, one of the medical assistants could no longer contain her excitement. Dr. Argentina had given her so much hope, that she could not longer keep her excitement to herself.

She told the other medical assistant her secret.

The other medical assistant was shocked and said it was untrue, because Dr. Argentina was her boyfriend and he had promised to leave his wife for her.

Both women were shocked and started to fight at work.

Their fight eventually turned into a fistfight in the waiting area of Dr. Argentina’s office. They screamed at each other and told the other that she was the true love.

Then, the nurse, his long-term lover overheard the commotion. She came to find the two medical assistants fighting over who was his girlfriend.

It hit the nurse that she was no longer his only lover—all three of them were his lovers.

All three women found Dr. Argentina and told him that he needed to choose one of them on the spot. Dr. Argentina simply walked away and said that he was choosing none of them. (Remember, sociopaths are unfazed because they lack empathy.)

All three women got on the phone and called Dr. People Pleaser at work.

Each woman told Dr. People Pleaser that she had been Dr. Argentina’s affair partner and that Dr. People Pleaser should divorce, so that Dr. Argentina could choose one of them. Note: Dr. Argentina had given his answer, but they did not take him seriously.

Dr. People Pleaser was devastated and left work. Due to the screaming and chaos, Dr. Argentina closed his office for the day. He went home to find a very angry Dr. People Pleaser, nanny, and nanny’s mom waiting for him.

Sarah Cooper – The Cooper


The Grand Finale

So, in the last part, Dr. Argentina was in hot water and he had three angry women waiting for him at home. (In addition to the three angry women he left at work… that made only one of  him and six angry women.)

But, before I dive into that story, let’s back track.

Dr. People Pleaser had stormed off, come home, and told the nanny and the nanny’s mom (who had become a regular fixture in the home) what Dr. Argentina had done. Both women listened quietly and all three women fumed.

All three of these women were REALLY angry at Dr. Argentina.  But, why were they angry?

Do you remember those stories you read as a kid where you would get three choices and decide where a story could go? You could pick your ending and that would send you to a page in the book to read the ending you picked?

Well, this story only has one ending, but I will give you three choices and you can (in your mind) pick the reason the women were angry and see if you were right about the ending:

  1. The nanny and the nanny’s mom loved Dr. People Pleaser and her family so much that they were showing sisterly solidarity to help her get through this moment.
  2. Nanny and nanny’s mom were angry because now their well-paying and very comfortable arrangement might go away because Dr. People Pleaser might leave Dr. Argentina.
  3. Nanny and nanny’s mom thought Days of Our Lives was a reality show and they starred in it.

Drum roll please….the answer is number three. The nanny and nanny’s mom were angry because they thought soap operas were just like real life. Just like the people in soap operas, they had each started having sex with Dr. Argentina separately.


When Dr. Argentina got home, Dr. People Pleaser assumed the other two women were angry because they were going to confront Dr. Argentina about how he had treated Dr. People Pleaser.

That is not what happened.

When Dr. Argentina came home, the (young) nanny yelled, “You told me you were leaving Dr. People Pleaser for me!”

Dr. People Pleaser almost fainted because now her nanny was also plotting her demise?

Then, the nanny’s mom yelled at her daughter, “You little whore… you were sleeping with him? He told me we were going to get married!”

I think Dr. People Pleaser must have blacked out at that point.

This story did not have a happy-ending. Dr. People Pleaser (correctly) filed for divorce immediately and left the house and got full custody of the child Dr. Argentina did not want.

Once the divorce was final, Dr. Argentina started dating the nanny officially.

That’s all I know of the story because I moved away from that town after that. Last night I looked online to see if Dr. Argentina still had his clinic open. Indeed, his clinic was still open, in the very same location, in that very small and backwards town.

I am sure he kept his medical license because he was NOT sleeping with patients. He was just sleeping with his office staff, nannies, and nannies’ mothers.

In Conclusion

Let me first say, I do not know where Dr. People Pleaser is or how her life turned out. I hope that her life turned out spectacularly and that she found someone better than the very homely and creepy Dr. Argentina. She was actually quite attractive inside and out, whereas he was not.

I hope Dr. People Pleaser found a nice CEO People Pleaser and that they are living happily ever after in their 10 different homes located in the world’s most beautiful places.

Because the town Dr. Argentina lives in is definitely not a special town. In fact, this town he lives in is so crummy that a rock singer once wrote very angry song about this really crummy town.

And that is the only hint I will give you as to the location. Okay you twisted my arm. Here is another hint: The song is NOT the “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees.

You are great at twisting arms, here is your final and thirds hint: that song is also not “Allentown” by Billy Joel. That leaves you with about a hundred other songs to sort through between the 1950 and 2018.

But, really it is not worth your time.

Because if you have read my writing regularly, you will have come across the very factual (and studied idea) that there is no particular location, race of people, religion, culture, socioeconomic status that has the monopoly on cheating. Wherever there are at least three people in any location, there will be infidelity.

Although Ashley Madison claims there are now top cities for infidelity. I thought it would be Las Vegas, but people do not use Ashley Madison to hook up in Las Vegas, thus their list is not really a true reflection of places where people hook up.

Ashley Madison is only one website and one of several that helps people hook up. Plus, many people still use the tried and true way of hooking up (thanks to our ancestors.) They find a place where there is beer and people of the opposite sex.

Trivia fact: the oldest piece of paper found by archaeologists was a piece of papyrus from ancient Egypt. On this piece of paper was the original recipe for beer.

Once again, this shows that no one culture, geographical location, or even ancient time period had a monopoly on hookups.

Where there is beer, there will be people. Where there are people and beer, there will also be the very first invention by mankind: beer goggles.

Once the beer goggles show up, camels start looking like super models. And the beat goes on. Lade-lade-dee…Lade-Lade-Daa.

In All Seriousness

Okay, enough of the satire.

I am actually switching back to seriousness.

In the story you read above, there was one very wonderful mom and child who got hurt. The harm centered around Dr. Argentina (who is truly a very ugly man) however some people assumed he had money and status and that made him attractive to spouse poachers.

Some people believe that if a married person has money, they are fair game. After all, it takes two seconds and Vaseline to remove a wedding ring. And if the wedding ring is gone, well it is as if the marriage never existed at all.

It brings people back to the days when they were babies and had not yet developed the idea of object consistency. If mom hid behind the couch, mom was gone forever!! No wonder babies cry so much.


Some married people like Dr. Argentina know this and so they cultivate an air of wealth (which he did not really have) and he waited for the women to come to him. Lots of women came to him, hoping to be the next Mrs. Dr. Argentina and fooling themselves into thinking they were so special that he had affairs only to find someone as truly special as themselves. They believed that once he found someone as truly special as themselves, he would stop cheating.

We all know that is a selfish, egotistical, and a completely flawed viewpoint.

People do not cheat to find their soulmates.

People cheat because they can. People cheat because they have no empathy for their spouse. People cheat because spouse poachers present themselves naked and on a platter.

People like Dr. Argentina know exactly what they are doing and they just wait for the selfish and egotistical people to arrive and do the “pick-me dance.”

This brings us back to our original topic: the pick-me dance.

Often, the pick-me dance is an old-fashioned, down and dirty love triangle. But, the phrase pick-me dance is actually more appropriate because love triangles actually contain NO LOVE.

A love triangle is an oxymoron because love is linear and one person sits at the end of each side of the line.

If there are more than two people involved, it becomes about lust.

Love and lust are NOT the same things. They come from two different galaxies. Lust taken to its fullest extent is destructive and love taken to its fullest extent is constructive.

Note: The phrase fullest extent refers to the idea of something being without bounds. Lust between a married couple has boundaries. It stays within the marriage. Lust within the boundaries of marriage keep the home-fires burning. That is a good thing.

Lust without bounds is like an x-rated version of Pac-Man that destroys everything in its path.


The TV show Benny Hill from the 1960’s also provided a visual description of lust without bounds (for alleged comic affect). I never understood why it was funny and came on TV at 8pm every night.

But, hey, I was a little kid and watching adult women wearing bikinis and being chased by an old man was more like a nightmare. It was very unfunny. I am pretty sure the Benny Hill Theme song is the soundtrack that is in the background of all my actual nightmares to this day. (Sarcasm).

But, back to the pick-me dance.

The moral of this story is two-fold:

  • When a betrayed spouse plays the pick-me dance he or she inadvertently provides positive reinforcement for the wayward spouse. The wayward spouse will become one very large Garfield the cat who is unable to make a decision because Garfield is too large to even move.
  • Never assume that there are only three people dancing the pick-me dance. If we have a very sly Dr. Argentina in the picture, there will be a pick-me disco even though each participant thinks there is only one other “rival.” Dancing in a pick-me disco makes yours chances of “winning” much lower than that of the state lottery. If you do win, you get a cheater and that is no prize.

None of this is funny.  Maybe a wayward spouse gets a lot of narcissistic feed, but he or she is destroying the lives of those people around him and those future generations who have not even been born.

There are no real winners in the pick-me dance except for a wayward spouse. If you are a betrayed spouse, please understand that though it might be hard to resist the pick-me dance, it will be futile.

However, if you want to keep your marriage together, that is an entirely different matter. You can certainly keep your marriage together, but playing the pick-me dance will not help.

If you want to keep your marriage together, it is straightforward.

Go and get free consultations with all the meanest attorneys in your state and know your rights. Go and get an excellent therapist who does NOT blame you for your spouse’s affair. If you find a therapist who asks you what you did to make someone cheat, run far away.

Then, put all of your spouse’s things on the lawn. Serve your spouse with divorce papers while he or she is at work. Specify that if your spouse does not pick up his or her affects within two days, you will put a sign on your lawn that says, “Free Yard Sale.”

