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Tracy Schorn Headshot

What Kind of Chump Are You?

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Not everyone reacts to infidelity the same way over time. Learning you've been a chump is a new and revolting discovery for most. Some roll with it. Others rebel, determined not to let the chump state define them.

In the beginning, many of us react to the discovery of infidelity similarly -- we're in shock, we sob, can't eat, lose weight, feel numb. Over time, however, our chump persona emerges. Maybe there are stages of chumpdom like there are stages of grief, as we try on different chump variants. (In my opinion, you cannot be a chump until after discovery, when you realize that you've been played. What manner of oblivious spouse you were before discovery is more technically a proto-chump.)

The basic schism of chumpdom I believe comes down to passive acceptance or resistance of the chump state. Here are some flavors on the chump spectrum.

1. Amazon Chump. Some people react to personal crisis the way other people react to differential equations. This is a problem to solve, and if I just do my homework and research this bugger, I'm going to figure it out. Amazon chump spends a lot of time on Amazon.com, naturally, buying every book on infidelity and usually attempting to engage the cheater in study sessions with them. ("You want to SOLVE this, don't you?") Amazon chump is often dismayed that the cheater does not share their passion for discovery, self-analysis, and Cosmo relationship questionnaires. Fond of therapy and online support forums, Amazon chump is outward looking, solution-driven, and analytical. Amazon chump, however, can be faulted for not realizing that sometimes the best response to infidelity is to put down the Rubik's cube and walk away.

2. Limbo Chump. If limbo chump were a Shakespearean character, he'd be Hamlet. To leave or not to leave? Limbo chump is awash in self doubt and recriminations, unable to find the moxie to commit to either path. Why do anything when you can live in a miserable muddle of constant vacillation? Limbo chumps want to keep all their options open, but frankly hate all their options. It's scary out there, and they may screw it up and have regrets, so better to just sit tight for awhile. Maybe the options will improve. Or not. Crap... they're not improving. But maybe I'm not being patient enough... let's give it some more time.

3. Inert Chump. Some people surrender unconditionally. Often confused with limbo chumps ("I'm still deciding!"), inert chumps aren't really on the fence. They toppled over it, curled up, and now moss and lichen are starting to cover them, as rigor mortis sets it. Infidelity paralyzed them and they don't have any fight left. What's the point? Everyone sucks. I think I'll take an nap. And another.

4. Closet Chump. Closet chump is in denial about his chump state. Chump? Who are you calling a chump? My marriage is GREAT! Couldn't be better! This has brought us closer, really. Oh sure I occasionally have mind movies and trigger violently. After puking, I fantasize fervently about divorce court, but I've learned to control that. You can pray it away. Closet chumps pass among their married friends, as stronger, healthier, and more Christmas newsletter-y perfect. But to those with chump-dar, you can see the tell-tale signs of chumpdom. The taut smile, the unblinking Calista Gingrich countenance, the secret life realized on infidelity support boards. Closet chumps are afraid of their true nature, so they're going to smother that sucker with a pillow and hope you don't notice.

5. Recovering Chump. Recovering chumps own their chumpdom. Yes, they got played and yes, to some degree, chumpdom will define them forever. But they're okay with that, and even perversely proud that they triumphed over infidelity. Recovering chumps often prefer the company of other recovering chumps, as they tend not to smirk or call you "bitter." Recovering chumps are secure in their chumpdom. They don't need to flaunt it ("Did I mention that my ex-husband is a serial cheating sociopath with a Q-level security clearance and has an illegitimate child I didn't discover until after the divorce?). It's just a part of them now that they can live with.