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Dear Chump Lady, He wants to be FRIENDS?

cheater_just_friendsDear Chump Lady,

I wish I had found this website a year ago. I would’ve of saved myself a lot of heartache. Reading the stories is so comforting. It’s nice to know I am not actually crazy! I do wish no one had to deal with this shit. After 11 years I was cheated on. I was publicly humiliated and felt great shame. However, I am now trying to move forward.

This is made difficult by my ex’s need to be friends. He will find out I have done something or gone on a date (through friends I suppose) and want to chat to me about it like an old friend. He fails to realize that the way he treated me is not the way you treat your friends or even someone you hate! We share a 5-year-old daughter, which makes contact impossible to avoid.

If I don’t act all buddy-buddy with him, he then switches to pushing my buttons. I believe he pushes my buttons in an attempt to make me lose my shit so he can say “See? You are a mega bitch!” to justify his shitty behavior. I feel so manipulated by his behavior still. I do not want to be his friend. I do not want to swap dating stories with him or have a drink and a laugh. But if I don’t, then it’s being manipulated by his need to make me crazy.

We share our daughter. In Australia the custody laws are such where you have to share care of the children. So they live with both parents equal time. I am so resentful of this. I am so pissed he gets to stick his dick in anything that walks and also get to take my daughter away half the time. It’s so not fair! I want to scream when I think about the injustice of it all. But for my child’s sake I need to be able to let it go and focus my energy on providing her with the best life I know how with the circumstances we have.

I really want to leave a cheater and gain a life. I am so ready, but I still feel so trapped by him.

Thank you so much for your wonderful website.


Dear Mack,

Friends don’t push your buttons and try to make you lose your shit. Assholes do that. Friends are people who genuinely like you and care about your well-being. Friends demonstrate their friendship by doing nice things for you, like say, moving your futon, or remembering you like coconut cream pie on your birthday, or bolstering you when life kicks you in the teeth. Friends tell you the truth, if you ask. And are discrete when you don’t ask. Friends respect you. They like and admire the parts of yourself that you like, those parts that are your best self. Friends bring out that best self. You feel loved and accepted with friends.

Assholes are fair weather “friends.” You’re only in their life because you are of use to them. Assholes have hidden agendas. Assholes don’t respect you. Asshole back bite and gossip. Assholes never want to put their butt on the line and they feign “neutrality” at the first sign of conflict. Assholes have short memories — concerning their offenses (but they hold a grudge over any perceived slights from you). To an asshole, you are an extension of them — and if you shine, they feel entitled to your sparkles. Conversely, if you don’t shine, you aren’t very interesting. You’re B list. Sorry, they’re very busy next Wednesday being fabulous with someone more shiny, but check back, okay? Assholes enjoy being chased. Assholes are controlling and jealous, but will put that back on you — “I don’t understand your hostility!” Assholes keep you off balance, constantly wondering, is this person my friend?

I think you’re pretty clear on the concept that your ex-husband is an asshole and not your friend. But like most chumps, you falter when confronted with “friendly” behavior from a non-friend. You don’t want to come across as churlish or worse, bitter. You’re a suck-up-and-deal kind of person, so what’s a little idle chit-chat? All that shared history, you can’t discuss what you did last weekend? Really?

Hey Mack, if I got mugged last month, I wouldn’t want to discuss the weather with my mugger this week. Or ever. Dude mugged me. Endangered my life, stole from me, frightened me, left me with trust issues. That’s just over a WALLET — this was your MARRIAGE. Your ex-husband betrayed you — he stole your time, wasted your resources, humiliated you publicly — you don’t owe him anything other than what you are court-ordered to give him, namely, time with his daughter. Anything beyond those logistics is completely and utterly UNNECESSARY.

As I’ve said here before, talk to your ex with all the emotion you reserve for your local county tax assessor. Do you discuss your dating life with your tax assessor? No. You do not.

Being all business with your ex does NOT make you a bad person. It makes you a person with boundaries. He used to be inside your circle and now he is not. He fired you from the job of giving a shit when he cheated on you. To not want to play nice doesn’t make you a mean, begrudging soul — it makes you a wiser soul. Your time and attention are valuable. They’re gifts. You give those gifts to people who are worthy of them — friends and family. He is not a friend and he’s no longer part of your family, even if you respect the fact that he’s part of your daughter’s family. Your only job is to ensure that he sees his daughter, that is it. You don’t have to control or mediate that relationship — your daughter will figure out her dad in her own way, in her own time. It will probably end up sad, but once she’s a bit older, don’t be surprised if she chooses not to spend much time with him. All the mindfuckery he uses on you, he’ll probably use it on her too, because that is who he is. But she’s 5 now, and you’re going to have to ride this out a bit longer.

The reason he’s interested in your love life is about control. It’s not a “friendly” line of inquiry. You were kibbles to him, and now you’re not. He’s a kibble vampire, and he will hate to see other men get the kibbles he still considers his (I know this is delusional, but narcissists are like this). He’d much prefer his place of centrality in your life. If you can’t have him, best you be pining about, sobbing over TV dramas alone on the weekend, collecting cats. You have a life? You’re dating? Fuck. That’s the end of cake — and like most cheaters, even if he no longer enjoys cake with you, he’d like to keep that option open. A boyfriend would really complicate things.

He’s watching you — for kibbles. To see if you’re still hung up on him. And when you don’t play? Guess what — he pushes those buttons. He acts out. He punishes you. If he can’t get positive kibbles, he’ll get negative ones. Your reactions make him feel powerful.

Mack, you don’t need this shit. It takes two to psychodrama — step away from the crazy tango. Don’t talk with him. Shut. Him. Down. People cannot manipulate you if you don’t give them a look inside your head — so don’t.

He’s asks you about your weekend? Divert. “Let me get Sally’s lunchbox. I think I left it inside!”

He wants to make small talk? Tell him you’re busy now, gotta go. You can be polite about it, but be firm. This isn’t a good time to talk. It’s NEVER going to be a good time to talk. Hopefully he’s not too dim, he can connect the dots.

Keep the lines of communication open via email and text about your daughter (only your daughter). In fact, I’d suggest you only communicate in ways that can be documented. It’s also much easier to parse manipulation when it’s sent as an email. He’s used to snowing you in person. He gets an immediate payoff doing that — so time to change the terms of engagement. Don’t be available.

You’ve got 13 years to master this — and I promise you it gets easier. He’ll keep trying those buttons from time to time — but it will increasingly strike you as pathetic. As your new life crowds out your old life, he will be more and more of a peripheral figure. An annoying buzz. His next bozo move will probably be to triangulate with your daughter, but you’ll need to shut that down too (divert, don’t answer, smooth over, etc.) Perhaps get your daughter some therapy as she gets older. She’ll need to learn boundaries with him too. But meanwhile, you can model them to her.

And Mack, modeling self respect is a huge reward, that will influence your daughter. Don’t raise a chump. Your cheating ex-husband is not your friend and it would be confusing to your daughter, and to you, if you treat him like he is. He’s a person you have to share your daughter with, unfortunately. That’s all he is. A logistical puzzle. A person to coordinate schedules with. Don’t give him any more of your soul than that.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • There’s not much I can add to CL’s spot-on summary. I will say that my ex narc husband of 20 years also wanted to “be friends” after our divorce. What that really meant was he wanted to maintain control over me, he wanted to fuck with my head and hurt me when he was bored, he wanted to keep me hung up on him in case it was ever to his advantage, he wanted to pretend to be friendly in case he needed a favor from me and most of all, he wanted to butter me up for financial advantages in the divorce and afterwards.

    I finally told him to never contact me unless it was an emergency regarding our son. He tested me like crazy for awhile, with endless stupid texts. I ignored them, and he finally gave up. But he then sent me a text lashing out at me for ignoring his “friendly messages.”

    These guys are nuts, they are control freaks and most of all, they are kibble eaters. You cannot be friends with a person who wants to harm you. Have the most limited contact possible, dealing only with your daughter. Anything beyond that is none of the ex’s business.