Must do: Take your kids and go stay at a friend or relative’s house (that your spouse does not know about) and stay there for a week. Sometimes on a very serious level, people go crazy when they have just been served up a big, heaping pile of consequences.

Yes, these suggestions are playing hard-ball.

These suggestions include the hardest ball of them all. But, in my experience and the experience of many others, this very hardball method can most often lift the affair fog. Why? Because it is an experience that provides your spouse with the OPPOSITE of positive reinforcement.

Even if it does not, it will serve as a type of “near death experience” and have your wayward spouse’s life/marriage with you flash in front of his or her eyes.

Unless someone is a total sociopath, this will cause insight. If it does not cause insight, cut your losses because if your spouse is narcissist or a sociopath, living out a life with these types is awful and not worth it.

Betrayed spouses, your needs and the needs of your children matter. Do what is best for you (and it does not involve the pick-me dance.)

I hope this article has been helpful to you. Let us know if you have any questions or experiences that you need help with.


Featured Download: “The Top 10 Reasons to Leave Your Affair Partner Now”

If you’re the unfaithful, get it, read it and carefully consider the advice. If you’re the betrayed, give it to your unfaithful spouse.


    82 replies to "Why the Pick-Me Dance Does Not Work"

    • TheFirstWife

      I think the irony is that we all know pick me dance doesn’t work.

      It makes the betrayed spouse appear weak.

      It makes the Betrayed Spouse appear clingy.

      It gives the cheaters an excellent opportunity to continue to cheat – knowing the BS is too devastated to do much about it.

      But the BS may not have any idea the A is on-going (I certainly did not after Dday1). So my “pick me” dance was not that – it was my belief we were reconciling. That we were working together to restore our M.

      So that is a problem – you can be unwittingly doing the pick me dance.

      But more importantly I think the suggestion that you should play hardball to end the A is equally risky. There is no guarantee going to a D attorney will end it.

      There are inherent risks with that approach as well.

      The A will end only when the CS decides to end it. There is very little the BS can do to stop an A. It may stop or subside temporarily but if the CS is not 100% committed to the M – the A will resume or there will be a new AP that comes along.

      Telling your CS you are D him may be what s/he wants. Threatening to D a spouse and backing down creates its own problems and shows the BS’ weakness.

      I think this convoluted article does a disservice. It implies there is a way to stop an A. The pick me dance does not work. That is true. But saying “divorce” to the cheating spouse does not always work either.

      BUT – the only thing the BS can do – is to remove yourself from the infidelity. That does not mean D. It can mean separation. It may mean you no longer care if the CS continues to cheat or not. It means you live together but have a different arrangement – leading somewhat separate lives.

      And just b/c a cheating spouse is not inclined to R – doesn’t make them a sociopath. It may mean they are selfish or a cheating piece of crap. But not definitely a person with a personality disorder. That is a stretch too.

    • Tired

      I agree with most of the article. I think that playing hardball, IS risky but in my case that was the only way I could accept for myself. If my husband was going to carry on seeing the other woman this was unacceptable to me and I decided that if he did, it was over for good, no matter how much it hurt. That would be better than being dragged slowly over hot coals with the emotional abuse of an ongoing affair.

      The affair only does end as TFW says when the cheating spouse is willing to end it. If they are not willing to end it they are a lost cause anyway. Playing hardball in my opinion is the only way to go. I think that you will at least get out of the limbo sooner. But you should definitely not threaten to do things you won’t go through with. That will just lead the cheater to take advantage more. I wish I had played even harder.

      I think that you can indeed be doing the pick me dance unwittingly. I was when my husband returned home after supposedly going no contact with the other woman. I had a feeling they were still in touch but of course they learn to hide things better and so I wasn’t sure. I certainly was guilty of trying to behave like the perfect wife then. Unbeknownst to me, she was also trying to offer herself up as the better alternative. However, I am not sure I was doing the pick me dance. I think by that point he HAD made up his mind about staying in the marriage, but just had problems getting rid of her quietly.

      The bottom line is that cheating hurts…badly. Prolonging it a second longer than is necessary is crazy. I think every betrayed spouse should lay down the law immediately on finding out…and stick to it. If it is over, it is over. A slow painful death is much worse to me than a quick break. Why waste your time on someone who is umm-ing and aah-ing over who would be the better partner all the while knowing their wife/ husband is dying a thousand deaths? What kind of arrogant and cruel person does this? Are they good partner material??

      I think Sarah is right in that can lift the affair fog. If it doesn’t, are they worth keeping?

      I don’t like the site that coined the term by the way. It is perhaps helpful for those whose marriages have definitely failed with no hope of recovery. It offers a lot of support. But for those of us trying to reconcile I think it is not a good idea to go there. Everyone is of the opinion that a cheater will cheat again, and while this has been the experience of those who follow the site, I don’t think it follows that it will happen in every marriage. Everyone is different and there is no blueprint for life. Sometimes you just have to take a risk.

      Sarah…Benny Hill was just creepy!

    • Puzzled

      I think many of us go through the “pick me dance” whether by choice or by chance. Maybe our spouses started acting differently or they gave us the “ILYBNILWY” spiel. We are unknowingly playing the game but really we are just trying to salvage the relationship and find our spouse again.

      Just like Tired posted, the slow painful death is horrible. I sometimes still wonder what would have happened if I just said “get the hell out” and see what happened. D-day 1 was the “I’m unhappy”, “I haven’t been happy for a long time”, “people change”, “ILYBNILWY” bullcrap. I simply thought she was stressed from work and that our oldest had gone off to college. How the hell was I supposed to know she was cheating? Infidelity, like Sarah said, wasn’t part of our galaxy. The slow painful death of my marriage was unfolding in front of my eyes and I didn’t know how to stop it. And that, in my opinion, is why we dance. The person we see in front of us looks like our spouse but they have seemingly been taken over by an alien. I danced and danced trying to win her back. It wasn’t until June of ’15 when I caught her that my dancing ended. I didn’t act mean, spiteful, or demand she leave. I simply told her it had to end. Did it? I doubt it. I’m not really sure how much longer it went on.
      Fast forward 3 years and we are still married. Things are good. Do I have the answers I want? No. But I’m not sure that I ever will. But I do know that I will never do that dance again. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

      • Shifting Impressions

        That was really well said….you are describing my story. You are right, we feel them slipping away and have no idea why.

        I stopped dancing at d-day as well.

      • Tired

        Puzzled, you are right on the money there. “We are just trying to salvage the relationship and find our spouse again.” Of course we are. We are devastated and I think most people can be excused for doing impulsive things in this kind of state. I think Sarah’s article refers to those who are doing it by choice with the intention of keeping the spouse. That just feeds the cheater’s ego. Two people want him/her. Cake, anyone? But if you don’t know, then you really don’t do it by choice so I don’t think that is the same. That’s just being the victim of a terrible cheater.

        In my case my husband was so obviously up to something that I caught him immediately. I think that gave me an advantage. Rather than hiding things, he suddenly started making statements that implied that he was considering leaving me for someone else. I knew who it was because they always start talking a lot about the person, and it was not hard to get proof. Catching him immediately threw a spanner into the works…she thought she had all the time in the world to work on my husband. But I was able to expose it before they got more emotionally attached. That worked to my advantage.

        I think it is much worse if they have covered their tracks well and you don’t know what is going on. That is why I have always wondered if my husband was so desperate for my attention that he actually wanted to get caught and bring things to a head. It was a stupid move on his part and has caused a lot of the damage to our relationship. If he was unhappy, he should have just said so! Then perhaps we could have worked together without having this third wheel in our marriage.

        I think Puzzled that if you didn’t know your wife was cheating and were dancing anyways, well that’s all on her. She was taking advantage of your trusting nature to deceive you and that is horrible. I am glad to hear that things are working out and I truly hope your wife sees your worth and feels very remorseful for what she has done.

    • TheFirstWife

      Puzzled. Those are excellent points.

      “Pick me” occurs whether you know about the A or not.

      All of your references to ILYBNILWY and I haven’t been happy for years – you hear that often when the A has already begun.

      And I did confront my H two weeks after I learned of the A. Yes I was blind sided but I stood up and said in his face “her or me”. I refused to play games. He said he wanted our M.

      But I realize (after the fact) he chickened it and did not have the guts to say he wanted to be with the OW. He did not want to be married anymore.

      I gave him every opportunity to leave. I made it darn easy for him to go. No fighting. No anger. Just expected him to be honest with me. He would say he wanted to leave but then change his mind.

      I am fairly sure if I insisted he leave during the 6 months of the A – he would have been with the OW. However at DDay2 when I insisted he was leaving – he suddenly really did not want to.

      Why? Not b/c I told him I was D him. Not b/c I told him I could no longer live with his infidelity.

      Because HE decided to end the A and have no further contact. You could call it another selfish cheater choice (because they hold the cards to the M) but until the cheater decides it is over – anything is fair game.

      Again it is a selfish cheater move – they can “decide” the future of the spouse and family. The only thing the BS can do is prepare for the future and get out of the infidelity.

      I know when I made plans w/out my H he was stunned by it. And then would attend the event or party. With me. He’d be attentive for a few days.

      But he always went back to contact w/ the OW. Until the day HE decided NC. Coincidentally was DDAY2 and the day I told him I was D him.

      It was like a bucket of cold water in his head. But I would not say it was anything I did that stopped the A. Because I was doing all of it all along and the A did not stop.

