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?
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.