    • I like this, GIO…but my problem is that my ex and I cannot co-parent civilly. My son is nine and he tells me he wishes ex and I were still together while telling ex everything is happy-happy. Says he’s afraid to tell his Dad how he feels. Ex says they talk about emotions all of the time and their relationship has never been better.

      I try to explain to my ex that son is still raw and needs more time to adjust (I left 16 months ago, divorce was final four months ago. Son held out hope that we’d reconcile. Dad kept cheating). I have explained that having his GF spend the night while son is there is in violation of decree and confusing to son. Ex says his GF spending the night there **shows my son how much she cares about my son**. Ex says his relationship with son has never been better, they’ve all never been happier and he wishes I could be happy, too. Mind you, I share nothing of my personal life with him. All he knows is I have a BF that my son has not met – I’m not ready for that yet.

      So I am in the process of asking my divorce atty to assign a parenting coordinator to our case. I just can’t let the mindfuck continue with my son – the lies, the blameshifting, the emotional bullying and manipulation. Ex is extremely resistant to the PC. Says he won’t comply with the order, nor will he do anything the PC says.

      So, Mack, I know exactly how you feel – I get a pit in my stomach anytime I have to communicate with him about my son (even over email) because I know multiple digs are coming back at me. If your ex won’t stop the emotional abuse because you won’t be his friend, this may be an option for you in AUS.

      • Co-parenting/parallel parenting with a douchebag is enough to drive anyone crazy. I hate it. If my husband dropped off the face of the earth, I’d hold a private party and cheer. I think in the long run it would be easier for my kids to accept the fact that they just never see Daddy then it is to see him 4 hours in 6 weeks. He never calls, he never shows he cares about them. It’s so sad for the kids. When I do see douchebag to drop off the kids, he wants to make small talk. Really? REALLY?! I give him the hairy eyeball and grunt, kiss the kids goodbye and I’m out of there. He’s no friend of mine.

          • Thanks Kay…It is indeed crazy-making. 50-50 custody is a particularly nightmareis scenario. I just brace myself for the day my son runs across internet porn and the graphic exchanges ex will eventually return to once the shine has worn off of his current relationship.

  • I sooo needed this post today.

    Thanks CL.

    Andy’s been feeding our 7 year old daughter messages that “Mommy’s being mean” because I refuse to play buddy/buddy with someone who spent a DECADE lying to me.

    Good job asshole.

    Teach a seven year old its mean to set boundaries with people who hurt her. What do you think she’s going to be doing when she’s seventeen?

    • Oh WOW! He can’t fuck with you anymore so he is going to fuck with your daughter. He is truly an arsehole. I’m sorry xx

    • What an asshat to tell your daughter that you’re being mean. They really have no souls at all. Being a good parent is the last thing on their minds, so freaking sick.

  • Mack, I cannot imagine what it is like to have to co-parent with an asshole like that, but I know that a lot of the other chumps on this site are managing to do just that. I think they should be able to build on CL’s excellent advice.

    I’d like to suggest that if you’re not in therapy that you get into therapy. You’re angry with your X, and very justifiably so. Eventually, you will get to “meh” on Tuesday–some Tuesday–but in the meantime, you are allowed to be angry. Unfortunately, that anger makes it easier for him to push your buttons because, as CL says, negative kibbles are better than no kibbles. If you can learn to draw the boundaries, then you can keep your dealings with him focused on business. This doesn’t mean that he won’t try to push your buttons, but more that you’ll be better at locking those buttons down so that he can’t get at them.

    Perhaps one day he’ll get tired of trying to push them.

  • First thing I thought, when I read that you were “publicly humiliated,” was, no, wait–YOU are not humiliated, HE should be.

    So, here’s how it works. You accept humiliation. And the minute you realize he is an asshole not worthy of one second of your time, except to handle the details of kid hand-off, which takes under 60 seconds MAX, then, you see, HE wears the humiliation.

    Because when you are no longer friends, it begs the question–why not?

    See, now, you are useful to him. He can say, “Aw, yeah, right, Mack and I are friends.” As in, “It’s totally cool that I bailed, she’s totally fine with it. No problem.” The minute you ARE NOT friends? That shit goes cold. And you refuse to eat the shit sandwiches, and YOU ARE NOT THE HUMILIATED ONE! HE IS!

    “Oh, HELL, no,” he thinks. If you try to give up your one-sided “friendship,” he uses every manipulation tactic to open the line back up, including shaming you. You don’t want to be seen as BITTER, do you? What’s your PROBLEM, Mack?? EVERYONE is friends with their ex! It’s a sign of evolved thinking.

    Uh, no. No, it is not. It’s a sign of shit-sandwich-eating. Unfortunately, a lot of chumps don’t have that figured out yet, and so they carry a parasite around for the rest of their lives, in a humiliating display of lack of self-worth.


    Put on a dress, look all gorgeous, and get your game on! Goal is to put him off as quickly as possible. He wants to chat and tell you everything, eyes glazing over if the conversation turns to you? Uh! Too busy! UH! Not now, gotta go, sweetie! We’ll talk later! Mad? I’m not mad, how silly! Gotta go! Channel your inner liar–I know, it’s hard for us chumps, but you can do this. Start timing how quickly you can end conversations with him if you can’t avoid them altogether. Stick to e-mail or text, with a strict limit of, say, TWO texts from you per conversation, or 3 sentences per e-mail. DO NOT LET HIM provoke you, but DO study his methods, in order to remain detached. Note how he loves to talk about himself, or play victim, or use anger. Can you spot other methods? LIMIT conversations to 30 seconds. Be up front–“Look gotta be very brief. I’m in a hurry.” No, he does NOT need to know why, and you do not need an answer. If he asks, just answer, “That’s not important. I need to know what time to drop off Muffy. I put her green socks in her bag.”

    Avoid his shit. Make it a game. It’ll be fun.

    • Thank you so much i so needed to read this especially the part about being friends with your ex being a sign of evolved thinking and not being bitter. Its like the only way i thought i could ‘rise about it’ was to act like friends but i am beginning to realise this isnt the case and it will just be a way for me to “carry a parasite around for the rest of their lives, in a humiliating display of lack of self-worth.”

      He is also worried about our friendship groups. But i dont think the worry coming from him is about the friends but himself! The friends who were involved with the cheating want me to be included in one big happy friendship group and keep texting and inviting me to things but i believe this is a way for them to think they didnt condone and accomplice anything wrong and if i just act happy and hang out with them then its all ok! They are not my friends either.

      I am really evaluating what friendship actually means. Thank you

      • If these ‘friends’ enabled the cheating in any way I would let them know, in no uncertain terms, how much they suck. Not as much as your ex, of course, but suck they do.

        They don’t want to think they do, hence the invites and the attempt to be as all were normal.

        But, we all know, even they themselves, that they suck.

  • Oh I just ADORE the mugging analogy. Will definitely be using that lots.

    Well, Mack, like you, I have to parallel parent (co-parenting is not a possibility) with an absolute monster of an exH. And I agree wholeheartedly with CL’s advice to conduct all kid business (and only kid business) via email and text.

    So, doing that over the past year, I have gradually managed to shift our interaction from his hot/cold, friendly/abusive communication to purely business contact (using CL’s suggested tools of setting boundaries and ignoring exH’s communications that don’t comply with the boundaries). Have had to send several simple texts along the way to the tune of “Verbal abuse is never ok. I will be more than happy to discuss this topic with you when you can address it in a civil, respectful manner.” Have also had to ignore many long rants about how much he is suffering, how difficult his life is, blah, blah. Have also had to tell him to remove me from his phone contacts list so that he doesn’t keep “inadvertently” sending me texts meant for the OW. “I love u so much, cant believe what soulmates we are, puke, puke.” But, over the 11 months, all this has slowly worked, and he now leaves me alone, other than kid business.

    So, keep at it. It’s a slow process, but even narcissists can be trained, somewhat… Good luck!!!

