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Dear Chump Lady, No one seems to know we’ve broken up

Dear Chump Lady,

First I want to thank you for your site. I read your posts and the comments from the fellow chumps religiously. They have helped me tremendously and I hoping maybe you and the others on the CL site could offer some advice on my situation.

My chumpdom is a little bit different than most of the others on this site. My former partner and I weren’t married or living together. But we did have (at least I thought) an exclusive relationship for almost 10 years. We are both older (me mid-50s, him early 60s) and both divorced from first marriages. He has two adult children and I have none. We maintained separate households, but would spend weekends and vacations together and talk on the phone all the time. We were planning to get a house together when he retired in a few years.

Not that I noticed it at first due to my spackling, but about three years ago things began to change. It is the same story many others have told, he started to become more distant, guarding his phone and email, not being available, etc. And, as so often mentioned here, he never said anything about being unhappy or dissatisfied. When I tried to discuss it, he would just say things like he had let himself get too wrapped up in work, blah, blah, blah. He also had what I thought was a strange relationship with a younger woman who volunteered at the park site that he manages. But I spackled over that by telling myself to be open minded. He was just treating her like his daughter since she is the same age as his daughter. What a chump I am.

Anyway, my DDay was at the end of May this year when I finally caught him cheating. Ironically, I was going to break it off with him the following weekend, since I had had enough of this crap. So I’m already well on my way to meh at this stage. I’d also never looked at his phone or email, although I wish I had done so three years ago. But after DDay, I did find some things where he didn’t change his password which confirmed his affair partner was the 30 year old volunteer and it had been going on for three years. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how two people with such an age difference could have “sooo much in common” and “share the same world view”…but that’s a skein I’m not going to worry about untangling.

You have had several posts and questions about what to tell family members and friends. My problem is he hasn’t told anyone as far as I can tell. I told my family and close friends right away. But his friends that I’ve run into act like nothing has changed. I haven’t been contacted by his kids or parents. Although we weren’t super close, we did spend every holiday and some vacations together over the past ten years. I was in his daughter’s wedding. His kids have told him they think of me as their step mom. His daughter stills comments on my Facebook posts like nothing has changed. I’m wondering if he is afraid of what people will say when they find out he is boinking someone the same age as his kids.

Last month I took a nature class which had a field trip. One of his friends was also in class and wanted to car pool since he thought I’d be staying at the former partner’s house the weekend of the field trip I just told the friend that I’d be at my house that weekend, so wouldn’t be able to car pool.

Now his daughter, who is expecting her first baby, has invited me to her baby shower. I would think if she knew she would have said something by now. I thought it was his place to tell his kids and parents and I wasn’t going to tell them. But now things are getting awkward. Should I tell his kids? Should I tell his friends, even if they don’t ask because they still think we are together?

I’m a weaver and have woven a nice baby blanket for his daughter’s new baby. I had planned to mail it to her as she lives about 4 hours away. Should I just send it along with my regrets at not being able to attend her shower and not say anything more?

Sincerely,

GoingSolo

Dear GoingSolo,

Mail the blanket. Then you send your regrets about the baby shower via a Facebook private message, (because better chance she’ll see it if she’s on FB a lot), and inform the daughter that you broke up with her father last May because he’s been having an affair with a 30 year old woman for the last three years.

That’s the simple truth. Share it. At least this way she’ll go into the next holiday season forewarned.

Was it his responsibility to tell? Oh sure, of course it was. But that usually goes one of two ways — they don’t tell. Or worse, they do tell, but they spin an ugly narrative that you Drove Them To It with your sexless, bat shit crazy, controlling ways. (Which, curiously, they never mentioned before.)

Nature abhors a vacuum. He left one, so please feel free to fill it with the truth.

For people you’ve been more generally acquainted with, like the field trip folks, you just say “Jackass and I broke up, so I won’t be going that way.” And leave it at that. If they respond all “Oh my goodness! Dish some more!” you can either politely demure from further conversation because it pains you, or you can just put it out there: “I broke up with him because he cheated on me.”

It’s not your shame to wear — it’s his. If it’s not so bad to do it (for three years no less), it’s not so bad you can’t speak of it. He is your ex-boyfriend, it’s not your job to protect his image. And it’s also not your job to protect his family and friends from hurt feelings about the news. People are naturally rather self centered. They’re going to see this in terms of their own disappointments and inconveniences. Damn, I needed a ride to the field trip! Or, I’m so upset you won’t be at my baby shower. When you tell the news, you’ll often get a whiff of You Broke Up and Ruined Everything!

The more compassionate and astute will respond with sympathy. It’s usually a little combo plate of both. But the sad fact is, your life probably won’t intersect much with theirs any more now that he’s an ex. Or if those relationship do endure, they will on the merits of what you both have in common (excluding the ex).

