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What does being a madhatter feel like?

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 MintChocChip (original poster member #83762) posted at 8:02 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

I am separated from WS and currently feeling that will be permanent, but it's been three YEARS of what I call "false R" because although all contact with AP ceased two years ago I feel we never really began "the work".

I have been faithful.

I was faithful when we were long distance and he was having an A unbeknownst to me.

I was faithful for 8 months while he broke NC with the AP several times.

I have been faithful the entire time.

Now we are separated, I feel pretty sure it's permanent - but not 100% sure. We still love each other and he's pretty insistent he's going to use me "being gone" as the impetus to face the hard work he's been avoided. So I can't really say "never" but I do know that right now he doesn't "get it" at all and I am tired of hanging around to wait for him to.

We are not married, we are not even together, but I feel sure if I had a relationship with another man he would certainly perceive this as cheating if we were to ever reconcile. I think regardless of what I think is "official", he would perceive it this way and it would cause him enormous pain.

I found myself on Tinder and matched with many people locally who look like the kind of people I would date. Part of that is just basically being lonely, and part of it is that I feel a lot of A pain that was never resolved and I would like to feel better.

I am just scared to move ahead.

If we did get back together, if he does do "the work", then does that make me a madhatter? If it does, how does it feel? Does it damage things even worse? Or might it be actually good for him to get even a taste of what I experienced? I just don't want to make life any more painful and confusing than it already is, but at the same time I think it would be good for me for ME.

D Day: September 2020Currently separated

posts: 273   ·   registered: Aug. 20th, 2023   ·   location: UK
id 8808735
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SacredSoul33 ( member #83038) posted at 8:16 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

No, it doesn't make you a MH because you're not in a committed relationship with him right now. Didn't you tell him that it's over and to not contact you again? Is that still your status with him? If so, you're broken up, and it wouldn't be cheating. It wouldn't even be a revenge A. It would just be moving on. You have no duty to remain faithful to him at all. And even if you're still talking with him, but not in a relationship with him, it's not cheating.

Or might it be actually good for him to get even a taste of what I experienced?

Don't start dating because you want HIM to feel some kind of way about it. Start dating because you're ready to let him go and see who's out there. If he does happen to find out and feel something that spurs him to do the work necessary to R, then you could always get back together later. There have been a few people here who have done that.

My friend who I mentioned in your other thread who recently got divorced? She was hesitant to date. She was worried there wasn't anyone out there who would find her attractive or want to be with her. Now she's fighting them off with a stick, has been on multiple dates, and is having a great time. And boy, is she over her H. laugh

Love needs action.
Trust needs proof.
Sorry needs change.

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Superesse ( member #60731) posted at 8:17 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

Maybe this is over simplifying, but if you are not married, are living apart and have broken up, seems to me that even with your waiting and seeing, you're free to go out on a "date" that doesn't involve getting sexual. (Does anybody just date like that any more?) I realize assumptions might be made by a jealous X about what you are doing, yet I wouldn't term socializing with the opposite sex "a Madhatter," unless you were to take things beyond what we used to mean by dating. (Coffee dates, maybe Dinners, and hiking, bicycling, siteseeing, all that fun stuff.) Just my old-fashioned take.

posts: 2024   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8808741
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 MintChocChip (original poster member #83762) posted at 8:28 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

No, it doesn't make you a MH because you're not in a committed relationship with him right now. Didn't you tell him that it's over and to not contact you again? Is that still your status with him? If so, you're broken up, and it wouldn't be cheating. It wouldn't even be a revenge A. It would just be moving on. You have no duty to remain faithful to him at all. And even if you're still talking with him, but not in a relationship with him, it's not cheating.

I realise that's how almost everyone on the planet would see it, but how he would see it is "I was broken down, at my lowest ebb, trying my damndest to do incredibly difficult things for you because I value this relationship and wanted to fix all my mistakes and you DID THIS?!!!

So this is my hesitancy.