  • Hi I really like your views on this. My daughter is 20 but Stbx keeps contacting her trying to be her friend, but at the same time he’s asking about me, so using her to ask if I’m crying or upset about him. Also Stbx has said he would like us to remain friends, er why? He’s marrying the OW why do I want to remain friends with him. He ate cake for long enough, he’s made his bed he can lie in it.

    • Way to go Lilypicke!. Just tell you daughter to tell him you are fine and moving on with your life NOTHING MORE.

    • LOL.
      I am a firm believer in expressing a firm boundary exactly once just to be clear.

      “Look, I’m not going to be asking you to sit a place for me between you and the new Mrs next Thanksgiving, and I don’t imagine that my next husband would like you coming over after I remarry either, but I am confident that I will have a great every Thanksgiving and the rest of my life without you being in it. Thanks for asking, though”.

  • Mine tried to pull that “let’s be friends” idiocy as well. It’s nothing more than a ploy these cheaters pull so that they can feel good about themselves and delude themselves into thinking that they didn’t do anything wrong. “Why, MovingOn and I get along so well that my selfish, disgusting behavior wasn’t selfish OR disgusting! She clearly wanted me to have an A and blow up our family life– look at how nice she’s being to me!” And, of course, the cake of my friendship goes along so nicely with the cake of his A, so why not go for a double serving– it’s twice the cake with none of the guilt!

    The whole “let’s be friends” attempt (typically used by the dumper toward the dumpee) is all about the dumper trying to avoid guilt. Instead of admitting to him/herself that he’s hurt the dumpee, possibly for very selfish reasons, the dumper can use the friendship to tell him/herself that it was “all for the best” and that he/she “wasn’t really hurting anyone.”

    Grown-ups take responsibility for their honest emotions: “I’m not attracted to you anymore and want to break up.” Emotionally-stunted folk, especially of the cheating variety, want to deflect the responsibility and then sweep it under the rug: “I wouldn’t have cheated if you had spent more time listening to me talk about my navel lint. Can we still be friends?”

    • “Instead of admitting to him/herself that he’s hurt the dumpee, possibly for very selfish reasons, the dumper can use the friendship to tell him/herself that it was ‘all for the best’ and that he/she ‘wasn’t really hurting anyone.'”

      Exactly. It’s why it’s such a popular theme.

      It totally factored into xH’s fantasy, he would get the new plaything OW, and I would be the “friend” mother/secretary and everyone would see what a total master at life he is and the kids would bask in his glory and everything would be rainbows and lollypops.


      Oh, to be fair, there ARE lots of women who put up with that shit, so I suppose it wasn’t out of the realm of possible, if one only considers one’s own navel, but, on the other hand, I never developed a taste for shit on sandwiches.

  • The woman next door has 3 children under 10 and has given keys to both her boyfriend and ex-husband. Her ex has 50/50 (seems more like 80/20) custody of the kids and comes over regularly to do her yard work, household maintenance, etc. The boyfriend comes over to do her. He’s there more than her kids.

    The other day, the ex was dropping off the kids early (like 7 am) and the boyfriend – who had obviously stayed the night – was still there. It was an ugly scene. I felt so bad for her ex.


    Because HIS idea of “staying friends” is to play the “pick me dance” to try to reconcile. He’s obviously not over her. HER idea of “staying friends” is to eat cake and enjoy free handyman and babysitting services while also bonking the boyfriend.

    I know it’s none of my business and no one’s asking for my help, but it’s really hard to watch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman be that selfish. She’s a horrible example for her kids…

    • Ugh. That is painful to read about. He’s continuing to be chumped, big time. Is there any way you could anonymously give him the address of this website?

  • Mack, I know you know this; He does not want to be your friend. He wants to manipulate you.

    My x really wanted to be friends, or as he put it, he wanted a place in my life. When I let down my guard for one minute, he again showed me who he really is.

    I saw him in person only once in the last 14 months, at the divorce hearing. At that time, I had recently had a kayak accident, and was really bruised up (on my arms, from hanging on to a log in a raging torrent, but that is another story), so I chatted with him a bit about kayaking. At that time he told me that I should come to the house (that we once shared, but now is his) to pick up my kayak. “Take it. It is yours,” he told me. Uh, okay, that seems fair enough. It was just one of many items that I left behind in my frantic evacuation of my home last summer, so I thought that maybe it would be okay to take him at his word and just go to get my kayak. But I knew that something was going wrong when it took over 19 (literally) emails back and forth to arrange the pickup. Did I need a rack for my car? He could take me shopping and use his company discount. Did I need help lifting it to the car? Etc.. Finally I asked if he could just leave it on the driveway and I could come and pick it up while he was away. A day went by without hearing from him, and then came his charming reply:

    “Pass… the only reason I wanted to give you the kayak is to spend time and talk with you. You don’t want that.”

    “Pass???” What an a$$hole. So, I was lied to and manipulated in this one small, simple interaction with the man. He never wanted to be decent, or treat me as a friend. A normal person would think “I have her kayak. I should give it back.” A disordered person thinks “I have her kayak. How can I use this to my advantage?” The worst part is that I know he has no idea how creepy he is to admit that he lied to and manipulated me. He is so far gone that he can’t even see that.

    I know that my story is only a minor incident, but illustrates how these NPDs manipulate even the simplest circumstances to try to gain advantage. There can be no “friendship.”

    • The simplicity is the beauty of it! You are so right. he is such a JERK, he doesn’t even see how messed up his mindset is! LOL!! No kayaks n’ kibbles for him!!

    • Mine thought he’d be able to come over, hang out, drink wine, eat dinner and all would be the same…except he’d be banging OW. I did it exactly once, at the very beginning, when I thought it was a good idea to try this stuff for the kids. But it didn’t work very well because I asked what was going on with OW and that ‘ruined the evening’. What an idiot I am and what a dick he is.

      • I also tried the “come over for the boy’s birthday and let’s pretend like we’re still a family” thing precisely once in the beginning as well. He came over, sat at the head of the table, ate, and then fell asleep in the recliner in front of the television – just like he always used to. A rare evening with all his kids, and he spends it sleeping in front of the television. Even when he’s there, he’s not there. It ticked me off. I woke him up and told him to go home. He did.

        • To Red- do you have a camera in my house because that’s exactly what my STBX did when he was home. Eat and fall asleep in the recliner when I’d be cleaning up and he had the opportunity to play with our son. The irony of that recliner is I spent my 1st Cheistmas bonus in years from my new job to buy it for him for his birthday in December and I said it was the best gift I had ever given someone because it seemed to make him so happy. Then as I’m piecing things together this last “girl” he was “with” started up around the time my son and I gave him the damn chair. What an asshole!

  • I did the whole “let’s be friends” thing myself… when I was fourteen and breaking up with my first boyfriend.

    If a divorce is sought by both sides, then maybe they can remain friends. If the break up was sometime ago then maybe the two can be civil. No matter what caused the split the two parents should at least be able to hold their tongues at events like weddings, graduations, funerals, etc. Even then, all that is required is that there’s not a scene, not that they sit down and share a few jokes.

    • Not a believer in being friends with exes. It’s just a way not to move on, IMO.

      Civil if you must deal with each other, yes. Friends, nope.

      Plus, it kind of puts whoever you’re dating in the future in an awkward situation that they don’t have to deal with if they choose to date somebody who doesn’t have that kind of baggage… which would be true of most people.

      I prefer, based on experience and having done everything else first and finding out the hard way, clean breaks: you go on with your life, I’ll go on with mine, and there’s no point in us fouling up every future relationships for one another.

      • I’ve no personal experience with the “friends with exes” sort of thing, obviously. However, when I’d just started working, one of my employees had been divorced for well over 10 years. Her daughter must have been practically in diapers when this occurred. She said that over the years, she and her ex had to see each other regularly due to the co-parenting stuff. Talking about the child was relatively neutral, and they developed a better relationship post-divorce than they’d ever had married. That said, she’d never consider a romantic relationship with him ever again since she could see when he was being a jerk, which she could never see when she was married to him.