You sound like a lovely person. I’m sorry your cheating ex-boyfriend didn’t have the decency to do his own dirty work, like break up with you honestly three years ago, or inform people that you dumped him. Weave on. There are better people out there deserving of your love and talents.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • My husband of 31 years didn’t tell his siblings, or much of anybody that I could tell, although his parents did know. I was incredulous when I sent out a mass email telling people of my new address and my ex’s brother wrote back and asked what was going on. Supposedly my ex’s brother was his closest friend in the whole world, and my ex didn’t say a word to him. It made me so mad to have to tell the people in my ex’s family too, on top of everything else I was going through. What a coward. I mentioned the married coworker to a couple of his family members I was close to, but didn’t tell everyone. It still amazes me my ex couldn’t tell his own family. What’s up with that? Was he ashamed? Embarrassed? Or was it just such a minor detail he forgot to mention it?

  • Hmmmm, GoingSolo,…..I think it depends on your relationship with the daughter. You said that you’ve known her for 10 years, and was in her wedding, and she ‘thinks of you as a step mom’? That sounds like a pretty close relationship to me. I wouldn’t just throw the towel in on that relationship just because your ex is a doofus. You break up with spouses, not with children, IMHO.

    I guess it boils down to: how do you feel about the daughter? Do you want to maintain a relationship, post-ex? If so, tell her on FB about the cheating, but also tell her that you still care about her, if that’s the case, and that you are still there for her.

    • I agree. Since it appears that you both care for each other it would be a shame to end a good relationship with someone only because she’s related to the Ex. Personally I would speak to her instead of a FB message. But that’s just me

    • I agree with LiningUpDucks and Bud. If the relationship with his daughter is valuable to you, then leave open the option for both of you to continue it. Give her the choice of keeping you as a valued friend. Like Bud, I think a personal conversation (or at least a phone conversation) is a warmer, more personal way of handling what is probably going to be disappointing news for her.

      • agreed, I think if you are close then call her, tell her you want to remain friends and gently let her know why you broke up.

        • crap, hit submit too soon. I wanted to add, I am friends with my ex’s brother, this stuff happens. Of course my ex freaked his brother out so bad he doesn’t have anything to do with him so that’s not exactly comparable to your situation. still, my first long term SO’s family made sure I kept coming to Thanksgiving and Xmas for years after we broke up because they were my family, in fact the first year they forbade my ex from bringing his GF…his Mom really was like my own Mom after 12 years

          • I am actually very close still with ex’s brother and SIL. In fact, son and I go and spend weekends with them sometimes. They have a son very close with my son, and this is the only way the cousins get to see each other.

            Ex went on a vicious smear campaign against his brother and SIL after dumping me to start his new life. They were the only people who told him everything he was doing was stupid and wrong. The brother told ex his videos were horrible, his book was stupid and he was never going to make it big. That did not go over well. Brothers are estranged now, and ex’s brother thinks he is mentally ill.

            The rest of the family think ex’s shit doesn’t stink, and encourage everything he does. I never heard from any of them again and I believe they encourage ex to not pay child support, telling him I should take care of it all.

  • My ex told no one at all. So I told everybody! His siblings, his mother (I avoid talking to his father because he’s the adulterous, violent tree from which that apple did not fall far), all our family friends ….

    The ex eventually did tell one guy who was more his friend (only friend, and, I found out later, a serial cheater as well), and his father, both many months later. Apparently also told them he was coming back to me. (Then tried to convince me to reconcile – unsuccessfully.) Many months after that, I was the one who informed his father that, no, we weren’t back together.

    Funny, the ex keeps proclaiming that cheating is ‘so common’, ‘not a big deal’, and ‘just something that happens when a relationship isn’t going well’. (He even says these things when he’s trying to convince me to reconcile – not too smart, eh?) If that’s all true, why wouldn’t he just tell people? ‘I got myself a mistress, for a second time, and Karen found out right away, decided that was enough and kicked me out’. If it’s OK to do it, why isn’t it OK to say it?

    • Agreed.

      My STBX tells the story of a co-worker whose husband had an affair. She had a revenge affair. They’re all over it now so, eh, an affair–what’s the big deal?

      If an affair wasn’t a big deal, then STBX would tell me, “hey kb, I think that Jerrie HotPants is soooo sexy. You won’t mind if I spend a year banging her and giving her money, will you?”

      I often wonder what he’ll do when I tell people just that: “Oh, Dick and I divorced because I discovered he was banging his former employee, paying her mortgage and health insurance, and then helped her buy a car.”