    • Puzzled

      Well, my internet crapped out as I was responding so I’ll try to remember what I had written:

      I always enjoy your posts TFW. You’ve been to hell & back but have come out stronger. I completely agree with your post about the cheaters holding the cards and ultimately the marriage.
      Their decision to end the affair or continue the marriage is completely their own selfish game. They chose to cheat. They can choose to stop. Have some morals and some backbone. All the while we are sitting at the table holding a crappy hand and our spouses hold all of the aces. It’s a tough spot to be placed.
      But I did what you did. I’d make plans with my kids and then simply say to my wife “you’re welcome to join us if you want”. This put the burden on her to make a choice. Your family? Or your affair? I wasn’t going to exclude her from anything but she wasn’t needed in the plans. I’m not sure what the proverbial “bucket of water” was for my wife. Maybe she just finally staggered out of the fog and realized the destructive path that she’d taken.
      Three years ago, I would have guaranteed my marriage was done and I’d be divorced. It’s ironic that this article is the “Pick Me Dance”. My wife and I love to dance, always have back to our college days. Three years ago we were at a friend’s wedding. “Brown Eyed Girl” came on and that’s a song my wife & I love to swing dance to (we aren’t old enough to know swing dancing other than my Dad taught me when I was young and said it would be a good thing to know later in life). We’d play that song at fraternity parties just to clear the dance floor so we could show off our moves. I taught my daughters how to swing dance to that song.

      Ok, back to my story: I asked her to dance…and she said no. It was devastating. That was the moment I decided my “dance” was over. My wife was gone and I needed to prepare for the rest of my life with my kids. Funny (sad funny) how these posts can bring back memories that we suppress. I hadn’t even thought about that wedding or how alone I felt that night for a long time. Oh well, life has a way of throwing curves at us all.

    • Rose

      You are all such great resources. I never really did the Pick me dance. With his first EA, I didn’t give him a choice. He said ok then proceeded to see her for another year and a half. With the next one ( his cousin) it was over before I found out. If there is another, he doesn’t get a choice. Trust is absolutely gone.

    • Rose

      Not sure I ever mentioned something about the background of H’s EAs. I had/have a sleeping disorder that started with menopause. Like that one where someone eats sticks of butter in the night and has no recollection or like sleepwalking. Mine involves sex! It sometimes is called sleep sex. Sometimes with H but sometimes with old boyfriends. Don’t be shocked…its a real diagnosis. Of course when it started H thought it was on purpose. And yes I have had treatment…2 sleep studies, many doctors and therapists. They all said Klonopin was the gold standard med for this. Apparebtly the part of your brain that is supposed to turn off body movement in deep sleep doesn’t work for me. So. H decided he’d get back at me with these affairs because OF COURSE I was doing it to him. Except I wasn’t. He threw my Klonopin away, said it was a crutch. He said I just needed to deal with my past. He refused to let me sleep in another room because he was delusional that what was happening was real. (I do sleep in another room now.) Instead of researching and helping, he chose to “get revenge.” What makes it worse (all my docs have said this) is stress, alcohol and lack of sleep…and so when he does these stupid things and I get angry, the problem gets worse. Anyway this another reason Is never do the pick me dance. He promised in sickness and health. If he chooses to go elsewhere because he refuses to acknowledge that this is a physical illness, well, he can have his other pick. I’m not going to beg and plead.

    • Puzzled

      Rose: Just to clarify, sleep sex with your husband but also old boyfriend while you’re married? Or did it happen with old boyfriends as well as currently with your husband? That’s where I’m losing you. Because the way I’m reading your post it seems like you’re doing it while you’re married.

    • Rose

      Yes, sorry…”figurative” sex with old boyfriends (or random strangers), not real physical sex.

    • Puzzled

      Ok. That explains it. I was a little confused for a minute!

    • CatMandu

      I had to play hardball. I didn’t have any other choice. After almost 40 years of marriage I wasn’t about to waste more time with someone who didn’t want me.
      So I laid it out to him and he chose me. Ended it the day I found out. I know he has cut off all contact. I spent 30+ years in investigation and law enforcement so I know where and how to find things. Just never thought I would have to use these skills for my own “Investigation,” so I was late in finding out.
      Don’t get me wrong it hasn’t been easy and on DDay I got the “just friends” speech so I asked if I could use his dialogues with my male friends. (If I had, my friends would have thought I lost my mind because I have never approached any of them in that manner.) After all OW had told him he was her lover, her Daddy, blah, blah. Most of my friends are men because of the kind of work I have done and now do. (Male dominated industries)
      He also knows that that was his one chance and it won’t be given again. To date he has done what he should to make amends. I am grateful for that but I won’t be fooled again. The complete trust may never happen but we will work towards that goal.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi CatMandu,

        When was your D-Day?

        The fact that someone cheated on a private investigator is not logical and demonstrates exactly how illogical affairs can be. Come on… cheating on a private investigator? It’s
        so obvious that a private investigator will find out and have the tools to find out. Why try to hide the affair when such efforts are futile? (This is an attempt at satire.)

        Also, lover and daddy don’t go together, which shows how (NOT) grounded and (NOT) sane affair partners can be.

        There was this song by Berlin that they only played in Europe. The Berlin songs they played in the United States were sweet: Take My Breathe Away. That’s a sweet and innocent song. But one time I was in a dance club in Europe and I heard the MOST perverted song I had ever heard. I asked someone who sang this perverted song and they said it was Berlin. Yes, indeed it was. I cannot listen to that song today without getting totally creeped out.

        I am pretty sure the OW in your situation had that dirty Berlin song on repeat and that is how lover daddy came about. (Satire).

        Trust does not come easily and must be earned by the wayward spouse.


        • CatMandu

          D-Day was 21 Dec 2017.
          I just never thought he would cheat, so I never checked on anything. Nothing seemed too out of the ordinary so I just never suspected.
          Yes, he started being real nitpicky but he had just started his own business and I thought it was stress from that. When it started we had been married 31 years so I thought I knew him pretty well.
          I was still working a state job and my mother was dying from COPD. So needless to say, I was a little distracted. He didn’t really try too hard to hide it but since it was long distance and they only got together at conferences out of town or at our house when I was gone, I just didn’t see it.
          I can quickly pick up things when investigating others but so close to home I didn’t pick up the signs. Trust played a big part in this as I had always trusted him. We spent a lot of time apart in the military and he never gave me a reason to distrust him.
          In December I just started feeling like I should check his email on his laptop. Not sure why, but I felt something pushing me to go take a look. I found emails and later a thumb drive with letters. I copied the thumb drive but he deleted the emails and the email address as soon as I told him I knew. There was no dance, just a what do you want to do. I know this sounds weird but God told me to stay and work it out. So we are working on it.
          What I’m dealing with now is feelings of emptiness inside. I have read that this can happen and so I am working it through because he is trying so hard to do the right thing. I feel if God has told me to stay he will help me with feelings in due time.

          • Sarah P.

            Hi CatMandu,

            WOW, your D-Day was recent. Truly recent and you are so extraordinarily level-headed about the experience. (Hint: I was not level-headed. I was so shocked I felt like I had been spinning my wheels for months.)

            What happened to you was normal in that you were not searching for clues because there was this thing called “trust” and “time” that you and your husband had experienced together.

            I am grateful that God gave you a nudge to take a look at that email. I do believe that was a divine intervention. I also believe that God does have a plan and will certainly guide you.

            It appears that God wanted you to know about the affair so that the affair could stop. It appears God did not necessarily want you to get a divorce, he just wanted the affair to stop and you knowing was the best way to make in stop (in your marriage).

            By the way, if everyone reads all my comments, they will notice I refer to myself as spiritual and might wonder why I am so quick to talk about divine intervention and God’s plan. I may not be a member of a particular denomination, but (the one) God is still at the very center of my life. I spend time in prayer each day and do believe in divine intervention because I have experienced many times. I was one of those people who had to have God step into the world (when I was a teen and 20-something) to show me God exists.

            I am always thrilled when someone mentions how God has worked in their lives.

            I just also happen to believe that there is no one group out there who is the only so-called line to (the one) God spoken of in Judeo-Christianity. I have learned we ALL have a direct line to God through prayer and that is how I communicate with God. I pray daily.

            Anyone out there, always share how God has helped you. It doesn’t matter what church/synagogue/retreat or wherever you went. God speaks to everyone in the way that a person needs if that person wants to reach out. (One more reason I gave up formal membership anywhere– any time I tried to go to any formal religious group I felt like there was a list that I had to follow. There were 100 things I had to believe in and then another hundred things I was told NOT to think or do. I am a free-thinker and do not like arbitrary rules based on things that appear irrelevant).

            If people can do unto others and they would have done unto them and live in ways that do not harm others, that is great.

            CatMandu, you are extraordinarily level-headed through all of this. As for feelings of emptiness inside, you have gone through a lot in the past year. You were working at a state job while your mom was dying of COPD and your H was starting a business and he was being nit-picky through it all due to an affair. That is A LOT for someone to go through.

            There is a reason that you are feeling emptiness on the inside. It is a reaction to a highly abnormal situation (an affair) along with the loss of your mother. It appears from your comment that discovering the affair and losing your mom happened all within one year or two. This is really a lot for one person to bear in this span of time. People need time to recover from each of these events and to have them (appear to overlap) is very difficult.

            I do believe in the power of prayer and also the power of talking and support from others. Have you been able to talk to anyone in your extended circle about these things? Has your H asked you to keep it a secret?

            I am so sorry for everything you are going through.


    • Sarah P.

      Hello All,

      This article is not about affair proofing a marriage and this article is not about a guaranteed method of stopping an affair. This articles is about likelihoods of recovering a marriage — for those who want to recover it– why the pick-me dance does not create that likelihood and why playing hardball is the best “chance” a betrayed spouse has if they want to recover their marriage.

      This article is about the positive reinforcement provided by the pick-me dance and why the pick-me dance does not work. Many people participate in the pick-me dance hoping that their spouse will return and hoping it will save their marriage. This article explains why there is a very slim chance of the spouse reconciling as a result of the pick-me dance.