        I can’t see myself being friends with STBX, though. Civil, yes. I live in too small of a town not to be. Friends? No. Good thing I won’t have to worry about mutual friends wondering how to treat us. He tends to be very socially isolated.

  • I am so blown away by this amazing advice. Thank you CL and thank you to comments. I am stilling here in a flood of tears, good tears cause i am finally starting to feel empowered. The advice is so scarily accurate to how he is.

    “Assholes have short memories — concerning their offenses (but they hold a grudge over any perceived slights from you). To an asshole, you are an extension of them — and if you shine, they feel entitled to your sparkles. Conversely, if you don’t shine, you aren’t very interesting. You’re B list.”

    This this this! It was like that in the relationship! All my slights were grudge held even ones i didnt know i committed. And in the relationship if i wasnt all shiny i was tossed over for something better. Lightbulb!

    “Assholes enjoy being chased”

    Yes! Stop doing it Mack even unintentionally!

    I’m printing out the mugging analogy and i am going to read it every single time i have to deal with him.

    ‘He fired you from the job of giving a shit when he cheated on you’

    I so need to hear this. This is the truth.

    “He’s watching you — for kibbles. To see if you’re still hung up on him. And when you don’t play? Guess what — he pushes those buttons. He acts out. He punishes you. If he can’t get positive kibbles, he’ll get negative ones. Your reactions make him feel powerful.”

    This is so true. They do. Really powerful but as of today i no longer am handing him that power.

    “And Mack, modeling self respect is a huge reward, that will influence your daughter. Don’t raise a chump. Your cheating ex-husband is not your friend and it would be confusing to your daughter, and to you, if you treat him like he is”

    So so true! I’m not going to raise a chump. No way. She deserves better then that and so do i. Thank so much. I feel ready to take on the world when i read your your advise and the amazing comments from all the wonderful chumps. Thank you so much.

    The mugging analogy is so spot on.

    • All of CL’s advice rings true for me too. It’s amazing how cheaters all read the same playbook. It’s almost like everything they do is scripted by the personality disorder manual.

      Mack – I loved your line “I feel ready to take on the world….” You go girl! Start your awesome amazing new life.

  • River, that is one messed up guy to use a kayak to hurt you all over again. Sheesh!

    My ex wanted to be “friends.” Right after he left he emailed “we are not leaving each other’s lives, we will still be doing things with our sons and ‘their lovely ladies.'” Honestly, that’s what he said. Our sons did marry attractive young women, but what a time for the ex to sound like a creepy old guy. What a friend.

    Anyway, he also told my son not to worry because “your mom and I will still be friends.”
    But he seemed really confused at how upset I was, how I was just cut to the core and didn’t want to see him. He kept trying to begin the settlement negotiation — he had it all thought out — while I was still reeling from the bomb he dropped in my life.

    Yeah, what a great friend. A person I really want to keep in my life.

    I chose to move out of our house because I couldn’t possibly take care of such a large property on my own. My ex was so kind to offer his help with loading my furniture up the day I left. I told him I didn’t want to see his face again. He seemed pretty confused and somewhat disappointed. Guess he was trying to be a compassionate friend.

    The mugging analogy is a good one. Some people in my family would tell me “he never says anything bad about you, you shouldn’t say anything bad about him.” They didn’t understand being chumped, they believed his story that it was a mutual decision. Their assumption was the most irritating thing of all. I kept wanting to tell them “if someone broke in and robbed you, do you think he’d go out and tell the world what he did?” Of course not. He’d keep quiet. I’m not saying I was perfect, but I didn’t lie for years, fall in love with coworkers, plan a divorce behind his back and then pull out rug out from under him. I didn’t rip his heart out and then try to take advantage of his shocked state. Friends don’t do shit like that.

    • “If he thinks so highly of me–you know, using his words–they why did he lie to me and screw another woman?”

  • I’ve learned that any interactions with our child are through text or email. I also have a therapist on hand to give advice regarding time spent at each parents etc. but for now it’s 50/50. I also know that for our child the best thing I can do is be civil. We are not friends. But, for me, it’s important that our child has a relationship with my ex. I want him to know it’s ok to love both of us. Having said that, we are not friends. I don’t engage in conversation around anything outside of our child and like I said, that’s through texts or emails.

    I know he’d love it if I were “nice” to him so he could feel better about what he did and think, “Geeze, it’s great. We’ve all moved on!” Not so much.

    It’s a delicate balance but I find less is more. I feel better the less I know about his life and the less he knows about mine. This for me, has taken time. It’s a learning process. I know better as time goes on. I know this: We aren’t buddies. We aren’t friends. We shared a history but it’s just that, history. We do share a child and that child has the right to an opportunity to have a relationship with my ex. Time will tell what that relationship looks like but that’s not my call. As long as it’s not dangerous to the well-being of the child, it’s hands off.

    It truly sucks to have to parent with someone who hurt you so much. But in time I suspect I’ll find a good balance and you will too. Wishing you the best.

  • Mack, repeat this over and over “I don’t care what he says, he’s an asshole and his opinion is not worth shit”. You know, like that guy that flipped you off in traffic the other day? Do you really care that the asshole flipped you off? NO. Now, when your ex punches your buttons, when your first thought is anger, turn it to laughter or contempt or whatever works for you. CL is spot on that the asshole will go for anger if he can’t get anything else, it’s a control issue. My ex loved to say horrible things or like yours pretend he’d done nothing wrong and fuck with me because I wouldn’t be “nice” and save me from how often he told me his OW was wonderful to get a reaction. Oh how I got tired of hearing about my “anger management” issues after he’d say something threatening or nasty to me and I reacted by being upset. So I fixed that.

    After a while I found the remedy, one that took that power from him (hugs CL, you tagged it well). Even before I didn’t care about him I found a calm place in myself and when he would “punch my buttons” they didn’t hit the mark. I could do this once I realized he was doing and saying the shit to fuck with me, doing it for no other reason, it was over and done. It’s not exactly “meh”, it’s more like “fuck you asshole, you cannot piss me off, you aren’t worth the effort, I don’t respect your opinion so say whatever, it’s not bothering me”. Total indifference was devastating to my ex, the only thing that really fucked with him was that he COULD NOT FUCK WITH ME ANYMORE because I didn’t care what he said. It felt good to take that power back.

    To those who know my story (or not), this is not recommended if your spouse is abusive. I think my refusal to respond in any way to his shit had somewhat to do with the final crazy near shooting. I think the fact I showed him I did not care drove him to escalate his control actions. So if your spouse is abusive take care with this strategy. In fact, if I could redo I would have given up on keeping my home and run like hell, sometimes you don’t really believe how dangerous a person is until it’s too late, or damn near.

    • “I don’t care what he says, he’s an asshole and his opinion is not worth shit.” – Datdamwuf.

      I will recite this first thing every morning, I will chant it on my way to work and I will say it every night before I go to bed. That is the perfect mantra. Talk about rewiring your brain. Simple yet perfect.

      Thank you Datdamwuf! You rock!

  • “Dude mugged me….”

    Bwahahaha! Love this.

    And Mack, you’ll make some mistakes even yet, but you’ll see, as thensome says above, less is definitely more. And it gets easier and easier as you learn the new way of barely communicating. There is a lightening and freedom you cannot appreciate until you go no contact (or in this case, low contact–just about the child, and only what is REALLY necessary). Good luck, strength and (((hugs))) to you.

    • I am trying to learn this, too. It’s only been 3 months since I left, and I have sent a few terrible emails and texts, which I now regret. But then again, I’m normal. And when he knew it was over for me, after I discovered his 4+ year long A, my STBX did not apologize and refused to admit to it (although it was confirmed by OW). So I felt I needed to vent all of my anger and frustration, and the only outlet felt like emails and texts telling him what a shithead he is.

      Now, though, I’m afraid he can use that in the D. So I’m done communicating with him, and thank you for helping me realize anew that he feeds off of this stuff! Especially since OW went back to her husband and now he has no one. That must’ve killed him 🙂

  • The problem with narcissists is they actually believe the only reason your dating is to get them jealous. That’s how fucked up they are. They think you’re in their game. It’s sick. They think its about them. That’s how selfish they are.