    • What is it with these people? If you want to have multiple partners, don’t waste someone’s time by pretending to marry them. It makes me feel somehow better to hear both your stories. I know how that is, to have him tell you it’s no big deal. He tried to tell me I couldn’t even bring it up! We left our previous town years ago and one of the reasons was him getting deeply embroiled with his secretary. “This will get us away from a certain person” – that’s what HE said! Now we’re divorced this summer, because of his super-sleazy and insane affair right under my nose with the neighbor. So now, about that one, he says it’s just a minor mistake, stop bringing it up. (So I divorced his ass). This affair went on for 4 years, and was really more like an obsession, but he still kept trying to pass it off like it just happens to people all the time. Gee, that’s funny, I never tried to do that, unlike yourself, who seems to have a HUGE problem with chasing tail!!

  • Goingsolo,

    I don’t think that you’re any different than the rest of us. You had an agreement; and an exclusive intimate relationship. He lied. He betrayed your trust. He’s a cowardly wimp and he sucks. Its the same premise for all of us.

    As for what they have in common? She needs a daddy and he needs to feel all big and important. Pygmalian? My Fair Lady? But who fucking cares. Think it’ll last? Geez, when he’s 80, she’ll only be early late 40s. Would you date a man pushing 90?

    I so understand your dilemma about whether to tell WHY you broke up… Oh man… there IS no right. Its a fucked up situation and while I agree with Tracy in principle, I have discovered that its quite a dangerous thing. Nobody close to him wants to hear this and nobody wants to feel the hurt and sadness that you’re feeling. While it feels good for us to tell the truth to receive the vindication, sympathy and love we are craving, I’m afraid its unlikely to come from his family and friends and in many cases, the opposite happens. People are strange creatures and can turn on you like a dime. They make up suppositions in their head and very likely they won’t be in your favor. It is possible to make the hurt worse by divulging the truth to the wrong people. That has been my experience.

    Quite frankly, I have come to the conclusion that its really better just to say, “we’ve broken up and I am grieving what I thought we had. I’ve become so very fond of you and feeling horribly that I won’t be able to attend this shower or future family gatherings…” Or, if you want to say… “I would still love to come but will understand if you’re not comfortable with that.” Please understand that if they love you, this news will be quite saddening for them too. And they will be pissed that their father/friend didn’t have the courage to tell them that you even broke up. They will feel embarrassed as they SHOULD have known! WHY you broke up, is irrelevant. I know, I know… its sucks. We WANT the whole world to know. And its fine to tell your hair dresser, the pharmacist, a stranger on the train… but his family; I would not; not unless they ask and want to know more.

    This is my take at this juncture, in regard to his family and friends. Its fine for others to disagree with me because as I said, there is “no right.” Its all fucked up. I’m so sorry. You sound like a very lovely woman. He sucks donkey dick. xo

    • Well you guys are giving better advice than me this morning. 🙂 Yes, you don’t know how they will react, and I don’t mean to say it vindictively, or drape yourself over the furniture in despair and let them deal with your wrecked self. It’s just that IMO it calls for some sort of explanation to the people closest to you. In the ex’s circle, that sounds like the daughter. If it’s just “we broke up and I’m grieving” — well, that hints that it wasn’t your choice. I guess you could leave it there.

      Bud is also right — a phone call might be better. OTOH, for me, for a difficult conversation, writing things down helps me convey my message in the spirit I intended. In a conversation, things can go awry. This way, you put it out there, and it’s up to the other person to lob it back or not.

      Also, I was unclear about how close GoingSolo felt about the daughter or if she feels she can maintain the relationship, or wants to. FB allows some distance, and I feel GoingSolo is entitled to that. She shouldn’t have to be both the chump AND the bearer of bad news, but it often works out that way. A little space from the fall out isn’t such a bad thing.

      I guess I’m also skeptical if you can remain friend’s with your ex’s children, especially if they live 4 hours away. FB friends, okay. But in your life friends — I’m not so sure. Because it’s hard then to stay NC with the ex. Losing these relationship is often, sadly, the consequence of infidelity and break up.

      • Tracy you are a very talented writer along with so many of the fellow chumps here. If I had your talents I would write too. I just don’t have the same ability level and have been burned so many times with emails that I’ve sent not only to my cheating wife but to others that I don’t dare do it anymore. As uncomfortable as it can be I would rather talk in person or at least on the phone. However that can backfire too.

        I guess it all boils down to what GoingSolo feels would be the best way to get her message across to the daughter.

      • CL, I see your point. If I need to have a difficult conversation with someone I write down what the deal is, what I feel about it, what I want out of the conversation, maybe a bit of script as to how I’m doing to say what I need to say so I have something in front of me when I call. This helps keep you from going off the rails if you start to get too emotional.

    • There’s an interesting dynamic between fathers and (adult) daughters that may be at play here when dear old dad leaves his dignified, age appropriate relationship and starts horn dogging after something in the daughter’s peer group. He’s not going to tell her because there’s going to be Hell To Pay. So, Going Solo, as the other member of that relationship, it will be up to you to do it. Narcs are cowards.