      There is an alternative to the pick-me dance for those who wish to save their marriage. It is called playing hardball and often involves taking the affair out of the realm of fantasy by enforcing real-life consequences: filing divorce papers. Divorce papers are not the only option, but it is the option that generally enforces the most negative consequences for the wayward spouse.

      Hardball is not guaranteed to stop an affair since only a wayward spouse can stop an affair.

      However, Dr. James Dobson wrote an entire book about how hardball is the best “chance” anyone has at saving their marriage by making a spouse’s affair very real by providing negative consequences that affect real life. Affairs exist in a giant bubble of fantasy and depend upon fantasy and escape.

      ‘Hardball enforces very real consequences for the wayward spouse and it helps take the affair out of the realm of fantasy. Hard ball can serve as a wake-up call. Hardball is not guaranteed to work. However, Dr. James Dobson found hardball worked so often that is warranted an entire book.

      Since a betrayed spouse cannot make a wayward spouse stop an affair, why has hardball worked? Hardball enforces a negative consequence and puts a wayward spouse in a position where he or she must make a choice.

      A wayward spouse will weigh his options and decide if he wants to go through with a divorce OR if he wants to make choices that lead to reconciliation.

      The choice is in the hands of a wayward spouse.

      A wayward spouse may or may not choose to end the affair. Hardball forces the choice and has been shown to be the best method to put a wayward spouse in a position where he or she must decide if he or she chooses the marriage. Many wayward spouses choose the marriage to avoid the negative consequences. Not all.

      Bottom line: this article is about behaviorism and what behavioral processes (when carried through) are most likely to help a betrayed spouse have the opportunity to ultimately reconcile their marriage.

      All of our choices cause others to make choices of their own. (Sometimes people even choose NOT to choose, which is still a choice.)

      Hard ball most often causes wayward spouses to make the choice to engage in behaviors that give a couple a chance to reconcile.

      Hardball is not a guarantee to stop an affair OR save a marriage.

      However, it has worked so often that Dr. James Dobson wrote a book about why it works and how to do it effectively. The book is for betrayed spouses who want the best chance at saving their marriage. There are no guarantees, but having the best chance at saving a marriage is better than no chance.

      Here is Dr. James Dobson’s book:

      Next time I will embed the sources in the article.

      Who has played hardball and has it worked?



    • Rose

      Nothing personal Sarah, but James Dobson is a right -wing evangelical wacko (IMO) who led the right-wing wacko group Focus on the Family. This is not someone I’d ever take advice from. I mean no disrespect but this would not be a good resource for me.

    • TheFirstWife

      Puzzled. I think we all have been to hell during the A.

      Some (like me) are lucky to recover and end up with a better M.

      Sadly some cheaters don’t get the chance to R (what a surprise) or they choose not to.

      And some BS are forced to move on. I hope they end up happier in the long run. Because they realize the CS will always be a CS and Life is too short.

      I learned to stand in my own two feet. Be smart. Take nothing for granted – even your spouse. Add some to joy to my life – even small ways can make a difference. Be kind (usually was). Make a difference.

      And if all else fails – my homemade cookies ???? are always good. ????

    • Sarah P.

      Hi Rose,

      One of my comments is awaiting moderation because I had included links.

      No offense taken. Everyone needs
      to find material that speaks to them.

      I think Dobson wrote the books because Christians are the biggest cheaters by far of all world religions. It’s astounding. Since Dobson literally focuses on the family he probably wrote the book knowing the Christian community is filled with adultery and he knew how destructive it was to the family. When I read the book, my jaw was dropping because Dobson was writing a message (at that time when he wrote the first edition) that feminists were writing. It’s was an incredibly ironic situation. It’s the only book of his I would recommend.

      Warning— anyone who is uncomfortable talking about sex should NOT read the rest of this comment because it’s gross. It’s a real life story but still very disturbing. If anyone was abused, don’t read further.

      Here is a funny/weird story about Focus on the Family. My grandma lived several states away and was an incessant worrier and a very conservative Christian. (This was my dad’s side since my mom’s side is Jewish. But my mom attended church). My grandma was so conservative that she thought she would keel over and die if the word sex were ever spoken out loud. (I loved my grandma, by the way. I just see humor in just about every situation in life.)

      Since my grandma lived several states away and her church friends were whispering about how all the teen girls were having “intercourse” and how her own grand daughter might just be having intercourse in the back seat of a dirty car, this sent my grandma into a tail spin. But she could not talk about that to my parents because she would be too embarrassed. Her friends told her about how Focus on the Family books for teens could be mailed once a month.

      I started receiving them at 13-years-old and would look at them long enough only to find some comedic value.

      The thing is, I did not even date until college.

      But grandma was too afraid to ask, so I got all these books talking to teens about the appropriate time and place to do what (the wedding night).

      I was not interested in dating in high school or letting anyone near me.

      I was terrified of male body parts and terrified of pregnancy. No, I was not abused.

      I just had the unpleasant experience of having a next door neighbor with an older brother. She and I would be swimming and one time when (17 year old brother) was FULLY aroused, he flashed us while standing about 3 feet away. It was the first time I saw a male body part and this one was enormous. I was shocked and horrified.

      I told my mom and never went to her house again. I guess that kinda qualifies as abuse, but passively. My mom confronted the boy’s dad but the boy’s dad was a police chief and thought me and his own daughter were lying. That confrontation did not go well for my mom because the father refused to believe it or do anything about it.

      But because I was a 13-year-old when that happened and not interested in boys at all, it created a situation where I did not want them to be anywhere near me. I was now terrified of boys. I did not want any guy’s large thing around me. That guys ‘thing’ literally scared me. (I called it a “thing” almost until I was an adult.) I am sitting here remembering my reaction and how I could not even use the real word for so long. All I could say was “a guy’s thing.” I am laughing out loud right now.

      At the time, I was very confused as to why grandma was sending me books written for teens (that were obviously about sex) and written by a creepy old man. I thought grandma was off her rocker because that was the last thing I wanted to think about thanks to the 17-year-old and his “thing.”

      But because no one wanted to discuss the elephant in the room, not even grandma, I just kept getting Focus on the Family books. When I was in highschool, I would give them to the kids I knew who drank or smoked MJ (sad, right?) and they would laugh at the books. Grandma kept sending these books all the way through high school even though I was NOT interested in dating since I was still frightened by dating. I heard what my friends went through—the ones who dated— and they were used for certain acts and then the guys would spread rumors about them being sluts. (No, the girl thought she was the guy’s girlfriend and so did everyone else. A very cruel thing to do).

      Anyhow, that was my introduction to Focus on the Family. I had ignored it for years until I came across an edition of that James Dobson affair book about 5 years ago. I was shocked at the stance he was taking (not blaming the betrayed spouse and telling the betrayed spouse to be hardball.) That book of his makes sense. But it’s the only one. And I am shocked to this day that Dobson understands the betrayed spouse is not to blame and often tells them to file for divorce to save a marriage.


    • Rose

      I get all that. But its only “Focus on the white STRAIGHT marriage.” They are all about wives being subservient. They are anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion. While I see your point, there might be better references than one lucid book written by someone with otherwise wacko views!

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Rose,

        Totally get that too… and I am always, always, always looking for (good) sources.

        I do NOT believe in female subserviency or the sub-humanity of others based on (fill in the blank). I am not against LGBTQ and have helped the community in concrete ways over the years. My help has revolved around giving them a safe space to be themselves without the fear of being harmed. I have helped organize things like Take Back the Night Marches and including the LGBTQ community at a time when it was still mainly a march for women.

        Rose, may I ask if you are in a straight, white marriage?

        I am in a straight marriage, but I do not believe straight marriage is the only option.

        Everyone: I need help building a list so that I can get a list of books together for Christians, another one for Jews, another one for people who don’t believe in God at all, one for people who consider themselves spiritual, one for people who are straight and married, one for the LGBTQ community, and one for people who consider themselves to be progressive. And if there is ANY community I have missed… let me know.

        Anyone who reads an excellent source that includes the narrative NOT to blame the betrayed spouse and that includes helping them make informed choices based on their end goal- please let me know. I need help building a list that speaks to everyone’s unique needs.

        Also, if folks are wondering about my political or religious affiliation, I oped-out. I am a person who believes in spirituality and who cultivates it and who studies many of the main religious texts of the world, but I still find my foundations in a loosely-based Judeo-Christian view. Until recently, I was trying to figure out where I fit because of my own complex background (religiously and ethnically speaking).

        Then I realized I do NOT fit anywhere, so I will no longer try. I am not a member of any political party or organized religion, even though I was raised in a religious home.

        I support people making the choices best for them. The more people I speak with the more I realize that everyone has their own way. That’s fine. Readers here appear to have different religious and political affiliations and sexual orientations and they are all welcome.


    • Rose

      I am. Youngest son is gay.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Rose,

        I am sorry your youngest son is gay– not because he is gay but because of how I have noticed some people treat gay people. I have had many friends over the years (some who are gay and some who are lesbians) and I have noticed how others treat my gay friends: discrimination at work– anonymous threats etc. I have spoken to teens who become suicidal because of their feelings of attraction to the same gender.

        I know I am probably going to tick a lot of people off, but I have a very strong relationship with (the one God) and have had it for a very long time. The more I cultivate a relationship with God, the more I realize how cruel it is to differentiate a human being based solely on who they are attracted to. I always knew that, but when I would read the Bible around others or Jewish texts around others, people felt they needed to remind me about how I needed to hate other for x, y, z. That never worked for me. The more I cultivated a relationship with God the more I could not hate anyone (except for the people who actively harm others.) Gay people do not harm others and that is why I supported them ever since college even though I was also someone who was cultivating a relationship with a Christian/Jewish God as a spiritual foundation.