For that 1% chance that down the road we sort things out, I am worried about getting it thrown back in my face.

D Day: September 2020Currently separated

posts: 273   ·   registered: Aug. 20th, 2023   ·   location: UK
id 8808744
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emergent8 ( Guide #58189) posted at 8:37 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

I can't speak to what being a madhatter feels like. From what I've seen here, it certainly makes R more complicated as you have two hurt partners. If you are realistically thinking that R with your partner is still a possibility, I would strongly advise against this. You say yourself, if he knew about this, it would hurt him enormously.

I found myself on Tinder and matched with many people locally who look like the kind of people I would date. Part of that is just basically being lonely, and part of it is that I feel a lot of A pain that was never resolved and I would like to feel better.

Even if you do not wish to R with your ex, I think your words are making it clear that you are IN NO WAY ready to be in another relationship right now. You are still in contact with him all the time. And your own words make it clear that you are not actually on Tinder in order to move on. It sounds like you are trying to boost your self-confidence with a jolt of someone new. You are distracting yourself from the hurt from your WS with something that will prop up your ego for a small amount of time, but that is not going to fix anything long term. The hurt will still be there when a tinder fling ends. Setting aside the potential harm (or even time waste) of any potential date you might find, new relationships/flings aren't bandaids for other issues in your life. That is the logic of someone in an A.

Or might it be actually good for him to get even a taste of what I experienced?

This also concerns me. It seems like the kind of twisty self-talk that someone might tell themselves in order to give themselves a permission structure from which they can do something they know is wrong. If you are truly done with your spouse (and for what it is worth, I think you should be, but are not quite there yet) then they should not factor into your decision to be with any other person in any other way. He should be a non-issue.

Edit: TO be clear, if you are really done with him then there is obviously no issue. As someone who has read your recent posts however, you are in communication with this person an AWFUL LOT for someone who is really and truly done. You have not detached, and as a potential match, I'd be pissed if someone wasted my time when they CELARLY were not over their ex.

[This message edited by emergent8 at 8:40 PM, Thursday, September 21st]

Me: BS. Him: WS.
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
Happily reconciled.

posts: 2038   ·   registered: Apr. 7th, 2017
id 8808749
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Tanner ( Guide #72235) posted at 8:41 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

I realise that's how almost everyone on the planet would see it, but how he would see it is "I was broken down, at my lowest ebb, trying my damndest to do incredibly difficult things for you because I value this relationship and wanted to fix all my mistakes and you DID THIS?!!!

This would be a complete control tactic. He wants to keep you in his box while he decides what to do with you.

Dday Sept 7 2019 doing well in R BH M 32 years

posts: 3387   ·   registered: Dec. 5th, 2019   ·   location: Texas DFW
id 8808751
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SacredSoul33 ( member #83038) posted at 8:44 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

I strongly recommend some reading on codependency. Facing Codependence by Pia Mellody was what my MC assigned.

You're hinging everything on what he might or might not do. You're broken up with him, but you're still worried about his reaction, what he thinks, what he's doing. I think you need to get right with yourself before you move on to another relationship - or rekindle this one.

Love needs action.
Trust needs proof.
Sorry needs change.

posts: 1180   ·   registered: Mar. 10th, 2023
id 8808752
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EllieKMAS ( member #68900) posted at 8:45 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

MCC, just take what I'm going to tell you with a large salt. My d was final in late 2019 and I am single still, by choice. Part is because I just am not really interested right now, part is because I knew I was planning on moving far away and did not want any distractions from that goal, and part is because my standards are WAY higher and there's a lot less people that meet them these days. And you know? That's fine with me. I'll take quality over a cheap imitation.

Please don't date anyone right now. You are stronger than you have been, yes. You are separated, yes. You don't owe your xwbf anything.