      My daughter was a very mature 16 when we figured out about the girlfriend. He tried to hide it because he knew it wasn’t right and for the longest time he insisted that XXXX and I have only recently begun to have feelings for each other, the separation is totally about your mother and me. My daughter came down on him like a ton of bricks. She is still his missing conscience — he tries to reconcile from time to time and gets another ton of bricks for his trouble.

      You should sit down with her and explain everything before the idiot gets talked into fathering a child who will be the same age as his grandchild.

      • Good point. Not sure what sort of relationship he has with his daughter. Is it “Daddy’s girl”, or just “Dad’s daughter”.

        No mention about the other child and there is a relationship with him/her.

  • The not telling thing is wierd to deal with. My X left, told no one and carried on like nothing had happened. I had her place of employment calling me up about her schedule changes months after she’d left. Even stranger, I’ve bumped into some her best clients over a year later, who still had no idea we’d split. I had to basically inform everyone, including my Inlaws, who we normally saw on a weekly basis.

  • When I did tell my ex’s family members I didn’t go much into details unless they asked, and even then I didn’t give them the whole nitty gritty. I just focused on telling them how much they’d meant in my life and how grateful I was to have been a part of their family. I also told them my ex needed them and their support, because at that point he didn’t have many friends. Anyway, it’s so hard to be taken away from relationships you’ve spent so much time building through no fault of your own. I think it’s always good to give their family members the choice of continuing a relationship with you. My ex sister-in-law told me “We’ll just have to figure out how to remain a family even though this has happened” which was sweet. However, I’ve watched how this process works in my own family and it’s hard to remain close since your lives will take different paths.

  • Wow, am I the only one here whose ex informed EVERYONE he had left me via mass text message sent only 1.5 hours after dday?

    GoingSolo, I am sorry for your pain. Your scum ex probably doesn’t want people to know he’s been screwing a stand-in for his daughter the past three years. While he probably feels like his affair proves he’s a big shot (wonder if he needs to pound down some Viagra before his dates) he also likely realizes other people might see it as gross.

    Send the daughter the blanket, and an explanation. You are not obliged to keep your ex’s dirty secrets.

    • No GladIt’sOver, I told EVERYONE of my husband’s infidelity. Not in a he’s a scum bag sort of way, I just said, ‘Scumbag and I aren’t together anymore. He started sleeping with my friend Leah, a month after we got married.” That was the end of me saying anything else about it. Then there were always, “I’m so sorry,” and “how terrible,” but I never went into anything more personal than that. Sometimes there were awkward silences as well as they assumed I would go more into it, which I didn’t unless they were my good friend. I spent years covering up for him affair after affair, I was done doing that after we got married and he cheated AGAIN!

      I think GoingSolo should tell his daughter because you are close to her. Just say it how it is and then be done with it and move on to saying something like, how special she is to you. You won’t have to tell anyone else in the family, b/c his daughter is going to do it for you. Then if they contact you tell them the same thing, if they don’t contact you it doesn’t really matter.

    • No GIO, my ex wife trotted her AP all over our small town, while we (and AP) were still married. She introduced (read: pushed AP upon) the AP to everyone and anyone who made eye contact with her.

      I had many, many people asking me: ” WTF????? Aren’t you two still married? ”

      Sometimes, she did this while one, or both, of our sons were with her.

      My Older son asked me: “doesn’t she know everyone is laughing at her?”….

      I could only answer, that I didn’t think she cared……..she was too deep into fantasy land dream-world……

    • No Glad,

      I share it with you 🙂 Once, my ex understood that I was not amenable to sweet-talk manipulation or hard-hitting gas-lighting anymore, he decided to go that rewriting history mode. He mass emailed to all family and friends and whoever chose to listen. He knew that I was seen as a high-achiever, which would be easy to sell in our context as:
      1. He had been supportive of his wife’s career
      2. I didn’t devote as much time to household as others would
      3. His needs were not met

      A number of people bought those as well. It affected me very badly. Perhaps, worse than the cheating itself. I was very ignorant about personality disorders and covert-aggressive manipulative personality. I couldn’t understand how I could force him to do an MBA (which took him places) or learn entrepreneurship (because he wanted to become one). I couldn’t understand, why the brothers-in-law, who stayed with me for 9 years as dependents (till I saw them through to good jobs and marriage), should convert. I just couldn’t understand, what changed over-nite!

      But, when I was pushed to the wall by a smear campaign, which was designed to get me out of the way for him to proceed with marrying his AP, I was forced to recover and fight back. I was forced to put my career on a back-burner and speak with facts against allegations. And the balance tilted. People saw his manipulation. Left to myself, I would have probably chosen to desert him after his infidelity. However, he forced my hands to retaliate, clear my name, save my son and our properties together. Thankfully, I could. But, it was one of the most difficult battles to fight! And to fight against somebody, who was your best friend for long years…it was tough.