        This is the crux of why I don’t fit in. I believe in prayer. I believe in God. I pray all the time. I read spiritual texts. But I cannot be constantly told I need to hate someone for being gay or this or that.

        It makes no sense to me to exclude or hate someone due to something that has absolutely nothing to do with me or anyone else.

        Rose, this is a personal question– but has your son ever been bullied or been suicidal because of how others treat him?

        One time I was in an area and context where I was seeing people being evaluated for electroconvulsive therapy and learning about it as a treatment method. I remember watching this mom walk next to her son who was being wheeled in for ECT. I was in this area of a hospital for several weeks and got to see how people were progressing. I was aware that the son was receiving ECT as a last-ditch effort to prevent suicide. He was so angelic looking.

        My kids were younger when I was studying these things and having to see them for myself as part of my program.

        But the image of the mom and the teen son was burned into my mind. I can still see her walking beside him as the nurses wheeled him in for treatment. He looked comatose but angelic and kind. I had always been unable to understand why people hated gay people so much. But when I saw that mom and her teen son, the momma bear part of my soul was activated and I became very angry. I could only imagine how that mom felt.


    • Rose

      He was bullied a little in high school, but he’s been a wrestler and in martial arts so is confident in his ability to defend himself. Now we live in a city that is very diverse and LGBTQ is more the norm! He’s in theater 🙂 and works in a restaurant so is surrounded with acceptance…including from his parents and siblings. For us, its been no big deal for a long time. His partner was like having another kid around to us. As far as I know he hasn’t been suicidal and I have watched him like a hawk.

    • Sarah P.

      Hi Rose,
      That is great news about your son and a best case scenario. Thank goodness.

      I had a much younger family member— about 17 years younger than me. The family this person was born into was surrounded by male figures who were like sexist “Archie Bunker” types taken to the extreme. There was almost a suicide, but I only found that out several years later. That family member lived several states away but I was the only person (around 20 years ago) that person could talk to about their orientation. I listened, told that person I unconditionally supported them, and kept it confidential until that person was ready to start talking to the most open minded family members. The talks started 20 years ago and the affirming (coming from me) just kept going.

      That person has been “out” for about 5 years. I remember talking to that person and reassuring them we would find a way. It’s a small miracle about the changes that occurred. The hearts we believed could never been softened (older male family members) softened to such a degree I am still in shock. But I also rejoice. It shows people are never too old to change their views. This person is now universally accepted along with their partner.

      I found out later that the time I started talking to that person all those years ago and accepting them, they were on the brink of suicide. They did not tell me that at the time. All I knew was that I had to rally around them and tell them it was ok. I accepted them as they are and were.

      Obviously, they survived and it’s a best case scenario that softened the hearts of people whose hearts needed the most softening. I am so grateful this has occurred because the Archie Bunker attitudes are now gone and have been replaced with more gentleness and caring.

      It has been such a good thing for the entire extended family. All the hate has gone out the window and people have learned that the LGBTQ people “out there” that they hate (even though they have not met these people) can sometimes be a loved one who is too scared to come out. I am grateful I was able to start talking to that person years ago and affirming they were ok. They were perfect and I accepted them. I have told my kids to be gentle to the people in school.

      I have been dealing with a suicidal son. I don’t think he is gay, but I had to take him out of school due to him being suicidal and with a plan.

      After many months of talking, he let me know he and a few other random people kept being constantly called “gay” and picked on. That was what started suicidal thoughts. I have told my son it would not matter to me one way or the other and I fully and unconditionallly support him if he has those feelings. He has said people who have those feelings are ill. I say, no these people are not ill and we need to remove the stigma.

      I refuse to buy into the narrative of “defective people” solely based on orientation. This is not a defect or something to be ashamed of. So I have been dealing with these things inside my own family in one way or another for years. I supported people who were LGBTQ as early as when I was in high school and still support them.


    • Sarah P.

      Hi Tired,

      You are right. The pick-me dance can only occur if the betrayed spouse knows they are dancing and intentionally chooses to dance.

      I should have made it more clear that I wrote this article from a sense of compassion. Many people instinctively enter the pick-me dance. It’s a very strong instinct and it’s quite normal to do so. Additionally, many people have told me that I should have played the pick-me dance and been better than her. (With my ex. I would have played it if my ex had not become violent.) Everyone around me was telling me to play it.

      I err on the side of keeping marriages and family together. I should have made it more clear that I wrote this article for people who want to keep their marriages together. I wanted to save them the humiliation of the pick-me dance and explain why it doesn’t work.

      The article was written in the spirit of keeping families together and trying to show that the thing many people naturally resort to (the pick me dance) could make the situation worse.

      Once again, someone cannot play the pick me dance unless they fully consent to it. To consent to it, the betrayed spouse must be fully aware that their spouse is still actively cheating. If a betrayed spouse thinks they are in recovery and if their spouse told them they stopped seeing the other person, the betrayed spouse cannot play the pick me dance. However if a betrayed spouse chooses to play it, I understand why. It is both a gut instinct and something that I hear others tell to betrayed spouses. They tell them to compete and try to up the ante so that a wayward spouse returns. Unfortunately that can create a Garfield situation. Still, I write for the sake of those who want to recover marriages and don’t judge what they do. However I also hope to provide tools and tips to help people recover faster.


    • Hopeful

      I had the opposite feeling. Anything I was doing was for me. The only things that were big changes like weight loss were a side effect of the trauma. One thing I told my husband early on was to leave if he expected me to compete with other women and society’s expectations. I am the age I am. I am not going to go through surgeries. I do and always have worked out, eaten healthy etc. I look younger than I am and take really good care of myself. However I have never been a look at me person. I cannot compete with every woman out there physically or those that can put all their effort throwing themselves on a man. That will never be me. These two ow used all their time to target him and put 100% of a show on for him. I think we all feel insecure at times but I just refuse to have those expectations put on me. I would rather be alone.

      • Shifting Impressions

        I agree with TFW your approach and convictions are wonderful

        The pick me dance wasn’t even option for me either. I told him that I only wanted him to stay with me if that is what he really wanted. I told him it would break my heart should he decide to leave but that I would survive.

        It was never about me winning him back….more about him winning me back. We all deserve to be with someone that values us and “wants” to be with us.

        • Butterball

          ***It was never about me winning him back….more about him winning me back. We all deserve to be with someone that values us and “wants” to be with us.***

          I like this. The OW will do the pick me dance and be clingy, begging, give up her own self-respect to win the man. If you try to change yourself to get picked then you aren’t the person your spouse chose to be with all these years. Yes, there’s always room for improvement but self-confidence in who you are already is an attractive trait that a spouse worth winning back should notice.

    • TheFirstWife

      Hopeful. I applaud your approach and convictions.

      I told my H the same thing. His ego was flattered b/c a 30yo was interested in him.

      And I told him I look good for my age and am happy with my life. I’m not going to compete with anyone for your attention.

      He either wants to be M or not. And st DDay 2 I decided I could no longer remain married to a cheater.

      Funny how fast his mindset changed.

    • Rose

      Oh my, the things the OW said about me. I had weight loss surgery and she told him I didn’t care about him, only myself, and that obviously I was doing it to be attractive to other men. She said I didn’t love him because the surgery was so close to his birthday and I could die, and who would DO that to their H? Doc said if I didn’t lose the weight, next step would be insulin. I lost 100 pounds…for ME. And if he liked it or didn’t, had another A or didn’t…who cares? His As were totally on him. and about his sickness…not mine!

    • Sarah P.


      The way you handled it was very healthy and realistic. I am glad you told your husband early on you would not compete. May I ask how he reacted when you told him he could leave if he expected you to compete? Did he cry? Did he argue? Did he stonewall? Did he accept it?

      It was a wonderful thing you said and a great stand to take and I am curious to know how he reacted.


      • Hopeful

        He almost always has positive and expected reactions. Early on he was defensive in general. I realize that was his coping mechanism. Just as anything he did for those 10 years. As he has said he had to tell himself whatever he needed to just to get through his days and not hate himself even more. Otherwise he would have been even a bigger jerk. He needed to justify his actions in his mind.

        I will say he does get emotional at times. Even during the affair years he would tell me how amazing I was though so sometimes I question if he is genuine. He knows the right things to say in general. He absorbs criticism well and has heard everything in his profession. I think the biggest change is I confront him more now and am firm when I say something. He has done a lot of insight and even the other day said there really is not great answer to “why”. He has told me over and over he had everything he ever needed and wanted. In the end he was broken and not in a good place. I truly believe he will never do it again. He is a changed person. My biggest struggle is that he is committed and a changed man however I worry too much damage was done. We have a lot going for us but for me it is the almost PTSD like symptoms. I really struggle and shut down. For example the other week we were with friends and they brought up a guys trip in a fond way. Well I know that was the first time he cheated on me. I could go on with triggers. And they sneak up on me. I think I am fine and something like that happens I just want to be alone. For me that feels like the only way I can be safe and in control. As I have described to my husband intellectually I know where we are and trust him but I have what I would describe as physical reactions to things that are said, memories or reminders of the past. Even our kids will find pictures from our wedding and I just would rather not talk about that day. It all seems fake. Again I could go on it is a million things that trigger these feelings.

        • Sarah P.

          Hi Hopeful,

          I am really sorry to hear about the continued PTSD like symptoms. The Gottmans validate that affairs can cause both PTSD-like symptoms and full-on PTSD. When they taught their trauma and infidelity module, about half of it was about PTSD and understanding what it is and how it works, before they talked about infidelity. They affirmed that infidelity can and does cause full PTSD in betrayed spouses (or symptoms that are like PTSD in betrayed spouses.)