But just my 0.02, I don't believe you're ready to get into another relationship just yet. I think you're still working on your healing and figuring out your new normal and that is all as it needs to be right now. That work is self-absorbed work (healthy self-absorption tho) and you need to be able to be selfish with your time and energy for this next lil bit without having to worry about how someone else feels about it. In order to really heal and move on you need to give yourself time and space to do so, and I just don't see that happening if you jump into another relationship right now. I will also second that dating someone so your ex will feel something is not the right reason to want to date someone IMHO.

Also, whether your x ever gets his head out of his ass and does the work shouldn't be your concern right in this moment. Right now, focus on YOU. Focus on healing, and setting healthy boundaries, and building the life YOU want to live going forward, and filling it with the people and activities that nourish your soul. If your x gets his shit together, maybe someday he will join you there. If he doesn't, you are that much further into a healthy path for you and your future - a future in which you've developed the radar to not put up with any red flags, or pink flags, or yellow ones either. Future you will benefit in amazing ways from the focus you give to yourself and your wants and needs right now.

"No, it's you mothafucka, here's a list of reasons why." – Iliza Schlesinger

"The love that you lost isn't worth what it cost and in time you'll be glad that it's gone." – Linkin Park

posts: 3901   ·   registered: Nov. 22nd, 2018   ·   location: Louisiana
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 MintChocChip (original poster member #83762) posted at 8:47 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

Even if you do not wish to R with your ex, I think your words are making it clear that you are IN NO WAY ready to be in another relationship right now.

I wasn't thinking of a relationship. Just dating.


You are still in contact with him all the time. And your own words make it clear that you are not actually on Tinder in order to move on. It sounds like you are trying to boost your self-confidence with a jolt of someone new.


Yes, is that so bad after three years of R not beginning? Is it so bad to want to just feel better? I know it's not textbook "I went to my cottage and read lots of healing books and did yoga and communed with nature, but the thing is I have done all that. I have done all that for years already. Would it be so terribly bad to just want to have a bit of fun and feel a bit nice for once?

I know that probably sounds terrible, but if I can't be honest on SI then I can't be honest anywhere.

You are distracting yourself from the hurt from your WS with something that will prop up your ego for a small amount of time, but that is not going to fix anything long term. The hurt will still be there when a tinder fling ends. Setting aside the potential harm (or even time waste) of any potential date you might find, new relationships/flings aren't bandaids for other issues in your life. That is the logic of someone in an A.

I suppose I feel I have come as far as I can go in my healing. Read every book, read every thread on this site. Had over 100 sessions of counselling. And through that he didn't participate.

I am here and ready to be shot down earnestly if this is a terrible idea so I am really just happy to get the comments telling me I am single and go for it vs "this is a terrible idea" because that will probably be helpful in getting my head to where it needs to be.

This isn't about revenge though. If I wanted that, believe me, the past three years no one could have blamed me for taking that. I don't want to hurt him. I just feel the last 4 years of my life have been either being cheated on or dealing with the aftermath of that while the cheater didn't participate and there's a lot of frustration involved in feeling like so much of your own spirit and joy was sacrificed for that

D Day: September 2020Currently separated

posts: 273   ·   registered: Aug. 20th, 2023   ·   location: UK
id 8808754
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 MintChocChip (original poster member #83762) posted at 8:49 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

I strongly recommend some reading on codependency. Facing Codependence by Pia Mellody was what my MC assigned.

You're hinging everything on what he might or might not do. You're broken up with him, but you're still worried about his reaction, what he thinks, what he's doing. I think you need to get right with yourself before you move on to another relationship - or rekindle this one.

I just don't want to hurt or damage someone I still love. Even if I didn't love him still, I would still not want to hurt or damage him.

I have martyr tendencies, but I am definitely not codependent.

Being the complete opposite of codependent is what enabled him to have an affair without me even noticing.

D Day: September 2020Currently separated

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SacredSoul33 ( member #83038) posted at 8:50 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

Honestly, if I was your IRL girlfriend, I'd say go ahead and go on some dates. Set your own boundaries for what dating means to you and abide by them.