      So, one way or the other, it is painful. If he tells, be sure that it would be a smear campaign and a rewritten history. Better you take the brush and paint your own.

  • My XH filed for divorce without telling me or the kids. When I got the divorce papers and told the kids, they were devastated and he was furious that I told them. Gee – I didn’t realize it was supposed to be a secret!

    So no, Going Solo, you’re not alone. If they’re too cowardly to tell US that they’ve found someone new, it’s no surprise they’re not telling anyone else, either…

    • My Cheating wife doesn’t want anyone to know either. Only her enabling friends and sister (who b.t.w. is also getting divorced again (#2) with both sides cheating) She claims it’s nobody’s business but ours. I’m sorry but I disagree. We have 20+ yrs worth of friends, family members and a small town that knows us.

      Cheaters want so bad for others to see that they cheated only because they weren’t happy. For the kids she would rather push the “Mom wasn’t happy so we are getting divorced” story. instead of the truth “Mom wasn’t happy so she lied and cheated on Dad so we are divorcing” story.

      • Bud,

        I couldn’t agree more. My STBXW did the same. She would go to the shore on weekends with her boyfriend and take my teenage daughter along. Not only did she teach her to lie, she taught her to lie to her father.

        My daughter was so relieved when she realized I new what was going on. What really pissed me off was I missed that time with my daughter. We have a much closer relationship now and she knows her mother is fucked up.

        • Those are some great things to teach your child. My cheating wife has always had a close relationship with our 3 kids. Primarily because of her being a teacher. Anytime school was off, she was with them. Now that my daughter is in College her and I are closer. The boys are becoming young men so we do more guy things. It pisses of the CW that the kids don’t need her the same way anymore.

          Sooner or later the kids are able to see who the messed up one is.

  • Mine ex didn’t want to tell anyone, but ran his home business out of the house, using the home phone number as his contact info.

    I told him after six months of taking his business calls and giving people his new number, and forwarding mail to his new address – No mas. I would be informing folks he’d died, and sending his mail back “Return to Sender – Deceased.”

    And I did. That took care of that. Quickly.

  • I truly would like to know what goes on in the cheater’s head sometimes. What would make them keep such a thing secret? According to him it was my fault so why would he be ashamed to tell his siblings? To me his silence spoke loudly of shame. Even though he was blaming me with his words, his silence told me he knew what he did was wrong. Maybe that’s just me being a chump and projecting my emotions, though.

    • No, I think you’re right. They know they’re out of bounds, and they know they lack the strength of character straighten up and fly right. Double dip on the shame, which men will go to any lengths not to feel. Hence all the projection and slander on their part, not yours.

      “Be the kind of man you’d want your daughter to marry” is a catch phrase my ex used to spout from time to time. Nice. Now his daughter doesn’t want him anywhere near her life, and for sure not her upcoming marriage.

      • Wow Chumpalicious, what a hypocritical thing for your ex to say. Mine told me right before he left that he hoped our boys were better than he was.

    • I agree. I think they are covered in shame, and rightfully so.

      My ex did not inform his 2 “best” friends–I told them after one of them called me about something else. They were my long term friends too. Ex told his family the same line he gave the kids “things were bad for a long time between us,” which they knew was a lie since we were about to move into a new home we’d spent 8 month building. He denied the 4+ year affair completely until I busted him by contacting the OW’s husband (who didn’t know).

  • Though not strictly relevant to this particular thread, something making the rounds today that seems relevant to some degree to every thread here at CL involving an abusive co-parent: An honest obituary about a horrible parent. The Reno Gazette-Journal has pulled it down, but it’s still posted at Gawker.com:

    “Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Aug. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit.

    “On behalf of her children whom she so abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty, and shame that she delivered on her children. Her surviving children will now live the rest of their lives with the peace of knowing their nightmare finally has some form of closure.

    “Most of us have found peace in helping those who have been exposed to child abuse and hope this message of her final passing can revive our message that abusing children is unforgiveable, shameless, and should not be tolerated in a ‘humane society.’ Our greatest wish now, is to stimulate a national movement that mandates a purposeful and dedicated war against child abuse in the United States of America.”

    I certainly don’t wish any harm to my ex, but I wouldn’t mind similar truths being spoken about her one day. Honesty rocks.

  • Goingsolo,
    Why would you keep it a secret? It is time for you to get mad. This guy robbed you of three years of your life you could be building relationships with someone who was good to you.

    The problem with narcissists, and why they pick chumps, it they use your good nature against you. You don’t want to tell because it would seem “mean”, or “vindictive” and you don’t want to be seen that way. That is the part of them that is infuriating. They bring out the worst in you, and who wants to be around someone who brings out the worst in you?

    As a chumpy kid, with a super chump mom, I would NOT keep the secret. Or, better yet, ask him to his face if it is a secret. If he says “yes”, ask why. If he says “no”, well, there you go.