    As far as the kids go, especially with little ones who couldn’t understand his problem anyway, just explain that Mommy and Daddy both love you very much but aren’t happy together anymore. That’s how I handled it. My older ones, I point blank told them not to ever do what their mother did if they get married and if it happens to them, don’t put up with it and leave. I said this right in front of my STBXW.

    Conversation with her is text or email only about the kids.

    • I’ve had that conversation with my kids: do not ever put up with anyone treating you badly and do not treat others badly. You’re unhappy in your relationship? Either deal with it or get out. Do not start dating others while you’re committed to someone else. If you meet someone while you’re in a relationship and want to pursue that? Get out before you take one more step in that direction. But if you’re married/have kids you had better realise that you will meet people along the way that might ring your bell. Think long and hard before you take steps to destroy that family you’ve built. Shiny and new always gets old and weigh whether it will be worth it.

      They get it, I think. I really hope so, actually.

  • My children are grown and my STBX tries to use them to get at me. I read something the other day about divorcing a covert narcissist and how when there is a custody hearing they will fight you tooth and nail, even if they don’t want the children, because they want to continue to get to you, to hurt you. Apparently, there can also be an adult child version of this which my STBX attempts to utilize. Who knew?

    I have always been the responsible parent, the one who made sure that the kids always had what they needed, not what I wanted them to have (as in it didn’t matter if it was inconvenient or I couldn’t have what I wanted). He is trying to make everyone accept the OW even though my adult children know she is the OW and she is not a decent human being. She does a lot of posturing, but her behavior lets you know she is not a quality person. My husband basically keeps attempting to get the kids to hang out with them, become a part of “their” family, in an attempt to isolate me from my children and to hurt me.

    My friends don’t try to hurt me or try to manipulate me or my children. As CL so succinctly put it, he is just an asshole. He is not only trying to mug me, but he’s trying to mug my children and take them hostage. I used to say he was not a nice person, which implied there was hope of an aha! moment which could inspire a change. Now I just say he’s a bad person which indicates he is beyond hope.

    I used to hope for a friendship because my parents always remained friends and friendly. Now I would just settle for not being featured on an episode of “Snapped.”

  • Friends? Friends don’t betray you. Friends devastate your for their own selfish desires. Friends don’t throw you under the bus.

      • CL is so correct – assholes do not good friends make. It would be funny actually, if this whole thing wasn’t such a clusterfuck. My STBX didn’t want to be friendly or talk to me until I went completely NC – ignoring his texts, not emailing him regarding anything he did to goad or incite me – things that would usually make me ballistic and have me calling him or sending a testy email or text message. Now all he gets is the static in his head. While I may still get ballistic, he has no idea. I vent to my therapist, friends or come and read CL’s very excellent advice, and remain blissfully NC. I am angry that I poured so much of myself, emotionally, physically and financially, into someone and a relationship where it was not reciprocated in any meaningful way, but that’s why I’m in therapy.

        Every week or two he does something asinine that he is sure will get back to me and infuriate me. Really Dude? Go play with your OW. My bake shop is currently closed and not taking any orders.

  • “Hey Mack, if I got mugged last month, I wouldn’t want to discuss the weather with my mugger this week. Or ever. Dude mugged me. Endangered my life, stole from me, frightened me, left me with trust issues. That’s just over a WALLET — this was your MARRIAGE. Your ex-husband betrayed you — he stole your time, wasted your resources, humiliated you publicly — you don’t owe him anything other than what you are court-ordered to give him, namely, time with his daughter. Anything beyond those logistics is completely and utterly UNNECESSARY.”

    I love this, too.

    It is one thing for a self-absorbed idiot to want to use your friendliness. It is a whole other exercise in restraint when third parties–FAMILY, even–indict you for not “getting over it” and expecting you to be “friends” with the cheater. You know, the guy or gal who lied, stole, betrayed, hurt, endangered you and your kids.

    I’m going to practice being sweet as pie–Southern-style, maybe, in my reply.

    “Oh, bless your heart! I know! It is so sad that we can’t be friends. But, oh my Lord, I am so blessed with the bounty of friendship and love in my life, that I really cannot see spending any of my time with someone who broke my and my kids’ hearts. I really loved him and it just hurts too much to try to be friendly with someone I have no reason to trust, you know? He is such a drain on my soul. I’m sorry it’s hard for you to understand, but I’m glad you can’t. Don’t worry about me–I am really doing well! I have been so busy with the people and activities I love!”

  • As always, CL, great advice. The mugging analogy, as a bunch of contributors have noted, is perfect!

    Some thoughts:

    In this message the word asshole is a synonym for narcissist. One thing that you say this in this post and in the previous is “centrality.” Narcissists want to be the center of attention, even if that means making trouble, creating chaos, or doing so by being “friendly” (after they’ve done the equivalent of run you over with a steam roller). “What, YOU don’t forgive me???!!!” For the narcissist, the Chump’s forgiveness is an entitlement. That’s whey they excel at word-salad apologies. “I regret causing you hurt.” They don’t say, “I was a jerk, and I regret what I did.”

    On communicating with a narc: I have a friend who has what I call the spoiler ex-husband (SEH?) He just wants to be difficult. (Maybe some time we should discuss how to handle these spoiler-exes?) I have advised her to write to him in something like PowerPoint bullets.

    -Will pick up kids at 6.
    -Joey needs dental work. Dent will call u.
    -Jill-honor roll.

    I think Narcs love to entangle word-talented Chumps in emotional/verbal skeins. A minimalist approach to communication (writing in haikus and using Twitter type slang) is something I’d suggest. The less emotion you show these characters, the less kibbles for them. And, sadly, they get kibbles from riling you. Anyway, that’s a suggestion. I have not been in the situation of being chumped by infidelity (my chump experience is as Chump Son), but I noticed that, relative to my father, my brother went minimalist-communication and it served him well.

    An idea. Thanks again for a another great comment. And thanks to all the contributors, too. Every time I visit this site, I learn an amazing amount.

    • For my two cents,

      I would have loved to have heard an “I regret causing you hurt”. That at least takes ownership.

      What I got from Andy was, “Gee I’m sorry you got hurt,” which takes about as much ownership of the cause as if he was commenting on a natural disaster on the other side of the planet. “Gee I’m sorry you lost your house in the mudslide.” No ownership of his own actions.

      And this as he’s trying to guilt me to take him back “for the good of our child” while simultaneously threatening to kill himself if I refuse. And then he announces that I’m abusing him.

      Seriously, cannot make this shit up.

      • Wow. That is pretty bad. I”m sorry you “got hurt?” Like it was meteor strike or something?

        Anyone who threatens suicide like that is not someone you want to be with.

        Hang in there.

      • I just find this site and have soooo much to say, but I’ve been too busy gobbling up all of these morsels. But I had to break my silence to comment on this.

        “I’m sorry you got hurt” and “You weren’t supposed to get hurt” were the bane of my existence when everything fell apart two years ago. All I wanted to hear was that he was sorry he DID it. But I knew he wasn’t. And reading about narcissists on this site had made me realize that he couldn’t say it even if he were sorry he did it.

        But the “hurt” fall back? Really asshole, what part of sticking your dick in a married whore wasn’t supposed to hurt me? Oh, right, because you’re really only sorry that I found out. Then you should have been more careful to actually sign out of your damn email account! “You weren’t supposed to read that.” Duh.

      • I got “I’m sorry you had to get that letter,” when I got the anonymous note telling me of the long-term A. LOL! What a joke of an apology. Later on in the conversation he said “I’m not going to wear a hair shirt!” Really, who asked you to? Take it off and run as fast as you can to OW! Oh, wait, she doesn’t want you either. Sorry, I digress. But apologizing was never in Don’s (as in Don Draper) repertoire. (Yes, I hate calling him by his name, because, like others THAT GUY I married was someone else, not this Don). I’m glad I’m gaining some distance with the help of this site.