Love needs action.
Trust needs proof.
Sorry needs change.

posts: 1180   ·   registered: Mar. 10th, 2023
id 8808756
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crazyblindsided ( member #35215) posted at 8:54 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

I am a madhatter who had a revenge affair right after I discovered xWS's A#2. It felt like I literally had lost my mind and went down the rabbit hole. I was angry, I wanted to make my xWS hurt and I wanted to feel better at any cost. What it did to me was break my integrity (I can longer say I've never cheated), it made me feel used, it hurt me, it hurt my xWS, I hurt my family and my xWS thinks I am the same as him.

With that said, no you would not be considered a madhatter because you are not married and not in a relationship with your XWS anymore. He has no leg to stand on if he considered your dating cheating. If you are not completely over your Ex I would wait a bit until you feel you have healed yourself. I waited almost 2 years post separation to start dating (I am not legally divorced yet but it is almost complete). I do not consider myself a madhatter this time around as my XWS know we are divorcing and I have no plans to ever R with him. We are both currently dating other people.

fBS/fWS(me):50 Mad-hattered after DD (2008)
XWS:53 Serial Cheater, Diagnosed NPD
DD(20) DS(17)
XWS cheated the entire M spanning 19 years
Discovered D-Days 2006,2008,2012, False R 2014
Divorcing

posts: 8736   ·   registered: Apr. 2nd, 2012   ·   location: California
id 8808757
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 MintChocChip (original poster member #83762) posted at 8:54 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

Playing devil's advocate - if I were to decide to go on a few dates (please understand I am not talking about having a relationship) just maybe an outing, maybe some conversation: would it be better to tell him or not tell him?

Not telling him feels bad because in his head he hasn't accepted it's over.

Telling him feels either cruel or manipulative.

I realise at this point I owe him nothing, yes, but it's a messy swamp

D Day: September 2020Currently separated

posts: 273   ·   registered: Aug. 20th, 2023   ·   location: UK
id 8808758
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 MintChocChip (original poster member #83762) posted at 8:59 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

CBS

I am a madhatter who had a revenge affair right after I discovered xWS's A#2. It felt like I literally had lost my mind and went down the rabbit hole. I was angry, I wanted to make my xWS hurt and I wanted to feel better at any cost. What it did to me was break my integrity (I can longer say I've never cheated), it made me feel used, it hurt me, it hurt my xWS, I hurt my family and my xWS thinks I am the same as him.

Maybe the problem is that I worry I might feel like that. Nothing to do with what I owe him (because I am well aware that is absolutely nothing) but it really doesn't matter if I would feel like I was cheating (which I think I would). Maybe that's because my emotional attachment to him hasn't resolved yet.

D Day: September 2020Currently separated

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EllieKMAS ( member #68900) posted at 9:01 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

I wasn't thinking of a relationship. Just dating.

Might be just me, but I get the sense that you're an attacher. Not a bad thing to be at all, but that you personally enjoy the deep connection that is part of a relationship. I am not a person that's capable of "dating". I'm an attacher too, like an octopus laugh If I am going to get into another relationship, I WANT a serious one, with shared goals and similar viewpoints. It is okay to want that (tho societal wisdom often says it isn't), I just need to make sure I find someone else who wants that too.

Yes, is that so bad after three years of R not beginning? Is it so bad to want to just feel better? I know it's not textbook "I went to my cottage and read lots of healing books and did yoga and communed with nature, but the thing is I have done all that. I have done all that for years already. Would it be so terribly bad to just want to have a bit of fun and feel a bit nice for once?

I know that probably sounds terrible, but if I can't be honest on SI then I can't be honest anywhere.

No of course it doesn't sound terrible. It sounds very normal for a bs who is still hurting though. Instead of dating, why not join some meetup groups that do activities you like instead? You can get that connection and fulfilment from platonic relationships too.

I suppose I feel I have come as far as I can go in my healing. Read every book, read every thread on this site. Had over 100 sessions of counselling. And through that he didn't participate.