    However, like a butterfly flapping it’s wings in the Amazon, there is a chain reaction here. Don’t you really think the daughter deserves a heads up about this new woman and what she would do? If you were the kid, would you trust her, or want your kids around her? Plus, all the people he considered “friends”, well, they can find a better friend in almost anyone else. Wouldn’t you want to know that your “friend” has these kinds of values?

    The cheater doesn’t want other people to know what they are really like, or how selfish they really are. Again, remind yourself he had no reason to stay in the relationship if didn’t want to. He wasn’t married. He could have left at any time. He didn’t. He jerked you around. He wanted it both ways. He “CHOSE” to deceive you. Re read the “cake” essay. He was taking you for kibbles as long as he could.

    I think you owe the truth to others. My vote goes to “He chose to be deceitful for three years. He could have left, and been gracious enough to let me find someone myself, but didn’t. The other woman knew about me. that’s what happened”.

    Good luck, but also, good riddance.

  • It’s a tough one, and depends on your relationship with the daughter.

    I will say that one of my BILs is from an extended family. His first wife left him about 15 years ago because he was a self-centered individual. He still is, but my sister apparently loves him and he loves her. Anyway, because he and his first wife had a child together, his family has always insisted on inviting both the child and her mother to every single family gathering. When my sister arrived on the scene, they invited her to those same gatherings. When my sister and BIL have a gathering at their house, they invite the ex-wife, the ex-sister-in-law, and the ex-mother-in-law.

    It’s a bit of a weird family dynamic, but it works.

    If infidelity had been present, I’m guessing that it wouldn’t work at all. As I said, leaving was the ex-wife’s choice. She’s still unmarried, but I am sure much happier without him. 😉

    • Anyway, the moral of the story is that it depends. Toss the ball into her court, and tell her that you still care for her, but you understand if she feels uncomfortable.

    • I do know some cases where the split was amicable and everyone is able to celebrate holidays together. I know this is something my ex thought would happen. The day after D-day he sent an email that said “We are not leaving each others’ lives. There will still be many enjoyable times with our boys and their lovely ladies.” Guess he thought we would continue being a family when it suited him, then he wouldn’t have to feel so bad.

      • See, I think that infidelity changes a lot of the divorce dynamic since infidelity is abusive. If two people got divorced because one was constantly hitting the other, then the families would likely not invite both parties to the same event, assuming the families knew the reason for the divorce.

        If the two people don’t tell their families at least some kind of non-judgmental version of the truth (i.e. “s/he cheated on me” v. “we grew apart”), then the families might chase the cousin of the Unicorn of Reconciliation: the Bluebird of Amicability. Yes, the two of you divorced, but see? We can all get along just fine!

        In my BIL’s case, I think that everyone in his family knew that his ex got tired of his self-centeredness coupled with his cheapness. So, while they love him because he’s family, they also know that he’s got deep flaws. In fact, when he married my sister, his father told him straight out, “try not to mess this one up, too.”

  • I filed for divorce and didn’t tell him. He told me “Go ahead and file for divorce, see if I care” so many times that I finally did it. He got the papers 3 weeks before Christmas. All of my family and close friends knew about it. He told his family and his fellow employees since one of them was the affair partner. We kept it from the kids until after the holidays. Once the kids and I moved out people would ask where he was. I would reply that we separated. They would look at me and then I would reply “no one knows what goes on behind closed doors”. That pretty much silenced them and gave them plenty of things to think about. Then after a while I decided that that response was covering for him. I changed my reply to “We’re separated. I filed for divorce”. The most common response to that was “I’m sorry.” To which I would reply. “Don’t be sorry because I’m not. It was the best decision I made in a long time.”

    • Margo, I changed my response to “how’s ex” to reflect reality and it totally works, when you just say you are divorced without any hint about why the person doesn’t know whether to express sympathy, high five you or just get quiet and wonder. So now my answer is: “I have no idea how he is, I’m free of him, it’s awesome”.

    • The best reply I heard here some time ago. I don’t remember who posted it but it’s the one I plan to use when people ask. “She ended the marriage, so I filed for divorce”. Short and sweet. That should give them enough to understand what happened.

      • My reply when people asked about him was “I’m not sure, you should ask his girlfriend” the look of their face was priceless. Once I stopped the pick me dance, I stopped wearing his shame…awesome feeling.

        • Ashley, I would do that too — except I would say “I’m not sure, you should ask his mistress.” The looks are indeed priceless!