  • Mack, this is hard, I know! If you’re like most chumps, you’re a fundamentally nice and polite person, and when someone acts all friendly, you respond in kind! Plus you’d like to have a good co-parenting relationship, right?

    Except you must remember that you’re not dealing w/a normal person, here! You’re dealing with a self-centered jerk! And he doesn’t actually want to be your friend (that would imply MUTUAL interest and MUTUAL caring), he wants you to treat him well, a) because it makes him feel good to be treated well, and b) because it means he’s a fine person, not really a self-centered jerk! And if you won’t treat him well, he wants to see you upset, because that means he’s still important to you. It’s all kibbles to him!

    I found it very helpful to have specific strategies to deal w/the ex’s attempts to be friendly and to chat (always about him, of course!);

    – First is to avoid physical proximity as much as possible; there’s NO need for him to come in the house, for example, in dropping off or picking up your daughter. Have her ready, and feel free to keep him on the porch. If you must be in the same place as him (my daughter wanted both of us at her last birthday party), just keep moving to another room if he tries to chat.

    – Having a good excuse to cut things short helps; a pan on the stove, a call you’re in the middle of ….

    – When he mentions something about himself, three stock answers; ‘that’s good’, ‘that’s too bad’, and ‘mmmm’. And NOTHING more. No polite follow-up questions, no encouragement for him to continue telling you about himself.

    – When he asks about your or something you’re doing; ‘fine’ and ‘not much’. NOTHING more. Then change the subject. It’s none of his business, and he has no right to know ANYTHING about you now. He threw that in the garbage along w/your daughter’s intact family and your trust and love.

    – If he wants to talk about something having to do w/your daughter, ask him to send an e-mail (so everything is clear and you won’t forget anything!).

    – if there’s anything personal in e-mails or texts, just completely ignore that part and respond only to anything practical, financial or parenting related. If a message is all personal, don’t respond at all.

    And you do all this with your nicest, most fake smile! So you’re POLITE, no more.

    If your ex is like mine, he may respond w/accusations about your not being friendly, etc. I just told mine (in an e-mail, so he can’t as easily ‘forget’ about it as much other stuff) that we needed to be polite and respectful of each other, and I would continue to do so, but that friendship was no longer an option.

    And if he persists in pushing your buttons or wanting to argue about the ‘can’t we be friends?’ thing, you are ENTIRELY within your rights to politely say ‘I’m not interested in this conversation’ and WALK AWAY. Or if he’s too obnoxious, the slightly less polite ‘I don’t have to listen to this’ and WALK AWAY.

    Takes practice, but it gets way easier, and is totally worth it for the increased peace of mind you get w/reduced contact w/the jerkface.

    • Wow. I agree with David–these are GREAT suggestions. Takes practice at first, but then I bet it gets really easy.

  • I’ve been thinking more about this “forgiveness-entitlement” that narcs have.

    They put the burden on us Chumps to forgive them, as if we are some kind of automatic dispensation machine. It’s a nice little bit of mental jujitsu, turning to a Chump and saying, “Wow, you really are angry. You really can’t forgive. Boy, do you have problems!” when, in fact, the narc has just abused the Chump in some serious way.

    I also think that Karen E’s comments are great. They go way beyond my push for PowerPointspeak for these idiots. It’s the same idea, but she breaks it down into useful, minimalist phrases that would serve on almost every occasion. I’d say write them down on index cards and memorize them!

    Narcs hate to be ignored.

  • Hi Mack,

    I was married for, geez 14+ years. STBX wife had an odd habit, while we were together, of casually saying “oh, if we were to ever get divorced, we would still be friends” – which always struck me as an odd concept. Since we had a great (or so I thought at the time) marriage, my usual response was “No, I doubt it”, which offended her.

    Of course, now I realize that “getting to still be friends” lines up with maintaining the good old double-standards we lived by for years, with me playing my role as Chumpy Mutherfucker.

    It is a rather unnatural thing, I think, to cut off someone that was so important to your life for years, and whom you share a child with. It just feels wrong. It’s why we “Chumps” have such difficulty doing it. Personally, it is a struggle. It feels like your hurting yourself and your children, too.

    As some of us have mentioned here, you have to “fake it” until you “make it” to Meh. It’s not revenge, but rather, it’s about playing fairly. So, your Ex cheated on you? Did he tell you that beforehand? No? Great. No need to discuss your love life now, is there? You don’t need to know shit about his, and he does not need to know shit about yours. And, in fact, you are wide open to flat out lie about it. You don’t owe him the truth.
    Remember, no matter what, no matter how any conversation goes, it’s about him. You get a choice as to how he is going to shit upon you:

    “Oh, your dating someone? Cool! Now I can hurt you by telling you about my girlfriend. ”

    “Oh, your not dating anyone? Now I get to degrade you, cool! Why are you not dating? You need to move on, and live a little! I am!”

    Head he wins, tails you lose. If you play at all, your playing a rigged game.

    So lie. Answer different questions than he asks. Are you dating anyone? Give him the answer HE GAVE YOU when you first asked if he was cheating on you. “Oh, we are just friends!”. If he asks who, say, “Well, no one in particular”.

    You don’t need to respond to his emails or texts that are of a non-important nature. In fact, not responding will drive him bat-shit crazy, because you have cut off his Narcissistic Supply with Extra Awesome Sauce. Take away a child’s toy, and they cry. Take away a Narc’s Kibbles, and holy shit. They don’t like playing by the same set of rules. Was he passive aggressive? Hurts like shit, right? Don’t do it “back” as a source of revenge for yourself, but you can “go short” on response. If he pounds away at a subject, and you have to respond, answer a different question, or quote some whack-a-doodle philosophy that makes zero sense in the context of what he’s seeking:

    “So, how’s your Social Life the days, dear Ex?”

    “The horizons befall even those that seek its knowledge” or some random Zen fortune-cookie crap like that.

    Be “super-busy” at all times. “Dive” into your work or whatever it is that you do. Be unavailable. Smoke screens and mirrors. Remember, he’s a cheater, so he’s already mastered these same techniques. Since he knows your a Chump, he will be seriously caught off balance and won’t know what to make of it He will waffle between thinking your not capable of the same manipulations that he employs, to paranoia that indeed you are. He will eventually accuse you of dodging him on purpose. Of course you have, but don’t tell him the truth. If your forced to say anything for whatever reason or feel compelled to respond, just give it the old “I have been soooo very busy – thanks for understanding!”.

    If at all possible, answer questions of importance regarding your kid with “yes” or “no” or “Tuesday 2pm”.

    It is part and parcel to regaining your own footing, and give this stupid little game you have to play with your Ex as little personal pleasure as you can. Avoiding that, and treating this as an annoying waste of time rather than a tasty kibble or two for one’s self should help in framing either “guilt of lying” that would normally feel wrong, and the wrongness of inflecting pain upon others – which is what your Ex did in the first place.

    Good luck and hang in there.

  • Hi Mack. As a fellow Australian Chump, I’m sorry you’re going through this and can relate to your problem.

    Since I left my STBXW over 2 months ago, NC has been the single most difficult issue.
    She is BPD/NPD, manipulitive, can’t tolerate my rejecting her, blameshifts, gaslights, is totally disshonest, has tried to blame me for her cheating. The package of shit these people create to control us.

    And yet, she not only wants to be friends, she wants to be BEST friends. When I drop the kids off, she wants me to stay for a wine, have dinner, for the kids sake. Yeah right. She insists that it’s showing the kids we are good parents.

    When I let down my guard, she takes it as another opportunity to hoover me back in.

    I’m not far into this and haven’t got to the point of shared custody, but she’s agreed to it, at this point, and I hope NC will become more regular.

    Mack, it sucks, I know. We just have to stay strong. Good luck!!!

    • Yeah, just turn your back and call out over your shoulder, “Gotta go! And I AM a great dad, thanks for looking out for me! Bye!”

      She’s a cake-eater, that one.