Right. But your focus for the last three years has been R. Shifting focus to just YOU is different, believe me. It's okay if you've hit a bit of a therapeutical plateau, but see where you're at after a couple months of getting of the R train and onto the YOU train. Just saying, but I think your mind will change.

I just feel the last 4 years of my life have been either being cheated on or dealing with the aftermath of that while the cheater didn't participate and there's a lot of frustration involved in feeling like so much of your own spirit and joy was sacrificed for that

Precisely what I said in the last blurb - your focus for these last years has been him, and your relationship with him, and trying to fix it. Your focus has not been on YOU in any tangible fashion. Not criticizing at all with either - giving people give, but I also know from personal experience that giving people give, and give, and give, and GIVE until they are all wtf inside. So take that trying to R energy and pour it into your cup.

I am here and ready to be shot down earnestly if this is a terrible idea so I am really just happy to get the comments telling me I am single and go for it vs "this is a terrible idea" because that will probably be helpful in getting my head to where it needs to be.

I am nothing if not honest, so I will say that you are single and you should absolutely go for finding out about YOU, to focusing on YOU, to rediscovering the person who's joy has been so shut down. I don't see that happening in a meaningful and lasting way unless you STAY single for a while.

"No, it's you mothafucka, here's a list of reasons why." – Iliza Schlesinger

"The love that you lost isn't worth what it cost and in time you'll be glad that it's gone." – Linkin Park

posts: 3901   ·   registered: Nov. 22nd, 2018   ·   location: Louisiana
id 8808762
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SacredSoul33 ( member #83038) posted at 9:02 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

I have martyr tendencies, but I am definitely not codependent.

That's a contradictory statement.

Love needs action.
Trust needs proof.
Sorry needs change.

posts: 1180   ·   registered: Mar. 10th, 2023
id 8808763
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WontBeFooledAgai ( member #72671) posted at 9:04 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

Well, by "just going on a few dates no relationship" you would end up possibly lying to your WS and **definitely** wasting time of the guys you would be seeing. (No straight man I know would want to go on a date where their date is not open to the possibility of sex or a relationship.) I am sorry to say this @MintChocolateChip but going on Tinder seems to be the way to add a lot of confusion to your life.

[This message edited by WontBeFooledAgai at 9:10 PM, Thursday, September 21st]

posts: 860   ·   registered: Jan. 26th, 2020
id 8808765
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EllieKMAS ( member #68900) posted at 9:11 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

Playing devil's advocate - if I were to decide to go on a few dates (please understand I am not talking about having a relationship) just maybe an outing, maybe some conversation: would it be better to tell him or not tell him?

Not telling him feels bad because in his head he hasn't accepted it's over.

Telling him feels either cruel or manipulative.

I realise at this point I owe him nothing, yes, but it's a messy swamp

It's a messy swamp because you're still attached to him. I was married to mine for 6 years, together for 9. We split, got divorced, and I blocked his ass the second I no longer had to communicate with him to get that done and have not spoken to him since. Please understand - I am a ride or die loyal ass bitch and it takes me FOREVER to get to the fuckthis point, but once I do that is IT, I am done. And when/if I start dating again, I don't give two diddly shits if my xwh knows, or cares, or feels any way about it. Also saying that me getting to the done point with my marriage was the HARDEST DAMN THING I HAVE EVER DONE IN MY LIFE. I was an absolute wreck for months. The very fact that you are worried whether or not to tell your ex anything about going on a date tells me that you ain't over him yet.

Just want to say too that it is absolutely 100% OKAY if you aren't "done" yet! There's no magic formula for getting done with a relationship - you just get there in your own self and at your own pace.

So playing along..
Scenario 1: Your ex gets insanely jealous. How does that feel to you? What does that give you emotionally?
Scenario 2: Your ex kinda gives lip service to caring, but he doesn't really. How does that land on you?
Scenario 3: Your ex doesn't care or uses it as a convenient excuse to abandon any of his work and go find someone else. How does that strike you?