  • With the exception of his best friend (who knew about the affair the entire time) and another of his friends (because I’m friends with his wife) and his family, i’m pretty sure no one knows that I finally served my future ex – or that anything was even going on previous to that. It’s a bury your head in the sand approach – which is his approach to everything. If no one knows, then he doesn’t have to deal with it. He can pretend he did nothing wrong or that nothing happened. He didn’t want to be married anymore, so he tells me that, but then he didn’t do anything to end the marriage – he buries his head in the sand and has an affair. Now that he’s exposed, he buried his in the sand and kept pushing back all the details of who will be responsible for what so we can actually get divorced. He buries his head in the sand and ignores the fact that he was finally served to get his ass in gear and he will likely let the date lapse. It’s all an effort to not DEAL with anything. Somehow it will magically all disappear. Believe me, I tell everyone because there is no way I am simply going to tell people that after 22 years we just grew apart when that was only a small part of it. No, my future ex grew apart, decided to not work on trying to make it work to truly know the marriage was done and instead tortured me with the affair. I’m not leaving that part out when it’s the treatment during/after and continued treatment that drove me to file for divorce. So tell everyone, because that is your truth. You can say that calmly and matter of factly and not have it sound vindictive in any way.

    As for the daughter, if she considers you a step mom, then you actually owe it to her to be honest so she understands why the nature of YOUR relationship with her may change. Again this can be done without sounding vindictive. If she takes it that way, then you at least know where you stand and can proceed accordingly. Good luck!

  • What’s with these guys who don’t have the guts to tell people that they’ve cheated on their wives, abandoned their families, lied to EVERYBODY, and that they’re going to try to hoodwink their till-death-do-us-part spouses out of everything? My STBX went to visit his brother’s family on the other coast TWICE before they asked him point-blank where I was, and only then did he admit that he had gotten an apartment over six months before. I was the one to tell our neighbors and his coworkers (they are my friends, not his, which just goes to show you …). We’re still negotiating the divorce, but it gets easier for me every day, as my once boundless respect for him dwindles to less than nothing. Hard to believe that I once thought he was literally my soulmate, and now I just want it to be over. As a friend told me, it’s now just a business transaction. How true.

    • Sometimes I think that they don’t want to risk the forbidden fruit cachet of the illicit fading as the relationship goes ‘regular’. It’s “our little secret” and that’s what makes it so delicious.

      Sometimes I think they’re just plain in over their heads and want to be rescued, but yet don’t want to be rescued.

      Mostly I just think they suck.

      • Agree. Ex liked having all his sidepieces because it was exciting and illicit and he was getting one over on me. Now it’s all out there and since she knows he’s a cheater she keeps him on a short leash. The best part is that he talks such a good game about his life but I figure she’s got to be figuring out by now that his whole world is him, his parents, two old drinking buddies he sees a couple of times a year, him, sometimes the kids, him and, oh yeah, him.

        Bless her evil little slag heart – she’s got the prize she wanted and I bet her gut is screaming but she is ignoring it like mad.

        • I know! All that exciting running around on me that he used to do with her, he can’t do anymore. She goes everywhere with him. I don’t know if it’s because she doesn’t trust him or because she believes all the running around was actually about having a relationship with her (fool). Such a righteous piece of poetic justice.

          How’s your freedom taste now, asswad?

      • During bogus reconciliation, I once told the ex that I worried the only way he enjoyed sex was if it was in some way illicit, dirty, dangerous, immoral or risky. In a rare moment of honesty, he replied that he worried about that too.

        • In a SUPER RARE bit of insight, the ex (STBX at the time) admitted in an email that “all those relationships” (his polite term for affairs) couldn’t have been about love because he “felt dirty afterwards” Oh, yay, so much for intimacy.

  • I think that this is difficult to answer because in the “Who To Tell What” game show of life, it is dependent upon how each individual involved perceives the relationship. I am extremely close to one SIL and we have not only shared a “best friends” relationship, but we’re as close as anyone can be without actually being blood relatives. She pretty much knows everything. My other SIL, even though I love her, she’s too chatty and I’ve only shared what I felt she absolutely needed to know, which isn’t much. Only my closest friends know the entire sordid story, but because people think he’s a saint, it is difficult not to say, when they ask what happened, “We’re getting divorced because I don’t like his girlfriend. I didn’t much care for the one before her either.”

    GoingSolo, it seems his daughter really cares about you. Only you know the extent of the feelings that exist between you and his daughter and you have a sense of her character. Let that be your guide in deciding what and how much to tell her. Her own reactions and questions may serve as a further guide as to how much she wants or needs to know.

    Take care of yourself and good luck.

    • Bloody hell, Chumpprincess….I was besties with my SIL as well. We’re no longer close and haven’t spoken in a long time, mainly because there came a point where she, along with the rest of his family, started justifying, going along with the re-write and bringing final OW into the family fold. I simply could not deal with it and knew that if I stayed friends with her I would hear about this crap for the rest of my life. So I made the break and although it hurt (and still does at times) I knew I had to do it. Plus, stories about me were getting back to the ex and I didn’t want him knowing what was going on in my life. It’s bad enough that he pumps the kids.