          I am so sorry to hear about the continued triggers. Triggers certainly sneak up on people (including me). What’s weird is that even though I left my ex behind, I still get triggered. As for the need to be alone after a trigger happens, I hear you. Aloneness can feel so very safe. I need to be alone too when I am flooded with stress brought on by a trigger or other experience. Being alone does provide feelings of safety and control. Betrayal makes life feel so out-of-control (whether we like it or not) and aloneness can do wonders.

          As for worrying about the damage done and crossing into PTSD-like territory, I am wondering if you have a metaphorical “off button” when it comes to romantic relationships/marriages. Here is what the metaphorical “off button” is like: a woman can be very patient, understanding, and always happy to try to work something out with their spouse/fiance/boyfriend. But, after hundreds of occasions of experiencing painful events at the hands of a spouse, one day the woman wakes up and realizes she is no longer in love. All her feelings of love are gone and replaced by feeling nothing at all (a form of indifference). A boyfriend/husband can make great attempts to cultivate love with her, but after the ‘off button’ has been switched off, it is final and there is no way to return to feelings of love. When I worry (for myself) about damage being done, it is because I have the “off button.” Once it is switched off, there will be no way for me to feel love again for my husband. Hopeful, do you get to a point of no return as well? Or is the damage being done about the PTSD-like symptoms and triggers and wondering if they will go away?

    • Sarah P.

      May I ask when your H broke it off with that OW? Congratulations on your wonderful weight loss results. I would imagine the doctor is no longer discussing insulin.

      Rose since you are a nurse and also went through the surgery, I have a question (if you don’t mind sharing) about the age of a person versus loss of mobility. That is, if a 70-year-old is almost disabled due to weight gain, do you have an opinion in terms of cost benefit and/or risks of weight loss surgery? Believe it or not, the doctors have not given helpful answers. Since you had the surgery, I am wondering if you have an opinion on this.


      • Rose

        Sarah, that particular OW was his cousin. I have all the emails she sent to him so I can quote word for word. I’ve debated deleting them but am not there yet. Anyway, he had stopped talking to her by the time I discovered them, yes, though I never did see his responses. Sigh…just one of the many questions that will never be answered.
        Yes, it fixed the upcoming insulin, just not my head! People think it’s an easy fix, and it does work great. But it’s just a tool. You have to continue to eat right and do the right things. Going back to old habits and it comes right back on again. Yes, it definitely will work on a 70-year-old. As a matter of fact, I’m in a “Gastric Sleevers Over 50” Facebook group. There are many many women (and men) who had it done and are feeling so much better. Sometimes the joint damage is already done by that point, but the weight loss does great things at any age.

    • Sarah P.


      Thanks for the information. I have a family member just over 70 who is facing complete immobility due to the weight. The family member is frightened because their age. But, I am of the opinion that they should at least try. The people I know who have had it did a LOT of hard work to lose the weight and keep it off. Did you have a pretty good experience with the gastric sleeve?

      As for the emails from the cousin, it’s definitely a hard choice to make (deleting versus keeping). But the one pro to keeping the emails is that you have factual information you can rely upon. That way if H tries to deny or down-play, you can reference “the facts.” Since many affairs include downplaying and minimizing from the wayward spouse, facts are a powerful thing for you to have. You don’t need to engage in any mental games that might come your way (no one needs to engage) in mental games. However, being able to read the emails for yourself allows you to be less influenced if any future gas-lighting occurs. They are also useful to have if there are unforeseen events that could occur in the future, such as cousin picking up contact again and cousin twisting “the facts” to other family members etc. Its all up to you, but for my own life, I have always journaled things out if a touch situation occurs. Also, you are not the only wife to deal with a cousin. We had a regular commenter who had to deal with a cousin as well. She commented a lot on posts a couple of years ago. Her perspective is worth reading if you are interested. She always had terrific advice. Finally, I had my own experience with my H’s first cousin. It was surreal because my H’s first cousin drank too much and hit on my husband in front of me, in front of her own husband, and in front of her children who were tweens at the time. Yes, her children knew what was going on. Talk about an awkward moment! When I experience these situations in real life, I don’t confront and attempt to steer the conversation into more graceful territory so that no one has to feel bad. I ended up telling my H that it would be great to go outside and call our kids to see how they were doing. This thing with my H’s cousin happened at a wedding where my H and I had to fly to the other side of the country. Our kids were not allowed to come because they were young, so it was easy to recommend he and we go outside to check on the kids. Most of all, I felt sorry for the cousin’s own children. It was sad to see the looks on their faces.

      Has your H’s cousin gone away for now? Wasn’t she leaving packages on your MIL’s doorstep?


    • Rose

      Losing the initial weight was easy. I wasn’t able to even eat solid food for 2 months. But after a year, I stopped losing. I figured it was just a plateau. Turns out that even though I can only eat half a cup of food at a time (with no liquids!), it’s still possible to eat every 2 hours and eat junk. So as I said, the sleeve is a tool, not a fix. I’ve mostly kept it all off though, and I have become much more active.
      I’ve had counselors tell me to get rid of the emails, that they only serve to bring up bad memories. But sometimes I find myself looking at them again and again, which then leads me to more questions. Things I had not thought of before. The other thing I asked H about this thing with his cousin was—was there ANYthing she had on him to blackmail him, or anything she could use legally against him? I made him swear to tell me the truth because I was very concerned that she was a former cop who knew the law and could possibly have something to use against him. Because I didn’t see many email that he wrote to her (just hers to him), I had no idea what he was saying. He said there was absolutely nothing…not that I believe a word he says anymore. Anyhow, she has sort of gone away, but I have to work at it. She lives 3000 miles away and has changed her phone number 4 times just this year. I go into MIL’s voicemail and block the number every time I see the area code. I erase all voicemails. H brings all MIL’s mail home and goes through it, and anything the cousin has sent gets burned. (I see to that.) So she does have a really hard time getting through to her “favorite” auntie (in an email to H, she said she’d rather sleep on the floor with the dogs than spend any time with auntie). The only reason she continues to try to contact auntie is to get through to H. It doesn’t work. I hate the fact that I still have to see anything from her. I told H though that when MIL dies, I get to be the one to write her and tell her that auntie is dead and to f**k off. Honestly she has alienated almost everyone in the entire family, but she’s now telling lies to H’s sister. That’s the only person who will listen to her now. I wanted to write to H’s sister and tell her the truth, and send her copies of her porno emails, but H said not to. I said “Well, what if she tries to poach your sister’s H?” He said he didn’t care—let her.

      • Hopeful

        I am not sure if this is right, but I am keeping everything. I know it might not even matter being in a 50/50 state. And I do not think it would get to that. But I want these as records. I have thought of doing a postnup too. Just never got that far. My husband said if it ever got to that point the kids and I would get whatever we wanted. Easy to say now. I know he sees horrible situations through his profession but again once it is personal it is different. And honestly I want my portion of the money and financial security for what I gave up related to my career. But my focus will always be my kids and my big focus would be limiting contact with women if he were to start dating. I pretty much have locked up these files though and do not look at them.

        • Sarah P.

          Hi Hopeful,

          Well, I will tell you that what took 10 years to save up for and then losing it was not fun. I am referring to my ex and the house. I had worked 10 years and invested with the intent of having a downpayment large enough to buy a home in the high tech neighborhood. (Almost everyone had 1.5 hour commutes each way.) The home I bought was a 15 minute commute and that included a stop at the drive-thru coffee stand. Otherwise, it was a 7 minute commute. One of the OW’s major reasons was getting to live in that area since everyone in high tech pulled 12-16 hour days.
          (At least I did). Watching that get taken away (and not being strong enough mentally to fight) was rough. I could have fought but my ex and the OW had ganged up to grab the house and I was too weak to fight. (It was two against one and those two were playing dirty.) The OW had told people we knew in common that she was hoping to passively drive me to commit suicide. That way she could just step into my life. It was
          too much to handle, so I did not have it in me to fight.

          Because of that experience, I don’t like the idea of being at an age (now) where I got to lose what I have worked to re-create. If a betrayed spouse can dissolve their marriage and keep all the assets, I think that is smart. Many women over the age of 50 (who are left by their husbands) end up in a situation where retirement may not be possible or it may be a retirement where a woman struggles. I don’t think it is okay for someone to be victimized both mentally and fiscally (by losing what they had worked hard to do).

          And the same goes for male betrayed spouses. If a wayward wife wants to cheat and do a cash grab, that is NOT cool. Protect yourself.

          I believe that the betrayed spouses should keep the lion’s share of the assets. They worked hard along side their spouse for many years to build the kind of lifestyle they wanted as a couple. Being cheated on is punishment enough and a betrayed getting the lion’s share of assets (if possible) is a good thing. It’s terrible to lose it all. (I have been there.)

          I am going to be researching family trusts soon. I have wanted to do this for a long time since my parents are friends with a gentleman who has been an expert in trusts for many years. If I am able to interview him and learn anything worthwhile, I will write an article based on his feedback.

          I agree that if a woman finds herself as a single mom, focusing on the kids and limiting their contact with other women (brought by the ex husband) in the good thing to do. I feel the same way. I would focus on my kids because they would need one parent focused solely on them.


      • Sarah P.

        Hi Rose,

        The cousin was a former cop? Eek. People who work in law enforcement have access to so many pieces of information that people outside of law enforcement will not be able to access. (But, you are aware and you might also want to ask H again if OW knows something). She might still have access to some tools to keep tabs on your H and I am glad she lives 3,000 miles away.

        As for your husband not writing emails to his cousin (as far as you can see) it could be that your H did not initiate emails. That is, unless you as his wife know that he is someone who likes to send emails. Is your H someone who likes to initiate communication or communicate via email? (Because it may be that he did not initiate email communication.)