And adding here, that alllll of those scenarios also involve a whole ass other person with their own baggage and bullshit they're bringin to the party too. Girl, that sounds tiresome as hell to me, js js.

"No, it's you mothafucka, here's a list of reasons why." – Iliza Schlesinger

"The love that you lost isn't worth what it cost and in time you'll be glad that it's gone." – Linkin Park

posts: 3901   ·   registered: Nov. 22nd, 2018   ·   location: Louisiana
id 8808768
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WontBeFooledAgai ( member #72671) posted at 9:21 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

Well, by "just going on a few dates no relationship" you would end up possibly lying to your WS and **definitely** wasting time of the guys you would be seeing. (No straight man I know would want to go on a date where their date is not open to the possibility of sex or a relationship.) I am sorry to say this @MintChocolateChip but going on Tinder seems to be the way to add a lot of confusion to your life.

I realize my response sounded less empathetic to your situation than I had intended. No one can blame you for moving on and after all you went through, you just do not owe your ex anything. But putting yourself out there to date, does sound like you would be bringing a lot of confusion out there, to yourself and the guys you would be meeting.

[This message edited by WontBeFooledAgai at 9:21 PM, Thursday, September 21st]

posts: 860   ·   registered: Jan. 26th, 2020
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 MintChocChip (original poster member #83762) posted at 9:30 PM on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

Might be just me, but I get the sense that you're an attacher. Not a bad thing to be at all, but that you personally enjoy the deep connection that is part of a relationship. I am not a person that's capable of "dating". I'm an attacher too, like an octopus laugh If I am going to get into another relationship, I WANT a serious one, with shared goals and similar viewpoints. It is okay to want that (tho societal wisdom often says it isn't), I just need to make sure I find someone else who wants that too.

Meh. I rarely attach, but when I do, it tends to be for life like a penguin.

Let's put it this way, I am 45 and have attached twice in my life (which isn't much).

The first time, we were engaged and he died in an accident with me watching. I sat more or less alone, traumatised and crying for the best part of 10 years before really touching another person. I felt my entire life ripped from me in the flash of a second.

And the second time, I really thought I might have met "the one" and everything was going really great and then we ended up long distance for a period and he had sex with a 200lb lunatic. Again, I felt my entire life ripped from me in the flash of a second.

So I guess, with that summary in mind the vast majority of my adult life seems to feel like it's been sitting around crying and grieving for shit I didn't do. I don't feel like I have lived for the majority of my life.

So that's the sense of frustration in me because I (not being conceited) was beautiful once, and now feel less so. I was so healthy once, and now feel a bit broken. I was joyful once and now feel sad almost all the time. I feel like I am watching ME disappear.

After my fiancé died, when I eventually started dating again, I met some fun people and did some fun things (some of these ended up being good friends) but it still took three years to find someone I actually felt a connection to.

When I met exWS it was the only thing that had felt comfortable and right to me since what happened, and it was very slow to grow, slow moving but once I invested completely I was in 100%.

Maybe to some degree those factors played into the decisions I have made.

When someone you really love just dies in front of you, you would do literally anything to have a chance to have them back even for 10 minutes. So I think that was a lot of the reason I stayed. It was hard to give up that hope. It was bad, but he wasn't dead. that perspective changed a lot of the ways I have reacted.

I also guess on some level I didn't want my life story to be my life story. I wanted a happy ending for once. And knowing myself, I didn't want to grieve again.

I hope that explains a bit more about why I am me.

If I seem codependent it really isn't that. Most of my life has actually been spent alone, very carefully waiting for the absolute right thing instead of loosening up, and a huge part of the resentment and pain I feel now is for the waste of my life and my good years (I expect that feeling resonates for all)

D Day: September 2020Currently separated

posts: 273   ·   registered: Aug. 20th, 2023   ·   location: UK
id 8808770
Topic is Sleeping.
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