  • It is interesting how the cheaters refuse to take ownership of their actions.
    You did it, why not say it to the world? Especially in situations such as mine where they tell you “nothing like ever before, blah, blah, blah.”

    Going Solo, I am sorry. I am not sure if it is better or worse with the large age gap.
    In many respect I think it does make it clear to everyone else how ridiculous it sounds, and therefore how unlikely the relationship will be. In my case, it was a 12 yr difference.

    As for the ex’s daughter, I would call her. I would keep silent on the specifics unless she asks.

      • The AP my ex originally dumped me for, and now appears to be back with, is also 12 years younger than me. I guess that’s the magic age difference that makes them so sparkly and exciting.

    • 11 years here, but that doesn’t matter at all, since it could have been anyone. So, I hold nothing against all women that fall in that age group. Yes, individual ones may have their issues or special agenda, but it is our “better” halves that have made the conscious decision to “help out”

  • CL and all the other Chumps. Thank you so much for your thoughtful replies and advice. I’m on a business trip now and haven’t had time to digest all of the wonderful comments, but they have definitely helped. I feel like I have some direction now.

    I’m leaning towards calling her and letting her know the situation and to express hope that we can maintain our relationship. I know she will tell the others in the family, including the other child (an adult son in his early 30’s). He is on the west coast, I’m on the east coast and we had talked of doing a bike ride together during his next visit. I think I’ll also let him know that I’m still up for that if he wants to go.

    The other concern I had about telling his daughter was that I didn’t want to stress her out or upset her while she is expecting her first baby, plus her husband is on deployment.

    • Re: stressing the daughter – since she wants to see you, you have to explain what’s going on.

      Remember, any stress comes from her dad not telling her earlier.

  • Oh, Dear–another Threadjack– Dear Chumplady–should I just send you things like this?

    I bet many of us can get where this poor woman is coming from, but running over your STBX’s new girlfriend is def. not a good strategy. What a mess. Certainly relates to the earlier thread about ‘contacting’ the OW/M…..

    http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2013/09/11/swampscott-woman-charged-domestic-violence-hit-and-run-crash-that-injured-pedestrian/wLCMj53p3ruQnCjZ453v1J/story.html

    oy!

  • I told his parents the day after I threw him out. I told his sister, my family, our friends. He was not a happy camper about this because I think he wanted to keep it secret and maybe have a door open to coming back. The way I saw it the only way a door would open to him coming back was for him to say to everyone we loved that he acknowledged the hurt and pain he had caused me and the kids and he would do what it took to make it right.

    What actually happened is that I then found out about all the other affairs and that was that. He remains furious with me for ‘ruining his reputation’.

    The thing is, if you dont’ tell he’s going to create his own narrative. I’d keep it simple: he cheated so we split. The rest doesn’t really matter. He’ll probably be pissed but who cares, right?

  • My ex won some traction with people by “never saying anything bad about me.” He seemed to think this was a virtue and cast him in the better light. I think he believed his own narrative of how we’d grown apart over the years. The fact is he grew TOWARDS his married coworker and away from me, I didn’t go anywhere. I sat at home waiting during his many business trips with OW, good little chump that I was. It wasn’t until a year after he left that I learned the whole truth, and at that point I shared it with close friends and my sons. The truth was undeniable because it was in an 8 pg document I found on my ex’s old laptop computer. For me knowing the whole truth was very liberating, all the pieces fell together then for me and my sons.

    • Mine tried to do the ‘never say anything bad and whoops the marriage fell apart’ story but since I wasn’t keeping my mouth shut he and his narc family (wish I had known about narcs a long time ago) came up with their fantasy story about me being crazy, him being so unhappy, blah blah blah.

      There’s a few people buying it but most know the truth and as one friend said to me ‘I don’t care what was going on in your marriage – no one deserves this level of shit’.

  • I wanted to thank CL and everyone again and give an update. So I followed the advice I received here and contacted my ex’s daughter. I sent an email instead of calling or sending something private through Facebook.

    In the email I just told how excited I was about the baby coming (she knew I felt this way before since we discussed it before DDay), gave my regrets on not being able to attend the shower, told her the truth about the breakup, and then said I would love to stay in touch.

    She responded right away and said she would love to stay in touch. Her Dad had told we had broken up but didn’t say why (figures). But she said she had her suspicions and my email just confirmed it. It also made her think that the rumors she had heard about her Dad cheating on her Mom were true!!

    And to think he had always acted like Mr. Virtue and never took any blame in their marriage breaking up. What a big red warning flag that I didn’t clue into at the time. Early on in our relationship he even said that he would never cheat and would tell me right away if he was interested in another person. That surprised me too at the time as it came out of the blue. I didn’t pay attention to that warning flag either.

    She sounds pretty disgusted with her Father. Even saying that she can’t and doesn’t respect him.

    So thank you everyone! Taking your advice has allowed me to continue my relationship with a person I care deeply about.

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