        As for throwing the emails out because they might bring up bad memories, your therapist has a point. However, I like to look at the big picture. If OW was former law enforcement and is still actively trying to contact her most (un) favorite aunt to get to your H, there is still a problem (coming from the other woman). It is a problem even if your H is not feeding the problem. Reading over the emails can be triggering, but the emails are important because you might need them one day. I don’t know your situation in detail, but I get the impression the OW/cousin is not in the most stable frame of mind. You might want to print the emails out and put them in a deposit box somewhere. It’s a way to get them out of your sight (if you want that to happen) but also a way to save them in case you need them in the future. Your OW is still attempting contact and that tells me that this is a situation where you might need to keep proof in order to tell her to go away. That way if you need to file a restraining order, you have paperwork ready. Hopefully it never comes to that.

        Does anyone in the family know about her being so inappropriate? Or are you and H the only two who know about her porno emails?

        What do you think the family would say if they knew about her sending these emails? Have you ever asked your H why him? (No one is a mind reader, but maybe his cousin has told your H why she picked him.) Why doesn’t your H want his sister to know? Any ideas?

        Sorry for the 1,000 questions. It’s just a situation I have not come across often.


    • TheFirstWife

      Hopeful. Get the post-nup signed. It may make you feel more confident in the future.

      You know if you D you will not spend time arguing over assets and things. It is spelled out in the post-nup.

      The post-nup I had my H sign was a condition to reconcile. I was not taking any chances I was not financially protected. All joint assets we split.

      Any money or accounts in my name are not marital assets are that $ is mine. Alone. I haves saved up enough $ that is he left me tomorrow I could survive another two years in my home.

      My post nup was the firm foundation I needed. Knowing my financial future EAs not in the hands of my H – who at the time I had no faith in – reduced my PTSD tremendously.

      My H had no problem signing and has not asked once in 5 years to rip it up. He has confidence we will not D and I have confidence if we do I am ok financially.

      • Sarah P.

        Hello TFW,

        I have a question, if you don’t mind answering. I realize I have asked about setting up post-nups before and wanted to know a little more about how you handled it. It seems discussing financial matters (for couples who are not in crisis) can be difficult, let alone discussing finances when couples are in crisis. You mentioned your H signing a post-nup was a condition to reconcile. Do you have any tips on how to approach this conversation (post-nups) in ways that are productive? (Versus the talk dissolving into an argument for a couple who might be discussing it.)

        Can you tell us more about what the process looked like for you? That is, did you reach out to an attorney first? Did you interview several attorneys before settling on one? If you are in a no-fault state, did the attorney mention anything about a post-nup being honored during divorce proceedings? I live in a state where I am not personally aware of anyone who has written a post-nup, let alone experienced how it was accounted for by a judge during court proceedings. I believe the post-nup is an important tool and you are the expert on these (in terms of the person on EAJ who created one, remains married, and is in a marriage where your spouse has never asked to tear it up.) Maybe I would hear more about these agreements if I lived in somewhere like Los Angeles, but I don’t. Any information is always appreciated.

        Thank you, TFW,


        For everyone, here is an interesting article that discusses the pros and cons of no-fault divorce.

    • TheFirstWife

      Regarding the post nup – My friend suggested it to me and another attorney friend drew up the agreement for free. (women supporting women ).

      The conversation w/ my H was me saying I need a post nup if you want me to stay. All my $ is my $ and not part of marital assets and he agreed. And we went to a notary and signed a few days later.


      I knew about mediation vs divorce attorneys and I had already researched the process, division of assets etc. for the state I live in. i worked for a D attorney for a number of years so I was very familiar with D settlements and my aim was to keep my $ and not give it to lawyers.

      Mediation would have cost about $5,000.

      I have the post nup to protect me and kids. I did not have a pre-nup b/c we were poor when we married. Living paycheck to paycheck. My H did very well and we got into the real estate market at the right time. So we bought and sold our homes with very little additional investments.

      I was looking to financially protect myself from being cash poor. During his last A I had nothing to my name. In 6 months I scraped together enough to survive 6 months and since then I saved more. It’s my safety net.

      There was no process – luckily for me. It was very simple. I have read where it could be contested. But if we don’t D then it’s a non issue. If we do then it’s a long drawn out battle if he contested. But I feel confident I would win.

      • Sarah P.

        Hello TFW,

        Thank you for sharing that; it is a great story and wonderful guidance for anyone reading.
        It is my opinion that women must protect themselves financially, whether there is an affair or not. But, it is absolutely necessary as a female betrayed spouse to protect oneself. The part I love most from your story is when you mentioned the two women were there for you during that time of crisis. A free legal agreement? That is truly a gift. It appears you have protected yourself and I agree that you would win (if it came to that). Your post made me realize that I need to write a blog post about all of the women who rallied around me when my ex and the OW were attempting to break me. I look back at the experience and realize that I largely survived because of the amazing women who rallied around me at that time. I should probably write a blog post about these wonderful women to balance out the writing on the spouse poachers of the world. I found during that time that women I hardly knew would come and support. No matter if they brought me a coffee or simply told me their story of being broken by a spouse poacher, all of it helped tremendously.


    • TheFirstWife

      I think that is a great idea for another article.

      The women and angels that surround us in those tough times.

      I have to say my mom and her mom (my grandmother) are very strong women. Not in a hard way but you are expected to face your issues and fix your problems.

      They grew up working hard and doing the best they could. And during my impending D I did exactly what I believe my mom would have done.

    • Sarah P.

      Hello TFW,

      An article about the women and angels who support us through hard times will be my next article then. I am turning in one on gaslighting— a revisiting of Gaslighting and its emotional dangers to Doug, but will write about the power of female friendships and the “angels” who surround us in tough times next.

      TFW, tell me more about your inspiring mother and grandmother. They sound like remarkable women.

      I too come from strong women, but I am the WEAK one. My mom and her sisters are strong, fabulous women. I wish I had their strength. They came from hardship all the way back to my great grandmother. But, they all worked hard to pull themselves up. I look at what my great grandmother had to do and wonder how she got through. My grandfather’s mom (my mom’s father’s mom) experienced tragedy. During the late 1920’s her youngish husband died and she was left with 8 children. Her oldest son died a year after her husband died. My grandfather was a toddler when this happened. The next oldest son (who was 14) and the oldest daughter had to find work and so did great grandmother. And they managed and were never without food. I have no idea how. As I said, I am the weak one.

      TFW, do you have any stories about your female family members or others who have overcome during adversity? What were your mom and grandma’s mantras or philosophies that they lived by? My great grandmother’s personal mantra was: With God all things are possible.


    • TheFirstWife

      My family is nothing special – my grandmother lived thru the depression. My family was lower middle income but worked hard. We had to make our way in life and pay for things ourselves likes cars and schooling etc.

      My parents had no money to give us so you learned to figure it out. They provided us with everything we needed – we had simple family vacations like beaches or lake visits. No trips to Europe lol.

      But we had fun and appreciated everything we had. I am close with my siblings and we feel fortunate we had the life we did.

      Sorry wish it was more exciting. But I think we learned from our parents a strong work ethic.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi TFW,

        You have a terrific family– the kind of people I really respect.

        I too got nothing from my family. Paid my way through undergrad and graduate school while working two jobs. Had to buy my car and I did not own a car until I was 27-years-old. I relied on the bus system but also lived in Europe in my early 20’s, where you didn’t need a car. Living in Europe was self-funded and part of it had to do with me getting an advanced degree there, which I paid for. My parents did NOT have $$ when I was a kid and the $$ they had for retirement were wiped out in 2008. They are too old to work and my dad is now physically disabled.

        Our family vacations consisted of driving many hours to Myrtle Beach and staying in 1-star motels. Didn’t matter to me. I could walk to the beach and that was all that mattered. I did get to go to England/Scotland/Ireland at the age of 12 but not because my parents had money. My mom was a stay-at-home mom starting when I was 10. My dad was an academic and would submit “papers” to conferences in his field. He sent papers into places we wanted to visited. That European vacation was paid for by his job. But my grandma, who was in her 80’s and who came with us, also helped. The only time I got to go somewhere exotic was when my dad would get a paper accepted in a far-flung location and if his job paid for most of it. Otherwise, it was summer roads-tripping in a 20 year old, and gas-guzzling Cadillac, that my dad’s dad bought him. My mom told me that if I wanted a certain lifestyle, there were several things to remember.

        1) If I wanted that beach house on the outer banks one day, I would have to go to college and get a job and then save for such a house.

        2) They let me know early on that they had no $$ for me to attend college. They had emotional support to give, but not $$.

        3) If I wanted something special like a nice house, I needed to work for it and buy it myself.

        4) Men did not “owe me anything” financially and if I wanted something, I needed to get it through my own hard and ETHICAL work. I started working at 10.

        5) Integrity is not for sale– walk away from any situation that requires me to truly compromise personal integrity.

        The best job I ever had that benefitted me the most was when I worked $7/hour with no tips as a waitress. I walked to my job. I had a Master’s degree, but had moved to a new area and that was all that was available. So I attempted to be a great waitress. I did not complain because it kept a roof over my head (even if the roof was a molding basement someone was kind enough to sub-let it to me.) I never complained. I am grateful for that job because it taught me the meaning of customer service.

        Hard work is exciting and inspiring.

        I did not come from money and that house that I bought and lost to my ex (temporarily) hurt on multiple levels. I had saved and invested for years to get a downpayment. I got that house fair and square and liquidated non 401k investments to buy it. It stings because I worked so hard for that and got it taken away. The house was a symbol of my hard work and saving and investing. I had to earn it many times over, just to have it fall apart.

        TFW you mentioned that when you and your H married you were poor. You mentioned how you worked hard to build a secure future together. There is a real sting to situations when your years of hard work is (almost) taken away by someone who wants your life. It’s a different kind of betrayal and it stinks. I started over from ground zero at 30 years old and worked harder than ever to catch up.