  • Hi Mack
    Another Aussie here.
    Mine wanted to be friends and come for dinner and at first I encouraged it but it was only so she could cake eat and try and get back on side.

    It’s like kidnappers kidnapping you , getting paid the ransom and phoning up a month later and inviting you out fir dinner.

    My councelor told me you cannot be friends. In years to come maybe establish a new friendship based in dealing with the kids and where you both find yourselves but fir now FORGET IT BACI!( not my real name)

    Just focus on yourself and beautiful children. Try and establish minimum sight contact and keep all communication strictly business.

    Not sure about the custody laws but I have the boys 76% of time but that’s by agreement.
    It’s much harder with younger children and my heart goes out to you dealing with the ex.


    I did it. I finally told me wasband to fuck off. (not those words, of course). He is welcome to have FULL CUSTODY of our abusive 18 year old son with “high functioning” (bordering on the psychotic) autism, however.

    no emails. no complaining about how awful the son is to live with. (I don’t care any more.)

    no coming with our young adult sons to hear me sing in a show this weekend. (he actually thought he could do that after fucking me over by not allowing me to come on a family vacation.) And YES!!! I’m in a show!!! Its just a little cabaret thing and its fun.

    You see… we are SUPPOSED to be friends and if he could just show me a modicum of respect, then sure… we could be friends and we could still do stuff with our children, but its ONLY ON HIS TERMS.

    not really fair, now is it? but then… fucking around with countless women behind my back wasn’t fair either. He said that he refuses to draw our children into OUR MUCK. That’s the problem. ITS HIS MUCK!!!

    and its taken me quite a while… but it really IS impossible. Because cheating lying husbands who are trying to get back at their mother through fucking over every other woman on earth… ARE NOT MY FRIENDS

    no birthdays. no holidays, no coming over to hang up my mirrors. If I need computer help… and I can’t fix it myself… I’ll hire someone ELSE. Anyone else.

    no contact.

    I feel so much lighter!

    • Haha!

      Atta girl!

      You once were blind but now you see.

      Don’t get weak-kneed. Just find and hold onto your resolve. You can do it. You don’t need a cheater in your life. (EW-UH!)

    • Congrats! He won’t have the balls to take on full custody of your son, and you probably already know it. He talks a good game but like you said, it’s all good so long as it’s on “his terms” Bye-Bye Double Standards! Fuck him and fuck them all. You *don’t* need a man to help you hang jack shit. Google’s your best friend for computer problems. (assuming you still have an internet connection). More power to ya.

      • thanks guys! ugh. google and I have a borderline personality disordered, co-dependent love/hate relationship. LOL As for “custody.” Well, Aaron’s an A-dult now, but he’s stuck with the cheater and they live like college students. (unfortunately, Aaron is not going to college) Wasband will be 62 in October, BTW. Hardly a spring rooster, now, is he?
        I WILL have times that will be difficult and I will feel stressed, but not nearly as agonizing as being made to feel as though I don’t exist; don’t matter; and I played some part in his sick twisted game. Cheaters, above ALL ELSE, need to feel JUSTIFIED.

        After all, if there’s no justification, then that makes them some kind of a monster, doesn’t it?

        • High Fives to you Laurel (plural, because I’m slapping both of your hands)!!

          Yes, it is hard, for me as well, but like everyone says, it does get better.

          I can so relate to the things you post! Are you perhaps my sister from another mother? 🙂 🙂

    • WEird, Laurel, that you mention the mother thing. I honestly have started to believe that this all comes down to his controlling and overweening mother, who has had her head up his ass since birth and now that he’s in middle age and lost his wife she’s right back there, taking the number one spot in his life, despite OW. I really think it all comes down to the fact that he could never stand up to her, never say no, always did what she said even when he didn’t agree, let her make big decisions about his life…and the only thing he had control over was his dick and when he got married felt like I had control over his dick. It’s a fucked up view but I ran it by my therapist and she said I’m not far off the mark.

      • Yeppers. would say more, but I’m off to rehearsal! its me and a bunch of teens/early 20 yr olds and one 86 yr old woman!!! LOL Oh, and we’re using puppets for some of the numbers. crazy show!

  • My ex was like that too.

    I remember the breakup going in stages. I was super depressed and falling apart (that was the lowest point of my self-esteem) and I tried to keep connected to him and that was just bad. So I decided to take my friend’s advice and stop talking to him altogether. I was in therapy at the time so I had some help with that.

    About 5 months of no contact and I’m one week into a new relationship. HE starts texting ME. I’m wondering what the hell he wants and what happened to his tart. Conveniently he doesn’t tell me. But he asks me if I want to get coffee with him or come see his new puppies. When he started asking me if I remembered the first time we had sex and if I wanted to get some chicken strips (?) with him, my (then boyfriend now husband) was like “Am I invited to that? No? Then quit bugging her.”

    He would sporadically text me every two months or so. Trying to be all friendly. He kept trying to be “friends” until I found out about all the stuff that he thought I wouldn’t. THEN I became a liar with a problem.

    A cheating ex asking to be friends is such bullshit. It’s such a slap in the chump’s face. They want to be friends? Maybe they should have thought of that before they cheated on you and betrayed your trust. Them even asking for such a thing is insult to injury. That’s like stealing someone’s car and then coming back and asking to borrow a lo-jack.

  • This post makes me sad. Yesterday one of my kids said that when he thinks about the future he always thought when he had kids we’d all be there, me and ex as grandparents and everyone happy and together. And now all that’s gone and he wonders if his dad and I will ever be able to celebrate those big holidays together one day. It made me so sad to hear him say this and that he worries about this stuff. I had to explain that I can’t predict the future but that right now it wasn’t going to happen as is dad has behaved very badly in more way than just the cheating. HOw awful that this kid has to deal with this crap because his dad couldn’t keep his dick in his pants.

    • Yes, this is what cheeses me The Absolute Most. Narc had his own grandkid if you think about it, and stole that place in the natural order of things away from my son and daughter. His place was to be a grandfather to their kids — not trying to relive his early adulthood in some grand do-over where the place where my kids were raised was sacrificed to lawyers fees and divorce settlement.

      My kids will probably postpone having kids of their own until he’s either gone or too far over the hill to make a pest of himself trying to worm his way into their lives using getting the young kids together as a tool.

  • My ex hasn’t been gone even a full 2 weeks yet and he has already been back 3x to get “shaving gear” and all sorts of other things and even asked,”since I’m here to get my razor can I just shave here and since I’m going to shave here can I take a shower too and watch tv before I do all of that?”. He conveniently didn’t pack up things when he left. 3 DAYS after he left he was already sending me text messages implying he wanted to come over and have sex. That was immediately shot down by me and even till this morning he attempted sex in a sort of “flirting manner” and that ended in a text fight with him. One of the last things he wrote was “you can say what you want but I still have the texts where you were begging me to stay”. Who saves that stuff?? A narcissist, that’s who! I know I should not give in to his drama but I couldn’t resist and tell him how happy I am that he didn’t stay and how much better I’m feeling since he left and all of that is absolutely true. We have a sweet 5 year old son who we just found out has a severe peanut allergy. I guess when it comes to scary things about your child you go to the other parent for some sort of “comfort”, which he is good about. He does love his son and I feel like I’m mourning the loss of the family I wanted rather than my husband. In retaliation for denying him sex he is now in full force trying to push divorce within the year. In November we would be married for 9 years and I don’t want anything finalized before 10 years because them I’m eligible for a lot more than I am now. I’m calling a lawyer today to see where I stand. I wish I were a widow instead (lol).

    • “you can say what you want but I still have the texts where you were begging me to stay”

      I have seen fossilized dinosaur skeletons in Natural History museums too, but they’re no alive any more either.