        Did anyone else have this experience–one where you did not come from money, worked hard, and then had someone try to take it away. This is why I like post-nups.


    • CatMandu

      To all who have emails and other info: Keep it. Do not delete it. You may need it in the future. I understand that therapists may think it is not helping you and they may be right. But you can save this info and not keep looking at it. Save it to a thumb drive and lock it away or put it in cloud storage where you have to spend some time to get it. Just don’t delete it.
      Just my 2 cents.

      • Sarah P.

        Agreed 100% !!

    • TheFirstWife

      Sarah. The OW would never have my life.

      I know my H well enough and the weekends could be for the kids. Had we D he would be spending time w/ kids alone. OW not included. I would make sure of that.

      His money? Not much left after child support and alimony.

      Once he was apart from kids I know he would be sad about it.

      So she would be living with a sad, depressed, financially impacted middle age guy who spends his weekends with his kids.

      Wonder how long THAT would have lasted. And no I would not have taken him back. Once you go – you are not welcome back. That I know.

      The OW would never have had the life I have. It’s impossible. If I got one third of his retirement assets – I’m in good shape there. Plus 50% of his pay. Plus 50% of other assets.

      Yup that is what a D would look like for the OW. I hope true love was enough b/c there’s not much left over. Lol

      • Sarah P.


        I love that you take this stance– knowing and then also making sure (through concrete steps) that the other woman would never have your life.

        You are also 100% realistic about what the outcome of a D would look like for the OW and your H. Personally, I have NEVER heard of a situation where a woman under 30 (the OW was 28 at the time… if I remember) wants to “adopt” a broke, middle-aged man with kids who is sending all of his money to his ex wife.

        I do not want to sound cynical, but I have found that married middle-aged men are only noticed by young, single woman, if a young single woman smells the scent of money.

        Yes, money is required to buy food, shelter, and clothing. But sometimes the obsessive acquisition of money can get out-of-control and that is what drives many spouse poachers. They want a certain lifestyle, but do NOT want to work for it. They see a man who they believe has money and destroying their marriage is fair game.

        One time I had the unfortunate experience of coming across a youtube channel about a couple who spoke about their May/December marriage and what it was like to have a physical relationship when there is a 35-year-old age DIFFERENCE. (I blame Viagra. LOL). Anyhow, the young wife was really entitled. She would go on and on about his “evil ex wife” (who was also his betrayed spouse) who wouldn’t leave her marriage without her share of the assets. The younger wife of the man was pissed that the man’s first wife of 40 years got the house and most of the retirement. The young woman (aka spouse poacher) called the betrayed wife “evil and selfish” for living in the house and taking almost all of the retirement. It was embarrassing to watch as she ranted about how she (spouse poacher) deserved the house and how spouse poacher could not go on luxury vacations because the “evil ex wife” took the money the spouse poacher believed belong to her. Yes, the spouse poacher really believed that.

        Also, NOT all affair partners are spouse poachers. And I promise my next article (after the gas-lighting one) will celebrate all the wonderful women I know who have been supportive and positive forces for good. My anger at spouse poaching and women who knowingly date married men is driven by my belief that women should put the sisterhood before men– we should watch each other’s backs and lift each other UP — not be cancers in the marriages of married women. If all of the women in this world made the conscious decision to lift each other UP and have each other’s backs constantly, it would be a beautiful world indeed. In my next article I will write about those amazing women whom I have had the pleasure to call both “friend” and “sister.” As an only child, I have had to find my own “sisters.” They are the greatest sisters in the world.


        • Hopeful

          I think society has a totally messed up view of what a divorce is like. I think both ow saw how my husband lived his life and thought it sounded good. He claims they did not want anything more with him but like you said knowing women and the fact they had nothing to their names really I would argue against that thought. My husband is the kind of person who always pays, picks up the tab for anyone and everyone. He is highly successful and has been for a long time. I am sure there was appeal in that to ow. That is why for years I asked about ow. I was not naive to that possibility. These women have no clue what a divorce especially with children means for their lives. Financially it is a major issue then custody issues will be there no matter how well everyone gets along. Financially having the same amount of money to support two households is a huge strain. Then think of separate vacations. Even with people who make in the $500k-$1 million range this is not easy. There will need to be cut backs at some point. I guarantee the ow never think of this.

          Then layer in custody and time with kids. I am sure even if they see it as good they think there will be time with the kids and put a positive spin on it. I made it clear to my husband I would fight him as long as possible in court for there to be very set boundaries as far as who would spend time with our kids. He knows I am not joking or bluffing.

          Saying all of this it is a huge strain, headache and drain on money. These women are who they are since they do not care or respect any of this. They live their lives a certain way without any respect or thought of others.

          We totally have to rise above and have each others backs.

    • TheFirstWife

      She would have gotten exactly what she deserved for destroying a family.

      You don’t date married men. That is the sisterhood code.

    • Sarah P.

      Hello Hopeful and TFW,

      I was raised by women who lived by the sisterhood code. Even though I happened to be a tomboy as a kid, I hung out with anyone who was nice and wanted to go ride bikes, explore the woods, go swimming etc. My mom taught me to come to the defense of girls as early as elementary school. That is, if a girl was being bullied by girls or boys, my mom taught me to step in and defend the girl being bullied. I always stepped in and befriend the girls others would not talk to. I ensured they had a friend. That worked well until my dad moved us to a rural midwestern town right before high school. He got a great university job.

      However….For the first time in my life, I was bullied daily by both boys and girls, while still finding the energy to stand up for other girls who were bullied. I also made a pact with myself to put women before men. Put female friendships as first priority because I saw men could come and go. I stayed away from any man who was even casually seeing someone. I was not yet interested in boys as far as dating went. Some were cute, but I did not want to date. One time some girl who was a senior tried to beat me up— I was a high school freshman— because her boyfriend broke up with her. Someone thought it would be funny to tell her I broke them up. That was a no. I did all the high school plays and that older boy worked lights and sound backstage. He world flirt or try to pull me into his lap. I don’t think he liked me, I think he knew I did not like it and was yanking my chain. I would avoid him. Someone told his ex I was the cause even though it was a junior girl who was the cause. I had to figure out how to escape a “bathroom beating” by this girl who was the ex girlfriend. I have always made the choice to not get involved with men who were dating someone else. I am not a flirt and never have been. The women who have known me a long time say I am the last person on earth they would worry about. But they know my character and have known me for many years and have seen how I navigated the dating scene or how NOT interested I was in men who were dating others. They have seen how I have handled trials in my marriage. I refuse to intentionally cause another woman’s pain. Everyone can be careless, but I live life with my eyes open and am consciousness of NOT trying to hurt another woman’s feelings. Would be spouse poachers have always been treated graciously, but with boundaries. I also will own anytime I have hurt a woman’s feelings unintentionally.

      The only women I dislike are the ones who destroy other women by stepping between a husband and wife with the intent to do what it takes to break up the marriage. That’s an insanely cruel thing to do— to break up another woman’s marriage and family. And I will continue to call them out. Their behavior is not ok.

      I took the sisterhood pledge years ago. Who stands with me?


    • Rose

      Listening to Gordon Lightfoot this evening sums it up: “I don’t know where we went wrong, but the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back.” – If You Could Read My Mind

      • Sarah P.

        That’s a great song, Rose.

        Have a good night everyone.. heading to bed with a migraine. :-\

        • Shifting Impressions

          I agree that is a good song.

          I hope you feel better soon, Sarah….migraines are so miserable

    • Sarah P.

      Thank you, Shifting. Migraines are the WORST but successfully slept it off.

      I take Tylenol and anti-nausea medicine, wear an eye mask to block out light, and put this song on quietly. For anyone who has not heard that our musical tones were re-tuned in the early 1900’s, it’s a big deal because it was not a good thing. The western re-tuning took away sacred tones and sacred tones can be healing. Look for music with 528hz like this instrumental piece. Medical science is now demonstrating that certain tones and frequencies can reduce stress among other things. Here is a stress reduction song that I use for migraine relief. It helps along with the medication because it calms my nervous system:

    • Rose

      Tylenol does nothing for my migraines. I have to take 2 Excedrin, 2 ibuprofen, and a Pepcid for my gut!

    • M

      Wait, both the nanny and her MOM were having sex with that dude?! Ugh.

      I stand with you, Sarah. Although I don’t believe in the concept of “sisterhood” I do believe in treating others with respect.
      I wouldn’t have sex with a married man, so I don’t want other women encroaching on my relationship with my husband.
      Some things are simply not OK. To me, it’s not about “sisterhood” but more about self-respect and respect for other people.

      The “pick me dance” is sad, but I understand why it happens. I’ve done it myself. This year I went through a time where I did a whole lot of comparing myself with the OW (an ex-girlfriend from his past).
      I almost drove myself nuts. I’m slowly returning to sanity on that issue, but it still bothers me a bit.
      The “pick me dance” will have you losing self-worth if you are not careful.

      I also like the lady above who posted that she caught her husband’s affair just in time! In my case, it wasn’t the ex-girlfriend he was chatting with, but a female coworker. I read their texts (I make no apologies for snooping) and she was obviously testing the waters.
      I confronted him and let him know that her borderline flirty texts needed to stop, that they were both acting unprofessional, and that she also needed to stop asking him for things she can buy for herself (and stop making excuses to meet up if it didn’t involve work).

      • Sarah P.

        Hello M,
        Yes you read that right. The married man in the post was having an affair with the young nanny, the nanny’s mom, and also two of his employees. That fellow was well-known in my area and others knew everyone involved. That happened in 2004, but no one has forgotten it. It was more soap opera like than a soap opera.

        So a coworker was requesting gifts from your husband? That’s extremely odd. When she has a job, why does she need a married man buying her gifts?

        M, I hope that all is well.


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