    • Michelle, I took me 6 months to get Ex to give me the keys. He was furious when I asked him to ring the bell, not just walk in the house. I couldn’t change the locks without his signature due to a weird legal thing we had on the place. He still has shit here but I’m slowly disposing of it

      • I’m in a bit of a spot because I still need him to pick up our son 2 days a week and watch him on Saturdays if he isn’t working. Because he just moved into an efficiency apartment there isn’t much room for my sons things and the STBX doesn’t cook (go figure), so for the comfort and adjustment of my 5 year old I’m trying to be “obliged” to have him go to the house on JUST THOSE TIMES. He got the point the other day and seemed quite annoyed by it, but I’m holding strong and as the adjustment period closes and hopefully he gets a better place to live, I’ll be changing the locks.

        • Michelle, why is it your problem that he doesn’t have a decent place to live, and ‘doesn’t cook’? Your ex is STILL managing to get you to accomodate to his choices and laziness! That should be on him!!! I understand you want to make this easier for your son, but this is ridiconkulus! He can manage fine in an efficiency, and so can your son, if your ex makes even the tiniest effort!
          You could at least give him a time-line; if he hasn’t got his life in order to take his son to his own place within a month, then he gets your son only for a few hours at a time, OUT of the house! He’s five, not a tiny baby, he can manage!
          Your ex’s entitlement is HUGE, eh? Mine, too, but I had to learn to set limits (no, you cannot do laundry at my house, a year after the separation!!!)

          • Even when I was a kid I understood how to use the microwave and the toaster and how to pour soup out of the can. Failing that adult men should know how to call for food. There’s no need to be a person chef unless you’re getting paid.

            • I don’t know why it’s even thought to be acceptable in any way to not attempt to open a can of soup or boil water. My STBX just said he’s going to buy a microwave so maybe that’s a start. I told my mother he’s going to either get really skinny or really fat from me not cooking anymore for him. I hope it’s the latter! He should know what it’s like to gain weight and still Have to take care of another persons need to be fed. Jerk! Lol

          • I completely agree with both of you. I’m working towards that. I just sent over a bunch of toys and games for my son and told the STBX to have our son draw pictures for his new place so he feels a part of his new home. One thing this guy does is love his kid, even though he won’t cook for him. He usually brings him out to eat. I’m trying each day to back further away and he knows it and I don’t feel bad for doing it. I do however worry about my son and what he is seeing. I don’t want him to be like either of us. I’m staying strong for him. I don’t want him to see a pushover in me, so as this progresses he will see more boundaries and not his mother get taken advantage of. But that’s a whole other topic I guess.

    • Michelle, have you filed formal separation papers yet? The clock might start from that point, and not when the divorce is finalized. Also, length of time to official divorce varies by location: in my US statebitbis a minimum of 6 months. In my case, it took 7.5 months from filing until judge signing.

      Good luck with the attorney.

      • In my state there’s no such thing as a “legal” separation, but there is something called “bed and board” which from what I understand is a divorce without the actual divorce until one of the parties wants to remarry. I would still be under his health insurance (which I need) and I would get money for my bills and child support. I hope the lawyer can keep me from getting screwed. I certainly didn’t marry for financial reasons but I absolutely refuse to get stuck financially because I married an asshole.

  • I’m reading all of the replies. I think I’ve learned a huge lesson on just what to show my son, and be a good example to him in regards to when he is upset when another child he considers to be a friend is mean to him and yet he still calls him his “best friend”. I think maybe he has watched MY so called best friend treat me like shit and I still put up with it. I hope through my actions now and in the future he sees me as a strong person who didn’t put up with it anymore and sees his mother thriving and happy without that false friend around. I don’t ever want to bash my STBX to my son. That is his father who he loves, but through the difficult lesson I have learned about being treated badly I pray he puts it together and learns by example. MY EXAMPLE. Anytime I feel a little weak I think of the 5 year old and he makes me stronger. I know he is grieving right now but if I were to EVER go backwards I would ruin not only my life, but his as well. I could never live with myself knowing that.

  • Here’s what happened when I tried to “be friends” with ex during the time our divorce was proceeding.

    He sent lots of friendly text messages, and would invite me to go out to breakfast and such with him and our son. We did a few family outings, went out for ice cream, etc.

    Despite the fact that I was the one who filed for divorce and despite what an unbelievable CHEATER he was during our entire marriage (with other men as well as women) I would leave these friendly outings feeling sad, torn and wanting him back. It created terrible turmoil in my mind. He would be all friendly, nice little text messages or we’d have a nice conversation. I’d start smoking the hopium pipe like crazy.

    Then, the night before what would have been our 22nd anniversary, he sent me a text asking me if I wanted to go to breakfast with him the next morning. I had this surging hope he was going to say it was all a mistake, he wanted to reconcile, we shouldn’t go through with divorce (which was still underway during this time). But something inside made me hesitate, and I told him no, I had other plans.

    Well, the next morning I received a lengthy email from him on how he had decided to take off his wedding ring (he had removed it when I went ahead with divorce, but then after a few days put it back on, saying he wanted to be reminded that he was “still married.” Funny how that ring didn’t stop him from fucking hundreds of other people during our marriage.), he was changing his Facebook status to single and he didn’t want me to be hurt if he started posting pictures of him with other people on Facebook.

    I realized that the whole thing had been a setup. He was friendly and led me on for months, still wearing his wedding ring and giving me hope because all along, he planned on hurting me this way. He wanted to be the one who DUMPED ME, although symbolically, on our anniversary. It was revenge for my filing for divorce. He wanted to take me to breakfast and tell me all that in person to hurt me and crush me. Thank God I listened to my intuition and didn’t go. There was absolutely no reason to meet on our anniversary to tell me he was changing status to single, taking off ring, etc. Our divorce wasn’t even final yet.

    I can’t even tell you how staggered I was when I realized his game. He played me like a fiddle the whole time. He knew exactly how to keep me hoping, while really, he offered nothing at all other than a few nice texts and words. It was a fun game to him, and it was just to hurt me and get revenge.

    After that, I blocked him on Facebook and no longer have any contact with him beyond the minimum required to discuss child support. He still tries to hurt me whenever he can, though.

    • OMG! What an asshole! And THAT is really an insult to rectal openings everywhere! That is just sick, fucked up and disordered on so many levels! I am upset and angry on your behalf

      I got a stomach cramp when I read this because, while not exact, it is so similar to my STBX’s behavior – except he filed for divorce first (on the sneak and tried to have me served on the sneak) in order to hurt me. So much of what he does is to hurt me. I don’t talk to him at all, don’t respond to texts at all – nothing – radio silence – and he’s still trying to find ways to hurt me. WTF!!!

      What is it with these people?!! If they can come up with viagra, they can’t find a medication for what ails these creeps?

    • He wanted to keep wearing the ring to remind himself he was still married?

      That is such bullshit. That ring conveniently didn’t get in the way of him cheating did it?

      Unless he meant “reminding him he’s still married” as in “reminding him he’s still got a responsibility to someone he cheated on” or as in “reminding him he still has someone to manipulate and hurt” or as in “reminding him he can use it as a tool of control.”

      If that’s what he meant by that then sure.

  • I have been dealing with his still “wanting to be friends” for over two years. We still aren’t divorced because he won’t sign the papers. He’s a cheating Narc so he was always trying to get to me by pushing my buttons and saying things like I shouldn’t be so resentful, we should move on, etc.

    I know it’s all about control. It is so hard to do the NC with children, but I have pretty much been able to just do the minimum amount of speaking and texting.

    Thank you CL. It’s nice to know that I am not the only one struggling with this.

  • I wanted to come back and thank you all. Since finding this site and reading all your stories i have felt so empowered. I’ve been able to detach and i feel free for it. I changed his name in my phone to NOT YOUR FRIEND STAY CALM HE WINS IF YOU DONT lol. Its helped heaps. I also have asked to move to text and email and although he dosnt always he is learning. I also straight away cut him off and change subject when he asks things that are inappropriate if i stay in control like that he is unable to push my buttons because he is confused by my change of tact. Its a work in progress but i feel able to get there. He isnt my friend. I have wonderful friends who dont make me feel like crap. I suddenly feel empowered, optimistic and am finding a little bit of confidence again. The best thing of all i havent got upset or let my buttons be pushed since i wrote this. Thank you all so so much!

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